John St. John


It hath appeared unto me fitting to make a careful and even an elaborate record of this Great Magical Retirement, for that in the first place I am now certain of obtaining some Result therefrom, as I was never previously certain.
Previous records of mine have therefore seemed vague and obscure, even unto the wisest of the scribes; and I am myself afraid that even here all my skill of speech and study may avail me little, so that the most important part of the record will be blank.
Now I cannot tell whether it is a part of my personal Kamma, or whether the Influence of the Equinox of Autumn should be the exciting cause; but it has usually been at this part of the year that my best Results have occurred. It may be that the physical health induced by the summer in me, who dislike damp and chill, may being forth as it were a flower the particular kind of Energy — Sammav yamo — which gives alike the desire to perform more definitely and exclusively the Great Work, and the capacity to achieve success.
It is in any case remarkable that I was born in October (18—); suffered the terrible mystic trance which turned me toward the Path in October (18—); applied for admission to G∴ D∴ in October (18—); opened my temple at B—e in October (18—); received the mysteries of L.I.L. in October (19—); and obtained the grade of 6° = 5; obtained the first true mystic results in October (19—); first landed in Egypt in October (19—); landed again in Egypt in October (19—); first parted from ... in October (19—); wrote the B.-i-M. in October (19—), and obtained the grade of 7° = 4; received the great Initiation in October 19—; and, continuing, received ........ in October 19—.
So then in the last days of September 19— do I begin to collect and direct my thoughts; gently, subtly, persistently turning them one and all to the question of retreat and communion with that which I have agreed to call the Holy Guardian Angel, whose Knowledge and Conversation I have willed, and in greater or less measure enjoyed, since Ten Years.
Terrible have been the ordeals of the Path; I have lost all that I possessed, and all that I love, even as at the Beginning I offered All for Nothing, unwitting as I was of the meaning of those words. I have suffered many and grievous things at the hands of the elements, and of the planets; hunger, thirst, fatigue, disease, anxiety, bereavement, all those woes and others have laid heavy hand upon me, and behold! as I look back upon these years, I declare that all hath been very well. For so great is the Reward which I (unworthy) have attained that the Ordeals seem but incidents hardly worthy to mention, save in so far as they are the Levers by which I moved the World. Even those dreadful periods of "dryness" and of despair seem but the necessary lying fallow of the Earth. All those "false paths" of Magic and Meditation and of Reason were not false paths, but steps upon the true Path; even as a tree must shoot downwards its roots into the Earth in order that it may flower, and bring forth fruit in its season.
So also now I know that even in my months of absorption in worldly pleasure and business, I am not really there, but stand behind, preparing the Event.
Imagine me, therefore, if you will, in Paris on the last day of September. How surprised was I — though, had I thought, I should have remembered that it was so — to find all my necessary magical apparatus to my hand! Months before, for quite other reasons, I had moved most of my portable property to Paris; now I go to Paris, not thinking of a Retirement, for I now know enough to trust my destiny to bring all things to pass without anxious forethought on my part — and suddenly, therefore, here do I find myself — and nothing is lacking.
I determined therefore to begin steadily and quietly, allowing the Magical Will to come slowly forth, daily stronger, in contrast to my old plan, desperation kindling a store of fuel dried by long neglect, despair inflaming a mad energy that would blaze with violence for a few hours and then go out — and nothing done. "Not hurling, according to the oracle, a transcendent foot towards Piety."
Quite slowly and simply therefore did I wash myself and robe myself as laid down in the Goetia, taking the Violet Robe of an Exempt Adept (being a single Garment), wearing the Ring of an Exempt Adept, and that Secret Ring which hath been entrusted to my keeping by the Masters. Also I took the Almond Wand of Abramelin and the Secret Tibetan Bell, made of Electrum Magicum with its striker of human bone. I took also the magical knife, and the holy Anointing Oil of Abramelin the Mage.
I began then quite casually by performing the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram, finding to my great joy and some surprise that the Pentagrams instantly formulated themselves, visible to the material eye as it were bars of shining blackness deeper than the night.
I then consecrated myself to the Operation; cutting the Tonsure upon my head, a circle, as it were to admit the light of infinity: and cutting the cross of blood upon my breast, thus symbolising the equilibration of and the slaying of the body, while loosing the blood, the first projection in matter of the universal Fluid.
The whole formulating the Ankh — the Key of Life!
I gave moreover the signs of the grades from 0° = 0 to 7° = 4.
Then did I take upon myself the Great Obligation as follows:
  1. I, O.M. &c., a member of the Body of God, hereby bind myself on behalf of the whole Universe, even as we are now physically bound unto the cross of suffering:
  2. that I will lead a pure life, as a devoted servant of the Order:
  3. that I will understand all things:
  4. that I will love all things:
  5. that I will perform all things and endure all things:
  6. that I will continue in the Knowledge and Conversation of My Holy Guardian Angel:
  7. that I will work without attachment:
  8. that I will work in truth:
  9. that I will rely only upon myself:
  10. that I will interpret every phenomenon as a particular dealing of God with my soul.

And if I fail herein, may my pyramid be profaned, and the Eye be closed upon me!

All this did I swear and seal with a stroke upon the Bell.
Then I steadily sat down in my Asana (or sacred Posture), having my left heel beneath my body pressing into the anus, my right sole closely covering the phallus, the right leg vertical; my head, neck, and spine in one straight vertical line; my arms stretched out resting on their respective knees; my thumbs joined each to the fourth finger of the proper hand. All my muscles were tightly held; my breath came steady, slow and even through both nostrils; my eyes were turned back, in, up to the Third Eye; my tongue was rolled back in my mouth; and my thoughts, radiating from that Third Eye, I strove to shut in unto an ever narrowing sphere by concentrating my will upon the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel.
Then I struck Twelve times upon the Bell; with the new month the Operation was duly begun.

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