Magister Templi (Crossing the Abyss: Postscript)

After listening to my podcasts Crossing the Abyss Part 1: How to do it and what to expect and Crossing the Abyss Part 2: The Encounter with Choronzon, a listener voiced some concern about what I had left ‘to do’ in terms of magical development. Indeed, before I actually became involved with the A.’.A.’., strictly as a developmental model that fits my experience – I am part of no magical group or organisation that recognises such ‘grades’, I too considered the attainment of ‘crossing the abyss’ as the goal within the Western tradition; which is strange, considering there are three grades above the abyss.

After reading Daniel Ingram’s wonderful essay on Arahats, I came to the conclusion that the reason ‘crossing the abyss’ is held in such high regard is due to:

1). A general misunderstanding of what is actually involved with crossing the abyss; and

2). What attributes are gained by the aspirant once they become a Magister Templi (the first grade above the abyss).


First things first: I have absolutely no doubt whatsoever that I have indeed crossed the abyss – the evidence is overwhelming. I state this solely to avoid any objection to the following on the grounds that perhaps I am deluding myself (in fact, I believe any need to claim such a thing is a result of what follows).

Despite the fact I’m very much aware of the bullshit circulating the occult scene concerning what it means to be a Magister Templi, thanks in most part to those that have absolutely no experience of what they are talking about, I must confess: there is a small part of me that’s a little disappointed with my ‘attainment’.

I first read of the Magister Templi when I was about 15 or 16, primarily through the works of Mr Crowley. Of course, he couldn’t get enough of playing up the virtues of attaining such a grade, and even though he never really misled the reader in terms of what to expect, he certainly fostered a climate for encouraging bullshit.

Bullshit such as:

1). a Magister Templi (MT) can no longer act, think or feel the same way they did before they crossed the abyss.

2). an MT is in a permanent state of Samadhi.

3). an MT can turn him or herself invisible and levitate.

4). an MT is an ascended master.

5). an MT is a great world teacher.

6). an MT cannot act like an absolute arsehole (unless of course he’s doing it to teach you a great spiritual truth).

As a teenager, a little part of me bought into this myth, and it’s that part of me that now feels a little disappointed in the actuality of the attainment, a little embarrassed by making such a ‘stupendous’ claim, and a little chuffed that I can make the claim; but that’s ok, because it’s still 15.

I think that’s also the mental age of the people who still buy into this crap.

The Truth

I’ve already outlined a number of experiences I went through when crossing the abyss in my podcasts, but I feel I need to state:

1). I didn’t witness the destruction of the universe.

2). I didn’t undergo a sudden, traumatic transformation into an ascended master.

3). I haven’t gained any extra magical powers (such as levitation).

4). I still don’t have any followers (damn).

If I had to reduce it down to one thing, I would say:

1). I experienced (through a slow, gradual process) the absolute for the first time.

As a Magister Templi, I can tell you:

1). Most of the time I feel exactly the same as I did before the crossing.

2). I still haven’t met the Great White Brotherhood.

3). I still act like a tit when I’m pissed.

4). I still act like a tit when I’m not pissed.

5). When I meditate, I practice being ‘above the abyss’ (i.e. I can, at will, experience the world in a qualitively different way, and I don’t have to be meditating to do this) and what I experience is progressively changing. In other words, I’m still developing – I have not reached ‘enlightenment’, whatever that is.

6). Curiously enough, I am undergoing revelatory experiences as predicted by the grade of Magister Templi within the A.’.A.’. system; although designated ‘tasks’, these experiences, such as understanding the trance of sorrow, are occurring without conscious intent, as if the grades are part of a natural process.

7). Although I’ve said a part of me is a little disappointed, and I’ve not really described anything that sounds as marvellous as being able to levitate, the whole experience is far more amazing than I could have possibly imagined.

It took Aleister Crowley 6 years to gain the next grade above Magister Templi, and even longer before he obtained the final grade; crossing the abyss is just the beginning.