Euclydes Lacerda de Almeida - Memórias e Reflexões

I emphasize that, in the future, if possible, we would like to begin a social experience similar to Crowley's at Cefalu."

Paulo Coelho to Euclydes Lacerda - April, 18th, 1974.

After our initial conversation, in which we approached superficially many subjects, I asked Euclydes what is Thelema, in his conception. The answer:

"Pure psychology. It's the knowledge of man, of oneself. It's to deal with certain archetypes present in human psyche, to put them out, to get in touch with them and learn. It comes a long way, all through genetics. We have a very deep knowledge, but we don't get in touch with it. Why? Because the material mind, the mundane mind was created, and the subconscious was left behind. When you dream, your subconscious talks to you. It gives you instructions, tells you if you are sick or not. The mind we use in our day-to-day lives is an artificial one, for society. Created by the costumes, the taboos. Man is not that. Man is what lies inside it."

Crowley's approach to 'magick' sought the scientific rigueur, so he wrote detailed diaries (perhaps too detailed) of his practices. The scientific discourse would sometimes appear in Euclydes words, for example when he referred to human beings as particles of the great primordial explosion. "By Lavoisier's law, energy can't be created or destroyed, only transformed. If we weren't there at the Big Bang, we could not be here today. Our birth was then. We have a knowledge that comes from that time", he said.

Right after, he let slip a provocation for his former student: "That's why certain people get in touch with something, freak out, think it's the Devil and 'turncoat' to the Catholic Church. It's hard to meet your own shadow. In our subconscious there is also a shadow, each of us has to meet his own. It's the Guardian of the Gate. So, there's people who get in touch with it and get scared. Then, says: 'Oh, Jesus, take care of me!', and becomes a Roman catholic. By the way, I've never seen a Roman catholic who believes in reincarnation".

With some difficulty, I was able to approach his views of the main polemic of Crowley's life, which left a very heavy legacy to his followers: the use of narcotics and the unorthodox sexual practices to which he dedicated himself and registered in his writings. Unwillingly, Euclydes began saying the sexual instinct is universal. Without it, there would be no generation, no humanity. However, he continued, sex is being "exploited commercially in a very stupid way".

"Sex, for us, is sacred. It's a moment in which man becomes a creator. Sex, for us, is not kinkiness. Many people come to O.T.O thinking of screwing other people's wives, but in 'my' OTO, there's no such thing", he said, adding with a brief smile: "Unless the woman implies she wants to get in sexual contact with whomever. That's her problem".

What about drugs?

"And the problem of drugs, we have Aldous Huxley, who used drugs and, however, is not called satanist, isn't it? Experiments with drugs are made by many scientists. The CIA and the FBI use certain drugs to reach certain effects. But we don't defend the use of drugs. We believe that if the guy wants to use drugs and become an animal, that's his problem. If he doesn't have the courage to face himself, (he should) avoid using drugs".

I provoked him with one of Crowley's famous quotes from the Book of the Law, "the slaves shall serve". He laughed and repeated it, exclaiming, and regained his sobriety: "I never used drugs. People talk about drugs, but they forget the yogis are capable of getting the same effect just using that forced breathing, which oxygenates more the brain. The Indians use drugs until today in their rituals. In Brasil and the U.S. there are native American churches that use", he said, referring to the ceremonial use of ayahuasca, drink obtained through the fusion of the plants Banisteriopsis caapi and Psychotria viridia.

I asked him if there is, objectively, adoration to the figure of Satan in the so called thelemic practices - a mix that combines elements from Hindu yoga and Jewish Qabalah, among others. He rejected the idea vehemently. "Negative! I never saw it, never saw it! I was a disciple of Marcelo's for 14 years, I live until today as a thelemite, I have my practices and I never adored Satan. Although there are many satanic septs around, of course."

For thelemites, he explained, Satan is an 'archetypal energy' or egregore, a force composed by the sum of the physical, mental and emotional energy that a person or group of people dedicates to a concept/object. "It's not an entity to be adored. We don't adore anything. Satan is an archetype", he affirmed. We exchanged a few impressions over the origins of the word (Satan). He pointed out the existence of a similar term in ancient mysticism, derived from the serpent god Set, and I recalled the Semitic roots of the word, Shaitan, which resulted in the figure of the "Adversary of God" at the Bible.

Euclydes then said the relations between energies had been described and catalogued by Crowley. The Englishman said those forces, when well known and combined, could be used to obtain results over the material world. A fundamental detail for that, however, was to dominate the symbols in "Liber 777 vel Prolegomena symbolica ad systemam sceptico-mysticæ viæ explicandæ hierogliphicum sanctissimorum scientiæ summæ". It was, according to the author, an not so modest "attempt to systematize alike the data of mysticism and the results of comparative religion".

Liber 777 contains 183 tables of correspondence of these mystical and religious elements. On the compilations made by Crowley and further used in occult means in general, it's possible to establish relations between the divisions of the soul according to the Egyptians, Hindus and Buddhists; the 12 signs of the zodiac and the 12 tribes of Israel; the major arcane of Tarot and the Hebrew alphabet; and even between the organs of the body and legendary beings like goblins and unicorns. Satan appears with no special mention, besides four other names, at table 108, titled "Some princes of the Qliphoth” (Hebrew term meaning "husks", immaterial emanations, potentially harmful).

I asked him about Lucifer. "In Greek, it means the one who brings light, the bearer of the torch. It's the same as Prometheus, the one who went to Olympus, stole the sacred fire from the gods and brought it to men on a stick with seven knots, which are the seven chakras. He brought the power of generation trough sex, was stuck in a rock, that story you know. Prometheus is the same story than Satan. The one who revolted against God, against Jehovah".

Thelemites, he explained, can get in touch with this archetypal energy, as they can get in touch with the "energies named Jupiter, Saturnus, Archangel Gabriel, archangel Raphael, Maria, Isis, Venus, Osiris, Horus, Wotan, Astarth". The work, however, is not directed to reinforce them (to adore) or to use them in a harmful way to others. "For us, everything that is not directed to the knowledge and conversation with the Holy Guardian Angel is black magic", he sentenced, referring to the figure that, inside the system imagined by Crowley, represents the true self of the human being, capable of expressing his true will, after it is free from the mundane ego.

We discussed then the way the grudge with Christianity is deeply rooted in the brazilian thelemic movement. Besides Crowley's personality, it was strongly influenced by an essay/letter from Motta known as the Letter to a Mason. The guru of brazilian thelemites addresses to a friend in a tone both outraged and condescending, an "osirian mason", as he classified derogatorily. The intent was to explain the insensateness of someone who held such high occult knowledge believing in the figure of Jesus Christ as presented by the Roman Catholic Apostolic Church.

Among reliable historic sources and mystical not-so-reliable sources, Motta builds his thesis on the creation, by the Christian patriarchate of Rome and Alexandria, the main churches in the beginning of the religion, of a myth that used elements from the Greek Adonis, the essenian priest Jonah (John the Baptist) and others, to hide the true words the prophet Yeheshua brought: that every human being is capable of reaching the state of grace that characterizes the Chrestos (Consecrated), the initiate that recognizes himself as the Divine Verb, the Logos (Knowledge). The figure of Jesus Christ, he argued, is a historical falsehood aptly used to tame the revolutionary impetus of primitive Christianity.

Euclydes reminded he assumed his fist magical name (motto), Zaratustra, because he felt too influenced, so far, by Christianity. "To fight that, i took a name that was the exact opposite. This Zaratustra is not the zaratustra from Persia (prophet of the 7th century, founder of mazdeism or Zoroastrianism). It's the Zaratustra of Nietzsche. I did it exactly to fight these abeyances. Later, I saw myself 'alone' and took the name of Aster, which means star".

While we talked about the arrival of Thelema on Brasil and the secret orders here, in general and in particular (like Fraternitas Rosicruciana Antiqua, FRA, and the Old and Mystic Order of the Rose Cross, Amorc), Euclydes said his private opinion, shared with Motta, while alive, that the true success of an order or religion is connected to the renunciation of material power. "Every time an order grows economically, financially, it decays philosophically and spiritually. The secret orders that become strong are exactly those that are persecuted, that live in difficult economical situation. To this, Marcelo always alerted me", he explained.

Motta's alerts were well received by his disciple. In his blog, Black Light, Euclydes criticized the preoccupations of the Caliphate (O.T.O. in the US) with the revenues of Crowley's books. "It's understood that is sacred duty to fight any tendencies contrary to this right, or looking to take advantage social and financially using Thelema as an excuse. Any thelemite keeps clear his abjuration to those who have been acting like this for years, whether in Brasil or any other part of the world", he said, on a 14th November 2009 post.

Months after, in July 2009, on a post titled "General Alert", he had denounced the undue use, for material gains, of the name of the order he created.

"This alert is to make known by all that the Society Novo Aeon is in a state of retreat since the year 2001, after the death of Mr. Tarcisio de Oliveira. However, a few unscrupulous individuals are using the Name of the organization to extort money from the gullible, allegedly as initiation fees. Know all that one of the basic principles of the organization forbids in a tacit and vehement way charges (money etc) for initiations or any other activities of the society", he wrote, signing as the general supervisor of the order.

The disturbed successions in the thelemic field collaborated to swerve the focus of the magical works, according to my interviewee, who kept contact by mail with Kenneth Grant, direct disciple of Crowley's for over a decade. "He (Grant) began to join a system we call typhonian, mixing (thelema) with those extraterrestrials stories and all that, and he confused the whole thing. My organization here was registered at the Inner Sanctuary of O.T.O., but then I began to grow apart from him. Who began to connect with him was a person from Minas Gerais, that began inventing a lot of things that's not interesting to know about, but he has the right to do whatever he wants. The thing started to get confused, a bunch of O.T.O. were founded".

Following the outburst of secret orders, he said, there was even the unusual coming to Brasil of the American writer and occultist Lon Milo DuQuette - specialist in Crowley's works, "administrative official" of O.T.O. since 1975 and "vice grandmaster" of the order for the US since 1994, according to his website. DuQuette, famous for his well-humored vision about occultism, went to a hospital in Rio to meet Euclydes, who recovered from his third heart attack.

"They asked the doctor to send me home, I came and they initiated me right here, in this apartment. We even took a picture", he told, laughing and adding they came with a brazilian self-designated frater Iskuros, who would be the leader of the official branch of the group in the country. "I went to a certain meeting and I had an disagreement with him, unfortunately. Then, I grew apart com-ple-te-ly of the American O.T.O. Today, we're friends, we phone each other, talk, all that. I took advantage of the fact I had already founded Society Novo Aeon and I started working with it, and then founded the O.C.T., which is the Order of the Knights of Thelema (Ordem dos Cavaleiros de Thelema, in Portuguese)".

His irritation with the thelemic organizations was visible. "There's a groups that is forming, O.T.O.M, Ordo Templi Orientis Mundi. They are going to work it out and I'm going to support them up to the point I think they're following correctly the Law of Thelema. If they're not, I'll get out. I'm not... they know this, perfectly, I'm not here for this. I'm too old!"

Six months after this, he would break up, also through his blog, with the O.T.O.M, in a post titled only "To Whomever it May Be of Interest":

"I inform, to the knowledge of all, that I, Euclydes Lacerda de Almeida, AM NOT A MEMBER OF THE ORGANIZATION NAMED O.T.O.M, as it's explicit in the document here posted, and that my name and my picture were published in this organization's blog without my permission. I don't agree with the philosophies and concepts belonging to the aforementioned organization, and whomever affirms the contrary is being deceived or deceiving. I am a Thelemite and I don't support ideas so odd with an aftertaste of other currents of thought contrary to our thelemic doctrine that does not embrace, agree or emit ideas of race and other prejudices strange to our doctrine in which 'Every man and every woman is a star'. I am and I will always be a representative of Thelema in our country, but not the only one. However, I wish to warn all those who would be interested, that I'm always at the orders of people who want more clarification about the subject. But that all questions are made inside the standards of respect used by civilized and educated people".

Crowley's words on not wanting followers echoed the words of the emblematic Jiddu Krishnamurti, to which Euclydes called my attention to in a determined point of our conversation. Educated since 13 years by the Theosophical Society - of which his father was the secretary - to be the instructor of the World, he dissolved, in 1929, the International Order of the Orient Star, created to be his vessel. He declared that no sept or organized religion would give access to the "land with no paths" of the Truth. Although he rejected the authority of spiritual guide, Krishnamurti, a case of rare honesty in the occult, I still practically idolized and his teachings, treated as the words of a master.

I remarked how hard it seemed to have the lucidity to deny the role of prominence everyone was eager to offer him: "I admire him much because of it. He could have taken it all! But he said: 'No, I'm not any of that; I'm a regular guy like any other'". Euclydes agreed with me that Crowley had the same characteristic. "Yes, he said: 'Don't believe in me!'". I affirmed, then, to believe that Crowley didn't appoint clearly a successor on purpose. His reaction was e enthusiastic: "He did just like Alexander the Great. Do you know Alexander did? He took his four generals and said: 'the strongest will be my successor'. Then came Ptolomeu, came a lot of people. He didn't hand anything down! The guy had to take it! That's what's written in the Book of Law. The law of the strongest. 'The slaves shall serve'. Who follows Crowley as a man is a fucking slave! Is a slave!"