Three Candles That Illumine Every Darkness

Three candles that illumine every darkness – truth, nature, knowledge

Irish Triad (1)

I’ve been musing on an old Irish triad in the context of the Irish Order of Thelema, and the thelemic worldview. The old Irish triad above has significance as much for the Irish person as a thelemite if we but look closely at these three elements of the path.

TRUTH – In Aleister Crowleys conception of existence, truth is supra rational. Rationally any position can be opposed. But there is that which ‘is’ – Aleister Crowley described this as will – the experience of momentum or beingness. “I am the axle of the wheel, and the cube in the circle. ‘Come unto me’ is a foolish word: for it is I that go.” This sense of momentum is, at least initially not a self aware force. But truth as an experience of being – or as Crowley surmises in Little Essays Towards Truth – “YE ARE TRUTH”

This acknowledgement of ‘being’ is important, but also that truth is a dynamic and constantly revising sense of self born out of a dynamic engagement with life and living with presence. This brings us onto nature.

NATURE – Many strands of Western esotericism bring us away from the world into theoretical constructs of heavens and transcendence, an escape from our place in the world and likewise ourselves as a dynamic meeting with that world. Much of occultism gets caught up with past lives, fortune telling and the future, and the escape into abstraction. While we may use symbolic narratives we are necessarily called to narrate our experience, and to distance ourselves from the here and now is a logical and theological fallacy. This is not to say there are not experiences of trancendance, but they too are rooted in the here and now and there is no need to divorce ourselves from one to experience the other. With presence there comes a certain reality of living in a place, interacting with its landscape, its culture and its deep sense of rootedness which is a culture rooted in the geographical realities of the land. Why Irish – because that is a very real cosmology, and visceral and present experience – a way of experiencing ourselves, but this need not be the bounds and limits of our explorations either but it is one perspective and reality for me as an Irish person.

With our grasp of the truth of things is a sense of wonder and awe at all of existence – dwelling neither too long on the sorrowful, or the joyous, for both are part of the reality we form. We can both get lost in the trance of sorrow (its all suffering and shit) and in the glittering image (oooh, shiny angel) but as thelemites we are told to achieve both weddings, to live with both realities, not seeking to escape one for the other but to come to a balance of extremes and to reflect our own nature, and our Work and place in the world as an expression of our true selves.

KNOWLEDGE – We know nothing. No Thing. In the qabalistic framework knowledge is corresponding to Da’ath, located in the abyss between the supernals and the rest of the tree. The crown of knowing is ultimately revealed as illusion which we are either revel in or move beyond. Consider that knowledge has a position – a perspective which probably also has its counter image. It is stuck in absolutism, this or that and is dependent on a fixed point – a ‘thing’.

This is not to say learning is without merit, for by widening our world we take into account wider perspectives, and though we may still encounter these as this or that, we can also begin to use ever widening perspectives to experience that there are also things that are comparable or the same, or just a little different, and thus begin to erode the borders of ‘absolute truth’ as rooted in a position. Truth is supra-rational – it is beyond a single position and embraces them all, the good, the bad and the ugly. A widening of knowledge and experience allows us to experience ourselves as both the good and the bad, the light and the dark, the active and the passive – and that which is beyond them, the reconciler between. And indeed their are certain fields of self experience in mysticism and magick which are transcendental of such dualism. What if one could empathise with and encapsulate vastly different positions? And what if one could simply be? The rational and the roads of learning are roads to the supra-rational, but they are the map, not the territory. Cleverness can as much be a trap as a liberator because we are fond of our cleverness and the status knowing gives us, and brings us ever deeper into a dualism of knowing and not knowing and the trap of ‘being clever’ rather than just ‘being’. Intellect is a tool, a means to an end but it is by no means the end of the journey in the Thelemic tradition.

  • Truth is our goal
  • Nature is our field of operation (here and now)
  • And Knowledge and Experience are roads to get there

These universal elements are three candles that illumine every darkness, and which lead us to the achievement of our will and the completion of our Great Work.

Frater Fionn


1) Triad number 210, from The Triads of Ireland by Kuno Meyer (1906)