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The mystification begins with the often-misspelled title of this curious collection of essays. It is taken from a barbarous phrase spoken in the Eleusinian mysteries, konx ompax, which was picked up by the originators of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn and incorporated into their Neophyte initiation ceremony; the titles of the officers in the latter ceremony are also taken from the Eleusinia. Crowley underwent the Neophyte ritual in November 1898; in it he learned that these mystic words were the Greek cognates of the Egyptian "Khabs am Pekht," here translated as "Light in Extension"a bit of good mysticism but dubious etymology in keeping with the intellectual habits of the Golden Dawns magical founder, S. L. Mathers, who, as Crowley twits, "will borrow any required properties." Nevertheless Crowley took the derivation at face value and in the "Dedication and Counter-Dedication" goes on to identify KONX with the "LVX of the Brethren of the Rosy Cross."
The problem is already apparent: Crowleys "baulking erudition," as noted by his friend Louis Wilkinson, forms a severe block to the understanding of his message. Many of the references in the "Dedication and Counter-Dedication" would have been unintelligible to contemporary readers other than the minuscule number of Golden Dawn initiates, and the morass of arcane allusion only deepens as one turns the pages. An additional difficulty is that, at the time of the composition of Konx Om Pax in 1906-7, Crowley had little experience and less sympathy with prose; his interests, bar a few odd essays, had been confined to poetry, outside of which he had never previously attempted to convey his own evolving occult philosophy. The writing of this book marks a turning point in Crowleys career as an author and teacher; he is still in a sense his own audience, as witness the many private jokes and references to details of his life, but at the same time he is trying to bring others int! o the Light that he has seen.
The solution to the difficulties of Konx Om Pax is not far off. The last twenty years have seen a considerable number of books published on the Tarot, the Qabalah and the Golden Dawns history and rituals. Many of Crowleys books, including his Confessions vital to comprehending his life and worksare now widely available. Armed with these weapons, it is only a matter of time and some small effort before a dedicated student sees the way through the obscurities of Crowleys style; indeed, part of the beauty of his books is that he engages a readers attention with the certainty that there is something behind what he writes. It would be a pity to be deprived of the pleasure of discovering for oneself the mysteries and the mirth hidden therein.
For these reasons it was decided to make Konx Om Pax available again in facsimile, and leave the work of deciphering the text to the earnest inquirer...
The present facsimile is reproduced from a copy of the third issue, with the case design after the second issue. I would like to thank R. Williams for his technical assistance and Helen Parsons Smith for her loan of various copies of the original volume. MARTIN P. STARR