Babalon is referred to as “The Scarlet Woman, the Great Mother, and the Mother of Abominations.” Her godform is that of a sacred whore and her primary symbol is the Chalice or Graal. Although Aleister Crowley often wrote that Babalon and the Scarlet Woman are one, there are also many instances where the Scarlet Woman is seen more as a representative or physical manifestation of the universal feminine principle. In a footnote to Liber Reguli, Crowley mentions that of the “Gods of the Aeon,” the Scarlet Woman and the Beast are “the earthly emissaries of those Gods.” He then writes in Commentaries that “….the Scarlet Woman is an officer replaceable as need arises. Thus to this present date of writing, Anno XVI, Sun in Sagittarius, there have been several holders of the title.”
In Crowleys view, “The Great Work” was a journey that one had to do more or less alone. He saw, and he treated, his Scarlet Women as alchemical tools, as the mysterious prima materia (literally, “first matter”) of the alchemists to turn the ordinary man into an enlightened being. Several of Crowley’s Scarlet Women turned to drink, prostitution, or went to the asylum. By venturing unprepared into such deep waters, the Scarlet Women risked the total destruction of their psyches. To Aleister Crowley whoever, his Scarlet Women was only a means to a greater end. As he famously chided one female student: “I am afraid you have still got the idea that the Great Work is a tea-party.”
Now ye shall know that the chosen priest & apostle of
infinite space is the prince-priest the Beast; and in his
woman called the Scarlet Woman is all power given.
They shall gather my children into their fold: they
shall bring the glory of the stars into the hearts of men.
For he is ever a sun, and she a moon.
But to him is the winged secret flame, and
to her the stooping starlight.
“I once made the acquaintance of a very venerable personage – in fact, one might easily call him a saint. I stalked round him for three whole days, but never amortal failing did I find in him. My feeling of inferiority grew ominous, and I was beginning to think seriously of how I might better myself. Then, on the fourth day, his wife came to consult me…. Well, nothing of the sort has ever happened to me since. But this I did learn: that any man who becomes one with his persona can cheerfully let all disturbances manifest themselves through his wife without her noticing it, though she pays for her self-sacrifice with a bad neurosis.”
(Carl Gustav Jung)
One of the most extensive descriptions by Crowley of Babalon’s Daughter is to be found in The Vision and the Voice, 9th Aethyr, quoted in The Book of Thoth:
THE VIRGIN UNIVERSE
(From The Vision and the Voice, 9th Aethyr)
We are come unto a palace of which every stone is a separate jewel, and is set with millions of moons.
And this palace is nothing but the body of a woman, proud and delicate, and beyond imagination fair. She is like a child of twelve years old. She has very deep eyelids, and long lashes. Her eyes are closed, or nearly closed. It is impossible to say anything about her. She is naked; her whole body is covered with fine gold hairs, that are the electric flames which are the spears of mighty and terrible Angels whose breastplates are the scales of her skin. And the hair of her head, that flows down to her feet, is the very light of God himself. Of all the glories beheld by the Seer in the Aethyrs, there is not one which is worthy to be compared with her littlest finger-nail. For although he may not partake of the Aethyr, without the ceremonial preparations, even the beholding of this Aethyr from afar is like the par taking of all the former Aethyrs.
The Seer is lost in wonder, which is Peace.
And the ring of the horizon above her is a company of glorious Archangels with joined hands, that stand and sing: This is the daughter of BABALON the Beautiful, that she hath borne unto the Father of All. And unto all hath she borne her.
This is the Daughter of the King. This is the Virgin of Eternity. This is she that the Holy One hath wrested from the Giant Time, and the prize of them that have overcome Space. This is she that is set upon the Throne of Understanding. Holy, Holy, Holy is her name, not to be spoken among men. For Kore they have called her, and Malkah, and Betulah, and Persephone.
And the poets have feigned songs about her, and the prophets have spoken vain things, and the young men have dreamed vain dreams: but this is she, that immaculate, the name of whose name may not be spoken. Thought cannot pierce the glory that defendeth her, for thought is smitten dead before her presence. Memory is blank, and in the most ancient books of Magick are neither words to conjure her, nor adorations to praise her. Will bends like a reed in the tempests that sweep the borders of her kingdom, and imagination cannot figure so much as one petal of the lilies whereon she standeth in the lake of crystal, in the sea of glass.
This is she that hath bedecked her hair with seven stars, the seven breaths of God that move and thrill its excellence. And she hath tired her hair with seven combs, whereupon are written the seven secret names of God that are not known even of the Angels, or of the Archangels, or of the Leader of the armies of the Lord.
Holy, Holy, Holy art thou, and blessed be thy name for ever, unto whom the Aeons are but the pulsings of thy blood.