Here's a half-essay half-rant on the subject of what Crowley termed the "central ritual" of the ecclesiastical arm of the OTO, the Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica. It's edited slightly from the original letter I sent to a good friend and gadfly in the local OTO community. By way of context, you might want to read the text of the Mass.
Now that that's done...
My interpretation of LibXV is that it is a public demonstration of the Alchemical Marriage, with a healthy dose of Kabalah thrown in. The Priestess and Priest bootstrap themselves up to the position of divinity -- the Priest commences as "a man among men", in the position of Malkut; the Priestess (who emerges from the East -- or should -- and unwinds the serpent path down to him -- I'd love it if she actually slashed down to him, lightning- like) awakens him "by the power of Iron" (Geburah's metal), and vests him in red (the color of Geburah) (she herself is in blue, Chesed's color), beginning the movement up; he declares himself "priest and king", and in consort, they move up the Tree (this would be one reason, Mo, to go East on either side of the altars, rather than both on one side; to make it even more obvious, the Priest ought to take the Priestess by the left hand and go up with himself to the left of the altars and her to the right...).
The Deacon stands in the place and in the colors of Tifaret, as Holy Guardian Angel, mediator of the supernal energy (which is why it makes magical as well as stage sense for him to be handing out the cup; the only thing that would make more sense would be if both cup and cakes were at the fire (Tifaret) altar, where he'd hand them out, and then, having communicated, the communicant would go up to the altar in the East to make hir declaration -- as well as any physical contact s/he might want to make with the Ps and P, as seems to have become customary)
Once the Ps and P have established themselves in the positions of Chesed and Geburah, the rest of the working serves these purposes, in order: 1) to move further up the Tree, to where the Ps and P appear in Keter as the One, or as close as two individual humans can get to being One. 2) to create an alchemical elixir out of that Unity that is the essence of the Unity.
(I think the sex magick is in it for two reasons: 1) because Al liked sex magick, and 2) because the sex act brings two people physically as close to each other as they can possibly get -- and as such here it serves as a symbol that speaks directly to the unconscious mind, do not pass GO, do not collect 200 karma points.)
The Ps and P then serve as Bodhisattvas -- having reached the threshold of divinity, they then turn back and help all the communicants reach and cross that threshold too, with the assistance of this elixir they created. That's why, once one has communicated, there is no part of the communicant that is not of the gods -- or, more to the point, there is no part of the communicant that is not God. (I liked whossname's line last night: "No parts; no me; no gods.") (To which I could only respond, "No wife, no horse, no moustache", but that's an inside joke...)
Bearing all this in mind, I say (as I have come to feel more and more strongly over the several years I've been doing and attending Mass) that subsequent generations have been ill-served by Uncle Al's desire -- probably entirely legitimate at the time -- to tie his Mass in with the Christian Mass by using various of its formulae, including:
|"Accept, O LORD, this sacrifice of life and joy, true warrants of the covenant of resurrection."||"Father, accept this offering from your whole family. Grant us your peace in this life, save us from final damnation, and count us among those you have chosen."|
|"Let this offering be born upon the waves of Æthyr to our Lord and Father the Sun that travelleth over the Heavens in his name ON."||"Almighty God, we pray that your angel may take this sacrifice to your altar in heaven. "|
|"O Lion and O Serpent that destroy the destroyer, be mighty among us."||"Lamb of God, that takest away the sins of the world, have mercy upon us."|
|"The LORD bless you; The LORD enlighten your minds and comfort your hearts and sustain your bodies; The LORD bring you to the accomplishment of your true wills..."||"And may the blessing of almighty God, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, come upon you and remain with you forever."|
In fact, if you want a little interesting enlightenment, check out the Canon of the Catholic Mass, online at http://www.catholicliturgy.com/the_mass/nomasse.shtml
Check out ditto the 1928 Anglican Mass at http://www.alltel.net/~gacanon/1928.txt
Why am I pointing this out? Because I think that the hoops Al jumped through to make his Mass more palatable to the people of his time have left us with a heap of extraneous baggage. It's 1998, people, and we're Americans, and on top of all that, we're Thelemites. We don't need our ritual to resemble the only other ritual we've ever known, because we have tons more experience in various rituals than Uncle Al's congregation could ever hope to have. The Christian Mass is not the only other ritual we've ever known.
Mind you, I'm not saying that LibXV doesn't work; it does work. But I also have discovered that the more I approach LibXV, from both the receiving and the delivering end, with the framework I'm talking about, the better reaction I get -- when I take communion with the mindset that I'm partaking of the elixir of divinity, I come away from Mass refreshed and empowered, no matter how low I was when I showed up. That's an internal reaction. When I speak and appear as divinity enthroned, one with my Priest (whether or not I've told him about what's going on in my head), intentionally turning the cakes and wine into the Lapis Sapientis, both he and the communicants note a difference. (For example: last night I was really concentrating on the alchemy and the Tree, and got more people than usual going out of their way to tell me how great it had been.) Intent makes a difference, even given the problematic script that is our inheritance from Crowley's age and environment. "Behold! the rituals of the old time are black. Let the evil ones be cast away; let the good ones be purged by the prophet!" Al should've paid attention when he was told that...
But my biggest problem with these references to an external deity is that (for me) it detracts from the core of the working -- the Priest and Priestess spend the whole time working to get as close as possible, to BECOME GOD, and the "let this offering be borne" speech is both a linguistic (and physical, since the Priest tends to step back a pace and look up) breaking of that link. If anything, the offering should be to the God that is formed out of the Priest and Priestess -- "male-female, quintessential, one". Elton made this point:
> The thing I yearn toward needs no sacrifice
> because it is the offering, and the offerer.
That's why "I am alone: there is no God where I am", and "that which adoreth is also Thou. Thou art that, and That am I."
Tell ya what I'm gonna do. I've been meaning to do this for at least a year, and now I really have the spur set in my side to do it; I'm going to create a new Mass liturgy, and show it to you (maybe I'll be able to find some people to perform it with me), and then you'll see what I think Mass ought to be.