An eccentric bit of occult history that will resonate with zinesters. What you see above is cover art for Liber lucis no. 3, Eald Cynren ( which I believe translates to Old Kin from Anglo-Saxon). Described as “A new exposition of the Law of Thelema,” this fanzine-esque series was created around 1972-1974 by Andrew Standish.
Seven volumes of Liber lucis exist, of which there are eight editions (7A & 7B). According to Standish, the series was, “Prepared according to the instructions of Master Therion 666, and by his son here proclaimed Master Amado 777.” To compliment this fascinating history, the pamphlet is also adorned with striking cover art.
Harvard University Digital Collections maintains all eight Liber Lucis editions, including Eald Cynren. The contents are not currently digitized, but the covers are available for viewing and can be see throughout this page.
According to Weiser Antiquarian, “Amado [Andrew Standish, 1930-2010], claimed to have been the illegitimate son of Aleister Crowley, and to have received occult training from the Beast, although these claims are universally dismissed by Crowley scholars. Regardless of the veracity of his claims he was an interesting character and committed occultist.”
In a critical review of Standish’s book The Secrets of Aleister Crowley, occult scholar and historian Gerald Suster writes:
“Amado claims in his book that Aleister taught him between the ages of 7 and 14: i.e.1937–1944. If so, why isn’t there a single mention of this vital matter in Crowley’s Diaries? There he [Crowley] records matters as trivial as the breaking of a tooth or the quality of his dinner: but he does not see fit to record meetings with an initiation of a son destined to be his successor.” According to Weiser Antiquarian, the “veracity” of Standish’s claims has been challenged “universally” within the realm of Crowley scholarship.
Besides his questionable genealogical claims to the Crowley bloodline, Standish is probably best known for Liber Lucis. Weiser also notes that Liber Lucis contains fanzine production values characteristic of the 1970s.
Weiser tells us that the publication’s eclectic esoteric offerings include “…various magical instructions and rituals, including pieces on sex magick, rune casting, personal rituals, séances, astral projection, etc. etc. Much amusing editorial content and several letters by Crowley (probably extracted from “Magick Without Tears).”
The rare book website viaLibri similarly notes that, “The Liber Lucis is a very 1970s production, including pieces on “The Amethystine Cycle of Exercises” (yoga), astral projection, “sex magick”, and rune casting.”
The cover art for Liber lucis is markedly serpentine. Thelemic iconography can also be spotted.
Liber Lucis is not the only pamphlet published by Standish. He also created a work entitled Hweol—A Divinitory Guide to the Life of Positive Occultism. Harvard Digital Collections maintains a copy of this work as well. The date is unlisted, but it is likely published c.a. 1975. Hweol, which means Wheel in Old English, appears to be a similar publication in both size and content. Hweol‘s cover depicts three solemn monks clutching candles as they stand on a firmament containing the edition’s title.
Another pamphlet in the Standish collection is entitled The Magus, though little is described in regards to material records, dates, or contents. A work entitled Liber Alba can also be seen floating around the web.
It appears that the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic maintains a collection of Liber lucis editions which include Hweol and The Magus. A link to the museum’s catalog entry can be found below. Other issues owned by the museum and unlisted by Harvard include Rad Tungol and hydels caeg- a key to the rituals of tid-boc.
Suster’s review (link below) seems to contain most of the sparse information found on the web regarding Standish. Suster had the opportunity to meet Standish/Amado himself in the mid-Seventies. Dissapointingly, Suster describes Liber Lucis as “…monumentallly boring.”
Suster’s own takes, which are likely fueled by his skepticism and personal impressions of Standish, do not diminish the value of the incredible Liber lucis cover artworks. These covers are unique pieces of occult iconography unto themselves – anything but “monumentally boring.”
Images via Harvard University Library’s Harvard Digital Collections. Julio Mario Santo Domingo Collection. From Widener Library offsite storage. Used according to educational and artistic fair use criteria.
AbeBooks Liber Alba:
Archive.org Wayback image of Gerald Suster’s review:
Museum of Witchcraft and Magic catalog: