This is an extract from one of Crowley's short stories, The Stone of Cybele, from the collection, Golden Twigs (based on Fraser's Golden Bough). Ether here plays a part in a magickal ritual.
Cotys revolted violently. She sprang to her feet, unsteadily enough. She appealed to her religion; she made the sign of the cross. It only traced the figure of the `man of Vitruvius'! "Our Father which art in heaven," she began, despairing. Again she saw the `man of Vitruvius'; and, in her hysterical state, thought that he took the phrase to himself, and smiled at her. She saw that every modern thought was only a copy of some ancient thought, and she knew herself vowed in her blood to the old gods. "I am lost," she said quite quietly, "I am Cybele's. Bring me the knife; bring me the wine." Claude took a gilded silver bowl wide and flat from the outstretched hand of one of the bronze Goddesses; from the other a dagger. "We do not know," said he,"and I ask pardon of the gods, and pray enlightenmentwe do not know what was the wine of Cybele; this wine must serve." It was a clear white liquid that he poured into the bowl, and it trembled and simmered internally as if it were alive. In its limpidity the nymphs and satyrs that he had chased upon it seemed to renew their pictured orgies of drunkenness and lust. Cotys took the dagger, and the wrists of the two men. She cut her own arm and then theirs, holding their hands so that the three rivulets of blood were confluent to one. Then she took the ivy from her brows, and dipped it thrice. She took a leaf and put it in each mouth; then placed her hands on the two heads, and the three bowed themselves above the surface of the liquor. She caught her breath, choking; the fumes were suffocating. She set her teeth upon the ivy, and persisted; presently the great change began. She grew rosy and brilliant; the whole temple seemed alive with unearthly beauty; she began to sob in her excitement; stronger and deeper grew her breath as she inhaled the ether. Soon all three were lying prone, their faces pressed close to the surface of the liquor of Cybele, sucking the vapour by great draughts into their lungs with open mouth, their fingers clenched, their veins boiling with the madness of that supreme intoxication.
The world was blotted out for her; she knew Nothingness, a vast blind space, spangled with a few points of brilliant light. She drew the vapour fiercely through her throat; the rare stars blazed, blasted the blackness out of being. Raving with the splendour and ecstasy of it, she saw suddenly that she must go mad, that it was not for mortals to endure such brilliance. She cried out on Cybele "Let that be which must be!" Instantly a new passion smote her: what new rite was owed to the infernal, the inexorable goddess? What hideous parody of the most sacred and mysterious doctrine of the Christian faith was enacted in that temple of abominations?
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Ether and Magick
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