5. 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! Then shall this Knowledge go aright.
Other threads in this study group (http://www.tarotforum.net/showpost.php?p=1698733&postcount=7)
The rituals of the old time are black? This may mean that they follow the Osirian resurrection pattern and rest on the efficacy of suffering. (See the Golden Dawn 5=6 ceremony for all of these elements.)
Crowley's job was to throw out the outdated junk, and clean up the stuff that was still usable so that it could be a conduit for the new teaching.
Ritual can also be interpreted in a wider sense to mean the whole of life. We habitually follow certain inherited customs and rituals in our daily life that are tainted with the Osirian ethos.
The essential point is that is that, as a prophetic writing, The Book of the Law must affect a sharp antithesis to the temporal truth of the previous aeon, and that such an antithesis must necessarily take center stage for purposes of vitalizing humanity and bringing the world out of habitual attitudes and behaviour rooted in a formula of life that has dissipated into meaninglessness by virtue of its temporal exhaustion, as well as the completed fulfillment of its purpose from an evolutionary perspective. This explains the strong and often disturbing language of The Book of the Law. The temporal truth of the Christian faith that is now to be discarded in accordance with the social and psychological requirements of modern humanity is the idea of the efficacy of personal sacrifice for the benefit of others. Indeed, sacrifice was rightly identified with the principle of love in the formula of the Christian religion, which was, as proven by the dominance of Christian civilization as the spearhead of evolution through the two thousand year period associated with its history, the most profound and efficacious manifestation of truth for the Piscean Age. The theme of sacrifice, however, has come to an end. It is no longer efficacious. The Book of the Law announces a new ethic, the ethic of self-actualization. From the perspective of Christian values this new ethic appears to be selfish and brutal, but only because it is vital and strong, and gives no quarter to the weak. It says: Let weakness be blessed with death that strength may prosper; let love prosper in strength; let love not be sacrificed that weakness may survive. Ironically, this is a bitter pill to swallow for a world steeped in over two thousand years of a self-sacrificial ethos, the roots of which go much deeper than is even conventionally acknowledged. In the world's present stage of transition, these ideas confuse the the unconscious as well as the conscious mind. Therefore, we read in The Book of the Law, "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! Then shall this Knowledge go aright." [AL II:5] It may be noted that the Thelemic ethic in no way precludes a willingness to die for one's convictions, which naturally include the rights of others, but it is unlawful to sacrifice oneself for or to one's enemies, as did Jesus.
Astrology, Aleister, & Aeon by Charles Kipp. p.235-236
Let us illustrate by single example how the ideas of The Book of the Law, utterly subversive as they are of our accepted morality, justify themselves immediately to common sense. Take the case of self-sacrifice, which we are accustomed to consider the high-water mark of social and ethical nobility. We must distinguish two cases.
In the first the man subordinates his own interest to those of the community; like Winkelried he sheathes an armful of Austrian spears in his heart, so that his comrades may break through "the dark impenetrable wood." In this case, he was a soldier. It was his True Will to risk his life for his country, and his action was like that of the cells of our bodies, which submit to metabolism so that the community may flourish. Winkelried's action was supremely selfish, and entirely in accordance with the ethics of Thelema.
In the second case, we have a sentimental idea of self-sacrifice, the kind which is most esteemed by the vulgar, and is the essence of popular Christianity. It is the sacrifice of the strong to the weak. This is wholly against the principles of evolution. Any nation which does this systematically on a sufficiently large scale simply destroys itself. The sacrifice is in vain; the weak are not even saved. Consider the action of Zanoni in going to the scaffold in order to save his silly wife. The gesture was magnificent; it was evidence of his own supreme courage and moral strength; but if everyone acted on that principle the race would deteriorate and disappear.
This card is beautiful is a strange, immemorial, moribund manner. It is the card of the Dying God; it's importance in the present pack is merely that of the Cenotaph. It says: "If ever things get bad like that again, in the new Dark Ages which appear to threaten, this is the way to put things right." But if things have to be put right, it shows that they are very wrong. It should be the chiefest aim of the wise to rid mankind of the insolence of self-sacrifice, of the calamity of chastity; faith must be slain by certainty, and chastity by ecstacy.
Book of Thoth p.97
The first thing that came to my mind when I read the opening passage was Crowley's color change of earth from Black (dead earth) to Green (The living Earth).