Cake of Light is the eucharistic host found within Thelema, the religion founded by author and occultist Aleister Crowley in 1904. It contains honey, oil, and particular bodily fluids for the base ingredients, and is usually cooked in the shape of a small, flat wafer. It appears by name in two important Thelemic rituals: the Gnostic Mass and the Mass of the Phoenix. However, Crowley thought it was important for magicians to perform a eucharistic ritual of some kind daily (from Magick Book 4, Liber ABA, ch. 20):
A Eucharist of some sort should most assuredly be consummated daily by every magician, and he should regard it as the main sustenance of his magical life. It is of more importance than any other magical ceremony, because it is a complete circle. The whole of the force expended is completely re-absorbed; yet the virtue is that vast gain represented by the abyss between Man and God.
The magician becomes filled with God, fed upon God, intoxicated with God. Little by little his body will become purified by the internal lustration of God; day by day his mortal frame, shedding its earthly elements, will become in very truth the Temple of the Holy Ghost. Day by day matter is replaced by Spirit, the human by the divine; ultimately the change will be complete; God manifest in flesh will be his name.
The overall significance of the cakes is that it is considered to be a eucharist, a symbolic union between the microcosm, Man, and the macrocosm, the Divine; and the consumption of which completes a sacred circle, affirming an intimate connection between the two, which strengthens with each sacrament.
The Cakes of Light, traditionally composed of meal, honey, leavings of red wine lees, oil of Abramelin, olive oil and fresh blood as per the instructions in The Book of the Law is a perfume or incense when raw but also a cake when baked ("burned")
Olive oil is considered a sacred oil by many cultures and religions of the world. It is also an ingredient in the making of Oil of Abramelin, and the olive noted by Aleister Crowley himself as "traditionally, the gift of Minerva, the Wisdom of God, the Logos.
Abramelin Oil was considered by Crowley to be representative of the "whole Tree of Life. The ten Sephiroth are blended into the perfect gold." Abramelin Oil is thus also a symbol of the Philosopher's Stone of the Alchemists.
Cakes of Light in The Book of the Law
Cakes of Light are never mentioned by name in The Book of the Law, however many people interpret the following passages as being instructions for their creation (from III:23-25):
- For perfume mix meal & honey & thick leavings of red wine: then oil of Abramelin and olive oil, and afterward soften & smooth down with rich fresh blood.
- The best blood is of the moon, monthly: then the fresh blood of a child, or dropping from the host of heaven: then of enemies; then of the priest or of the worshippers: last of some beast, no matter what.
- This burn: of this make cakes & eat unto me. This hath also another use; let it be laid before me, and kept thick with perfumes of your orison: it shall become full of beetles as it were and creeping things sacred unto me.