The A.˙.A.˙. must rank as the most secretive secret society in the world. Perhaps nobody, not even the few writers who have discussed it, knows for sure when the A.˙.A.˙. began, which group claiming to be the A∴A∴. at present is the real A.˙.A.˙.., or even what the symbols A∴A∴ stand for — although many claim to know all these things, of course.
The best documented form of this secret society dates from ca. 1906 and already claimed
a long underground history. It advertised itself as a "magick" society for advanced
adepts of the occult. (Magick, pronounced mage-
Occult historians generally agree that V.V.V.V.V. signified Vi Veri Vniversum Vivus Vici ("By the force of truth I have conquered the universe"), one of the eleven magick mottoes of Aleister Crowley. It also appears that Crowley set the standards for admission to the A.˙.A.˙.. a bit too high—the candidate not only had to be an advanced Golden Dawn adept but also expert at the most difficult yoga postures to even qualify to take the examination for the first of the ten degrees—and therefore he got few recruits he considered worthy; Crowley therefore devoted most of his subsequent energies to promoting and managing the Ordo Templi Orientis, a somewhat less advanced occult lodge.
In the 1970s both Kenneth Grant and a person named Michael Mota insisted that the A.˙.A.˙.. still exists, although they differed on all else, especially on the "real" head of the order, each claiming that position for himself. The order currently on the Internet does not seem to recognize either Grant or Mota as its head.
John Symonds, a hostile critic of occultism in general and Crowley in particular, claimed to have evidence that A.˙.A.˙.. stands for "Atlantean Adepts"; Grant claimed it means Argentum Astrum ("Silver Star"), which he identifies with Sirius and the occult traditions about certain advanced adepts on this planet who allegedly communicate telepathically with even more advanced adepts in that double star system.
Portable Darkness, ed. by Scott Michaelson, Harmony Books, New York, 1989
Cults of the Shadow, by Kenneth Grant, Samuel Weiser Books, New York, 1976
Light on Freemasonry, David Bernard, Vonnieda and Sowers, Washington, D.C., 1858