Aleister Crowley

The Officers of the Gnostic Mass – pt.1: Introduction & the Priest

Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica - The Gnostic Mass

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions related herein are strictly my own. They do not represent any kind of official stance of Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica, Ordo Templi Orientis, or anyone else. 

INTRODUCTION

The Gnostic Mass is an incredibly deep, complex, multi-layered ceremony. It seems to be an inexhaustible source of meaning and illumination. This is because the Mass itself represents the Mysteries. These are not the secrets that are known by some and guarded from others, but the “Mystery of Mystery” Itself. It represents in dramatic form that which is “secret and ineffable,” “beyond speech and beyond sight,” and “beyond all term.” It celebrates “that most holy mystery.”

As The Master Therion says, “Since truth is supra-rational, it is incommunicable in the language of reason” (Postcards to Probationers), and “all real secrets are incommunicable” (Magick in Theory & Practice). The Gnostic Mass therefore “refers to a knowledge incommunicable—save by experience” (Temple of Solomon the King). This knowledge attained through experience is what is meant by gnosis, the direct experiential “knowledge” that is not (and can’t be) communicated with words – it can only be hinted at through symbol and allegory, like fingers pointing to the moon. And this is one reason our Church is the Gnostic Catholic Church. As the Master Therion says, “ye shall comprehend, when, rising above Reason, which is but a manipulation of the Mind, ye come to pure Knowledge by direct perception of the Truth” (De Lege Libellum).

One issue I see in some individuals’ writings and understanding of the Gnostic Mass is that they often get quickly “locked in” to a certain symbolic interpretation being “right.” For example, the most common I see is the understanding that the Creed or the Officers represent the formula of Tetragrammaton (YHVH) and nothing else. Since the nature of the Mysteries is that they are, by definition, not exhaustible or completely explainable through language, there is therefore a theoretically infinite amount about them that one can say or write. Because of this, what is expressed below is most certainly not exhaustive in its explanation of anything in the Gnostic Mass. What follows is neither official nor “Absolutely True,” but it is intended to offer different perspectives in the hopes of widening and deepening one’s understanding and appreciation of the Gnostic Mass.

THE OFFICERS

There are technically 4 “roles” filled by 5 individuals in the Gnostic Mass: (1) The PRIEST, (2) The PRIESTESS, (3) The DEACON, and (4) The two CHILDREN. I am going to go through each one and briefly discuss different ways of understanding the Officers symbolically. This will not be an incredibly in-depth analysis because the intent is to make these different perspectives known in order to broaden and deepen one’s understanding, not to make an academic-intellectual case for one or the other. It is also intended to leave room open for one’s own scholarship, fantasy, and experience.

Before beginning, it is important to remember what is said in the 5th Aethyr, “there could be nothing true except by virtue of the contradiction that is contained in itself.” That is to say: Each symbol is not “X to the exclusion of not-X.” Something may very well symbolize something and its exact opposite. One example is the symbolism of “darkness” and “night”: It can symbolize the darkness of the uninitiate’s ignorance or it can symbolize the highest attainment of NOX, the dissolution of All into None. Remembering this, no explanation of symbolism can ever be “logically consistent” because logic insists on something being either X or not-X; symbolism works with something beyond logic – something “supra-rational” – where meanings combine, oppose, intertwine, and interrelate in many different ways.

THE PRIEST

1) John Everyman: A Man Among Men

The Priest, in many senses, represents every individual. In particular, the Priest is a representation or archetypal expression of each of the Congregants. This is reflected in the Priest’s words when he exits the Tomb: “I am a man among men.” It even says in the rubric of the Gnostic Mass that “The PRIESTESS and other officers never partake of the Sacrament, they being as it were part of the PRIEST himself” (emphasis added). He is the natural protagonist of the Gnostic Mass, although I very much agree with several people who mention that the Priest, Priestess, and Deacon are each the protagonist from their own point-of-view. Nonetheless, the Priest is the one who undergoes “the Hero’s Journey” in the mythopoetic drama of the Gnostic Mass, and individuals often naturally will identify with him. This relates to the next symbol:

2) The Conscious Self: The Subject

The Priest is the natural “protagonist” and symbol with which people identify most readily because he symbolizes the conscious self. One could say the Priest represents the “ego,” but he is deeper than that: He is the Self that expresses itself through the ego on a “lower level”. The Priest is the individuality of each individual. For comparison, one could say the Priest is the Self and the Deacon represents the ego with all of its mental-rational capabilities (memory, volition, imagination, desire, reason) that assists the Self. Qabalistically, one can think of the Priest as Tiphareth, the Sun, and the Deacon as representing the Sephiroth surrounding and aiding it. Again, since the Priest represents the conscious self, he naturally represents the Subject of awareness and represents each individual’s Subject-hood. In relation to this, the Priestess represents the Object. In terms of the language of Yoga, the Subject of awareness unites with the Object of awareness in samadhi, or non-dual awareness.

3) The Yod of Tetragrammaton: The Father of Life

In the symbolism of Tetragrammaton, the Priest can represent the “Yod” (YHVH). This Yod relates to the Father, the King, the Element of Fire, and the magical weapon of the Wand. The Priest is called “Lord” and calls himself “Priest and King,” identifying himself with the “Kingly” element of Yod. The Priest bears the Sacred Lance, which is a form of the Wand, a phallic instrument of force and power (but it is not the exact same thing as the Wand, as will be mentioned later). The Lance (Yod) combines with the Chalice (Heh), further emphasizing this connection. Further, he is clothed in scarlet, a shade of red which is attributable to Fire and therefore to Yod. Further: On his second step toward the Veil, the Priest identifies with Hadit, the heart of every man and the core of every star, which is the ultimate Paternal idea beyond even notions of gender. In the Creed, the “Father of Life” is called CHAOS, who is identifiable with “Therion” (The Great Beast 666), which are all Father-Force symbols attributable in the Qabalah to the 2nd Sephirah, Chokmah. All these things go to reinforce the fact that the Priest can be identified as the Yod of Tetragrammaton, the Father-King of Life.

4) The Vav of Tetragrammaton: The Sun/Son

To further complicate things (as is natural with symbolism), the Priest can be identified with the Vav of Tetragrammaton (YHVH). On the Tree of Life, Yod can be attributed to Chokmah, Heh to Binah, Vav to Tiphareth (and the surrounding Sephiroth), and Final Heh to Malkuth. In this scheme, Vav is attributed to the Sun, and the Priest is called the “Priest of the Sun” by the Priestess. Further, in the incestuous Qabalistic drama of Tetragrammaton, the Son/Prince is said to marry the Daughter/Princess and set her upon the Throne of the Mother. This is explicitly seen when the Priest says, “I, PRIEST and KING, take thee, Virgin pure without spot; I upraise thee; I lead thee to the East; I set thee upon the summit of the Earth.” The Priest then literally sets the Priestess upon the Throne in the East. As it says in the 4th Aethyr, “And this is that which is written: Malkuth shall be uplifted and set upon the throne of Binah.” In this sense, the Priest begins as the Prince/Son and, by virtue of his interaction with the Princess/Daughter, uplifts her to become Queen/Mother and he assumes the place of King/Father.

Again: the symbolism intertwines and overlaps in many ways. At the end of the Gnostic Mass, the Priest consumes the two-fold Eucharist and, in the attitude of Resurrection, proclaims that “There is no part of me that is not of the gods.” This is the traditional symbol of Osiris who died and was reborn, and the attitude of Resurrection was called “the Sign of Osiris Risen” in the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, which was attributed to the Sephirah of Tiphareth (that was, in turn, attributed to the grade of 5=6, that of the formula of LVX, IAO, and INRI, i.e. Life-Death-Rebirth). In a certain way, the Gnostic Mass represents the “perpetuation of the Tetragrammaton,” which is to say that it represents evolution (One becoming Many, Creation) and involution (Many becoming One, Attainment) and evolution again, et cetera ad infinitum. In this light, Crowley comments on the quotation from the 4th Aethyr mentioned above, “This mystery of the Daughter awakening the eld of the all-Father and thus perpetuating Tetragrammaton is of great importance.”

5) The Masculine Operator in Sexual Magick

As if it is not already obvious from the previously mentioned symbolism (and the Mass itself), the Priest represents the masculine operator in sexual magick. I say “masculine” because he represents one half of the equation, and each individual “soul” is androgynous, containing both male and female (and all other opposites) in itself. In this way, in Hindu symbolism, the Priest represents Shiva and the Priestess is Shakti. This is reflected in Atu XI: Lust where Babalon (Shakti) is astride the Beast (Shiva). From this symbolism, one comes to wonder why the Priest is constantly identified as the “active” element in this duo when the symbolism repeatedly points to Babalon-Shakti as the more “active” participant – the masculine seems to often be “along for the ride,” so to speak. She’s the one who came down and pulled the Priest out of the Tomb, after all. In fact, Babalon is literally on top of the Beast in Atu XI, and – during the Collects – the Priestess can be seen above the Priest as they exchange their loving glances and breath.

Alchemically, the Priest is the Red Lion who interacts with the White Eagle, combining their essences in the hermetic vessel (or Grail) in order to produce the Elixir of Life, the Stone of the Philosophers, the Arcane Substance, the Two-in-One (et cetera). This alchemical symbolism is shown most explicitly in Atu VI: The Lovers where the Chymical Marriage takes place, and the result of their Consummation is shown in Atu XIV: Art.

6) Parsival: The Fool’s Journey

The Priest represents Parsival, specifically the character from Wagner’s opera. The Master Therion was obviously most fond of this allegory and he references it in many different works. In fact, he notes that “The dramatic setting of Wagner’s Parsifal was arranged by the then head of the O.T.O.” (i.e. Theodor Reuss). He explains that “Parsifal in his first phase is Der reine Thor, the Pure Fool” (The Book of Thoth), so the Gnostic Mass can be seen as the archetypal narrative of “the Fool’s Journey.”

Consider this: The Priest issues from the Tomb in white, symbolizing purity and innocence, just like that of Parsifal in the first Act of Wagner’s opera. Next, “Parsifal seizes [the sacred lance]; in other words, attains to puberty.” This is shown by the 11 strokes of the Lance by which the Lord is made present among us; further, going back to the symbolism of Tetragrammaton, this shows the Priest attaining “spiritual puberty” represented by the Lance (Vav) by which he may unite with the Daughter (Final Heh) and set her upon the Throne of the Mother (Heh). As the Master Therion explains, “the Fool: the innocent and impotent Harpocrates Babe becomes the Horus Adult by obtaining the Wand. ‘Der reine Thor’ [the pure fool] seizes the Sacred Lance. Bacchus becomes Pan. The Holy Guardian Angel is the Unconscious Creature Self – the Spiritual Phallus. His knowledge and conversation contributes occult puberty” (Liber Samekh).

Next, Parsifal must seek Monsalvat, the Mountain of Salvation, that is the same as “Abiegnus” the sacred mountain of Rosicrucians (as well as Mount Sinai, Mount Meru, the world-ash wonder-tree, and all other symbols of the axis mundi) that is symbolically shown as the High Altar in the East. The Master Therion continues, “Where is Monsalvat, the mountain of salvation, which he has sought so long in vain? He worships the lance: immediately the way, so long closed to him, is open.” This is seen in the Priest’s three circumambulations of the Temple in darkness, led only by the Light of the Sacred Lance, which eventually brings him to the Veil of the Sanctuary. Then, “Accordingly, to redeem the whole situation, to destroy death, to reconsecrate the temple, he has only to plunge the lance into the Holy Grail; he redeems not only Kundry, but himself.” This is seen in the moment of the Lance plunging the particle into the Grail with the simultaneous orgasmic “HRILIU” from Priest and Priestess. It is from this “mixture,” the Eucharist infused with Godhead Itself, that the Priest (and the People) can partake and arise as that which may truthfully proclaim, “There is no part of me that is not of the gods.” This is one reason that the Sacred Lance is not just another name for the magical implement of the Wand. Without the Lance, the entire symbolism of Parsifal’s “Fool’s Journey” (the connections of which goes much deeper than the above) is almost completely lost.

Again: This list is not exhaustive, nor is the symbolism of any of those meanings listed above completely fleshed out. The idea is to show there are many interconnected, intertwining, overlapping sets of symbolism by which one can more fully appreciate the mysterious depths of the central ceremony of Ordo Templi Orientis.

[→ Part 2: The Priestess →]

Rituals of the Elements: Vernal Equinox

The Rituals of the Elements: Vernal Equinox

Introduction

It is written in Liber AL vel Legis II:36, “There are rituals of the elements and feasts of the times.” Crowley comments, “The entry of the Sun into the cardinal signs of the elements at the Equinoxes and Solstices are suitable for festivals. The difference between ‘rituals’ and ‘feasts’ is this: by the one a particular form of energy is generated, while there is a general discharge of one’s superfluous force in the other. Yet a feast implies periodical nourishment.” This cycle of dramatic rituals are therefore invocations. They are intended to generate energy at the entrance of the Sun into the cardinal signs of elements at the four quarters of the year, i.e. the Equinoxes and Solstices.

The entire cycle of rituals simultaneously show:

  1. The macrocosmic cycle of the Sun going through the seasons
  2. The microcosmic cycle of Man going through the generations/Incarnation (birth/youth-adulthood-old age-death).
  3. The process of Attainment from 0=0 to 8=3 and back again.

The energies of each ritual correspond to each of these planes at once:

Equinox and Solstice rituals

Each ritual invokes a particular energy. Each ritual has a particular Word of Power associated therewith and it is intoned in between the scenes. The Word also appears once in each ritual within a particular Scene.

Each of the four rituals has 3 scenes for a total of 12 scenes for the entire cycle, one for each of the signs of the Zodiac. The middle scene of each ritual is the sign of the Equinox or Solstice – for example, the middle scene in Autumn is Libra. The first scene is therefore Virgo, the sign before Libra, and the last scene is Scorpio, the sign after Libra. In general, the first scene represents events leading up to the Equinox or Solstice, the middle scene represents the actual turning-point, and the last scene represents events leading to the next Equinox or Solstice.

The Basic Characters

  • (☉/♂) Priest/King – the conscious Self. The Child who grows to become King who attains and becomes a Priest and then dies and is reborn as the Child.
  • (☽/♀) Priestess/Queen the Non-Self (the unconscious self, the “higher self,” etc.)The  Mother of the Child, the Queen/Beloved of the King, the High Priestess of the Priest.
  • (+ and -) 2 Children – the duality of the World. Various roles throughout the entire cycle.
  • () The People (participants) – the inhabitants of the World; they identify (at least their conscious selves) with the Priest.


Mucha Winter SolsticeTHE VERNAL EQUINOX CEREMONY

Also known as “The Bornless Reborn”

The Word of this ceremony is ‘VIAOV.’ It is repeatedly intoned in between scenes by the People/Congregants. The Incense of this ceremony is Frankincense1 and/or Rose.2 The Talisman of this ceremony are fresh, Spring flowers.3

SCENE I: Pisces.
End of Winter, the Final Lamentations of the Mother

[MUSIC: The last ~2 minutes of Alexander Glazunov’s “Winter” from “The Seasons,” which continues the song that ended the Winter ceremony]

The Queen is the Mother4, lamenting the death of the King at the tomb in the West5. + and – stand in the East in front of the dais as forms of Anubis6, looking to the West at the Queen. The Obelisks are still broken.

[MUSIC: Sounds of wind howling/storm fade in and overpower the music]

MOTHER: Sterility is my name, and desolation.

+: Intolerable is thine ache

–: And incurable thy wound.

MOTHER: I said, Let the darkness cover me; and behold, I am compassed about with the blackness that hath no name.7

+: The sun has become black!

–: The moon has become as blood!8

MOTHER: All that was ordered and stable is shaken!9 The winter storm has plunged our kingdom into darkness.

The Queen pauses and listens to the howling winds.

MOTHER: The mystery, the evil darkness of these incoherent cries, sets my teeth on edge with horror. And yet I cannot give up the hope which thrilled me at the Voice.10 But so keen, so desolate, so deadly is the pain of my spirit that blank darkness overwhelms me altogether.11

+: Yet there was a star in sight…

–: A star of hope arose…

MOTHER: Yet fell back into the darkness of the waters!12 A Star in the West? What folly!13 The King has left no heir and I fear we may wallow in this darkness forever. This discipline is sorrowful…

+: And ploughing is laborious…

–: And age is weariness…14

MOTHER: I sink through waves of blackness… down!

The Queen falls down.

+: Down!

+ falls down.

–: Down!15

falls down.

MOTHER: In this Kingdom of the Grave, there is no light or knowledge.

+: Nor beauty.

–: Nor stability.

MOTHER: The worm is crowned!

The Queen places her crown on the ground.

MOTHER: All that we have been hath been eaten up! All that we shall be is nothing!16

+: The darkness of the earth is ruddy.

–: The darkness of the air is grey.

MOTHER: The darkness of the soul is utter blackness.17

The Mother laments and, with each wave of sobs and cries of pain18, the thunder of the storm gets louder and longer, an earthquake19 rumbles stronger and stronger.

+: The Queen is sore distressed!20

–: Who is now set to save us?21

+: Is not the egg of spirit a black egg?

–: Is not the snake that devoureth the spirit of man the lust of light?22

+ stands up while saying:

+: Let us beseech the Babe that abides in the egg!

stands up while saying:

–: Let us invoke the Son of Morning hidden in the Lotus!23

+ and – walk to the West and gather on opposite sides of the Mother. + turns around, and + and circle the Queen widdershins (counter-clockwise) while vibrating VIAOV three times. During the first vibration, + and – are in the Sign of Isis Mourning; during the second vibration, they are in the Sign of Apophis; during the third vibration, they are in the Sign of Osiris Risen; there are a total of 9 widdershins circumambulations.24

+ & –: VIAOV. VIAOV. VIAOV.

The King is hidden inside the Veil in the East. The Music gets quieter for a moment.

KING: In the thick darkness the seed awaiteth spring.25

END SCENE

[MUSIC: The thunderstorm continues and gets louder.]

Congregants repeatedly intone ‘VIAOV’ in between scenes.

SCENE II: Aries.
The Vernal Re-Birth of the Father in the Child

[MUSIC: The storm continues to rumble with thunder.]

The King is still behind the Veil. The Obelisks are stood upright and in front of the Veil.

The Queen gives + a Dagger and – a Disk.26

KING: Let the Illusion of the World pass over thee, unheeded, as thou goest from the Midnight to the Morning!27

+: It is He! The Bornless Spirit!28

–: It is He that lighteneth and thundereth!29

The Mother rises.

[The sound of the storm begins to fade away]

MOTHER: It is He! The Truth!30 He is risen!31

+: He is exalted!

–: He is great!

+: Glory to God!

–: Thanksgiving to God!32

MOTHER: There is no god but man.33

[MUSIC: Sound of lightning and “OM” intoned]

The Mother gives the Sign of Isis Rejoicing,34 and there is a flash of lightning.35 +, –, and the Mother all kneel in awe as the Child emerges. The King is seen as the Child36 in the East37 in the attitude of Resurrection,38 dressed in Green39 or Rose-pink40 or plant-life with a golden sash around his chest,41 and he carries fresh flowers in both hands. + holds up the Dagger42 and – holds up the Disk43; they then both kneel and adore the Child when he begins his speech.44

KING: “I am that I am, the flame / Hidden in the sacred ark. / I am the unspoken name / I the unbegotten spark. / I am He that ever goeth, / Being in myself the Way; / Known, that yet no mortal knoweth, / Shewn, that yet no mortal sheweth, / I, the child of night and day. / I am never-dying youth. / I am Love, and I am Truth. / I am the creating Word, / I the author of the aeon; / None but I have ever heard / Echo in the empyrean / Plectron of the primal paean! / I am the eternal one / Winged and white, the flowering rod, / I the fountain of the sun, Very God of very God! / I am he that lifteth up / Life, and flingeth it afar; / I have filled the crystal cup; / I have sealed the silver star. / I the wingless God that flieth / Through my firmamental fane, / I am he that daily dieth, / And is daily born again.”45 VIAOV!46

The King looks to + and – who are kneeling in supplicated adoration.

KING: Fear not; I am the first and the last; I am he that liveth and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, for I have the keys of hell and of death.47 Kneel not in supplication, for I am your fellowservant. You are my brother [he raises + to his feet, takes the Dagger in his right hand, and gives + half of the flowers] and my sister [he raises – to her feet, takes the Disk in his left hand, and gives – the other half of the flowers]. Worship Thyself!”48

The King stands in the Sign of Osiris Risen, holding the Dagger and Disk against his shoulders. + and – go around and give each of the Congregants a flower with the words “Worship Thyself!”

[MUSIC: Part of “Appalachian Spring” by Copland]

When complete, + and – return, place any extra flowers on the High Altar in the East, and take back the Dagger and Disk, respectively. The King then approaches the West to comfort his awe-struck Mother. + and – go with him, flanking him.

KING: Mother, you mourn sincerely, but your sorrow has no cause. The change which ye lament is the life of my rejoicing, and the sorrow that blackeneth your heart is the myriad deaths by which I am renewed.49 Grieve neither for the living nor for the dead. There has never been a time when you and I and all the stars gathered here have not existed, nor will there be a time when we will cease to exist.50 Wipe the tears from your eyes.

+: There is no death!

–: There is no sorrow!

+: There is no crying!

–: Nor is there pain.51

KING: Remember all ye that existence is pure joy; that all the sorrows are but as shadows; they pass & are done; but there is that which remains.52 I am the Eternal Sun, the motionless axle of the cycle of night and day, constant and triumphant throughout the changing seasons. Realize you are That which pervades the universe and is indestructible; no power can affect this unchanging, imperishable reality. Even in the face of death, you should not grieve. Death is inevitable for the living; birth is inevitable for the dead. Since these are unavoidable, you should not sorrow… There is none that shall be cast down or lifted up: all is ever as it was53 … there is no sin, and there is no salvation54… Death means the attainment of heaven, and life means the enjoyment of the earth. Therefore, rise up, Mother, and resolve to rejoice!55

MOTHER: Behold! where are now the darkness and the terror and the lamentation? For we are born into the new Aeon; we shall not suffer death… In the nights we will dance together, and in the morning we will go forth to war; for, as my King liveth that was dead, so do you live now and shall never die!56

END SCENE.

[MUSIC: Alexander Glazunov’s “Spring” from “The Seasons,” fade in starting from ~1:00.]

Congregants repeatedly intone ‘VIAOV’ in between scenes. 

SCENE III: Taurus.
The growth of the Body in Boyhood, the equilibration of the Elements

The future King is a youth, growing into adolescence. He is counseled by the Mother to grow in preparation for the Child to take the throne as King: he is taught to balance the Elements57 in the form of attainment of the 4 Powers of the Sphinx:58 To Know, To Will, To Dare, To Keep Silence. The Mother leads the Child around to each Quarter.59

MOTHER: Ah, my son! You are like a hawk with mighty-sweeping wings of mother-of-emerald. The very earth gladdens into green at your coming. Children of Earth! Rejoice! Rejoice exceedingly, for our salvation is at hand. The end of sorrow is come!60

KING: I am still but a child, innocent and impotent.61 How should I ever become deserving to take my Father’s throne?

MOTHER: You must first become worthy to seize the Sacred Lance of his power.62 The temple must be builded before the God can indwell it.63 Strengthen thyself! Set thy feet firmly upon the earth.64 Tend the garden of your soul!65

KING: Heavy is the labour, but great indeed is the reward.

MOTHER: You shall not see the reward,66 but you must tend the garden. Who can tell upon what day a flower shall bloom?67 In the impure Soul no Vision will arise, therefore cleanse the Soul68: balance the Elements within oneself: You must achieve the Four Powers of the Sphinx, though even adepts hardly attain to one of them!69

The Mother leads the Child-King to the West where + stands as representing the threat of unbalanced introversion. – stands in the East.

+: The wiles of the world are a plague upon the spirit! Build yourself up as a fortress to withstand the poisonous attacks of sense.70

The King looks to the Mother for guidance.

MOTHER: Be strong, o man! lust, enjoy all things of sense and rapture: fear not that any God shall deny thee for this. Exceed! Exceed! Strive ever to more! Love is the law, love under will.71

The Mother gives the Sign of the Enterer,72 and the King turns back to + to give the Sign of the Enterer himself.

MOTHER: My Child, the Power of Daring is in your heart, coiled and ready to leap!Springcircle_1

[MUSIC: Fade in “Mars” by Holst during circumambulations and fade out before the next line is spoken]

The Mother leads the Child-King 1¼ deosil/clockwise circumambulations while + moves widdershins-counter-clockwise ¾ circle (– mirrors movements of + on the opposite side of the circle; + ends in the North and – in the South); King and Queen come to the North where + stands as representing external Tyranny. The King faces + with the Mother behind him and to the side, guiding him.

+: Thou shalt honor thy father and thy mother! Thou shalt not commit adultery!73

The King looks to the Mother for guidance.

MOTHER: Thou hast no right but to do thy will. Do that, and no other shall say nay.74

The Mother gives the Sign of Silence,75 and the King turns back to + to give the Sign of Silence himself.

MOTHER: My Child, the Power of Knowledge grows within you!springcircle_2

[MUSIC: Fade in “Mars” by Holst during circumambulations and fade out before the next line is spoken]

The Mother leads the Child-King 1½ deosil/clockwise circumambulations; + and – do not move. The King and Queen come to the South where – stands as representing unbalanced extroversion. The King faces – with the Mother behind him and to the side, guiding him.

–: Be not lead into temptation, beware of your prideful sins!76 Love is charity and sacrifice to others.

The King looks to the Mother for guidance.

MOTHER: Ye shall be as ye are, & not other. Therefore the kings of the earth shall be Kings for ever: the slaves shall serve.77

The Mother gives the Sign of Silence,78 and the King turns back to – to give the Sign of Silence himself.

MOTHER: My Child, do not give overly of yourself to others in thought, word, or deed; Knowledge, Will, and Courage are for naught if you do not Keep Silence!

[MUSIC: Fade in “Mars” by Holst during circumambulations and fade out before the next line is spoken]

springcircle_3The Mother leads the Child-King ¾ deosil/clockwise circumambulations while – moves widdershins-counter-clockwise ¼ circle (+ mirrors movements of – on the opposite side of the circle; – ends in the East and + in the West); King and Queen come to the East where – stands as representing internal Tyranny. The King faces – with the Mother behind him and to the side, guiding him.

–: Who art thou that dost float and fly and dive and soar in the inane? Behold, these many æons have passed; whence camest thou? Whither wilt thou go?79

The King looks to the Mother for guidance.

MOTHER: A curse upon Because and his kin! May Because be accursed for ever! If Will stops and cries Why, invoking Because, then Will stops & does nought. If Power asks why, then is Power weakness.80

The Mother gives the Sign of the Enterer,81 and the King turns back to – to give the Sign of the Enterer himself.

MOTHER: My Child, you have begun to unfold the Power of Will. There is no law beyond Do what thou wilt.82

The Mother takes off the King’s green/rose-pink tabard.83 + takes the tabard from the Queen; + and Queen move to the East to join –, and + places the tabard in the East.

The Queen retrieves the Lance from the High Altar. + and – move to the center, The King in the West, the Mother in the East, + in the South, and – in the North so that all four individuals form a circle or diamond in the center, all facing inwards.

+: You have passed through each of the quarters.

–: You have become an adherent, a Man of Earth.84

+ holds the Lance upright in the center. +, –, and the Mother all intone a syllable of “IAO.” The Mother begins with “I,” and while she is still intoning, + begins to vibrate “A,” and – vibrates “O” so that all three are vibrated at once. Finally, the King vibrates “VIAOV” and they all end at the same time.

QUEEN: I!

+ holds the Lance with the Mother while intoning:

+: A!

holds the Lance with the Mother and + while intoning:

–: O!

The King grabs the Lance and raises it while the Mother, +, and – all let go, all while the King intones:

KING: VIAOV!

+ and – turn to flank the Mother while facing toward the King.

KING: Am I not nearly purged of the iniquity of my forefathers?

MOTHER: Yet a little…85 This is only the first step upon the Path of the Great Work. Our Kingdom is still in danger: the Lower Kingdom threatens us where the Daughter of their King still rules. You must now leave me: win your own adulthood by winning a worthy Queen, and reclaim your rightful place as King.86 Go now, with ecstasy of worship in your heart.

+: With a clear mind.

–: And a passionate body.87

MOTHER: Go now, and may you grow to be a great King!

+: May you wax strong in spirit.

–: May you be filled with wisdom!88

[MUSIC: Fade in “Mars” from “The Planets, op.32” by Gustav Holst, starting from ~3:45]

KING: I shall find the Daughter of the King89 and she will become my bride! The voluptuous Virgin of Night will illumine my soul with arcane delight!90 Our Upper Kingdom will be united with the Lower once more: I shall set her upon the Throne of my Mother91 and the whole earth will rejoice.92

The King raises his Lance and marches to the West and into the Tomb.

END SCENE.

[OUTRO MUSIC: Play out “Mars” for about 2-3 minutes.]

1 In 777, Frankincense is attributed to Tiphareth (the Sun) and to the Element of Fire, which rules the Vernal Equinox because it occurs in the sign of Aries.

2 In 777, Rose is attributed to Tiphareth in the King Scale of Color, and it is also “traditionally been taken as [a] glyph of the circle” which refers in this case to the circle or cycle of the Seasons itself.

3 This represents vegetative Growth, the “Green Man” of Spring, and the general flowering of Beauty after lying fallow during the darkness of Winter.

4 Isis mourning Osiris/Mary mourning Jesus; Isis Mourning (L) of the INRI/LVX/IAO formula

5 The Sun sets in the West and therefore represents Death.

6 Atu XVIII: The Moon.

7 The Vision and the Voice, 14th Aethyr.

8 These lines are adapted from Revelation 6:12.

9 The Vision and the Voice, 16th Aethyr.

10 In terms of these Seasonal rites, “the hope which thrilled me” refers to the Star of the Redeemer appearing at the end of the Winter Solstice ceremony, i.e. in Aquarius, which directly precedes this particular scene.

11 The Heart of the Master.

12 A reference to the Star of the Redeemer that appeared at the end of the Winter Solstice ceremony, i.e. in Aquarius.

13 The Heart of the Master.

14 Adapted from The Vision and the Voice, 28th Aethyr, where it refers to the dispersion of the Abyss.

15 The Vision and the Voice, 16th Aethyr.

16 Adapted from The Vision and the Voice, 14th Aethyr.

17 The Vision and the Voice, 14th Aethyr.

18 These are the pangs of birth.

19 A reference to Revelation 6:12, “And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood.”

20 An adaptation of Liber LXV, I:38.

21 An adaptation of Liber LXV, I:37.

22 The Vision and the Voice, 14th Aethyr.

23 These two lines are adapted from The Vision and the Voice, 14th Aethyr, “The voice of the Crowned Child, the Speech of the Babe that is hidden in the egg of blue… Rejoice with me, O ye Sons of the Morning; stand with me upon the Throne of Lotus…”

24 The three vibrations of the threefold word “VIAOV” (the V’s are silent) give 9 total syllables that are intoned, symbolic of the 9 months of the Child in the womb. They do not necessarily need to perform 9 circumambulations but it would strengthen the symbolism.

25 The Vision and the Voice, 15th Aethyr.

26 The Mother is the source of the mind (Dagger) and body (Disk) of the Child, which are given to Him in order that he may incarnate or “manifest.”

27 From Crowley’s The Heart of the Master.

28 He is the “Bornless Spirit” because the True Self is never born nor does it ever die, yet it enters into incarnation or manifestation – represented by the four seasons and four Elements – in order to experience Itself.

29 It is seen that the storm is the Child itself, no longer a source of fear but a signal of the divine presence. As it says in the Holy Book of Thelema known as Liber A’ash, “Fear not when I fall in the fury of the storm; for mine acorns are blown afar by the wind; and verily I shall rise again, and my children about me, so that we shall uplift our forest in Eternity. Eternity is the storm that covereth me.”

30 This exchange comes from Liber Samekh, Section Gg. “The Truth” is a name Christ gives to himself and it is also one of the many names of Allah. Mansur al-Hallaj – a Persian Sufi of the 9th and 10th centuries C.E. – attained this identity with Godhead and he was promptly killed for blasphemy when he proclaimed “I am the Truth.”

31 “He is risen” comes from what is called the “Paschal greeting.” On Easter, certain Christians will greet each other by saying “Christ is risen” and the response is “Truly, He is risen!” Easter, i.e. the Resurrection, corresponds to the Vernal Equinox ceremony insofar as the Father is resurrected in the Son in this Season.

32 This exchange is adapted from The Vision and the Voice, 15th Aethyr. “Exalted” and “great” are qualities or titles of the 5th Sephirah, Geburah, while “glory” and “thanksgiving” (the literal translation of eucharistos) are qualities or titles of the 4th Sephirah, Chesed. Together with Tiphareth, the Sun, they form the descending triangle of Ra-Hoor-Khuit, the Crowned and Conquering Child.

33 This line comes from Liber LXXVII: Liber OZ, and is switched in here for “There is no god but god,” which occurs in the 15th Aethyr. It is thus, in one sense, a development from the Muslim proclamation of faith insofar as the human being is understood to be the true God. It is said here by the Queen almost as a correction to the paeans being made by + and –.

34 The final sign of the NOX series, Mater Triumphans; it signifies the completion of the crossing of the Abyss to be born as Nemo

35 Lightning represents (a) Incarnation or Manifestation, i.e. the Qabalistic Lightning Flash ; (b) the birth of the Zarathustran Overman as in “Where is the lightning to lick you with its tongue? Where is the frenzy with which ye should be inoculated? Lo, I teach you the Superman: he is that lightning, he is that frenzy!-”; it is also therefore the birth of the Child of Attainment, i.e. Nemo in the City of the Pyramids; he is also the birth of the demi-god Savior as in, for example, the stories of Christ or Buddha (c) the Thelemic image of the generative force as in Liber A’ash, “Gnarled Oak of God! In thy branches is the lightning nested! Above thee hangs the Eyeless Hawk” and throughout Liber VII. It is therefore the Incarnation of the Spirit into Man and the birth of the Savior into the World, the Master of the Temple being cast from Binah back down into Malkuth to restart the cycle. The idea also relates to an aphorism from the Chaldean Oracles, “If thou often invokest thou shalt see all things growing dark; and then when no longer is visible unto thee the High-arched Vault of Heaven, when the Stars have lost their Light and the Lamp of the Moon is veiled, the Earth abideth not, and around thee darts the Lightning Flame and all things appear amid thunders.”

36 The Green Man/Pure Fool of Spring and youthful folly; also the Crowned & Conquering Child Horus

37 The East is where the Sun rises and therefore represents Birth.

38 The Sign of Osiris Risen with arms crossed over the chest; it is the sign of Life triumphant over Death.

39 This refers to the re-emergence of plant life after Winter and is reflected in many traditions, e.g. the Green Man, the green color of Osiris’ skin, or Atu 0: The Fool in the Thoth Tarot.

40 Rose-pink is a color of Tiphareth, the Sun, specifically “the rose-pink of dawn, the spring of the day” (777).

41 Revelation 1:13, “And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle.”

42 The Dagger is the weapon of Air and therefore symbolizes the bestowing of a Mind as a weapon to work his Will. It also reflects the Scourge, i.e. of Geburah/Mars that Osiris traditionally holds.

43 The Disk is the weapon of Earth and therefore symbolizes the bestowing of a Body as a weapon of work his Will. It also reflects the Crook, i.e. of Chesed/Jupiter that Osiris traditionally holds.

44 This is Baphomet, the Two-in-One God, who is seen as Christ the Redeemer in Revelation 1, the Alpha & Omega.

45 “The Ship: A Mystery Play” by Crowley

46 VIAOV represents the V passing through the cycle of Incarnation (IAO), triumphant and sustained by the process rather than it being a catastrophe. It represents the triumph of Life/Hadit through apparent death.

47 An adaptation of Revelation 1:17-18.

48 An adaptation of Revelation 22:9, “Then saith he unto me, See thou do it not: for I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren the prophets,and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worship God.” The switch from “God” to “Thyself” represents the switch in perspective of the New Aeon of the Crowned and Conquering Child.

49 This particular line comes from The Vision and the Voice, 23rd Aethyr.

50 An adaptation of chapter 2 of Bhagavad Gita

51 Adapted from Revelation 21:4.

52 Liber AL II:9

53 Liber AL II:58.

54 This one line comes from The Vision and the Voice, 26th Aethyr.

55 An adaptation of more of chapter 2 of Bhagavad Gita

56 Adapted from The Vision and the Voice, 22nd Aethyr.

57 The 4 Elements are seen around the edges of Atu V: The Hierophant to which is attributed the sign of Taurus.

58 This arduous work of winning mastery over the Elements is reflected in the hard work of plowing the fields; Taurus, the Bull, is an animal used to help plow fields.

59 The Quarters represent the 4 Elements and the 4 Powers of the Sphinx.

60 Adapted from Liber Tzaddi, lines 1-4.

61 “Innocent and impotent” is a phrase used in Liber Samekh to describe the Pure Fool, the Babe Horus (Aleph – Atu 0: The Fool) that must obtain the Lance and become the Adult Horus (Ayin – Atu XV: The Devil).

62 Crowley writes in Liber Samekh, Point II, line 5, “What then is the formula of the initiation of Horus? It will no longer be that of the Man, through Death. It will be the natural growth of the Child. His experiences will no more be regarded as catastrophic. Their hieroglyph is the Fool: the innocent and impotent Harpocrates Babe becomes the Horus Adult by obtaining the Wand. ‘Der reine Thor’ seizes the Sacred Lance. Bacchus becomes Pan. The Holy Guardian Angel is the Unconscious Creature Self – the Spiritual Phallus. His knowledge and conversation contributes occult puberty.”

63 Liber LXI vel Causae, line 21.

64 The Vision and the Voice, 15th Aethyr.

65 A reference to the garden of the 13th Aethyr where a certain flower may arise as NEMO, the Master of the Temple.

66 A foreshadowing of the King’s death next Winter, and also a more esoteric reference to the fact that Attainment ultimates in the annihilation of the ego so the “you” of the ego shall not see the “reward.”

67 The Vision and the Voice, 13th Aethyr.

68 Adapted from AHA!

69 Adapted from AHA!

70 Basically, + represents the Threat of unbalanced Introversion: + tries to get the Child-King to keep to himself and be concerned only with himself.

71 Liber AL, II:22, 71, 72 and Liber AL, I:57.

72 The Sign of the Enterer, i.e. Silence, i.e. of Ra-Hoor-Khuit, represents a response to or attack against the – imbalance.

73 Two of the 10 Commandments of the Old Aeon. They represent, in general, the “Thou shalt”s and “Thou shalt not”s that are overturned in the New Aeon. In particular, the father and mother are no longer adored for it is the Aeon of the Crowned and Conquering Child. Adultery is no longer sacred, for we no longer pathologize the sexual instinct nor think it sinful, and Babalon is the Great Whore that we adore. Basically, + represents external Tyranny, i.e. religious-social Authority, and + tries to get the Child-King to conform to his ideal of what is right.

74 Liber AL, I:42-43.

75 The Sign of Silence, i.e. of Harpocrates or Hoor-Paar-Kraat, represents a response to or defense against the + imbalance.

76 A reference to the Lord’s prayer as in Luke 11:4, “And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil.” Basically, – represents the threat of unbalance Extroversion: – tries to get the Child to engage in self-sacrifice, only thinking of others, which is a hallmark of the Old Aeon of Osiris, the Dying God.

77 Liber AL, II:58.

78 The Sign of Silence, i.e. of Harpocrates or Hoor-Paar-Kraat, represents a response to or defense against the + imbalance.

79 This line comes from Liber LXV, II:21 where it is asked by the “little crazy boy” of Reason to the Adept. Basically, – represents Internal Tyranny, i.e. superstition and habit. – tries to get the Child-King to question himself through hyper-rationality.

80 Liber AL, II:28-31.

81 The Sign of the Enterer, i.e. Silence, i.e. of Ra-Hoor-Khuit, represents a response to or attack against the – imbalance.

82 Liber AL, III:60.

83 This represents the end of childhood and the entering into adulthood. There have now been a total of 3.5 deosil circumambulations, symbolic of the Kundalini serpent coiled 3.5 times at the base of the spine. The awakening of the Kundalini represents the awakening to the Creative Life-force of Godhead, which is seen symbolically in puberty in the course of the individual’s life.

84 This represents attaining the “grade” of Man of Earth, corresponding to the Third Order of Golden Dawn (Malkuth, 1=10) which contains the 4 Elements. The next grade is the Lover, which is in Tiphareth (5=6). This grade, as well as that of Geburah (6=5) are attained in the Summer Solstice ceremony. The grade of 7=4 is attained in Autumn when the King becomes a Hermit, which is the final aspect of the grade of Lover. The next grade of Hermit (8=3) is attained in the Winter Solstice when the King gives up his life in an act of supreme Love.

85 The Vision and the Voice, 16th Aethyr.

86 This represents the child leaving the home of the family and becoming an independent adult. It also refers to the Son/Prince of Tetragrammaton (YHVH) uniting with the Daughter/Princess of Tetragrammaton (YHVH), so that she may be set upon the throne of the Mother (YHVH) and the Prince may become King (YHVH).

87 The Vision and the Voice, 16th Aethyr.

88 Luke 2:40.

89 The Vision and the Voice, 9th Aethyr. She is the Daughter or Princess of Tetragrammaton, the Final Heh of YHVH. The King, having attained the Lance, has achieved become the Prince (Vav of YHVH) who weds the Princess (Final Heh of YHVH) so that she may be set upon the Throne of Understanding (Heh of YHVH) and he may assume the Throne of the King (Yod of YHVH).

90 Adapted from AHA!

91 The Vision and the Voice, 9th Aethyr, “This is she that is set upon the Throne of Understanding. Holy, Holy, Holy is her name, not to be spoken among men. For Kor they have called her, and Malkuth, and Betulah, and Persephone.” Also, the 4th Aethyr, “And this is that which is written: Malkuth shall be uplifted and set upon the throne of Binah.”

92 A foreshadowing of the Summer Solstice ritual, which reflects Revelation 19:7, “Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready.” The King is, of course, the Lamb, the Solar Savior of Light, Life, Love, and Liberty.

 

On Contributing to the Greater Community in Thelema

IAO131 - On Serving the Greater Community in Thelema

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.

Prologue

Before even beginning to discuss the extent that contributing to the greater community is part of Thelema, it should be acknowledged that the “alpha and omega” of Thelema is Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law. There is no law beyond doing your Will and you have no right but to do It. The answer to any question that takes the form “Is X or Y part of Thelema” is always “if it is your Will, then yes; if it is not your Will, then no.” I am not saying anyone “should” or “should not” do anything, but I am presenting an argument why contributing to the greater community is justified within the philosophy of Thelema. With that in mind, we can take a look at what Thelema implies and Crowley said about contributing to the greater community.

A maturing view of True Will

I would argue that, at a less mature level, Thelema is understood to be an entirely selfish doctrine. (By “less mature,” I simply mean “not fully developed,” and no pejorative implication is meant by it). When first learning about Thelema, individuals often understand “Do what thou wilt” to essentially mean “I have the right to find my Will and do it, so my personal needs trump everyone else’s.” From a certain standpoint, this is true. Your needs certainly deserve to be fulfilled. The problem is that many people simply do not know yet what their true “personal needs” and desires are in the first place – hence the necessity to engage in the process to know one’s Will. Further, one in this mindset maintains a very dichotomous (i.e. dualistic, black-and-white) view of the “self” as distinct from “others.” 

Many people move to the next level of maturity when they join an organization or start applying Thelema at a broader scale. That is, one matures to realize that everyone else has the right to do their own Will just as much as oneself. It is the realization that, just as you are the center of your own universe, everyone around you is the center of their own universes. Not only this, but many come to realize that becoming aware of others’ needs and even helping to fulfill them actually makes one’s own Will much easier to accomplish. The dichotomous view of “my Will versus the world” begins to break down and we see that we are a Star in the company of Stars. We see that disagreement does not preclude a greater harmony or cooperation, and often we find that we can accomplish greater things if we work together with others. We may even begin see that the distinction between “self” and “other” is much more tenuous, fluid, and dynamic than previously supposed, perhaps gaining a glimmer of the meaning of “the union of opposites” being the Great Work. 

This all may sound very obvious to some, but this is where things generally start to “break down.” Thelemites may see the rationale to serve their own needs and the needs of their Brothers and Sisters, but many do not see a rationale for contributing to the greater community. By “the greater community” I simply mean “people who are not part of OTO” or even “people who are not self-identified Thelemites.” Why might this be?

Why should we contribute to the greater community?

I am defining contributing as “giving resources, including but not limited to time, energy, and money.” We should certainly make sure to dedicate our resources to ourselves, making sure that our needs are met so that we may accomplish our Wills. Many Thelemites naturally and intuitively understand that contributing to an organization like OTO – i.e. by giving their time, energy, and money – is a great way to not only aid others in accomplishing their Wills but to learn more about one’s own Will in the process. The struggle for freedom – and the freedom that one has won for oneself – is naturally desired to be shared with others, so we band together into communities in order to preserve and promulgate the Law of Life, Light, Love, and Liberty. Why should we stop at our local community of Thelemites? Is not the Law for all? Do we not acknowledge that every man and every woman is a star? Do we not want all individuals to have the freedom to do their Wills? 

The image that precedes this essay is a well surrounded by four palm trees. This comes from Crowley’s essay “Liber CXXIV: Of Eden and the Sacred Oak” with the subtitle “And of the Greater and Lesser Hospitality of the O.T.O.” The subject of the essay is about “Profess Houses” in OTO, but I believe many of the principles apply on a greater, more general scale. As it is said, “For, in True Things, all are but images one of another; man is but a map of the universe, and Society is but the same on a larger scale.” The import of the image is that the Thelemic community – represented by the Profess House, but it could be any group of Thelemites of any or no formal organization – is a source of nourishment and hospitality to everything around it. Crowley writes:

“The symbol of the Profess-House is therefore a great Oak from which flow streams of water to every quarter fertilising indeed the ground about the hill and fortifying with moisture the roots of the oak itself, but not eddying about it and sapping its foundations. And in the spread of this Eden shall many men rejoice, taking shelter beneath overspreading branches, and refreshing their weary limbs in the fresh waters of the fount celestial pure. Alternatively, the symbol may be that of a well in the desert, sheltered by four great palms.”

Although the idea of the paradise of Eden with 4 rivers is a bit utopian and hyperbolic, it is nonetheless an important symbol.IAO131 - On Serving the Greater Community in Thelema The idea is that the community (represented by the oak or the well) nourishes things around it (the four streams of water or the four palms); further, in the community’s nourishing of others, it also fortifies itself without losing its own foundations. I think this is a beautiful image: every Thelemic community is a beacon of Light to those who stumble in darkness, a well of Life for those who struggle to subsist. 

Crowley himself says clearly, “thou must by Law assure to every Man a Means of satisfying his bodily and his mental Needs, leaving him free to develop any Super-Structure in Accordance with his Will, and protecting him from any that may seek to deprive him of these vertebral Rights.” This is essentially the idea of Maslow’s “hierarchy of needs” about 4 decades before the idea was described by Maslow: every individual needs the foundation of their basic needs – their “bodily and mental needs” – before the capstone of any kind of “Super-Structure” can be developed. Crowley reinforces this idea when he wrote to Lady Frieda Harris, “The whole world as I see it is at present lost in constipations of this kind; the real needs of humanity are what they have always been: food, shelter, love and freedom. That, roughly speaking, is the general true will of the species, and all devices, which are not subservient to this will, are errors.” If we have the means to, for example, satisfy the bodily needs of those who spend most of their energy concerned about food and shelter, does it not make sense to contribute to them if we are capable? That is, if we have the resources – the time, money, and/or energy – to aid others in by helping to satisfy their basic needs, are we not simply – in some some small way – allowing more and more individuals to do their Wills more fully? 

Crowley writes in Duty, “Pity, sympathy and like emotions are fundamentally insults to the Godhead of the person exciting them, and therefore also to your own. The distress of another may be relieved; but always with the positive and noble idea of making manifest the perfection of the Universe. Pity is the source of every mean, ignoble, cowardly vice; and the essential blasphemy against Truth.” Here we have a very good lesson from Crowley: if we are to help people, it is to manifest the perfection of every man and every woman being able to do their True Wills. It is to work towards the order and harmony of all the stars on Earth being as perfect as the order and harmony of all the stars in the Heavens. It is not done out of pity for distress or suffering, nor is it really done out of any emotion at all. This relief – this service of others – is done out of the desire to fulfill the Law of Liberty, to bring about a world where everyone has the capability and freedom to accomplish their True Wills. Perhaps this is one way that we can fulfill what is hoped for in OTO US Grand Lodge’s Vision Statement, “We will foster harmonious and constructive relationships with the academic, business, civil, and greater social communities within which we operate.”

We therefore have a very powerful but very simple view of contribution to the greater community: Contributing is done to help satisfy basic needs such as food and shelter which are common across all humanity that they may be able to more fully accomplish their True Wills. We do not impose any “Super-Structure” upon others but allow them to develop as they Will and make their own choices, and we do not contribute aid out of pity. This is done to “make manifest the perfection of the Universe.”

So why aren’t we doing this already?

Contributing to others is too Christian! The most obvious answer to why many Thelemites do not see contributing to the greater community as justified is that helping other people sounds like “charity,” a word that is inevitably tied up in many people’s minds with Christianity. Aside from the various arguments around charity itself, I think  we can acknowledge that rejecting an idea or behavior simply because it resembles some other belief system is not a good reason for rejecting it. Most Thelemites would think twice before rejecting Liber Resh as “too Muslim,” rejecting the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram as “too Jewish,” rejecting the Gnostic Mass as “too Christian,” or rejecting the use of a mantra as “too Hindu.” The reason to reject all these things should be determined by whether or not it is fulfilling or thwarting your individual Will, and that is always the only determining factor for everything. Perhaps some do not realize that “charity” comes from “caritas,” the Latin word used in the New Testament to translate the Greek word “agape which some Thelemites may be familiar with. With this, I would also add things like the argument that contributing to others is too “liberal,” “socialist,” “communist,” or whatever label associate with the general idea.

Contributing to others is too Humanitarian! Yes, Crowley said “An end to the humanitarian mawkishness which is destroying the human race by the deliberate artificial protection of the unfit.” He also lived off of a family inheritance and the generous donations of his friends and disciples. There is no need to even argue what “unfit” means in this context. I personally believe that we should concern ourselves with what is “fit” and “unfit” within ourselves to accomplish our own True Wills, and we acknowledge that every man and every woman is a star with an indefeasible right to accomplish their Wills as we do ours. Further, we have all benefited from others’ resources, from amniotic fluids to stimulating conversations to job promotions. While it is obvious that our own choices determine our destiny to a large extent, it would be a vain and short-sighted thing to believe we are entirely “self-made” in any way. As Liber Librae says, “A man is what he maketh himself within the limits fixed by his inherited destiny; he is a part of mankind; his actions affect not only what he calleth himself, but also the whole universe.” Aside from the fact that this means your acts (such as contributing to others) affect all of those around you, it  also means every single other individual’s actions affect your universe as well. A humble acknowledgment of this fact makes the idea of contributing to others seem quite natural.

We need to focus on our own! Yes, we do need to focus on “our own.” Our concern should begin with ourselves and emanate outward farther and farther. If, for example, an OTO body is struggling to even pay the rent, it would not make sense to devote money toward contributing to the general community. As Liber Librae says, “If thou thyself hast not a sure foundation, whereon wilt thou stand to direct the forces of Nature?” Of course you need a sure foundation, both individually and organizationally. That still doesn’t preclude the possibility of extending influence and resources beyond oneself once that sure foundation is secured.

Summary

Fresh Fever From the Skies: The Collected Writings of IAO131Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law. If it is your Will to contribute to the greater community, then that is fine; if it is not your Will, then that is fine as well. Nonetheless, there is a good rationale for engaging in contributing to the greater community. If we appreciate the freedom to know and do our Wills, we will naturally appreciate aiding others to achieve this freedom, even if it is in a small way. Crowley insisted that we are to assure the satisfaction of basic needs such as food and shelter so that individuals may have the capacity and freedom to develop their own unique proclivities. He also reminded us that this should be done out of making manifest the perfection of the Universe on Earth, of wanting every man and every woman to be able to accomplish their Wills, not out of pity or distress. If we have the resources to help others satisfy their basic needs so they may more fully know and do their Wills, why wouldn’t we contribute to the greater community?

Love is the law, love under will.

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Yama & Niyama of Thelema: What is the “ideal Thelemite”?

The Yama and Niyama of Thelema

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.

What is the “ideal Thelemite”? In short: There is no such thing as an “ideal Thelemite.” The Law of Thelema is “Do what thou wilt,” which means that every individual is sovereign. Every man and every woman has their own individual Law, their own unique Will. As William Blake said, “One Law for the Lion and the Ox is Oppression.”

The fact that “There is no law beyond Do what thou wilt” (Liber AL, III:60) is precisely why there are no standard or universal ideals. Each individual has their own Will, and each Law must have its own, unique “ideal.” Regarding the fact that there are no standards or universal ideals, Crowley writes: 

“What is necessary is not to seek after some fantastic ideal, utterly unsuited to our real needs, but to discover the true nature of those needs, to fulfill them, and rejoice therein.” —Magick Without Tears, chapter 8

“Know then, o my Son, that all Laws, all Systems, all Customs, all Ideals and Standards which tend to produce Uniformity, being in direct Opposition to Nature’s Will to change and to develop through Variety, are accursèd.”  —Liber Aleph, chapter 31: ‘De Lege Motus’

“Each child must develop its own Individuality, and Will, disregarding alien Ideals. … Let children educate themselves to be themselves. Those who train them to standards cripple and deform them. Alien ideals impose parasitic perversions. … Standards of education, ideals of Right-and-Wrong, conventions, creeds, codes, stagnate Mankind.” —On the Education of Children

One might argue that Thelema is itself a “universal ideal.” Thelema is a universal Law insofar as “Do what thou wilt” states that each individual must find their own unique Will, their own particular Law. The universal ideal is therefore that there are no universal ideals: each must “discover the true nature of [one’s real] needs, to fulfill them, and rejoice therein.” The only absolute is that there are no absolutes; the only constant is change. 

In a way, then, we can say that the “ideal Thelemite” is one who does their own Will and lets others do their Wills. This “ideal Thelemite” follows their own Law and others follow their own, different Laws; there are no universal ideals of “what is best” or “what is absolutely Right and Wrong” beyond this. This is what is sometimes called the “Yama and Niyama of Thelema.”

We borrow the terms “Yama” and “Niyama” from the Hindu system of raja yoga as explained, among other places, in Patanjali’s classic treatise called the Yogasutras. Yama and Niyama are words that mean opposite things, similar to “Thou shalt not” (Yama) and “Thou shalt” (Niyama). Unfortunately, translating them  into English is not easy, but their real meaning in the context of Thelema becomes clear with just a little explication.

The Yama of Thelema is to have the self-discipline to find one’s own Will and to do that Will. As it is said, “Thou hast no right but to do thy will” (Liber AL, I:42). The Niyama of Thelema is to mind your own business or, in other words, to allow others to find and do their Wills. The Niyama is to extend the same absolute liberty to do your own Will that you rightfully claim to all other individuals. In short:

  • The Yama of Thelema: Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law. Thou hast no right but to do thy will.
  • The Niyama of Thelema: Mind your own business.

Yama: Crowley mentions that Yama means something similar to “control” or “the  word ‘inhibition’ as used by biologists.” Basically, Yama means the self-discipline to remain on the “track” or “path” of one’s True Will and not swerving from it. “Thou hast no right but to do thy will,” (Liber AL, I:42) which shows that you are by definition outside of your sole right when you deviate from your Path. This requires the self-discipline to remain true to one’s own Law. As Crowley writes, “What is true for every School is equally true for every individual. Success in life, on the basis of the Law of Thelema, implies severe self-discipline.” Crowley gives a succinct summary of the Yama of Thelema when he writes:

“I wish to thunder forth once more that no questions of right or wrong enter into our problems. But in the stratosphere it is ‘right’ for a man to be shut up in a pressure-resisting suit electrically heated, with an oxygen supply, whereas it would be ‘wrong’ for him to wear it if he were running the three miles in the summer sports in the Tanezrouft. This is the pit into which all the great religious teachers have hitherto fallen, and I am sure you are all looking hungrily at me in the hope of seeing me do likewise. But no! There is one principle which carries us through all conflicts concerning conduct, because it is perfectly rigid and perfectly elastic: — ‘Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.’ That is Yama.” —Eight Lectures on Yoga, “Yama”

Niyama: There is no “opposite term” of Yama, or self-discipline, to adequately translate “Niyama.” We might say that the complementary term of “self-discipline” is, in this case, something like “other-discipline.” If Yama is the discipline we have toward ourselves in remaining true to our own Law, Niyama is the discipline we have toward others in allowing them to remain true to their own Laws. This “other-discipline” can be summarized as “Mind your own business.” Crowley says as much in several places:

“Mind your own business! is the sole sufficient rule.” —Magick Without Tears, chapter 15

“I will have thee to know, moreover, my dear Son, the right Art of Conduct with them whom I shall give thee for Initiation. And the Rule thereof is one Rule: Do that thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law. See thou constantly to it that this be not broken; especially in the Section thereof (if I dare say so) which readeth Mind thine own Business. This is of Application equally to all, and the most dangerous Man (or Woman, as has occurred, or I err) is the Busy-body. Oh how ashamed are we, and moved to Indignation, seeing the Sins and Follies of our Neighbours!” —Liber Aleph, chapter 96: ‘De Discipulis Regendis’

“Every Star has its own Nature, which is ‘Right’ for it. We are not to be missionaries, with ideal standards of dress and morals, and such hard-ideas. We are to do what we will, and leave others to do what they will. We are infinitely tolerant, save of intolerance”. —New Comment to Liber AL, II:57

“It is necessary that we stop, once for all, this ignorant meddling with other people’s business. Each individual must be left free to follow his own path.” —New Comment to Liber AL, I:31

The name Crowley gives for someone who fails to uphold the Niyama of Thelema is a “busy-body.” A busy-body is someone who is concerned about what other people are doing, how other people are doing things, and why other people are doing things. A busy-body is concerned about someone else’s True Will rather than being concerned with their own. They are indignant about the “sins and follies” of their neighbors rather than focusing on themselves, and generally meddle in others’ affairs. A busy-body, in short, does not mind their own business.

We are all busy-bodies to some degree or another whenever we impose our standards, expectations, or ideals on others, whenever we think that “we know best” for anyone other than ourselves. This can be anything from the most mundane and concrete such as criticizing another’s choice in clothing to the more subtle such as expecting others to perform the same spiritual practices as oneself or insisting that people who believe something different from oneself must be “corrected.” 

When put into practice, we quickly see that the Niyama of Thelema – that of minding one’s own business and allowing others to do their Wills – is not simply a limp passivity. It is not “grinning and bearing it,” which implies that – deep down – you actually don’t want them to do their Wills (let alone that you obviously aren’t rejoicing in it!). The Niyama of Thelema is an active, positive thing: we actively affirm the right of each individual to know and do their True Will. When we greet one another, we look fearlessly into each others’ eyes and say, “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.” This is to say to everyone you meet, as Crowley writes, “Look, brother, we are free! Rejoice with me, sister, there is no law beyond Do what thou wilt!” 

Some might say that it takes strength to control everything, but it is a much greater strength to not need to control everything and everyone. It is a symptom of being unsure and anxious to feel the need to control people by insisting that it’s your way or the highway. That is: Being a busy-body is a symptom of weakness and fear, although it will inevitably mask itself in the “virtue” that essentially comes down to “knowing what is best” for someone else (let alone “all other Thelemites”!). That is where “compassion” and “altruism” and even “teaching” teeters into the realm of folly.

We will all inevitably hear (or probably have already heard) some self-avowed Thelemite question why others are not doing this or that, insisting they are complaining about others because they “really care” about Thelema. Many of us have fallen prey to this ourselves (“Oh no! Definitely not me!” … Yes, you especially!). This “care” – this “noble cause” of ours – is nothing but the demands of a busy-body cloaking itself in guise of “virtue.” We all should remember to “veil not your vices in virtuous words” (Liber AL, II:52). This “care” basically comes down to insisting that everyone else must have the same values as yourself, which is exactly opposite to affirming “Do what thou wilt.” If you ever find yourself asking, or hear someone else asking, something that amounts to “Why doesn’t this other person/these other people think that this is important?” The answer is most likely “Because it isn’t important to them, nor does it need to be”… or, more pointedly, “Mind your own business.” This is why there is no “ideal Thelemite.” This is why “One Law for the Lion and the Ox is Oppression.” Any insistence otherwise will quickly fall into the same trap that characterized the Old Aeon, the tyranny of a single standard or ideal for all people, rather than a multiplicity of Laws, each uniquely suited to the individual. 

Again: The Niyama of Thelema is not a limp, passive, “grin and bear it” quality. On the contrary: It takes an active, almost virile quality to say to every individual, “I don’t know what your Will is, I don’t know what your ‘good’ or ‘bad’ are, I don’t even know how your Will may interact with and effect mine, but I grant you the absolute right to do your Will and I claim the equally absolute right to do my Will.”  This is far from a passive “letting things happen”; the Niyama of Thelema is an active affirmation, an enthusiastic encouragement, a joyous battle-cry for each and every man and woman to discover their real needs, to fulfill them, and to rejoice therein. To believe otherwise is the essence of tyranny; to act otherwise is the essence of oppression. This requires the strength to stand in the midst of uncertainty and ambiguity, of accepting variety and difference of style and opinion, of not knowing “how everything should be” for everyone or anyone else. Any concern arising about others “not doing it the right way” should be a reminder to us all to re-focus on our own Will: this should be a reminder of the Yama of staying true to our own Path and the Niyama of affirming the right of others to be true to their Paths.

 This is the simplicity and the beauty of the Law of Thelema: There are no absolute standards or universal ideals. Fresh Fever From the Skies: The Collected Writings of IAO131Every man and every woman has the indefeasible right and duty to know and do his or her True Will. Each has their own standard, their own Law. Any occurrence of someone imposing their Law on another, or anyone accepting a Law imposed on them by another, is a distortion and deforming of a star’s true nature. It is our Yama to adhere to this Law of our own True Will, and it is our Niyama to affirm the right of every other individual to adhere to the Law of his or her own True Will. This is real Freedom, the perfect order on Earth as the stars move seamlessly in the perfect order in the Heavens; this why our Law of “Do what thou wilt” is the Law of Liberty itself.

Love is the law, love under will.

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Is Thelema a Religion or not?

Is Thelema Religion or Not?

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.

One of the ever-present questions in the discourse about Thelema is whether or not it is a religion. I think this question is most poetically answered by someone – I believe the credit goes to Jake Stratton-Kent – who said:

“There is religion in Thelema for those that require it. There is also freedom from religion in Thelema, for those that require it.”

In short: Yes… and no. All I can attempt to do is elaborate on this position to make it a bit more clear.

Before going too far in depth, it should be said that – according to anthropologists, sociologists, theologists, and the like – Thelema would most definitely be classified as a “religion.” It has a “Bible” (Liber AL vel Legis), a moral code (Do what thou wilt), a Prophet (To Mega Therion), a set of practices (Magick), and even a “pantheon” (Nuit, Hadit, Ra-Hoor-Khuit, Hoor-paar-kraat, et cetera). Whether or not this is entirely an accurate designation is another question.

We might first look at why people wouldn’t want to call Thelema a “religion.” The answer is fairly obvious: “religion” in the 21st Century has become synonymous with superstition, tyranny, and oppression. There is no doubt about this: organized religion has, for millenia, been a force for all of these horrible things that stand against the spirit of Liberty. Many people who are most vocal about Thelema not being a religion are those who experienced this superstition, tyranny, and oppression first-hand in their childhood, and I personally do not find their reaction to be hard to understand. 

In this light, we can see that Crowley himself was wary of the use of the term “religion” to describe Thelema. In a letter found in Magick Without Tears, he writes:

“To sum up, our system is a religion just so far as a religion means an enthusiastic putting-together of a series of doctrines, no one of which must in any way clash with Science or Magick. Call it a new religion, then, if it so please your Gracious Majesty; but I confess that I fail to see what you will have gained by so doing, and I feel bound to add that you might easily cause a great deal of misunderstanding, and work a rather stupid kind of mischief.

We should note, firstly, that Crowley begins this quotation by saying that – according to a certain definition of religion as “an enthusiastic putting-together of a series of doctrines” – Thelema is, in fact, a religion. He then says that calling Thelema a “religion” may cause misunderstanding and mischief. He does not explain exactly why it would cause misunderstanding and mischief but we can guess that it is most likely for the aforementioned reasons: it associates it with the Old Aeon religions that are gleaming beacons of superstition, tyranny, and oppression, i.e. those exact things we are set to destroy with our Law of Liberty. People may also assume that we believe things that other religions do, especially the Judeo-Christian-Islamic type, such as the belief in a gaseous vertebrate breed of God, which is most certainly false. 

In short, we may refrain from calling Thelema a religion because it associates it with superstition, tyranny, and oppression which Thelema is firmly against in every way, being the Law of Liberty. Our Law is simultaneously more simple and more nuanced than a belief in a Judeo-Christian-Islamic Daddy-in-the-sky God. Keep in mind, though, that this implies that calling Thelema a religion may cause misunderstanding and mischief, but it does not imply that the designation is inaccurate in some fundamental way. 

Now we may turn to the reasons why Thelema is a religion. First of all, Crowley calls Thelema a religion repeatedly.

In his commentary on Liber AL, III:22, Crowley writes:

Our religion therefore, for the People, is the Cult of the Sun, who is our particular star of the Body of Nuit, from whom, in the strictest scientific sense, come this earth, a chilled spark of Him, and all our Light and Life.”

In this line, he very clearly calls Thelema a religion, although there is a caveat that it is “for the People,” by which we may assume he means “the masses” and not necessarily for the “Hermits” or “initiates” or “Adepts”  (although this is, admittedly, an assumption).

In The Constitution of the Order of Thelemites, Crowley writes this Order is against “All superstitious religion, as obstacles to the establishment of scientific religion.” Here he clearly calls Thelema a religion, but he opposes “superstitious religion” (those of the Old Aeon and many of those that have cropped up in the New Aeon as well) to “scientific religion.” We get a further clarification that Thelema, insofar as it is a religion, is not opposed to science. 

In the “Editorial” prefacing The Equinox III:1 (also known as The Blue Equinox), Crowley writes an important passage:

The world needs religion. Religion must represent Truth, and celebrate it. This truth is of two orders: one, concerning Nature external to Man; two, concerning Nature internal to Man.

Existing religions, especially Christianity, are based on primitive ignorance of the facts, particularly of external Nature. Celebrations must conform to the custom and nature of the people. Christianity has destroyed the joyful celebrations, characterized by music, dancing, feasting, and making love; and has kept only the melancholy.

The Law of Thelema offers a religion which fulfils all necessary conditions. The philosophy and metaphysics of Thelema are sound, and offer a solution of the deepest problems of humanity. The science of Thelema is orthodox; it has no false theories of Nature, no false fables of the origin of things. The psychology and ethics of Thelema are perfect. It has destroyed the damnable delusion of Original Sin, making every one unique, independent, supreme, and sufficient. The Law of Thelema is given in the Book of the Law.”

Here we have another instance of Crowley explicitly calling Thelema a religion. He insists again that it must “represent Truth, and celebrate it,” concurring with the aforementioned quotation that insists Thelema is a “scientific religion.”

From these quotations, it seems fairly clear that Crowley did – with the caveat that it represents and celebrates Truth and is “scientific” – consider Thelema a religion. There is a further point that, in my opinion, clarifies the entire matter: Thelema is a religion but it is more than just a religion. I have said several times that Thelema is an all-encompassing paradigm, and this is meant to imply that Thelema is a religion… and much more.

We have already seen inklings of this idea in the previous quotation where Crowley calls Thelema a religion while also mentioning the philosophy, metaphysics, science, psychology, and ethics of Thelema. In his Confessions, Crowley conveys this idea that Thelema is more than just a religion with great clarity when he writes:

Thelema implies not merely a new religion, but a new cosmology, a new philosophy, a new ethics. It co-ordinates the disconnected discoveries of science, from physics to psychology, into a coherent and consistent system. Its scope is so vast that it is impossible even to hint at the universality of its application.”

He says “Thelema implies not merely a new religion.” It also implies a new cosmology, philosophy, and ethics. Thelema is not limited to the small sphere of theology. This perspective is reflected in the fact that we, following Crowley, call Thelema a “Law.” This Law is given in The Book of the Law. Crowley also calls Thelema a “formula.” For example, in the essay “The Beginning of the New World” (which can be found in the recently-published The Revival of Magick), Crowley writes:

“The many religions of the world have all lost their power to guide chiefly because the development of means of transport and of international commerce have convinced the educated that any one religion is about as good or bad as another for the purposes of social discipline, and that none has any validity from the standpoint of actual fact, or historical or philosophical truth.

The remedy is evidently to be found only in one way. There must be found a formula based upon absolute common sense, without one trammel of theological theory or dogma, a formula to which no man of intelligence can refuse assent, and which at the same time affords an absolute sanction for all laws of conduct, social and political no less than individual, so that the right or wrong of any isolated or concerted action can be determined with mathematical accuracy by any trained observer, entirely irrespective of his personal idiosyncrasies. This formula is: Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.”

When we consider Thelema as a “Law” or a “formula,” we are – first of all – using language that is in common with science (e.g. “the law of gravity” or “the formula for calculating velocity”). More importantly, we are using language that is universal insofar as this Law or formula applies to all aspects of life. 

Fresh Fever From the Skies: The Collected Writings of IAO131I believe the idea that Thelema is not just a religion but a new paradigm of cosmology, metaphysics, ethics, and psychology is the most accurate perspective on whether or not Thelema is a religion. Insofar as Thelema is a religion, it is a religion that is explicitly opposed to superstition, to “theological theory or dogma” (ideally!), and oppression. In the end, what’s in a name? Thelema’s Law is “Do what thou wilt” and people are free to call it a religion or not. Whether you choose to call it a religion or not is your own choice, and whether or not someone else chooses to call Thelema a religion is none of our business. The real question, the one that really matters, is: Are you living the Law of Thelema? Have you written “Do what thou wilt” in your heart and in your brain? Have you used the simplicity of the Key of the Law to unlock the complexities of philosophy, psychology, theology, and daily life? In short: are you doing your True Will or not? In light of this central consideration all other things, including what names and titles we give to things, are – at best – totally irrelevant and are – at worst – leading us to mischief and futility. As always: There is no law beyond Do what thou wilt.

Love is the law, love under will.

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Promulgation of Thelema on the Internet

Promulgation of Thelema on the Internet

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.

There are a few individuals who have qualms about promulgation of the Law of Thelema on the Internet, specifically through social media outlets such as Facebook. The basic argument against doing this is that promulgating on Facebook “dumbs down” the Law by just using a single quotation or image.

I understand this concern, and I agree to some extent. It would be better for people to read the source texts of Crowley’s writings rather than simply to click “Like” on an image on Facebook. That is a fairly unarguable point in itself, yet – within the context of the Internet – there are many reasons why this argument misses the point.

First of all, here are some relevant quotations from Crowley himself on promulgation:

  • Crowley wrote to Frater Achad in June of 1916: “Observe: the business before the meetings is this: How shall we put into effect the Law of Thelema. We have the Law already; I don’t see that we need any more knowledge; but we need very badly the power to administer it. I think I’ve been making a fool of myself, thinking and talking and writing. What I need is efficiency in promulgation.”
  • Crowley also wrote on August 28, 1936: “One thing I will say: that I do not expect anything to come of qabalistic speculations. I think that they may even be extremely mischievous in times like the present. Our sole business should be to use the Law to reconstruct the world from the chaos into which it is already half tumbled. That formula is a simple one, and requires no specialised training. The work requires the cooperation of tens of thousands of people who have never heard of the Qabalah, and they have to be addressed in language which they can understand.”
  • Crowley also wrote to Grady McMurtry (Hymenaeus Alpha) in August of 1945:It is necessary to broaden the scope of presentation of the Law of Thelema so that people of all types may be able to appreciate that particular part which they can understand. In this manner the thought processes of the majority will be so directed that all those who can Understand the Law will be given the opportunity to do so while at the same time providing a guide for those whose Understanding is incomplete.”

Sabazius X° has also written in Agape X:4, “While we have no duty to ‘convert,’ we do have a duty to disseminate the Law as widely as possible throughout human society, not just within specific sub-cultures, classes, and social groups.”

From these quotations, we can see that Crowley was interested in several things regarding promulgation of the Law:

  • Crowley wanted more power and efficiency in spreading the Law.
  • Crowley wanted the cooperation of tens of thousands of people who do not need to understand specialized things such as the Qabalah.
  • Crowley wanted the Law to be presented in a way that people of all types can appreciate the parts of the Law that they can understand.

Therefore, good promulgation requires (1) a powerful medium (or diverse media) to spread the Law, (2) the ability to reach thousands of people, and (3) presentation in a simple and straightforward way.

I personally believe that the Internet is a perfect medium to fulfill all 3 of these requisites for good promulgation. Facebook in particular is currently a medium that allows many people to not only see bits and pieces of the Law through quotations and images, but it also allows individuals to easily share these things to further promulgation. For example, the image that heads this essay was seen by over 10,000 different individuals in a single posting. It (1) used a powerful medium of Facebook that (2) reached over 10,000 people and (3) was a quotation that most people, even without any knowledge of Thelema or more technical subjects such as Magick or Qabalah, could appreciate. 

The potential reach of Facebook is actually fairly astonishing. To give an example, the “Aleister Crowley” Facebook page currently has an average weekly reach of around 45,000 individuals. That means that, in any given week, some post (whether text, link, video, or image) is seen on the News Feed of around 45,000 unique users. What other promulgation effort can reach 45,000 people every week? To continue with this example, any time that someone clicks “Like,” comments, or shares a post on the “Aleister Crowley” Facebook page, it can be seen by any of that person’s Facebook Friends. How many Friends of people who are “Fans” of this Facebook page are there? Over 24 million. Friends of these Fans can then click “Like,” comment, or share so the number of possible viewers is actually higher than 24 million. This is only a single Facebook Page (let alone all the others and people’s individual Facebook Profiles), and the numbers should, in my opinion, speak for themselves. Does it not say in The Book of the Law, “Success is your proof”? It is possible that this is, in fact, the largest and most widespread promulgation effort that Thelema has seen in its entire history. 

What do these efforts do that are beneficial toward the end of promulgating the Law?

  • Thousands of people will see content, whether a link to a full text or a quotation or whatever else, that they otherwise would not have seen or thought about.
  • Thousands of people who have never heard about Thelema or Aleister Crowley are given a chance to see a small bit of what the Law is about.
  • Thousands of people are given an opportunity to promulgate the Law themselves (who would often not do so otherwise) by spreading the content.
  • Everyone can choose whether to follow these Facebook pages, and they can choose to comment or share on them. It is, in a way, the pinnacle of promulgation as opposed to proselytization. No one is being forced to do or see or listen to anything.

Is this a replacement for people reading the source materials, engaging in their local communities, doing the practices of Yoga and Magick, and generally integrating the Law into their lives? Of course not. But neither is any other form of outreach, including the most beautifully bound and articulately written book. It is just as likely for someone to read an entire book on Magick and never perform a ritual as it is for someone to share a quotation on Facebook and not really integrate it into their lives.

We have no power to force Thelema on anyone: it is the Work of each individual to study, understand, and integrate it into their lives and no amount of work by other people can ever replace that. It never has and it never will. These Internet promulgation efforts simply give more and more opportunities for individuals to spread the Law to “people of all types” as Crowley wanted. It is, in a way, even more powerful than books because it is free, efficient, allows people to perpetuate the ideas with little to no effort, and can reach many individuals who would not otherwise have even heard of Crowley or the Law of Liberty. Also – although it may come as a shock or an insult to many Thelemites – not everyone is an intellectual who has time to read long, obtuse essays or books. Whether from lack of education, interest, or proclivity, there are many people – in fact, I would say most people – who are not bibliophile eggheads like myself (and many current Thelemites). “The Law is for all,” and that does not mean only bibliophile eggheads. 

Some people are concerned whether these Internet promulgation efforts have led to increased initiates at the local OTO body or even more Thelemites. At the core of this is a concern as to how much people are really integrating these ideas and putting them into practice. As I just said: it is the Work of each individual to study, understand, and integrate it into their lives and no amount of work by other people can ever replace that. More importantly, there is absolutely no way to ever know for sure. Aside from the fact that we don’t systematically ask every single new face at an event what specific things led to them showing up, there is also the fact that many people are not exactly sure, cannot remember, or do not even want to say (perhaps in part because of the chance of being met with sanctimoniousness!) There is also no way to know how these promulgation efforts affect existing members of organizations like OTO. I personally think that if some Facebook post got someone to think a little bit about Thelema that day, even if it is only for a few moments, then that is better than them not thinking about it. Perhaps they have never even encountered that particular link or quotation before. Further: Aside from organizations like OTO, there is absolutely no way to determine how this affects Thelemites (and non-Thelemites) who are not associated with any particular organization. 

In short, as I’ve already said, there is absolutely no way to ever know sure. What we do know is the incredible extent to which these Internet promulgation efforts have reached people in some way or another, Thelemite and non-Thelemite alike. It is a certain fact that “tens of thousands of people” (just as Crowley wanted) are seeing this content when they otherwise would not have seen it. The Book of the Law says, “and to each man and woman that thou meetest, were it but to dine or to drink at them, it is the Law to give. Then they shall chance to abide in this bliss or no; it is no odds.” Really, should we be concerned about whether or not other people are truly engaging with the material anyhow? Are we not affording individuals a “chance to abide in this bliss or no” and, whether or not they do anything at all with it, “it is no odds”? Isn’t the insistence that individuals do a certain thing or act in a particular way a fundamental breach of acknowledging “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law”? 

The Book of the Law says, “Success is thy proof: argue not; convert not; talk not overmuch!” Let’s engage in a little thought experiment: Consider the difference between (a) an individual who, for example, creates an image with a quotation about the Law and spreads it on Facebook versus (b) an individual who criticizes this effort. Person A is creating an opportunity or chance for someone to hear about the Law, think about the Law, and share the Law without any attempt to convert anyone (“Success is thy proof”). Person B is, first of all, reactive – they are setting the causal principle of their actions outside of themselves by re-acting instead of acting. Person B is arguing rather than spreading the Law (“argue not”), trying to enforce and impose their standard of how to behave as “a real Thelemite” on others (“convert not”), and are spending time and energy chastising others (“talk not overmuch”) instead creating their own material that would, obviously, be so much better. If 10,000 people see something about Thelema because of the posting of an image, how many people are really being reached through criticizing it? 

Fresh Fever From the Skies: The Collected Writings of IAO131While constructive criticism is always beneficial to honing the efficiency of an approach, there is a lot of criticism that is simply emotional and reactive (i.e. not constructive). There seem to be some people who, whether consciously or not, want to keep Thelema as a cloistered, elitist, and tiny clique. That is their prerogative – Do what thou wilt, of course – but I believe that I, along with tens of thousands of other people, are doing a lot of substantial work to spread the Law of Thelema to the rest of the world in accordance with the attitude of the Prophet (as seen in the quotations above). “The Law is for all” after all, and I say: If we truly believe that Thelema is the Law of Liberty – the Key to our evolution as individuals and a species – we should give as many people as possible the “chance to abide in this bliss or no.”

Love is the law, love under will.

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11 Principles of Thelemites

11 Principles of Thelemites

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.

In an ideal state, without jargon, without theology, what defines a Thelemite’s perspective? Is it possible to describe the essential characteristics of living as a Thelemite without the use of any technical terms or implying any kind of metaphysical system? Can it be described in a way that a 10-year-old could easily understand?

Here is one attempt, written from the perspective of someone asserting principles or truths about themselves as Thelemites. 

11 PRINCIPLES of THELEMITES
with no technical jargon

1. I know that exploring and expressing myself is my right and my purpose.

2. I know that every single other being also has the same right & purpose to explore and express their natures.

3. I accept all people no matter what they look like or believe, and I accept all moments no matter if they are good or bad.

4. I am always growing, always searching & striving ever to more in all things.

5. I look at the difficult things in life as my teachers that help me grow, and I embrace them.

6. I never forget that being alive and being aware is a mysterious blessing that always deserves gratitude and joy.

7. I enjoy the beauty in everyone and everything else, and I help to bring more beauty to the world.

8. I seek truth: I think for myself, I am honest with myself and others, and I question myself and others.

9. I explore and develop my creativity in all aspects of life, and I help others to do the same.

10. I am connected with everything in the universe, so I live in harmony with other people, animals, plants, and all other things on the earth and in the whole cosmos.

11. I laugh: I enjoy all parts of the world, and I do not take myself too seriously.

11 Principles of Thelemites

Supporting Quotations

All quotations are from Aleister Crowley.

1. I know that exploring and expressing myself is my right and my purpose.
2. I know that every single other being also has the same right & purpose to explore and express their natures.

  • “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.” (AL, I:40)
  • “So with thy all; thou hast no right but to do thy will. Do that, and no other shall say nay.” (AL, I:42-43)
  • “Explore the Nature and Powers of your own Being… Contemplate your own Nature… Do not repress or restrict any true instinct of your Nature; but devote all in perfection to the sole service of your one True Will. (“Duty”)
  • “We are to do what we will, and leave others to do what they will.” (Commentary to AL, II:57)

3. I accept all people no matter what they look like or believe, and I accept all moments no matter if they are good or bad.

  • “Every man and every woman is a star.” (AL, I:3)
  • “Each human being is an Element of the Cosmos, self-determined and supreme, co-equal with all other Gods.” (Commentary to AL, I:3)
  • “Bind nothing! Let there be no difference made among you between any one thing & any other thing; for thereby there cometh hurt.” (AL, I:22)
  • “[Nuit] is also All Points of the View no less than All Vistas seen therefrom. Bind nothing, for all things alike pertain to her, and her Nature is to compose All in One and Naught. One thing is in the end like all the rest; the seeming not alike comes as a dream from choosing images after one’s own heart to worship them; thus each, though true as one of the All, is false if thought of as one apart from the rest.” (“Djeridensis Comment” on AL, I:22)
  • “All is a never ending Play of Love wherein our Lady Nuit and her Lord Hadit rejoice; and every Part of the Play is Play. All pain is but sharp Sauce to the Dish of Pleasure; for it is the Nature of the Universe that hath devised this everlasting Banquet of Joy.” (Liber Aleph, ch.59 “De Comedia Universa, Quae Dictur Man”)
  • “All events [become] equally indifferent, exquisite phrases in an eternal symphony. (Imagine listening to Beethoven with the prepossession that C is a good note and F a bad one; yet this is exactly the stand point from which all uninitiates contemplate the universe. Obviously, they miss the music.)” (Confessions, ch.86)
  • “You must accept everything exactly as it is in itself, as one of the factors which go to make up your True Self.” (“Duty”)

4. I am always growing, always searching & striving ever to more in all things.

  • “But exceed! exceed! Strive ever to more!” (AL, I:71-72)
  • “Her [Nuit’s] worship involves neither life nor death; it is a Growth in all ways, the primal mode of Being.” (“Djeridensis Comment” on AL, I:59)
  • “The joy of life consists in the exercise of one’s energies, continual growth, constant change, the enjoyment of every new experience. To stop means simply to die. The eternal mistake of mankind is to set up an attainable ideal.” (Confessions, ch.65)
  • “The Universe is Change; every Change is the effect of an Act of Love; all Acts of Love contain Pure Joy.” (The Heart of the Master)

5. I look at the difficult things in life as my teachers that help me grow, and I embrace them.

  • “Thou then, who hast trials and troubles, rejoice because of them, for in them is Strength, and by their means is a pathway opened unto that Light. How should it be otherwise, O man, whose life is but a day in Eternity, a drop in the Ocean of time; how, were thy trials not many, couldst thou purge thy soul from the dross of earth? Is it but now that the Higher Life is beset with dangers and difficulties; hath it not ever been so with the Sages and Hierophants of the past? They have been persecuted and reviled, they have been tormented of men; yet through this also has their Glory increased. Rejoice therefore, O Initiate, for the greater thy trial the greater thy Triumph.” (Liber Librae)
  • “Sorrow, pain, regret, are symptoms of diseased thought; those only who have ceased to be able to adjust themselves rightly and gladly to all Change, and to grow thereby, or those who still react, but only feebly and vainly, take Sorrow, pain, and regret to be Real. Those (also) who do not yet know Hadit (that is, know their True Selves to be Hadit) are likewise deceived.” (“Djeridensis Comment” to AL, II:17)
  • “To bring out saliently the differences between two points-of-view is useful to both in measuring the position of each in the whole. Combat stimulates the virile or creative energy; and, like love, of which it is one form, excites the mind to an orgasm which enables it to transcend its rational dullness.” (“Duty”)

6. I never forget that being alive and being aware is a mysterious blessing that always deserves gratitude and joy.

7. I enjoy the beauty in everyone and everything else, and I help to bring more beauty to the world.

  • “The greatest, like Rembrandt, paint a gallant, a hag, and a carcass with equal passion and rapture; they love the truth as it is. They do not admit that anything can be ugly or evil; its existence justifies itself. This is because they know themselves to be part of an harmonious unity; to disdain any item of it would be to blaspheme the whole. The Thelemite is able to revel in any experience soever; in each he recognizes the tokens of ultimate Truth..” (New Comment to AL, II:22)

8. I seek truth: I think for myself, I am honest with myself and others, and I question myself and others.

9. I explore and develop my creativity in all aspects of life, and I help others to do the same.

10. I am connected with everything in the universe, so I live in harmony with other people, animals, plants, and all other things on the earth and in the whole cosmos.

  • “Bind nothing! Let there be no difference made among you between any one thing & any other thing; for thereby there cometh hurt. But whoso availeth in this, let him be the chief of all!” (AL, I:22-23)
  • “We cannot extirpate or even alter in the minutest degree either the matter or manner of any element of the Universe, here each item is equally inherent and important, each aequipollent, independent, and interdependent.” (New Comment to AL, II:21)
  • “The greatest… know themselves to be part of an harmonious unity; to disdain any item of it would be to blaspheme the whole… It is surely obvious, even intellectually, that all phenomena are interdependent, and therefore involve each other.” (New Comment to AL, II:22)
  • “We cannot extirpate or even alter in the minutest degree either the matter or manner of any element of the Universe, here each item is equally inherent and important, each aequipollent, independent, and interdependent.” (New Comment to AL, II:21)

 

11. I laugh: I enjoy all parts of the world, and I do not take myself too seriously.

  • “They shall rejoice, our chosen: who sorroweth is not of us. Beauty and strength, leaping laughter and delicious languor, force and fire, are of us.” (AL, II:19-20)
  • “The common defect of all mystical systems previous to that of the Aeon whose Law is Thelema is that there has been no place for Laughter. But the sadness of the mournful Mother and the melancholy of the dying Man are swept in the limbo of the past by the confident smile of the immortal Child.” (Little Essays Toward Truth, “Laughter”)
  • “Also I was in the spirit vision and beheld a parricidal pomp of atheists, coupled by two and by two in the supernal ecstasy of the stars. They did laugh and rejoice exceedingly, being clad in purple robes and drunken with purple wine, and their whole soul was one purple flower-flame of holiness.” (LXV, V:35)
  • “Lord Nose-in-the-Air stumbled over his own door-stop.” (Commentary to LXV, V:49)
  • “If it must be that one’s most sacred shrine be profaned, let it be the clean assault of laughter rather than the slimy smear of sanctimoniousness!” (Magick Without Tears, ch.44)

Love is the law, love under will.

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Psychology of Liber AL

Psychology of Liber AL – pt.10: Archetypes of the Star – or Spark – and the Night-Sky

Psychology of Liber AL

Postscript: Archetypes of the Star – or Spark – and the Night-Sky

Two specific archetypes that Carl Jung gives attention to are of especial importance to this discussion. The first of these archetypes – or more accurately, archetypal manifestations – is that of the spark, the astrum, the star, or the scintilla, which is essentially a manifestation of the archetype of the “self.” The second of these archetypes is that of the night-sky, which is essentially a symbolic conception of the entirety of all archetypes, or the entirety of the unconscious.

In Liber AL vel Legis there are prominent occurrences of both of these archetypes. In the third line of the book it is proclaimed,

Every man and every woman is a star.”1

Almost immediately we have an identification of the self of each human individual with the symbolic figure of a star. In his work On the Nature of the Psyche, Jung is explaining how alchemical symbolism is an important source for symbolic expressions of unconscious contents of the psyche. He writes:

“From [alchemy] I take, first and foremost, the idea of the scintillae – sparks – which appear as visual illusions in the ‘arcane substance…’ If we may compare the sparks to the archetypes, it is evident that Khunrath [a 16th century alchemist] lays particular stress on one of them. This One is also described as the Monad and the Sun, and they both indicate the Deity… Psychologically, the One Scintilla or Monad is to be regarded as symbol of the Self.”2

Therefore, this assertion of every man and woman being a star is using a common archetypal symbol of the complete “self” and thereby identifying each person with “the One Scintilla,” “the Monad and the Son, [which] both indicate the Deity.”Jung continues:

This light is the lumen naturae which illuminates consciousness, and the scintillae are germinal luminosities shining forth from the darkness of the unconscious. Dorn, like Khunrath, owes much to Paracelsus with whom he concurs when he supposes an ‘invisibilem solem plurimis incognitum’ in man (an invisible sun unknown to many). [Also], ‘Sol est invisibilis in hominibus, in terra vero visibilis, tamen ex uno et eodem sole sunt ambo’ (The sun is invisible in men, but visible in the world, yet both are of one and the same sun)… Thus the one archetype emphasized by Khunrath is known also to Dorn as the sol invisibilis or imago Dei. In Paracelsus the lumen naturae comes primarily from the ‘astrum’ or ‘sydus,’ the ‘star’ in man… Indeed, man himself is an ‘Astrum:’ ‘not by himself alone, but for ever and ever with all apostles and saints; each and every one is an astrum, the heaven a star… therefore saith also the Scripture: ye are lights of the world [Matthew 5:14].”3

Liber AL reveals plainly this “invisible sun unknown to many,” this sol invisibilis which is also the imago Dei that is in the heart of every man and woman. It is every man and every woman that are “the lights of the world.” Jung also asserts nearly the same doctrine as Liber AL by saying that “man himself is an ‘Astrum’” and then quoting another who essentially says man is not alone as a star but “with all apostles and saint; each and every one is an astrum…” In this sense, one may say that symbolically all stars are united together in the night-sky. Nuit herself proclaims this when she says in Liber AL,

“…I am Infinite Space, and the Infinite Stars thereof…”4

On this note, we turn again to Jung who writes further about the archetypes alchemical vision which corresponds to the Thelemic symbology, “It strikes me as significant… that the characteristic alchemical vision of sparks scintillating in the blackness of the arcane substance should, for Paracelsus, change into the spectacle of the ‘interior firmament’ and its stars. He beholds the darksome psyche as a star-stewn night sky, whose planets and fixed constellations represent the archetypes in all their luminosity and numinosity.5 The starry vault of heaven is in truth the open book of cosmic projection, in which are reflected the mythologems, i.e., the archetypes. In this vision astrology and alchemy, the two classical functionaries of the psychology of the collective unconscious, join hands.”6

Nuit is considered as the totality of “the darksome psyche” with each star being an archetype therein. Nuit then becomes a sort of “double symbol” of both macrocosmic and microcosmic implications. On the macrocosmic scale, each individual is a star and are united together in “the body of the night sky,” which represents the totality of all possibilities (see “The First Principles” segment of this essay for further explanation of Nuit in this sense). On the microcosmic scale, Nuit represents the totality of the psyche and the plethora of stars represents reflections of the many archetypes of the unconscious. Within this “star-strewn night sky” of the psyche, there is that “One Scintilla,” “the Monad and the Sun,” which is that archetypal symbol of the “whole” or integrated self.

This postscript is added to show that not only do the symbols of Liber AL vel Legis represent manifestations of common archetypes, but they also have a historical precedent in various alchemical texts. Jung’s work On the Nature of the Psyche appeared many decades after the writing of Liber AL vel Legis in 1904. It is unfortunate that Jung was not aware of (or simply did not investigate) this modern occurrence of the same archetypal patterns he studied. Once again, Liber AL vel Legis may be viewed as both a product and an expression of the collective unconscious, filtered through the peculiar and unique psyche of Aleister Crowley. Earlier it was said that “we may therefore find statements of universal import explained under the figure of certain symbols that were familiar to Crowley’s consciousness,” but now we see that, although this is most likely true for certain cases (i.e. the appearance of the Egyptian deities like Hoor-paar-kraat, Heru-ra-ha, and Nuit, the cases of Islamic terminology like “Isa,” “Kiblah,” and “Kaaba,” the cases of Western Hermetic and occult symbology, etc.), Liber AL vel Legis contains symbols which are also somewhat universal. Not only is there a historical precedent in alchemical texts, but every human being on Earth has the experience of seeing the sun, the night sky, and the seemingly infinite amount of stars therein.

Love is the law, love under will.

1 Crowley, Aleister. Liber AL vel Legis, I:3.

2 Jung, Carl. “The Significance of the Unconscious in Psychology” from Collected Works of C.G. Jung Volume 8: On the Nature of the Psyche, par.388.

3 Jung, Carl. “The Significance of the Unconscious in Psychology” from Collected Works of C.G. Jung Volume 8: On the Nature of the Psyche, par.389-390.

4 Crowley, Aleister. Liber AL vel Legis, I:22.

5 At this point Jung’s text there is a footnote which reads thus, “In the Hieroglyphica of Horapollo the starry sky signifies God as ultimate Fate, symbolized by a ‘5,’ presumably a quincunx.” This is especially significant in that Nuit is identified with Fate – or in other words, the necessary workings & motions of the universe – and also the symbolic figure of ‘5.’ In Liber AL vel Legis, I:60, Nuit proclaims, “My number is 11, as all their numbers who are of us. The Five Pointed Star, with a Circle in the Middle, & the circle is Red.” Here Nuit herself identifies herself with The Five Pointed Star,’ the pentagram. Interestingly, this is the one section of Liber AL vel Legis which was not penned by Crowley but filled in later by Rose Crowley, his wife at the time.

6 Jung, Carl. “The Significance of the Unconscious in Psychology” from Collected Works of C.G. Jung Volume 8: On the Nature of the Psyche, par.392.

Psychology of Liber AL – pt.9: Conclusions

Psychology of Liber AL

Conclusions

It was established in the introduction that this work would look at Thelema and its central text of Liber AL vel Legis strictly from the perspective of psychology, interpreting metaphysical claims as mental phenomena. From this standpoint, a framework must be established within the confines of Liber AL vel Legis that can comply with current psychological understandings of the self and its place in the world. Thelema presents this framework in symbolic format, utilizing pseudo-Egyptian gods to explain how the Thelemite perceives the work: Each person is a star, and at the core of this star is “Hadit;” about this star are the infinite possibilities of Nuit, the starry night-sky. This conception of each person being at the center of a field of phenomena and possible experiences is analogous to one of Carl Rogers’ propositions describing his client-centered therapy that, “All individuals (organisms) exist in a continually changing world of experience (phenomenal field) of which they are the centre.”1 Each person being a star, they are self-luminous, have their own natural motion, and also have an effect (like gravitational pull) on other stars. This self-luminous nature attests to mankind’s inherent divinity and the natural motion is the star’s particular Will.

The Will is central in Thelema, for it is proclaimed, “Thou hast no right but to do thy will. Do that, and no other shall say nay.”2 Each star has a unique Will to carry out, and the way in which this is carried out is by the method – or modus operandi – of “love under will.” This means that all actions must be Love, which is essentially the “uniting of some one monad with one of the experiences possible to it,”3 or simply, the assimilation of experience. This Love must be “under will,” and therefore each act is done to fulfill and express the true nature of the individual involved rather than thwart it. This method of “love under will” was seen to be analogous to Carl Rogers’ propositions. A successful expression of “love under will,” where experience is harmoniously assimilated in accordance with the nature of the individual, is what Rogers calls “psychological adjustment,” whereas “psychological maladjustment” means that experience is not assimilated harmoniously and from which “psychological tension” (suffering in the mental sphere) will naturally arise. In addition, the Will itself was seen to be analogous to Carl Rogers’ notion of the “self-actualizing tendency” inherent in all people.

Further considerations on this Will showed that for it to be considered “pure” and “every way perfect,”4 it must be done with tireless energy, without regard for purpose, and with no “lust of result” or desire for the fruits of one’s work. Next, morality and sin were considered and found to be nothing but impediments to the free flow of the Will; it was established that in Thelema, “that it is no longer possible to say a priori that a given action is ‘wrong.’ Each man has the right – and an absolute right – to accomplish his True Will.”5 It was seen that these sets of moralities naturally repress and inhibit the Will, especially those notions which dictate our sexual morality. Thelema’s move beyond moral injunctions against sexual behavior is consistent with the findings of Alfred Kinsey’s innovative research in mid-20th century.

Aside from morality inhibiting the free and natural flow of the Will, it was seen that the mind, especially its faculty of reason, also prevents the true Will from manifesting. Reason is not discarded as useless in Thelema, but instead it is put into its most effective sphere of operation: in service to the Self and its Will. If the mind usurps the “throne” of the Self and dictates its actions through Reason, it renders the Will impotent because, “If Will stops and cries Why, invoking Because, then Will stops & does nought.”6 More importantly, it is understood that “there is a factor infinite & unknown,”7 the subconscious Will, which is, by definition, not able to be fully understood and interpreted by the conscious mind. Therefore, the mind can only inhibit the flow of the subconscious Will when it dictates the Will’s actions. It is this unknown factor of the subconscious Will that makes “reason… a lie” in that it is unable to dictate the Will of the individual in accordance with their true Selves (which must necessarily account for both conscious and subconscious natures). Carl Jung recognized that the mind cannot accurately dictate the whims of the Will. He said that rationalistic opinions come close to neurotic symptoms in that they split the awareness away from the subconscious promptings. For this reason, Jung deems these opinions “distorted thinking,” and those thoughts that proceed from the “tap-root” of the Self and its Will are deemed “psychologically correct thinking:” yet another psychological assumption that Liber AL anticipated in a way.

Next, the process of coming to know and express one’s Will is understood to be analogous not only to Crowley’s notions of “the Great Work” and “Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel,” but also Carl Jung’s process of “individuation.” All of these are united by the fact that they all attempt to penetrate to the deepest or true nature of the individual and attempt to assimilate and manifest it. In Jung’s process of “individuation,” one comes to identify with the archetype of the “Self,” which is the totality of the psyche, including both conscious and unconscious natures. Thelema uses the Egyptian god of Horus as its specific archetypal expression of the “Self,” and each person’s “Great Work” is to come to “revere” and identify with this Self and thereby manifest the Will more fully. Crowley specifically mentions that the “tribulations” of this ordeal are exactly the same as the modern processes of psychoanalysis, equating the pseudo-mystical process of “the Great Work” or “Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel” with the more modern notions of “individuation.” It was further asserted that the unconscious’s natural function is towards individuation and therefore every single person takes part in the “the Great Work,” whether they are conscious of it or not.

In Liber AL vel Legis, it was seen that a psychological model of “failure” (to assimilate experience) is constructed along familiar physiological lines. In the body, the appearance of pain signifies a malfunction of some sort, and also in the psyche, the appearance of “psychological tension” (as Carl Rogers terms it) signifies a failure of the harmonious functioning of the psyche. In the psyche, sorrow, pain, regret, fear, and pity are all seen to be disharmonious to the functioning of the Will. Next, a specific line in Liber AL is analyzed to show that Hadit, that symbol of the imperishable perceiver-of-events, can either lift his head to Nuit or droop down his head to the earth. These two possible actions were then equated with the life and death instincts of Freud and also the concepts of “MATER COELISTIS” and “PHALLOS” from Jung’s Septem Sermones ad Mortuos – most importantly it is asserted that no matter what “choice” Hadit makes, there is joy and rapture to be found in either option.

Finally, the inevitable topic of death is treated within a Thelemic context. First, death is understood as a joyous occasion, a time for a greater feast than even for birth. Death is also to be considered as the “seal” or symbolic fulfillment of life. In both of these ways Thelema attempts to overcome the morbidity associated with death and the common aversion thereto. The idea of a part or essence of the self surviving death is also entertained but because this is a psychological treatise, we can only make the statement that “the psyche’s attachment to the brain, i.e. its space-time limitation, is no longer as self-evident and incontrovertible as we have hitherto been led to believe,”8 while no conclusive metaphysical assertions may be made.

Essentially, Thelema cannot only be clearly interpreted through the lens of psychology but our understanding of Liber AL is greatly enriched thereby. This work is merely a brief overview of the way the field of psychology potentially enables us to better understand Thelema. Appended after this conclusion is a short discussion about the archetypal symbols of the star and the night sky, but this is merely the tip of the iceberg of the possible syntheses between Thelema and psychology. The conclusions of such eminent psychologists as Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung, Carl Rogers, and Alfred Kinsey are emphasized in this work but there are many other branches of psychological inquiry that have an important bearing on Thelema. Since psychology is the study of that psyche which is inherent in every man and every woman, it is certainly of interest to all Thelemites who seek to better understand themselves. The injunction of the Greeks to “know thyself” still holds true, and to do this we must delve into our darkest places and face our deepest fears – the “tribulation of ordeal, which is bliss.”9 For Thelema is a tradition of joy where one treats all events, even if they are ordeals, as equally valid experiences for growth. It is a tradition of joy whether we consider it as a psychological framework, a philosophy, a religion, a spiritual map, or whatever suits our particular nature.

Remember all ye that existence is pure joy; that all the sorrows are but as shadows; they pass & are done; but there is that which remains… They shall rejoice, our chosen: who sorroweth is not of us… Beauty and strength, leaping laughter and delicious languor, force and fire, are of us… But ye, o my people, rise up & awake! Let the rituals be rightly performed with joy & beauty! …A feast every day in your hearts in the joy of my rapture! A feast every night unto Nu, and the pleasure of uttermost delight! Aye! feast! rejoice! there is no dread hereafter. There is the dissolution, and eternal ecstasy in the kisses of Nu… Write, & find ecstasy in writing! Work, & be our bed in working! Thrill with the joy of life & death! Ah! thy death shall be lovely: whoso seeth it shall be glad. Thy death shall be the seal of the promise of our age long love. Come! lift up thine heart & rejoice!”10

>>PART 10>>

1 Rogers, Carl. Client-Centred Therapy, ch.11.

2 Crowley, Aleister. Liber AL vel Legis, I:42-43.

3 Crowley, Aleister. Introduction to Liber AL vel Legis, part II.

4 A reference to Liber AL vel Legis, I:44.

5 Crowley, Aleister. “The Method of Thelema.” Printed in The Revival of Magick.

6 Crowley, Aleister. Liber AL vel Legis, II:30.

7 Crowley, Aleister. Liber AL vel Legis, II:32.

8 Jung, Carl. “The Soul and Death” from Collected Works of C.G. Jung volume 8: The Struture and Dynamics of the Psyche, par. 813.

9 Crowley, Aleister. Liber AL vel Legis, III:62.

10 Crowley, Aleister. Liber AL vel Legis, II:9,19,20,34,35,42-44,66.

>>PART 10>>

Psychology of Liber AL – pt.8: A New Perspective of Death

Psychology of Liber AL

A New Perspective of Death

A full psychological perspective must  take into account the many facets of life, and it must also take into account the universal fact that all things are impermanent and eventually die. Thelema asserts a new perspective on this issue in that death is understood as climax to and fulfillment of life. Also, although currently psychologically and scientifically unverifiable, it is asserted that there is an indestructible element of the Self that survives death and views death merely as another accretion of experience.

It has been explored earlier how fear is a sign of the failure of the harmonious functioning of the psyche. Death is possibly the most universally feared idea, and in this sense, it is necessary to dispel our misperceptions about it. In Thelema, it is understood that “Existence is pure joy,”1 but not only is life joyous, death is as well. It is written in Liber AL vel Legis:

A feast for life and a greater feast for death!”2

Write, & find ecstasy in writing! Work, & be our bed in working! Thrill with the joy of life & death! Ah! thy death shall be lovely: whoso seeth it shall be glad. Thy death shall be the seal of the promise of our age long love. Come! lift up thine heart & rejoice!”3

Here we have a statement that says we should not only have a feast for death, but one greater than the one for life. We are then told to thrill with the joy of both life and death. Death is considered as a “seal of the promise of our age long love” and so one is bidden to “lift up thine heart & rejoice!” Death being a seal implies that death is a sort of fulfillment of life. Jung writes about this, “We are so convinced that death is simply the end of a process that it does not ordinarily occur to us to conceive of death as a goal and a fulfillment as we do without hesitation the aims and purposes of youthful life in its ascendance.”4 Liber AL vel Legis is obviously one exception as it does indeed assert the need to not only view death as a fulfillment, but as a time for rejoicing just as a new life is. Thelema affirms not only life but death also, and Thelemites approach death without fear. We are told “Fear not at all; fear neither men nor Fates, nor gods, nor anything,”5 and in this way, a Thelemite accepts all facts of life, including the inevitability of death, with the same “love under will” and rejoicing.

Liber AL vel Legis itself says “death is the crown of all,”6 and Crowley comments, “Death is the End that crowns the Work.”7 Truly, a Thelemite is ready to accept death, for they are performing their Will with tireless energy, without regard to purpose, and most importantly, unattached from the lust of result. Death will come at its proper moment while one is doing one’s will with one-pointedness, peace, and detachment.8 Death is not something be fearful about, but instead, one must embrace both one’s life and one’s death. Jung writes:

Natural life is the nourishing soil of the soul. Anyone who fails to go along with life remains suspended, stiff and rigid in midair. That is why so many people get wooden in old age; they look back and cling to the past wit ha secret fear of death in their hearts. They withdraw from the life-process, at least psychologically, and consequently remain fixed like nostalgic pillars of salt, with vivid recollections of youth but no living relation to the present. From the middle of life onward, only he remains vitally alive who is ready to die with life. For in the secret hour of life’s midday the parabola is reversed, death is born. The second half of life does not signify ascent, unfolding, increase, exuberance, but death, since the end is its goal. The negation of life’s fulfillment is synonymous with the refusal to accept its ending.”9

Thelema is certainly not a system that refuses to accept life’s ending, it is understood to be a time of great joy in that it signifies life’s fulfillment. As mentioned earlier, Liber AL vel Legis asserts that there is a part of oneself that is immortal. This “immortality” is better understood as an identity that is removed from or beyond the conditions of space and time rather than an entity that lives forever throughout all time. It is not the ego or personality that transcends death, it is the element of Impersonal Life within us all and with which we may identify. With this consideration, Jung noted that, “the psyche’s attachment to the brain, i.e. its space-time limitation, is no longer as self-evident and incontrovertible as we have hitherto been led to believe.”10 It may be possible that there is an element of the psyche that may “attain to,” or more perhaps “belong to,” a state that transcends this “space-time limitation.” On this Jung writes:

The fact that we are totally unable to imagine a form of existence without space and time by no means proves that such an existence is in itself impossible. And therefore, just as we cannot draw, from an appearance of space-timelessness, any absolute conclusion about a space-timeless form of existence, so we are not entitled to conclude from the apparent space-time quality of our perception that there is no form of existence without space and time. It is not only permissible to doubt the absolute validity of space-time perception; it is, in view of the available facts, even imperative to do so. The hypothetical possibility that the psyche touches on a form of existence outside space and time presents a scientific question-mark that merits serious consideration for a long time to come.” 11

With this in mind, we now turn to what Liber AL says itself in this regard:

Yea! Deem not of change: ye shall be as ye are, & not other… There is none that shall be cast down or lifted up: all is ever as it was.” 12

In this sense, there is an indestructible element of the Self that cannot be “cast down or lifted up.” This is what we call Hadit, that which perceives and endures all events but is ultimately unaffected by them. It is said in Liber AL that “all the sorrows are but as shadows; they pass & are done; but there is that which remains.”13 That part which remains is this “Crowned and Conquering Child” within us all, which perceives that “every event, including death, is only one more accretion to our experience.”14 Crowley writes on these verses of Liber AL that they “demonstrate the inviolability of Hadit our Quintessence. Every Star has its own Nature, which is ‘Right’ for it… It is impossible to alter the ultimate Nature of any Being, however completely we may succeed in transfiguring its external signs as displayed in any of its combinations.”15 This starry or “Kingly” nature cannot be “cast down or lifted up,” and in fact it is said in Liber AL that “If he be a King, thou canst not hurt him.”16 By virtue of the fact that this “element” is beyond space and time by definition, it does not suffer death nor is it ever truly “born,” so it cannot possibly suffer “hurt.”

Essentially, Thelema asserts an aspect or “essence” of the self that one cannot hurt – an essence that accepts experiences of both life and death as acts of “love under will.” The idea of an immortal essence of man – or of his “soul” – is a common element to many religious traditions. Although scientifically and psychologically unverifiable, as mentioned earlier, the possibility of consciousness or identity not based on our normal ideas of space and time is not as far-fetched as it once seemed. In another sense, if one looks at any process, they are all aspects of a continuum. On this Jung writes,

Beginning and end are unavoidable aspects of all processes. Yet on closer examination it is extremely difficult to see where on process ends and another begins, since events and processes, beginnings and endings, merge into each other and form, strictly speaking, an indivisible continuum. We divide the processes from one another for the sake of discrimination and understanding, knowing full well that at bottom every division is arbitrary and conventional. This procedure in no way infringes the continuum of the world processes, for ‘beginning’ and ‘end’ are primarily necessities of conscious cognition. We may establish with reasonable certainty that an individual consciousness as it relates to ourselves has come to an end. But whether this means that the continuity of the psychic process is also interrupted remains doubtful, since the psyche’s attachment to the brain can be affirmed with far less certitude today than it could fifty years ago.” 17

On this note, we may assert that it is indeed possible that there is an essence or element of the self that survives what we perceive to be our physical death. In fact, it does not even suffer the “hurt” of existence while alive. Even so, the mere belief in such a notion would naturally give one the disposition of, as Jung writes, being ready to “die with life.” That is, truly understanding this will bring a tendency toward living life to its fullest potential, living without fear or attachment, striving towards the full expression of the Self that will end in death, recognized as the seal of life’s fulfillment.

“Great is Life, real and mystical, wherever and whoever;
Great is Death—sure as life holds all parts together, Death holds all parts together.
Has Life much purport?—Ah, Death has the greatest purport.”
—Walt Whitman

>>PART 9>>

1 Crowley, Aleister. Liber AL vel Legis, II:9.

2 Crowley, Aleister. Liber AL vel Legis, II:41.

3 Crowley, Aleister. Liber AL vel Legis, II:66.

4 Jung, Carl. “The Soul and Death” from Collected Works of C.G. Jung volume 8: The Struture and Dynamics of the Psyche, par. 797.

5 Crowley, Aleister. Liber AL vel Legis, II:17.

6 Crowley, Aleister. Liber AL vel Legis, II:72.

7 Crowley, Aleister. The Law is For All, II:72.

8 As endorsed by Crowley in his epistle “Liber II Message of the Master Therion.”

9 Jung, Carl. “The Soul and Death” from Collected Works of C.G. Jung volume 8: The Struture and Dynamics of the Psyche, par. 800.

10 Jung, Carl. “The Soul and Death” from Collected Works of C.G. Jung volume 8: The Struture and Dynamics of the Psyche, par. 813.

11 Jung, Carl. “The Soul and Death” from Collected Works of C.G. Jung volume 8: The Struture and Dynamics of the Psyche, par. 797.

12 Crowley, Aleister. Liber AL vel Legis, II:58.

13 Crowley, Aleister. Liber AL vel Legis, II:9.

14 Crowley, Aleister. Introduction to Liber AL vel Legis, part IV.

15 Crowley, Aleister. The Law is For All, II:57.

16 Crowley, Aleister. Liber AL vel Legis, II:59.

17 Jung, Carl. “The Soul and Death” from Collected Works of C.G. Jung volume 8: The Struture and Dynamics of the Psyche, par. 812.

>>PART 9>>

Psychology of Liber AL – pt.7: Life and Death Instincts

Psychology of Liber AL

Life and Death Instincts

I am the secret Serpent coiled about to spring: in my coiling there is joy. If I lift up my head, I and my Nuit are one. If I droop down mine head, and shoot forth venom, then is rapture of the earth, and I and the earth are one.” –Liber AL vel Legis II:26

In this verse from Liber AL, we find Hadit comparing “himself” to “the secret Serpent coiled about to spring.” This symbol is obviously showing the vast potential stored within the Self, like that contained within a coiled serpent, analogous to the unknowable power hidden in the recesses of each person’s unconscious.1 From this position of coiling, Hadit either lifts up his head or droops down. These two actions are related to becoming one with Nuit and becoming one with the earth, respectively. Crowley writes in his commentary to this line, “The mystic Union is to be practised both with Spirit and with Matter,” which are “two main types of the Orgia of Magick [causing Change in conformity with Will].” This shows that there are two fundamental actions to be taken or courses of the Will: (1) return to the spirit, and (2) immersion in matter.

Crowley says elsewhere that “Magick = the Will to Live” and “Mysticism = the Will to Die.”2 This brings to mind the theories of the life drive (termed eros) and death drive (termed thanatos) expounded by Sigmund Freud, the famous psychologist. Freud’s definition of the death drive being “an urge inherent in all organic life to restore an earlier state of things”3 may be likened to the “union with Nuit” in which one’s consciousness “becomes one,” and his life instinct of eros may be seen to be analogous to the “rapture of the earth.”

Jung also posits two similar ideas in his pseudo-mystical treatise “Septem Sermones ad Mortuos.” He writes:

The world of the gods is made manifest in spirituality and in sexuality. The celestial ones appear in spirituality, the earthly in sexuality. Spirituality conceiveth and embraceth. It is womanlike and therefore we call it MATER COELESTIS, the celestial mother. Sexuality engendereth and createth. It is manlike, and therefore we call it PHALLOS, the earthly father. The sexuality of man is more of the earth, the sexuality of woman is more of the spirit.”4

Here are two seemingly autonomous psychic functions in relation to the individual identified as “the celestial mother” – very much like lifting up of Hadit’s head to union with Nuit (who is often pictured as a star goddess) – and “the earthly father” which is analogous to Hadit drooping his head to the earth. In Jungian psychology, it is understood that the individual’s psyche is bi-gendered in that it contains both masculine and feminine aspects, and in this case it should be understood that these two things – “celestial mother” and “earthly father” – relate to “every man and every woman.” Jung continues:

Man shall distinguish himself both from spirituality and sexuality. He shall call spirituality Mother, and set her between heaven and earth. He shall call sexuality Phallos, and set him between himself and earth. For the Mother and the Phallos are super-human daemons which reveal the world of the gods.”5

Here we have almost the same language being used as in Liber AL vel Legis. Once again we must remember that “Psychology accordingly treats all metaphysical claims and assertions as mental phenomena, and regards them as statements about the mind and its structure that derive ultimately from certain unconscious dispositions.”6 We can now understand that this line in Liber AL vel Legis that started this chapter refers to the two fundamental drives or two aspects of the Will.

Two potential courses of the Will

Liber AL II:26

Aleister Crowley

Sigmund Freud

Carl Jung

Hadit is “coiled,” prepared to Will a certain course of actions, either (1) return to spirit or (2) immersion in matter

1: “return to spirit”

I lift up my head, I and my Nuit are one.”

Mysticism = the Will to Death;” “Union… with Spirit”

Thanatos: the death drive

MATER COELESTIS, the celestial mother;” “spirituality”

2: “immersion in matter”

If I droop down mine head… I and the earth are one.”

Magick = the Will to Life;” “Union… with Matter”

Eros: the life drive

PHALLOS, the earthly father;” “sexuality”

[Figure 1. The two courses of Will once Hadit is “coiled about to spring”]

I referred to these two “drives” or “psychological contents” as seemingly autonomous psychic functions above, and Jung writes that “man shall distinguish himself” from both of them, for they are most practically understood as autonomous functions. He then proclaims these words:

Spirituality and sexuality are not your qualities, not things ye possess and contain. But they possess and contain you; for they are powerful daemons, manifestations of the gods, and are, therefore, things which reach beyond you, existing in themselves. No man hath a spirituality unto himself, or a sexuality unto himself. But he standeth under the law of spirituality and of sexuality. No man, therefore, escapeth these daemons.”7

This is a fundamentally important point. These actions or drives are not our qualities in the normal sense that we would normally think of something as part of ourselves, part of our personalities or mental structure. Rather, they are understood as forces influencing our psyches. Our normal, conscious sense of self is the ego, which is informed by these two influencing drives, these two aspects of the Will, and – as we explored earlier – the Will of the individual is the guiding Law of life (“There is no law beyond” doing it)8

It should be remarked that no matter what Hadit “does” – if there is coiling, lifting of the head, drooping of the head – there is joy and rapture. Once again it is shown that, in all aspects, “Existence is pure joy.”9

>>PART 8>>

1 The connections between this symbol and the Hindu kundalini are also plainly apparent, but elaboration on this point not appropriate for this essay.

2 Crowley, Aleister. “The Antecedents of Thelema.” Printed in The Revival of Magick.

3 Freud, Sigmund. Beyond the Pleasure Principle.

4 Jung, Carl. “Septem Sermones ad Mortuos,” Sermo V.

5 Jung, Carl. “Septem Sermones ad Mortuos,” Sermo V.

6 Jung, Carl. “Psychological Commentary on The Tibetan Book of the Great Liberation,” par. 760.

7 Jung, Carl. “Psychological Commentary on The Tibetan Book of the Great Liberation,” par. 760.

8 A reference to Liber AL, III:60, “There is no law beyond Do what thou wilt.”

9 Crowley, Aleister. Liber AL vel Legis, II:9.

>>PART 8>>

Psychology of Liber AL – pt.6: Psychological Model of Failure

Psychology of Liber AL

Psychological Model of Failure

Thelema constructs a completely practical psychological system, and it is established among familiar physiological lines. In the body, if all is working harmoniously – if the body is healthy, that is – the consciousness continues to operate undisturbed by the functions of the various organs and systems of the body. It is only when there is a malady of some sort – e.g., a malfunction of an organ, the skin is pierced by a knife, stress and anxiety, et cetera – that consciousness is disturbed and made aware of the body’s functioning. In a physiological sense, the body conveniently notifies the consciousness of its trouble by issuing signals of pain. Liber AL vel Legis has applied this to the functioning of the psyche:

Dost thou fail? Art thou sorry? Is fear in thine heart? Where I am these are not.”1

Crowley comments, “This verse brings out what is a fact in psychology, the necessary connection between fear, sorrow, and failure.”2 In the same sense that the appearance of pain signals a certain failure of the harmonious functioning of the body, the appearance of sorrow and fear signal a certain failure in the harmonious functioning of the psyche. Crowley writes, “Sorrow, pain, regret, are symptoms of diseased thought; those only who have ceased to be able to adjust themselves rightly and gladly to all Change, and to grow thereby, or those who still react, but only feebly and vainly, take Sorrow, pain, and regret to be Real”3 It is understood in Thelema that “existence is pure joy; that all the sorrows are but as shadows; they pass & are done; but there is that which remains.”4 Therefore, any kind of sorrow, pain, or regret necessarily implies some kind of failure to truly understand this perspective.

In another Holy Book of Thelema it is written, “Only if ye are sorrowful, or weary, or angry, or discomforted; then ye may know that ye have lost the golden thread, the thread wherewith I guide you to the heart of the groves of Eleusis.”5 This reaffirms the notion that the appearance of sorrow, pain, regret, weariness, anger, and discomfort are all, just as they are in the physiological sense, signs of some error in the functioning of the psyche of the organism. They are signals being sent to the psyche that “love under will” is not being performed properly, so to speak. Crowley confirms this once again when he writes, “Sorrow thus appears as the result of any unsuccessful – therefore, ill-judged – struggle. Acquiescence in the order of Nature is the ultimate Wisdom.”6

This notion of sorrow appearing as an unsuccessful assimilation of experience parallels the propositions from Carl Rogers’ client-centered therapy. In an earlier segment of this essay, it was seen how the Thelemic maxim of “love under will” is essentially the same concept as that of “psychological adjustment” from Carl Rogers’ nineteen propositions (the assumptions that underlie his client-centered therapy), i.e. assimilation of experience in accordance with one’s self. Whenever this fails, there is what Carl Rogers called “psychological maladjustment.” Rogers writes has as fifteenth and sixteenth propositions,

Psychological maladjustment exists when the organism denies awareness of significant sensory and visceral experiences, which consequently are not symbolized and organized into the gestalt of the self structure. When this situation exists, there is a basic or potential psychological tension.

Any experience which is inconsistent with the organization of the structure of the self may be perceived as a threat, and the more of these perceptions there are, the more rigidly the self structure is organized to maintain itself.”7

This “psychological tension” is the same “sorrow” or “pain” that Crowley mentions, but it is applied specifically to the psyche (as opposed to physiological sorrow or pain). If experiences are not assimilated, they generate “psychological tension” and may also be “perceived as a threat” which causes the self-structure to become even more rigid and unadaptable; this will therefore cause further unsuccessful acts of “love under will” or “psychological adjustment.”

Essentially, sorrow, pain, regret, fear, anger, discomfort, and one other psychological phenomenon – pity – are all signals of “failure” to perform an act of “love under will” properly – that is, assimilate an experience in a harmonious way.

In regards to pity, in the second chapter of Liber AL vel Legis it is written, “Pity not the fallen! I never knew them. I am not for them. I console not: I hate the consoled & the consoler”8 and also in the third chapter it is written, “Mercy let be off; damn them who pity!”9 Crowley comments on this saying:

It is several times shewn in this Book that ‘falling’ is in truth impossible. ‘All is ever as it was.’ To sympathize with the illusion is not only absurd, but tends to perpetuate the false idea. It is a mistake to ‘spoil’ a child, or humour a malade imaginaire. One must, on the contrary, chase away the shadows by lighting a fire, which fire is: Do what thou wilt!” Crowley asserts that pitying another is akin to “sympathiz[ing] with the illusion,” for it is said in Liber AL that “Existence is pure joy,” and “all the sorrows are but as shadows; they pass & are done; but there is that which remains.”10

One can only pity someone that is in a situation that one perceives to be “unfortunate,” but if one truly understands the dictum of “Existence is pure joy,” they know that even this pity is based on a false perception of things and therefore “sympathyz[ing] with the illusion.” It also implies “looking down” on someone, thinking oneself better rather than recognizing the unique sovereignty of each individual, each being a King or Queen in his or her own Kingdom. This echoes the sentiments that Friedrich Nietzsche expressed when discussing Christianity as a religion of pity. He writes,

Pity stands in opposition to all the tonic passions that augment the energy of the feeling of aliveness: it is a depressant. A man loses power when he pities. Through pity that drain upon strength which suffering works is multiplied a thousandfold. Suffering is made contagious by pity; under certain circumstances it may lead to a total sacrifice of life and living energy–a loss out of all proportion to the magnitude of the cause.” 11

Nietzsche also identifies pity as the “contagious source” of even more of “that drain upon strength” than what normally is experienced from suffering or sorrow “multiplied a thousand fold.” Nietzsche continues,

Pity thwarts the whole law of evolution, which is the law of natural selection. It preserves whatever is ripe for destruction; it fights on the side of those disinherited and condemned by life; by maintaining life in so many of the botched of all kinds, it gives life itself a gloomy and dubious aspect. Mankind has ventured to call pity a virtue… Let me repeat: this depressing and contagious instinct stands against all those instincts which work for the preservation and enhancement of life: in the role of protector of the miserable, it is a prime agent in the promotion of decadence–pity persuades to extinction… Aristotle, as every one knows, saw in pity a sickly and dangerous state of mind, the remedy for which was an occasional purgative: he regarded tragedy as that purgative… Nothing is more unhealthy, amid all our unhealthy modernism, than Christian pity.” 12

Pity not only causes more identification with the “shadows” of suffering, but it “preserves whatever is ripe for destruction” because it is a “contagious instinct [that] stands against all those instincts which for the preservation and enhancement of life” – something that one obviously should have to maintain physiological and psychological health. Nietzsche was especially concerned with maintaining these instincts that preserve and enhance life, and he was therefore on guard against all sentiments that would obstruct this natural process.

Aside from these appearances of sorrow, pain, regret, fear, anger, discomfort, and pity being treated as signs of maladjustment – or “love” being performed not “under will” – there are also the considerations of sin and reason that are mentioned in previous segments of this essay. The thought of oneself as sinful is a misperception in Thelema; reason must be kept in its rightful place as interpreter and helper of the Will, which must be performed with tireless energy, without regard to purpose, and unattached to any lust of result. Any diversion from this necessarily restricts the Will, and not only is “the word of Sin… Restriction,”13 but “thou hast no right but to do thy will. Do that, and no other shall say nay.”14 We now have a more complete sense of how the Thelemite ideally views and oeprates within the world: Free of the sense of sin, free of reason’s stranglehold upon our behavior, and aware of sorrow, pain, regret, discomfort, and pity as signals of our failure to perform “love under will.”

Fear not at all; fear neither men nor Fates, nor gods, nor anything. Money fear not, nor laughter of the folk folly, nor any other power in heaven or upon the earth or under the earth.” 15

>>PART 7>>

1 Crowley, Aleister. Liber AL vel Legis, II:46-47.

2 Crowley, Aleister. The Law is For All, II:46.

3 Crowley, Aleister. “Djeridensis Working,” II:17.

4 Crowley, Aleister. Liber AL vel Legis, II:9.

5 Crowley, Aleister. Liber Tzaddi vel Hamus Hermeticus, line 23.

6 Crowley, Aleister. The Law is For All, II:9.

7 Rogers, Carl. Client-Centred Therapy, ch.11.

8 Crowley, Aleister. Liber AL vel Legis, II:48.

9 Crowley, Aleister. Liber AL vel Legis, II:18.

10 Crowley, Aleister. Liber AL vel Legis, II:9.

11 Nietzsche, Frierich. The Antichrist, ch.7.

12 Nietzsche, Frierich. The Antichrist, ch.7.

13 Crowley, Aleister. Liber AL vel Legis, I:41.

14Crowley, Aleister. Liber AL vel Legis, I:42-43.

15Crowley, Aleister. Liber AL vel Legis, III:17.

>>PART 7>>

Psychology of Liber AL – pt.5: Individuation and the True Will

Psychology of Liber AL

Individuation and the True Will

In the previous section of this essay, it was seen how the mind inhibits the full expression of the Will. The “factor infinite & unknown” is the “Subconscious Will,” and therefore, if we can clear away the thought-complexes that prevent this Will from manifesting, we will come to know our Will. This process by which we come to know and do our Will is called in some places “the Great Work.” Crowley explains this Great Work of coming to know one’s True Will concisely when he writes,

We are not to regard ourselves as base beings, without whose sphere is Light or ‘God.’ Our minds and bodies are veils of the Light within. The uninitiate is a ‘Dark Star,’ and the Great Work for him is to make his veils transparent by ‘purifying’ them. This ‘purification’ is really ‘simplification’; it is not that the veil is dirty, but that the complexity of its folds makes it opaque. The Great Work therefore consists principally in the solution of complexes. Everything in itself is perfect, but when things are muddled, they become ‘evil.’”1

This process of the Great Work that “consists principally in the solution of complexes” is also coterminous with a phrase Crowley often used: Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel. He asserts this identity as clearly as possible when he writes, “this Great Work is the Attainment of the Knowledge and Conversation of thine Holy Guardian Angel.”2

The process by which we come to know and do our Will is the solution of complexes inhibiting the free and natural flow of the Will. The Great Work is simply a clearing away of the inhibitions of the conscious self to allow the true Self, which contains both conscious and subconscious elements, free reign to do as it Wills. The theory is that if we are only able to “cleanse the doors of perception” (as William Blake says), we will be allowed to manifest our pure Wills effectively. Crowley writes, “Our own Silent Self, helpless and witless, hidden within us, will spring forth, if we have craft to loose him to the Light, spring lustily forward with his cry of Battle, the Word of our True Wills. This is the Task of the Adept, to have the Knowledge and Conversation of His Holy Guardian Angel, to become aware of his nature and his purpose, fulfilling them.”3 Here Crowley not only makes Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel analogous to becoming aware of and fulfilling one’s nature and purpose, but he admits that all we need is the “craft to loose” this “Silent Self” and then naturally the “Word of our True Wills” will “spring lustily forward.”

The various forms of Horus found in Liber AL vel Legis (Ra-Hoor-Khuit, Hoor-paar-kraat, Heru-pa-kraath, Heru-ra-ha, etc.)4 represent a symbolic expression of the “Silent” or “True Self” and so also a symbol of the Holy Guardian Angel. Horus is therefore an archetypal expression of the Self to which all aspire to unite or identify with in “the Great Work.” This is spoken of in Liber AL when Horus, the speaker of the third chapter, says, “To Me do ye reverence! to me come ye through tribulation of ordeal, which is bliss.”5 Crowley explains:

We have seen that Ra-Hoor-Khuit is in one sense the Silent Self in a man, a Name of his Khabs, not so impersonal as Hadit, but the first and least untrue formulation of the Ego. We are to revere this self in us, then, not to suppress it and subordinate it. Nor are we to evade it, but to come to it. This is done ‘through tribulation of ordeal.’ This tribulation is that experienced in the process called Psychoanalysis, now that official science has adopted — so far as its inferior intelligence permits — the methods of the magus. But the ‘ordeal’ is ‘bliss’; the solution of each complex by ‘tribulation’ …is the spasm of joy which is the physiological and psychological accompaniment of any relief from strain and congestion.”6

Crowley identifies Horus as a symbolic expression of the Self whose Will must not be suppressed, subordinated, or evaded. The more surprising of the statements by Crowley is that he claims the “tribulation of ordeal” of the Great Work is coterminous with Psychoanalysis, a direct connection again between psychology and Thelema. With this we can see that the process of psychoanalysis is analogous to “the Great Work” and “Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel”: it is a realization of the true Self.

Carl Jung deemed this same process “individuation.” He defines individuation as:

becoming an ‘in-dividual,’ and in so far as ‘individuality’ embraces our innermost, last, and incomparable uniqueness, it also implies becoming one’s own self. We could therefore translate individuation as ‘coming to selfhood’ or ‘self-realization…’ Egotists are called ‘selfish,’ but this, naturally, has nothing to do with the concept of ‘self’ as I am using it here… Individuation, therefore, can only mean a process of psychological development that fulfils the individual qualities given; in other words, it is a process by which a man becomes the definite, unique being he in fact is. In so doing he does not become ‘selfish’ in the ordinary sense of the word, but is merely fulfilling the peculiarity of his nature, and this… is vastly different from egotism or individualism.”7

Jung here asserts that individuation is a “self-realization,” but makes sure to qualify this statement by saying this does not mean a strengthening of the ego-self. This Self that is realized is beyond the normal egocentric notion of “self.” Instead, this Self contains both the conscious (where the ego resides) and the unconscious factors. Jung explains that, “conscious and unconscious are not necessarily in opposition to one another, but complement on another to form a totality, which is the self.”8 This is the Self that one comes to “through tribulation of ordeal.” Horus is a symbol of that Self in Liber AL vel Legis, and in other places the Holy Guardian Angel is mentioned as that symbol. Crowley writes, “the Angel [is] the True Self of his subconscious self, the hidden Life of his physical life” and “his Angel is the Unity which expresses the sum of the Elements of that Self,”9 an almost exact parallel of Jung’s definition of the “Self.”10

As asserted before by Crowley, this process of individuation or “The Great Work… consists principally in the solution of complexes,” and is simply the becoming aware of and fulfilling of one’s nature. Through this Great Work of individuation, one comes to identify with this Self. In Thelema, one does such under the figure of Horus.11 One comes to know that “he [or she] is Harpocrates, the Child Horus… that is, he is in Unity with his own Secret Nature.”12

One might even assert that the Great Work is a natural process of the human psyche. Carl Jung says, “the driving force [of the unconscious], so far as it is possible for us to grasp it, seems to be in essence only an urge towards self-realization.”13 In this sense, all humans are participating in the drama of the “Great Work,” each striving, consciously or unconsciously, toward that union of subconscious and conscious natures into the Self so that they may more fully accomplish their Wills.

>>PART 6>>

1 Crowley, Aleister. The Law is for All, I:8.

2 Crowley, Aleister. Liber Aleph, “De Gradibus ad Magnum Opus.”

3 Crowley, Aleister. The Law is for All, I:7.

4 It is interesting to note that Crowley says in his commentary to Liber AL, “The Fool is also the Great Fool, Bacchus Diphues, Harpocrates, the Dwarf-Self, the Holy Guardian Angel, and so forth,” essentially equating all the symbols. Further, he writes in his comment to Liber AL II:8, “Harpocrates is… the Dwarf-Soul, the Secret Self of every man, the Serpent with the Lion’s Head.” If this is true, and if according to Liber AL I:8 “Hoor-paar-kraat” (a name for Harpocrates) is taken to be the source of Liber AL vel Legis as the book itself proclaims, then Liber AL was indeed a manifestation of Crowley’s unconscious. The fact is that the unconscious contains “both knowledge and power” greater than the conscious mind, and therefore it is quite possible that Liber AL vel Legis is a manifestation thereof.

5 Crowley, Aleister. Liber AL vel Legis, III:62.

6 Crowley, Aleister. The Law is for All, III:62.

7 Jung, Carl. “The Function of the Unconscious” from The Collected Works of C.G. Jung vol.7, par.266-267.

8 Jung, Carl. “The Function of the Unconscious” from The Collected Works of C.G. Jung vol.7, par.274.

9 Crowley, Aleister. “Liber Samekh,” Point II, Section G.

10 From these considerations it will be seen that the Holy Guardian Angel is most certainly not an external being as some in the Thelemic community maintain. This is due most likely to one statement made by Crowley in Magick Without Tears, a treatise intended for complete beginners. One must understand that the subconscious can and does appear as autonomous to the conscious mind. Therefore, one can speak of the Angel as “outside” of oneself insofar as it seems to function autonomously from the conscious ego, but ultimately one comes to see that the Angel is in fact the summation of both the subconscious and conscious natures that make up the self.

11 In an endnote to chapter 90 of Confessions of Aleister Crowley, Symonds writes about a statement Crowley made to a disciple Frank Bennett, “’I want to explain to you fully, and in a few words, what initiation means, and what is meant when we talk of the Real Self, and what the Real Self is.’ And there and then Crowley told him that it was all a matter of getting the subconscious mind to work; and when this subconscious mind was allowed full sway, without interference from the conscious mind, then illumination could be said to have begin; for the subconscious mind was our Holy Guardian Angel. Crowley illustrated the point thus: everything is experienced in the subconscious mind, and it (the subconscious) is constantly urging its will on consciousness, and when the inner desires are restricted or suppressed, evil of all kinds is the result.” Although this directly supports our conclusions we include it only in a footnote because it is a third-hand account.

12 Crowley, Aleister. Liber Aleph, “De Gramine Sanctissimo Arabico.”

13 Jung, Carl. “The Function of the Unconscious” from The Collected Works of C.G. Jung vol.7, par.291.

>>PART 6>>

Psychology of Liber AL – pt.4: Curse against Reason

Psychology of Liber AL

Curse against Reason

Aside from the Will being beyond rest, purpose, attachment to results, and morality, it also transcends reason and the mind in general in an important sense. In the normal functioning of daily life, the mind and reason often play integral parts: Thelema does not deny the usefulness of the mind and reason but seeks to put it in its right place. In the West, reason has held a central position in philosophy at least since Socrates. Reason was thought to be the only way to ascertain truth, and at times reason was often equated with God himself.1 The first major check to the dominance of reason in the Western mind came from Kant when he published his Critique of Pure Reason and demonstrated its various limits. This sort of check to the dominance of reason over one’s actions is echoed in Liber AL vel Legis. Essentially, the dominance and control of the mind, especially the reason, over the individual’s Will is brought into question. Liber AL vel Legis itself says,

“There is great danger in me; for who doth not understand these runes shall make a great miss. He shall fall down into the pit called Because, and there he shall perish with the dogs of Reason. Now a curse upon Because and his kin! May Because be accursed for ever! If Will stops and cries Why, invoking Because, then Will stops & does nought. If Power asks why, then is Power weakness. Also reason is a lie; for there is a factor infinite & unknown; & all their words are skew-wise.”2

Once again we must emphasize that Thelema is not denying the practical necessity of reason, but it attempts to delineate reason’s boundaries for the most effective functioning of the Will. On this Crowley writes, “We must not suppose for an instant that the Book of the Law is opposed to reason. On the contrary, its own claim to authority rests upon reason, and nothing else. It disdains the arts of the orator. It makes reason the autocrat of the mind. But that very fact emphasizes that the mind should attend to its own business. It should not transgress its limits. It should be a perfect machine, an apparatus for representing the universe accurately and impartially to its master. The Self, its Will, and its Apprehension, should be utterly beyond it.”3

First, “Because,” “Reason,” and “Why,” are all attacked under the form of a cursing by the speaker of the Book. If one asks “why” one should will something or if it is because of something, it cripples the Will and makes “Power weakness.” It was seen in an earlier segment of this essay that, if Will is considered to be “perfect in every way,” it must continue going or working without regard to purpose. In this way, the Will will be “unassuaged.” Crowley writes, “There is no ‘reason’ why a Star should continue in its orbit. Let her rip!”4 and also, “It is ridiculous to ask a dog why it barks. One must fulfill one’s true Nature, one must do one’s Will. To question this is to destroy confidence, and so to create an inhibition.”5 These considerations of purpose are understood now to cause the “Will to stop & do nought,” essentially making it impotent. Therefore, the very nature of our actions is not decided by conscious reason but is to be decided by the Will. “Reason is a lie” because of a “factor infinite & unknown,” which Crowley clearly states “is the subconscious Will.”6 The subconscious naturally cannot be completely understood by the conscious mind, the sphere of reason, so therefore reason’s “words are skew-wise.” It can never delineate the true Will in words because of the subconscious Will, a factor that is by definition “unknown” or below the conscious level of perception. The Will therefore can certainly not be coterminous with “will power” or “volition,” for the Will must encompass the subconscious aspect of one’s self as well as the conscious.

Crowley affirms this doctrine when he writes, “every time the conscious acts, it interferes with the Subconscious… It is the voice of Man, and not of a God. Any man who ‘listens to reason’ ceases to be a revolutionary.”7 Here Crowley makes the subconscious analogous to “the voice of… a God,” for the depths of the unconscious contents contain latent potencies that seem God-like when awakened and assimilated. Crowley explains Liber AL’s position on reason succinctly:

We now come to a challenge which is in some ways even more daring than any yet made. Before, the moral sense of men was outraged. He now turns to attack the Reason itself. He looks on reason as a soulless machine. Its proper function is to express the Will in terms of conscious thought, the will being the need of the inmost self to express itself by causing some Event.”8

This is the summary of Liber AL vel Legis’ point-of-view of the correct use of reason. Here we see that reason is “a soulless machine” in that the actual self or soul is not in reason, but the Will merely utilizes reason and the mind in general as a machine for expression. Essentially, the proper function of reason is to express the Will in terms of conscious thought but not dictate its actions, for that would cause the Will to “stop & do nought.” The idea behind this is that reason cannot fully comprehend and execute the demands of the Will because “This will (as such) is not conscious. We can only become aware of it, and thus enjoy and learn from the Event, by making an Image of it. Reason is the machine whose function it is to do this. When reason usurps the higher functions of the mind, when it presumes to dictate to the Will what its desires ought to be, it wrecks the entire structure of the star. The Self should set the Will in motion, that is, the Will should only take its orders from within and above.”9 Jung echoes this exact sentiment when he says, “The intellect does indeed do harm to the soul when it dares to possess itself of the heritage of the spirit. It is in no way fitted to do this, for spirit is something higher than intellect since it embraces the latter and includes the feelings as well.”10 The Self that Jung equates with “spirit” in this quotation includes both conscious and unconscious contents and therefore its actions should not be delineated by reason, a construct of merely the conscious aspect of his being.

The overuse of reason has caused a split in modern man’s psyche, detaching him/her from the subconscious sphere of the psyche. Carl Jung defines nervous disorders as “consist[ing] primarily in an alienation from one’s instincts, a splitting off of consciousness from certain basic facts of the psyche.” This over-extension of reason’s boundaries in our Western society has caused “a splitting off of consciousness” from the basic facts of the subconscious. Jung continues, “Rationalistic opinions come unexpectedly close to neurotic symptoms. Like these, they consist of distorted thinking, which takes the place of psychologically correct thinking. The latter kind of thinking always retains its connection with the heart, with the depths of the psyche, the tap-root.”11 Here he identifies “psychologically correct thinking” as that “kind of thinking [which] always retains its connection… with the depths of the psyche, tap-root.” This “psychologically correct thinking” is exactly the same notion that is implied in Liber AL’s curses against the intellect and reason. The thinking which takes its directives from the Will is “psychologically correct” whereas reason delineating boundaries itself will cause the Will to “fall into the pit called Because” and become impotent.

While commenting on one of Jung’s works, Stephan Hoeller writes, “Thinking, the function of reason, has many commendable uses and cannot be eliminated, but it also builds barriers between the personality and its unconscious matrix. In order to reach the necessary transformative self-knowledge, one needs to keep the thinking function subservient to the inspiration proceeding from the Self.”12 Once again the same doctrine is expounded. “The inspiration proceeding from the Self,” which contains both the conscious and unconscious, is the Will of the individual and therefore to this the thinking function must remain subservient. If it does not, it will “build barriers between the personality [conscious self] and its unconscious matrix,” to do so would create a conflict in the Will and it will “perish with the dogs of Reason.”

“If the Sun and Moon should ever doubt, they’d immediately go out.”
William Blake

>>PART 5>>

1 The logos of the Gospel of John ch.1 refers to the Word of God but is sometimes translated as “Reason.”

2 Crowley, Aleister. Liber AL vel Legis, II:27-32.

3 Crowley, Aleister. The Law is For All, II:28.

4 Crowley, Aleister. The Law is For All, II:30.

5 Crowley, Aleister. The Law is For All, II:31.

6 Crowley, Aleister. The Law is For All, II:30.

7 Crowley, Aleister. The Law is For All, II:30.

8 Crowley, Aleister. “Djeridensis Working,” II:28-31.

9 Crowley, Aleister. “Djeridensis Working,” II:28-31.

10 Jung, Carl. “Psychological Commentary on The Secret of the Golden Flower” par.7.

11 Jung, Carl. “The Soul and Death” from Collected Works of C.G. Jung, volume 8: The Struture and Dynamics of the Psyche, par. 808.

12 Hoeller, Stephan. The Gnostic Jung, p.76.

>>PART 5>>

Psychology of Liber AL – pt.3: The Notion of Sin Abolished

Psychology of Liber AL

The Notion of Sin Abolished

“The formula of this law is: Do what thou wilt. Its moral aspect is simple enough in theory. Do what thou wilt does not mean Do as you please, although it implies this degree of emancipation, that it is no longer possible to say a priori that a given action is “wrong.” Each man has the right – and an absolute right – to accomplish his True Will.
—Aleister Crowley, “The Method of Thelema”

In Thelema, one is enjoined to “Do what thou wilt,” and we have seen that this Will, if it is to be considered as “pure” and “perfect,” must be performed with tireless energy, without regard to purpose, and without lusting after results. One other diversion or veil from the “pure will” is conventional morality and especially notion of “sin.”

In Judeo-Christian-Islamic terms, the world is generally viewed in terms of good and evil, with “good” actions being those that adhere to the specific laws set forth in whatever book is held holy and “evil” being the turning away from such laws. Thelema is a philosophy or a point-of-view that Nietzsche would have termed to be “beyond good and evil.” The only restriction in Thelema is to restrict or be diverted from one’s Will. In fact, the line right after the aphorism “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law” is this:

The word of Sin is Restriction.”1

Crowley explains this succinctly, saying that this “is a general statement or definition of Sin or Error. Anything soever that binds the will, hinders it, or diverts it, is Sin.”2 Here is a completely new view of ethics wherein the only “evil” is to divert from oneself, or more accurately, from one’s Will.

Psychologically, when one deviates from one’s true inner promptings, a conflict arises which is generally known as “neurosis.” Carl Jung defines nervous disorders a “consist[ing] primarily in an alienation from one’s instincts, a splitting off of consciousness from certain basic facts of the psyche.”3 Generally, when a action, thought, or tendency arises within someone that is contrary to their society’s (or religion’s) current view of what is “right” (Freud’s “superego”), the psyche tends to suppress and prevent those unlikable aspects from appearing to the conscious mind. Although these thoughts (e.g. to a Christian, the thought of performing a homosexual act) may not appear consciously to the person as much, the same exact tendency still lies within the subconscious and still exerts its influence. This suppression of a natural tendency to bring it into line with societal expectations of conduct is the basis of psychological “repression.”

In Thelema, these repressions are understood for what they are: repressions of the natural inclinations of an individual. Therefore, if the sole law is to do one’s will, artificially repressing aspects of oneself leads to a disastrous split in one’s psyche, and hence, one’s Will. One is deviating from one’s Will when one is creating a fundamental split in oneself – creating ‘multiple wills’ that diverge and conflict – which is fundamentally a split of the conscious (with its many arbitrary notions of “right and wrong”) from the unconscious and instinctual. Thelema recognizes that all deviations from this unique Will, including all repressions of the natural instinct to conform to artificial notions of moral conduct, will lead to repression, which leads inevitably to neurosis. Crowley wrote, “Thelemites are ‘thrice-born;’4 we accept everything for what it is, without ‘lust of result,’ without insisting upon things conforming with a priori ideals, or regretting their failure to do so. We can therefore ‘enjoy’ all things of sense and rapture’ according to their true nature.5

One of the most evident applications of this dictum that “the word of Sin is Restriction” is in relation to sex morality. Every religion has undoubtedly had innumerable restrictions upon sexual life, especially for women. Liber AL vel Legis proclaims that, not only is “every man and every woman… a star,”6 showing their essential equality, but further, it is written to “take your fill and will of love as ye will, when, where and with whom ye will!”7 This line is strangely prophetic of the Sexual Revolution that took place in the late 1960s, over half a century after the writing of Liber AL vel Legis, and also the groundbreaking research on sex by Alfred Kinsey in the 1940s. There are no restrictions even as to relationships of love that may be considered to be expressions of homosexuality, masochism, or sodomy, for, from the point-of-view of the Thelemite, a thing is “wrong” only insofar as it has brought one to deviate from one’s own Will. As Crowley says, “We have no right to interfere with any type of manifestation of the sexual impulse on a priori grounds.”8

Crowley writes, “‘Love under will’ is the Law. We refuse to regard love as shameful and degrading, as a peril to body and soul. We refuse to accept it as the surrender of the divine to the animal; to us it is the means by which the animal may be made the Winged Sphinx which shall bear man aloft to the House of the Gods.”9 The sexual instinct was repressed without mercy in the religions of the past and was often decried as animalistic or sinful. Thelema turns this idea on its head by saying not only is sex not shameful or degrading, it is the natural function of a human and if it is in accordance with their own will they should express it (not in accordance with some a priori rule-set).

Crowley summarizes all these sentiments when he proclaims, “It should be abundantly clear from the foregoing remarks that each individual has an absolute and indefeasible right to use his sexual vehicle in accordance with its own proper character, and that he is responsible only to himself.”10 Psychologically, this is a healthy route to take, for “Sex-repression leads to neurosis, and is the cause of social unrest.”11 Alfred Kinsey found in his research on sexuality that “Sexual desire is a basic, biological urge, drive, or instinct which demands satisfaction… if the (male) sexual drive is denied legitimate outlets, it will find satisfaction in illegitimate ones” (i.e. rape, sexual abuse of children, etc.), “repression of sexual desire may lead to physical or mental illness, especially ‘neurosis’ in women …[and] the need for sex is as basic as the need for food.”12 In this light, it seems Thelema has given us an adequate framework to act without fear of “physical or mental illness” because of our sexual inclinations.

Essentially, by proclaiming “the word of Sin is Restriction,” Liber AL vel Legis says that all restriction or repression of the Will is the only “evil” or “sin.”13 We know that “Repression of the natural satisfaction may result in addition to secret and dangerous vices which destroy their victim because they are artificial and unnatural aberrations.”14 The idea of restriction extends obviously beyond that of sex morality, but it has clear and obvious repercussions upon it and therefore it was necessary to go into this specific aspect in detail.

Truly, the dictums of “Do what thou wilt” and “the word of Sin is Restriction” apply to all morality in general. The quotation that begins this chapter succinctly explains this in simple terms that “it is no longer possible to say a priori that a given action is ‘wrong.’ Each man has the right-and an absolute right-to accomplish his True Will.” Crowley further writes that, “There are no ‘standards of Right’. Ethics is balderdash. Each Star must go on its own orbit. To hell with ‘moral principle’; there is no such thing.”15 In this sense, Thelema has shown there is no such thing as an absolute standard of right and wrong; there is only a relative standard of right and wrong in relation with each person’s unique nature and circumstance – their unique Will.

In reality, good and evil are not different from each other. ‘Good’ and ‘bad’ are merely conventional terms. Depending on how it is used, the same thing can be ‘good’ or ‘bad.’ Take, for example, this lamplight. Because of its burning we are able to see and do various works of utility; this is one mode of using the light. Now, if you put your fingers in it, they will be burnt; that is another mode of using the same light. So it is clear that a thing becomes good or bad according to the way we use it. The same is the case with virtue and vice. Broadly speaking, the proper use of any of the faculties of our mind and body is virtue, and their improper use is vice.”
—Swami Vivekananda
16

>>PART 4>>

1 Crowley, Aleister. Liber AL vel Legis, I:41.

2 Crowley, Aleister. The Law is For All, I:41.

3 Jung, Carl. “The Soul and Death” from Collected Works of C.G. Jung, volume 8: The Struture and Dynamics of the Psyche, par. 808.

4 A reference to the Thelemite’s transcending of the categories of ‘once-born’ and ‘twice-born’ as elucidated by William James in his book The Varieties of Religious Experience.

5 Crowley, Aleister. The Law is For All, II:22.

6 Crowley, Aleister. Liber AL vel Legis, I:3.

7 Crowley, Aleister. Liber AL vel Legis, I:51.

8 Crowley, Aleister. The Law is For All, I:51.

9 Crowley, Aleister. The Law is For All, I:51.

10 Crowley, Aleister. The Law is For All, I:51.

11 Crowley, Aleister. The Law is For All, I:52.

12 Cablan, Pat & Caplan, Patricia. The Cultural Construction of Sexuality, p.72.

13 Though, it should be noted that in Thelema, the notion of “sin” can never nearly approach that of the Christian or Muslim’s for there is no notion of Original Sin nor of an eternal Judge of our actions.

14 Crowley, Aleister. The Law is For All, I:51.

15 Crowley, Aleister. The Law is For All, II:28.

16 Vivekananda, Swami. Conversation: Saturday, January 23, 1898. Recorded in Bengali by Surendra Nath Sen in his private diary. Complete Works, vol.5: 337.

>>PART 4>>