“[In the Aeon of] Horus, the child… we come to perceive events as a continual growth…” -Aleister Crowley, Introduction to the Book of the Law
This new Aeon of human existence is a new dawn of a shift in our point-of-views. With the reception of Liber AL vel Legis, or the Book of the Law, in 1904 by Aleister Crowley, the paradigm of Thelema was brought to the world. Only a year after, Einstein had his famous “miracle year” which revolutionized physics and brought us, among other things, the special theory of relativity. Less than two decades later, quantum mechanics would spring onto the scene with full force and lead to technological achievements like transistors, computers, and A-bombs. In this century, not only were protons, neutrons, and quarks discovered, but so was the double-helix structure of DNA, genes, and other biological advances like stem-cell and cloning. There was the rise of psychology and neurology. There were incredible leaps in transportation (e.g. personal cars and commercial airliners) and communication (e.g., cell phones and the Internet). With the turn of the 21st century, it is an exciting time as ever to exist with much amazing growth remaining possible ahead of us.
Consider how much growth has happened to the human race in the last century, especially in terms of the advances in physics, biology, and technology. Consider one’s own development and how much growth one has gone through physically, emotionally, and intellectually.
One may recognize the immense amount of growth that occurred in the period when one was a child. Childhood is a time of great openness and vitality, among other things. Being in this New Aeon of the Crowned & Conquering Child, each person may (much to their benefit) identify with this symbol of a child.
Now let us consider the characteristics of a child:
Openness to Experience
Ever-renewed Vitality & Resilience
and most importantly…
As a symbol of this ideal, Thelema has Horus, the Egyptian sky and sun god, especially under the form of “Ra-Hoor-Khuit” (Ra-Horakhty was a synthesis of the gods of Ra and Horus in ancient times). Speaking in terms of the occult mysteries, Aleister Crowley writes in “Liber Samekh,”
“In the Neophyte Ritual of Golden Dawn (As it is printed in Equinox I, II, for the old aeon) the Hierophant is the perfected Osiris, who brings the candidate, the natural Osiris, to identity with himself. But in the new Aeon the Hierophant is Horus (Liber CCXX, I, 49) therefore the Candidate will be Horus too. 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.” (emphasis added)
In the occult mysteries, one formerly identified with a form of the ideal man which was typified by the dying-and-resurrecting form – in this case it is the Egyptian Osiris. Now the ideal is the child with the formula of Ever-continual Growth. Just as dawn is understood to always follow the ordeals of midnight and spring always follows the ordeals of winter, we understand that all psychological ordeals – including the ‘death of the ego’ – are not catastrophic (although they, like the hour of midnight and the season of winter may seem so while living through them), but are in fact part of our Ever-continual Growth. But Thelema doesn’t just deal with the occult mysteries because, as mentioned at the beginning of this essay, Thelema is an all-encompassing paradigm and it is advantageously applicable to all facets of life. Thelemites therefore are open to all experience, however much joy or suffering may arise because all things are accepted as part of “love under will;” all experiences of all degrees add to one’s being. Crowley wrote in “Liber Tzaddi,”
My adepts stand upright; their head above the heavens, their feet below the hells.
This line perfectly captures the Thelemite’s acceptance of all facets of oneself, from the most apparently hellish to the most divine, and also all facets of Nature, spanning all degrees of beauty and terribleness.Consider how, in your life, certain events that seemed to be a time of great trouble (physically, financially, emotionally, intellectually, spiritually) eventually faded away into greater strength, energy, and insight. Consider how the events that seemed wonderful or even divine have transpired and what they have added to one’s experience. Ask oneself: how does integrating these diverse experiences of both joy & sadness into a coherent whole allow me to perform my Will more effectively?
Again, in “Liber Samekh” Crowley writes about how experience is necessary for the individual, “All experiences contribute to make us complete in ourselves. We feel ourselves subject to them so long as we fail to recognise this; when we do, we perceive that they are subject to us… To live is to change; and to oppose change is to revolt against the law… which govern[s] our lives.” Consider the many times one has needed to do something or been forced to do something that one did not want to (e.g. fold your laundry, take an entrance exam, go to the dentist, travel to a foreign country). How many times was your immediate desire (i.e. to leave the dentist’s office) in conflict with longer goals (i.e. to have healthy teeth)? How has pushing oneself to have experiences, however undesirable and uncomfortable, led to increased understanding, knowledge, strength, and adaptability?
Two different news articles have recently been released (late 2007) on the subject of growth and a ‘growth mind-set’ and its various advantages. In one case, the psychologist Carol Dweck has seen that kids who have a ‘growth mind-set’ – meaning they believe that their intelligence is mutable and liable to growth as opposed to static and unchanging – perform better in school. In another instance, Scientific American investigated the fact that, “teaching people to have a ‘growth mind-set,’ which encourages a focus on effort rather than on intelligence or talent, produces high achievers in school and in life.” These two subtly different views – one where seeing intelligence as mutable is beneficial and the other where emphasizing effort over intellect is beneficial – see the advantage of what they both label as a “growth mind-set.”
Continuing with the attributes of this ideal symbol of Horus, “the Crowned and Conquering Child,” Crowley writes in his Confessions, “The child is not merely a symbol of growth, but of complete moral independence and innocence.” This subject of morality in Thelema, related to the symbol of the child, growth, and innocence, has been treated more fully in the essay “Thelemic Values: a new view of morality” (forthcoming). We may then focus on how “innocence” is also characteristic of the Child.
The “innocence” of the formula of the Child in Thelema is certainly not the uninformed, unexperienced innocence of actual children but refers to their point-of-view. Children are much less unimpeded by the imposed values from their family, friends, and society. Not only are their values less imposed but even their very basic way of understanding the world is unclouded by preformed opinions, systems, and maps. Instead, the “innocence” of a Child – which is, again, an ideal that all Thelemites can advantageously identify with – refers to its openness. The child is open to experience, as mentioned previously as one of the characteristics of the Child, and is open to new and different ways of perceiving ideas. This openness to physical experiences and mental ideas ties directly back into the formula of the Child being Ever-continuing Growth. It is this innocent openness which allows us to submerge our feet in the deepest hells and raise our heads to the highest heavens. Instead of fearing our comfortable balance may be lost, Thelemites push ever onward to new horizons, invigorated by the seemingly infinite possibilities and potential symbolized by the starry night sky of Nuit.