active thelema

Active Thelema, pt. 2: The Formula of the Child is Continual Growth

Nuit Infinite Space and the Infinite Stars thereof

“[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.

Horus the Crowned and Conquering Child as Harpocrates

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…

Ever-continuing Growth

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.

Father Pan and Mother Moon with Horus the Crowned and Conquering ChildThe “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. Fresh Fever From the Skies: The Collected Writings of IAO131This 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.

Active Thelema, pt.1: A Thelemic Universe, a Star Among Stars, All in the Night-Sky

Nuit the Night-Sky
Thelema is an all-encompassing paradigm. One problem with any kind of system of ideas that is conveyed primarily through writings is that the concepts can often be difficult to practically apply to life. These contemplations are offered to allow both the symbolic and more practical considerations of Thelemic philosophy to be more materialized in one’s life.

Consider the night sky. Please, really do whenever you can. (In French, night is called “nuit”…) When we see this immense expanse, a couple ideas often come to mind:

Boundlessness

Immense Power

Infinite Possibilities

The night sky is incredibly, unfathomably large. The poor ability of our eyeballs to only see a small fraction of the electromagnetic spectrum of light may very well be to keep us from being continually dazzled in wonder at the immensity of the space and power of the universe. Nietzsche characterized the world as a play of great power quite aptly when he wrote in his Will to Power,

“And do you know what “the world” is to me? Shall I show it to you in my mirror? This world: a monster of energy, without beginning, nor end; a firm, iron magnitude of force that does not grow bigger or smaller, that does not expend itself but only transforms itself; as a whole, of unalterable size, a household without expenses or losses, but likewise without increase or income; enclosed by “nothingness” as by a boundary; not something blurry or wasted, not something endlessly extended, but set in a definite space as a definite force, and not a space that might be “empty” here or there, but rather as force throughout, as a play of forces and waves of forces, at the same time one and many, increasing here and at the same time decreasing there; a sea of forces flowing and rushing together, eternally changing, eternally flooding back, with tremendous years of recurrence, with an ebb and a flood of its forms; out of the simplest forms striving toward the most complex, out of the stillest, most rigid, coldest forms toward the hottest, most turbulent, most self-contradictory, and then again returning home to the simple out of this abundance, out of the play of contradictions back to the joy of concord, still affirming itself in this uniformity of its courses and its years, blessing itself as that which must return eternally, as a becoming that knows no satiety, no disgust, no weariness: this, my Dionysian world of the eternally self-creating, the eternally self destroying, this mystery world of the twofold voluptous delight, my “beyond good and evil,” without goal, unless the joy of the circle is itself a goal; without will, unless a ring feels good will toward itself–do you want a name for this world? A solution for all of its riddles? A light for you too, best-concealed, strongest, most intrepid, most midnightly men?–This world is the will to power, and nothing besides! And you yourselves are also this will to power–and nothing besides!”

Thelema places us all symbolically and philosophically into this world. In Liber AL vel Legis, the speaker of the first chapter proclaims, “I am known to ye by my name Nuit… I am Infinite Space, and the Infinite Stars thereof…” We have already considered the night sky, and now we must firmly realize that Nuit, the Egyptian star goddess is but a symbol of the night sky, and the night sky is a symbol of boundlessness, immense power & potential, and infinite possibilities; she is the field of space-time in which all events may potentially manifest. Essentially, Nuit is symbolically all possibilities. Every time you look at the night sky, one should be reminded of this conception Nuit with “Her” infinite potential. Within this “Infinite Space” of possibilities are “Infinite Stars,” and the third line from this same book, Liber AL vel Legis, proclaims this memorable line:

Every man and every woman is a star.

The reading of this line in Liber AL vel Legis may be memorable to some as the point when he or she put the book down and took it to be nonsense. Really consider what this is saying: Every man and every woman is a star… Last time I checked, every man and every woman is literally not a star, but human organisms – our own scientists label us homo sapiens, specifically. Let us be realistic: this statement cannot be taken literally with much benefit, but taken as a metaphor it has many rich meanings. As one conception, insofar as every man and every woman is an accretion of matter-energy, they are no different than stars… Let us take this contemplation further.

Consider the continually burning and churning energy of a star. Remember, our sun is the star closest to us. What are some other ideas related to stars?

Constantly Going

Energy Radiating

Self-luminous

Center, perspective, or point-of-view of its own Universe

With these  conceptions of “Infinite Space and the Infinite Stars thereof,” we can imagine the Universe to symbolically be represented as the boundless night sky of possibilities filled with infinite amounts of varying energy-clusters, stars, which are each a continually moving center of self-luminous light & energy.

Now that we have considered the boundless possibilities of the night sky and the infinitely varied points of motion (force) and energy (fire), the stars, let us consider another aspect of the same line from Liber AL vel Legis: The fact that every man and every woman is a star. Consider, first, yourself.

You are the center of your universe, a point-of-view, a star among stars. You radiate your energy, transforming the world physically, emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually. We attract and repel other stars – other men and women – by laws more subtle and complex than gravity which rules the motions of the macrocosmic stars. Think of all the directions one can go in, both physically and mentally. Everyone wants to be able to fulfill their own unique & utmost potential. The famous philosopher Nietzsche called this the will-to-power. The famous psychologist Carl Rogers called this the actualizing tendency. Thelema understands this to be each person’s and every star’s Will.

Just like each object is understood physically to have both kinetic or active energy (which comes in many forms) and potential energy, every man and every woman is a storehouse of both potential and active energy. Physically we have a bit of energy but psychologically, we have an incredible store of energy waiting to be let loose. It is often said the part of our pysches that we are aware of, the consciousness, is like the tip of an iceberg with the enormous majority being submerged out of sight underwater, the unconscious. The psyche’s untapped potential latent in the unconscious is but one source of the many ways of fulfilling one’s Will more fully. Essentially, we are all big masses of energy, both active and potential energy, which is waiting to be actualized.

Now, let us consider that even as each one of us desires the freedom to fully actualize our potential, so does every other star – every man and every woman – surrounding us. Many have self-destructive, divergent, and dampening tendencies which prevent the Will from actualizing in its full potency, but each person is a star nonetheless – and each has a particular, unique, and necessary Will that is part of the whole.

Every man and every woman is a star

Next time you see a person – when you are on a bus, driving next to people in cars on the freeway, talking to a friend – consider yourself and these other people all as stars. Fresh Fever From the Skies: The Collected Writings of IAO131Each is going its own direction, actualizing its own potential. Treat them as fellow stars, as royalty would greet royalty (with great respect & admiration), as children would greet children (with great openness & energy); this is enacting the formula of the Crowned & Conquering Child on the social plane. As one human with much will-power once said, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” This man grasped the power of love that is envigorated by and issued from the Will of each individual.