promulgation

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.

IAO131 on Patreon

If you enjoy these writings, please consider pledging $1+ on my Patreon

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.

IAO131 on Patreon

If you enjoy these writings, please consider pledging $1+ on my Patreon

Thelemic Blog Roundup 006

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

Thelemic Blog Roundup 006

The Thelemic Blog Roundup is just a way to list the most recent blogs by Thelemites or about Thelema from around the internet that I have found interesting. Feel free to leave a comment to suggest other blogs & writings. Enjoy:

1. “The Source of Human Rights” by Sabazius X°

Sabazius writes a short examination of the source of human rights from a Thelemic point-of-view.

2. “The Master and his Promulgators (a short story)” by T Omphalos

A short story about the promulgation of the Law of Thelema, including the potential for people to try to recruit and train others in their own images rather than helping them to find their own unique Wills.

See also the essay “On the Promulgation and Establishment of the Law of Thelema” by T Omphalos which deals with similar issues in essay format.

3. “Viva a Sociedade Alternativa” by AC2012

The Aleister Crowley 2012 blog writes about Raul Seixas, a popular Brazilian musician, and his relation to Thelema.

See also AC2012’s “Guide to the Campaign Ad” which explains the references and symbolism in the popular Red State Update campaign ad for Aleister Crowley as president in 2012.

3. “The Beast against the Faith: First Article” by T Polyphilus

T Polyphilus writes regarding faith in his first installment of his comparison between Thelema and the points of Iman as defined in the Hadith of Gabriel.

4. “A Ritual of the Element of Earth” by T Omphalos

In The Book of the Law it says “Let the rituals be rightly performed with joy & beauty! There are rituals of the elements and feasts of the times…” Check out this ritual for the element of Earth that was written and performed by T Omphalos.

* * * * *

Check out the past installments of the Thelemic Blog Roundup:


Love is the law, love under will.

Thelemic Blog Roundup 001

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

Thelemic Blog Roundup

The Thelemic Blog Roundup is just a way to list the most recent blogs by Thelemites or about Thelema from around the internet that I have found interesting. Feel free to leave a comment to suggest other blogs & writings. Enjoy:

1. “16,000 OZ” on Clerk-House

A post about recent developments regarding the 16,000 Liber Oz postcards that are being sent out to OTO bodies around the United States by The Island.

2. An investigation into the structure and function of the O.T.O. – A 3-part post by Kjetil Fjell

3. “The Lesson of Saying Will” on Liber Deus Absconditus

An explanation of the import of this simple practice. Also, check out the Outline of Crowley’s essay The Law of Liberty

4. “The Abbey of Thelema: the 90th Anniversary” by Aleisterion

A celebration of the 90th anniversary of the founding of the Abbey of Thelema in Cefalu, Sicily

Love is the law, love under will.

Principles of Promulgation

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

“You may regard the establishment of the Law of Thelema as an essential element of your True Will, since, whatever the ultimate nature of that Will, the evident condition of putting it into execution is freedom from external interference.” -Aleister Crowley, “Duty”

* * *

Some people have qualms about promulgation of the Law of Thelema, often from a misperception of the motives of those who promulgate.

i) “There is no law beyond Do what thou wilt.” -Liber AL vel Legis III:60

Our highest and most central law as Thelemites is “Do what thou wilt,” and all of our actions are an expression of this idea. While there are many Mysteries to be approached and Secrets to be studied, all aims are subsumed under the prime directive of accomplishment of one’s will. This means, in terms of promulgation, that all efforts to spread ideas not directly connected with spreading the Law of Thelema – the use of magick & yoga, fraternity, the Secret of IXº O.T.O., philosophy, etc. – are done as expressions of that same Law. That is, when we teach magick it is done under the understanding that it will help us understand and do our wills more fully, teachings about fraternity are done in the context of the Law, and efforts to teach other topics are so that the individual may come to a more comprehensive understanding of the Law.Promulgation of the Law of Thelema

ii) “The Law is for all.” -Liber AL vel Legis I:34

The Law of Thelema applies to all planes. Thelema is not simply a Law for the elite of mankind, although it makes room for them and allows for their full development as Hermits. While some may strive to become an Ipsissimus of the A.’.A.’. or IXº of the O.T.O., it is valid for some to be Men of Earth or Lovers. There are many “resting places” in these Orders that are natural for some to remain at. As promulgators of the Law of Thelema, it is our duty to make this Law known to any and everyone, not that we may know the true Will of the recipient of promulgation materials, but so that each may read the source material and integrate the Law on their own terms.

Further, the establishment of the Law of Thelema in the world is inherently tied up with the accomplishment of one’s own will. As the quotation at the top of this essay says, “You may regard the establishment of the Law of Thelema as an essential element of your True Will, since, whatever the ultimate nature of that Will, the evident condition of putting it into execution is freedom from external interference.” That is, in establishing the Law of Liberty in the outer, it allows the accomplishment of the Will free from “external interference,” including from the hounding busybodies left over from the Old Aeons. In this way we move closer to the ideal of humanity moving as it wills without hindrance or inhibition from the chafing of its parts, even as the stars move in the night sky.

iii) “Argue not; convert not…” -Liber AL vel Legis III:42

While our duty may be to make the Law known to the public, it is NOT our duty to:

  • convert people to our point-of-view
  • convince people that we are correct
  • threaten people who do not accept the Law or our views
  • argue about philosophical or theological points

While this is all true, The Book of the Law also 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. Do this quickly!” (III:39) This is a fundamental point to understand about the difference between promulgation by Thelemites and traditional conversion attempts by people like Christians. We do not threaten people with tales of sin, paeans of our guiltiness, and after-worldly judgment nor is the whole complex of “saving one’s soul” present in promulgating the Law of Thelema to others. We give the Law to all without argumentation or hopes of conversion, and they can “abide in this bliss or no; it is no odds” to us.

iv) “We shall bring you to Absolute Truth, Absolute Light, Absolute Bliss.” -Liber Porta Lucis, line 17

While these are all theoretical justifications of promulgation, there is also a more intimate sense that Thelemites who experience the beauty, truth, and wisdom of the Law of Thelema will inherently want to share this bliss with others. In experiencing the freedom from tyranny & superstition and the liberty of the spirit inherent in the doctrine of Thelema, it is only natural to want to share the keys that helped break one’s own bondage.

Spreading the Law of Thelema is not done out of a desire to boost your ego; on the contrary, experiences while promulgating are often quite a blow to the ego along with the fact that one is naturally exposing oneself to outside elements that must be integrated by “love under will.”Fresh Fever From the Skies: The Collected Writings of IAO131 Spreading the Law of Thelema is not done out of a desire to recruit for a particular organization, although exposing people to the teachings of an Order like the O.T.O. is certainly a valid expression of promulgation. The goal is not to get a group that is the biggest, baddest person on the block so you can revel in its power but rather the goal is for each individual, on their own terms and in their own way, to acknowledge, understand, and begin to enact the Law of Thelema in their own lives.

Love is the law, love under will.

IAO131 on Patreon

If you enjoy these writings, please consider pledging $1+ on my Patreon