Thelema, anyone?

Fri, May 1 2015 08:08pm CDT 1
37 Posts


Law of Thelema.jpg

What is Thelema?

Thelema (“Tha-LEE-mah” or “Tha-LEH-mah”) is a philosophy and method of securing individual liberty through a paradigm of human strength, joy, and beauty. It begins with two basic principles. One of these is the realm of infinite possibilities. We call this principle Nuit. The other is the concept of the individual experience, which we call Hadit. Each individual event flows from and is a manifestation of the infinite sea of possible outcomes.

In the same way, every human being is a manifestation of the eternal and the infinite. We are an inseparable part of the cosmos. It is because of this that each of us has a True Will which is a perfect expression of our deepest nature. According to Thelema, the sole duty of every human being is to do their True Will. In fact, Thelema is the Greek word meaning "will."

The Nature of the True Will

The True Will stems from the sum of all forces in your life. Some of these you share with other things in the Universe. For instance, you live on Earth and are subject to the same gravity as other things on Earth. Other things, such as your specific DNA or your particular experiences are fairly unique.

To use a simple object as an example, the true will of a sunflower seed is to grow under certain conditions. Some seeds will not grow into sunflowers because they do not encounter the experience of being planted in the proper environment. Other seeds may be eaten instead. Further still, some seeds may be the start of an entirely new species of plant through genetic mutation.

Humans are more complex than sunflower seeds. We have personalities and reasoning minds. We also encounter a much wider array of experiences during our lifetime. It is many times more difficult for us to discover and do our True Will. At the same time, it is infinitely more rewarding. Whereas a sunflower seed goes about the course of its existence completely unconscious of its actions, we experience complex and wonderful thoughts and feelings.

By discovering our True Will and acting in accordance with it, we act in perfect harmony with Nature. As an expression of our truest self, this Will empowers us to live a life of joy and fulfillment. We only live for a brief period of time. Why waste it?

Discovering the True Will

Besides merely positing that a True Will exists, Thelema offers instruction in discovering it. This instruction can be found in Thelemic texts called "libers," or alternately "libri." The recommended methods include yogic meditation, daily ritual, and various techniques for cultivating discipline and self knowledge.

Liberty and the Nature of the Individual

Thelema does not teach that there is a god in the Judeo-Christian sense. Instead, each human being is his or her own god and the center of his or her own universe. Thelema teaches that all beauty, joy, and strength comes from within. A rose does not have beauty on its own. It is only beautiful when it is observed. By the very act of observation and experience, we create meaning.

As previously implied, each one of us bears within us a shard of the Universal Will. Your True Will is completely unique and is the sole course of "right" conduct in your life. Nobody else can tell you what your True Will is: you have to experience it for yourself. In order to be able to do this and be your authentic self, you must have the freedom to act without unnecessary inhibitions and restrictions.

Liber Oz is the Thelemic declaration of the rights of Man. In a nutshell, it states that every man and every woman is absolutely free to act in accordance with his or her True Will. By accepting Oz, you acknowledge that others have these rights as well. As a result, the freedom granted by this liber does not excuse the violation of the rights of others.


Thelema, The Book of the Law, and Aleister Crowley

Aleister Crowley was a poet, author, mountaineer, magician, and member of the occult society known as the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. In 1904, while traveling in Egypt with his wife Rose, Crowley became inextricably involved in a series of events which he claimed to inaugurate a new aeon of human evolution. These culminated in April when Crowley entered a state of trance and wrote down the three chapters of 220 verses which came to be called The Book of the Law (also known as Liber AL and Liber Legis).

Among other things, this book declared: "The word of the law is Thelema" and "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law". Crowley spent the rest of his life developing the philosophy of Thelema as revealed by the Book of the Law. The result was a voluminous output of commentary and works relating to magick, mysticism, yoga, qabalah, and other occult subjects.

Virtually all of this writing bears the influence of Thelema as interpreted and understood by Crowley in his capacity as prophet of the New Aeon. One theory holds that each chapter of The Book of the Law is associated with a particular aeon of human spiritual evolution. According to this view, Chapter One characterizes the Aeon of Isis, when the archetype of female divinity was paramount. Chapter Two relates to the Aeon of Osiris, when the archetype of the slain god became prominent, and the world’s patriarchal religions became established. Chapter Three heralds the dawning of a new aeon, the Aeon of Horus, the child of the Isis and Osiris. It is in this new aeon that the philosophy of Thelema will be fully revealed to humanity, and will become established as the primary paradigm for the spiritual evolution of the species.

"Every man and every woman is a star." — Liber AL I:III

This is usually taken to mean that each individual is unique and has their own path in a spacious universe wherein they can move freely without collision.

"Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law." — Liber AL I:XL

"thou hast no right but to do thy will." —Liber AL I:XLII

Most Thelemites hold that every person possesses a True Will, a single overall motivation for their existence. The Law of Thelema mandates that each person follow their True Will to attain fulfillment in life and freedom from restriction of their nature. Because no two True Wills can be in real conflict (according to "Every man and every woman is a star"), this Law also prohibits one from interfering with the True Will of any other person. The notion of absolute freedom for an individual to follow his or her True Will is a cherished one among Thelemites. This philosophy also recognizes that the main task of an individual setting out on the path of Thelema is to first discover his or her True Will, giving methods of self-exploration such as Magick great importance. Furthermore, every True Will is different, and because each person has a unique point-of-view of the universe, no one can determine the True Will for another person. Each person must arrive at the discovery for themselves.

"Love is the law, love under will." —Liber AL I:LVII

This is an important corollary to the above, indicating that the essential nature of the Law of Thelema is that of Love. Each individual unites with his or her True Self in Love, and so empowered, the entire universe of conscious beings unites with every other being in Love.

Of course, with the emphasis on freedom and individuality inherent in Thelema, the beliefs of any given Thelemite are likely to differ from those of any other. In the Comment appended to The Book of the Law it is stated that: "All questions of the Law are to be decided only by appeal to my writings, each for himself." Although Thelema is sometimes referred to as a "religion", it accommodates the full range of individual beliefs, from atheism to polytheism. The important thing is that each person has the right to fulfill themselves through whatever beliefs and actions are best suited to them (so long as they do not interfere with the will of others), and only they themselves are qualified to determine what these are.


There are two camps of Thelema: The OTO and the AA

The OTO is formulaic in the Freemasonic tradition as well as The Order of the Golden Dawn. It is a fraternal/sororal order and is the more "religious" side of Thelema. There are also required dues.

The AA is for individual study and development, and is far more scholarly. It takes intense study and practice before one can attain the first degree, called Neophyte. To be part of this order does not require any dues. The only money you might spend is on the necessary study material, but all can be found online for free (see resources below).

“The AA is the system of spiritual attainment established by Aleister Crowley and George Cecil Jones in the early 1900s, as a modern expression of the Inner School of wisdom that has existed for millennia. Its central aim is simply to lead each aspirant toward their own individual attainment, for the betterment of all humanity. The course of study includes a diversity of training methods, such as Qabalah, Raja Yoga, ceremonial magick, and many other traditions. AA is not organized into outer social organizations, fraternities or schools; rather, it is based on the time-tested power of individual teacher-student relationships, under the guidance of the masters of the Inner School.”

The motto of the AA is "The Method of Science; The Aim of Religion".

One does not have to join either order to study Thelema or consider oneself a Thelemite.

One of the primary practices in Thelema is Magick. Crowley's definition of Magick is:

"The Science and Art of causing Change to occur in conformity with Will." He goes on further to state: "Magick is the Science of understanding oneself and one's conditions. It is the Art of applying that understanding in action."

By this definition one can assume that the very act of life itself is an act of Magick; pure intention causing one's personal universe to become more orderly and supportive of your True Will, or the path in which to discover and act upon that True Will.

Magick is not a necessary tool, but it is highly suggested, as you may not fully appreciate or experience what is necessary for your spiritual goals.

Magick is never to be used for material gain unless your intention is to acquire the necessary tools for study. It is also never to be used to influence another, good or bad. It is entirely for self-mastery.

Modern day pagan practices such as Wicca would consider themselves practitioners of "White Magick", but in the Thelemic view any Magick that is used outside of its true purpose is Black Magick. The only exception could be considered "Gray Magick" which would be something such as ritual work with the intent of banishing negativity from something non-living.

The goal of Thelema is the discovery of the True Will and what is called The Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel (HGA).

The HGA can be interpreted however you want. Some may think of it as an actual holy entity, and others as a part of one's unconscious mind such as Carl Jung's concept of the Anima/Animus. Making that communication with the HGA is paramount to the discovery of the True Will. What you THINK you want to do in life may not necessarily be what you're meant to do.

The primary goal of every Western Mystery Tradition, including Thelema, is what is called The Great Work. The Great Work is attaining spiritual equilibrium - the uniting of opposites or polarities. As Above, So below. As below, So Above. If we can attain inner balance on the individual level then we can begin to attain universal balance.

Thelema can be used religiously or philosophically, whichever best fits your personal path.


The Book of the Law

Analyzing Liber AL vel Legis

Liber II: The Message of the Master Therion

Liber Libræ


Liber CL: De Lege Libellum

AA Student Curriculum and Select Libri

Join The AA

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