Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
Who are the audience for this blog? Every time I try to come up with a post, that question governs what I write, and how I put it together.
I assume most of the visitors here have some knowledge of occultism and Crowley. But after that “most,” who else is out there? I often come across people scared of Crowley, especially if they’ve seen some of the dafter YouTube videos in circulation, or have only encountered him in the words of pundits who themselves have barely read him. Not long ago, I wasted two days trying to help someone who believed this hot mess had some factual basis… which it does, if you don’t mind taking your “facts” from eight or nine different areas of esoteric practice and combining them, using a non-standard Tree of Life, inventing some statistics, and homogenising it all into one delusory farrago. All while claiming Crowley was a Freemason or a pedophile, neither of which he was.
At some point, any Thelemite will be caught up in a discussion that begins “I don’t like Crowley because he…” And the next few minutes is probably spent explaining that he never did, believed or said the things that cause the dislike; or if he said them, his intent was possibly not the presumed meaning. Spiritual teachers of any stamp draw strong negative reactions from people, and Crowley was flamboyant enough to appeal to almost anybody looking for something to dislike or disapprove of.
Then, there are Thelemic readers of the blog who are used to a kind of orthodoxy based on certain formulas that work for them, but don’t work for me, and never reached the point of grasping that Thelema is a broad church; or rather, no “church” at all in any accepted sense of that term. If you like arguments, there’s always a Thelemic website active enough with disputes to appeal to any faction or shade of opinion. I avoid almost all of them.
This blog functions as a kind of water-cooler gathering, aiming to start a conversation without exhausting it. A quarter-century ago, I’d have been one with the pundits who’d scarcely read Crowley. There are still points where I don’t engage with his writing, or I actively dislike his opinions; just as there are many times where something he said has derailed my brain’s running on its conventional tracks, and opened a wide window. He can be maddening, and he can be marvellous, and he can contradict himself in eleven different ways. That, though, usually stems from his advancing understanding over the years, for the Crowley of 1908 is not the Crowley of 1938. Persuading people to appreciate this, not to mention explaining Crowley’s private horror of uncritical admirers, is part of the task Thelemites have for themselves.
Of course, in the end we’re not persuading people of anything. People persuade themselvesof things according to their own readiness to move on to something new.
What I’m actually doing here most of the time is asking myself: What’s the truth about this topic? Because as I age (seventy is coming up soon) I have fewer convinced ideas, fewer clear notions about how to order society, and fewer metaphysical convictions. This, though, isn’t the same thing as mere doubt. The interesting thing is that if I pose the question right, an answer arrives. But I don’t “think of” it.
The Book of the Law offers us “certainty, not faith.” I used to assume this meant that I’d have, at some point, an unassailable confidence in … some Big Stuff, as opposed to just a bunch of ideas about stuff. More recently, as my stock of convinced ideas has depleted, I’ve come to see “certainty” as a willingness to allow the Being within (or beyond) to take the tougher situations. From its level, the complexity of everyday life is a working out of certain deeper realities, emotions and needs people have. The complexity itself is far from wholly true or even necessarily very relevant. Certainty, it turns out, isn’t about gaining rock-solid knowledge (Da’ath) of anything, but about allowing understanding (Binah) to be the guiding perspective.
In a way, I’m myself the primary audience for the thoughts that emerge here. I don’t usually know, when I start, what the conclusion is going to be, or even the actual theme. I write from what puzzles or intrigues me, and watch what comes out.
I think this notion offers a key to how we’re all actually living and getting along (or not) with each other. Because we’re always answering our own questions when we address other people, and seeing ourselves in them. Knowing this is a first step in making it possible to suspend conscious expression, so that we can allow what’s behind all that to finally have a say.
Love is the law, love under will,