Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
Sometimes, there are news items that get to me. The trial of Jeffrey Delisle for espionage is one, since it’s clear he was funneling information on western security agencies’ understanding of the extent of Russian Mafia activity back to the very targets of scrutiny. Russia, like Mexico where I live, has a heavy co-dependency between the government and the mob, which rather pre-empts effective, fundamental reform measures. And these mobsters are not nice people. Mexico gets most of the headlines, but the thought of Vladimir Putin working hand-in-glove with ambitious, psychopathic thugs is a chilling image.
You probably have similar concerns. For some people, it’s environmental degradation, or violent Islamists, or the conspiracies of global corporations and financiers. Some things seem too big and scary and close to being out of control. And no sensible person can rule out the idea that, while Armageddon or December 21-style destruction might be just a darkly romantic fantasy, the possibility of severe disruption of the world order and of civil societies is a genuine possibility. In the face of this, Thelemic cheerfulness can be sorely tested at times.
I often wonder about the role of magical fraternities. I suspect we had a golden age over the past two decades, as massive amounts of inside info was made public, and new fraternities sprouted up all over the place. Hardly a week goes by that I don’t discover some Temple of the Ultra-Violet Rose, or Order of Hermetic Aesthetes, that I never heard of before.
Yet I wonder how many real Adepts have been produced by these. Sure, over-achievers can move right through some orders in just a few years, but an Adept is not somebody who has visited a Vault for an initiation and come out with a new title: it is somebody who has been ripened over the years, and grasps the system as a matter of lived experience. Still, I do meet people from time to time who have obviously given up on a lot of their original delusions and mundane ego-drives, and who want to train others with patience and wisdom.
When I first became seriously involved with Thelema in the mid-90s, I developed a notion that comes back to me on days such as this morning, with the Delisle reports coming out. That is, that the contacted mystery schools constitute a series of sanctuaries that sustain the essence of the best of our culture, and its concepts of dignity and freedom.. And that as things deteriorate, as they may, the schools will still have not just a set of occult doctrines, but a living flame that will continue to pass from one outer college of the mysteries to the next, and survive the difficult external circumstances. Because they operate magically – that is influencing non-mundane levels of consciousness and being – their influence goes beyond both their small numbers and the human frailties of their leadership. If the methods are correct (and there is no one perfect or ‘right’ method) then the collective effort sustains us behind the chaos of a world that cannot agree on viable, peace-promoting protocols.
“The truth of the world is that it is chaotic,” the graphic novelist Alan Moore has observed. “The truth is, that it is not the Jewish banking conspiracy, or the grey aliens, or the twelve-foot reptiloids from another dimension that are in control, the truth is far more frightening; no-one is in control, the world is rudderless.”
But despite this, we have spent almost 70 years since the first atomic weapons were dropped avoiding another truly terrible war with millions of casualties, or utter economic collapse. The conspiracy believers, ignoring Moore, believe this is because some coordinated powers-that-be can manipulate things to a fine degree, and keep us from the brink. My own conspiracy theory is that it is beyond our capability as humans to do this because the job is hopelessly complex. But by looking to the source-point of our own being, and the symbolic (i.e., mystical and magical) frameworks that enable us to access that source, we somehow keep our rudderless, chaotic world from shipwreck.
It can’t be done by individuals unless those individuals are phenomenally accomplished masters. But groups constituted on certain lines can equilibrate their egregores, their group minds, to contribute enough oil to the situation to keep the world-motor ticking over. If planetary society truly does begin to break down severely in the decades to come, that unseen, unacknowledged contribution will become far more critical than ever before.
But the light and the fire of what we call Gnosis, which cannot be described in some “Applied Magick for Dummies” manual, has brought us through dark phases many times before. The mystery schools we have now are mostly training programs for beginners, but a few of them take things further. The sanctuaries, we are taught by all the significant Magi and Adepti, are concealed, and their Light is invisible to outsiders.
But that is a necessity, not a failing. If it becomes necessary for the Orders to become secret once more, whatever that will mean in a digitally hyper-connected world, they will do so.
Love is the law, love under will,