April 7, 2021 TOLS

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law

When I first moved to Mexico, a decade ago, I found it nearly impossible to do magical rituals. Instead of feeling the air (or ether) around and in front of my wand move as required, it was like pushing through plasticine. It took me almost a year till my mojo adjusted.

Appreciating the character of the Aeons isn’t always easy if you’ve only known the Osirian or post-Osirian world that most people in the North America or Europe inhabit. It was a long time before I accepted that much of Mexico, and certainly its rural areas, is still operating from the perspective of the Aeon of Isis. Images of the Virgin of Guadalupe hugely outnumber images of Christ, for example, and much of the alternative religion available consists of various kinds of nature-worship.

My personal problem to resolve was dealing with a heavy mother-energy (this village is dedicated to Mary Magdalene, but had a presiding Goddess long before Catholicism came in the 1520s) that didn’t mesh well with Thelemic magick.

When the Spanish took over, they brought they own brand of Catholicism, but early on they saw that the local people couldn’t make much of it. Early Christianity was discovered by its adherents; in Mexico, it was imposed, with zero regard for what it displaced. The result was the emergence of a direly paternalistic attitude, where a few elements of the Conquistadors’ faith were shared with the masses, but complicated theological issues were avoided. Young men who enter the priesthood receive more information, but when, once or twice, I’ve heard sermons by the local priest, I’ve been shocked at how he infantilises his audience. “Big” questions are still not encouraged.

Summarising Mexican society in a couple of glib paragraphs isn’t my intention here, though I can’t entirely avoid it. I appreciate people’s continuing engagement with medicinal plants, sacred rocks and secret places, some of which I’ve been allowed to share; but I rarely engage local people with conversations about Thelema.

Here, you can hold a yoga class, or one for Tai Chi, but the Church still frowns on such things, albeit less with each passing year. But the adherents of these practices, of whom there are many, mostly shun anything that confronts inner darkness the way Thelema does. People still want a spirituality that takes care of them.

Thelemic ideas and attitudes were in synch with a lot of trends and artistic developments that emerged in western culture over the past hundred years, but a fully Thelemic culture perhaps only exists within a few fraternities and iconoclastic communities. And we can expect that to continue for another generation or two. How the 93 Current will intersect with a world increasingly based around artificial intelligence, I’m not sure, except I don’t expect it to be pretty. But my bet is that AI won’t actually produce the dreamed-of synthetic consciousness some of its advocates believe in.

In some ways, this Aeon of Horus seems to resemble that of Isis. I came to magick after a brief detour into Wicca, where Crowley was little read and understood less, but still respected. I then had to work to grasp what the man had been on about. But what Ken Wilber identified as the Pre/Trans fallacy – the tendency to see advanced mystical insight or gnostic awakening as regression to the babyhood state of identification with the mother and her all-absorbing presence, rather than a step into a greater and highly individuated freedom – has muddled the picture for many people. Thelema seeks, at the least, the condition of Knowledge and Conversation, while aiming to push the bar of attainment well beyond that for its Adepts.

The Aeon of Isis, in many places, produced astonishing architecture and substantial kingdoms. It wasn’t just about hunters sitting around a forest campfire, telling stories. But Isian geniuses tended, it seems, to think in whole visions and whole concepts, rather than working through things empirically. In a predominantly pre-literate society, artisans and artists had to work that way, and did so with great facility. Not far from where I live, great temples and citadels arose without writing or a written numbering system.

The Osirian era began with the emergence of a group of thinkers: Gautama Buddha, Confucius, Plato, Pythagoras and a scattered academy of famous philosophers as well as many lesser-known teachers. Concepts and instructions replaced intuitively framed plans. Money, for example, existed in a rudimentary form thousands of years ago, but the oldest coins of which we know date back to the 600s BCE. This innovation, right at the start of the Aeon of Osiris, during the so-called Axial Age, made it far easier for individuals to amass wealth, and thus to extend the reach of their egos beyond a life based around basic needs. It also made future planning more practicable.

The Aeon of Osiris was when calculated reason, and specific appreciation of time and distance, developed. People working within such frameworks began to individuate more, having more of a sense of separateness than peoples of the Aeon of Isis. Identification with overall society declined to some extent, and an awareness of how time changes things entered the picture. Buddha, for example, stressed impermanence (anicca) as a core issue to be addressed. This very separation from an assumed Whole, of course, led to fear of isolation from the source of Being, and a desire for ‘salvation’ in various forms. That anxiety haunts us still.

The Aeon of Horus, to be fully realised, requires a major leap of consciousness, incorporating aspects of the wholeness of the Aeon of Isis (i.e., the continuity of Nuit) as well as maintaining and extending the discriminatory awareness and individuality that emerged through the Osirian era. We build on the past rather than simply rejecting it. But our Aeon is still under construction, and nowhere near its final form.

Living here among Mexican curanderos and encountering shamans of various degrees of authenticity and understanding, has made me appreciate the ways in which the beliefs of the different Aeons cross with each other. Recognising these various strains of thought helps define what’s truly Thelemic, as the props of Osirian cultures become shakier all the time, and a crisis of direction – How do we survive? By what means? – challenges all our existing belief systems. The temptation for many people is to go back: to become pagans once more, or try to rediscover Jesus. But reverting to Isian modes of worship and spirituality risks diminishing consciousness, not extending it. And the Osiris archetype is no longer sustained as it was, acting often in bitter, restrictive ways with only a slightly desperate hope of eternal salvation.

The Horus archetype doesn’t compromise, but it offers a dynamic approach for our future. If Isis taught us to revere the elemental world, and the Osirian Aeon guided us to appreciate the formative psychic forces astrologers call the planets, then the Aeon of Horus is pushing us to reach out, if only in our imaginations, to the stars.

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