Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
Thelemic social philosophy, for me, has always been secondary to my fascination with Hermetic Qabalah, even if, with time, I’ve come to see the Thelemic current as having surpassed or superseded the old Golden Dawn-style tradition. Early on, in the 1990s, it fascinated me that the Book of the Law was clearly a Qabalistic document. Its meanings are revealed through the patterns and practices of Hermetic magick; much of its symbolism is explained via gematria, the Qabalistic art of deriving meaning from the enumeration of words in Hebrew and Greek; and even its core concept, the start of a new Aeon, relates directly to the Golden Dawn’s Equinox ritual.
Thus, I’ve always had a perspective that isn’t universal, given that some people are simply ‘philosophical’ followers of the Book of the Law, and many others are self-taught magicians who combine various approaches in their practice. I’m a Qabalist who happens to be a Thelemite.
A key point where this seems relevant to me lies in the view that Thelema is a solar-phallic religion. For beginners, yes, that’s what emerges. Ra-Hoor-Khuit is ‘the visible object of worship,’ (III, 22) and Liber Resh is a major means of such worship. For some people, this can be enough.
Given my Tree of Life-based standpoint, and my belief that we’re meant to ascend this Tree I find that limiting. I do hold that RHK is validly that visible object of our devotion, but the implication remains that there’s an invisible one for each of us behind the solar mask. This is entirely individual, as is the means of discovering it; “Thus ye have star & star, system & system; let not one know well the other!”(I, 50)
What’s always flummoxed me about the solar-phallic perspective, however, is that it’s only true to halfway up the Tree. Then, there’s a switcheroo.
The halfway point is Tiphereth, or Beauty, the sephirah associated with the Sun, and thus all things solar. I don’t know that it’s necessarily phallic, and I find the association of the two adjectives limiting, even irritating. I can enjoy sunlight, or pay duly reverential regard to the Sun, without becoming phallically focused or aroused, and the phrase seems unnecessarily tied to the anthropological theories and mythological research of the late 1800s.
However, there is a Qabalistic significance to the concept of the phallus, in the sense of outwardly directed energy, even if many men have a long journey to appreciate what that’s all about. Given how many women find it excluding, I suggest the expression could be dropped much of the time. And while the first phases of Thelema are undeniably a solar cult, not so the rest.
The Qabalistic Sun is where it is, at the mid-point. While the inner and spiritual Sun is going to illuminate our subsequent aspirations, and will remain for the Adept a psycho-spiritual base of operations, what follows the Tiphereth experience is a journey into Night, and thus into Nuit, our Lady of the stars. More to the point, the pull towards the Sun no longer exists.
There are three influencing paths on the Tree of Life that lead down from the supernal sephiroth to Tiphereth. From Kether extends the longest path of all, that of Gimel, which is associated with the Priestess of the Silver Star, the Tarot card that represents the Moon in its highest aspect.
From Chokmah to Tiphereth extends Heh, which Crowley came to understand as the path of the Star card, Aquarius, which he moved from its former position between Netzach and Yesod (“Tzaddi is not the Star,” I, 57). And the third path, from Binah to Tiphereth, is that of the Lovers. This corresponds to Gemini, ruled by sexually ambiguous Mercury.
There is no strong masculine energy or archetype here. One of the key effects of moving the Emperor from the path of Heh is to emphasise the profoundly feminine ruling power above Tiphereth. This was, I suggest, not well understood by the magicians of the original Golden Dawn, who had yet to journey that far, hence their mis-placement of the Emperor on the path of Heh.
Or, we could take the three vertical paths coming down from the supernal triangle. The Priestess, card of the Moon, was just mentioned. On the right, running from Chokmah to Chesed, is the path of the Hierophant. This is Taurus, ruled by Venus, in which the Moon is exalted. The Thoth deck card’s imagery has several implied references to the Moon: two elephants and one bull, the three large creatures denoting Gimel (= three in Hebrew); the three human figures; or the nine nails on the oriel, referring to Yesod; or the Moon at the female figure’s feet.
And on the left, leading from Binah to Geburah, is the path of Cheth, the Chariot, attributed to Cancer. Which planet rules Cancer? The Moon again.
The entire set-up at this point, the whole implied working methodology, is that the onward-seeking Adept isn’t impelled or inspired by solar energies at all. The lunar and feminine forces – subtle, and using the back channels of the psyche – run the show.
My point here is not to deny the utter necessity of the spiritual Sun and of solar dynamism. Or, if you must prefer it, of solar-phallic dynamism. We need to aspire to that, and without it we’d likely end up in a New Age swamp of vacuous ideas and endless evasions of our more shadowy yet richer natures.
But the route to the innermost realities, the deepest things we can understand, is inspired and guided by feminine power. In the end, Thelema in its fullest, most exploratory form is as much a lunar-kteic [kteis = vagina in Greek) religion or path as it is solar, or solar-phallic.
Loves is the law, love under will,