Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
A decade ago, I had a marvellous visit to Barcelona, and while there I went to the sacred mountain of Montserrat. This is home to one of the ‘Black Madonnas,’ the soot and smoke-stained images of the Virgin Mary across southern Europe that still draw pilgrims today.
I joined the line-up to see this one, and to touch her carved right hand, as you’re supposed to do. It was a long line, and it was almost 45 minutes before we came close to the ‘bridge’ over the church’s main altar where she is kept. And just as I got the end of the queue, there was the collection box, with everyone dropping in their donations. The $%^&ing Catholic Church wanted my money.
Now, considering I was enjoying the visit, this was hardly unfair. But I wasn’t going to give anything too generous, so I dived into my pocket for change. All I had was one euro and 56 cents. It was perfectly mischievous – 156, the number of the Great Whore herself!
At that moment I heard an interior female voice quite distinctly say, “Yes, that’s right.”
I put the change into the box, feeling disoriented, but intrigued. A few moments later, I was in front of the image, and somewhat cautiously reached out for the wood of her hand.
I can’t describe what I felt in the next four or five seconds, other than to say, very lamely, that it was an extremely high-level vibe. But it left me floating for the rest of the afternoon I spent on that marvellous, magical mountain, and permanently changed my views of the archetype of Mary, of the complexity or breadth and depth of Babalon, and of what we’re doing generally in Thelema. I still keep a rock I took from the mountain in my private temple.
We should not be about closed mindedness. As is said in the Book of the Law, “All words are sacred and all prophets true; save only that they understand a little.”
We are, as magicians, conducting an experiment on our own person, our own being. It’s about a constant testing of our own limits and our own breadth of understanding. The Madonna of Montserrat taught me that in performing this, I don’t need to desecrate the gifts of other words and prophets. Yes, “let Mary inviolate be torn in pieces on wheels” is also in the Book, but that is because she is used to represent a false virtue, a “lying veil,” and that needs to be torn down. I’m far from oblivious to the harm self-suppression and denial of sexuality has done to Catholic women, as well as to Catholic men. But if she presents herself to me in a much broader context, as a variant expression of the Lady of Flame, as she did on that light-blessed mountain, I’m willing to listen.
Love is the law, love under will.