Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
One of the things about Thelema we proclaim proudly is that it embraces the dark as well as the light. Often, I wonder how true this is. When you can post lurid pictures of Satan (or one of his close relatives) on Facebook and get 34 likes, what does “the dark” mean? Something you’d get to fight with in a video game?
Increasingly with time, we move away from old Christian ideas of what’s naughty and what’s nice. Notions of shame related to the body, while they might still colour our personal attitudes and actions, don’t hold up to conscious scrutiny. Much of the citadel of Christian righteousness has fallen into disrepute in the past 20 to 30 years.
In the Aeon of Horus, we’ve entered into a different concept of shame and sin. The Book of the Law, II 46-47, comments:
“Dost thou fail? Art thou sorry? Is fear in thine heart? Where I am these are not.”
or III, 17:
“Fear not at all; fear neither men nor Fates, nor gods, nor anything. Money fear not, nor laughter of the folk folly, nor any other power in heaven or upon the earth or under the earth. Nu is your refuge as Hadit your light; and I am the strength, force, vigour, of your arms.”
In this Aeon, it isn’t activity that “damns” us, but inability to act. If we’re in the mind-soup, and forget that the sum-total of the motions of the mind is zero, we aren’t Hadit. And it’s important to remember that we can’t be like Hadit, or in touch with Hadit, or mindful of Hadit.
We can only be Hadit. Fear, sadness and regret or any sense of being a failure mean we aren’t Hadit.
When, though, we hit an extended phase of dryness, or a deeper sense of worthlessness or formless emptiness that’s definitely not the shining Void of Sunyata; when we just feel stuck … that’s when we hit the true dark side of this Aeon. We no longer need to feel ashamed to be sexually omnivorous, or fond of odd kinds of music, food, books or art. But we can, from a Thelemic viewpoint, feel doubly lost when we’re confused or unsure. We then feel fallen.
Dryness, emptiness, a sense of a strange neighbourhood without street-signs, comes in varying degrees of intensity – or lack thereof. It can entail just having an off-week or month, and it’s also a hallmark of the most intense (yet apparently not-happening) phases of the entry into Tiphereth; and, later, in its most dire form, the experience described as the Abyss, wherein there are no indicators, no words of encouragement, and no clear sense of heading anywhere at all. Everything then is given up to the HGA, via Babalon’s Cup, though we can’t see the Cup nor how we’re pouring ourselves into it.
This is the dark night of this Aeon. This deadness, this Shadow … this is the darkness that’s opposed to the Light of LVX.
The Angel is both of these. Getting our heads around the non-manifesting, the absence of anything definable or identifiable … that’s the dark that, somehow, we have to reconcile with the Light.
There’s a term that’s fallen out of favour, which is ‘soul-loss.’ It might seem like depression, and it might have as its outriders anxiety, or a sense of abandonment or loneliness, or a feeling that you can’t comprehend what’s happening. It’s the inverse of the numinous, that power and truth and authority and joy and meaning that we always seek. It can make the path we’re on seem perilous and crazy, and it certainly isn’t anything we can explain to someone not on the same journey. Most people instinctively label it as pathological, and would try to help ‘fix’ it.
The only thing that can make it bearable at all is knowing that stronger people than us have endured it, and have written about it. So, we know its survivable.
It isn’t depression, it isn’t insanity, and it isn’t failure. Simply to continue is enough, even if we have no wisdom at all to offer ourselves at that point. But the soul does seem lost in the waters, like the children of Atum, Shu and Tefnut, for which Ra’s eye had to hunt. There’s no spark until we can discover the state we’re actually in through an act of contemplation. Then, there’s usually an accompanying sense that the job of rising again is too much. The desire to give up is there, just as is the desire to come back to vitality.
What might be the most important thing lies in not producing the change, but accepting that we’re at the extreme end of the pendulum swing, and the counter-swing isn’t going to come soon merely because of that. The extreme of the swing entails a certain time distortion.
This is a mystery, just as much as any of the teachings we present in our work is a mystery. It can’t be analysed, only accepted.
As that acceptance sinks in, and we see anew the scale and scope of what we’re doing in the work, we start to grasp something about the Angel. It’s always present, but not necessarily evident. Our process at times requires us to be far from ourselves and from any sense of direction.
Yet this too is an aspect of doing that Will of which we speak so much. The experience is bleak and frustrating, and it requires a strange, patient kind of courage to endure it. It is, as noted at the beginning, often looked on as the most unThelemic condition into which we can fall. But just as “the only sin is restriction,” so the only real failure is that of refusing to keep on keeping on, until we can begin to see the wider vision of things that emerges, and which embraces both Will experienced as purpose, and Will experienced as seeming death.
Adjusting to the change is odd, because the total landscape will have shifted. Embrace the strangeness, though, and you will find, oddly, an unexpected familiarity at the heart of it.
Love is the law, love under will,
Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.