Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
As the pandemic spreads, we’re all challenged to look at what’s happening in terms of our professed beliefs and attitudes. Most Thelemic groups are cancelling or minimising meetings and ceremonies, for example, but there’s obviously a raft of issues involved.
This is one of those times when actually living according to your Will in the most complete sense becomes more urgent than usual. I don’t want to risk harming anyone else by gratuitously careless behaviour, but neither do I want to violate my own integrity by catching the darned virus from someone else who’s being frivolous.
All the rules being heavily imposed or strongly required – cancelled flights, self-isolation, manic hand-washing, not shaking hands – clash with usual freedom-oriented Thelemic ethics, while also being necessary in the short term to respect other people’s right to continue existing. This calls for some shifted thinking, as well as watchfulness when the epidemic subsides, but the basic question still applies: “What is thy will?” Once we’ve answered that, we then need to act in accordance with it.
What’s strongly caught my attention in recent days (today is Sunday, March 15) has been the waves of fear and panic that have surged and ebbed and surged again. The stock market plummeting for most of the past week reflected the fact that governments have not just a limited ability to protect people, but they’re also out of the habit of doing much more than protecting their own re-electability. We’re all sharing news stories of varying validity, while some people continue to argue that this is not going to be as bad as is claimed, because it’s impossible to be certain here. And we try our best to develop a private plan, since public strategy is at near madhouse conditions.
Once President Trump spoke on Wednesday night, even though he bungled his lines from his teleprompter, something broke. The sense of overwhelm was freed to break forth, and then roll back again. The global stock markets reflected this, plunging for the fourth day in a row on the Thursday, then recovering somewhat on the Friday. There will be lots more downs and ups, mostly downs, for the next while, but on one level, the critical information had been absorbed. We really are in a mess, and we need to get our Wills together. That probably doesn’t entail stockpiling toilet paper.
One problem – this piece no doubt contributes to it – is an over-abundance of analysis. Everyone has an opinion that they want you to read. We’re all being bombarded about the need for repentance, self assertion, international unity, nationalistic isolation, racist assumptions, objections to racist attitudes …. the list is long. But even informed opinions don’t help anyone much beyond providing an opportunity for venting. I found myself on Thursday bingeing for hours on news stories that mostly repeated each other, and ended up merely tired from the exercise.
I fell back eventually on a verse of the Book of the Law (III, 72):
“I am the Lord of the Double Wand of Power; the wand of the Force of Coph Nia – but my left hand is empty, for I have crushed an Universe; & nought remains.” The underpinnings of our world were essentially dissolved when this Aeon began, and while we’ve hung onto many of them through the past 116 years, they’re increasingly lost to us. We ourselves have to carry things forward, and not rely on a saving or judging God to sort it all out.
As the panic/denial waves keep moving through, we need to remember that the emotions that hit us aren’t just our own, but reflect collective hope-and-fear cycles. Anyone who does regular Thelemic spiritual practices has an advantage here, since they all begin with self-calming and centering, before moving on to assertion of action. Further, as people who accept that the world is undergoing the third Chapter of the Book‘s various warnings, we’re better primed than most people to ride the waves, as well as being conditioned not to point useless fingers of blame at sinners, negative thinkers, or floundering government officials.
This will be our best contribution to the situation in the end. We know the world is always a little crazy, since it has spent so much time telling us how nuts we are. We don’t lead unexamined lives.
Any point of calm in the storm, as health systems start to founder and the global economy judders into a severe slowdown, is a worthwhile thing to be, and to offer to other people.
Love is the law, love under will,