Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
An acquaintance of mine is a doctor in the US, and she sometimes works in a local emergency room. Two days ago, she had to treat a young man who was unable to sleep because of anxiety over the impending Maya Apocalypse on December 21. The Newtown school massacre in Massachusetts, which seemed like another sign of the End Times to him, had helped push him to his limit.
Once she was sure the young man wasn’t just after prescription meds he could sell on the street, my doctor friend calmed him with tales of civil defence drills for nuclear attack that she did when she was in school decades ago. A sense of recent history is something few North American schools inculcate, so that every temblor and twister ends up becoming a further “sign,” and not simply part of nature’s endless dialogues between its own forces. Also, with little being taught about the true foundations of cultural difference, Christian ideas of doom and judgement can be conflated with a borrowed and misconceived idea, such as the calendar of a people whose glory days ended a millennium ago.
My plans for Friday and the days following include friends and a bottle of tequila. I can’t be too smug, though, since back in my own twenties, like the insomniac, I was convinced the world would end, and by the turn of the millennium. And I did study history and other spiritual traditions, so I could or should have known better than to over-interpret the natural catastrophes, occasional epidemics and “wars and rumours of war” around me. But the notion of living in such an important moment in history was too exciting and empowering for me to overlook it.
Perhaps the key thing to notice in the sleepless young man’s story is the combination of terror derived from relentless Protestant propaganda along with what is, basically, New Age hooey. (If you disagree, at least check NASA’s website for a clarification of the astronomical disinformation being propagated: http://www.nasa.gov/topics/earth/features/2012.html#planets).
Something often overlooked by Thelemites is Crowley’s own pessimism about the rapidity with which this Aeon will unfold. His comments on the Aeon card in The Book of Thoth are instructive in the regard:
“The time for the birth of an Aeon seems to be indicated by great concentration of political power with the accompanying improvements in the means of travel and communication, with a general advance in philosophy and science, with a general need of consolidation in religious thought. It is very instructive to compare the events of the five hundred years preceding and following the crisis of approximately 2,000 years ago, with those of similar periods centred in 1904 of the old era. It is a thought far from comforting to the present generation that, 500 years of Dark Ages are likely to be upon us. But, if the analogy holds, that is the case. Fortunately, to-day we have brighter torches and more torch-bearers.”
Here, the underlying message for me is that while the New Aeon spiritual influx is upon us, we’ll be incapable of moving out of Old Aeon perspectives until we have exposed them within ourselves. However much we outwardly scorn or reject the values of past generations, that influx of power is coming into psychological vessels shaped and oriented by fear of damnation or at least condemnation, and possessed by a persistent desire to propitiate the Powers by self-abnegation in some form, however individual or quirky the method.
Thus, as I’ve noted before, the present upsurge in religious fundamentalism we see in the world is not Old Aeon in origin, but the opposite: it’s the New Aeon surge flowing into minds and cultures shaped by Old Aeon values. Whether you’ve been saved by Jesus or been overcome by Allah or YHVH, the need to affirm individual existence that the influx inspires at root becomes warped, through fear and conditioning, into its dark mirror-image: the need to deny such freedom to others, for fear of suffering because of your failure to obey something greater than your mind can encompass. Widespread philosophical or psychological ignorance doesn’t help, either.
Having visited a few of their ancient sites, I appreciate the Maya, while questioning their attainments. They apparently exhausted their own farmland, and couldn’t move past a belief that blood-sacrifice was needed by their gods; older ideas that they were peaceful folks, unlike the Aztecs, having been disproved in recent decades. Yes, they had remarkable architecture, but they never discovered the arch, and never figured out the function and uses of the wheel. My respect for their calendrical system, therefore, isn’t as high as the Friday-Brings-Doom crowd would prefer. Though, since Apocalyptic Judgement wasn’t part of their religion, at least as we would understand it, I won’t get on their case too much.
At times, I still find myself holding back from living Thelemic ideas, though it will be different ones at different times. I’ve learned, with the years, not to become too upset with myself over such moments, and simply to see them as more opportunities to explore my own Old Aeon conditioning. While, in my The-End-is-Coming years I felt everything had to be accomplished in one desperate lifetime, I’ve made peace with the idea that I will progress only so far in this life, and that whatever small contribution I and my fellow students make towards the evolution of this Aeon is just one more set of steps on a long road.
At the same time, whatever I can unmake in myself, and help others to unmake, is not to be despised. Crowley’s 500 years seems a long time to me, and I’d love to think that together we can help cut a few centuries off that.
Friday might be a good day for a fresh start. Once the tequila’s gone, that is.
Love is the law,