Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
As people advance through Thelemic Hermeticism, the sense of The Big Something becomes both clearer and more elusive. We start getting hints, linking it to specific Names or spiritual concepts, and we might learn to spot certain prompts that tell us we’re on track; or by their absence, that we’re way off it. Then there are those long periods where we seem to be abandoned or feel frustrated by non-communication. These eventually resolve when we accept that the apparent absence or silence, is in fact a higher form of communication in itself.
It took me many years to grasp that the Presence, the Silence, the Mystery, the HGA or what-you-will, is never going to explain itself. I assumed occultism would bring me to an illumination where everything fell into place in a vision of light, when in fact it only brought me to the purple of the Book of the Law’s second Chapter, verses 50 and 51:
“…my spangles are purple & green. Purple beyond purple: it is the light higher than eyesight.”
Or, to quote my favourite passage from Liber LXV, I, v 12, which speaks of the same thing:
“Then was there silence. Speech had done with us awhile. There is a light so strenuous that it is not perceived as light.”
What we find eventually is something that the ego finds obstructive, the intellect finds baffling, and the intuition actively seeks. To say that this induces a neurosis in some people is putting it mildly. Woe betide the person who probes the dilemmas of those who have glimpsed the truth, and hate what they’ve seen.
Sure, people get many insights and illuminations along the way, because this is a path of inner learning. We have the Tree of Life and numerous Qabalistic texts for guidance, chief among them in our era being the Holy Books of Thelema. We can use these as a skeleton on which to grow the tissue of our expanding gnosis.
But as far as being able to describe all this in a single thesis that elucidates all the bases, we end up stumped. The road leads us to a point where we have to accept that there is Mystery at the core of all, and that rather than us comprehending that Mystery, Mystery is that which is going to comprehend us. Grasp that without claiming it as your own, know it while seeing that the knowledge is universal, and not something personal to you, and Adeptship begins opening up. We don’t ‘have’ wisdom, but it is increasingly available to us.
It might seem odd to talk about Christmas in this context, but the week or so after the Solstice is a time when this dark Mystery is more than usually present for everyone. Some people have pegged the ‘birth-date of Horus’ to December 25, a move with no solid scholarly basis, but reasonable mythic congruency. The Zoroastrian Yalda, Yule, Saturnalia, the birth-date of Mithras … we all know the litany of ancient festivals from this time. Now marks a still-point in the earth’s annual round.
Some years ago I was alone on Christmas Eve, and staring rather forlornly out of my apartment window into the neon-punctuated Toronto night, when I was overwhelmed by this sense of Presence that is actually non-presence. It was way, way bigger than what most people in the neighbourhood churches were trying to express or comprehend through their ceremonies and gospel stories. Yes, there are Christians whose vision can extend beyond the literal context of their mythos, but they mostly prefer to maintain silence about it. Knowing many dedicatedly anti-Christian Thelemites at the time, I kept the experience to my magical diary and myself, but I eventually got bored of acquiescing in other people’s wounded anger, and openly acknowledged what I still feel almost every Christmas Eve.
Now, a large proportion of Thelemites that I’ve known have been hurt in various ways by Christianity, having had their sexuality denied or scorned, their natural affections warped by repressive morality, and their innate positivity perverted through fears of eternal punishment for trivial offences. This is a season of pain for a lot of people, and the mass-marketed propaganda about seasonal togetherness and love can stir up the worst of it. Few families can maintain the degree of mutual acceptance that supports such a condition of joy, and Thelemites, being natural born rebels, seek out their own communities as alternatives.
The legend of Jesus is that he was born in a stable, while Buddha abandoned a luxurious life to seek the truth, and Mohammed was orphaned. The great founding myths of the last Aeon are all about rejection of social position and circumstances, and discovering selfhood.
Previously, the concept of the individual had essentially been subordinated to the kingdom, the clan, or the state cult, and was only conferred on a very few favoured individuals by royalty or priests. The Aeon of Osiris, by contrast, finally established the importance of the separate human being within the cosmic economy.
This Aeon takes us further, fulfilling that individuality, but within the vast theatre of Nuit, the immense universe of other stars and other potentials. That experience, when consummated and pursued with intelligence and devotion, is based on the state of being quirkily known as the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel. It’s impossible to define that without being deceptive or misleading, but its threshold includes confronting, then accepting, and finally being filled with the Mystery, this light that is not perceived as light.
Its effect, as opposed to its perceived nature, is to fill us with ‘visible light.’ That is, generosity of spirit and a broad vision of how love is the law, love under the direction of that primal essence we call will. Festivals such as Christmas are attempts to realise this via religion with its social customs, as opposed to via actual gnosis. Part of the difficulty of the season, I suspect, is that we all somehow know this deep inside, and the substitutes for the real deal – the food, the drink, the gifts, the syrupy Facebook messages and the schlocky old movies on TV – make us aware that we’re being short-changed. Even the word ‘merry’ once meant not happiness nor inebriation, but a serene calm, and few things frighten most people more than serene calm does.
As I rush to finish this before heading off to a gathering of eaters, drinkers and gift-exchangers myself, I’m moved to post this on the blog as a reminder that Christmas, Jesus and Mary aren’t our enemy. Our foe is the frightened incomprehension of people who’ve never dared look behind those masks.
Merry Mystery, to all then, and to all a good NOX.
Love is the law, love under will,