Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
The political and military writer George Friedman noted this past Tuesday that it was precisely 76 years since World War II broke out. He’s best known as the head of Strategic Forecasting, a global intelligence consultancy, but since I could never afford his fees, I merely enjoy his essays.
He was reflecting on Adolf Hitler, and how the man claimed he had no desire to fight Britain: he only wanted a free hand in Europe while he took out Soviet Russia. To Churchill and others in the UK, that looked like delayed annihilation. In the end, the war bankrupted Britain and destroyed the country’s will to maintain an empire, as also happened to Europe’s other colonial powers.
Friedman went on: “There was another thing Hitler cost Europe: the metaphysical sensibility. It is startling, the extent to which Christian Europe has abandoned Christianity for secularism.”
Thelemites might offer a different explanation, viewing that war as simply an instrument of the emerging Aeon of Horus. The universe that was crushed (Book of the Law III, v. 72), with nought remaining, was a mental one as much as physical.
Friedman continued: “The decline of church attendance is the outer husk of a European sensibility that, at the highest levels of thought, contemplated the deeper meanings of things. It was not Hitler who destroyed the European metaphysical sensibility. In many ways it destroyed itself from the inside, with a radical skepticism derived from the Enlightenment that turned on itself. But Hitler provided a coup de grace to that sensibility by appropriating figures like Friedrich Nietzsche and Richard Wagner to his own political ends, thereby delegitimizing not only them but also the tradition from which they emerged … [I]t cost Europe the jewel of its intellectual heritage.”
In reading Crowley, we find a man steeped in the Bible, and also in the western philosophical canon. The two fields, Bible-study and reasoned opinion deriving from what we could call the Christian periphery, were often enemies, but shared common roots. Greek thought guided St. Paul, as well as such theologically oriented Saints as Augustine and Thomas Aquinas. All subsequent formal philosophy could be viewed as an extension of Greek thought, or a reaction against it.
As we move further into this Aeon, with all the disruption and seeming chaos that’s erupting, we’re headed steadily further away from that entire tradition. It is, I suspect, in North America as in Europe, becoming harder to appreciate the underpinnings of the wide river of European ideas flowing from the High Middle Ages through to the 19th Century.
Maybe we won’t replace it in this Aeon because such a thing won’t be necessary any more. If we’re truly moving from ‘the lower Ruach’ (in general, Yesod on the Tree of Life, with strong inputs of Hod and Netzach) to a more spontaneously inspired and intuitive mindset (rooted in or closer to Tiphereth), perhaps that entire intellectual legacy is going to recede into the equivalent of a mental museum. We’ll look at it from time to time, but across the same kind of gulf that separates us from the writings of the ancient Sumerians and Egyptians.
But I don’t think we’ll change that much.
Something I love to do if I visit Europe is hang out in old religious buildings. The great Romanesque and Gothic cathedrals seem to come from a place far removed from the bitter crudities of the evangelical Christianity that poisoned Crowley’s childhood, and which is still kicking and screaming today as it progressively loses its grip on power. And I wonder, when I make such visits, what parallel accomplishment this Aeon might manage when it’s fully established, and in what form. As the Law of Liberty slowly takes over from the crashing disorder of our own times, we’re sure to come up with new collective ideas and perspectives as the concept of individual freedom begins to seem less impossible or dangerous.
People worked on those old cathedrals for decades before they were finished, and often for centuries. These structures in turn yielded to cathedrals of thought a few hundred years after their heyday – novels, plays, philosophy texts, symphonies, opera, monumental art – but the same core principles were still in play.
I freely admit I’ve no clear idea what we’ll produce in this Aeon; we’re still in the early phase of it, and the direction is murky. And prophecy was never my forte.
But given what we achieved in the two prior Aeons – pyramids, other giant structures and writing in that of Isis, and so much more in that of Osiris – I can’t imagine we’ll be content solely with individual strivings. The notion of True Will, for example, only makes any sense against a background of interacting with the TWs of others.
We might therefore give an occasional thought to what ‘cathedrals,’ real or virtual, we and our dharma-heirs will feel inspired to construct, and what cultural monuments they’ll erect. Amid the increasing creakiness of our existing world, tottering on its pulverised underpinnings, we can forget that human beings keep on keeping on, and that we are headed for a future.
At some point, as shown throughout human history, vision takes over from anxiety, and we set put to explore new ground, and exceed what was known before. This time, we can hope, it will all arise relatively spontaneously, and not be imposed upon us.
Love is the law, love under will,