Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
Usually, I enjoy the Magic of the Ordinary blog by the Australian magician, Peregrin Wildoak. He has recently posted some fascinating material on how the last lingering Golden Dawn lodges were told to close by their Inner Plane contacts some decades ago, which to me indicates that the influence of the Aeon of Horus was clearly taking over.
A further post a few weeks ago, which slags Crowley, is rather predictable, and I would normally ignore it. (https://magicoftheordinary.wordpress.com/2014/12/27/crowley-and-love). But Wildoak knows his magick (or magic, anyway), and he could have done better with this one. I sent him a rebuttal, which he posted, but the topic seems to need yet another clarification.
His primary beef is with the concept of love under will, which he sees as Crowley’s “reversal of the traditional understanding of the centrality of love.” The Beast, he complains, “ installs the human will as sovereign, placing it supreme over love. Now of course I know and have read about how this is the ‘higher will’ and all that. However, it is clear where the emphasis is and the simple fact of the matter is that most Thelemites and most Crowleyans have no clue what the ‘higher will’ is. They think they do and therefore the individual, small ego will is enshrined and becomes more important than love – which is actually the force that counters, clarifies and dissolves the will.”
Love under will has been a stumbling point for many people – it was for me – because yes, we do get caught up with the idea of will as a lower form of consciousness. We confuse it with wanting, or the cruder aspects of desire, so that placing love ‘under’ it seems like a restricting or debasing act.
But the key issue is what Wildoak dismisses as “the ‘higher will’ and all that.” From the earliest days of Thelema, and even in Golden Dawn circles earlier, this has always been understood as the capital-w Will of Chokmah; and “all that” is what we as Thelemites aim to comprehend in all its messy, chaotic glory as Will manifests itself through veils, insecurities and all the pretzelings the mind can twist into. Paul Foster Case said of the Rosicrucians that one could not join them, one could only become one; and something similar could be said of Thelema. To accept the Law is one thing; to realise the formula of True Will, and to move on from that to Knowledge & Conversation, is a major work. The mundane will presents many distractions along the way even if each one, with time, begins to emerge as one aspect, one more indicator, of the Big Kahuna.
And if we’re working on comprehending Will, Thelema, then what of Love, Agape? Our understanding of that – what it is, how it functions, and how we can act in accordance with it – grows as well. Our primary scripture says “Love is the law, love under will,” which clearly indicates an equivalency between the two things, as is shown by their having equal gematria in Greek, 93. The reality is that to appreciate more about living, about being conscious, and about what each of us is and can do, then we come to love more in the process. It’s just that in Thelema, we realise that all life is dynamic. Consciousness operates in time: it moves forward, and constantly seeks objects and situations to appreciate. The body acts, through nerve currents, vascular activity and other metabolisms, until the moment of death. Even after death, the body is so dynamic that some organic processes continue for hours or even days. Every change is the effect of an act of love, Crowley said in The Heart of the Master. Interaction itself is therefore a positive, vital thing. Just as he recognised the supremacy of Will, so he recognised the profundity of Love in its being the nature, the glue, of the Cosmos.
But to love in any positive sense, any constructive way, requires focus. There are spiritual groups that meditate on love, or compassion, or similar concepts, while they sit and emanate positive energies, or praying with the same end in mind. I’m not persuaded this is necessarily a vacuous enterprise, but a discernibly effective act of love – awareness, a sense of the beingness of the other or other, empathetic communication – requires the application of will to the specific and the actual. Vast abstractions don’t cut it.
And while loving might entail emotions, awareness comes first and is the more effective factor. Universal love is vague love, undirected love, and while a hypothetical Universal Being might be able to work with that, an individual isn’t going to do much that has any efficacy. Whereas, to love under will – to be aware of someone else’s joy or pain, need or hopes, to find a creative outlet, or to realise a private truth – is to be present and attentive. There are plenty of Thelemites who do volunteer work of the type Christians and other believers would commend, but because it seems relevant to their lives; it pertains to the field or fields of activity their True Will embraces. To do something of that nature as a matter of vague principle, or presumed moral virtue, could well be to go against our own inherent nature, and that’s where the mischief begins. The life-stream doesn’t flow through channels that run uphill.
Love needs reality to be effective. If what we are doing goes against our own nature, or the central bundle of values that are the discernible outcroppings of True Will, then we have put something artificial into the situation, and nothing related to love is actually happening.
Will isn’t abstract. You know when your will-current is ‘on,’ because your psychological energy increases. You’re interested, you’re motivated, or you feel connected; or all of these. Love under will isn’t sequential, but simultaneous: to love is to will, and to will is to love.
Love is the law, love under will,