November 28, 2013 TOLS

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.

One of the oddities about Thelema is that it’s deeply concerned with morality. In fact, the Book of the Law is more concerned with morality than with anything else. The only possible course of action, it insists, results from strict adherence to one’s own inner truth, or Will, which can only be expressed as Will because it is founded on the deepest core of one’s being.

Naturally, it rejects any other externally imposed code beyond this injunction to do that which is essential and critical to the individual and his or her life. But that, it’s given, is unlikely to conflict with any other person’s. True, there are those who object to people not following some version of conventional morality or social codes, but the Thelemite has already ditched such people’s arguments and objections. Whatever social or criminal sanctions might be brought to bear, inner liberty is affirmed and, these days anyway, supported by a substantial community of people who support the law of liberty.

But the key moral battle, the jihad (to use that word in its oldest sense), is the internal one. The first task is one of self-awareness: knowledge of the machinery of the personal mind and its fears, dislikes, secret resistances and longings. Those are the things that divert or distort the wellspring of the Will, and the magician needs to develop understanding of how they condition the way the mind and the instincts are experienced.

This isn’t a brief job. While magick ostensibly seeks for extraordinary shifts in consciousness and visionary openings, the personal self of the magician is always making adjustments to behaviour. So much of what we are, psychologically speaking, is a deflection or evasion of our essence, and adopting a Thelemic philosophy can, at times, just add further distortions that need to be understood and balanced out. The Will is its own striving, its own master, and we have to steer it, even if we can’t reassign its primary direction.

Thus much of the deeper work of the magician is about wrestling with this unruly and uncompromising force, so that those visionary openings and consciousness shifts can coincide with the trajectory of a human life lived in the human world. In the end, the Will is going to win (for all practical purposes), but we can make conscious choices that ease the inner divisions and harmonise our lifestyle with our most intimate driving power.

But this does mean that, no less than a monk in his cloister, a Thelemic practitioner has to make moral decisions on how to proceed along the way. The only difference is, the judgement that comes in consequence is internal, not heavenly, even if it is expressed by means of the sort of conflict with the world we call ‘negative karma.’

Love is the law, love under will,

Edward Mason


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