Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
The two pillars of the temple are a staple element of any Hermetic or Thelemic system. They are often the primary fascination for a person just put through initiation, and they recur throughout the Golden Dawn grade system right up to the Adeptus Minor ritual, where they form a portal to the Vault of the Adepti.
In the Ordo Stella Matutina, whose rituals Israel Regardie published in the 1930s as The Golden Dawn, the Hierophant would inform the new-born Neophyte that “they are the symbols of the two powers of Day and Night, Love and Hate, Work and Rest, the subtle forces of the Lodestone and the Eternal out-pouring and in-pouring of the Heart of God. The lamps that burn, though with a veiled light, upon their summits show that the Pathway to Hidden Knowledge, unlike the Pathway of Nature – which is a continual undulation, the winding hither and thither of the Serpent – is the straight and narrow way between them.”
I have a problem with the last sentence, simply because it isn’t true. Or at least, it over-simplifies things. We ourselves are creatures ‘of nature,’ and our path is very winding indeed. Anyone trying too hard to go up the straight and narrow path is at risk of mental constipation, and even our best efforts to do so will be defeated by what lies within us. Our path is always serpentine, which is why a later grade of the OSM used an illustration of a Serpent winding up and Tree of Life, and embracing or touching all the paths on it.
All this is quite obvious, of course, yet all of us try at various points to produce some balanced synthesis of our understanding, and to settle the matter once and for all. It seems like the wise or mature thing to aim for, and to mark a stage of integration. But it never does, nor can be.
It took me many years to accept, finally, that the duality the pillars represent IS the experience of life that I will always have, and that there will always be more than one pair (or triad, or quaternity) of opposite and competing ideas in my mind at any given time. That “straight and narrow way,” is not really a synthesis at all, but can only be the comfortable embrace of inner diversity as representing different drives and different perceptions of one human psyche.
This concept is built into the Thelemic system via the presence of both Nuit and Hadit, and of the twin god Heru-Ra-Ha, with Ra-Hoor-Khuit (or ‘Khut’ in III, v. 35) as the visible object of worship, and Hoor-pa-kraat as the ‘silent partner,’ the inner teacher that speaks no words yet feeds intuitive understandings through to the conscious self. For each individual, separate opposites or groups of entities will constellate over time, and need to be incorporated into the structures of conscious awareness.
I personally accept Ra-Hoor-Khuit as the aspiration, the driving force that forever demands an onward striving onwards an indescribable Brilliance, while acknowledging a personal ‘god’ that is similar in some ways to Hoor-pa-kraat, but is neither entirely silent nor especially child-like. Nor do these necessarily manifest as a tandem pair, to be described as two sides of one coin or by means of some similar analogy. Each functions as it functions, and trying to impose an intellectually coherent structure on them falsifies the reality. The pillars – and each is a pillar of my own ‘temple’ – represent what they represent in any given instance. Only from the standpoint of an acceptance of the different ideas or emotional realities within is it possible to begin to see the scope of the gulf between them, their subtle connections, and their complementary nature.
The point I’m making here is both facile and subtle, since hardly anyone denies a certain level of duality in themselves. But attaining the coexistence that truly integrates them, into a ‘higher third thing,’ can be the most difficult of accomplishments, and should not be devalued when it finally arises.
Love is the law, love under will.