Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
The topic of embarrassment in Thelemic circles is … well, embarrassing. “Fear not at all,” says our Book (III v. 17); “fear neither men nor Fates, nor gods, nor anything.” And there’s not much emotional distance from embarrassment to fear.
Aleister Crowley knew shame and embarrassment, specifically around his joy in being the receptive partner to his male lovers: he liked taking up the arse. To overcome the shame, one time in Cefalu he staged a live sex-show for his followers, though the effect on him probably wasn’t final. No doubt a sense of naughtiness was part of the pleasure for him. That said, his status as a Magus didn’t eliminate feelings of embarrassment at self.
We all have something, often many things, of which we’re ashamed. I get it from the fact that I’m in a low income bracket. As the Visible Head of an Order, I ought to be a living example of modest prosperity as a basic requirement of my job. Handling the requirements of Malkuth is one of our primary teachings, yet a problem I’m having obtaining the last portion of my pension has me in knots this week, and knowing it won’t be resolved till spring merely intensifies that.
My angst reflects my rejection of worldliness, which makes such problems are inevitable. Devoting myself to professional success and wealth was never something that much engaged me, beyond ensuring I could pay the bills. I have my natal Moon conjunct Neptune and that isn’t a formulation that predetermines that I’ll be a hard-nosed real-estate salesman. There’s some family karma around financial failure, too, going back to my childhood and my parents losing our house, so the problem exists on several levels. The ‘world’ and relatives especially expected my father to manage things better than that, and I picked up and carried on his sense of humiliation. There are other factors involved, but the essential point is, not having enough cash bugs the daylights out of me. I learned to be more practical than him in some ways: I also followed my inner dream more than he ever dared to do. The results are what I live with. Magicians, as Israel Regardie famously observed, never have any money.
The point I’m coming to is that embarrassment – that feeling of “everyone is looking at me right now” – comes from a sudden and acute awareness of individual difference. See that guy who’s had to make cutbacks in his personal spending, and can’t afford that trip to the UK he promised himself? This is the consequence of his putting all his efforts into a completely unprofitable line of activity. “Look – that’s the real him in the middle there, feeling and looking pissed-off and silly.”
Yet this, once the emotional reactions die down, underlines the paradoxical usefulness of embarrassment, however ego-mocking it might be. We often discover our true selves amid the petty absurdities of embarrassment, along with our essential drives and desires. We don’t just notice yet again that we display a certain trait – we feel the actuality of the realisation burning us.
Or to put it another way, feeling stupid and ashamed is one of the key means of coming to recognise the True Will.
I encountered this idea ages ago, and I didn’t like it. It annoyed me so much that I couldn’t forget it, even though for ages I couldn’t or wouldn’t grasp its full significance. We all assume True Will is tied to a triumphant sense of crushing enemies, both external and interior, and totally unconnected to those moments when our weirdness, our impracticalities, our secret lives, are clearly visible to others. But other people – Nuit, as some might say – offer us mirrors of our souls that reflect our truths. These mirrors are wholly above the elaborate ways we develop of justifying the necessity of our actions or counterbalancing our assumed failings with ‘virtuous’ or ‘strong’ actions or attitudes.
While I was fretting about the pension and hunting old documents (finding, naturally, that I’d lost a couple from the 1970s), I was also experiencing some of the most vivid magical work I’ve done in ages. An issue that has bugged me for a dozen years, on-and-off, began to resolve itself with one of those inner answers that seemingly satisfies all the conditions of the problem, as well as illuminating another problem area related to the nature of this Aeon. At the end of the day, True Will along with the thing or things that are most important, wins out over the side issues.
I can survive – just – without the extra pension, and the magical input is more precious to me than material relief. That doesn’t mean money now has no meaning; I’m just not that Zen about life. But True Will is a river that winds its way inexorably to its ultimate destination, that “Vastness wherein shall lose themselves all the rivers of being.” Becoming one with that has always been what my life is about, however far I might have fallen short of it – or not, since I have learned a few things during the journey. And I have learned that the more I conform myself to its current, the more likely it is that money and material matters will sort themselves out.
Love is the law, love under will,