This article is in a series on Rational Theistic Luciferianism. This article is on the religion of Thelema and some of the occult arts associated with Thelema.
For the other articles on Rational Theistic Luciferianism and Thelema see:
- Magic Morality and Addressing the Spiritual
- The Occult Mind, Neural Nets and the Call of the Gods
- Rational Theistic Luciferianism: Philosophical Foundations
- A Practise and the Cults, Black Magick, Lucifer and Moloch
- Luciferianism, Demonolatory and the Black Flame
- A Satanic Manifesto: My Personal Satanism
- Love is the Law but what is the Law
My Satanism and Luciferianism grew out of my adherence to a religion called Thelema. This is a strange and complex religion drawing from Egyptian pantheons and Christian symbolism and Jewish mysticism and Yoga and Eastern mysticism and much more, the brain child of Aleister Crowley in the tradition of The Golden Dawn.
I was first introduced to the work of Aleister Crowley as a student of the Law at Cambridge University. Almost immediately afterwards I went mad.
Thelema is hard to define and pin down. It is mostly closely associated with its two precepts, which can be used as razor and magnifying glass to interpret and explain the whole of the body of work of Aleister Crowley along with all of the sources he drew from and alluded to which comprise all of Thelema. The two precepts are:
Love is the law, love under will.
Do as you will shall be the whole of the law.
My own definition of Thelema goes like this:
The pursuit of finding and exercising your true will, in accordance with the great work, understanding that love is the law.
Clearly love, law and will are central to understanding Thelema. The isopsephy of both will and love, in Greek, is 93. Isopsephy is the Greek gematria, an occult art where the letters are assigned numerical values and the essence of a word can be expressed in some way as the sum of the numbers. So two words with the same numerical value have an occult equivalence or correspondence. The magick happens where will and love are the same thing. This makes the 93s, or 93 93/93, a Thelemic greeting.
It is also the root of the 93/93 rule of My Personal Satanism:
93% of our experience is in the rational
93% of our power is found in the non-rational
Strength resides with Leviathan.
Along with Foord's law, a modification of Sturgeon's law:
Sturgeon's law tells us that 90% of everything is crap.
Foord's law tells us that 93% of people are full of shit.
Finding and exercising your true will is the central pillar of Thelema, a pursuit to which you have an absolute and inalienable right and no person may stop you.
To find your true will is to be the very best that you can be, this is self actualisation and individuation. But how do you know what is of your true will, from deep in the realms of the unconscious mind, and which are the desires and illusions of the ego? This is the pursuit of a lifetime. It is the fulfilment of the injunction of the philosopher to know thyself!
A great deal of knowing your true will involves knowing what you want and what you're good at, your cravings, capacities and capabilities. This is where the parallel concept of the great work speaks to us. Will is power, and will exercised is strength. To which task can you effectively set your strength and might and passion? Which works will enflame your passions, will absorb your intellect and propel you into being all you can be and using your life to make a difference in some way to all of humanity? The activation and release of our personal power in positive and fulfilling ways. To tear down the old and build the new. Destroyers and creators in the endless cycle of death and rebirth.
We find our own purpose and meaning, our great work, within the greater purpose and meaning and the greater Great Work. Our personal place within the universal place, Atman to Brahman. This is a personal and solitary journey that we undertake together. Our true wills align in the great work.
Humanity is in crisis, lost in the dark. We need light bringers, we need Lucifer and Lucifers. This is the great work to find yourself in. To survive and to thrive in the coming storms.
Every person is a star. Let's make a world where every star may shine without constraint or restraint and let this be The Great Work.
Magick is an art and science, the goal of which is to produce changes in internal and external reality by harnessing the power of the unseen through bringing about change in personal consciousness.
In order to change the world, all you need to do is change yourself in the right way.
Thelema and Satanism
There's a lot of debate as to whether or not the religion of Thelema, started by Crowley, is a form of Satanism or not. There is a separate debate amongst Luciferians as to whether or not Lucifer and Satan and the devil are one and the same.
Here, from chapter 21 of Magick in Theory and Practise Crowley answers that question. Crowley referred to himself as the beast, 666, and Aiwass his holy guardian angel who dictated the book of the law to him.
The Devil' is, historically, the God of any people that one personally dislikes. This has led to so much confusion of thought that THE BEAST 666 has preferred to let names stand as they are, and to proclaim simply that AIWAZ — the solar-phallic-hermetic 'Lucifer' is His own Holy Guardian Angel, and 'The Devil' SATAN or HADIT of our particular unit of the Starry Universe. This serpent, SATAN, is not the enemy of Man, but He who made Gods of our race, knowing Good and Evil; He bade 'Know Thyself!' and taught Initiation. He is 'the Devil' of the Book of Thoth, and His emblem is BAPHOMET, the Androgyne who is the hieroglyph of arcane perfection. The number of His Atu is XV, which is Yod He, the Monogram of the Eternal, the Father one with the Mother, the Virgin Seed one with all-containing Space. He is therefore Life, and Love. But moreover his letter is Ayin, the Eye; he is Light, and his Zodiacal image is Capricornus, that leaping goat whose attribute is Liberty.
Also found in Magick in Theory and Practice:
The exalted “Devil” (also the other secret Eye) by the formula of the Initiation of Horus elsewhere described in detail. This “Devil” is called Satan or Shaitan, and regarded with horror by people who are ignorant of his formula, and, imagining themselves to be evil, accuse Nature herself of their own phantasmal crime. Satan is Saturn, Set, Abrasax, Adad, Adonis, Attis, Adam, Adonai, etc. The most serious charge against him is that he is the Sun in the South.
We have therefore no scruple in restoring the ‘devil-worship’ of such ideas as those which the laws of sound, and the phenomena of speech and hearing, compel us to connect with the group of ‘Gods’ whose names are based upon ShT, or D, vocalized by the free breath A. For these Names imply the qualities of courage, frankness, energy, pride, power and triumph; they are the words which express the creative and paternal will.
Thus ‘the Devil’ is Capricornus, the Goat who leaps upon the loftiest mountains, the Godhead which, if it become manifest in man, makes him Aegipan, the All.
The best way to find out your true will, what you really want to be and do, is in fact to just do what you want. And deal with the consequences.
If you're a good person you'll want good things. Your true will is found through your true desires.
People should do and say what they want a whole lot more.
The religion of Thelema is enormous, hard to define, and practised in as many different ways as it has adherents. Thelema can be a religion, a philosophy, a path of magickal activation, a magickal system incorporating ceremonial magick, amongst other things. But what is Thelema and what is it made of?
Thelema is the creation of Aleister Crowley, the master, and is therefore defined by his works (including written works) and also defined by what he said about it, which was that it was defined by his works and especially The Holy Books of Thelema. He categorised [most of] his works from Class A to Class E in order of significance. This alone makes Thelema enormous as Crowley was prodigious.
Interestingly what is seen by many Thelemites as the core document of Thelema, setting out the Thelemic principle, Liber Oz (gloriously short), is uncategorised.
For many Thelemites the Core Crowley Curriculum, which you can study as a "Solo Practitioner" or for membership of a magickal order like the OTO or A.'. A.', is Thelema.
So is this Thelema, a reading list?
Central to Thelema is the precept "Do as thou wilt shall be the whole of the law". The goal of Thelema is to find and exercise your true will. Releasing the inner genius and unlocking your capacity of will to effect change. For me in large measure Thelema is a religion of finding and exercising your true will. This is how I define Thelema:
The pursuit of finding and exercising your true will, in accordance with the great work and understanding that love is the law. Every person is a star.
But even if we turn only to the core curriculum, of what is Thelema made? Crowley made it from a fusion of many sources and inspirations, a multi-disciplinary approach. Thelema consists of the Tarot, yoga, Hindu meditation and Buddhist meditation, the tradition of the golden dawn, a Pantheon of gods based on the Egyptian Pantheon, the practise of the magickal diary, the sex magick, inspiration and imagery from the bible, Taoism and much more. The Thelema that is only reading is only a tiny fraction of Thelema and only a fraction of the ways that people find and practise Thelema. The various elements and components address the whole of the human being, including the physical and the sexual. Understanding and dealing with and releasing the whole person is necessary for the higher goals of Thelema like the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel, a personal deity and the fruit of individuation.
Thelema is a seam of meaning wide and deep. There's so much value and beauty in Thelema.
I find it in the way Crowley paints a vast canvas with mythological and mythical and mystical and personal significance. I find it in his multi-disciplinary approach and output. I find it in the great power of the core concepts and ideas he put forth. I find it in the beauty of his writing and in the mystical genius within it and how it points me to the divine and what I already know or suspect or feel or desire or aspire to. I see it in the way there are a thousand different Crowleys and a thousand different Thelemas for every thousand people who have heard of him. How everyone finds and sees in it something different. I find it in the way that Thelema understands that addressing the spiritual requires addressing the whole person. Fundamentally.
I see and admire the great magickal work Crowley performed that changed the world and we still feel the effects of it today. That work is the evidence of Thelema, what he did and the effect it had. A social change, particularly in the occult world. Crowley was a champion of absolute liberty and presaged the move of personal and sexual and spiritual liberty of the sixties.
That's what I'm interested in, not in acquiring knowledge but in living a life that has an effect and that makes a difference. Not to replicate Crowley but to find my own magick for myself in my own way.
Integrating experience and understanding means making it personal. You have to make it your own to understand it anyway. Everyone has their own personal version, that's unavoidable and is a great thing. Do as you will.
Beware those who mistake studying Thelema with doing Thelema and confuse knowledge for understanding. The only theory worth a damn is the theory of the practise.
That's why I particularly love the modern religions. You have to define them for yourself, that's the reality of any religion but the older ones like to pretend there's a right way of doing them.
So how can we approach Thelema, if we are convinced there is genuine life and power within it as an approach to life?
First a word on religion. There are many Thelemites who do not see it as a religion. Religion is despised and feared by many, even the religious roots of Thelema. Crowley grew up in a British religious sect The Plymouth Brethren and within a highly religious society. To them, even to his own mother, he was The Great Beast, 666, of Christian mythology. The most wicked man in the country.
Religion scares people because they see the damage it does. They've often witnessed how it can change people for the worse, make them into nastier people. How it oppresses people and excuses atrocities.
Voltaire said that if you can get people to believe absurdities then you can get them to commit atrocities. He's right, rarely is atrocity carried out by those who acknowledge they are evil. First a worldview must be constructed so they can see themselves as good people doing the right thing, or the best they could.
But isn't the problem of change the problem of the human condition? Aren't we dissatisfied with our state, isn't there more we could be and would be? So we want to change and we know religion can change people, that what you believe or how you live or some combination thereof make it possible for us to change and to find liberty. The reason religion is feared is also perhaps where its power may be found. To understand this we would have to enquire further of what a religion is, how people change and what a person is. This enquiry is into the nature of Thelema and how we may uncover the nature of Thelema.
To further this pursuit I will first step sideways into another of my passions which is my trade. I'm a software engineer by trade, and I came to it via an arduous route and found in computer programming my mind come alive. It has been my passion, a passion of youth reborn in the programming language Python. Python is Open Source and free, and you can participate in the creation of Python and in the community.
For many years now I have taught Python. I go into companies and teach Python engineers "Advanced Python Mastery", and to engineers who can program but don't know Python I teach "Practical Python".
Python is a highly pragmatic programming language, concerned with doing things. As the art of life is understanding the art of doing, so the art of programming is understanding the practise of programming. How to think about it and what to do. You approach programming in the same way as life. When I teach programming I teach a practise, how to do it, and I teach how to think about it.
How to think about programming is interesting. Programming is inherently abstract, just as the concepts of the occult are abstract. Programming is an art and a craft, as with the occult.
Programming is the art of making the machine act in conformity with will through understanding the language and operation of the machine. What then is the fundamental language of the machine?
Here many say binary, or perhaps even assembly language. These are the wrong answers I hope for in response to my question. Binary, the ones and zeroes, is still an abstraction for humans to think about the operation of the machine. Programming languages are tools and frameworks to enable us to reason about the behaviour of the machine. A two way communication, from human to machine and from human to human as other programmers have to read the code (including yourself six months later when you come back to it).
The ones and zeroes are a low level abstraction. They correspond directly to a positive potential on an electric line or a stored charge in a chip or on a disk. But that's not the fundamental language of the machine.
The fundamental language of the machine is the electromagnetic dance across wires and etched silicone, choreographed by the beating of a quartz crystal at the heart of the machine. (*)
The machine knows nothing of our ones and zeroes, nor of Python or objects or any other abstract human construct we use to reason about it. We use the tools of the programming language to build ideas that can be executed by the machine, and it's all abstract.
(*) Not actually a quartz crystal nowadays, but poetry goddammit!
As we use the tools of the language to build ideas, how we think about programming is really important and it's slightly different from language to language. As we approach a religion that draws from many traditions, including theistic traditions with gods and spirituality, and we wish to explore this and think about it and have some understanding of it then how we think about the gods and spirituality and myths and legends becomes important.
How can we find the power and life of a religion like Thelema, and all of the sources it draws from and is made up of, without going mad? What kind of reality does it have to us? More importantly perhaps, how can it speak to us about reality? If Thelema is to be useful then the symbolism and language, including the deities and the spiritual principles must illuminate life and be found within it. So this it seems to me is how we find the power of Thelema, within our own lives and woven into life all around us. The power of the spiritual and the mythological.
The power of the occult is found within the correspondences and associations. Making them personal, having the mythological and occult resonate within your own being and depths, is required to know their power. Finding your own path is the only path.
Our expression of life has changed within our generation. That has been true of just about every generation since industrialisation, but increasingly never more true, every generation sees a major change of life and world view within their lifetime. Chances are you're reading this on a computer. We have opportunities of information and communication and art never before seen. Crowley called pen and paper magickal tools, now we have keyboard and screen. If Thelema has power it will be found within this and thrive within reality as she is today.
The next major point I learn from my experiences of teaching Python is how people learn quickly. I teach very smart programmers who don't know Python. They're smart but ignorant in that sense. We start the courses with me finding out which languages and technologies they have used. And then, as much as I'm able, I will teach Python in terms of what they already know. So as much as possible they're using their existing knowledge and every new thing is only a small step from what they already know and builds on it.
Thelema is vast. What every individual already knows is vast. Just to exist in modern society we've all consumed and learned huge amounts of information, media, songs, films, cultural patterns and habits and tastes and scientific understanding we know but take for granted. Within that is woven and hidden the mythological, the religious (within morality perhaps), the occult even within art and history and everywhere. We're already made of the stuff. So none of us come to Thelema as blank slates, we all contain so much of it already within us and waiting to brought to life.
Find what enflames your passions, what are you drawn to? This is how the gods call to you.
Perhaps Satanic Thelema or Luciferian Thelema. Many come to Thelema through Satanism and Luciferianism and there is a great deal of overlap. My Thelema is an expression of my Satanism and my Satanism is an expression of my Thelema. Crowley translated the I Ching and created a translation of The Book of Goetia, describing the demons.
Perhaps you'll do Taoist Thelema, Gnostic Thelema, or Luciferian or Wiccan Thelema. What resonates, what correspondences can you find with what you already know and where can you learn quickly? Passion is the greatest teacher and the fastest learner. Find and follow your true desires to find your true will.
I approach Thelema as a practise and a religion. I'm also a Satanist and a Luciferian. Rational Theistic Luciferianism as a philosophy is how I think about Thelema:
And as a practise it's how I do Thelema, how I pull in various strands of Thelema and the spiritual and mythological, over time, in my own search and journey:
I admit that my visions can never mean to other men as much as they do to me. I do not regret this. All I ask is that my results should convince seekers after truth that there is beyond doubt something worth while seeking, attainable by methods more or less like mine. I do not want to father a flock, to be the fetish of fools and fanatics, or the founder of a faith whose followers are content to echo my opinions. I want each man to cut his own way through the jungle.
-- The Confessions of Aleister Crowley
A lovely quote from Joseph William Marek, a prominent Thelemite, on the path of the "solo practitioner", and the sort of people who hang around in occult circles.
I particularly like Joseph William Marek because although he teaches the Core Crowley Curriculum he emphasises practise over theory.
Let me just add that I’ve become convinced that one needs to work as a Solo Practitioner. No matter what Order you join, you have to put up with ego-puffery, people who talk in “word-salad” and call it being sublime, backstabbing politics, lite-brites who go on and on about their crystals, and people who sit around and tell each other lies about their psychic experiences.
Actually my greatest concern is with Theoretical Magicians vs. Practicing Magicians. [...] You can tell by how people express themselves. Some people just don’t sound like they’ve done the work. They refer to quotes rather than to real experiences.
From: Link to Facebook Post
The following from the work of Aleister Crowley speaks to me and is something I've always intuitively felt to be true and reached out towards. Please forgive the archaic gendered language in the quotes.
I am certainly of opinion that genius can be acquired, or, in the alternative, that it is an almost universal possession. Its rarity may be attributed to the crushing influence of a corrupted society. It is rare to meet a youth without high ideals, generous thoughts, a sense of holiness, of his own importance, which, being interpreted, is, of his own identity with God. Three years in the world, and he is a bank clerk or even a government official. Only those who intuitively understand from early boyhood that they must stand out, and who have the incredible courage and endurance to do so in the face of all that tyranny, callousness, and the scorn of inferiors can do; only these arrive at manhood uncontaminated.
From "Energized Enthusiasm : A Note On Theurgy" in The Equinox Vol. 1 no. 9 (Spring 1913)
This next quote has much to recommend it; on the grounding property in the human character of common decency. The greatest failing of the Christians I have also found amongst the new religions such as Satanism and Thelema. Those who feel their religion requires them to be an ass, not realising that their willingness to be an ass demonstrates their lack of understanding of their religion. Even Balaam's Ass could speak the truth!
There seems to be much misunderstanding about True Will … The fact of a person being a gentleman is as much an ineluctable factor as any possible spiritual experience; in fact, it is possible, even probable, that a man may be misled by the enthusiasm of an illumination, and if he should find apparent conflict between his spiritual duty and his duty to honour, it is almost sure evidence that a trap is being laid for him and he should unhesitatingly stick to the course which ordinary decency indicates … I wish to say definitely, once and for all, that people who do not understand and accept this position have utterly failed to grasp the fundamental principles of the Law of Thelema.
From Magical Diaries of Aleister Crowley : Tunisia 1923
And whilst we're quoting the master, let's have his definition of magick from Magick in Theory and Practise (1929):
Magick is the Science and Art of causing Change to occur in conformity with Will.
(Illustration: It is my Will to inform the World of certain facts within my knowledge. I therefore take "magical weapons", pen, ink, and paper; I write "incantations" — these sentences — in the "magical language" ie, that which is understood by the people I wish to instruct; I call forth "spirits", such as printers, publishers, booksellers and so forth and constrain them to convey my message to those people. The composition and distribution of this book is thus an act of Magick by which I cause Changes to take place in conformity with my Will.)
In one sense Magick may be defined as the name given to Science by the vulgar.
And lest the unusual spelling should go unremarked, there is this gem from Magick Book IV : Liber ABA (Part II Magick 1912):
The old spelling MAGICK has been adopted throughout in order to distinguish the Science of the Magi from all its counterfeits.
Astrology is an occult art for self understanding, the connection to the stars and constellations is symbolic not literal. The signs of the zodiacs are astrological houses named after the constellations, not the constellations themselves, for starters.
People think they've explained Tarot and Astrology away when they say "cold reading". Like yeah, that's the point. You explore *personal meaning and significance* using the symbology of either Tarot or Astrology.
You permit chance to have a role, accident of birth or the cards drawn, but the only useful thing they do is let you explore personal significance and find personal meaning within the arcane symbolism.
I'm not into astrology, although I'm a Leo born in the year of the Tiger, but I'm exploring Tarot. The symbolism is so rich, resonating and brimming with archetypes.
You have it heard it said; fight ye as brothers. I say to you; fight ye as brothers with your brothers. Fight ye as an enemy with your enemy.
That which art love I will trust it completely. That which art the enemy I will fight, even though I am scared I will fight.
For is there not an enemy and a struggle.
A riff on a line from Liber Al vel Legis:
Despise also all cowards; professional soldiers who dare not fight, but play; all fools despise!
But the keen and the proud, the royal and the lofty; ye are brothers!
As brothers fight ye!
Consent culture honours do as thou wilt. Do as you will. Consent culture honours the sovereign will of all individuals. Enthusiastic ongoing consent, as the exercise of conscious will. Honouring do as you will in others, encouraging them to express and exercise their true will, is an expression of love under will.
|The Fool from Crowley's Thoth deck|
Divine madness, avadhūta (Sanskrit: अवधूत), is the only sanity. The Holy Fool.
From the Buddhist nyönpa, tantric crazy yogis, to the Christian yuródivyy (юродивый) holy fool, to The Joker, to The Fool card in Tarot which is numbered zero amongst the Major Arcana.
We're supposed to be the mad ones. That's how we know we're sane.
This is the message of Wonko the Sane in the books of Douglas Adams, who built his house inside out and put a fence around it. He lived "outside the asylum", inside the fence, and the rest of the world was "inside the asylum".
It's the ones who don't know they're mad who are the problem.
Some people never go crazy, what truly horrible lives they must lead -- Charles Bukowski