by Ron Adams
Part One in a series of Four parts.
“Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law”
“The Method of Science. The Aim of Religion.”
These are two phrases that express the basic meaning of Thelema.
The intent of this discussion is to reveal to the world what the basics of Thelema are. No easy task. We can point to Thelemic orders, but will that solve the problem? Contemplating naming Thelemic organizations and beliefs become a sticky proposition since some orders are secretive, others are guarded, and no one appears to see ‘eye to eye’. There are Thelemic groups who would protest being spoken for, defined or mentioned and still others who would be offended by not being mentioned. Always the problem of misquoting some Thelemic authority. A paradox indeed. Especially when there have been various Thelemic groups arguing over who has sole rights to the Book of the Law and other Thelemic Holy Books that Aleister Crowley wrote, and who officially carries on his legacy. That would be like the Catholic Church claiming to own the Bible, and the Pope is the ruler of all Protestant religions. As one title of Aleister Crowley’s comments on The Book of the Law states: 'The Law is For All.'
Perhaps Crowley summed it up in his quote above: “The Method of Science. The Aim of Religion” when he began calling his Thelemic writings Scientific Illuminism. Or maybe Mr. Crowley hid the meaning of Thelema in his “Book of Lies” when he wrote ‘?’ ‘!’, ‘The Hunchback and the Soldier.’ If you are seeking Thelemic mentors and they all seem to be hiding out somewhere, don’t give up the search. There are a few of them out there. Intuitively, I believe Thelema heralds a philosophy about balance and equality in the Universe; that there are no secrets anymore, at least no unobtainable ones. This is a time and age where many things are being revealed at an accelerated pace. And if we use our rational and intuitive powers, we can tap in to more. It is kind of like the art of reading between the lines.
Sam Webster’s essay on Thelema strikes me as a pure attempt to lay out the basics in a general, non-dogmatic way, and I am inspired by this to write Ecumenical Thelema. His essay is basic, simple and to the point, less dogmatic than most. (Analyzing Liber AL vel Legis http://www.hermetic.com/220/webster-comment.html)
And then there is the yahoo egroup Holy Cram, a group of Thelemites that got together and did the forbidden thing, they discussed The Book of the Law. The group has finished its work, and the site is up on Yahoo for all to see.
Then there is Aleister Crowley’s long comment on The Book of the Law, which he finally completed towards the end of his life.
Ecumenical literally means “of the world.” Ecumenical movements in Christianity are an attempt to bridge the barriers and gaps of the various offshoots of Christianity: Catholic, Protestant, Lutheran, Anglican, Baptist, Pentecostal, Christian Science, and Mormons, the Latter Day Saints.
Thelema is a Greek word that translates “True Will.” Besides this, there appears to be less bridging between Thelemic sects than there are with Christian counterparts. There are many ego wills, and not much focus on which Will is pure or true. In many Thelemic groups there seems to be so much in-house fighting and controversy on just exactly what Thelema means and which sect has the official version. There is even one who claims Liber Al vel Legis was written on April 1st, 1904, and not April 8, 9 and 10th, 1904.
This is because everyone is entitled to their own opinion and beliefs in the matter of ‘do what thou wilt.’ Aleister Crowley even went so far as to warn people about discussing The Book of the Law, with his short comment at the end of it, for fear, perhaps too many opinions and dogma would cloud the fledgling movement. Though Thelemic philosophy goes back farther than Crowley and the writing of The Book of the Law, April 8, 9 and 10th, 1904 in Cairo, Egypt. That original short comment was never included in the first publications of Liber AL, especially in the Equinox. It was until Crowley and company were kicked out of Sicily, and feeling like pestilence themselves, and after much heated arguing with Norman Mudd, did Crowley pen the short comment about not discussing the Book, and referring only to his, Crowley’s authority in the matter. This was right before 1925. That is a difference of about twenty years. Aleister Crowley also said there were other Holy Books channeled by Aiwaz beside Liber Al vel Legis.
Francois Rabelais (1494-1553), whose ‘Abbey of Thelema’ in his book “Gargantua and Pantagruel” had a similar slogan, and St. Augustine (who wrote, “Love, and do what thou wilt”), Sir Francis Dashwood, who revived the Rabelais “Abbey of Thelema” and its delightful law in the grounds of his country residence not far from London. John Wilkes, a fiery radical parliamentarian, was one of his chief and most active members. This Abbey is now a local tourist attraction, and also in Tantric tradition. And yet on the 100th anniversary of the channeling from a disembodied spirit of higher intelligence, named Aiwaz, to Aleister Crowley, one could hope some progress was being made in building Thelemic bridges. Crowley warned against discussing the book, not against discussing the philosophy of True Will.
Perhaps modern day terms like “thinking outside the box” can be applied here to what Thelema means.
The Book of the Law contains 3 chapters devoted to three Thelemic Godforms: Nuit, Hadit and Ra Hoor Khuit.
Nuit, ancient Egyptian Goddess Nut, Goddess of the Night Sky was like the Star Map. She is the territory, the map, the potential; the “measure and the movement” of the cosmos, as Aleister Crowley puts it in his official comment and writings on Liber Al vel Legis.
Had, or Hadit, has no ancient Egyptian Godform, some speculate the closest is AN, the God of “Going”, the Path of the Sun, An Ra. Interestingly enough the Koran calls its “chapters” Hadiths, and if I am not mistaken they are ‘sung’.
For our paper Had means “point”. He is the Focus. You have the map and the territory and need a point of focus to get anywhere. I trust this analogy of Had and Nuit will suffice to the laymen.
Ra Hoor Khuit is a form of the Egyptian Godform Horus. He is the Hawk Headed Lord of Force and Fire. For many he represents the “Final Authority” of what reality was/is/becoming. For our analogy of the map and the focus, RHK represent ‘arriving at the destination’.
Much simpler than this is the idea of holistic thought. No one science, religion or philosophy holds the ultimate answer. It is a blend of polarities that make the whole. I am fascinated with the appearance of the English word “element” which can be kind of seen in the word Thelema, symbolized to me by the letters “elema”. As in science The Book of the Law tells of a formula. The blending of elements to create something new. This is another aspect of Nu, Had and Ra Hoor Khuit. Sort of an alchemical formula.
Element 93, Neptunium, so named by P. Abelson, 1913, a silvery, radioactive chemical element of the actinide series, produced by irradiating uranium atoms with neutrinos; mentioning this shows a pattern of what Carl Jung calls synchronicity with the number 93 being used to represent the word “Thelema” in Greek numerology. To me, Jung’s idea of the SELF are very similar to True Will.
After Crowley declared the ‘word of the Aeon’ in 1904, Atomic power was discovered, Quantum Physics enetered the world stage and eventually the New Age ushering in an explosion of new ideas blended with ancient shamanic traditions. As the Atomic bomb exploded in the Bikini Atol, LDS and Timothy Leary allowed the Human mind to implode in the journey of the soul.
“The Khabs is in the Khu, not the Khu in the Khabs. Worship then the Khabs, and behold my light shed over you!” Liber Al vel Legis Chapter 1, verses 8 and 9. Khabs, or Khat, is an Egyptian term meaning ‘the Body’ and Khu translates roughly to ‘Spirit’. In Mayan there is the word Ku, and also in Japanese. So basically this verse is saying: “The Body is in the Spirit, not the Spirit in the Body. Worship then the Body, and behold my light shed over you!” Opens the doors for the Tantric and Sex Magick interpretations of The Book of the Law.
Logic and intuition. Psychic healing and alleopathy. “Think Globally, Act Locally” to me can be considered as a Thelemic saying, of sorts. Economics tied to environmental wisdom and responsibility is another shifting area. Like the Tao of Physics, It is the Philosophy of Thelema that is growing at an exponential rate.
There is no way to bottom line what “Thelema” is. This is what makes creating an Ecumenical Thelema movement difficult, and also what might make it easy. Power and strength reside in Diversity. There is a New Age saying that ‘what one resist one gets’, or another way of saying it is ‘that which upsets you the most is your greatest teacher’. Though arguing over which direction the lock of hair on top of Crowley’s head curled is nonproductive. Why constantly reinvent the wheel? I believe we should be moving ahead with new discoveries of Thelema, exploring alternatives, and not stuck in the same old dogmatic tripe.
There are those who hold to the secrecy of their groups. Others believe sex magick is the key to Thelema, using another formula of Nuit-Had-Ra Hoor Khuit. There are those who follow the way of the Spiritual Warrior, fighting the battle of the ‘enemy within’ and the dark night of the soul. Still others who hold to the Goddess aspect; give everything to Nu Babalon, since she is everything and all things spring forth and return to her. “Do what thou wilt and harm none”.
And others hold to the power of ritual and the intent and focus of the Magician. And sure enough many formulas of magick abound.
There are those Thelemites who embrace magick and toss out mysticism. There are other camps who feel mysticism is the whole key to magick. There is the known and the unknown, the mystery and the rational, there is the power of dreams, healing and mystery of chaos, and even the beauty of chaos. Doing MAAT is just as important as doing Magick to other groups.
My favorite, one I am partial too since I am promoting it, is the The Book of the Law proclaims the Law of Time, natural order, immortality of the soul, shattering the imposed order of the machine age and the clock, much like the 13 Moon Peace Movement, Mayan calendar suggests and bringing us back to a more natural state and order of trusting our own inner powers and potential. Though a lot of 13 Moon Peace Movement people are anti-technology, I lean towards the balance of nature and technology.
Whatever your belief in Thelema, your cup of tea, I can only hope people will continue to make an effort to build bridges. Despite our differences, there is great potential to heal, and much magick, and even more mysticism.
There can be Christian Thelemites, Buddhist Thelemites, Chaos Magickians, Islamic Thelemites, Agnostic Thelemites, Mayan Thelemites, Scientific Thelemites, Wiccan Thelemites, Pagan Thelemites, Asatru Thelemites, you name it, any combination under the sun. And the Philosophy of Thelema allows that wide variety of philosophy and belief. Bridging the gap between science and spirituality.
May Ra Hoor Khuit help you with each opportunity and decission, in finding this bridge. May he make swift you strength and courage.
I will close with my two solutions to the cryptic verse 76, Chapter 2, Liber Al vel Legis. Every Thelemite has got one, a favorite interpretation or two. Mine are actually the same interpretation, tho the later modernized and updated. I used the New Aeon English Qabala numerology, applied by my unique formula. This actually helped inspire me to finally finish this paper, which has been a monumental challenge since July 2003.
“Aye! listen to the numbers and the words: 4 6 3 8 A B K 2 4 A L G M O R 3 Y X 24 89 R P S T O V A L. What meaneth this, o prophet?
Thou knowest not; nor shalt thou know ever. There cometh one to follow thee: he shall expound it.” The Book of the Law Chapter 1, verse 76.
The Balance of Yin and Yang is in every Love Union. This is the alchemy and Magick of the Aeon, seeking the Philosopher’s Stone in Mystery; the ground of being. The masculine principle balances the mystical principle. Lust is the key to the Universe, to release this Will. We are submerged in the feminine, nurturing principle. This is why we rebel from it like a fool, because the hidden mystical is too strong and overpowers the masculine strength and like a fool we run from what we seek and then we seek it even more, even tho we are In It. Liberate your wisdom and decide to embrace the feminine, for on the wheel of life this alone balances magick and mystical.
Heridity, Yin/Yang, is protected by the see-saw, the gamble of the sacred code. It is the focus, the focal point between force and fire, silence, where all the action is disguised. The Loner is the Fisher King, holder of all power. Mystery is in the ground of being. The protector principle holds the potential within this great mystery. Good looking matter, quarks and strange charm, are the means of travel, transportation that is so misunderstood as we run away from nurturing. Yahoos and Yagoths and scarey monsters at every turn divert us. Silence, as X marks the spot and the mystery of life gives the masculine protector of absolute power a kiss, as he waits to fold his cards and go home because he is so misunderstood. The daughter attracts him back into the game of life. Serpent fire activates his inner wisdom. Intrigue stalks us at ever turn. Mother is our victory. Mammy is cooking corn bread, as we focus on the great question, waiting for our appetite to reappear. Prophets and leaders can come from anywhere and anyone, male, female and in-between. The Dream of life is whole and complete.
The thing I want to point out about my two interpretations here is the formula:
0 = 2
People look to the 0 and speak of Zero point, Zen, and the Fool.
People look to the 2 and speak of duality, paradox, relationship, black and white, good and evil, etc.
How many look at the = ?
Equality, this is what I believe Thelema is ultimately about. Life, the elements of life, are not seperate. We can’t have life without death, good without evil, Love without fear. Life is about wholeness, equality, and the elements that go into manifesting it. Those elements are spoken of in The Book of the Law: Love and Will.
End of part One.
“Love is the law love under will”
written Sun in Aquarius, Moon in Aquarius
Alpha Resonant 12 (Jan. 21. 2004 e.v.)
Red Galactic Skywalker
Editor’s note: This is the first installment in a series by Mr. Adams, excerpted from his book Thelema without Dogma (forthcoming).