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   The Stele of Ankh-af-na-khonsu
   The Law of Thelema is a religion of uncertain extent, numbering
   perhaps as many as a quarter of a million adherents worldwide, with a
   strong intellectual presence on the Internet. It is an independent
   religion in its own right, with its own unique tradition, canon,
   beliefs, and practices.
   Aleister Crowley (1875-1947) contributed greatly to the "magical
   revival,"as it has been called, during the first half of the 20th
   Century. His written works have had a profound effect on the practice
   of Magick. In addition, Satanism, as currently practiced by the Church
   of Satan and similar groups, have relied heavily on a
   sensationalistic interpretation of his writings. There are even marks
   of his influence in the writings of Gerald Gardner, the individual
   most responsible for the recreation of Wicca circa 1950. It seems
   likely that Crowley was commissioned by Gardner to write at least part
   of the Wiccan Book of Shadows, regarded as the Bible of modern Wicca.
   Unfortunately, many conservative Christian authors have associated
   Crowley's beliefs and practices with Mediaeval Satanism. The latter
   was a form of Satan worship that did not exist in reality. It was
   invented by the Christian church in order to provide the theological
   and legal justification for the Witch burnings of Western Europe. As a
   result of this association, most of the writings by Fundamentalist and
   other Evangelical Christians about the Law of Thelema and Crowley are
   hopelessly inaccurate, and may be safely ignored.
   The following accurate material was provided by Alexander Duncan, B.A.
   (Hon.) (Dept. of English, York University, North York, Ontario,
   Canada) (e-mail: Permission to copy, reproduce,
   or distribute this material is freely granted provided there is no
   charge and the name, e-mail address, and URL of the author is included
   in every copy.
   Thelema is a development of:
     * the Judaeo-Christian apocalyptic writings, especially the
       Revelation of John in the New Testament so-called,
     * the Enochian angelic utterances recorded by Edward Kelly and John
       Dee (the famous Elizabethan humanist scientist), and preserved for
       posterity by Meric Casaubon in his True and Faithful Relation of
       What Passed for Many Years Between Dr. John Dee and Some Spirits
     * mediaeval and Renaissance Cabala, hermetism, and magic, and
     * the modern magical revival, beginning in the late nineteenth and
       early twentieth centuries, associated with such names as Eliphas
       Levi, William Butler Yeats (considered by many scholars to be the
       greatest poet of the twentieth century), and Samuel Liddell
       "Macgregor" Mathers (co-founder and last Chief of the Hermetic
       Order of the Golden Dawn).
   Like Madame Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, founder of Theosophy, by which
   he was strongly influenced, Crowley forged a bridge between the
   Western mystical and magical traditions and Oriental spirituality,
   especially Hindu Tantra and Buddhism, which was just beginning to be
   known and understood in the West. Crowley's spiritual philosophy also
   bears many points of similarity to complex or analytical psychology,
   developed later by Dr. Carl Gustav Jung.
   The word "Thelema" is derived from Francois Rabelais' Abbey of
   Theleme, described in the First Book of his philosophical farce, The
   Histories of Gargantua and Pantagruel (1533), which gave rise to the
   semi-serious philosophy of Pantagruelism. Although this book has the
   appearance of an intellectual comedy, some authors have found hermetic
   and occult allusions in it, and Rabelais himself appears to have been
   well versed in hermetism. For example, the book ends with an eulogy of
   "the herb pantagruelion," which appears to be cannabis, and the Oracle
   of the Bottle may be mystically interpreted. The essential principle
   of the philosophy of Pantagruelism is laughter, by which life may be
   simultaneously enjoyed and derided, thereby achieving the religious
   goal of indifference or detachment without the need for a debilitating
   asceticism. This idea, it may be noted, is not too dissimilar from the
   Way of the Heyoka in native American spirituality, which seeks to
   achieve personal and social regeneration by means of the formula of
   reversal, stringently applied. Pantagruelism is also distinguished by
   its emphatic and extreme affirmation of the life of the body, and a
   deep and passionate hatred of the Christian Church.
   In its modern form, the Law of Thelema was first promulgated by the
   poet Edward "Aleister" Crowley (1875-1947) in 1909, after five years
   of doubt, in his long poetic account of the mystical path, Aha! Here
   he celebrates Thelema as the apotheosis of the mystical quest, and
   paraphrases the Book of the Law, the gospel of Thelema, dictated to
   him (by his own account) by a "praeterhuman intelligence." Only son
   and heir of a wealthy brewing family, Crowley's father, a retired
   engineer and amateur evangelist of stern fundamentalist persuasion,
   died when Alec was only 12, leaving him in the sole care of a neurotic
   mother and her immediate family, by all accounts a bunch of
   mean-minded religious bigots and fanatics. His father's death seems to
   have been a turning point in Alec's life, prior to which he seems to
   have been a dedicated if immature believer in the literal truth of the
   Bible, which he admitted even in adult life underlies all his
   thinking. During this formative period the child was hardly allowed to
   read anything else! Alec was also a weak and sickly child, which
   condition was exacerbated by the numerous punishments and privations
   inflicted by the severe Plymouth Brethren private schools to which he
   was sent. The imminence of puberty seems to have awakened a spark of
   rebelliousness, however, and throughout his adolescence Alec turned
   increasingly against the religion of his ancestors. He developed a
   keen interest in the ways of the world, especially mountain climbing,
   sex, and fine literature (especially the poets Swinburne and Shelley).
   He became increasingly independent. By sheer dint of willpower Crowley
   overcame his physical weakness and became one of the most adventurous
   (some would say reckless) mountaineers of his generation, and a
   personal friend and fellow climber of world class mountaineer Oscar
   Crowley's intellectual brilliance was early apparent. Crowley even
   claimed to remember the circumstances of his infant baptism! Late in
   adolescence Alec took up the game of chess, in which he rapidly
   excelled, earning his chess "half blue" at university. In 1895 he went
   up to Cambridge to study the liberal arts, with the intention of
   becoming a professional diplomat or a chess master. Crowley studied
   with feverish intensity, following a largely self-directed program in
   which he made a point of reading every reference to any other author
   or work in every book which he read. He read voraciously, especially
   literature and poetry, post-Cartesian philosophy, the sciences, and
   occultism, sleeping very little and studying much of the night,
   spending his summer vacations climbing in the Alps. As the heir of a
   small fortune Crowley was free to do as he liked, and he did so with
   characteristic ferocity.
   The year 1898 was a second turning point in Crowley's career. In this
   year he left Cambridge University without taking a degree, having
   resolved to become a professional poet; he published his first book of
   poetry, now a collector's item, entitled Aceldama: A Place to Bury
   Strangers In. A Philosophical Poem, by a gentleman of the University
   of Cambridge,; and he was initiated in the Hermetic Order of the
   Golden Dawn, certainly the most important and influential occult
   order of recent times. In the course of the next seven years Crowley
   published at his own expense more than two dozen collections of poetry
   and verse dramas, quickly acquiring a reputation as an important minor
   poet and fine publisher of the period, attracting the attention of no
   less a critic than G. K. Chesterton. During 1905 to 1907, Crowley
   self-published his Collected Works in three small print volumes.
   Crowley became well-known in famous literary circles of the day, and
   was a personal friend of the sculptor Auguste Rodin, S. L. M. Mathers,
   and Allan Bennett (the Buddhist monk and Golden Dawn occultist who led
   the first Buddhist mission to the West), amongst others. Crowley's
   poetry is extremely lucid, fluent in many different forms, lyrical,
   controversial, and intellectually and morally challenging. In his
   poetry the lyricist and the didactician struggle for supremacy. The
   central themes of Crowley's early poetry are the metaphysical problem
   of the relationship between the Infinite and the finite, the ethical
   problem posed by the insatiable nature of human craving, the desire
   for liberty, and the biological nature of life, and the religious
   problem of how to resolve these dilemmas within the context of
   post-Cartesian rationalism, scientism, materialism, Darwinism,
   skepticism, and the implicit nihilism of the modern. Not a set of
   themes calculated to please the bourgeois, several of Crowley's works
   were condemned as obscene, though they would hardly receive a second
   glance today. They were destroyed by Her Majesty's Customs, and are
   consequently very rare. Also rare is his third book of poetry (which
   is not included in his Collected Works), entitled White Stains. At a
   time when Oscar Wilde died in prison for so-called "sex crimes,"
   Crowley's honest and unfettered exploration of sexual themes,
   including his own homosexuality, must be regarded today as extremely
   courageous (if not downright foolhardy)!
   The third and most important turning point in Crowley's career came in
   1904, in the same year in which he published S. L. M. Mathers'
   translation of the Goetia of Solomon the King, with an introductory
   essay by Crowley himself entitled "The Initiated Interpretation of
   Ceremonial Magic," in which he developed a theory of magic as a
   system for awakening unconscious psychic potentials. By this time
   Crowley had completely mastered the occult system of the Golden Dawn
   under the personal tutelage of Bennett and Mathers, the Order's two
   most advanced practical occultists. He excelled at skrying and
   traveling in the spirit vision and in evocation. He had achieved
   considerable success in raja yoga, achieving the lesser trance state
   known as dhyana. He had moved far beyond the "satanism" of his
   immaturity, through the esoteric Christianity of the Celtic Church,
   and had even rejected Golden Dawn magic as a tangential distraction
   from the main purpose of his life: the completion of the "great work"
   of uniting the personal consciousness with the divine. Crowley was
   entering his mature religious phase; he had embraced the Theravada
   Buddhism of his mentor, Allan Bennett, somewhat secularized and
   colored by Hindu Tantra and a profound comparative understanding born
   in a deep study of Professor Max Muller's Sacred Books of the East
   Series and the works of Sigmund Freud.
   Crowley had married the beauty and socialite Rose Edith Kelly,
   daughter of the painter Gerald Kelly, the previous August. Still very
   rich indeed, the Crowleys embarked upon a world tour, returning to
   Crowley's Boleskine estate at Loch Ness, Scotland via Cairo, Egypt in
   March, 1904. On their visit to Cairo the previous autumn Crowley and
   Rose had spent the night in the King's Chamber of the Great Pyramid,
   where Crowley had showed Rose the Astral Light, a subtle bluish
   illumination which was bright enough to enable Crowley to read the
   ritual without the use of a candle. This time, Crowley, who had done
   no other magic for several years, resolved on a whim to show Rose the
   sylphs, the elemental creatures of the air, and began the evocation
   with the Preliminary Invocation of the Goetia, Crowley's favorite.
   Suddenly and quite unexpectedly Rose became spontaneously entranced,
   repeating over and over again, "They're waiting for you. All Osiris.
   It's all about the child." Rose insisted that Crowley perform a
   magical ceremony before an open window in their Cairo flat without any
   of the traditional preparations. His second attempt, conducted towards
   midnight on the day of the spring equinox, revealed that the "child"
   was Horus, the divine offspring of the Egyptian gods Isis and Osiris.
   According to Crowley he was told (through Rose's clairvoyance?) that
   he, Crowley, was to forge a new link with the Secret Chiefs of the
   Order of the Golden Dawn, as Chief of the Order, which office Mathers
   had forfeited. He was to inaugurate a new historical epoch for
   mankind, the Aeon of Horus, based on the "magical formula" of the
   Crowned and Conquering Child, which was to supplant the previous
   formula of the Dying God for the next two thousand years. Shortly
   afterwards, to prove the validity of her clairvoyance, Crowley
   conducted Rose to the Boulak Museum, where neither one had ever been.
   She took him straight to an exhibit of the funereal stele of
   Ankh-af-na-khonsu, an obscure XXVIth dynasty Theban priest; Crowley
   stated that she recognized the image of Ra-Hoor-Khuit (Horus) from
   such a distance that Crowley himself could not make it out! When
   Crowley looked at the exhibit, he was shocked. It bore the exhibit
   number 666, the very number with which Crowley (based on his mother's
   religious fantasy, it appears) had, since the age of 12, identified
   himself personally, as the number of the Great Beast of the Revelation
   of John, the Antichrist himself! This coincidence or synchronicity
   enormously impressed Crowley, and caused him to obey his wife
   implicitly when she instructed him to enter the "temple" (the living
   room of their flat) at 12 noon on April 8, 9, and 10, 1904, and write
   down what he heard, apparently without any preparations of any sort.
   When Crowley entered the temple at the appointed time, he claims that
   he physically heard a voice coming from behind his left shoulder, as
   well as experienced a vivid subconscious impression of a regal
   presence of Persian or Assyrian countenance. The voice was devoid of
   any accent. For one hour it dictated; then it stopped. The voice
   returned at noon on April 9 and 10, thus dictating the three chapters
   and sixty-five pages of what came to be known as the Book of the Law,
   the gospel of the New Aeon of Horus. It seems likely that Crowley's
   perception of time was altered during this experience, i.e., that he
   himself experienced an altered state of consciousness (ASC), since
   Crowley experienced the dictation as normal speaking speed, but in
   fact from the time involved and the length of the manuscript it can be
   deduced that the voice spoke at about half the normal rate. The Book
   itself represents itself as the revelation of a being calling itself
   Aiwass, "the minister of Hoor-paar-kraat," the form of the god Horus
   as a child seated on a lotus flower. Many years later, Crowley
   discovered that Aiwass, or 'Iwaz, is in fact a Semitic proper name. By
   the end of his life Crowley was convinced that 'Iwaz was in fact a
   real person, a "secret chief" who could form a physical body out of
   the elements at will, with whom Crowley himself enjoyed a unique and
   intimate communion.
   Following the dictation of the Book of the Law, the Crowleys returned
   to Boleskine near Loch Ness. Crowley admits that he disliked the Book
   intensely, and wanted to get rid of it, sticking the manuscript in an
   attic. However, he did obey the injunction of the Book to make and
   burn a special incense, composed of several rare oils mixed with
   blood. The Book promised: "This hath also another use; let it be laid
   before me, and kept thick with perfumes of your orison: it shall
   become full of beetles as it were and creeping things sacred unto
   me." Shortly afterwards Crowley's estate was plagued by an
   infestation of unusual insects, similar in appearance to the Egyptian
   scarab beetle with a single protruding eye at the end of a long stalk,
   which the experts in London to whom Crowley says he sent a specimen
   were unable to identify. For five years Crowley ignored the Book of
   the Law, but the accidental discovery and rereading in 1909 of the
   book in his attic at Boleskine resulted in a conversion experience in
   which he accepted the Book and his role as described therein. This
   resulted in the writing of his long poem on the mystical quest, Aha!
   From that moment forward the Book of the Law became the foundation of
   his whole work, on which he based his spiritual and writing career for
   the next thirty-eight years of his life. Though he would suffer a
   terrible ostracism and poverty for his claims Crowley never doubted
   that he was the chosen emissary of the Secret Chiefs, and the prophet
   of a New Aeon for mankind. He died unrepentant and unflagging in his
   faith in himself as the avatar of a new epoch of human civilization, a
   social outcast and an undischarged bankrupt, with few followers or
   The Book of the Law was the first of thirteen holy books, which
   Crowley wrote in a state of high trance. He also authored several
   "holy notes" and two borderline texts, The Vision and the Voice and
   The Paris Working, to which Crowley assigned a mixed status.
   However, Crowley never claimed that he was not the author of the later
   holy books, which were written shortly after he "crossed the Abyss,"
   i.e., annihilated the ego and attained the grade of Master of the
   Temple in the system of the Order of the Golden Dawn, which Crowley
   renamed the Argentium Astrum or Silver Star. The longest of these are
   the Book of the Free or the Blue Stone (Liber Liberi vel Lapidis
   Lazuli), describing his attainment of the grade of Master of the
   Temple, and the Book of the Heart Girt About by the Serpent (Liber
   Cordis Cincti Serpente), describing his attainment of the Knowledge
   and Conversation of Aiwass, his "Holy Guardian Angel." Both books were
   written in rapid succession in 1907, and are masterpieces of mystical
   utterance, unsurpassed anywhere in the literature of comparative
   spirituality. These books constitute the critical canon of Thelema,
   and are considered by faithful Thelemites to be beyond rational
   criticism. All of Crowley's writings are considered to be
   authoritative to some degree, based on a system of classification
   which Crowley himself assigned to most of his works. Though Crowley
   wrote an extensive commentary on Liber Cordis Cincti Serpente, it is
   the Book of the Law which has been the most extensively commented
   upon, largely by Crowley himself. Thelemites believe that the Book of
   the Law contains a system of vital precepts for the New Aeon,
   including the outline of a new political and spiritual vision of man
   and society which is destined to supersede all historical religions
   and societies. However, in 1925 Crowley dictated the last holy book,
   The Comment, in which the study and discussion of the Book of the
   Law is forbidden, upon pain of anathema. According to the Comment,
   "All questions of the Law are to be decided only by appeal to my
   writings, each for himself." The Comment was written at a time when
   Crowley's small community of Thelemites was being divided by differing
   interpretations of the meaning and purport of the Book of the Law. The
   majority of Thelemites follow Crowley's lead in interpreting the
   Comment to mean that no Thelemite may dictate to another how he or she
   chooses to interpret the Book of the Law., and that all
   interpretations are equally valid, but only for the person originating
   the interpretation. This has led to an anarchy of conflicting
   interpretations, and an extreme subjectivism in which the prohibition
   on studying the Book has been completely ignored. On the other hand,
   it is difficult to understand how Thelema is to be articulated, or why
   the Book was written at all, if the prohibition on studying the
   manifesto and foundation document of the New Aeon is taken literally.
   This has led to the view, articulated most thoroughly by Kenneth
   Grant, that the Book of the Law is written in a kind of code
   (sandhyabhasa), and that only the surface or literal meaning is
   forbidden. This would explain some very difficult and perplexing
   passages in the Book of the Law which are otherwise very difficult to
   explain or justify, as well as many obscure and clearly symbolic
   passages and several explicit references to a "hidden meaning." Thus
   Thelemites have become divided since Crowley's death into an exoteric
   school, to which the majority adhere, of which the most public
   exponent is the so-called "Caliphate" denomination of the Ordo Templi
   Orientis (O.T.O.), and a minority esoteric school associated with the
   name of Kenneth Grant, who also claims the headship of the O.T.O. Both
   schools may be traced back to Thelemites who knew and worked with
   Crowley prior to his death, but neither one received a definitive
   charter from the Master, despite claims to the contrary. The only one
   who did, Karl Germer, died in 1962 without appointing a successor.
   There is also an anarcho-fascist school the adherents of which reject
   all forms of association and are quite antisocial and even violent in
   orientation. Although Crowley sought during his life to address the
   "elect," since his death many borderline and pathological
   personalities, such as Charles Manson, of whom Crowley himself would
   not necessarily have approved, have brought disgrace and disrepute to
   his name and the philosophy which he was instrumental in articulating.
   An increasing number of Thelemites are becoming disenchanted with
   these alternatives, but no clear "fourth school" has as yet emerged.
   The only writer of any real interest to have emerged out of the
   Thelemic community since Crowley's death is Kenneth Grant, now in his
   70s, who is however widely criticized for his extremely personal,
   eclectic, and some would say bizarre interpretations, his willingness
   to incorporate the ideas of persons and philosophies of which Crowley
   himself disapproved, his perversity, and the dubious nature of some of
   his claims.
   A comprehensive discussion of the ideas which constitute the
   philosophical infrastructure of the Law of Thelema is far beyond the
   scope of this essay. Therefore, the following is a brief outline only
   of some of the principal ideas of the Book of the Law.
   The Book of Law presents a mystical metaphysics which seeks to
   reconcile pluralism, dualism, monism, and mystical nihilism in a
   single all-embracing cosmic conception. This conception is presented
   in terms of an elaborate symbology which encodes a profound
   philosophical system. Thus, the universe of phenomena is regarded as
   the product of the coitus of Nuit, the goddess of Infinite Space, and
   Hadit, her lord and consort, in which Nuit stands for the continuous
   and Hadit the discontinuous aspects of Creation. This dualistic
   conception masks a deeper monism, since Nuit and Hadit are one, and an
   ultimate nihilism, since all emerged out of Nuit, the Absolute Void of
   Not or Nothingness. This Nothingness is not, however, a merely static
   conception of simple emptiness. It is the dynamic foundation of the
   phenomenal world, which inevitably seeks to produce this plurality as
   a necessary function of its essential being, which transcends rational
   articulation but which may be intuitively appreciated by analogy with
   the parturitive bliss of maternity. Hence the ultimate divine
   principle is described in feminine rather than masculine terms.
   Strictly speaking, she represents an androgynous femininity, since she
   includes Hadit, the masculine principle, within herself. Nuit herself
   is dual, containing within herself an implicit nothingness which is
   completely reserved ("pale" and "veiled"), and an explicit parturitive
   nothingness which delights in the sheer multiplicity of her fecundity
   ("purple" and "voluptuous"). This plurality emerges out of the
   interaction of the continuous with the discontinuous, Nuit and Hadit.
   Its ultimate level is the Khabs ("light"), intuitively represented by
   the Star Sponge Vision so-called. In this vision, which Crowley
   experienced and built up over many years, the phenomenal universe is
   represented as an infinity of "stars," discrete atomic point-events
   identical with the ubiquitous principle of differentiation represented
   by Hadit. All are joined by infinite numbers of rays, each of which is
   also a "star," all discrete, yet completely filling the intervening
   space (i.e., continuous). This is "reality." What is experienced as
   "reality" by the embodied individual is a selection of the totality of
   possible point-events limited by the sensory range of the particular
   complex of "stars" which the individual has succeeded in incorporating
   into his conscious point of view, the materiality of which is an
   illusion of that same sensory complex and its need to preserve its
   vital integrity in a world whose basic nature is conflict, predation,
   and survival. Thus, the Book of the Law conceives of each conscious
   individual as a perfectly simple, and therefore indestructible, point
   of view in an infinity of possibilities all striving to return to
   their source and origin in Nothingness by gradually extending
   themselves over time to build up into their conscious sensorium an
   ever increasingly complex system of point-events, until they
   incorporate into themselves the totality of all that is, i.e.,
   infinity. By definition, this evolutionary process must take infinite
   time. In addition, there is an hierarchy or "chain or being" in which
   an indefinite number of points of view have achieved all possible
   levels of conscious evolution, ranging from the totally ignorant yet
   divine simplicity of the perfectly unique monad to the ultimate divine
   consciousness of the universe itself, each centered in its own unique
   universality. There are, therefore, prehominids who subsist on the
   threshold of human incarnation, post-hominids who constitute evolved
   souls going over into a higher form of discarnate (from our point of
   view) existence, as well as an hierarchy of evolutionary states
   defining the range of human incarnation itself. These range from the
   bestial, somatic pashus to the psychic, pneumatic "kingly men." The
   purpose of human life, therefore, is conscious evolution from a lower
   to a higher state, from unconsciousness to superconsciousness, from
   animal existence to divine existence, from the real to the ideal.
   Since the fundamental nature of the original Nothingness is
   parturitive, this process is eternal and never-ending.
   Thelemites believe that in the New Aeon of Horus, the Crowned and
   Conquering Child, human consciousness is destined to make a major
   evolutionary leap comparable to that which resulted in the transition
   from Neanderthal to Cro-Magnon man, resulting in the creation of a new
   biological subspecies, the so-called "kingly man." This
   transformation, known as the Next Step, will result in the universal
   acquisition of the state of cosmic consciousness or universal
   illumination, technically equivalent to the advent of the "Age of
   Aquarius." However, it will take several centuries at least to reach
   this state, before the kingdom of Ra-Hoor-Khuit can be properly
   established. This transitional epoch, which began in 1904, will be
   characterized by unprecedented suffering and violence, during which
   mankind will be purged and purified of the dross, his gross, carnal,
   material nature, and physically and psychically transformed. The
   prophecies in the Book of the Law of this transitional epoch are
     "Worship me with fire & blood; worship me with swords & with spears.
     Let the woman be girt with a sword before me: let blood flow to my
     name. Trample down the Heathen; be upon them, o warrior, I will
     give you of their flesh to eat!
     Mercy let be off: damn them who pity! Kill and torture; spare not;
     be upon them!
   Thus the First World War (seen by many contemporaries as the
   Armageddon); the Second World War (the biggest blood bath in human
   history, the very decade of which was clearly prophesied in the Book
   of the Law); and the Holocaust (the greatest genocide in the history
   of man), all of which occurred in the first forty years of the Aeon,
   are regarded by Thelemites as a mere prelude to an ever increasing
   wave of purificatory violence which is engulfing the human race, and
   which can only be transcended by the qualitative transformation of man
   himself. This process is largely out of human control, and is being
   directed by the Secret Chiefs of the Great White Brotherhood, an order
   of highly evolved post-humans who are expediting the course of human
   history in order to achieve the transformation of man as quickly and
   expeditiously as possible. However, the Great White Brotherhood itself
   is in conflict with the Black Brothers, who seek to retard the course
   of human evolution and keep man in a state of material servitude,
   bondage, and suffering. The latter organization has infiltrated almost
   all popular religions. Thus, mankind is locked in a struggle between
   the forces of light and the forces of darkness, in which the forces of
   the light are perceived by all traditional sources of enlightenment as
   "black," and the forces of darkness are perceived by the multitude as
   "light." This struggle is rapidly escalating and most Thelemites look
   forward to an imminent crisis in which the struggle will become
   explicit and openly manifest.
   The purpose of the Book of the Law is to found the order of Thelemites
   who will aid the Great White Brotherhood in the furtherance of the
   cause of human evolution as their terrestrial representatives, by
   giving to mankind the keys of spiritual knowledge and conscious
   self-evolution. The Book of the Law and the other Holy Books of
   Thelema represent the true gnosis, purged of the perverting doctrines
   of the Black Brothers. Aleister Crowley, the prophet himself,
   represents the herald of the coming race of post-humanity. In addition
   to its metaphysics and spiritual advice the Book of the Law presents a
   practical political and ethical system of uncompromising purity and
   integrity. In particular, the new ethics completely overturns the
   traditional obsession with self-abnegation, world renunciation, pity,
   compassion, and altruism. It is this pseudo-spirituality which has led
   mankind to its present impasse, by fostering the self-division which
   is resulting in the "return of the repressed" and which is the root of
   all insanity, by inculcating a hatred of life which is destroying the
   planet, and by preserving and protecting the weak and the unfit,
   resulting in biological decadence, deterioration, and the curse of
   totalitarianism collectivism, both communist and (even more insidious
   because unperceived) mass-market-driven urban industrialist
   capitalism. Against these perversions Thelema utters one Word, which,
   being interpreted, is "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the
   Law." That is, by establishing a new society in accordance with the
   law of life itself mankind shall achieve self-realization, life
   affirmation, and perfect freedom and vitality. By creating a society
   in which only the divine can live, men shall become divine or die.
   Thelema is necessarily anti-democratic. Democracy presents an absurd
   and impossible ideal, since the "general will" is unconscious.
   Therefore the degeneration of democracy itself is inevitable. In
   accordance with its essential insistence on the sovereignty of the
   individual, the Law of Thelema is necessarily committed to absolute
   autocracy. However, the autocrat himself must be wholly identified
   with the True Will of the whole of the society. That is, he must have
   achieved the perfect annihilation of the ego. Thus, the autocrat must
   be a spiritual king, the chief of the Great White Brotherhood himself,
   his "court" those who have similarly "crossed the Abyss." Moreover,
   this will be a constitutional autocracy, in which the equal
   sovereignty of all, guaranteed by open international borders, will be
   protected by an order of military renunciates second only to the Great
   White Brotherhood. In an autocracy without borders the autarch would
   have little opportunity to abuse his power, since the population could
   leave at any time. Thus, Thelemites do not accept the popular
   prejudice that democracy is the only political system that is
   compatible with freedom. Indeed, in its inherent tendency to devolve
   into conformity, mediocrity, and collectivism, Thelemites regard
   populist mass-market democracy as ultimately subversive of every form
   of liberty except that "liberty" which it chooses to tolerate for its
   own ends, which is to say, no liberty at all. The similarity of the
   Thelemic form of government to that practiced in pre-occupation Tibet
   and Bhutan should be noted. Indeed, Crowley's life and personality
   exhibits numerous similarities to that of Padmasambhava, the "Second
   Buddha," who brought Vajrayana Buddhism to Tibet, and other Oriental
   holy men, who do not necessarily adhere to bourgeois popular notions
   of morality or correct behaviour.
   After founding his own occult order, the Fraternity of the Silver
   Star, in 1907, on the basis of the Cairo Working, and his biannual
   periodical publication, The Equinox, in 1909, Crowley began to digest
   the spiritual wisdom of mankind into a coherent practical system based
   on the Cabalistic Tree of Life. Crowley's intuition that underlying
   the enormous variety and diversity of human historical religiosity
   lies a universal, common spiritual inheritance has been largely
   confirmed by the psychological researches into the "archetypes of the
   collective unconscious" of the followers of the Zurich School of C.
   G. Jung, and contemporary ethnological researches into shamanic
   spirituality. Terence McKenna has argued convincingly that the
   original spiritual intuition and indeed the primary impetus for the
   first awakening and development of human consciousness resulted from
   the accidental ingestion of the psychoactive principle of psyilocybin
   mushrooms, DMT, by our prehominid ancestors. DMT is also manufactured
   endogenously in the human brain, and is found in many different
   varieties of plant life. Subsequently, prehistoric shamans developed a
   whole technology of psychospiritual transformation to effect the same
   result as DMT without the use of any drug, of which twelve discrete
   consciousness altering techniques have been identified: Concentration,
   Entrainment, Hypostimulation, Empowerment, Ordeals, Imagination,
   Purification, Breath Work, Posture, Reversal, Indoctrination, and
   Dream Work. All spiritual practices, wheresoever and whensoever
   situate, regardless of culture, symbology, or dogmatic orientation,
   resolve into a combination or permutation, of greater or lesser
   complexity, of some or all of these essential techniques. All these
   techniques have one thing in common: they all induce a transformation
   of the human psyche, which Jesus called metanoia, "new mind." It is
   analogous to the NDE ("near-death experience"), in which consciousness
   undergoes a radical disassociation from so-called consensual reality
   and the perception of a new order of reality, which has been called
   "imaginal reality," which has its own autonomous teleology and which
   is even capable of "relativizing" consensual reality in certain
   circumstances. Crowley undertook to develop his own system of
   "scientific illuminism" based on his practical researches into
   comparative mysticism, the result of years of world travel, documented
   in the twenty-six official publications of the A.'.A.'. in Class D,
   and elsewhere in his extensive discursive writings. These publications
   document a system of mental self-development which includes
   invocation, self-control, regular ritual empowerment practices, sex
   magick (so-called), devotional worship, four hours of daily
   meditation, breath control, guided visualizations, the manipulation of
   objective symbols, concentration, and other practices designed to
   develop the True or Magical Will and disorient and disorganize the
   egoic attachment to consensual reality. A more extensive list
   identifies 156 discrete practices referred to or discussed by Crowley.
   Since Crowley regarded each aspirant as an absolute individual, with
   his own unique path to self-realization, he refused to set out a
   universally applicable regimen of practice. Aspirants were required to
   select the practices that appealed to them personally and document and
   report their progress to their Superior, only on the basis of which
   advice for further practice was provided. Dogmatic or ideological
   considerations did not enter, though aspirants were required to
   memorize the Thelemic Holy Books and pass intellectual examinations in
   various courses of study. Nonetheless, a basic underlying pattern of
   practice does emerge from Crowley's writings which is more or less
   enjoined upon all aspirants, including:
     * the daily performance of a ritual of "invoking" or sanctification
       immediately upon awakening in the morning
     * the blessing of one's bath water
     * the adoration of the Sun at sunrise, noon, sunset, and midnight,
       followed by one hour of meditation
     * the repetition of a formula recalling the central imperative of
       one's life, viz., the Great Work, before eating
     * taking one's meals in silence
     * avoiding the mass media
     * the regular use of the Thelemic greetings
     * a formula for the repudiation of the Black Brothers (i.e.,
       Christian clergy) whenever and wherever they are encountered
     * the regular wearing of amulets and talismans
     * the daily imbibition of an Eucharist at sunset
     * burning one's excrement and nail parings and careful disposal of
       one's urine
     * the daily performance of a ritual of personal empowerment
     * the study and memorization of the Holy Books of Thelema
     * the practice of self-control and obedience
     * simplicity of life
     * the daily adoration of the Moon and one's Star
     * the daily adoration of the phallus
     * the performance of a ritual of "banishing" or purification
       immediately before retiring for the night
     * sleeping in a consecrated circle
     * devotion to the Goddess as one falls asleep
     * the performance of rituals and the celebration of feasts at
       significant periods of the year
     * the regular practice of sex magick
   The following books by Aleister Crowley are recommended for additional
     * The Book of Lies. Rev. ed. Weiser, New York, NY (1952).
     * The Book of Thoth. Weiser, New York, NY (1969).
     * The Book of Wisdom or Folly. Rev. ed. Weiser, York Beach, ME
     * The Confessions. Rev. ed. Penguin, London (1989).
     * Gems from The Equinox. Llewellyn, St. Paul, MI (1974).
     * The Holy Books of Thelema. Weiser, York Beach, ME (1983).
     * Magick in Theory and Practice. Castle, Secaucus, NJ (1991).
     * Magick without Tears. New Falcon, Tempe, AZ (1973).
     * 777 and Other Qabalistic Writings. Weiser, New York, NY (1973).
     * The Works of Aleister Crowley.3 vols. Yogi, Des Plaines, IL
     * Alexander Duncan has a Thelema home page at:


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Lucky W Amulet Archive by cat yronwode: an online museum of worldwide talismans and charms
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Aleister Crowley Text Archive: a multitude of texts by an early 20th century ceremonial occultist
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