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Cult and Liberation

To: alt.magick.tyagi,alt.magick,talk.religion.misc,alt.thelema,talk.philosophy.misc
From: (nigris (333))
Subject: Cult and Liberation (was Re: What "is" Thelema, Really?)
Date: 18 Jun 1997 11:19:23 -0700

49970614 aa2 Hail Satan!


#> Do you think a reasonable definition for the label "Thelemite" would be
#> one who acknowledges the validity of The Book of the Law?

given the cultural currents, this is not only reasonable, I'd say it is
popular.  sometimes "acknowledges the validity" is exchanged for "accepts",
with a variety of meaning attributed thereto.  Thelemite as social club
or philosophic school becomes religious cult.

#> Pro:  The Book of the Law suggests the label to begin with, "Who calls
#> us Thelemites will do no wrong" (with the qualification "if he look but
#> close into the word.")  The word itself has its roots as a label in that
#> book, 

I'd got the impression that the word ('Thelemite') has it roots ('Thelema')
in other works (such as that of Rabelais, apparently among others).

#> and by looking at that, can someone rationally label themselves a
#> Thelemite and deny its source?  

you must be talking about the specific form of 'Thelemite', which 
occurs within _Liber Al vel Legis_.   in part, rationally, 
and after the fact, this is why I enjoy applying the label to *others*.  
I don't find that book to be a necessary codicil to a rough but surely
expansive philosophy inclusive of Nietzsche and many others.  and yet 
I do acknowledge the importance of that text to Aleister Crowley, whose 
writ otherwise I would categorize as part of that philosophic corpus.  
it has since become important to the Crowleyan cult which followed in 
his wake.

that is to say, the Evul Book is, to me, not a central exponent of the
rationalist, will-oriented philosophy to which it becomes a religious
appendage.  it contains elements and reflections of that philosophy,
but its primary form is that of a (revealed) textual composite, and in 
this way it begins to function as a kind of religious text for the 
humanistic or atheistic, as well as the centers of pestilence.  

it is best viewed, I assert, in a kind of facetious and politically 
adversarial light, akin to LaVey's _Satanic Bible_, and with about as 
much substance and lasting value.  it should be taken seriously, but 
only as a tool for the liberation of human beings, not some holy relic 
or a proof of xenospiritual communication (Lam, etc.).  this is why we
burn it, and this is why we edit it and consider the religious who
adopt it as their Holy Scripture to be deluded and immature.  eventually
they will wake up.  else, with LaVey (and Crowley?), we can laugh at the 
trick which has been played upon those who make into religion (fundies)
what is best taken as mysticism and self-development, preserving it for
future generations.

#> There is a definite connection,  regardless of how someone may attempt
#> to twist it to their own proclivities.

that there originates within the text a new form of an old term is not a 
reason to presume that it necessarily originates in that text or indeed 
need imply that the 'Thelemite' acknowledges the book's validity, since 
the manner of individual(s) portrayed or encompassed by its expressions 
(the willfull) did not originate there in that text and are just 
mentioned.  after all, the preceding text to which the mention of 
'Thelemite' is followup is:

	I,39: The word of the Law is Thelema.

and 'the Law' is a very very old idea, central to most if not all of Western
religion.  in this way the Evul Book can be seen as an ironic addition to
the spectrum of gradual liberation of human beings from the enslavement of
the God and its hold on their psyche.  beginning with _Torah_, proceeding to
_The Bible_, perhaps interceded by _The Qur'an_, and then accented by _The 
Book of the Law_, this scriptural tradition takes into itself all variety of
participant and relationship to the divine.  the atheist, syncretist and 
iconoclast naturally fall within the social milieu of the latter, thereafter
acquiring rights and protections so guaranteed by the states supporting the
'freedom of religion'.

there have, of course, been further elaborations on this, though not always
with reference or following from Crowley's revelation as compared to running
parallel to it.  two of which I am aware are LaVey, as mentioned above (which
I presume to be fashioned in likely the same irony without a great deal of
attempt to dress it in the old coating of revelatory deception), and _The Book
of Coming Forth by Night_, Aquino's revelation from Set (not saying anything
about quality of these examlpes, only the character of the texts in question).

#>   Also, Liber Al seems to have an ability to draw out of an individual a
#> reflection of themselves.  It's language demands an individual
#> interpretation, it acts as an impetus for a person to create a mirror
#> for their soul....

this is true with all ambiguous and mystical text.  as the meaning cannot
be reconciled analytically, a festering conflagration of internally warring
assertions making plain to the honest that the book was an edited sifting
(_The Bible_), collection of diverse sayings (_The Qur'an_) or chaotic
ramblings of a mad occultist (:> _Liber Al vel Legis_), it becomes
imperative to the faithful (those whose fragile consciousness cannot yet
break free from the handicaps of religion) to construct an internally
coherent meaning.  this necessarily inspires a process of projection and
rectification, though not at all to be found within the Rorschach blot of
text presented (some a collage of coherent pieces, some a jumble of strips
of meaning).

Solis :
#...there is a deeper spiritual meaning which does not deserve to be 
#trampled through the mud by social interpretation.  

there is a "deeper spiritual meaning" in a puddle of mud.  that it can
be found is no proof that it was intended by any intelligence.  this is
the same process as 'divination' by any number of means, where the
rational mind is suspended and a reflection on accepted data is applied
to the construction of a projected composite.  

_Perceiving Ordinary Magic_, by Jeremy W. Hayward, deals with this in
the field of science and intuitive wisdom, as does James Burke touch on
it occasionally within his video-escapades.  the intuited meaning *is*
there to be found, but so are any number of other meanings due to the
ambiguity resident in the scriptural inkblot.  this has always been the
case with 'revealed writings' (cf. "The Revelation to John", which was
to inspire Crowley to extrapolate to no end), and it becomes emphasized 
as the text becomes less and less internally consistent.  

we arrive, with the Evul Book, at a great cacophony of noise (compare
music by this name) which has threads and portions of coherency, its
content comparatively unedited in contrast to many previous scriptural
examples.  it is this very scrap-heap of half-baked theology, mysticism,
philosophy and ravings of the medium, without change, that will set the
example of the free development of revealed scripture on the part of
all individuals, rather than blindly accepting some majestic mental 
burp from a credulous historical or fictional source. 

#...there are parts in [the Evul Book], where it appears so obvious 
#interpretation is unnecessary.... unless, of course, one does not 
#like what the book says, and use the "personal interpretation" clause 
#as a tool to get out of having to behave accordingly.  

ah if but were true.  the problem is that there are several voices in
that text, and many if not most of them are contradictory to the others.
your expression here is similar to almost every religious I have come
across who describes their revealed scripture as 'holy' and contends
that 'its meaning is plain' despite the obvious inconsistencies therein.
it is both unconvincing and demonstrative of the very faith-based hokum
which Crowley (or his HGA through him) set out to destroy.

#Again, we are talking about honesty to ones Self.

with this I'm inclined to agree, but only insofar as that this 'Self'
is a magnified ego which is presumed by some stretch of the imagination
to be 'mature' and 'wise'.  no such 'Self' (or indeed 'self') persists,
as have been shown by the Buddhists whom Crowley may or may not have
abandoned in his intellectual tour.

#If the shoe fits, wear it.  If it doesn't, don't.

the problem is that we are given several pairs, not all of them containing
matching sets.  to try to fit all of them on two feet is hilarious and
leads via demonstratio ad absurdum to a sincere attempt to accomplish 
the impossible.  the joke of religion, the nihilism of science.

#> Cons:  Any label provides the opportunity for stereotyping.
#Yeap.  That is why it is in everyones best interest to define what it is
#to be a Thelemite, and behave accordingly: lest we all be labeled
#"crazy, pshychotic, self-important rude idiots."  

let them call us what they will, 'Thelemite' or 'catamite'.

#Those that cannot behave accordingly, are not necessarily bad people, 
#but they should [cease] calling themselves Thelemites.  

and those of us who never started the self-association may still define
the term as an ascribed honorific meaning, roughly, 'willful' or 'being
enthused by (hir) true will'.  suddenly there are no exclusionary games.

#> And then, to demonstrate my own prejudices, why not a "Thelemite" who
#> has never read The Book of the Law?  In my own and some of my friends'
#> experiences, there are people out there who are "Thelemites" - who have
#> adopted to current phase of the paradigm of the new Aeon - who have
#> never heard of Aleister Crowley or Liber Al.
#I agree.  But that is a different story all together.  

is it?  why need it be a 'different story'?

#There is a difference between [being] a Thelemite, and calling themselves 

there may even be a difference between being a Thelemite, calling someone
else a Thelemite, and applying the label to oneself.  consider the Asian 
'sage'.  it is hubris to don the moniker oneself and quickly becomes cultic.

#These people you know to be Thelemites by their actions:  what was it
#about them which caused you to identify them as Thelemites in your mind?  

their strident and unwavering consistency between their vision (not 
necessarily an easily explained conceptualization) and what they manifest.

#Was it that they were irresponsible, loud, overbearing, self interested, 
#selfish, etc...?  

if they were trying to be such, then yes.

#or was it some other trait?  

I don't think traits are valuable means of assessment unless the person
says they are trying to manifest these traits in their life.  too easily
we will have 'character analyses of the Thelemite', ideal standards crop
up, and social climbing begins shortly thereafter.

#That "other trait" is the one I am currently interested in.

then that is your path.  I say that your path is not for all, nor do you 
describe the limitations of the Thelemite.

#...I am not sure "labeling" and "discrimination" are "bad" in this 

of course they aren't.  they demonstrate something about us and about what
we perceive of the people we come to know.

#Please share your ideas, what is *your* label for Thelemite?

what does that label mean to me?  I've expressed quite a lot on this list
about that already, even above.  I think it has to do with will, and very
little else.  I also think it is best contained within a vehicle of magick,
of intentional activity and results constituted of real changes in whatever
the individual seeks to affect.

#> The final con is that I've (hopefully) succeeded in establishing myself
#> as a "centre [sic] of pestilence."

#Join the club.  

only if that Comment applies to you.  I do not relish the idea of being any
sort of 'centre [not sic, English] of pestilence', especially as this is
associated with DISEASE and DEATH.  I gather from your previous comments
about "irresponsible, loud, overbearing, self interested, selfish" people
that you don't either, but these are precisely what I think of when I think
of 'pestilence'.  these are the TOO interested, the nosy religious, the 
fanatic cultists.  Crowley left us a sign-marker and I think it was very 

#Try as you will, it is near impossible to discuss these ideas without 
#forming and sharing some sort of an idea about the Holy Books.  

they are 'Holy Books' only to the religious.  I like them, I agree, and I
have occasionally read from them.  but they are in no wise required in a
discussion of these ideas, most if not all of which preceded Crowley and 
his religious cult.

#In any rate... I think you are in good company.

in the way you mean this I agree strongly.  there are many very wonderful
people who enjoy discussing the ideas surrounding the Evul Book.  while I
think it a horrible tar baby, I must admit that some have made a veritable 
art of dancing around it or throwing it hither and yon.

nigris (333) -- --

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