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Levi on Will

Subject: Levi on Will

	Aleister Crowley, like Thomas Edison, was skilled at presenting the
	ideas of others as a composite, often without crediting the originals
	from whom he grafted. one example is in his theories of will (thelema), 
	which it is obvious he obtained from a number of individuals, both
	occultists and non. what follows is a sample from one of his main
	sources, of whom Crowley claims to be the reincarnation: Eliphas Levi,
	interspersed with my commentary.
	
	Would you reign over yourselves and others? Learn how to will.
	How can one learn to will? This is the first arcanum of magical
	initiation, and that it might be realised fundamentally the
	ancient custodians of sacerdotal art surrounded the approaches
	of the sanctuary with so many terrors and illusions. They
	recognised no will until it had produced its proofs, and they
	were right.
	
	...
	
	Observances, apparently most insignificant and most foreign in
	themselves to the proposed end, lead notwithstanding to that
	end by education and exercise of will. If a peasant rose up
	every morning every morning at two or three o'clock and went a
	long distance from home to gather a sprig of the same herb
	before the rising of the sun, he would be able to perform a
	great number of prodigies by merely carrying this herb upon his
	person, for it would be the sign of his will, and in virtue
	thereof would be all that he required it to become in the
	interest of his desires. [A.E.WAITE, TRANSLATOR'S NOTE: This
	 speculation on the occult power of perserverance calls to be
	 checked by Levi's alternative thesis that the great works of
	 adeptship presuppose personal detachment and complete absence
	 of self-interest. In the present place he is making presumably
	a concession to the *minima* of occult practice.] In order to
	accomplish a thing we must believe in our possibility of doing 
	it, and this faith must be translated at once into acts. When
	a child says: "I cannot," his mother answers: "Try." Faith
	does no even try; it begins with the certitude of finishing,
	and it proceeds calmly, as if omnipotence were at its disposal
	and eternity before it. What seek you therefore from the
	science of the Magi? Dare to formulate your desire, then set
	to work at once, and do not cease acting after the same manner
	and for the same end. That which you will shall come to pass,
	and for you and by you it has indeed already begun. Sixtus V.
	said, while watching his flocks: "I desire to be pope."
	You are a beggar and you desire to make gold: set to work and
	never leave off. I promise you in the name of science all
	the treasures of Flamel and Raymond Lully. "What is the first
	thing to be done?" Believe in your power, then act. "But how
	act?" Rise daily at the same hour, and that early; bathe at a
	spring before daybreak, and in all seasons; never wear soiled
	clothes: wash them yourself at need; practise voluntary
	privations, that you may be better able to bear those which
	come without seeking: then silence every desire which is
	foreign to the fulfilment of the Great Work....
	
	...	
	
	An idle man will never become a magician. Magic is an exercise
	of all hours and all moments. The operator of great works must
	be absolute master of himself; he must know how to repress
	the allurements of pleasure, appetite and sleep; he must be
	insensible to success and indignity. His life must be that of
	a will directed by one thought [note below] and served by
	entire Nature, which he will have made subject to mind in his
	own organs, and by sympathy in all the universal forces which
	are their correspondents.
	
	[AEW NOTE: A general theory of will was formulated elsewhere
	 by Eliphas Levi in a series of acute axioms as follows: -- 
	 (1) In the order of eternal wisdom, the education of will
	  in man is the end of human life. 
	 (2) The dignity of man resides in accomplishing that which 
	  he wills and in willing that which is good, conformably to 
	  science of the true.
	 (3) Good in conformity  with truth is justice; justice is 
	  the practice of reason; reason is the word of reality; 
	  reality is the science of truth; truth is the identity of 
	  idea and being. 
	 (4) Nothing can resist the will of man when he knows what 
	  is true and wills what is good. 
	 (5) To will evil is to will death : a perverse will is the 
	  beginning of suicide.
	 (6) To will what is good with violence is to will evil, for
	  violence produces disorder and disorder produces ill.
	 (7) We can and should accept evil as a means of good, but we
	  must never will or practise it : otherwise we should destroy
	  with one hand that which we build with the other.
	 (8) A good intention never justifies bad means; when it
	  submits to them, it corrects them, and condemns them while
	  it makes use of them.
	 (9) To earn the right of possessing permanently we must will
	  long and patiently.
	 (10) To pass life in willing that which is impossible is to
	  abdicate life and accept the eternity of death.
	 (11) The more numerous those obstacles which are overcome
	  by will, the stronger will becomes : hence Christ exalted
	  poverty and suffering.
	 (12) When the will is devoted to absurdity it is reprimanded
	  by Eternal Reason.
	 (13) The will of the just man is the will of God and the law
	  of Nature.
	 (14) Intelligence sees through the medium of the will: if the
	  will be healthy, the sight is accurate.
	 (15) To affirm and will that which ought to be is to create;
	  to affirm and will that which ought not to be is to destroy.
	 (16) Light is an electric fire which is placed by Nature at the
	  disposition of the will : it illuminates those who know how to
	  use it and burns those who abuse.
	 (17) Great minds with wills badly equilibrated are like comets.
	 (18) The voluntary death of self-devotion is not suicide : it
	  is the apotheosis of free will.
	 (19) Fear is indolence of will and hence public opinion brands
	  the coward.
	 (20) An iron chain is less difficult to break than a chain of
	  flowers. ]
	
	All faculties and all senses should share in the work; nothing
	in the priest of Hermes has the right to remain idle; intelligence
	must be formulated by signs and summarised by characters or
	pantacles; will must be determined by words and must fulfil words
	by deeds. The magical idea must be turned into light for the eyes,
	harmony for the ears, perfumes for the sense of smell, savours
	for the palate, objects for the touch. The operator, in a word,
	must realise in his whole life that which he wishes to realise
	in the world without him; he must become a _MAGNET_ to attract
	the desired thing; and when he shall be sufficiently magnetic,
	let him be assured that the thing will come of itself, and
	without thinking of it.
	___________________________________________________________
	"Transcendental Magic: Its Doctrine and Ritual", Eliphas Levi, 
	 transl. by Arthur Edward Waite, Bracken Books, 1995; 
	 pp. 252-256.
	--------------------------------------------------------
	
	
	To will well, to will long, to will always, but never to
	lust after anything, such is the secret of power....
	
	...Many persons will say that it is difficult and even
	impossible to attain such resolution, that strength in
	volition and energy in character are natural gifts. I
	do not dispute it, but I would point out also that
	habit can reform nature; volition can be perfected by
	education, and, as intimated otherwise, all magical,
	like all religious, ceremonial has no other end but thus
	to test, exercise and habituate the will be perserverance
	and by force. The more difficult and laborious the
	exercise, the greater their effect, as we havre now
	advanced far enough to see.
	_________________________________________________________
	Ibid., pp. 301-302.
	---------------------------
	
	
	The ceremonies being, as we have said, artificial methods for
	creating a habit of will, become unnecessary when the habit is
	confirmed. It is in this sense, and addressing himself solely to
	perfect adepts, that Paracelsus proscribes ceremonial work in his
	Occult Philosophy. But procedure must be simplified progressively
	before it is dispensed with altogether, in proportion to the
	experience we obtain in acquired powers, and established habit in
	the exercise of extra-natural will.
	_________________________________________________________
	Ibid., p. 325.
	---------------------------
	
	
	Noli ire, fac venire, was the device of Rabelais, who, being
	master of all the sciences of his time, could not be unacquainted
	with Magic.
	_________________________________________________________
	Ibid., p. 326.
	---------------------------
	
	
	Initiation by contest and ordeal is therefore indispensable for
	the attainment of the practical science of Magic. We have
	indicated after what manner the four elementary forms may be
	vanquished and will not repeat it here; we refer those of our
	readers who would inquire into the ceremonies of ancient
	initiations to the works of Baron Tschoudy, author of the Blazing
	Star, Adonhiramite Masonry and some other most valuable masonic
	treatises.'
	
	[AEW NOTE: Baron Tschoudy wrote L'toile Flamboyante, which
	 appeared in 1766 and went on through several editions, but the
	 treatise on Adonhirarnite Masonry was the work of Guillemain de
	 Saint-Victor. Vide: Recueil Précieux de la Franc Maćonnerie
	 Adonhiramique, 1783.]
	_________________________________________________________
	Ibid., p. 330.
	---------------------------
	
	
	The Great Work in Practical Magic, after the education of the
	will and the personal creation of the Magus, is the formation of
	the magnetic chain, and this secret is truly that of priesthood
	and of royalty. To form the magnetic chain is to originate a
	current of ideas which produces faith and draws a number of
	wills in a given circle of active manifestation. A well-formed
	chain is like a whirlpool which sucks down and absorbs all.
	The chain may be established in three ways -- by signs, by
	speech and by contact. The first is by inducing opinion to
	adopt some sign as the representation of a force.... Once
	accepted, signs acquire force of themselves....

	The magic chain of speech was typified among the ancients by
	chains of gold, which issued from the mouth of Hermes....

	The third method of establishing the magic chain is by contact.
	Between persons who meet frequently, the head of the current
	soon manifests, and the strongest will is not slow to absorb
	the others.
	_________________________________________________________
	Ibid., p. 338-339.
	---------------------------
	
	
	One of the most extraordinary powers of human imagination is the
	fulfilment of the desires of the will, or even of its
	apprehensions and fears. 
	_________________________________________________________
	Ibid., p. 340.
	---------------------------

333

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