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TMaroney: Magick and Gods

To: alt.magick.tyagi,alt.magick,alt.pagan.magick,alt.pagan,talk.religion.misc
From: (nagasiva)
Subject: TMaroney: Magick and Gods
Date: 18 Jun 1997 12:28:20 -0700

[all from Tim Maroney ]

>In the light of Crowley's "There is no God but man" is it not conceivable
>that the entire concept of God/Godesses is simply an expedient method of
>tuning in to certain aspects of the microcosm/macrocosm? That is, that they
>are merely convenient vectors or channels for specific types of
>illumination? Crowley warns against attributing objective reality to such
>things, and appears to regard them solely as useful methods of obtaining a
>specific result.

Actually, no. If you read "Magick Without Tears", each letter in which 
Crowley considers the ontological status of the Holy Guardian Angel and 
of gods discusses them as objectively existing individuals, and not as 
metaphorical constructs. While it is uncomfortable for some of his more 
Advaitistically oriented modern followers, Crowley was a literal believer 
in spiritual beings. His statements about withholding belief, as in Liber 
O, were targeted at what he believed to be an uninitiated audience new to 
authentic spiritual practice, and so unable to form accurate ideas about 
the nature of the beings with which they were dealing. He expected that 
as practice continued a correct view (by his own lights, of course) would 
emerge but that it was impossible at first.

Tim Maroney

>Looking through "MWT" I can see your point, but as this was intended - as
>the title implies - as a magical primer, does one necessarily have to
>regard Crowley's proposition of literal belief in the independent existence
>of such entities as his definitive statement on the subject?

I see MWT as a sort of summing up of his ideas at the end of his life. 
Many things which he had simply acted out as assumptions up until that 
time were finally made explicit. I do think his clear statements in MWT 
asserting the objective and independent reality of the HGA and of the 
gods should be taken as definitive.

>I was thinking of points 2, 3, & 4 in Liber O, which you discount (perhaps

They're methodological statements rather than ontological assertions. He 
says to avoid forming any ideas about whether such beings are objectively 
real or not -- this has often been mistaken for a denial of the objective 
reality of these beings, but it is not that at all.

I have had to rely on some inference to arrive at my idea of what he was 
saying here. Crowley believed in progressive levels of understanding and 
worlds of truth through successive initiations, as is normal in an 
initiatory system. The truth of the higher initiate is not that of the 
lower and to some extent contradicts it. At another point (I forget 
where) he said that monotheism is false until one has achieved K&C of the 
HGA, at which point it is true: the kind of reality that the lower 
initiate would ascribe to the HGA is incompatible with the view of the 
person who has actually achieved its knowledge and conversation. In Liber 
O he is not saying that the gods aren't real, but that the concept of 
their reality which the neophyte would form would be incorrect.

>If I read you correctly, are you stating that the deities of the
>Graeco-Roman & Egyptian pantheons were considered by Crowley to be 'real'
>independent beings?

Yes, he says so explicitly in MWT, and there are a number of statements 
in MTP and the Confessions to the same effect, asserting the importance 
of seeking out contact with independent spiritual beings. Crowley is 
overtly hostile in MWT to the view that is usually ascribed to him, that 
the deities and the HGA are only fragments of the unconscious mind. He 
was willing to consider that sub-microcosmic entities like Goetic demons 
might be such fragments, but he never indicated that about the higher 
beings -- and remember that he was a strict hierarchicalist, believing 
there were real distinctions between these levels of being.

I realized after responding to you earlier that I had neglected to answer 
your point about "There is no God but Man." "God" and "gods" were not at 
all the same thing to Crowley -- again he says this clearly in MWT. He 
held to the traditional distinction in pagan philosophy (Greek and 
Indian) between the ultimate God or Atman and the various divine 
characters populating myth. "God" for any being was to Crowley its own 
inmost nature or Will. The "gods" as macrocosmic beings had their own 
inmost natures which to them would be "God", but they were not the 
audience to whom Crowley was writing. To him, there were gods who were 
not men, but for humans there was no God but "oneself made perfect".

Tim Maroney

I had written:
>What one person experiences as the K&C may be and probably is entirely 
>different from what another person experiences and labels under the same 
>name. Acting as if they really are somehow the same experience seems like 
>another manifestation of the oversimplifying and leveling error that is 
>behind naive syncretism.

On reflection the two seem even closer than I had realized. Just as 
syncretism comes from a universalist myth, so does a system of spiritual 
development through successive degrees or grades. The myth holds that 
there is a single great ladder of spiritual development which all the 
enlightened people of history have ascended. Again there is a kind of 
grand unification which is specious on a factual or historical level, but 
which as a myth is quite compelling to a great many people.

On this point there is some evidence to suggest Crowley was aware of the 
distinction between the abstract and the actual, probably because he knew 
that he had himself created the systems of the A.'. A.'. and of the 
(post-Reuss) O.T.O., whereas he believed that he had discovered or been 
entrusted with the pre-existing facts of 777. Nonetheless he believed he 
was building his systems on a fixed and pre-existing substrate, the Tree 
of Life, which represented a collection of facts independent of human 
creative effort. He did recognize that there was a broader class of 
possible systems of initiation and that he had created only particular 
instances of this class, which he was entitled to do because his own 
grade was Magister Templi, with a duty to tend a garden of disciples. He 
believed that the same grade existed in other systems under different 
names and represented a fact about spiritual development independent of 
his creative act.

For myself, I don't believe that such a linear taxonomy of spiritual 
development is possible or that spiritually realized people are similar 
enough to each other to make such a system possible. I do believe that 
any particular person might make spiritual progress by ceremonially 
affirming a particular myth of spiritual degrees, but that the 
achievements of different people affirming the same myth would be largely 

Tim Maroney
     (emailed replies may be posted)  -------  join the AMT syncretism!!!
   see  ----------        call: 408/2-666-SLUG!!
     "Sure, kid.  It's the truth.  Trust me.  Where's your money?"  - TShuler

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