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Various: Christianity and Thelema

To: alt.magick.tyagi,alt.christnet,alt.satanism,talk.religion.misc,alt.thelema,alt.religion.christian
From: (nigris (333))
Subject: Various: Christianity and Thelema (LONG)
Date: 11 Apr 1997 00:38:21 -0700

49970410 AA1  Hail Satan!  Hail Hadit!  ALmas!  (now we're getting somewhere!)


[person quoted wishes to remain anonymous]:
#As I expected, my thelemic christianity comments caused some flaming.

often happens.  as the Old Aeon comes to a close there is still quite a
bit of unresolved angst about the switch.

#...B.S. (belief system) ....
#1) If your B.S. incorporates the idea that salvation can be obtained
#through Jesus, what possible purpose does Thelema serve?  

'salvation through Jesus' is incredibly vague.  here, if I understand
this to mean that the Formula of YHShVH (/Osiris/Dying God) is valid
and that it yet holds power in the New Aeon, but that the predominant
Formula will be something new, then Thelema could serve to bolster my
courage in carrying out that old Formula even while I begin to learn
of the New Aeon's Current.

#Although I (obviously) dislike christianity, it seems coherent enough 
#that it can stand on its own without incorporating elements of Thelema.

precisely, and this is the part of the tradition which I see attempting 
to recreate itself in Hermetic mysticism, mostly replicating tired 
Christian mysticism and attempting to pass itself off as something new.

#2) How can you accept the Third Chapter of Liber AL and be a christian?  

Liber AL is just a batch of pages with scribbles on them.  what difficulty
is there in "accepting" such a book?  could you explain precisely what you
mean by this?  does 'accepting' require a belief in inerrancy?  even many
Thelemites don't accept the Evil Book in that way. ;>

#If I were a christian, I would find this chapter (and many elements of 
#Liber AL, and probably half of what Crowley wrote, and the Gnostic Mass, 
#etc.) very disturbing and incompatible with christianty.  

that is a rather shallow perception of Christianity, which is what many
have said about this discussion from the onset.  there are quite a few
open-minded Christians.  loud fundamentalists give us a bad name. ;>

scriptures within many *Christian* traditions are incompatible, but this
doesn't stop the literalists and word-obsessed from rationalizing SOME 
set of reconciliations between these interior contradictions.

given that my Christianity is not particularly text-based, I don't have 
any difficulty squaring the various texts available that the fanatics 
indicate 'must be accepted'.  "hmm, nice, inspiring texts, thank you 
very much (just burned an Evil Book last night!  Had made hotter flames), 
now let's get on with life, shall we?"

#I can't imagine any possible way of interpreting Liber AL ch 3 that
#would alleviate this hypothetical uneasiness....  

again, comes from a different relationship with scripture.  I like to
burn my Thelemic scripture and criticize it soundly.  the Christian
scriptures I tear apart, chew up and spit back out in ways which will
inevitably prove to be offensive to many mainstream Christians (since
I serve Satan).  the 3rd chapter of the Evil Book has some goodly
bits for the Warrior, no?   batten down those hatches!  fill the
canons with gunpowder and extinguish!

#This even occurs when I try to define christianity in a very liberal 
#manner.  eg.  Salvation can be obtained through Jesus; Jesus is 
#divine, etc., without additional dogma.

your 'liberal manner' seems VERY CONSERVATIVE to me. ;>

#3) If you define christianity even more liberally; eg. Jesus wasn't

how about "Jesus never existed, is a storybook character whose role and
utterances hold valuable wisdom, etc."?

#or salvation doesn't have to be obtained through jesus, 

how about "'salvation' is a psychospiritual maturation which the story
of Jesus demonstrates and, within it, we may find the keys to unlock

#this puzzles me even more.  Why would such a person even consider 
#calling hirself a christian? 

kristos/messiah/savior.  there is a crowned, annointed condition which
is being pointed out here.  those who manifest the kingly, illuminated
state (or prepare for it if you like) simultaneously qualify as
'christian' by this measure and as 'Thelemites' by my reckoning.

#...If you hold to the B.S. that jesus was divine, 

all humans are divine.  some more effectively than others.  some stories
about humans are a thousand years old.  cool, only the dimwits believe 
them as history, tho.

#many contradictions arise within various thelemic documents.  

only if I must somehow fit... my... tiny... mind... inside... this...
damned..., uncomfortable BS!   no no no, not THAT lesson, THIS lesson!
encompass all of them.  see how they coalesce, derive the kernel of
wisdom from each and manifest it in my life.  then I am christian,
buddhist, thelemite, satanist and Bobbite.

#On the other hand, if you dn't have this B.S., what's the point of 
#the label "christian"?

NOW we get to the real issue, don't we?  LABELLING.  what is the point
of ANY label?  I see very many possible points.  there is the obvious
social conformity/membership reason.  there is a point if one finds a
meaning for the label into which one fits.  there is a possible point
to tweaking and blasting open all these closed idea-systems.  

what if I feel like a christian but it doesn't conform to your narrow 
views?  what if I hate labels so much that I seek to disrupt them into 
oblivion by identifying in some manner with all of them in rationalized
contrivance?  what if I am beyond belief systems and operate from a
flexible, fluctuating DANCE of belief, now Christian, now Thelemite,
now Satanist?  what if the most exciting thing about the various labels 
is that the paths they imply needn't REQUIRE belief of any sort whatever??

nigris (333) -- --


[from (Content Love)]

Hi Tim, 93,

I wrote:
>>Deeper enquiry reveals the basic contradictions between the two philosophies.
>>It comes down to a discussion about will (your will, or God's will.  Xtians
>>will tell you there's a difference), incarnation (Xtians believe in original
>>sin. Without it, there would have been no purpose to Christ's martyrdom.
>>Thelema does not include this concept, instead suggesting that you
>>incarnated because it is your Will to
>>be here. If you don't believe in original sin, you don't require
>>redemption), and control of your astral body (either you control it, or
>>something else controls it. You 
>>decide). The basic rift concerns a disagreement about who sits at the
>>control panel, I think. And this is why Xtian Thelema is not possible.

Then you wrote:
>I have to disagree. Christian mystics such as Eckhart believe that 
>through meditative and other mystical practices, it is possible to 
>achieve union between the self and God.

I think that this is the basic definition of mysticism, which is not the
province of any particular sect or religion. In fact, all religions have
their mystics (although what they think of them and do about them vary
radically). While I would agree that "all roads lead to the same mountain
top", the base camps at the bottom are verrrrrry different. Mystics of all
faiths probably have more in common with each other than they do with the
non-mystic practitioners of their specific faith.

>The personal will is different 
>from the divine will when it is in an unrefined state, but it can achieve 
>union with the divine will through spiritual practice. I don't see any 
>difference between this and the Thelemic idea that people are originally 
>in a state of false will (for some reason that is never clearly stated) 
>but through spiritual practice can eliminate the false will in favor of 
>true will, which is identical with the overaching will of all.

I see a tremendous difference.  Mostly involving the difference between
the ideas that incarnation is a function of will, and that incarnation is
a sinful experience in and of itself, that the incarnee has no control over
whatsoever. In other words, I may be born into a state of false will but by
God (that would be me) I can come to know my True Will by K&C of my HGA.  

Christian mysticism        Thelemic mysticism
-----------------------    ------------------
unrefined personal will    false will
union with God             union of personal will with will of all
divine will                will of all
original sin               original state of false will
spiritual practice         spiritual practice

>If there are any substantive differences between these systems I am 
>unable to perceive them.

Again, there is a big difference between original sin and original state
of false will, mostly having to do with the value that each system puts on
these states. Christians judge original sin as evil. They require redemption,
which they cannot create for themselves.  I can't get around the difference.

Also, Christian Mysticism is not exactly equal to Christianity per se.
Mysticism, as I noted above, is its own practice and seems quite beyond
sect.  One of the characterizing aspects of Christianity is that
most Christian sects rely heavily on sacerdotal and episcopal authority to
their practices. Christians cannot, for instance, make their own Eucharist.
They do not
administer their own sacraments, or at least, not as an official part of their

In fact, I propose a parallel chart.  See if it works for you!

Thelemic Philosophy & Practice         Christian Philosophy & Practice
 Liber Oz                        *      Ten Commandments
 Man is God                      *      God is God.  Man is Mud.
 Original Choice                 *      Original Sin
 No redemption necessary         *      Requires redemption by the Son of God
 Goat                            *      Sheep

>Please note that works of Christian mysticism ("The Cloud of Unknowing" 
>and "The Spiritual Guide of Molinos") appeared on Crowley's required 
>reading lists. Again, there doesn't seem to be any serious question 
>whether Crowley himself asserted a connection between his system and 
>Christian mysticism. It is only his second and third generation followers 
>who are trying to separate the two.

IMHO, the purpose of reading Molinos is to learn and access
techniques useful for the practicing mystic (meditation, prayer, and faith,
to be
specific). I think Crowley was willing to pick up useful tools wherever he
found them, regardless of their provenance. I do not think he was asking us
to pick up philosophical 
baggage that might have accompanied those tools. 

93 93/93

[from Michael S Miller ]

From Paul:
> You mean the ones who insist on the same rights for Christian citizens
> as Thelemic citizens (or Hindu citizens, Vaudois citizens, Buddhist
> citizens)?
I don't think the problem most people have with the xtians is the
insistence of equal rights; rather, it is the insistence on equal
restrictions.  Many Xians (I realize this is a generalization, with all
the dangers of such...) insist on trying to force their "sins", ideas of
"evil", their concept of "right" & "wrong" onto the remainder of
humanity.  I personally find this to be intolerable. Everyone has (or
should have...) boundaries and personal ideas of right and wrong, but
please, keep them to yourself.  The only time it is necessary to force a
restriction on someone else is if that someone else is somehow
interfering with your life.  Otherwise, let them be...
    The greatest separation between Xian & thelema is the concept of
conformity.  All xtian sects, even the very liberal and accepting,
insist on some level of conformity.  For some Episcopal orders, the only
conformity may be the acceptance of Christ as Lord.  For Evangelical
orders, it seems seems you need to be straight, white, American and
bigoted. Whatever....  Thelema, on the other hand, insists on the
development of the individual at all costs.
   Another great division between the two is the concept of faith and
doubt.  Xtians seem to insist on blind, and IMHO, ridiculous, faith as
the medium of spirituality.  Thelemites doubt; even when things seem
pretty well clear cut and proven, doubt is required.
   Again, the greatest obstacle in this thread is that it's so broad! 
I'm making sweeping generalizations here, always dangerous...


[from Patrick Crumhorn ]


>Well,the point is that a number of people on this list were maintaining
>that Crowley harboured no hostility towards Christianity.So I used the
>quotes to demonstrate that he quite blatantly did!Also perhaps putting the
>boot in against Christianity was one of Crowley's more notable


     Well put.  It's fascinating to me to see the attempts at
historical revisionism going on so soon in the life of the
Nu Aeon (assuming it did start circa 1904, that is).  It took
3 or 4 centuries for the Nicene Council to "clean up" all those
nasty Gnostic heresies and here we are trying our equivalent of it 
     Look, people.  Everything in Crowleyan Thelema, from Liber AL
("I peck at the eyes of Jesus...") to toad-crucifying, to the
archetypes of Babalon and the Beast (Crowley's title was To Meta
Therion 666, fer cryin' out loud) points to the inescapable 
conclusion that it (Thelema) was perceived by its prophet as
an *overthrowing* of Christianity and all the psychic baggage
that came with it!  
     So here we are, with people actually a.) denying that Crowley
utilized Satanic imagery (despite myriad direct references to same 
throughout his works) and b.) claiming that Crowleyan Thelema is
tolerant of, and even embraces, the Xtian current (despite myriad
direct references throughout his works refuting this).  Do I detect
a thread of guilt or embarrasment here, or is it just some kind of
rationalization to keep the Pat Robertsons of the world at bay?
     Hint: The Pat Robertsons of the world would burn us if they
thought they could get away with it, and *no* finessing of the
issue is gonna change that.  And while admittedly some of the more 
vehement anti-Xtians on this list are engaging more in emotional 
reaction than reasoned debate, I'd still rather have that than a lot 
of mealy-mouthedness about the issue.  Wasn't it the prophet of the
*last* aeon who said "I wouldst that thou were hot or cold, but
since ye are lukewarm I will spew thee out of my mouth"????
     My personal view?  "The Christians to the Lions," and any of
them that prove to be indigestible, we should welcome wholeheartedly
as brethren of Thelema, regardless of their professed creed.


     93  93/93
                  Patrick Crumhorn


[from Will ]


I'm a bit distraught with all this bantering about Thelemic Christianity and
whether or not it makes any sense.  As a matter of fact, I'm not too hip on
the idea of Thelema as a religion and am not sure how people came to
this understanding.

I see Thelema as an encompassing philosophy.  It's main import, and 
perhaps the only part that hasn't been espoused elsewhere, is the ability
to attain enlightenment/"magical powers" w/o sacrifice or seclusion.  How
anyone can make a religion out of such a simple statement is unclear to
me.  I remember seeing an _In Search of_ episode that pertained to Indian
holy men hanging from hooks.  The interesting part was that another 
Indian gentleman set out to show that it is not necessary to be holy to
hang from hooks and a) feel no pain and b)shed no blood.  Well, he
did it by replicating the procedure and smoking a cigarette at the same
time.  To me, that is the purpose of Thelema:  to show that enlightenment
is not restricted to the chaste.

The only reason why Thelema might be seen as a religion is that it adheres
to the Book of the Law as something rather important.  That's fine with me.
Liber AL appears to be in places, a) instructions for Crowley, b)a description
of the new Aeon, c)general prophetic text, and d)some lousy poetry.  I don't
see how any of this is enough to cause the formation of a religion, and I'm
not sure that Crowley did either.  He often traced the relationship of 
'religion' to 'negligence'.

As far as anti-Christianity goes, considering his jumbled remarks on the 
matter, I doubt that Crowley cared too much about it (except for purposes of
magical growth).  Perhaps it was more of an Anti-Christian attitude than
an Anti-Christianity one, those being inherently different.

The quotes given by John earlier are not necessarily anti-Christianity in 
nature.  They more seem to be anti-organized-Christianity.  There is 
a major difference.  I can hate a group without hating their beliefs or
the individuals involved.  All three of these are separate and distinct
entities and must be treated as such.

Of course, either way, being anti anything takes effort which is better spent



Love = Law


[from Tim Maroney ]

>I take your point on the
>revisionism which tries to repair Aleister's feelings about his milk

His feelings were contradictory, as feelings often are. For the 
biographer it's important to give credence to all the different and 
irreconcilable feelings of the subject, rather than taking the easy way 
out by pretending that a single feeling was definitive. Crowley held to a 
tremendous anger and resentment against the way he was treated in his 
childhood in the name of Christianity, and he often vented this hostility 
through blanket condemnations of "Christians." At the same time, he was 
very committed to the 19th century ideal of universal religion and of a 
common sacred core to all religions, and he was very open to attempts to 
weave Christianity into the fabric. In fact, he found a certain perverse 
pleasure in positive reinterpretations of Christianity that would have 
been anathematic to the Plymouth Brethren.

Like the equally anti-Christian H.P. Blavatsky, Crowley was very 
favorably disposed towards the mystical Russian Orthodox Church, and he 
also had great respect for Christian monastic mystics, as well as for St. 
Paul, whose perspectives on the early phases of group-formation have 
earned praise from other devout anti-Christians such as Karl Marx.

From the historical perspective, traditions defined largely as opposition 
movements remain defined by that which they oppose, and they always 
absorb assumptions from their Oedipal parent. For Crowley, the Will took 
the place of God, and he often referred to it as God, as well as 
attaching to it almost all the traditional attributes of God.

Another useful rule of thumb in dealing with the history of religions is 
that when a religious tradition expresses great hostility toward another 
tradition, it's a safe bet that this is a religion to which it owes some 
unacknowledged debt (except where the problem can be attributed to 
population migrations, colonialism, or similar territorial phenomena).

Crowley's tradition is built largely on occult Christianity and on 
assumptions about God from his childhood. Philosophically it it has 
strong resemblances to its Christian source, which I've gone into in an 
article that could be pulled out of the mailing list archives (if they 
hadn't been reset to start in January 1997.)

Tim Maroney

[from Bill Heidrick ]


On Sat, 5 Apr 1997, Tim Maroney wrote:

> >Well,the point is that a number of people on this list were maintaining
> >that Crowley harboured no hostility towards Christianity.
> Excuse me? What idiot said that? I haven't seen it.

Can't say I have either.  Crowley clearly detested, ridiculed and opposed 
Christanity as he found it.  He had a variety of opinions about Jesus 
Christ, mostly that the figure was mythical and the original individual, 
if any, was probably an interesting fellow.  He felt free to use the 
Dying God, be it John, Christ, Osiris or whatever, as a workable god 
form.  In that sense, Crowley did not oppose Christianity, in its 
place.  It was organized Christianity as he saw it about him and in the 
pages of history that raised his objections.  He maintained that the 
formula and word of Christianity had been superceded, but that is quite a 
different thing from denying its significance or continued utility in a 
diminished sense.  Some people like vintage cars.  Some don't.  Some 
people find value in the vintage deities, some don't.  No problem, so long 
as they don't insist that everything else get off the road or out of the 
temple.  The gods of the poets are with us yet.

93 93/93


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