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Thelema and Cult

From: (nigris (333))
Subject: Re: Thelema and Cult
Date: Sun, 1 Aug 1999 12:38:30 -0700 (PDT)

49990801 IVom

a correspondent wrote:
#># I would never contend that Crowley is solely responsible 
#># for the creation of the individualistic philosophy 
#># called Thelema, but I don't think it is unreasonable to 
#># recognize the contribution he has made to it.

#> recognizing that he 'contributed' to its corruption by 
#> virtue of attempting to turn into a personality cult 
#> surrounding his memory through the vehicles of the OTO 
#> and AA is, on the contrary, very important.

the same correspondent responded: 
# Is there a certain percentage of OTO and AA members who 
# overly venerate him?  Probably.  What do we observe from 
# this phenomenon?  I observe its effect upon individuals 
# and make choices for My own life based on those observations.  
# But I do not observe that visible evidence of the broad 
# scope of Thelema's applicability to include even those 
# wills utterly disparate from Mine could ever result in the 
# corruption of Thelema.  

Crowleyanity has the potential to derail Thelemic culture
and dissuade those who would use the method of science
toward the aim of religion and inspire them to instead
merely perpetuate the method and aim of religion.

#> we should consider the weakness of the man, the likely 
#> immaturity of his psyche and spirituality,
# ...he is misunderstood, and the root of that misunderstanding 
# lies as much in our unwillingness to examine ourselves with 
# the critical eye we reserve for him as anything else.

when Crowleyites begin to identify his arrogance and bigotry
as virtues, this is far beyond 'failing to turn the critical
eye we reserve for him upon ourselves'. it is hero-worship,
yet substituting a knave while pretending he's a hero. it would
be better to find a BETTER hero, discard the man's weaknesses 
and foibles (his character) as ideals and regard his work for 
what it is.
# ...we fail to embrace his glaring and grotesque *imperfection* 
# without thinking this means we should deny the presence of 
# anything of worth in his life or his work....

if this were what I was claiming I'd agree. I have been one of
the proponents of the value of his WRITING, especially as it
pertains to magick (so called). my objections lie elsewhere,
and I feel I have made them clear here in response to you.

# Is your problem with Crowley that he was imperfect?  Or that 
# he failed to be perfect?  

I don't believe in the dualism of perfection/imperfection. I
just don't find it valuable to idolize immaturity and bigotry
as an ideal (no matter who it is found within).

# On the one hand you seem to be taking exception to those who 
# want to whitewash Crowley and paint him as perfect, because 
# he was so blatantly imperfect.  

whitewashing is not something I admire, this is very true.

# On the other hand, you take exception to him yourself for 
# failing to be perfect....

this is your projection. I have defended him too many times
as a mystic (perhaps), writer (surely) and philosopher (at
times) to have misconceptions about his character. I've 
attempted to make it clear that my admiration lies not with 
his acts or his character but with his written work, the 
thought and cleverness which lay behind it (esp. that about 
# You insist the Crowleyite's problem is failure to embrace 
# Crowley's imperfection....

no, it is the falsification and whitewashing of history and 
the clear record of his immaturity the man left behind which
I would oppose.

# though you feel he should have been free of flaws 
# -- i.e., thus free of humanness! ....

flaws are not humanness, though humans include what we might
naively call 'flaws'. idealizing flaws is merely foolish,
especially where the idol is not an EXAMPLE of an acceptance
of these supposed 'flaws' in others. Crowley is NOT such an

# Crowley was far from perfect.  His "sins" of deed and 
# attitude are well catalogued.  If any of his "backlash 
# against overly strict fundy Xtianity" seeped into Thelema, 
# all the better for those struggling to overcome a similar 
# upbringing or previous socio-religious milieu to make their
# transition to Freedom.  

inversion is not liberation. we should not mistake it as such.
idolizing cads and bigots because fanatics have programmed
us to hate them is to dwell in reflections of their error, not 
to free ourselves.

# Those who have no such struggle in their lives need not pay 
# any attention to those components as they will doubtless 
# appear irrelevant.

unless it is mistaken for occultism, mysticism, and the study
of the mysteries (magick, whatever) and thereby DERAILS this 
study in the culture of its virulence for decades if not 

# If the fact that a man named Edward Alexander Crowley once 
# lived and did magick...

I'm not convinced of the last, though the former is apparent.
# stops you from doing your will 

preposterous! :>

# or having your Thelema any way you WILL it....

this phrase is nonsensical to me except as a byproduct 
of Crowleyanity. Thelema is not a culture, though many
will try to portray it as such and use the name for the
benefit of socializing.

#># In that light, Crowley exhibits himself in his writings 
#># to be very much cognizant of his follies and foibles 
#># and flaws as a human being, and eager as well for the 
#># reader to recognize those elements.

#> it is one thing to categorize one's possible failings, 
#> quite another to check a self-aggrandizement quality in 
#> oneself for the purpose of saving one's fellows and the 
#> cult in one's wake from the wasted and potentially 
#> hazardous repercussion of making more of one than is 
#> truly deserved.
# Perhaps Crowley did not possess sufficient foresight to 
# do this. 

then idolizing him as a hero is folly.

# Perhaps it was not his intent but crept in as a matter 
# of course because it was part of who he was.  

then idolizing him as a hero is folly.

# Or perhaps the entire charge itself is bogus and no 
# repercussion exists except in the minds of those who 
# can't get past his humanity themselves, or imagine 
# that overweening ego is somehow more heinous in him
# than it is in themselves.  

immaturity is not the essence of humanity, however
immature a human may be. it ripens and begins to
dissolve into wisdom and virtue. I agree that
accepting this immaturity is valuable, but portraying
an unripe fruit as ripened is folly and deceptive, if
not downright hazardous.

# Perhaps ....

there are many fantasies which are 'possible', but the
Razor of Occam does not convince me of Crowley's subtle
misdirection or crafty display of characteristics he
himself accepted. instead it leads me to presume that
he was in most cases another example of an arrogant 
English blowhard.

# ...presuming he should have planned ahead to check
# those tendencies....

I have never contended this. I merely indicated that the
fact that he took actions which left a personality cult
in his wake and apparently with his direct inspiration
was just one more in a long tradition of religious
manipulations that will serve to DETRACT from the
promulgation of the Law of Thelema as we understand it.
inasmuch as he claimed to be doing this, then his act
was at least counter-productive and at most HYPOCRISY.
# ...If you do not expect him to have been deliberate, 
# then there is no point in asking why he was not or 
# expecting that he should have been functioning with the
# foresight of deliberation.  Does this make sense to you?

of course, but I never expected it. I just object to those
who make too much of the man now that he has died on
account of the pains he took to see that it would happen
(rather than for better motives -- because his person was
and character was exemplary and worthy of emulation or
study, which in his case they were not).
# Is becoming a "Crowley-replicant" unavoidable in 
# embracing Thelema?  

probably not where 'Thelema' begins to mean Crowleyanity,
but the hazard appears to be perpetuated by the cult.

# Is it necessary, in order to avoid being a "Crowley-replicant," 
# to deny that his work contributed to making Thelema known?  

if this were my motive, your question would have more meaning.
my objections are in RESPONSE to what I have seen of Crowley's
attempts to foment a cult and how I have seen that this cult
is actually developing. I have no need to "avoid being a
'Crowley-replicant'", since I don't have his background or the
bulk of his problems. neither do I have a weakness of character
which leads me to emulate badboys or idealize spiritual weaklings.

# ...Is the fact that Crowley behaved in what we take for a 
# self-aggrandizing manner sufficient excuse for us to do 
# the same in our efforts to invalidate him for doing so?  

if this were the case, it would be relevant. we don't have
to self-aggrandize in order to identify this in his record.

# Like it or not, Crowley was part and product of the larger 
# stream of the evolving magickal current in the 20th century, 
# and the major catalyst for having the O.T.O. -- which 
# predated him -- embrace Thelema.  Denying that is 
# counterproductive to understanding it, and counterproductive 
# to our own credibility....  

good, then let's get over him and move on. there is a direct
similarity between how the religious adulate the first god 
they come across aside from their own (unlike or inverse to the
gods of their parents) and how neoChristians treat Crowley.
because he was a Christian badboy, because he has an 'evil'
reputation, so he is lauded for much more than what you have
so accurately describe here (with which I agree, btw). his 
claims about himself and his authority are too often accepted 
without the scrutiny even HE recommended to his pupils! it 
is outrageous.

# If Crowley truly is an embarassment to Thelema rather than 
# an asset, then we will need to strike a balance between 
# owning the follies of that "embarassment" versus accepting 
# the "blame" for that "embarassment".  Most rational people 
# do not expect present-day Catholics to accept blame for the
# Inquisition, and likewise should not expect present-day 
# Thelemites to accept blame for Crowley's personality flaws.  

RCatholicism is a good comparison. it 'makes saints' out of
the lost figures of history. this is not scientific, though
it struggles futilely to portray its process as such. in the
same way 'Thelemites' like to portray themselves as scientific 
even while ignoring the instructions of those whom they would
prefer to idolize. it is unbecoming and, at worst, hypocrisy.
# Either way, his shortcomings are neither greater nor less 
# than anything found in any one of us....

having read autobiography and biography of the man I would
disagree very strongly regarding the man as a whole. his
individual shortcomings, as you call them, may well be found
in many of us, but their composition is not one which I feel
is worthy to be considered an ideal.

#> ...what prevents 'the Thelemic community' (so called) 
#> from stultifying in its own hero-worship of the Father 
#> of the Book of Lies, from choking on its own propensity, 
#> as have all religious movements, to glorify the man and 
#> lose sight of the more important philosophic principles?
# People like you, who recognize the potential pitfall and 
# don't hesitate to point it out.  

faced with a cult of replicants, I hesitate and am buried
by the expression of the 'devout'. eventually swimming
upstream may become too burdensome and I will find an eddy.

# ...Blaming him for "tainting Thelema" won't excuse us 
# any more than the "devil" bringing "temptation" excuses 
# a Christian from sin.

accepting that he contributed to its corruption toward a
personality cult targetted on him enables us to proceed 
with a more balanced perspective of the history of Thelema 
before us and develop remedies to this problem.
# ...So is Thelema a cult of personality?  No, it is not....

no, the 'Thelemic' community struggles with those who 
would to turn it INTO such a cult, centered on Crowley.

# So here is the mystery:  Blessing and worship to the 
# prophet of the lovely Star!  Who is this prophet?  Are 
# we talking about Crowley?  Are we calling for worship 
# of Crowley?  Blessing and worship to the prophet of 
# the lovely Star!  "Who am I, and what shall be the 
# sign?"  "And she answered him ...  THOU KNOWEST!  And 
# the sign shall be my ecstasy, the consciousness of the
# continuity of existence, the omnipresence of my body."  
# Who is this prophet?  "Thou wast the knower, and me."  
# Who knows?  Who is me?  For Crowley, the answer to 
# these questions was Edward Alexander Crowley.  For 
# everyone else, the answer to these questions is written 
# in his or her heart and reflected in the mirror.  

"only by appeal to my [Crowley's] writings" (The Comment)

# That is the beauty of the spiritual aspect of Thelema, 
# and in My experience, what Liber AL as "sacred text" 
# is intended to catalyze.

I think the spiritual aspect of Thelema is poorly
represented by the Evul Book except in iconoclasm.

#> that life flourishes in the midst of stagnation says nothing for the
#> quality of the work which results in delusion and stagnation to the
#> detriment of the liberation of the individual.
# That which does not kill Me makes Me stronger.

so let's see how many ways you can off yourself?
# Whose responsibility is it to grow?  Whose responsibility is 
# it to achieve liberation?  Who is responsible for liberating 
# Me?  Who is responsible for seeing to your liberation?

organized cults propagate the notion that self-responsibility
DETRACTS from spirituality by virtue of varying from the line
of the Master under whose will they operate. this can be seen
in the 'Thelemic' community by those who promote the now common
interpretation of 'do what Thou wilt' (their capitals) as
meaning not to do as YOU will but as GOD (Ateh, the Judeo-
christian babykiller god, etc.) wilts. your judgement cannot
be trusted. instead you must conform to the Herd and demonstrate
your Thelemitude through law-abiding, programmed behavior which
we have designated as 'spiritual' (and deceptively hide from
this by attributing our preferences as those of our God).

Invoke me under my stars.
# Love is the law, love under will.

blessed beast!


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