a cache of usenet and other text files pertaining
to occult, mystical, and spiritual subjects.


What is Thelema?

From: (nigris (333))
Subject: Re: What is Thelema?
Date: Sun, 30 Jan 2000 19:18:58 -0800 (PST)

50000130 IVom 

"Bhikkhu Sunnata" :
> ...the whole question of whether the Beast and liber Al are
> essential to Thelema is rather tedious and straightforward. *If*
> someone actually disagrees, the discussion usually degenerates
> into convincing someone that you are not saying that they are
> *wrong* for liking Liber Al, the Beast or others, just that
> "Thelema" isn't limited by that cosmology. 

or, as I might argue, that it doesn't even INCLUDE such a 
cosmology. no personal gods or sacred scripture appears
to be warranted by scientific empiricism. individual
preferences being what they are, the variety of gods that
may be contained among a Thelemite's pantheon will likely
vary, though their characteristics may be somewhat similar.

> (And then you smile politely as they show you their nice, new 
> "Mark of the Beast" tatoo which proves to everyone just how 
> cool and Thelemic they truely are.)

this is apparently a tradition in some esoteric "Thelemic"
cults indicative of status or courage. I was told that this
mark of the beast may be seen on the chest of one or more
of Crowley's "Scarlet Women" in historical photographs, and
the (C)OTO may no longer require such a marking for entry
into its upper echelon (I am in no place to assess this).
> The far more interesting question to me is: Now what? Now that
> we've deconstructed Thelema down to bare bones as it were (which
> any idiot can do), how do we set forth rebuilding? 

by considering the first principles of Thelema, such as a 
consideration of what will (thelema) includes, to what it ought
be applied, what phases of maturation can will influence, what
kind of cosmology or metaphysics underlies this will, what
types of will there might be, if any, etc. more below.

> > what part of Crowleyan texts
> > and expression is Thelemic is difficult to assess.
> I would argue that it is "difficult to assess" only because we
> have no criteria by which to judge it. 

we have a great number of criteria to assess it. these are 
disputed, but that is of little importance. one suggestion,
since you seem not to be aware of them: that which can be
accepted as supporting individual will-discernment and the
adherence to the true will.

> People have spent so long equating Crowley with Thelema that 
> there is no sense of "first principles" for Thelema....

there is sense in shifting away from Crowleyanity toward a more
coherent spiritual philosophy aptly name 'Thelema'.

> ...Perhaps this is why there are dozens of
> organizations that refer to themselves as OTO or AA. There is no
> clear model on which to create orgs that are not based on
> Crowley. 

no, because the previous Aeon was concerned with organizational
heredity rather than, as in the New Aeon, individual sovereignty.
thus schisms and in-fighting have surrounded even small 
ambiguity of conferment of lineage and social authority.

> When people write "Thelemic" rituals or "Thelemic
> magick" the only clear reason I can see for why they label it as
> such is that they used the requite amount of "Crowleyan
> cult-speak"....

in which case the Crowleyite attempts to usurp the 'Thelemic'
framework as indicative of hir efforts, trying to make it
attractive to those who have a strong self-preserving motive.

> Even Thelemic organizations that don't call themselves OTO or AA
> still seem bound by Crowleyan god-names, theology, and Offically
> Accepted "Holy books". 

The Order of K@s Undur Satan (TOKUS) is not one of these, though
it admits of its Thelemic objectives: for more information, see
> about "First Principles", since I feel any other discussion about
> implications is irrelevant if we can't agree on the basics of
> what it is we are talking about.
> ...Thelema is an attempt to describe something that
> is universal, and I agree with you that what we are attempting to
> describe deals with the issue of "intentionality and volition"
> with a special, albeit historical, emphasis on how it relates to
> "change and magic".

most philosophers who have dealt with will-based conceptual systems
did not seem to bother considering magic as a facet of whatever
they espoused. in some cases magic appears to be excluded based on
the nature of 'will', in others there may be a place for it but it
isn't discussed. Crowleyan Thelemic philosophy seems to bring magic
into a prominent position with respect to its conjecture and
postulations. this may be one of its characteristic features, as
compared to Rabelaian Thelema or some other Thelemic philosophy. it
is certainly why I have associated it with and integrated magic as
an important part of its structure.
> > true will is not inevitable... 
> ...I'm not sure on what you base this assertion. In fact, I'd 
> be interested in your proof that *anything* was not inevitable. 
> Imagine you could stop time right now. Imagine you could roll
> back the clock to an instant before you stopped time, and then
> could start it again without knowing you had done this. In other
> words, everything is exactly the same as it was the first time.
> Do you have any reason to believe that under the *exact same*
> circumstances, you wouldn't do the *exact same* actions. Even if
> you did this a million times, do you have any reason to believe
> that your action would not be exactly the same each time
> (assuming you had no knowledge that you were repeating anything
> and all forces acting upon you were exactly the same).

no proof exists. inevitable true will equates to determinism.
without some notion of choice, morality is absent and individual
effort becomes effectless. there is an ontological value in the
set of the individual and broad perspective includes variation
on the outcome of any particular choice. the choices we make
yield a result. if no choice is ever made due to a pre-determined
outcome, then motivation is useless and effort in acquiring both
insight and intuition is fruitless, since even predictability
will yield no more return on foreknowledge. this is a very old
argument ('Free Will vs. Determinism'). I would refer those who
are interested in it to the essay "Is God a Taoist?" by the
adept, magician, and taoist, Raymond Smullyan (in "The Tao is
Silent" and probably also in Dennett's and Hofstadter's "Mind's
I"), which is a clever repudiation of the philosophic context.

> I'll admit that there are things which are unpredictable, but
> this is generally because either the number of factors necessary
> to measure are too great (such as when we attempt to predict the
> weather beyond three days or so) or that by the act of our
> observation we are changing the outcome (such as when we try to
> determine the position of an electron). However even the most
> minute events in the universe or the human body itself seem to
> follow physical laws.

epistemological conundrum, depending upon the notion of 'complete
knowledge' or 'omniscience'. its fallacy is that of 'unlimitedness'
and the impossibility of this outside certain geometric self-
enclosures such as spheres and closed universes, etc.
> prize a few times). This is a small clam-like critter with an
> extremely simple neural network. Small enough that we can label
> each of its neurons and observe them under various situations....

interesting comparison to the thought-experiments in "Mind's I",
which investigates the complexities of identity, consciousness, 
and artificial intelligence. example: through advanced technology
a human brain's neurons are expanded spatially to the size of a
moon or planet, with the electrochemical reactions facilitated
so that no apparent difference to the brainless body will be
noticed, the results radio'd back to the body in the lab.

> Let's get back to the question at hand. I'm claiming that Thelema
> is a philosophy that purports to describe a universal law. In
> fact, I'm claiming that the main law it is describing is that the
> entire universe is governed by physical laws. These laws describe
> the actions of various forces (broadly defined) and their
> subsequent effects. 

this seems rather jumbled. you are claiming that Thelema is a
philosophical system that merely purports the hypothesis that
universal laws EXIST? Thelema, as such, is therefore a subset 
of modern Science and we should discover why it is separable
from that body of philosophic structures.

> ...What is
> Thelema? Thelema purports to describe the state of the universe.
> It argues that the universe is governed by natural laws and that
> forces put in motion have very definite and regular effects. 

how does your Thelemic philosophy describe the origin of the forces
which have been 'put in motion'? are ALL forces very definite and
regular? do some of them disappate? what does this have to do with
magic, if it does? why should we be interested in the Thelema
philosophy that you are describing, rather than just focus on 
modern Scientific evidence and engineering?

> ...the goal of a Thelemite,
> therefore, is to attain a more perfect understanding of these
> forces and their relationships in order to be more effective at
> creating and controling their universe. It is unclear to me
> whether this understanding needs to be explicit or implicit
> (kinda like being so good at hitting a ball in baseball that you
> no longer have to even think about it, you just naturally do what
> is necessary) or some mixture thereof, but I do see that
> increased understanding as related to one's increased ability as
> a magician (broadly defined as per Crowley's definition). Simply
> stated, there are some people who are better at getting the
> universe to do what they want then others for whatever reason,
> and the goal is to increase one's ability in this regard.

this is good for engineers. it says nothing about morality or any
kind of 'true will' or 'harmonized behavior', agape, etc.
> ...someone who is ignorant of their true will....  [imposes] 
> a pre-conceived notion on the universe which is inheritantly 
> incorrect, and as a result is just "spinning their
> wheels" (and most likely getting quite depressed in the process).

ignorance is herein the problem.

> The act of acting [seeing?] the universe for what it is, realizing 
> they can no longer act as though they still have money, etc., allows 
> this person to finally engage the universe and start affecting change
> as per their Will. 

your description of "Will" is equatable with "potentially realizable
trajectories of applied force".

> ...The more ignorant we are about the true mechanisms of the 
> universe, the more ignorant we are of our "true will".

yet this reduces the Law of Thelema to a kind of Meta-Law of
> ...Please tell me if you agree or disagree, and if you do
> disagree, why? 

I find the description insufficient in that it does not center
itself (and thus adequately explain the terminological focus)
on 'will'. it does not address (as I mentioned at the outset
above) the first principles of Thelema in a way that invites
us differentiate it from Determinism or the wider arena of
basic (esp. modern materialist) scientific thought. I'd suggest
that, like philosophers of old, you specify:

	* what will (thelema) includes
	* to what will ought be applied
	* what phases of maturation can will influence, if any
	* what kind of cosmology or metaphysics underlies this 
	  will (gods? Creations? Apocalypses?)
and	* what types of will there might be, if any, etc.

> ...I'm more interested in people who can add
> thoughts about the "Coagula" following the "Solve"....

my addition to the coagula is that I think the Law of Thelema
is a PERSONAL natural principle experienced by self-conscious
entities with intuitive capacity. not only are there Laws of
Nature by which the cosmos appears to abide, this also applies 
to subjective experience, personal maturation, influence, and 
spiritual development. these LATTER elements are those more 
often included by Thelemic philosophies such as that rendered 
by Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Rabelais, and Crowley.
> ...What do *you* think Thelema is? What do *you* feel
> needs to be included in any evaluation of "First principles"? 

VERY good foci, here, kin.

> ... What is Thelemic magic?

all magic is Thelemic as it derives from an expression of will.

> How do we improve current thelemic magical system? 

cultic 'systems' of magic (such as that of 'magick' set in line
by Crowley) are self-inhibiting and cultishly hampered due to
dogmatism which tends to creep into them. the best way to
improve magical systems is by identifying their elements,
taxonomizing their principles in a scientific manner (as those
like Fraser, Crowley and Bonewits have attempted ("Golden Bough",
"Magick in Theory and Practice", and "Real Magic" respectively).

> Can we have thelemic societies?,

yes, as they make possible the greatest expression of an 
every individual's will.

> or even Is thelemic morality an oxymoron?

not if there is some kind of 'cosmic will' like the 'tao' of
taoists or the 'Will of God' of Western mystics. not if the
'true will' is determined or ascertained by the virtuous of 
the community in their consensus. 

I would say that morality itself is not Thelemic since it is
social in nature, whereas ETHICS, being an individual system
of discerning 'right' behavior is inherently Thelemic. there
are (though they enjoy kind of self-contradiction) 'Thelemic'
systems of behaviour, but all of these are overly ambiguous
and either resist definition or self-destruct. they usually
consist of generalized principles applicable by the individual
in pursuit of their goals and relationships.

organizations necessarily describe a limitation to behaviour
such that membership may be obtained and/or retained. all
restriction of this sort is 'sinful' in that it extends beyond
the universal liberty afforded by such documents as "Liber OZ"
(paltry though it may be, it and similar documents like the
"Manifesto Satanika" of nocTifer at the following URL: 
are quite persuasive manifestos supporting the protection of
individual soveeignty against corporate tyranny).

where guidelines serve to preserve the integrity and behavioral
expansiveness of the individual, setting in motion both 
protection versus exploitation and against hyperrestriction,
and promoting anarchic social systems (like flat-level networks)
wherever possible, this seems the most viable contender for
'Thelemic morality'.

blessed beast!
I don't read everything here; cc me if you absolutely want a response.
To unsubscribe send "unsubscribe" to
To unsubscribe send "unsubscribe"
To unsubscribe from the digest send to

The Arcane Archive is copyright by the authors cited.
Send comments to the Arcane Archivist:

Did you like what you read here? Find it useful?
Then please click on the Paypal Secure Server logo and make a small
donation to the site maintainer for the creation and upkeep of this site.

The ARCANE ARCHIVE is a large domain,
organized into a number of sub-directories,
each dealing with a different branch of
religion, mysticism, occultism, or esoteric knowledge.
Here are the major ARCANE ARCHIVE directories you can visit:
interdisciplinary: geometry, natural proportion, ratio, archaeoastronomy
mysticism: enlightenment, self-realization, trance, meditation, consciousness
occultism: divination, hermeticism, amulets, sigils, magick, witchcraft, spells
religion: buddhism, christianity, hinduism, islam, judaism, taoism, wicca, voodoo
societies and fraternal orders: freemasonry, golden dawn, rosicrucians, etc.


There are thousands of web pages at the ARCANE ARCHIVE. You can use ATOMZ.COM
to search for a single word (like witchcraft, hoodoo, pagan, or magic) or an
exact phrase (like Kwan Yin, golden ratio, or book of shadows):

Search For:
Match:  Any word All words Exact phrase


Southern Spirits: 19th and 20th century accounts of hoodoo, including slave narratives & interviews
Hoodoo in Theory and Practice by cat yronwode: an introduction to African-American rootwork
Lucky W Amulet Archive by cat yronwode: an online museum of worldwide talismans and charms
Sacred Sex: essays and articles on tantra yoga, neo-tantra, karezza, sex magic, and sex worship
Sacred Landscape: essays and articles on archaeoastronomy, sacred architecture, and sacred geometry
Lucky Mojo Forum: practitioners answer queries on conjure; sponsored by the Lucky Mojo Curio Co.
Herb Magic: illustrated descriptions of magic herbs with free spells, recipes, and an ordering option
Association of Independent Readers and Rootworkers: ethical diviners and hoodoo spell-casters
Freemasonry for Women by cat yronwode: a history of mixed-gender Freemasonic lodges
Missionary Independent Spiritual Church: spirit-led, inter-faith, the Smallest Church in the World
Satan Service Org: an archive presenting the theory, practice, and history of Satanism and Satanists
Gospel of Satan: the story of Jesus and the angels, from the perspective of the God of this World
Lucky Mojo Usenet FAQ Archive: FAQs and REFs for occult and magical usenet newsgroups
Candles and Curios: essays and articles on traditional African American conjure and folk magic
Aleister Crowley Text Archive: a multitude of texts by an early 20th century ceremonial occultist
Spiritual Spells: lessons in folk magic and spell casting from an eclectic Wiccan perspective
The Mystic Tea Room: divination by reading tea-leaves, with a museum of antique fortune telling cups
Yronwode Institution for the Preservation and Popularization of Indigenous Ethnomagicology
Yronwode Home: personal pages of catherine yronwode and nagasiva yronwode, magical archivists
Lucky Mojo Magic Spells Archives: love spells, money spells, luck spells, protection spells, etc.
      Free Love Spell Archive: love spells, attraction spells, sex magick, romance spells, and lust spells
      Free Money Spell Archive: money spells, prosperity spells, and wealth spells for job and business
      Free Protection Spell Archive: protection spells against witchcraft, jinxes, hexes, and the evil eye
      Free Gambling Luck Spell Archive: lucky gambling spells for the lottery, casinos, and races