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Secrecy and Thelema

To: alt.magick.tyagi,alt.magick,alt.magick.order,talk.religion.misc,talk.religion.newage,alt.pagan.magick
From: (nigris (333))
Subject: Secrecy and Thelema
Date: 23 Jul 1999 23:57:13 -0700

49990710 IVom

a correspondent writes:
# ># Does anyone out there honestly believe that the prospective 
# ># Minerval will run screaming into the hands of the Black 
# ># Guard if they discover what the symbols contained within 
# ># represent?  

# >not likely, but they may have the rite 'spoiled' for them in
# >the same way that a preview to a film or play or book can be
# >by making reference to it prior to its experience. I have
# >often enjoyed entering into such experiences without preview
# >and my inability at times to 'forget' them or refrain my
# >mind's interjection of memories within present experiences
# >makes that preview rather frustrating.
the same correspondent responds:
# ...I believe the key here is that you can attend the film or 
# play, or perhaps read the book, as you will.  No one demands 
# two sponsors or paperwork or a mandatory wait to get in to 
# see the latest blockbuster or purchase a book at the MegaMall.

these media events are public spectacles, not private membership
initiatory rites. therein lies the difference. if you acquire a
copy of the rites (say, from Brother Paul Smith) and choose to
get together with a few of your friends and initiate one another
into your OTO using these rituals, you do not need sponsors or
paperwork or even rehearsal (though I would recommend the last).
I doubt that the (c)OTO would bother to try to stop you if
you were engaging a private event. if you began to charge money,
billed it as 'OTO Initiations (TM?)' or claimed the copyrights
to documents or its trademarks (competing with it), then you're
more likely to run into opposition (and with good reason given
the officers' choice to rely on secret rites as a membership
tool and definition).
# ># For all this "If you choose to enter as a spy, so be it" 
# ># that is preached, I fail to see it in practice.  
# >
# >I have as much as proclaimed my 'spyhood' to my fraternal
# >kin and have enjoyed the welcome and warmth of many of
# >them concerning that with which the Order deals. it is as
# >much a challenge to the membership's discipline to state 
# >this ideal about 'not knowing or caring' as it is to the
# >member who submits hirself to any restrictive oaths.
# I'm fascinated that you've managed to become accepted given this
# admonition; 

some of this has to do with my activities, which do not usually
admit of the kind of qualities presumed of a 'spy'. indeed I do
compliment, sometimes represent, and coddle the communication
and interaction with noted "OTO adversaries" such as Peter Koenig,
as well as those whom the (c)OTO has decided to oppose such as
Ben Fernee. I have opposed a variety of positions taken by the
(c)OTO officers in public, and I have actively sought to bring
out discussion of "OTO secrets" while adhering to the desires of
the order by not quoting documents supposed to represent these
or in some way convey them which I have acquired. 

on the other hand I have always made it known that I wish to keep
a good relationship with this organization, have in the main
consulted administrators when making a variety of files copyrighted
by (c)OTO available to the public, and been very straightforward
as to my attitudes and motivations (self-serving discipline, org-
serving critical scrutiny) as I proceed. being up-front and open
about my activities I can walk the line where others might be
suspected of greater ills and investigated for 'treason'. :>

more than this I have a vested interest in seeing to the HEALTH
of the (c)OTO as it represents to me a bastard of A Crowley and
has the capacity to change the world in ways I find valuable.
in this and the ways previously mentioned I differ markedly
from a "spy" who seeks to harm or debilitate the whole of which
I am an admittedly revolutionary part.

as I have said before, that my order continues to allow me to be
a part of it is a mark in its FAVOR, since I provide some measure
of instability to it by making known my membership and engaging
in what others may find troublesome and of questionable value.

# my question ultimately is whether or not a spy can pass
# information on in violation of their oaths and yet remain 
# a member of the organization.  

I've said it before to the order officers, in usenet publically
to my order kin, and will say it again to you in this email 
list: I have never taken an oath of secrecy.  I do not consider 
my initiatory experiences to have included them and understand 
that the administration of the order of which I am a member 
considers revealing specific information (that contained in 
the rites) to be an act which deserves censure and, if 
continued despite warnings, dismembership. I act knowing that
this is the social environment. 

I'd also mention to you that there have been many many times
that my order kindred have mentioned to me information which
was in violation of their oaths of secrecy as *they* saw them
yet they somehow reconciled this in their consciences. they
remained members of the (c)OTO. they were NOT spies, far less
were they the kind of 'spy' which I am, and I don't think that
their activities ever came to the attention of the officers.

what is a 'spy' in your eyes? if this is someone who intends
to harm the organization, then they can only really do so if
they are covert about it. a spy who openly breaks the codes so
established by the officers of the organization regarding the
ritual contents is a very POOR spy. ;> she will meet with
warnings and then be removed from membership. there is never,
as many others have said here, any analysis of what hir "Will"
may be in matter. the issue is protection of private membership
materials as has been continued in secret societies for a very
long time.

the spy who reveals information about the rites to which she
has been exposed will only suffer inasmuch as it becomes
EVIDENT to the administration that this has occurred. it is
a simple matter comparable to the discovery of having broken
social laws or customs and the attendant repercussions for this.

# If this is not the case, then the Order does in fact care
# what your Will is.

not really. it could be that my (true!) will is to keep this
material secret from the world and I am actively attempting
to make it public. it could be that my (true!) will is to
make it public and in this case the order couldn't stop me
even if it tried.

we enter into the epistemological discussion of how to know
another's (true?) will, what it matters if one knows it, and
whether this can ever be thwarted or delayed. there are
several schools of thought on the matter, as have been well-
represented in the threads following on the PSmith Posting
Incident. :>  if you have read my text in any depth you know
that I think the tao and the true will are identical and so
cannot be thwarted or opposed. discovering it is as simple
as looking back over your shoulder with scientific scrutiny
(histology) or looking inward with spiritual sensitivity
# >agreed. what actions may easily be discerned to have the
# >quality of this prevention? please detail how we can go
# >about discerning orbit-adherence from violation.
# The quality of prevention can reasonably be measured by the 
# following traits:
# (1) Outside standards put upon the individual which restrict 
# their ability to move forward, backward, stay the same, or 
# withdraw.  

the only way this can be done is through draconian control. this
is why the "drugs" trade continues in such backwards countries
as the USA, whose govt engages a 'drug war' with a 'drug czar'
and yet has no power (yet) to institute the kind of totalitarian
crackdown (no pun intended) to effect its success. prosecutions
are not the same thing as prevention.

# Oaths of eternal loyalty which cannot be broken, 
# time restrictions (rather than on, say, a test of knowledge 
# done in an objective manner) between dissemination of
# information, et cetera.

no such oaths need be taken in the (c)OTO as I understand it.
those who choose to take such oaths I consign to the hell or
heaven they choose for themselves.
# (2) Restriction of membership or attainment based on nebulous, 
# unspoken standards, ....

the standard of communication is very obvious and in no way
"nebulous". Paul Smith was a blatant example of someone who
flaunted the restrictions to *membership* of (c)OTO, but he
may not be a member and was using a relatively anonymous 
channel. had he identified himself the standard could have
been applied very quickly and easily to him.

# particularly when this restriction prohibits an individual's
# ability to get documents or ideas which may be necessary or 
# believed to be necessary for their spiritual growth.

belief is a trap. those who believe that these secret documents
are necessary for their spiritual growth are the victims of the
very secrecy-machine that they seek (simplistically) to spoil.
the long-term opposition to this includes constant opposition
to the secrecy from the INSIDE and the creation of ongoing,
successful ALTERNATIVES on the outside. PSmith's was an act of
terrorism plain and simple (not to condemn terrorism as a tool
of war, but it is seldom supported by civilized peoples).
# (3) Active attempts to withdraw information which was 
# publicly available in the interest of secrecy or to 
# "protect" the group.

that depends on how it was made publicly available. when the
result is due to theft or treason it is understandable that an
organization would do what it could to recapture lost terrain.

# (4) Threats of physical violence, social ostracism, legal 
# action, and the like, to any individual who seeks to 
# acquire or discuss an idea.

I haven't seen this occur. there is restriction on the public
expression of certain documents, but we are free to discuss
these documents here and in public all we want. nobody has
sought to restrict ME from doing so. let's get to it, shall we?

in fact I have begun to think few are serious about studying
these secret documents because when I have brought up their
contents and IDEAS very few have responded in meaningful ways.
instead we get into meta-discussions or silence due to a lack
of interest or common knowledge without follow-up to effect a
parity. prove the exception, Reverend. I welcome it.

# >the power is not restricted to said individuals. the means
# >provided by private documents to these people is restricted
# >but I have no evidence that these documents contain some
# >special or superior ritual technology unavailable to the
# >general occult world. 
# I don't believe that they are superior to other techniques; 
# word for word, the old TOPY stuff generally packs a more 
# effective method.  

this strikes me as just as much an overgeneralization. different
individuals will likely experience different things amongst
different groups doing different rites, don't you think? such
attempts to put organizations or rites against one another in
such a simplistic manner and compare their "power" or
"effectiveness" without regard to the condition of the
candidate (history, age, relation to the initiators, etc.)
is just more braggadatio or speculation without basis.

# What I suppose I am objecting to here is the fact that the 
# central theme of Crowley's work (AL not included), referred 
# to time and time again as vital to understand the ideas 
# discussed in _Magick in Theory and Practice_ and elsewhere.  
# In essence, what is particularly reasonable or ethical about 
# presenting a "teaser" when the original is not attainable 
# in a licit manner?  

it is neither reasonable nor ethical. it is done to draw marks,
make points, play elitist games, and generally to use the lever
of specialized knowledge as a fulcrum for social violation. this
is usually done in the context of a weak and immature spirit.
the master does not need to refer to these texts or their
specifics in order to convey the proper information, and does so
in ways which are consistent and which yield no opposition (on
account of hir perfect assimilation of the power of Agape and
its unitive qualities).

# If "Light, Life, Liberty, and Love" is to be available to all, 
# then why is it not so?

some information is private. most private information is none
of our business and not worth our time. the mechanism of
'the secret book' is well-known in academic circles as a ploy
to generate interest in the book and in organizations or
cliques which have the capacity to make these documents
available to the interested (at a price of course!). here is
an elaboration from the perspective of the Middle Ages quoted
from a text I was recently perusing (recommended!):

	The cult of secrecy can be explained in large part
	as an outgrowth of the cultural setting for magic.
	What we have called the common tradition was widely
	available in medieval society, but the new occult
	sciences were originally the possession of certain
	clerics. Doubtless there was much pressure to lower
	this barrier and share this extraordinary learning,
	particularly if it could be put into simpler form
	for popular consumption. The empasis on secrecy came
	partly, no doubt, as a reaction to this demand for
	popularization. The scholars who held jealously to
	their occult learning were in effect declaring that
	they would not allow it to become debased through
	assimilation to the broader, common tradition;
	rather, they would preserve it in its purity and
	retain its power for themselves.

	The insistence on secrecy highlights a dimension of
	the occult arts that might otherwise be less clear:
	their value simple as a form of knowledge. From the
	viewpoint of these writers, knowledge might *bring*
	power but it also *was* power. Knowing mysterious
	things was in itself valuable, even if the knowledge
	was never put to effect in action. In the extreme
	cases magic was intended for the sole aim of gaining
	knowledge: to learn all that happens on earth, the
	secrets of everyone's mind, and even heavenly things,
	one manuscript recommends beheading a hoopoe at
	sunrise, under a new moon, and swallowing its heart
	while it is still palpitating. The point is not so
	much to gain control over the world, though magic
	might also accomplish that. More basically, it is
	cherished simple because it brings hidden things to
	light, or at least to the dim visibility of the

	In keeping with this cult of the occult, works on
	magic were sometimes referred to as "books of
	secrets," even if they had only tenuous connection
	with this new learning, and indeed even if there
	was no real secret about their contents. In the
	later Middle Ages a *Book of Secrets* ascribed to
	Albert the Great circulated quite widely. It
	contained various kinds of magic, none of it as
	sophisticated as technical astrology or alchemy;
	it ws essentially a work of popularization, but
	with added glamor derived from the pretense of
	sorcery. By far the most influential work of this
	genre was the pseudo-Aristotelian *Secret of
	Secrets*, which one author with pardonable
	exaggeration has called the most popular book in
	medieval Europe. Widely accepted as an authentic
	work by Aristotle, this book was well known in its
	Latin version, was translated into nearly every
	vernacular language of Europe, and was even put
	into poetic paraphrase. It purports to contain
	Aristotle's instruction to his pupil Alexander
	the Great. In fact, it is a motley compilation
	of material, put together in several different
	Arabic versions during the early Middle Ages
	long before its translation into Latin. Much of
	it is devoted to principles of statecraft and
	personal health, but natural magic also appears
	in its pages. Medicine, the powers of gems,
	astrology, and related topics are all included.
	The show of secrecy is carried beyond the title:
	much of the work, claiming to represent Aristotle's	
	esoteric learning, is concealed in riddles and
	other cryptic formulas, and Aristotle exhorts
	Alexander not to violate the divine mysteries by
	letting the book fall into the wrong hands. One
	could hardly find a better example, however, of
	a further reason for this display of secrecy:
	the semblance of mystery is itself a splendid
	advertisement, and a way to ensure wide
	distribution of a work.
	 "Magic in the Middle Ages", by Richard 
	 Kieckhefer, Cambridge University Press, 
	 1995; pp. 142-3.
# >I hope that those who claim that these documents are THE
# >tools to achieve this betterment provide support for their
# >claims. 
# I wish there would be some explanation of why a common 
# celestial sphere that is witnessable by all humankind 
# is a "grand secret", and how that secret does in fact 
# have relevance to bettering one's magick, relationships, 
# sex life, e-mail connectivity, or whatnot.

by virtue of the sphere's ineffable inapprehensibility, so
can the utterances of all manner of mage be praised as having
authority and, if constructively suppressed, inspire a kind
of heated desire to obtain them. when the promise of so coming
to obtain them is a side-benefit of joining any particular
organization, this can serve the purpose of a cult or social
body which desires to make use of this very old tool. when we
have placed into proper context the folly of this tool within
an organization purporting to support and/or promulgate the
Law of Thelema we shall have achieved a success to benefit
all of humanity by our efforts and those which perpetuate it
will fall by the wayside or take up the banner more properly.
# >I, for one, having seen reflections of these docs
# >and been a member of said order, do not yet believe it to
# >be true.
# I would wholeheartedly have to agree.

then we might as well proceed to more substantial topics ;>
and contrast what we DO think has substance in the realm of
'(sex?) magic(k) documents', secret or no.
blessed beast!
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