Esoteric Thelema: Dispelling the curse of the Dogs of Reason!
Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
Causal determinism has been with us since ancient times. It is resumed in modern times, more specifically as self-willed determinism. Unthinking acceptance of causal determinism means that Thelemic magicians become ensnared by the crapulous creed of scientism. We list here some of the most commonplace delusions to be found within Thelema today, as well as in the wider streams of psychology, the occult and the pretended spirituality of the New Age movement and its associated therapeutic and other industries.
1. ‘All is Illusion’
2. ‘In the beginning…’
3. ‘The Qliphoth…’
4. ‘The Qabalah … and magical formulae’
5. ‘My aim is to do my True Will’
6. ‘Healing and empowerment’
8. ‘Spiritual Evolution’
9. ‘You create your own reality’
10. ‘Magick as a system of belief’
11. ‘Sexual Magick’
12. ‘Entheogens (drugs)’
Source: misunderstanding of Eastern traditions.
This notion automatically tends towards nihilism, and so to death as finality. The (Egyptian) Book of the Law, Liber AL, III: 2 rescues us from such peril, for “all is not aught”. That is to say, ‘all is not to be construed as nothing’. Also, in Liber AL, II: 9, “there is that which remains”. The ‘that’ which remains is not at all ‘nothing’. All appearance is the Form of the Formless. The Formless, or absence of sense-objects, is not a ‘nothing’. God, or the absolute, is both Form and Formlessness, and furthermore, is beyond these.
2. ‘In the beginning, or at the root of all, is nothing or nothingness. The nothing concentrates to form one (Kether), which is the source of all things.’
Source: misunderstanding of Qabalah.
The relation of Da’ath to the supernal triad explains how the Tree of Life is a simultaneous ‘effect’ or appearance, evoked by Will (or Hadit). Frater Achad (Stansfeld Jones) produced the following concise description of the true nature and function of Da’ath, in Aleister Crowley’s The Equinox series.
It is important to explain the Position of Daath or Knowledge upon the Tree. It is called the Child of Chokmah and Binah, but it hath no Place. But it is really the Apex of a Pyramid of which the three first Numbers form the Base.
Source: misunderstanding the works of Kenneth Grant.
Grant used the term ‘Qliphoth’ in both the particular sense, as relating to demons, as defined by their name, character or signature, and in the universal sense, as all thing that appear whatsoever (Malkuth). Grant developed the idea that all Qliphoth, ‘evil shells of matter’, are masks of emptiness or absence.
The evocation of demons or spirits is ordinary magical practice that is best done within the strict parameters of ceremonial working. The Goetic spirits, for example, were conceived through the dualistic framework of monotheistic religion. It is necessary to understand the theology of sin and redemption before undertaking such operations—unless it is the aim of the magician to become enslaved by blind forces. Such spirits do not convey knowledge that assists in spiritual matters. The ‘Tunnels of Set’ were an invention of Grant, a work of evocation that he carried out over many years (Typhonian Trilogies). Entering these tunnels, as Grant defined them, is to enter a dream world, more or less nightmarish, that Grant conjured with the help of an obscure writing by Aleister Crowley on the Tarot trumps and their paths, Liber 231. The real Tunnels of Set are pathways between the stars, ultimately leading beyond the stars. These were symbolised in Egyptian hieroglyphics; they adorn the interior of certain pyramids and tombs. They lead out of the underworld, not into it. The tunnels of Kenneth Grant lead into the underworld of his creation, and provide no means of escape thereby.
4. ‘The Qabalah is primarily useful in producing magical formulae. A magical formula may be a key to more advanced levels of initiation.’
Source: misunderstanding the works of Aleister Crowley.
Example: a formula means ‘form; shape or mould’. The arithmetical 2 + 2 = 4 can be a formula if we apply it thus: 2 + 2 = 4; 4 + 4 = 8; 8 + 8 = 16 … Whenever we add a number to the value of itself, the result is always twice that first number. The first number is always half of the result of the addition. Such a reliable formula, however simple or complex, can have practical uses. It is not, however, a key to anything esoteric such as ‘initiation’ or ‘will’.
5. ‘My aim is to do my True Will. Your aim is to do your True Will. It is possible that I could assist you to do your True Will. It is possible I could hinder or obstruct you from doing your True Will.’
Source: misunderstanding the Law of Thelema. The notion is also propagated through the reductionism of Aleister Crowley, in his writings on the subject. Crowley wrote an instruction called Liber OZ, in which he puts forward the absurd notion that other people might hinder or obstruct a person’s True Will, or their ‘right’ to do their True Will.
Thelema and Agape, Will and Love, are equal and cognate terms. The True Will is not a thing that can be acquired or possessed. No one can take away your True Will! No one can obstruct or hinder it.
(i) Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law. This is not the same as, ‘Do what you will shall be the whole of the Law’. ‘Do what you will’ expresses the causal determinism of philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer, in his The World as Will and Representation (1818). The Will is esoteric. The ‘Effect’ (or appearance) is exoteric. Thus we have it in Liber AL, II: 4: “Yet she [Nuit] shall be known and I [Hadit] never.” It is not possible to know one’s (personal) True Will, for as soon as it is known, it is no longer Will but effect or appearance. The Will is esoteric, for it is the consciousness principle itself, otherwise Hadit.
(ii) Love is the law, love under will. Would we say, “It is my aim to do my True Love”? ‘Love’ may be a verb, the verb ‘to love’, but we do not think of doing love. We can ‘make love’, but we know this describes an action of sensual pleasure; we know (innately) that love cannot be created. Love simply is. Consciousness is. Will is. Hadit, the esoteric point, determines the exoteric (‘known’) circumference or circle. Yet the existence of Hadit owes entirely to the circle. The ‘two’ are simultaneous.
(iii) It is foolish therefore to think in the following terms:
“I am working in a job that I really hate. Therefore I cannot be doing my True Will.” Or otherwise, “The works of Franz Schubert carried his unique signature; he was (therefore) doing his True Will.”
The True Will is not about vocation or jobs of work; it is not about the production of forms, such as with works of art, however beautiful. To imagine that it is means suffering a considerable burden—a burden that is completely unnecessary for it is the phantom product of error. The Will is esoteric. The ‘effect’ is exoteric. The job of work that one does, the works of art that one produces, the words that we speak or write, all actions that we perform whatsoever, are ‘the known’, that is, the ‘effect’, which is exoteric. Such are “not of me” (Liber AL, I: 49).
Source: misunderstanding of the Christian Gospel narrative and the older folk traditions (‘healing’). Misunderstanding of the nature of power (‘empowerment’).
The king and the land are one. When the king is ailing, the land is impoverished; the people suffer. The question is asked of the king, “What ails thee, o king?” This begins the quest for the Holy Graal. The king sends his knights out on the errand to find the sum bonum or stone of the wise. The question is never answered, for the will is esoteric, the ‘effect’ (or appearance of things) is exoteric. Thus the Graal is not a remedy as such, it is the stone of the wise, which may only be expressed through symbol and allegory. If the symbol is objectified, then ‘the king dies’.
In the lucrative field of pop psychology, feeling good about oneself is an objectified (therefore false) Graal, and is frequently even confused with ‘spirituality’. Deterministic thinking breeds legions of vampire progeny in the objectification of pursuits, achievements and goals such as ‘self-worth’, or the acquiring of material wealth and status. Most often this derives from the deterministic scale of feeling good and feeling bad, called ‘Maslow’s Pyramid’. At the summit of the pyramid is the false Graal of ‘self-actualisation’. The self-fulfilled, self-willed, intellectually self-satisfied and morally complacent individual attains the pinnacle. At the base of the pyramid is physical need, necessity. Sometimes an inverse pyramid of ‘low self-esteem’ is placed below to show negativity. Belief in this doctrine leads the person to become isolated from others and imprisoned by the very beliefs that led them to seek ‘healing’ in the first place. The doctrine also leads to another abortive child of the New Age, called ‘positive thinking’. This encourages self-suppression through hypnosis.
‘Self-empowerment’ is as impossible as self-initiation. How can the self give to the self? ‘Empowerment’ actually means to give or convey power to another. Therefore when a consultant, for example, pretends to help a person become ‘empowered’, any power is transferred to the professional.
There is only one real power in the universe. That power is the power of attention. Every creature on earth has it; every songbird on every tree and chimney has it. Human beings are unique among all creatures in that they have entirely lost the power of placing attention on their immediate environment. Frequently they do not even know what power is. Politicians, for example, are not powerful in any real sense, no matter how wealthy they may be, no matter how large the systems of government or armies they command. They are merely the puppets of blind forces. The status we have in the eyes of the worldly, our apparent accomplishments, has nothing to do with any real power.
Source: misunderstanding of Eastern traditions. Causal determinism. Linear thinking as opposed to analogous thought.
Reincarnation is a persistent New Age myth, for it promises a kind of immortality in the flesh. The following is from Thelemic Doctrine of the Afterlife:
The mutant version of metempsychosis, or reincarnation, became increasingly popular in the Western world from the time of Madame Blavatsky’s Theosophical Society and onwards. The doctrine is relatively modern, appearing in the middle of the first millennium in both Greek and Hindu philosophy, Orphism and the Vedas. Greek scholars dispute that Plato, who wrote about it, accepted the doctrine as it has come to be understood. The modern notion of reincarnation owes to the classical interpretation of a doctrine shrouded in mystery. … The thrust of classical reincarnation is that it works on a merit system. If you do good, you will achieve reincarnation in a higher life form. If you do evil, you will be reborn as a dog, a toad, a worm or a demon. This concept depends on a strictly hierarchical view of nature consisting of higher life forms and lower life forms, where man is assumed to be the pinnacle of creation. The doctrine coincides with that of spirit seen as the opposer of nature—that nature is to be overcome, to be made submissive to the superior might of man. Once we embrace the idea that the soul can be pure, then we must account for impurity and sin. Once we believe a soul can be rewarded in the afterlife then we must believe the soul can be punished for iniquity. The Egyptian Book of the Law, Liber AL vel Legis II: 22, refutes all classical notions of purity and sin:
It is a lie, this folly against self. The exposure of innocence is a lie. Be strong, o man! lust, enjoy all things of sense and rapture: fear not that any God shall deny thee for this.
Source: Scientism (applied to theurgy) and (thus) causal determinism.
The notion that we may evolve spiritually, on the personal level, is derived from linear thinking, that we may ‘progress’ forwards in time. The mystic goal of the soul’s liberation is not bound or defined by temporal considerations—when that is done, the matter is objectified, the ‘king is dead’. The knowledge path requires that we follow the symbol back to its source with the infinite. The knowledge path is thus that of involution, not evolution. We are helped in this matter by the words of Liber AL, II: 58:
Yea! deem not of change: ye shall be as ye are, and not other. Therefore the kings of the earth shall be Kings for ever: the slaves shall serve. There is none that shall be cast down or lifted up: all is ever as it was.
The monograph, Magical Evolution of Consciousness explores in depth the cosmic pretensions concerning impersonal evolution that was a failing of 20th century occultists—for thereby they succumbed to megalomania.
To imagine that Thelema—as a religion—might supersede the existing world religions and put everything to rights is plainly absurd. The world religions were all propagated, without exception, in the vain hope of unifying people and cultures. Such attempts at unification have always succeeded only in creating more human misery and suffering through division and conflict. The Utopian idealism of the early twentieth century soon collapsed into Dystopia, a state of affairs now bolstered and perpetuated by the vast expansion of technological dependency.
Source: Schopenhauer, The World as Will and Representation (1818).
Aleister Crowley and his followers have accepted Schopenhauer’s rationalist argument in defining the ‘True Will’. As a consequence, we now have a commercial brand of ‘Thelema’ that is acceptable to academics, yet which has nothing to do with any spiritual path. Lapis Philosophorum explores this subject in depth.
The basis, that all the world is appearance, having no essential reality in itself, is borrowed from the Eastern schools, especially Buddhism. After that, the rest bears little or no relation with any established historical tradition other than Greek rational argument, especially that of the Stoics. Here, the (human) will is perceived in terms of causal determinism. Schopenhauer’s doctrine … states that everything that appears in nature does so by an act of will. The will is independent of knowledge, which is ‘secondary’ (as caused by will). Knowledge is not therefore required for will to manifest. The will is the only thing-in-itself, the “sole truly real, primary, metaphysical thing in a world in which everything else is only appearance, i.e., mere representation”. The will therefore, “gives all things, whatever they may be, the power to exist and to act”. Since this will is a blind force, there is automatically a need for ethical values such as are found in asceticism (chastity, various abstinences, for example). Previously, such a will-force was ascribed only to God or the divine absolute. Schopenhauer famously declared: “The world is my representation”. … Aleister Crowley and occultists through to the present times have generally adopted the concept, both philosophically and in operative theurgy. Both Nietzsche and later Crowley rejected, however, the notion that desire begets suffering. They therefore sought to remove entirely the ethical requirement. This paved the way for the postmodern Left-hand path school of thought and magical practice, which, when taken to the logical extreme, produces the self-confining, self-limiting doctrine of Isolate Intelligence.
Source: popular myth, propagated through journalism, mostly online but in many modern book publications since the late 1980s; hypnotism and ‘psychological occultism’.
i) Belief is a requirement of religion, but is an obstruction to the path of Gnosis. Where belief begins, knowledge ends.
ii) The notion that one can effect magical change through ‘suspension of disbelief’, i.e., to believe something to be true that one knows to be absurd, achieves nothing but the magnification of existing delusion.
Source: Aleister Crowley and many other writers and thinkers that have fallen for the hoax. As with entheogens (below), the root of the error is determinism. What follows is abridged from Lapis Philosophorum.
… let Asar be with Isa, who also are one. But they are not of me. Let Asar be the adorant, Isa the sufferer …
When … outcome or result is generated by manipulation of physiological function (‘sexual magick’), the verse quoted from Liber AL, I: 49 [above] becomes a critical factor in the tendency produced in the (reflective) human psyche, and in any physical manifestation. Isa and Asar, or woman and man, the polar twins in time and space, must be perfectly united. As it is said, they “also are one”. Until this union takes place, they are “not of me”, that is to say, their existence is strictly limited in time. Knowing this, the soul (Isa) suffers; even while the will-seed (Asar) is poured forth in adoration of the objectified symbol, that will remains isolated. It is an error to interpret the Thelemic law of love under will as mere manipulation, an application of a mechanical science. The consequence of Eros (the desire principle) is Thanatos or death as finality. Secreted in the subtle body of woman are the kalas, in universal terms, the ‘moment’ that must be seized. As declared in Liber AL, I: 52:
If this be not aright; if ye confound the space-marks, saying: They are one; or saying, They are many; if the ritual be not ever unto me: then expect the direful judgments of Ra Hoor Khuit!
Such judgments are indeed “direful”, for even at an advanced stage of magical development there is still the very real possibility of the soul’s annihilation. The soul knows this, but the will of the ego-self has the power to contract itself, to concentrate all desire upon the objectified result, which means death for the soul.
Will he not sink? Amn. Ho! warrior, if thy servant sink?
Liber AL, I: 51
12. Entheogens (psychotropic plants, etc.) produce altered states that are spiritual and initiatory.
Source: causal determinism; rationalism or scientism; misunderstanding of folk-loric traditions (‘shamanism’); much literature in the last century, beginning with some of the works of Aleister Crowley, who saw no difference between yogic samadhi (‘union with God’) and altered states of consciousness that might be obtained by ‘anyone’ through resort to hashish, mescaline, etc.
The material rationalist seeks a physical (or intellectual) cause for everything. Thus, a ‘vision of God’, for example might be thought to be ‘caused’ by a chemical change in the body. Such a change must therefore be ‘caused’ in turn by something else. Taking any drug, be it synthetic or from a natural plant source, will effect changes in the body’s chemistry, as does the consumption of food, drink, anything whatsoever. Physical substances affect physical things, such as chemistry, hormones. The experiences that may be gained through the use of psychotropic plants are extremely persuasive; very powerful visions may occur, though the nature and quality of these will differ greatly according to each individual. The spiritually minded person will encounter what they may truly believe to be tremendous spiritual insights. The materialist may experience no more than a play of light and colour, finding it no more significant than an exotic form of entertainment. A person with a fragile, disordered psyche might experience terrifying, disturbing hallucinations, and so forth. There is nothing truly spiritual in any of this, though the ‘power’ in such visions is the power to persuade the person that there is. The altered state, even the change in perception of reality that may be produced through the use of psychotropic plants, is no more than the observation of an effect in the body.
Such erroneous ideas are “The word of Sin” that is “Restriction” (Liber AL, I: 41). They are restricting, limiting and imprisoning Thelemites around the world today.
The Law of Thelema lives! It is to liberate our souls, not enslave them
Does the Esoteric Doctrine of Thelema repudiate the usually stated aims of magick, to wit, initiation or Gnosis? Does the Esoteric Doctrine reject the notion that the True Will can be known?
Certainly not, in either case: Direct knowledge of reality, the true state of affairs, remains the aim and fully realisable goal of magical initiation and the spiritual path of Esoteric Thelema. The 93 Current of love under will cannot be explained in ordinary terms, for it is by nature esoteric; any explanation objectifies, evokes, calls to appearance, defines and limits in time. Its existence is entirely independent of us, yet truly is our selves. It is the Lapis Philosophorum, the stone of the wise, and the elixir of life. It flows like a clear mountain spring, a fountain of light and life, yet is neither light nor darkness. It is neither sun nor shadow reflection; fragrance is its emanation. It is the eternal, indestructible crystalline jewel of undying love and wisdom.
Love is the law, love under will.
1. Lapis Philosophorum, the Esoteric Doctrine of Thelema, is set forth plainly in the book Babalon Unveiled! Thelemic Monographs [Ordo Astri]. To clear the way for a new and better understanding of Thelema and its tenets, philosophic and theological determinism is thereby revoked. It is explained how Esoteric Thelema differs from Christianity, Buddhism, ‘Crowleyanity’, Isolate Intelligence and Left-hand Path, Materialism or Scientism, and Postmodern (or faux) Non-Dualism.
2. We paraphrase here the wisdom of Swami Ramakrishna (Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna).
3. The Equinox Vol. 1 No. 5, pp. 89, ‘The Temple of Solomon the King’.
4. See Babalon Unveiled! [ibid].
7. In later life, Crowley leaned ever more closely to the Buddhistic philosophy. In writing what he considered to be a kind of thesis for the grade of Magus, for example, he appealed to the teachings of Lau Tzu, not the (Egyptian) Book of the Law. The covert conversion was undoubtedly due to the fact that Buddhism is a rational dogmatic philosophy.
9. Crowley notably put this idea across in his published diary record, John St. John.
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