Explanation of Thelemic Spirtual System

I have been blogging with someone that follows Thelema – Christiantyisdead is the link (in case someone wants to read more). Since his site does not do much explanation on the nature of this idea – I figure I will chance to explain it – from Wikipedia (articles on Thelema and Crowley). Yes, Thelema is Aleister Crowley’s baby/life’s work. It is a spiritual system of some sort – that I will explain (in quotes from Wikipedia).

“Crowley’s system of Thelema begins with The Book of the Law, which bears the official name Liber AL vel Legis…This small book contains three chapters, each of which he wrote in exactly one hour, beginning at noon, on April 8, April 9, and April 10, 1904. Crowley claims that he took dictation from an entity named Aiwass, whom he later identified as his own Holy Guardian Angel.”

“The Comment” warns against discussing the Book’s contents, and states that all “questions of the Law are to be decided only by appeal to my writings” and is signed Ankh-af-na-khonsu (Crowley’s name)”

“Every individual has a True Will, to be distinguished from the ordinary wants and desires of the ego. The True Will is essentially one’s “calling” or “purpose” in life”

“Others follow later works such as Liber II, saying that one’s own will in pure form is nothing other than the divine will. Do what thou Wilt shall be the whole of the Law for Crowley refers not to hedonism, fulfilling everyday desires, but to acting in response to that calling”

“Crowley believed that in order to discover the True Will, one had to free the desires of the subconscious mind from the control of the conscious mind, especially the restrictions placed on sexual expression, which he associated with the power of divine creation”

“Thelema draws its principal gods and goddesses from Ancient Egyptian religion.”

(1) Highest deity – Goddess Nuit (night sky arched over the Earth symbolized in the form of a naked woman)

(2) Second deity – God Hadit (Hadit symbolizes manifestation, motion, and time. He is also described in Liber AL vel Legis as “the flame that burns in every heart of man, and in the core of every star’)

(3) Third Deity – Ra-Hoor-Khuit (or Horus) (symbolized as a throned man with the head of a hawk who carries a wand. He is associated with the Sun and the active energies of Thelemic magick)

Other deities: Harpocrates (god of silence and inner strength); Babalon (the goddess of all pleasure, known as the Virgin Whore); Therion (the beast that Babalon rides, who represents the wild animal within man, a force of nature)

“Thelemic magick is a system of physical, mental, and spiritual exercises which practitioners believe are of benefit. Crowley defined magick as “the Science and Art of causing Change to occur in conformity with Will”

“He also discussed sex magick and sexual gnosis in various forms including masturbatory, heterosexual, and homosexual practices, and these form part of his suggestions for the work of those in the higher degrees of the Ordo Templi Orientis

“One goal in the study of Thelema within the magical Order of the A∴A∴ is for the magician to obtain the knowledge and conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel; conscious communication with their own personal daimon, thus gaining knowledge of their True Will. The chief task for one who has achieved this goes by the name of “crossing the abyss”; completely relinquishing the ego.”

“There are no “standards of Right”. Ethics is balderdash. Each Star must go on its own orbit. To hell with “moral principle”; there is no such thing”

Liber Oz enumerates some of the rights of the individual implied by the one overarching right, “Do what thou wilt.” For each person, these include the right to: live by one’s own law; live in the way that one wills to do; work, play, and rest as one will; die when and how one will; eat and drink what one will; live where one will; move about the earth as one will; think, speak, write, draw, paint, carve, etch, mould, build, and dress as one will; love when, where and with whom one will; and kill those who would thwart these rights”

“Some interpreters of Thelema believe that this right includes an obligation to allow others to do their own wills without interference, but Liber AL makes no clear statement on the matter. Crowley himself wrote that there was no need to detail the ethics of Thelema, for everything springs from “Do what thou Wilt.”

Duty is described as “A note on the chief rules of practical conduct to be observed by those who accept the Law of Thelema.”…There are 4 sections:

  • Your Duty to Self: describes the self as the center of the universe, with a call to learn about one’s inner nature. Admonishes the reader to develop every faculty in a balanced way, establish one’s autonomy, and to devote oneself to the service of one’s own True Will.
  • Your Duty to Others: An admonishment to eliminate the illusion of separateness between oneself and all others, to fight when necessary, to avoid interfering with the Wills of others, to enlighten others when needed, and to worship the divine nature of all other beings.
  • Your Duty to Mankind: States that the Law of Thelema should be the sole basis of conduct. That the laws of the land should have the aim of securing the greatest liberty for all individuals. Crime is described as being a violation of one’s True Will.
  • Your Duty to All Other Beings and Things: States that the Law of Thelema should be applied to all problems and used to decide every ethical question. It is a violation of the Law of Thelema to use any animal or object for a purpose for which it is unfit, or to ruin things so that they are useless for their purpose. Natural resources can be used by man, but this should not be done wantonly, or the breach of the law will be avenged. For instance, deforestation can cause soil erosion.”

***This is a bit about some of the background of Thelema and it’s beliefs as a spiritual system…I will add more commentary in the comments section of this blog.


13 thoughts on “Explanation of Thelemic Spirtual System

  1. Christianityisdead (CID) has declared to me that this system is not ‘anti-Christian’ and may even be in compliance with Christian ideals and beliefs. I admit it is not inherently ‘anti-Christian’ – but it is in no way Christian either (let’s not fool ourselves here).

    Crowley believed his system of ‘Thelema’ was bringing in a new Aeon – a new era – that he would lead. He believed he recieved this guidance from his ‘daimon’ – Aiwass (the number 93). Thus those dictations he recieved and recorded in 1904. He truly believed ‘Christianity is dead’ – in the sense it’s aeon is over.

    Should be strongly noted Crowley was quite upset with a few forms of British Christianity – including forms of Protestantism and his own upbringing in the Plymouth Brethren (or a sect of the Brethren). His ideas seem to have sprung from this disappointment and his new spiritual leanings – which he developed over years.

    Those new spiritual leanings are whole plethora of things from ancient Egyptian leanings, to yoga, to buddhism, to magic, to sexual practices of ecstasy, to sacrifice, to the occult, to secret societies, to the kabbala, etc. It’s really a conglomarte of ideas mushed together…almost as if he never quite found his ‘true will’ or could not simplify it anyways. He even crucified a frog once…kinda cool, but insane, really.

    Throughout his life he would develop notes and writings on these practices, which oddly enough proved his theory ‘do what thou wilt’…because he seemed to do whatever he wanted to do. When it seems in fact his plight against the decry against homosexuality in Britain was for sure a motivating force…he wanted to have bisexual relations that were outlawed at the time. He invented pretty innovative ways to make that happen. Had he lived now, it is not clear whether he would of saw the need for 1/2 the stuff he did in secret (sexually) since homosexuality is an accepted form of lifestyle.

    He saw no need for ethics – and his ideas on ‘do what thou wilt’ and ‘love is the law’ seem to play into the idea ‘do whatever you want is the whole of the law’ as an appropriate interpretation. Love for him seemed to be defined a lot in the sexual arena (which was something heavily prohibited in his day). He also does not care to determine what someone needs to do or not do…he offers no restrictions for ‘the accomplishment of the defining of your true will/destiny’. And why should he…he defined the movement and did whatever the hell he wanted.

    In essence, Crowley did whatever the hell he wanted and whenever someone in his own orders or the forces of the law disapproved – he wrote them off. He divorced twice, broke off many friendships when things got too defined for his liking, didn’t seem to really like people in general, practiced sexually as he saw fit, moved when his practices found some disdain, and died alone. For someone that preaches ‘follow your true will’ – this person seemed to struggle to find his.

    • “Do what thou Wilt” does not imply do whatever you want. One’s Will is to act in accord with what is harmonious to the course of things without compromising one self. If you WANT to steal something, this is not the same as WILL. What one WANTS is not always the same as what one WILLS. The Will is the higher self, the compulsion to be better, not to be selfish.

  2. yeah dude.. i don’t like this system simply because it tries to reinvent the wheel. it’s a pretty poor cut and paste job from all different religions.. largely poor bastardizations of religions like Buddhism, Taoism, Judaism and Christianity. it’s like someone threw every single religion in a pot, mixed it up and stated “this will work!”

    i wonder what the appeal is. the myth of being a free and self-reliant individual? the general hinky feeling about laws, obiligation, and personal responsibility as imposed by a wider culture? plus i have a sneaking suspicion that the dude who writes on Christiantiy is Dead is about 15.

  3. It’s really quite a joke – once the study of Crowley begins and one gets to see the actual construction of these ideas, how he lived them out, and how his ‘do what thou wilt’ is an impossibility and will always have self-imposed rules (even if Crowley had to run from country to country to keep the system going).

    The idea seems to be a push for ‘freedom’ – finding and being yourself (whatever that is). However, had Crowley lived a little longer he might have learned that social relationships come to define the human existence and meaning of the human life as much as being alive does. So, the defintion of our lives is as much found in the mirror of relationships as it is in meditation (maybe even more so in relationships since it can be argued that no human contact may be drive a human insane and remove their ‘will’ to live).

    The true will is about ‘fate/destiny’ and all that jazz. I agree with Crowley that we all have a purpose and meaning on this planet – and we need to each search out what that might be. However, where Crowley might give lee-way for one’s existence to be a father of many children with no responsibility for his actions (no rules right)…I would not make such concessions.

    The fact is…we need rules and restrictions – to not have them is to play in imaginations.

  4. exactly! plus i don’t see anything in here aside from some obsure occult mumbo-jumbo that Christianity hasn’t addressed and done better. need liberation from your social context, try Liberation Theology! want a divine reverence and mystical union? try the Desert Fathers!!

    people don’t know history, want to believe it’s all about them, and think that they are always the exception to the rule.

  5. It’s really a conglomarte of ideas mushed together

    Seems to me, Crowley was making a sort of study, whether he at first intentioned this or not is irrelevent, into various religions in order to find that spark of the Divine which exists in each. In Thelema we are not only allowed, but ENCOURAGED to investigate and participate in various religious practices and theologies, asked not to believe in anything, to not say yes until we KNOW it is yes, and to not say no until we KNOW it is no.

    He saw no need for ethics – and his ideas on ‘do what thou wilt’ and ‘love is the law’ seem to play into the idea ‘do whatever you want is the whole of the law’ as an appropriate interpretation.

    Indeed, no need for ethics in the classic sense, because if each man and woman were to operate soley in and toward their own true will, no clashes of will would be found, and thus no conflict. “Every Man and every Woman is a Star…” and every star has it’s own orbit, that if true to it’s internal nature rarely will collide with another star.

    In essence, Crowley did whatever the hell he wanted and whenever someone in his own orders or the forces of the law disapproved

    True, Crowley may not be the greatest act to follow. He was indeed a drug addict, sex addict, and all around hard guy to get along with. This does, however, make him a perfect prophet of Thelema. There is no danger, as it has been stated before by others much more knowledgable than myself, of us confusing the messenger with the message, as has been done with Christianity, and other Old Aeon religions.

    Here is a quote from the intro to Liber AL:

    All events are equally lawful— and every one necessary, in the long run— for all of us, in theory; but in practice, only one act is lawful for each one of us at any given moment. Therefore Duty consists in determining to experience the right event from one moment of consciousness to another.

    (This final reply is in response to Luke)
    people don’t know history, want to believe it’s all about them, and think that they are always the exception to the rule.

    Are you here implying that Thelemites are unaware of the Mystical nature of early Christianity? (and indeed in many another religion as well!) On the contrary, we’ve borrowed heavily from it! “More Christian than the Christians!”

  6. I’d also like to redirect the readers to a somewhat recent rebuttle to another article on Thelema by Fr. Nanamin. He does a much better job than myself, and is definately worth a read.


  7. “Indeed, no need for ethics in the classic sense, because if each man and woman were to operate soley in and toward their own true will, no clashes of will would be found, and thus no conflict” (IWP)

    I like the idealism – but it’s likely 100% untrue as a quote. It’s pretending that my true will and about 6 billion others on this planet would not run rough-shod into one another and create friction. Easy way to answer this…if marriage is part of this ‘true will’ – do all marriages have some sort of rough spells to them? Relationships in general are kind of messy in ways also…to think there will be no problems because I follow my ‘true will’ is idealisitic but also impossible.

    “On the contrary, we’ve borrowed heavily from it! “More Christian than the Christians!”” (IWP)

    And this is why we need more discussion between Thelemites and Christians – because of quotes like that (more Christian than Christians). In what sense exactly?

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