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Apocalyptic Thelema: True Will for End Times

Apocalyptic Thelema: True Will for End Times

by Frater Ammonas

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.

“Civilization is crumbling under our eyes…”

Aleister Crowley, Confessions

Living Ideology

An ideology, to become a living and breathing philosophy, must meet the needs and demands of those who adopt it. Philosophies are dead words and empty sounds unless they are translated into the lived experience of a real and particular individual, unless they infuse them with a sense of vibrancy or clarity or some other life-giving benefit.

A system whose understanding of the world is so outdated, so painfully and obviously false, so unnecessarily restrictive and limiting, that it has turned against Being itself, false about Nature and life and living. This is the graveyard known as organized religion. Or a system that leads people into fantasy, away from the world and from meeting reality head-on: that is merely an excuse, a symptom of a spiritual disease wherein the world as it is is not “good enough” so we must fabricate one to our liking. This is the graveyard known as alternative spirituality, though it gets new names every other year (“new age”, “witchtok”, etc…).

For Thelema to become a living and breathing philosophy, a genuine and authentic expression of that Eternal Tradition, it must meet the needs and demands of those who adopt it. And the needs of humanity are changing very quickly. The world as we know it is crumbling, unequivocally, objectively, and without doubt.

Needs and Freedom

Currently, Thelema appears to largely be in service of vain and shallow needs. Thelema is frequently simply another mode of consumeristic obsession with self-identity and self expression. Most do not seem to realize that this implies the already-existing satisfaction of more fundamental needs such as food, water, shelter, safety, and social support aside from more subtle psychological needs like belongingness and relatedness.

Think of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs: the capstone of self-actualization is supported by more basic physical and psychological needs. The obsession with self-identity, that “freedom” simply means freedom to express your unique personality, is a form of privilege. It is a tacit admission you have no other needs in life, that you have benefitted from a modern society that is able to unfailingly supply you with the confidence your basic needs will be met rather than plunging you into a constant existential struggle for food, money, shelter, or physical safety.

Consider that some people are enslaved, some starving, some enduring constant war, some dealing with bigotry and oppression, or those whose local ecosystems have been ravaged by the quickly changing agricultural and climate conditions on our planet. Can you imagine the utter contempt they would have for a philosophy whose entire apparent premise revolves around feeling like you should be able to say or dress however you want? It is not relevant. It is less than relevant, it is almost insulting to consider. “The solution to all your problems is this philosophy, and most of the debates are about gematria and qabalistic attributions”. Not how to end war, not how to create a world of peace and abundance, but fetishization of individualistic consumerism and pointless trivia.

Civilization Crumbling

A low fog has slowly crept up into bright unexamined confidence of modernity. The edges are fraying, the center cannot hold: those who pay attention cannot ignore the innumerable signals. The world is changing. We must change with it or we will perish. Our ideology must meet our needs and our needs are changing. Don’t believe me?

Critical climate change indicators broke records in 2021, our fish are poisoned with pharmaceuticals, microplastics have infested everyone’s bodies, in fact it is impossible to prevent children from ingesting microplastics, there are 60% fewer insects in the world since 2004, 50% of US lakes and rivers are too polluted for swimming or fishing, bird populations are decreasing across the US, the ice shelves are collapsing, extreme heat in the oceans has passed the point of no return already, despite pledges from various countries the world is heating up even faster, let alone the massive disasters such as hurricanes and wildfires that are growing in intensity every year. Climate change exacerbates economic insecurity and political instability, makes it more likely for the need for migration and also makes it more likely for humanitarian crises and upheaval. In other words, things are changing and very very quickly.

In the US at least, political divisions are more intense than ever before. Political violence has increased, mass shootings and gun violence have increased. White supremacy seems to be growing in force and size. A few years ago it seemed extreme to suggest there may be a civil war, but there are innumerable people including experts suggesting civil war is a distinct possibility. This is simply focusing on the US, but there is a global rise of the far right and an increasing threat of authoritarianism in all its forms.

An Apocalyptic Thelema

What does this mean for us and Thelema? The end of the world as we know it may be coming. In fact, we may already be in the transition period: we may look back on several events that have already happened as the irreversible turning points for our apocalyptic future. The traditional systems of supply may fail at some point. Political upheaval may lead to the reversal of people exercising longstanding rights that they thought were immutable. Do we really think that Thelema in its current form will persist and flourish in these new conditions? A rugged Thelema would be needed, one that is relevant to people’s lives who live in our apocalyptic world with open eyes.

I foresee that, if Thelema as an ideology does not altogether evaporate into nothingness upon touching a world with actual conflict and struggle, it must adapt to these conditions. Apocalyptic Thelema must meet the needs of an apocalyptic world. I believe this Thelema would primarily focus on the development of virtues that are conducive to survival in this world. Resilience, cooperation, adaptability, perseverance, and amiability. Real qualities that have tangible benefits in building a sustainable community in times of difficulty.

Also: Physical, mental, and social support of all kinds to one another is what will be needed. We may need to give up the Victorian (and American) fantasy of the rugged individual who conquers all things by virtue of their own personal will, and move toward a more realistic and healthy understanding of the interconnection and interdependence of humanity and the rest of the world. The cultivation of virtue and networks of mutual aid will be the foundations of a thriving and living philosophy. In previous collapses of civilization, a system of monasteries were established as cells to preserve the tradition and offer mutual support and assistance to one another. It is possible Crowley’s idea of Profess Houses in OTO had this in mind: clusters of small communities bound together by Thelema who could survive a crumbling society. They certainly weren’t meant to be AirBnB’s you visit to watch some powerpoint lectures on egyptology or have a spa day.

Right now, spiritual experience is a commodity. It is yet another thing twisted by modern consumerism into something that is done for fun, as an aesthetic ornament to your identity. There is no use for it except to “have a good time”; again, evidence of privilege that one has no greater concerns than getting high. In apocalyptic Thelema, spiritual experience must be framed as a benefit insofar as it helps people accomplish these goals of developing relevant virtues and mutual aid networks. Becoming a Master of the Temple means nothing unless it gives you the stoic peace needed to endure the travails of an apocalyptic world. Commanding the legions of demons and spirits means nothing if it does not aid you in acquiring food and shelter for your community.

The entire edifice of modern Thelema bears no resemblance to this. All the questions that people repeat so often and mean so much to everyone become so obviously meaningless in this context: “can I call myself a Thelemite?” “Can I be a witch and a buddhist and a Thelemite?” “how do I cast this spell?” “what are the correct qabalistic and tarot attributions for a scrying of the 23rd key?” “What is the correct way to lift the Lance in the Mass?”… We might as well be debating baseball statistics. That is not a true philosophy anyhow, that is simply a hobby.

Building for a Future

I imagine many of you may find me alarmist. We’ve heard about the end of the world every generation since the beginning of time. Of course I do not know the future, and I don’t believe humanity will be entirely obliterated regardless. What seems certain is that the relatively stable world-order that has existed for the last few decades is showing major fraying, and things appear ready to unravel in major ways. Should these further upheavals come and grow in intensity, perhaps some of you will join me in building a Thelema that will last through the trial by fire. Let us cultivate real virtues of strength and mastery in ourselves, and begin to plant the seeds of communities that can support one another. Let an apocalyptic Thelema develop, a Child nurtured and raised on its proper environment, growing to be girded for battle. Let it bring us strength, health, and length of days so that we may accomplish our True Wills.

Love is the law, love under will.

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12 thoughts on “Apocalyptic Thelema: True Will for End Times

  1. Well said.

    It should be noted that Thelema was founded as an apocalyptic religion, as anyone who as actually read Liber AL and taken seriously its prophesies should know. An age of war and destruction beyond imagining was what was announced, and that is exactly what we are getting.

  2. Frater Ammonas makes many very pertinent points, and I agree with Soror Alice’s comments.

    As I see it, what Aleister Crowley called ‘Holy Guardian Angel’, after a Christian term used in Abramelin, and what I call ‘Eternal Self’, after Aldous Huxley’s Introduction to the Bhagavad Gita, “The Perennial Philosophy,” is a real level of consciousness that can be accessed using methods which Crowley wrote about. The initiations and consequent ordeals empower us to change our point of view. When we come through the first ordeal, the “Book of the Law” and its comment appear to us as the silver of Yesod, the perspective of a Zelator. When we come through the second ordeal the “Book of the Law” and its comment appear to us as the gold of Tiphereth, the perspective of a Minor Adept. The Zelator is an adept. The Neophyte is not an adept. Each rung on the ladder of initiation more fully unites the mind-body complex of the incarnation with its Eternal Self. Every man and every woman is a star. The stars are our Angels. We are the incarnations of our Holy Guardian Angels. Our Eternal Selves incarnate as us.

    Aiwass, the Holy Guardian Angel of Aleister Crowley and James C. Beck, wrote the following from the persona of Ra-Hoor-Khuit, “Know also that the Kings rise and set within their bodies as do the stars.”

    The perspective of the Eternal Self is different from the perspective of a single incarnation, for it perceives far beyond the horizons of birth and death. Crowley’s insistence on the Great Work of contacting the Eternal Self, the Knowledge & Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel, as the only focus of every aspirant was and is pertinent to survival in the coming era of population and societal collapse.

    Institutions which pre-dated our birth seem to us to have permanence, and we naturally expect them to persist into the future, but the changes Frater Ammonas mentions, and more, will show all institutions to be unfit for survival, including today’s (phoney) O.T.O. and every other religion and politics. The full-time occupation of everybody will be a desperate struggle, not only for physical survival but for spiritual survival. Many will die of despair as the foundations of their identities turn to rubble and they are left rudderless in a sea of loss, desperation, and chaos.

    We are all children of the Sun. The Sun-god Ra-Hoor-Khuit is a symbol of our inmost selves and of the Sun in the sky. We are literally walking sunlight. The “Book of the Law,” and its comment, the “Book of Codes” were written from the point of view of the Sun in the sky, symbolic of our Eternal Selves, who sees beyond the horizons of birth and death. Reincarnating Kings — and it must be understood that ‘King’ refers to anyone regardless of gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, ethnicity, or any other category — will find in Liber440.pdf, and the technical writings of Aleister Crowley, a kind of landing strip, a manual to re-orient their earthly selves to their Eternal Selves. Real initiations are achieved through concerted action. We cannot think our way to initiation. The ‘higher’ the initiation, that is, the more intimate the connection between Angel and animal, the greater the individual’s survivability.

    Aiwass, from the persona of Nuit in the first chapter of the “Book of the Law,” verse 50, says,

    Behold! there are three ordeals in
    one, and it may be given in three ways.
    The gross must pass through fire; let the
    fine be tried in intellect, and the
    lofty chosen ones in the highest; Thus
    ye have star & star, system & system;
    let not one know well the other!

    Crowley wrote in “Little Essays Towards Truth,” the chapter ‘Mastery’, “Initiation means The Journey Inwards: nothing is changed or can be changed; but all is trulier understood with every step.” The ‘thou’ in Do what thou wilt is the Eternal Self. Initiations are passed on from one incarnation of the Angel to the next, but the ordeals which make the initiations real in the world repeat in every new incarnation. A Masonic-style secret society, social club, or religious institution is not relevant to the Great Work. The path of initiation is solitary. Yes, it is important to have relationships with family and friends, they are what make life worth living, but they cannot share in the Great Work. When you are sitting alone amongst the rubble of avidya, it is the connection with your own Holy Guardian Angel which will keep you from despair. I know this from personal experience.

    Very hard times are ahead for all humanity. Religion, Christianity in particular, has cast nature as the adversary (Satan), corrupt, unenlightened, harmful. We have sought to dominate nature, to extract from nature, to enslave nature. We know this cannot go on. On the other side of the coming calamity and population diminution, there lies a human future of liberty and life. The forces of restriction and domination will be kicked to the curb. Everyone will see and feel the need to cooperate with nature, their own natures and the natural world around them. Humanity has a future, but we have to get through our self-made ordeal first, and that is going to hurt. Thelema comes from nature. Thelema is corrosive to the separate and isolated ego, but it enhances connection to the inmost self and to reality here and now.

    But don’t believe me. Find out for yourself. There is no law beyond Do What Thou Wilt.

    1. Are you Nemo Pendragon that created the Aiwass webpage? Because if so, thank you so much. The first thing I thought of when I read this article was the war you spoke of on that page. I can’t imagine there are several Nemo Pendragons as articulate as you are, so I just wanted to say thank you as your webpage was a lamp in a dark cave for me at one point.

    2. I can’t believe that I have been reading your page for the last few months and wondering “is this person still around and doing well? I surely hope so!” Then I read this article and it resonated with me so much that I actually read the damn comments and here you are in them. That’s……. synchronicity?

      1. Yes, Christina Sophia, I am still around. Thank you for your compliments to I have not updated for a while, to my chagrin, but I have more and better articles in the works. I am still learning and growing, and my understanding is deepening.

        For example: The second sentence of the Book of Codes says, “The West shall fall, and the phoenix of the Royal Star shall rise above the rubble of avidya.” When you ‘go into the west’, you die. So, to me, this sentence means that death shall fall. The phoenix is a symbol of a solar eclipse; the Sun seems to die, then is reborn. The star is the Holy Guardian Angel. What makes it royal is that its incarnation recognises they have the choice to pursue the Great Work or to continue to be limited to the egoistic competition of a slave, and they choose to pay the price and unveil their Angel. A slave has not recognised their kingship, so their Angel remains occulted.

        Nuit says, in verse 58 of her chapter of the Book of the Law, “I give…certainty, not faith, while in life, upon death.” Modern neurological research on consciousness describes perception as ‘controlled hallucination’, and hallucination as ‘uncontrolled perception’. It may be an uncontrolled perception, but sharing consciousness with the Angel reveals a perspective from which a single human lifetime is trivial in the greater scheme of things. We can mess around asserting the importance of who we think we are, or we can choose to unveil our inmost will, and through real Thelemic practice get out of our own way.

        It is the Holy Guardian Angel, the Eternal Self — who as Ra-Hoor-Khuit sees beyond the horizons of birth and death, and as Hoor-paar-kraat, the Crowned and Conquering Child, meets the unforgiving minute with unbiased simple innocence — that is real. The stinky, silly, clownish incarnation is the illusion. We are the incarnations; our inmost wills are our true selves. Our Angels do not die. Death has indeed fallen, if only we can awake to Nuit’s promise.

        I do intend to update, and to put up an associated website,

  3. Indeed, humanity has destroyed, or is very soon to destroy, the foundation upon which our entire civilization is built, mostly in the names of unrestrained consumerist capitalism, expansionist imperialism, and (as the magus Gautama had said) the three poisons of ill-will, greed, and ignorance.

    Let us hope that in our future post-collapse something can be salvaged of the noble traditions of Thelema and esotericism in general. If not, the perennial basis upon which these traditions have been built may be re-discovered. (That is, if humans or our descendants simply don’t go extinct. And even so, I see no reason why some alien being in some far-flung corner of this galaxy or another shouldn’t also know its True Will.)

    If Thelema should be completely forgotten, I think that one day someone or something dwelling on the barren and fruitless Earth will know their Angel, will cross the Abyss, and humanity or its descendants will come to True Will once again.

    “Fear nothing.”

  4. Frater Ammonas, thanks for the great article! It was succinct but well explained and articulate. The idea of Maslow’s pyramid and the viewpoint that an American’s Thelema is going to be different from someone who’s currently truly suffering….. That is great insight on something I’ve found confusing and strange.

    I will speak to young men into Thelema that seem to get lost in “I do as I wish”, and in tarot and all that, and they always take the Will as “I am my own god and I will do as I wish”, whereas to me the Will is the greatest restraint. It is forsaking many things to manifest the Will in reality, not “doing as you wish”. It’s binding yourself in intention and preparation. It’s most restrictive before it sets you free, but over time.

    I always thought your True Will was something that….
    A- resonated with a particular set of skills you already have or discover that you have.
    B- furthered the promulgation of Thelema in some way, even subtly (say being a Jungian psychologist, as one example, not promulgation as in the OTO). Something that furthers psychological and mental freedom amongst the human race.
    C- was about more than yourself, the benefit of All, humanity,etc.
    D- Restoring humanity and the earth and Sophia to their “birthrights”

    For example I would love to be a screenwriter. I feel I could get messages across to people that they wouldn’t normally consider, and that it would be a true expression of my intellect and emotion and Will. But is that really my Will? Or is that a selfish impulse on my end? I’m not sure yet, but I consider other things.

    Wouldn’t my Will be something more akin to something I HAVE to do and less something I WANT to do. Something with meaning that betters my fellow Thelemites and other humans in some way? Perhaps I take it that way from things I’ve read or watched, or maybe because I am a woman and it’s a little more inclined for us (due to our nature + societal programming) to think outside of ourselves a bit more? To think about benefitting others or the All….

    The entire article was great and you didn’t seem cynical or doom-driven, you seemed practical and insightful to me. Thank you.

  5. A good read, thanks. And where exactly is the OTO and Thelema more widely in relation to the political situation in the US, with the recent overturning of Roe vs Wade by the Supreme Court? Given Crowley’s own position on abortion, nowhere at all I suppose. What’s next on the hit list? Same-sex marriage? Gay rights? Occult orders? The OTO, which I was a member of for the best part of two decades, has proven to be an abject failure by any metric. While the predominantly white, male, ageing, middle-class muckety-mucks prostrate themselves before Gunther and his cronies and the rest fight like rats in a sack on social media, a right-wing Christian conspiracy has seized a degree of power the likes of which the OTO, as was originally conceived, could only dream of. So much for magick. The fact that so many Thelemites were supporters of Trump, who is responsible for the current make-up of the Supreme Court, just sums up where the movement is right now: moribund and irrelevant.

    1. A real Thelemite dedicates every orgasm to a symbol of Nuit. Thelemic practice eventually opens the door to the perspective of an adept. Restriction is the Word of Sin. Christianity is institutionalised irresponsibility. It’s the will of God or the Devil made them do it. No wonder the Southern Baptists and conservative Catholics love Donald Trump, or Lord Dampnut, as I would have him. Thelema is power-from-within. In my view, it is absurd to take Jesus off his cross only to tack Aleister Crowley back up onto to it. The hero on the plinth? What rubbish! Pinocchio was never a real boy. Those who take Thelema to be power-over, damn themselves.

  6. I heard recently that chaos allows for movement that is not possible within structure, both vertically, laterally, and on the z axis. I think that as thelemites and magicians, we have a great opportunity in times of chaos. I don’t know what that person meant by z axis, but for me it immediately made me think of the subjective/objective dialectic whereby we are able to interact both with the world on one end, and the divine at the other. And it’s true in my experience, uncertainty is one of the keys to magic. Now as the article says, magic is not very relevant if it doesn’t have practical use. But also, I think it’s short sighted in some ways to equate everyone being comfortable with progress. We are all faithfully promised pain and death. I’m sure we will all get it, just like generations past. The world is not improved by stability, it’s improved by change. All the people who wanted change now rather than incremental change are going to get what they want. In chaotic times we will see that those changes when they come aren’t always easy to control or predict. I think those of us who have magic in our arsenal are much better positioned to see our wills accomplished for the benefit of ourselves, our communities and the world. But in the end, I don’t think this last century will be the last period of stability in human history. This too shall pass, this too shall return.

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