Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law
Yesterday, my wife and I were discussing whether or not she would join me in attending ThelemaCon 2022. She told me: “I’ll be honest, Thelema gives me the creeps,” and then she laughed. I tried not to take it personally, although I am a pretty sensitive person. I will say that I got over it pretty quickly.
I am a Thelemite and a magician, and I hold Grades and degrees in multiple magical Orders. My partner does not identify as a Thelemite (although I secretly think that she is one), neither has she read the Book of the Law nor does she resonate with ceremonial magick or Aleister Crowley.
There is definitely a cringe factor when some people encounter Thelema, as it is often couched in impenetrable references to obscure subjects, strange ideas and language, and magical images and an aesthetic that can scream out, “cringe to the 11th power,” especially to those that don’t really care to or have time to give Thelema more than a surface level glance.
Take all of it away: Aleister Crowley as Prophet, praeterhuman intelligences, the Holy Books, initiation, magical Orders, dramatic ritual, magick, the procession of the Aeons, the Holy Guardian Angel, the Abyss, Nuit, Hadit, Ra Hoor Khuit, BABALON, CHAOS, the tens of thousands of pages of nearly impenetrable arcanum, Qabalah, Yoga: all of it: what remains is this small matter of the Law: Do what thou wilt.
There is no law beyond Do what thou wilt. Even this can sound contrived and very cringe to those that would otherwise perhaps embrace the Law. I often think of the Law – Do what thou wilt – strictly in terms of right-action, of doing the next right thing. There is no law beyond that. There is zero cringe factor in determining what the next right thing is for oneself and then doing it. And what freedom therein! And what great responsibility to ourselves and each other: no god, no dogma, no convoluted blah blah blah for guidance: only right-action. There is only doing the next right thing, and nothing else but that. Because there is no law beyond Do what thou wilt, there is no other entity in this universe that can determine what is right, moral, correct or lawful for you.
I will say that for me personally, there are other dimensions and depths to Thelema. I also really enjoy magick, ritual and life within the systems of magical Orders, but there is always this bare foundation of Do what thou wilt: the blasphemy against all gods of men. And it is grounded in action: in striving to do the next right thing, and nothing but that.
Love is the law, love under will
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One thought on “To cringe, or not to Cringe, that is the Question about Thelema”
Kinda agree with your partner. Cringe… “Thelema con” reads like a “con” as in to swindle (a victim) by first winning the confidence of the individual; to dupe and not its intended meaning a conference. To the casual observer the word Thelema (Greek for will) is a word possibly known or not known. For individuals who move on the peripheral of modern OTO groups whatever the lineage, perhaps its the Jungian unconscious collective knowledge (assuming you accept this premise) based on celebrities showing a passing interest in Thelema then sharing their views. Or the proliferation of mixed media Tv shows, podcasts, facebook sites, books, dedicated forums etc with portrayals of Aleister Crowley or Jack Parsons for example, along with the socially constructed arguments for all the Thelemic organisations claiming this and that right to exist that also seeps into the collective unconscious. Perhaps it is these things that creates and air of distrust and cynicism for the individual seeing the advertising for ThelemaCon. To be fair Thelema Con brings a mix of social forums addressing a number of relevant issues to Thelema. However. To sum up to the causal observer Thelema con reads and looks like a socially constructed organisation that is hypocritical, capitalistic, and ironic, out to con you of your money, your self respect, your beliefs, and ostracise you from general society.