by Soror صقر
Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
For a movement born in 1904, one might think we’d have grown a bit larger by now… Yes, we have Organizations. There are Festivals. There are very serious Conferences with lots of Powerpoints, which have citations and probably too much text in them. We’ve got fancy books that smell nice, and give our homes the illusion of decor. But even so, in these dark times, there are not that many lights on the horizon to guide us toward Destiny.
Yes, I know, there are many groups out there that consider themselves “Thelemic”. There are plenty of Orders that advertise online, for sure. It is doubtful how many of these groups have more than 5 or 10 members, though. If we are serious, there are not many Thelemic organizations that have more than 1,000 members, and even my local knitting club has more members than that. There are probably 5 churches within your zip code that boast more members than that. And we can say maybe a small handful internationally have these numbers. I think we must admit this is rather insignificant. This is in light of our Prophet’s outsized influence on popular culture since he has been haunting the streets of London. Crowley’s infamous personality commands great attention at regular intervals — even now, there’s regularly some movie or show that has some strange connection to him — but it hasn’t really lead to any kind of substantial Thelemic Movement.
This leads one to wonder: What is the future of Thelema? What does it look like? Many religions attempt a centralized-church approach, like the Catholic Church or Scientology, and have admittedly great success. This appears to be the general aim of O.T.O., to serve as the quasi-Masonic-Catholic Church hybrid that is meant to act as a central authority. The underlying irony of attempting a central organizational authority in a system based around “DO WHAT THOU WILT” is not lost on many, I hope. Naturally, success is your proof, and they are undoubtedly the most successful thus far. Arguments of validity and such aside, we must admit O.T.O. is the largest, most successful Thelemic organization to date. But, like democracy, it is simply the least worst option we have attempted so far. (OTO is also basically only substantial within the United States, which accounts for about half of its entire international membership. I think you’ll find the membership in other countries is more minuscule than you’d imagine.)
We must ask the question: Is a Masonic lodge-type system, even if it is co-ed or gender inclusive, the future face of Thelema? Are we really going to be silly-walking and finger-squeezing our way to worldwide domination?
Titles like Supreme Illuminated Pontiff, or whatever, sound absurdly pompous nowadays, to the point of delusional. I think it’s obvious to most that the Masonic model is more than on the way out, it has long since gone. Yes, there are many Masons still, but it is undoubtedly dying as an institution (and not for lack of tradition, it should be noted!) I personally believe that OTO’s draw to many is not its quasi-Masonic formalism or degrees, but simply that it is a a social ground to integrate and implement magick and Thelema. Or try to, at least. But the Masonic elements seem to appeal only to a very small group of people, and the Masonic system has been dying for decades…
So we must also ask: Is a Catholic Church-type ecclesiastical system the future of Thelema? Like the EGC the OTO currently runs? The church system seems most popular within the United States, for probably obvious reasons. European countries are generally less religious, at least overtly on the public and political stages. Evangelical Christianity has immense power and sway within the United States, and many people simply think of “America is a Christian Nation”. Naturally, all Americans grow up in this general cultural context, and statistically most of them grew up some form of Christian… It seems obvious that this model would appeal more in US jurisdictions, but I have serious doubts of it currently being accepted in other countries or Grand Lodges. Most do not want to emphasize the “church”-y aspects because that is exactly what they are seeking to escape.
Or is the future of Thelema a bunch of secretive occult initiatory groups? Perhaps Thelema is not really “for all”, but for a small and generally secretive group of people? Perhaps the future is in these Golden Dawn-esque groups that attempt to drill people (in languages they often can’t pronounce), test them, and advance them based on their intellectual understanding of occult ideas, and their correct performance of certain rituals or exercises. These mystery Orders have never had broad appeal, so I doubt they will be more than an intrigue for people that are particularly into learning qabalah and magick in a more formalized Thelemic setting.
In the end, all of the above types will obviously flourish in their own ways. There is not “One Way” or one type of organization that is “most correct or Thelemic”. That is, well, not Thelemic. “DO WHAT THOU WILT” means we must each develop in our own ways, through different pathways, groups, and systems. I hope all types of Thelemic organizations grow, but I also hope this list is made incomplete in the face of time. We need new ideas to stimulate our spirits, new blood to infuse into the 93 Current… We need new constellations of Stars, new clusters of energy, new signs on the horizon our intertwined Destinies. I hope to see you along the way.
Love is the law, love under will.
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