“Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.”
What follows is another installment of the upcoming reformational document of the Holy Thelemic Church. This one deals with the main Thelemic traditions.
For a number of reasons, I won’t be issuing any more PDFs. It is better just to put out the books I intended to issue as serial installments here at the website instead of as any kind of publications. Many more actually read the material by web-read than by download. Anyway, a great many more individuals are reached and influenced in this fashion than by published books or PDFs. Times have changed.
I need to emphasize first that I am neither telling anyone what to do, nor claiming to represent Thelemic practice. No one is infallible, not even the prophets and oracles. All are somehow flawed and/or more or less mistaken. Even if it were not the case, nobody should dictate to others what is right for them.
Some will disagree with some or all of what is written here. What their motives are, I neither know nor care. I have learned by study and experience, but also by intuition. I do not expect any to do entirely as I do, and I do not wish that any think as I do, either. None in the Holy Thelemic Church is exactly like another, and therefore none should be obliged to behave as another.
This is no herd, and I am no shepherd. Each of us is regal; each is his own master. As always, this is purely guidance. My guiding light, however bright, may be of help to you — or not. If you follow it blindly, going about the work as some empty-headed zombie, merely mouthing chants you fail to appreciate yourself, then you make a great miss.
This is all about joy, and passion, and ecstasy: for it is thereby that one achieves true realization of one’s own unique Holy Supernal Will. It is thereby that some even go beyond this great achievement, to genuine Supernal Communion (at Binah, Qabalistically speaking), Supernal Awareness (Chokmah), and Supernal Clarity (Kether).
There are many, in fact, that have attained to all this without having taken a religious approach of any kind, and without ever having read any sort of holy book. Some may get there without any knowledge of a Hidden Order or Secret Chiefs.
The key is to follow no man, unless his only command is to “Do what thou wilt”. Be servile to none; be led by none; be chained to none. You are your own lord: you are your own god. Think as you will; love as you will; do as you will. And as Joseph Campbell, one of the Saints of the Sacrorum of the Holy Thelemic Church, said so eloquently, “Follow your own bliss”.
That said, there may be some advantage to making use of such a system of practice, if one is so inclined. Of course, the symbols and songs — i.e. the imagery and invocations — may be substituted with others, as it suits you. All that is really important is that one understand the underying system, and that one adhere to the main lines of Thelemic Law — for otherwise there is danger of vile restriction and foul enslavement to hurtful archaic ideas.
However one chooses to utilize the system, it certainly is efficacious. This stuff really works. The degree to which it works, or whether it works at all, depends on you. If you misunderstand the underlying system, or the overarching Law, in whole or in part, then you are most likely to experience problems. No matter how you fail, however — to whatever extent, great or small — your failure is never really complete. Even if your failure is extreme, you have the benefit of experience from which you may perhaps learn and improve. Your failure is only complete if you give up for good. To quit is to stagnate.
If you fall, get back up again, dust yourself off, and strive to do better. I myself not only started off as a total moron (in every conceivable way), but I proceeded to leap blindly into every pitfall there was along the path leading up Mount Abiegnus, to the Holy Supernal Will. As if that weren’t enough, I was lazy in every way, long after the realization of superior will. I read certain things and omitted others; I rushed through some practices without taking time to get it right; and at the slightest glimpse of Supernal Epiphany, I was blown back by the shock of it, wrongly assuming that initial experience was Supernal Union. Then — worse — I got hubris, thinking I was all that and a bag of chips.
The ultimate consequence of such foolishness was that I got some parts right and others wrong. And what this resulted in was a flawed vessel for the Supernal Will, firstly, as well as a great deal of confusion, as time and again my pure will was thwarted by the elements of mundane ill will that I had failed to purge.
These problems persisted as I ascended to greater attainments, so that I only partially benefitted from the same. Instead of being armed with a pristine Will, armored with perfect Communion with my full divine Genius, and growing therefrom into complete Supernal Awareness, my Sword of Holy Will was rusty and dull; my Armor of Understanding was flawed and weak; and I was feeble to wield the Sword or to carry around the Armor.
Yet I never gave up. I eventually threw away my broken Sword, and cast off my heavy Armor, went off into the wilderness, and did the work again. This time I spared no effort to work on what I had neglected before; and only when I was ready did I seek the Holy Supernal Will all over again. When that was accomplished, I sought Communion with my true divinity anew. Like Percival I emerged from the waters, free of myself, and only then was I to drink fully from the Chalice of Babalon, partaking of the Current that had filled the Saints of Supernal Genius. Only then could I attain to cloudless Clarity.
In short, it’s perfectly fine to make mistakes, as long as one learns from them and improves. Every child, after all, makes mistakes.
There are numerous Thelemic traditions adhered to by some hardcore Thelemites, certainly those priests and priestesses of the Sacrorum of the Holy Thelemic Church. Take them or leave them as you will. Many originate with the Thelemic Prophet, the Prince-Priest, and his Oracles, the Scarlet Women, from whom all subtle power of inspiration derived.
0. The Prohibition against interpreting the Law.
Some hold to the view that to interpret Thelemic Law, whether directly or indirectly, is unlawful. This view began with the Prophet, whose wish it was that the Law not be perverted. I respect those that hold this view. But I see it as a test of courage; and I boldly do my will as I see fit. “The word of Sin is Restriction”. (L I:41) Each must choose for himself/herself.
1. Adoption of Thelemic Names.
The central idea of the entire system of practice delineated in Liber L vel Legis, the Book of the Law, is to assist the practitioner to transcend and to transform the mundane mind, making it the perfect vessel of one’s own pure will. The mundane vessel of consciousness is cleansed of its impurities, purged of its petty problems, and ultimately filled with the perfect will. This being a gradual process, one might take one name to signify one’s aspiration early on, then other names to signify significant attainments later. The first Thelemic name taken by the Prophet, Perdurabo, is Latin, having the meaning, “I shall endure to the end”. He took others along the way, with the last being at the penultimate attainment, that of divine Wisdom and Awareness, at Chokmah: it was in Greek, To Mega Therion, which translates as “The Great Beast”. It simply means “The Divine in the Beast that is Man”.
2. Thelemic Protocol.
Thelemites tend to adhere to certain habits. When writing to one another, they are likely to begin their discussion or message with “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.” (L I:40) The central part of this line being “wilt” or will, this line is often simply summarized with the number 93, the number of Thelema (the Greek word for “Will”). In closing a written message, or in response to the verbal salutation given above, one offers the line, “Love is the law, love under will”. (L I:57) The main parts in this line being “Love”, “love”, and “will”, this may be given as 93 93/93: the Greek word for Love, i.e. Agape, being the same Gematric value as the word for Will, 93.
Example: one Thelemite meets another and says, “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.” The other salutes him or her with the declaration, “Love is the law, love under will”.
One may choose to do this or not. It is a tradition. When chatting back and forth, or when texting, or when emailing back and forth, it may be done at the beginning and end of the discussion, or simply omitted altogether.
Remember that the Law is for man, not man for the Law. What this practice does is to serve as a reminder that the true will is all-important, and that the foundation of true will is love.
3. Respect for the Holy Law.
One should always make an effort to quote correctly from the Book of the Law, so as not to distort the meaning. In writing, try to get it right. Spell the words as they are written, even capitalizing properly. It is the respectful thing to do.
4. Dedicating oneself completely.
You need not do this if you don’t want to do so, but the Prophet made a habit — as some of us do as well — of devoting every action, however mundane, to the Great Work of the Holy Will. Before doing chores, he would say an affirmation, e.g. “I do this so that it may assist me in my will”. Before eating, another affirmation of will, e.g. “I eat and drink that I may be strengthened thereby, to the accomplishment of my will”. And so on.
5. Daily and nightly observances.
Thelemic practice has its observances, similar to the salats of Islam. One may observe these as one will. Basically, they involve facing the sun (or moon, at night, as one can), and uttering a short prayer of invocation. The Prophet developed his own way of doing this; you may choose to follow suit as you wish, or make your own prayers. It is important to understand what he was doing, however.
The observances he performed were at morning (sunrise), noon, and evening (sunset). I choose to perform another observance at night, usually around midnight or sometime before. It is not the mere sun or moon that is celebrated here. Rather, it is the subtle Current or Force of that which they symbolize that is invoked. For the sun is simply symbolic of the Genius of Man (i.e. the Beast), and the moon is symbolic of the Genius of Woman (i.e. the Scarlet Woman). So by invoking the Current of the Divine in Man, via its symbol, the sun, one is tapping the subtle Force of Holy Will. And by invoking the subtle Energy of the Scarlet Woman, via Her symbol, the moon, one is drawing down the Power of Pure Love.
These days I usually just keep the prayer simple. For example, at dawn I say, “I invoke thee, 93, through the sign of the rising sun: the sign is my ecstasy. Aumgn! let it fill me.” At night I say, “I invoke thee, 93, through the sign of the [new/waxing/full/waning] moon: the sign is my ecstasy. Aumgn! let it fill me.” 93 works both ways, because it is both will as well as love. Many prefer to do it as the Prophet did it, and that is fine too.
It is Thelemic to charge through the ordeals of life with strength and mastery, not succumbing to petty emotions. In other words, with pure passion, not mere compulsion. One should be free of the bondage of obsession, unbothered by the outcome, no matter how bad, without being lackadaisical. See L I:22, I:32.
7. The Law is for all.
It is Thelemic to strive to bind none against his or her will. It is one’s will if it brings happiness, joy, bliss, not if it brings misery, sadness, or unwanted agony. To restrict is to sin against the Holy Will. Passionate peace is of us, not sorrow, loathing, fear, or the pain of sacrifice. (It is not sacrifice if it is for one’s loved ones, for they are loved as much as oneself.) Jealousy and possession have nothing to do with love: for if one truly loves others, one wants them to be free to experience all the joy and ecstasy they can possibly have.
Sacrificing one’s value (except to loved ones), or one’s bliss, or one’s happiness, in service to so-called spiritual gods, is an offense against the divinity within. In my view, animals are sacred — is it not the Age of the divine in the beast that is man? I do not presume to govern the actions of others; but sacrifice is propitiation, i.e. appeasement to gain divine favor. As such, it is pathetic. The law of the Old Age was one of death; but the New Law is of the Holy Will of the Divine Self, and its sacrament is love and sex, not death and atonement. See L I:58. [Note that the word appears in L III:12, but there it is highly symbolic, and refers to purging of sacrificial death cults of the Old Age, to bring them in harmony with the Law of Holy Will founded on love. I don’t wish to force this interpretation on anyone, but it is one I firmly believe to be true.]
9. The importance of science.
It is absurd to follow any religious demand of faith in the power of a god over medical science that is proven to work. There is nothing wrong, I suppose, with trying acts of prayer and/or invocation to work in conjunction with medicine, but it is nothing short of murder to resort to faith to the exclusion of valid medical treatments. Belief is powerful, but not that powerful. See L I:58.
10. Strength of will.
Weakness of will is a kind of illness. It is best to be strong-willed whenever things go wrong, rather than allowing difficulties to bother your equilibrium. Getting overwhelmed with the madness of sorrow is not just a waste of time and energy, it can also be dangerous, and detrimental to the Great Work. Better to be strong and move on.
Also, it is weak will that allows misfortune or poverty to make you downtrodden. Strong will makes the most of it.
11. Strong joys.
No matter what happens, it is better to be joyously alive — even in the face of death. Nothing can rule over you unless you allow it to do so.
12. Masterful confidence.
Why allow yourself to get down? If others would bully you, it is best to laugh at them and fight them if needed. If others would shun you, you’re better without them. Best to be oneself, unique and self-loved, than to appease fools. Herd-folk may hate you for it, but so what? You don’t need them.
13. A helping hand, not pity.
It is good to help a fallen comrade upon his feet, but it is an insult to his sovereignty to pity and coddle him.
The things of ecstasy and joy are our sacraments. Hedonism is service to the god within, carnal pleasure its worship.
15. The Stele and the love-song.
In ancient times, many initiates from all over used upright stones — i.e. stelae — at the heart of their temples, as conduits to the subtle forces they invoked. We have our own conduit in the Stele of Revealing, and our own special love-song in the “A ka dua”. But as always, “Do what thou wilt”. Typhonian Thelemites, for instance, have their Yantra in the image of Lam, with an accompanying mantra to match. Muslims have the Black Stone; Christians have the Crucifix; Buddhists have the Buddha; others have their Idols; and so forth. All are sacred: for they arouse in us the hidden power of our secret Genius.
Or you may prefer none of the above! The Law, after all, is for all — not just the religious.
There are rituals of nature, but there are also feasts of commemoration. All these holy days are for nourishing invocation, celebration of events in our lives, and remembering the Avatars (i.e. Saints) before us who manifested the same Current of Genius we embody in our lives today. See L II:35-44.
Of course, you may do as you will. It is the doctrine of the Holy Law that matters most, not its ceremonies and celebration. Delight in whatever you will!
17. We are as we are, and not other.
It is weak to try to be something you’re not. Be yourself. Find your talents and skills, hone them well, and make creative use of them. Aspire to your own Genius.
Satisfaction of desire is worship of the god within, as long as it doesn’t remove others from their own joy. Bliss is best.
It is weakness of will, though, to rush your rapture. Is it not better to take your time, for the maximum enjoyment? Appreciate all that life has to offer.
Courage is also strength of will. What is there to fear? Even death itself is merely a transition: not an end to joy but merely a new beginning. And if you were to fall, so what? Get back up and have at it again. What is there to lose?
20. Service to the god within.
Pride and self-love honor the divinity within you. You are your own God, Most High, co-equal with that of those whom you love.
21. Promulgation of the Law.
See L III:39. Spread the Law as you will, if only by example — as it suits you, as always. Living the Law is enough, if you will.
22. Begone with the fools who would waste your time.
Those who would argue endlessly, lacking understanding, aren’t worth your time. Seeking to convert them is foolish: if they fail to understand then they aren’t ready. They talk and talk just to hear their own folly.
Begone with them that would bind you: be rid of such as would subjugate. Yield nothing to the nosferatu.
23. The Sanctity of the shameless.
Are not the ways of love, and the iconography thereof, utterly sacred? Should we not rejoice therein, exalting the same? Shame, and the veils of shame, are certainly not of us. If others take offense at this, they take offense at the Most High.
Sex is the Holy Spirit of God, not anything to be reviled: is not God a beast?
Chastity is restriction, and sin.
24. The Law is Liberty.
Freedom is the Law: repression is violation of the Law. Enslavement is unlawful. We fight for liberty and joy and love, for these support the will divine.
25. Hatred toward the ideologies of hate.
Those that hate us might someday love us, but their ideologies are despicable; for they poison minds and would make ugly what is lovely. To hell with their vile creeds of hate.
26. Trust in yourself.
Self-doubt weakens the will, leading you to falter and fail. Doubt is but the servant of fear; but we know that to fail is impossible if we are resolute, and so we fear not.
Those, then, are the basic traditions of Thelemic Law as I see them. I don’t claim to speak for all, but I will call it as I see it.
A more comprehensive exegesis is coming, in the forthcoming reformation Covenant. More is to come thereafter, in The Law Unveiled. All will be revealed here eventually. It is not the only way to interpret these matters of Holy Law, and it is not to everyone’s taste. It is one way of looking at it, and I make no apology, as it is forced on no one. This is the Law of Thelema as I see it, and if any disagree then that is just fine by me. The essence of the Law is freedom; and there is no place in its palace for dictators. For every man and every woman is his/her own master, and I would have it no other way.
Thanks so much for your time, and may 93 be with ye.
“Love is the law, love under will.”