Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
This is an expansion of a discussion I began on Twitter. I posited the following open question: Do you believe that there is an actual need for an ecclesiastical hierarchy in Thelema or is this just a throw-back to the Aeon of Osiris? This was met with several responses that said that “[T]here is nothing about ecclesiastical hierarchy which is inherently old-aeon. It’s just a structure like any other” or that “a hierarchy based on knowledge is perhaps even desirable.” Please respond below with your thoughts and opinion. This is a very important discussion that needs to take place. Thelema needs to take a deep look at its current state and ask, “Are we doing this right?”
I tend to believe that Thelema is a sort of “holy” libertarianism. What I mean is that we should downplay hierarchy and classism instead of embracing it. An element of the last Aeon’s religions was that they required a hierarchy that possessed sacerdotal power reserved to a class of “magicians.” All of Christianity operated in this fashion until the 1500’s and still does to a great extent.
I believe that the Protestant Reformation began a chain reaction that lead to the present Aeon of Horus, or that of the crowned and conquering child. It prepared the way for To Mega Therion’s Gospel of Light, Life, Love and Liberty. By tearing down the need of religious hierarchy it destroyed the means by which Old Aeon religions controlled their adherents. The Enlightenment and Renaissance played a vital role in this development as well, but I think the directest assault against religious oppression occurred in the Reformation.
I believe that is very regressive to impose religious hierarchies upon Thelema. I know that people disagree with me, but my interpretation of Liber AL leave no room for religious oppression; all are equal under the Law and the rights it gives to those that accept it (see Liber OZ). Many people in the Thelemic and wider occult communities seem to practice their relgion, whether independently or in the Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica, in a way more reminiscent of LARPing than a serious spiritual fashion. They get caught up in hierarchies and titles instead of focusing on true spiritual awakening. This obsession is counter productive and coupled with ridiculous beliefs in summoning demons, spirits and the like, is downright destructive.
I think that Aleister Crowley made two serious mistakes in the propagation of the Law. First, he couched his system with Satanic imagery, which to the enlightened person is understandable and descriptive, but to the masses is repugnant. If he truly had any desire to see the Law propagated he would have understood this fact. I know Thelemites that will say that “provocation was the point,” “Crowley was a professional provocateur,” or “The Book of the Law says its followers will be ‘the secret and the few not the many and the known.'” I agree that Crowley was very good at rilling people up and did so intentionally. He claimed that magickal power lays in the “taboo” but this seems to be more of a justification for his own libertine behavior than anything else. Along with this justification he also had to justify the lack of success he experienced in the Law’s propagation by claiming it was the “elite” nature of his faith. Crowley was entrusted with a sacred task and largely failed because of his own person vendettas against society and destructive personal behavior. Second, Crowley’s imposition of hierarchy and sacramentals onto the Law take away its power and vitality. I believe this was a interpolation of Crowley and is awkwardly juxtaposed onto the Law. The biblical metaphor of “wineskins” may apply her. He put “new wine” in an “old wineskin” and it is now bursting at the seams.
I want to see Thelema escape the predicament that it is currently in. For such a powerful and liberating philosophy to be so marginalized is a travesty. Let us cast off the burden that some many of us have taken upon ourselves and experience the true freedom of the Law. This will begin when those called Thelemites understand that there is no hidden knowledge or wisdom but that the “Law is for all.” They must also understand that Crowely’s essentricsms are casualties to our cause and need not be our own.
Love is the law, love under will.