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The Law of Thelema by Max Demian - Part 3
Holy days, Crowley’s reputation, further reading

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Continued from Part 2 of this essay

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Holy Days:

Part of the spiritual discipline of a Thelemite consists in the coordination of his personal, individual, terrestrial life with the great cosmic cycles that regulate the life of the earth and humanity. Accepting the Law of Thelema is itself such an act of coordination or alignment with the cosmic cycle known as the precession of the equinoxes. Crowley implies that the New Aeon of Horus, the Crowned and Conquering Child, which began with the self-revelation of Aiwass at the Vernal Equinox, 1904 e.v., corresponds to the advent of the astrological Age of Aquarius. By aligning one’s personal life with the universal life mediated by these cycles one becomes a vehicle of the manifestation of the universal life, thus making oneself a channel of higher spiritual forces which in turn accelerate one’s natural spiritual evolution and affect the karma of the planet.  

Other cycles with which the Thelemite aligns his life are the diurnal motion of the Sun, specifically, sunrise, noon, sunset, and midnight; the diurnal rising of the star or constellation rising in his horoscope; the diurnal rising of the lunar orb; the monthly lunar cycle, especially the new and full moons; the monthly entry of the sun into the signs of the zodiac; the annual solar cycle of the equinoxes and solstices; and an annual calendar of holy days prescribed in the Book of the Law, as follows:

¨      The First Night of the Prophet and His Bride, corresponding to the consummation of the marriage of Aleister Crowley and Rose Edith Crowley on August 12, 1903 e.v.;

¨      The Writing of the Book of the Law, on April 8, 9, and 10, 1904 e.v.; and

¨      The Supreme Ritual, commemorating the successful Invocation of Horus on March 20, 1904 e.v.

All these times are celebrated by means of rituals, in which energy is generated, and feasts, in which energy is both discharged and absorbed. In addition, Aiwass’ directs that the birth, puberty, and death of Thelemites and their children are to be celebrated. Many Thelemites also observe the "quarter-days" of the Wiccan religion, viz., Samhain (November 1 eve), Imbolc (February 1 eve), Beltaine (May 1 eve), and Lammas (August 1 eve). Finally, the Book of the Law alludes to a mysterious feast of Tahuti, which has never been satisfactorily explained.

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The Problem of Aleister Crowley’s Reputation:

Many criticisms of the Law of Thelema are based on a moral critique of the personal character and conduct of Aleister Crowley. These accusations generally resolve themselves into seven basic assertions: that he was a pornographer, traitor, sexual deviant, sado-masochist, womanizer, drug addict/alcoholic, or even psychotic.  Each of these accusations can be discussed in the context of the evidence. It is certainly true that Crowley published or wrote pornographic poems and stories, and was extremely interested in extreme sexual experimentation; that he wrote apparently pro-German propaganda in America during the First World War; that he engaged in sexual relationships with both men and women; that he engaged in physically and psychologically abusive sexual relationships; that he professed contempt for women; that he drank heavily and became severely addicted to heroin in middle-age; and that he experienced ASCs, generally induced rather than spontaneous. 

Strictly speaking, however, the truth or falsehood of any of these claims is unrelated to the truth or falsehood of the Law of Thelema, just as the truth or falsehood of the Tractatus Philosophicus is unrelated to the fact that Wittgenstein was an homosexual. As every first year philosophy student learns, truth or falsehood is not a moral quality or a function of the personal psyche, and it is quite possible for a morally mean or even psychologically dysfunctional person to experience and express insights that are both beautiful and true. The history of Western civilization provides numerous examples, many of whom are studied in universities. Crowley himself regards the pursuit of spiritual realization as a science, in which moral considerations are either secondary or entirely irrelevant. Crowley himself writes, "Since the ultimate truth of teleology is unknown, all codes of morality are arbitrary. Therefore the student has no concern with ethics as such." Philosophically, then, Aleister Crowley is an amoralist.

Nevertheless, the Law of Thelema does imply an ethical teaching. The doctrine of the Black Brothers itself implies a kind of moral judgement. The essential ethical teaching of the Law of Thelema is that each and every individual has an absolute and inalienable right to pursue his own True Will without restriction by others, and that no one has the ethical or moral right or duty to compel another to pursue any other path, or even the capacity to criticize them. A Thelemite who knows his True Will can however guide others in accordance with universal principles, but the relationship should not be one of imitation. If Aleister Crowley violated his own or any other individual’s True Will at any time, he simply violated his own law and paid the karmic price, but this does not invalidate the Law itself.

Great art and true philosophies are both created by scoundrels, but we balk when a scoundrel creates a true religion. The imitative tendency, which Crowley despised, is deep. Since imitating the moral example of a founder is not the ethical teaching of the Law of Thelema, every Thelemite is free to imitate Aleister Crowley's personal lifestyle or not as they choose, although Crowley himself advises against it, warning that those who try to do so will be possessed or obsessed by the "vision of the demon Crowley" (Crowley, who was an amateur artist, even drew a sketch of this particular demon).  Unfortunately, as the history of the Law of Thelema shows with great clarity, Crowley’s advice was accurate, and numerous heedless Thelemites have been devoured as a result. 

The True Will represents the inertia of the universe, and is irresistible (if not, that simply proves that it is not the True Will). The criteria of real success, however, may not be immediately apparent or superficially obvious. Moreover, no one may restrict the True Will of another, unless another chooses, without coercion, to be so restricted.

Aleister Crowley should be understood as a natural phenomenon, without moral judgement. A prophet is himself merely a symptom of the zeitgeist. A storm is not "evil." Aleister Crowley was a storm, which may yet sink the ship of the Judaeo-Christian civilization that he despised.

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Further Reading:

All of the following books are available in print (based on a search of Amazon.com.) They are written by Aleister Crowley unless otherwise noted:
bullet 777 and Other Qabalistic Writings
bullet Aha!
bullet Book Four
bullet Commentaries on the Holy Books and Other Papers
bullet De Arte Magica
bullet Do What Thou Wilt (Lawrence Sutin)
bullet Gems from the Equinox
bullet Konx Om Pax
bullet Liber Aleph vel CXI: The Book of Wisdom or Folly
bullet Little Essays towards Truth
bullet Magick
bullet Magick in Theory and Practice
bullet Magick without Tears
bullet Portable Darkness: An Aleister Crowley Reader
bullet The Book of Lies
bullet The Book of the Law
bullet The Book of Thoth
bullet The Confessions of Aleister Crowley
bullet The Equinox (Vol. I, Nos. 1 – 10)
bullet The Equinox (Vol. III, No. 1)
bullet The Equinox of the Gods
bullet The Holy Books of Thelema
bullet The Law Is for All
bullet The Legend of Aleister Crowley (P.R. Stephenson)
bullet The Revival of Magick and Other Essays
bullet The Vision and the Voice
bullet The Works of Aleister Crowley

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Copyright © 2002 by the author, Max Demian, B.A. (Hon.), York University. See the note at the top of the article for restrictions on use.
Originally published here: 2002-JUL-21
Latest update: 2011-AUG-17

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