The Knowledge of the Universe: Part 1

The Lamen and trademark of the Ordo Templi Ori...
The Lamen and trademark of the Ordo Templi Orientis, a Thelemic organization (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have been an ardent follower of Thelema for sometime now, and if any of the readership is familar with this Theology, then they will understand that Qabalah is an integral part of the practice. When someone asks, What is Thelema? What is Qabalah? I usually give the same general answer without delving too deeply:

‘It is a philosophy that focuses on developing and enhancing the Inner God, through use of different meditation techniques and intellectual advancement.’

This is essentially the short of it. If I see that someone gets an interested spark in their eyes, I go on and explain more. However, most of the time, I get a confused look. In fact, these are some of the more common misunderstandings that I often encounter:

  • Thelemic? Is that like, bulemic?
  • You don’t believe in God? Are you a Satanist?
  • Oh that’s a lot like Wicca, isn’t it?
  • Qabalah…that’s what Madonna practices right?

Some of these statements are more ignorant than others as you can very well see, but that’s alright with me; everyone is in the dark before they are enlightened.

I have discussed Thelema briefly before on this blog, but never really went into it in-depth, today I will only discuss the Philosophy of Thelema, how it came to be, and what it means to me.

{What is Thelema?}

Thelemic thought and theology is a consolidation and continually developing philosophy based on several historical precendents. It is believed that the ‘First Thelemite’ was François Rabelais, a 15th century Benedectine Monk.

A later version of Thelema later in the 15th century would spring forth from Francis Dashwood and The Hellfire Club. Their theology would incorporate Goddess worship, Freemasonry and the unabashed enjoyment of life’s sultry pleasures.

Thelema gained significant momentum in the previous century thanks to Aleister Crowley and the penning of The Book of The Law. In modern Thelema, acceptance of the Book of the Law, also referred to as Liber Al vel Legis is the common denominator amongst the practiotioners. This ‘book’ is quite small and states the following Thelemic Laws:

  • Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law” (AL I:40) and
  • “Love is the law, love under will” (AL I:57).

These are our only Laws. Beyond that, each person is left to their own interpretation in conformity to their own Will.

{Thelemic Groups}

Although there are thousands of organizations around the world that provide fellowship, practice and guidance, there have been two Thelemic fraternities in history that have established the precedent for the organized study and practice of our Law:

  1. Argentium Astrum, commonly referred to as the A∴A∴
  2. Ordo Templi Orientis Grade structure between these two groups vary somewhat. This topic is one that could certainly be a post all of it’s own and will likely be part 2 of this series.

{How to Practice Thelema}

The beautiful thing about Thelema is that it can be practiced however, whenever and wherever you wish. Staying true to the Law of ‘Do What Thou Wilt’, a practitioner can accept Thelema whole heartedly as a Religion, or can just use the Philosophy and follow the regimented studies or simply accept the Law as their own and do nothing henceforth.

Any one of any faith is welcome to join whether they are Buddhist, Deist, Christian, or Jewish. However, higher-degree members are expected to avoid allowing their participation in other groups to unduly limit the time and energy they can devote to their O.T.O. obligations.

In general, the practicing of Thelema follows a path of initiatory degrees. These paths are attributed to the Qabalic Tree of Life, which I will discuss in detail on Part 3 of this short series.

{What Thelema Means to Me}

Thelema is the best belief structure for me. I am a modern person who believes in absolute liberty and my morals are not as stringent as our forefathers were, I believe in enjoying ALL the pleasures of life. I strongly believe in advancing the ‘Self’ through knowledge…education is such an important virtue.

Through the practice of Thelema and making my way up the paths, I have gained immeasurable knowledge of the faiths of Man, the way of the world and the truths of the Universe. I am fully able to follow exactly what I believe:

Every man and every woman is a star.

I do not believe in worshiping something outside of myself that purports to control my life. We are all part of this Universe, and derive our energy from it. As we give ourselves to the Universe, so the Universe gives to us and so we are in constant flux with the energies around us.

I hope this article gave you a small glimpse into Thelema. By no means is it an authoritarian explanation, nor does it address all the complex topics that this system and so I strongly advise anyone interested to look into the below links:

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