Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.

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Thelema (Last Updated 04-Mar-2004)


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Introduction to Thelema

Thelema, as a Law and as a concept, is only thoroughly explained in The Book Of The Law, a smallish text which can be obtained at most occult or new age stores for about $5-10 or so, and which can probably always be ordered from the O.T.O. The College of Thelema has an online version of The Book Of The Law.

Thelema is a Greek word which means "Will", and which computes to the value of 93 in Greek Gematria, or numerology. Agape is a Greek word which means "Love", and which also equates to 93. Under the basic concepts of Gematria, this demonstrates a relationship between these two words.

In the Law of Thelema, this relationship is explored at some length, and this is the driving force behind the entire Law. The Law is given, for the current era, to all of humankind in the form of the aforementioned book, The Book of the Law, written in 1904 by Awaiss, and transcribed by Aleister Crowley over a period of three days.

The Law of Thelema is stated thus: "Do what thou wilt." That's it. This is the summary of the entirety of a philosophy that can take lifetimes to fully understand. The most difficult part of this Law to understand is what is meant by the word "wilt", or, in its more general sense, "will".

To aid in understanding the Law, however, another statement is given: "Love is the law, love under will." In this, again, a studied understanding of the meaning of the word "Love" in this context is required.

Those who accept, and thus attempt to follow, the Law of Thelema are called Thelemites. There are those among the Initiated Thelemites who hold that uninitiated persons cannot properly call themselves Thelemites, but rather that they aspire to be worthy of the title, and that the term Thelemic Aspirant is a more accurate title.

I personally believe that anyone who has the right bead on their interpretation of the Law of Thelema, and seriously endeavors to adopt that philosophy in their Life is, in fact, a Thelemite, much in the same way that a person who believes in, and attempts to adopt, the rules of Christ in their Life is a Christian, independent of their success in this commendable endeavor.

Thelemites, by convention, greet each other with salutations which reflect their acceptance of The Law. Vocally:

In greeting: Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
In response: Love is the law, love under will.

Because this can be a wordy mouthful, most Thelemites simply say "Ninety-Three!" in place of each of these salutations, reflecting the Greek gematriaic valuations of the words Thelema and Agape.

In writing, one generally opens the letter with the greeting salutation and closes the letter with the response salutation. Many Thelemites use a shorthand of "93" for the opening line and "93, 93/93" for the closing line. I don't do this in writing because I feel it cheapens the meaning of these phrases which summarize a philosophy dear to my heart, but I have succumbed to the shorthand convention with my vocal greetings.

I now feel I have a good understanding of the rudimentary concepts of the Law of Thelema. I accept the Law of Thelema, and endeavor to make it a part of every facet of my Life.

Once the understanding came, it was all too easy to fully appreciate the value of The Law of Thelema. To apply it completely in my Life now ranks among the highest goals I possess.

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Will (Thelema)

Will is at once an exceedingly simple and amazingly complex subject. It took me years to get to the understanding I currently possess, and I am fairly certain I am not yet done with my learning on this matter. Suffice it is to say that this page will not be able to cover fully my Life's lessons regarding Will.

Will constitutes that which a person means to do. For example, if you feel you need to open a window, then, in a sense, it is your Will to do so.

However, Will is not some casual and flippant representation of every passing whim of the individual (See Brother R.B.'s thesis on the matter for a countering viewpoint). Understanding Will absolutely demands an understanding of respect for all things. To execute one's Will, one must actively seek to respect the Will of others.

The theory is that if every person were following their true Will, there would never be any unneccessary conflicts between persons, because the nature of the Universe, with all its complexity, includes these interworking Wills. Conflicts which do occur are generally caused by either someone straying from their True Will, or are conflicts which need to happen to further the evolution of humanity.

Will is not frivolous in nature. It represents a very serious commitment to understanding one's role in the Universe, and to acting on that commitment.

Some people seem to think it is their Will to force others to do as they demand. Though it is possible that their True Will includes such activities, I personally find it more likely that people who lean on this as justification for their actions are generating false rationalizations.

An example: A friend of mine was heavily involved with the local Wiccan community, and hosts the ceremonies for the Sabbats. One year, she was caught in a public place discussing the upcoming ceremony in the presence of the head of a new Thelemic organization in town. He pointedly asked her if he would be invited to come to the event. It was a bit rude to ask like that, in a public place, because any answer other than in the affirmative would certainly be rude, given his status at the time. So she invited him to the Sabbat.

He showed up with several of his underlings, and during the preceremony gathering, they all proceeded to get drunk. During the ceremony, they began to urinate -- and I don't have all the details on this part, as to whether it was on the altar, or in the circle, or what have you -- and thought this was just the funniest thing that they'd ever seen happen.

My friend's mate was a fairly well grounded Thelemite, and, incidentally, a member of the O.T.O., and he approached these jerks. Their response? "Why, were just doing our will, brother. You should let us continue."

His response was "If you continue to dishonor and desecrate a ceremony that all these people", and he gestured to the crowd behind him, "hold sacred, then it'll be my Will to kick your asses out of here."

They were stunned. Descriptions of their stunnedness suggest that perhaps this condition was prolonged by their collective inebriated stupor. My friend's mate then leaned forward, gave a small half wave and said "93!". He turned his back on the jerks and returned to whatever function he was performing before the distraction.

After awhile, the drunkards wandered away.

I'm convinced that it wasn't really their True Will to pee in the circle, but of course I'll never know. I'm sure they were just using the Law of Thelema as a shield to hide behind, in a vague and immature attempt to justify their ascinine actions.

One of the clearest signs I have come to recognize that someone is falsely justifying their action as being in accord with their True Will is when they try to use that argument to other people in defense of their actions.

A Thelemite doesn't concern himself with justifying his actions to anyone. What does it matter what those other people think? The only thing that matters is that the action was in league with the Thelemite's understanding of his own True Will. Noone else dictates it, and it caters to noone else. Therefore, what they think of it is of no concern to the Thelemite.

So when I hear people defending their actions, presenting as their strongest, and frequently only, evidence the fact that they are doing their Will, all sorts of red flags go up.

Not that it matters what I think; in fact, spending any amount of time on the matter of the True Will of another being is pretty much wasted time anyway; the focus of a Thelemite is his own True Will. Period.

Ironically, after much time spent in pursuit of understanding Will and attempting to describe Will to others, I have discovered that I actually learned more about Will when I was focusing on the Will of others, rather than myself and my own Will; the difference was that I was trying to find ways to not infringe upon the Will of others, as opposed to trying to ascertain what it was. It was then, and only then, that I began to develop any sense of understanding my own Will, and understanding Thelema as a concept unto itself. And so, only by spending a lot of time looking into the Will of others was I able to see what a waste of time worrying about the Wills of others was, and yet, it was only by this means I could have come to the realization.

And so Will is actually quite a complicated subject. To know what one's True Will is takes a lot of introspection, and to execute one's Will requires a great deal of patience and care.

The Law of Thelema is all about learning one's True Will and executing it.

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Love (Agape)

Love enters this discussion because Agape, the Greek word for "Love", is a quintessential part of the Law of Thelema. In fact, Thelema and Agape both evaluate to 93 when computed against the Greek Gematria. That these concepts are tightly bound and intertwined is a vital concept to comprehend in the attempt to incorporate the Law of Thelema into one's Life.

Love is not a particularly complicated subject, but it is a deeply important one to the follower of the Law of Thelema.

In essence, Love is here very nearly a synonym for the word "respect". If you love your neighbor, then you respect your neighbor, and everything they stand for. You will, therefore, be inclined to show them respect, and thus, create no unneccessary conflict with them in Life.

I interpret the inclusion of Agape in the Law of Thelema as this: While we are each to exert our Will (Thelema) in our Life, it is to be tempered by Love (Agape). If an action we are about to take, seemingly due to our Will to accomplish the task, fails to exhibit Love -- respect -- for another star, then perhaps it is time to review the action to ensure it really fits our True Will. Love is the law, love under will. There should never be any conflict between the two components if we are truly on the right Path.

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