Had an interesting discussion online recently on the interpretation of the Liber Al vel Legis, specifically Aleister Crowley’s famous injunction, “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.”
I was putting it to some that the Law of Thelema stands in tension point Christianity, specifically that Christianity requires a subordination of self will to divine will and that ego will could not be transcended by self effort.
One of the guys I was talking to suggested otherwise, that Crowley is essentially appealing to divine will. That he was not speaking of doing what you want, following your desire.
Hmm, not sure if I buy that. It seems to me that if ever there was a guy who followed his desires it was Crowley.
But he continued that when you get to the core of will, having taken away all personal desires from the equation, you’re looking at the connection between divine will and the human being.
This suggests there may be a hermeneutic bridge between Christ and Crowley in there somewhere, but I’ll have to crew the cud some more.
For those not familiar with Crowley and his legacy you may want to google for his links to the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, Ordo Templi Orientis (OTO), Gerald Gardener, Freemasonry and the Thoth Tarot Deck.
7 thoughts on “Do What Thou Wilt?”
I don’t suppose either he or Crowley were thinking of Augustine’s maxim “Love, and do what you want” — See:
An inspiring article there Kalessin. I particularly like this part:
‘Augustine observes that if a person had to choose between being chastised and being treated affectionately, everyone would pick the latter. Nevertheless, suppose the punishment comes from a boy’s father and the caress comes from a kidnapper. “In that case,” he says, “it is love which disciplines and iniquity which caresses.” Love does not necessarily mean that you make the other person feel good. First and foremost, it requires that your actions flow from a right relationship with that person and with God. If that is the case, says Augustine, “Love and do what you will.”’
He’s in good company on this alongside Nietzsche and Campbell (“Follow your Bliss”) and many other great thinkers and mystics. As Paul tells us, our interaction with the “law” is from where “sinful desires” emerge (Romans 7-8). So the one who is not under the law is liberated from fear and judgment and can directly channel love. The more certain one is in one’s laws and dogmas as a means to righteousness, the less one channels divine love.
Certainty in the power of words as a reality outside thought and language is sin – however useful it is to my ego, it is that which leads to error and separation, and places us in a position of hostility to “God,” the Absolute or the “the Garden.” (Gen. 2)
If one reads “do what thou wilt” with the underlying foundation of what we want to do is glorify and enjoy Christ, and live out the greatest commandment (love thy neighbor), it can work.
You just have to completely ignore the guy who said it! And the government and stuff…
In the pettifogging interests of precision … Crowley’s maxim is:
“Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law. Love is the Law. Love under Will.”
It would be interesting to explore what Crowley understood by that word, love. Did he truly mean it in an agape sense?
This entry in thelemapedia might be helpful: