THOU WILL...COPYRIGHT 1542 ??? The development of the will is stressed
Crowley's writings, although he himself seemed to exhibit little will
power when one examines his life, squandering his fortune and winding
up an alcoholic and drug addict. Crowley seems to have
gotten the idea
for Thelema from the novel by renegade
Roman Catholic monk Francois
Rabelais (c.1495-1553) called Gargantua
written circa 1542 A.D. This tome attacked clerical education, medieval
asceticism and monastic orders and gave a thumbs up to worldly
pleasure. Along with dirty poems, Gargantua
and Pantagruel contains
a description of life at an imaginary monastery, the "Abbey of
Theleme", whose rules are obviously quite different from those of the
was regulated not by laws, statutes, or rules, but according to their
free will and pleasure. They rose
from bed when they pleased, and
drank, ate, worked, and slept when the fancy seized them. Nobody woke
them; nobody compelled them to either eat or to drink, or to do
anything else whatsoever. So it was that Gargantua had established it.
In their rules there was only one clause: DO WHAT YOU WILL!"
This is an embarrassing bit of information for Thelemites who believe
Crowley's claim that he really received a revelation to start a
religion called "Thelema" from a demon called "Aiwazz", which also
coincidentally has the motto "Do What Thou Will". This novel seems to
have made an incredible impression on Crowley. Crowley would eventually
even try to create his own "Abbey of Thelema" in Sicily in the 1920's,
which we will read about a little later.
Crowley's sexual appetites are well documented by Crowley himself. In
his semi-autobiographical novel Moonchild Crowley reveals he often had
to pay for sex, indicating he wasn't quite the sorcerer his followers
paint him to be (i.e, his love spells
didn’t work). Crowley was a
bisexual, but he might be best described as a try-sexual...as in, he'd
try anything with anybody. Crowley had many affairs, with both men and
women, and supported himself
after his inheritance ran out
off his lovers. In other words, he was a gigolo.
Crowley commenting on
his debauched life once wrote, "'To me, every dirty act was simply a
sacrament of sin, a passionately religious protest against
Christianity, which was for me the symbol of all vileness, meanness,
treachery, falsehood and oppression.' [ from 'Satanic Extracts' by
Aleister Crowley, edited by Cosmo Trelawney, Holmes Pub Group; (October
1995) ASIN: 1558182675 ] If people were told up front being an advanced
magician involves being a drug addict, gigolo and sponging off people,
no doubt many people would opt out of this career.
Crowley developed a taste for mountain
climbing while at Cambridge, and
tried to climb Mount Everest a few times, but always failed to reach
the top. Crowley likened the pursuit of the occult to mountain
climbing. A person had to work hard at it and not stop to rest. If the
occultist failed in his task, he would fall off the "mountain" into
Crowley was known to abuse his porters,
and gave racist excuses to a British newspaper when interviewed as to
why this was OK. On such an expedition in 1905, Crowley was deposed as
leader of the group because of such behavior. During this climb, there
was an avalanche later that killed several people. Crowley heard the
cries for help, but did not even bother to look outside his tent, and
this incident is hard to excuse, even by his followers. But this
incident is far from being atypical of Crowley.
Crowley was described, by friend and foe alike, as an egotistical, self
centered, arrogant individual. He took much and gave little in return.
He cared nothing about other people, except what he could get out of
them and could be downright cruel to his disciples and friends.
Crowley's life seems to have reflected his motto of "Do What Thou
Will". Such a motto is the motto of a sociopath, if not a criminal, and
it doesn’t make people better. Influenced by Nietzsche, He believed he
was "beyond good and evil", and thought conventional morality did not
apply to him. When looking at Crowley’s behavior throughout his life,
it is hard to see any benefits of practicing Thelema.
Crowley's system of occultism, like the Golden
Theosophical Society before it, attempted to unite all forms of
occultism into one system. Thelema was sort of a like a chop suey of
the occult. Crowley's system included European ceremonial magic (from
grimories like The Greater Key of Solomon, The Legementon, The Sacred
magic of Abramelin the Mage, etc.) Gnosticism, Egyptian mythology,
Buddhist meditation, Taoism, Tantric sex yoga, and drugs.
There was also a strong and undeniable
influence from Satanism. Crowley once said in his writings he rejected
the idea of the Devil because "such a being would have to be a god",
but this doesn't mean he didn't believe in Satan, he just rejected the
Christian concept of him.
Crowley said this about Satan, the Devil: "I
was not content to believe in a personal devil and serve him, in the
ordinary sense of the word. I wanted to get hold of him personally and
become his chief of staff."
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