Introduction to Thelema
Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
THELEMA is a Law or philosophy of self-knowledge, self-discovery, beauty, strength, and liberty.
Thelema is the Greek word for “Will.” The entire philosophy of Thelema revolves around this concept of Will, often called the “True Will.” The Will of the individual is essentially their purpose in life, the way in which they fulfill their true potential. This distinguishes the Will from one’s own passing desires and whims, as well as from the things that society, religion, and peers think one “ought” to do. It is our Will that we are to pursue. Not our “Wants”; and not the wants or wills of others.
Thelema was formally founded in 1904 with the reception of The Book of the Law (also known as “Liber AL vel Legis” or simply “Liber AL”) by Aleister Crowley. The Book of the Law is the central text or “Holy Book” of Thelema. It contains such foundational statements about the Law as:
- “The word of the Law is Θελημα.” -AL I:39
- “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.” -AL I:40
- “thou hast no right but to do thy will. Do that, and no other shall say nay.” -AL I:42-43
- “There is no law beyond Do what thou wilt.” -AL III:60
Adherents of the Law of Thelema are called “Thelemites.” Primarily, Thelemites strive to seek to know and do their True Wills. Although the methods for accomplishing this are as numerous as there are individuals, Thelemites traditionally utilize the spiritual technologies of Magick and Yoga to aid in the discovery and accomplishment of their Wills.
Two other lines from The Book of the Law that are especially important in defining Thelema are:
- “Every man and every woman is a star.” -AL I:3
- “Love is the law, love under will.” -AL I:57
Every man and every woman is a star: We acknowledge that every individual is unique and sovereign, like a star in space: each person has the absolute right to know and do their Wills. Every “star” has the duty to find their true path or “orbit,” which aligns them with the motion or harmony of the Universe.
Love is the law, love under will: “Love” in Thelema is understood more universally than the sentimental emotion of love, for Thelemites understand that Love is union. This means that “while Will is the Law, the nature of that Will is Love”– Liber II. Every star’s duty, then, is to seek to unite themselves with their environment and with other stars in a way that fulfills their nature rather than working against it.
Thelema is a highly individualistic philosophy that has, built into it, the idea that each individual must interpret the Law each for themselves. The Comment to The Book of the Law states “All questions of the Law are to be decided only by appeal to my writings, each for himself.” Therefore, part of each Thelemite’s task is to study the Law in The Book of the Law, as well as the other Holy Books of Thelema and writings of Aleister Crowley in order to come to their own understanding of Thelema and their Wills.
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Love is the law, love under will.