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  Lip-Smacking Variations on “Will”
General Thelema Posted by Zarathustra on December 15, 2001 @ 08:13 PM
from the mind-your-own-munchies dept.

Crowley's recommended "blessing" of a meal, "Will," is an exercise I've always liked. Eating is the fundamental life-sustaining activity of all animals, and is thus a powerful connection between ourselves and the natural world. I am pleased to be reminded, each time I eat, of my higher self and purpose.

Crowley's Will is quite simple and direct, which is a virtue. However, in its brevity, it omits certain worthy considerations. In the spirit of Thelemic creativity, I offer this variation on "Will" (which unfortunately destroys Crowley's simplicity with a number of baroque additions).

Crowley recommends saying "Will" as a Thelemic substitute for fasting. Whereas an Osiris-era mystic needed to fast to remain pure for spiritual practices, Thelemites need only dedicate their food to the Great Work (Magick in Theory and Practice, ch. 13). Crowley's text accomplishes this purification by using the Scholastic idea of tracing all events back to a First Cause (for the Scholastics, this was God; for Thelemites, this is the Will). Saying "Will" before meals also expresses another powerful Thelemic idea (actually, straightforward biology) -- that "meat and drink are transmuted in us daily into spiritual substance."

One critique of "Will" is that it pays no attention to the food and where it came from. There is no acknowledgement, as in meal blessings from other religions, of the source(s) of the food, and no expression of praise or gratitude. In the Thelemic context, such an acknowledgment could take the form of a magical listing of various elements that go into the food, in keeping with the idea that these elements are transformed into the fifth element, spirit.

"Will" is organized as a logical chain, each step going backwards along a line of causation leading to the "first cause," the speaker’s Will. This causes a problem, in that each of these steps is completely subordinated to the next step. While I agree that it is magically useful to ultimately subordinate all things to the Will, and that this is the purpose of the ritual, it is also useful to acknowledge that each step in the logical chain is also an independent fulfillment of the eater's will.

Finally, "Will" in company is done in a role-playing dialogue, with a questioner and an answerer who declares his or her will with regard to the meal. However, the questioner (who usually is also eating) makes no statements about his or her will.

The following is an attempt at a "will" dialogue (between persons "A" and "B") incorporating responses to these criticisms:

A: 333-55555-333. Do What Thou Wilt shall be the whole of the Law.

B: What is thy Will?

A: To eat and to drink of this . . . [list the food and its sources, hopefully listing a food source for each element, e.g.: "the grain of the earth, the birds of the air, the juice of the vine, transformed by fire"]

B: This is my Will also. To what end?

A: The enjoyment of this delicious food is an end unto itself. However, I also eat and drink to fortify my mind and body thereby.

B: This is my Will also. To what end?

A: The fortification of the body’s health and strength are worthy ends in themselves. However, I also fortify my body to accomplish the Great Work.

B: This is my Will also. Love is the Law, Love under Will.

A: 1. Fall to.

If any of y'all have other interesting variations, do post them.

A related topic is the use of food in ritual in different cultural traditions. In Jewish ritual, food is important in several important ritual, including Seder and Sabbath. Anyone know of other interesting food rituals (hey, not to mention the Mass)?



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    Re: Lip-Smacking Variations on “Will”
    by Atensutmose on Sunday December 16, @04:52PM
    I find the wordiness of this modification ritually unsatisfactory. I don't understand why "an expression of praise or gratitude" is desirable, or how the variation presented demonstrates such.

    To go to the other extreme, I was raised in a Protestant household where my father would often "say grace" before a meal by declaring, "Grace!" before proceeding to eat. In a similar spirit, I occasionally drum out a quick 333-55555-333, say, "Will!" knock again, and fall to.

    It is my understanding that some practitioners of the A.'.A.'. system follow "...the Great Work" answer with the question "What is that?" to be answered according to one's grade (see Liber 185). Similarly, an adherent of E.G.C. might proceed to "What is that?" and answer according to the Liber XV benediction: "The accomplishment of my True Will, the Summum Bonum, True Wisdom and Perfect Happiness."

    • Re: Lip-Smacking Variations on “Will”
      by Zarathustra on Monday December 17, @02:36AM
      >>I find the wordiness of this modification ritually unsatisfactory.

      Totally understand. Not for everyone, or for every "meal-event". Like I said, "baroque" is not "direct".

      >>I don't understand why "an expression of praise or gratitude" is desirable . . .

      I guess I would argue that, beyond being individual stars, we are also part of a matrix of matter and energy that extends way beyond us. I'm not sure if "praise" and "gratitude" are quite the words I'm looking for, but some way of affirmatively acknowleging the sacredness of our connection with the physical matrix of the universe seems like a good idea.

      >>. . . , or how the variation presented demonstrates such.

      I suggest "praise" only vaguely in my script (by using the praise-ful adjectives to describe the meal), to allow the reader to use poetic license with different types of food.

      "Gratitude" is not really there - uh, perhaps the paragraph in question could end with ". . . graciously given to me (us) by the Universe"? (I'm sure quite a few of you could improve on THAT line.)


    Re: Lip-Smacking Variations on “Will”
    by Mordecai on Tuesday December 18, @11:33AM
    I have a friend who hosts weekly "potlucks" he calls Happy Hours where a diverse and varying set of his friends gather for feasting and conviviality. He always begins the meal with us all joining hands and having a moment of silence. I usually find this moment quite profound and far superior in spiritual import than any rote recitation of religious formulae.

    >Crowley recommends saying "Will" as a Thelemic substitute for fasting.

    Given that total fasting (as opposed to dietary reduction/restriction) is thought by many medical authorities to be physically harmful, even dangerous, it seems a good idea to have a Thelemic alternative. I think that the practice of Liber Jugorum is a more fitting analogy than Will, but I can see where a rigorous adherence to doing Will might be a reasonable alternative.

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