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  Passing Grade For Thelema?
General Thelema Posted by Mordecai on August 01, 2001 @ 10:09 PM
from the department-of-education dept.
"Who calls us Thelemites will do no wrong, if he look but close into the word. For there are therein Three Grades, the Hermit, and the Lover, and the man of Earth. Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law." (Book of the Law, I:40)

"There is a word to say about the Hierophantic task. Behold! there are three ordeals in one, and it may be given in three ways. The gross must pass through fire; let the fine be tried in intellect, and the lofty chosen ones in the highest. Thus ye have star & star, system & system; let not one know well the other!" (Book of the Law, I:50)

Three grades, three ordeals, three ways; though the Prophet's one one one makes none, his order is triune. What are the implications of this for the development of the culture of Thelema? I've been thinking about it for over twenty-five years, in essays and organizational plans. There seems to me to be an underlying theme in the reaction to this concept of "Three Grades". Whether the grades are considered to represent the path of spiritual development followed by an individual's career within the order, or to express the existence of three entirely separate orders of humanity, there is still an implicit acceptance of the idea of hierarchy.

The Book of the Law repeatedly uses themes of success and failure, ordeals and tests, kings, beggars, servants, and slaves. It talks of whoso shall "lose" all in that hour, and of the "winners" of the Ordeal x. Quotes like "Let my servants be few & secret: they shall rule the many & the known." and "Ye are against the people, O my chosen!" hardly discourage a Thelemite from believing in the existence of spiritual elites.

Openly elitist philosophies, especially those where the definition of success is highly subjective, attract people who think that the espousal of an elitist philosophy will somehow make up for their absolute lack of elite qualities. Even otherwise intelligent and creative people can find ego gratification in asserted (as opposed to demonstrated) eliteness. Illustrative of that is the recent opinion expressed on "CHUD Management", in particular the seeming belief that writing about other people's low standards is somehow a demonstration of one's own high standards. In fact, just complaining in general that other people are lazy and/or thieving can itself be seen as lazy timewasting (though complaining in a proper venue about specific instances of misbehavior is of course entirely justifiable).

Perhaps the elitism seemingly inherent in the message of the Book of the Law is responsible for the present-day Thelemic culture consisting largely of bickering self-proclaimed elites (including many elites of one). At the same time, natural elites form themselves. Some people, professed Thelemites among them, are joyously successful, happy high-achievers; most people, in my estimation, are not. Some people work very diligently at the mystical and magical lessons designed by Aleister Crowley, but most people, even among professing Thelemites, do not. Some people are ever mindful of the entire universe through their place in it, while most are not. In the final analysis, elites imply results, not insults.

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    Re: Passing Grade For Thelema?
    by Cameron on Thursday August 02, @09:05PM
    Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law,

    I'm a GRS Mead fanatic (he served as Blavatsky's secretary for a brief period), so here's a couple of quotes from Thrice-Greatest Hermes, volume I:

    "The Holy land of those who had gone out from the body, watered by the Celestial Nile, the River of heaven, of which the earthly river was a symbol and parallel, was divided into three regions, or states: (1) Rusta, the Territory of Initiation; (2) Aahlu, the Territory of Illumination; and (3) Amenti, the Place of Union with the Unseen Father." (page 49.)

    Also, on page 36 Mead paraphrases the scholar Pietschmann regarding the three grades of initiation in Egypt, "(1) Mortals - probationary pupils who were instructed in the doctrine, but who had not yet realized the inner vision; (2) Intelligences - those who had done so and had become 'men', that is to say who had received the 'mind'; (3) Beings (or Sons) of Light - those who had become one with the Light, that is to say those who had reached the nirvanic consiousness."

    The three grades are obviously similar to the three colleges of A.·.A.·..

    Otherwise, I suspect that those who spend their time bathing in the splendor and glory of their own grandeur feel they have completed the work before it's even begun.

    Love is the law, love under will,

    • Re: Passing Grade For Thelema?
      by Cameron on Saturday August 04, @11:58AM
      Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law,

      in the old comment to AL:40, Crowley states that the Hermit is Yod, the Lover, Zain, and The Man of Earth, Pe. I believe that while "the Hermit" is obviously connected with Atu IX, The Lover should instead be attributed to Atu I, the Magician (as it is the plural alone which defines the Alchemical marriage) seperated natures, and the Man of Earth attributed to Atu V, the Hierophant. These three trumps are the three Magi of Tarot according to Regardie. Each are Mercurial in a unique way, Atu I for obvious reasons. Yod is attributed to Virgo whose house is Mercury and in whom Mercury is exalted. Taurus is ruled by the house of Venus in whom the Moon is exalted, combine moon, sun and cross (Moon and Venus) and you have Mercury. A Father, Son and Holy Ghost trinity can be formulated with ease and one might even dare parallel Beth with the mother and daughter of Tetragrammaton as the path of Beth links Binah to Kether (Kether being the intelligible reflection of the sensible Cosmos of Malkuth).

      Love is the law, love under will,

      • Re: Passing Grade For Thelema?
        by Mordecai on Saturday August 04, @01:48PM
        And YBVB adds to 20, Kaph, the Fortune trump, the Wheel of the three modes of manifestation (i.e., Salt/Sulphur/Mercury, Cardinal/Cherubic/Mutable, sattva/rajas/tamas, etc.). And it can also be pronounced, "Yaboob" :-)

    • Re: Passing Grade For Thelema?
      by Cameron on Wednesday August 08, @06:48PM
      Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law,

      Some more observations:

      Regarding AL I:40, in GRS Mead's translation of part X of the Corpus Hermeticum it is stated: "God, Cosmos and Man are grades of being. Each is a sun, as it were, in their operations, or powers or rays." I belive this can also be paralled with the "three ordeals" of AL I:50.

      Within Swami Tapasyananda's condensation of Vivekananda's Raja Yoga it is stated that thought is the highest expression of the psychic prana, "its expression is threefold." First there is instinct (unconscious thought), next is reason (conscious, or rational, thought). However the highest is a trancedence of reason, Samadhi, suoer-consiousness which is the understanding what lies beyond reason, the infinite as reason can only define things in terms of the finite.

      Another interesting three-fold scheme might be found in the Gnostic geneology of Seth, Abel and Cain, but I don't know enough about that to comment except that Seth is the Son of Adam and Eve, Abel the son of Eve and the serpent and Cain the son of Lilith and the serpent, but only within some Gnostic schools (mainly Christian one, those in which the serpent was viewed as the devil and not the Holy Ghost, Sophia, Barbelo Aeon or Logos, disguised).

      Love is the law, love under will,

      • Re: Passing Grade For Thelema?
        by Cameron on Wednesday August 08, @08:23PM
        Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law,

        I should add that it is thought that the children, or spiritual race, of Seth are considered Gnostics and the choosen of God. On the other hand, for example, the race of Cain are considered to be animals without souls.

        Love is the law, love under will,

        • Re: Passing Grade For Thelema?
          by Seth on Tuesday April 16, @06:55PM
          (In a joyus singing tone) "My name is Seeeeettttthhhhhh!!!!
          now let us get down to business - the business(after i get this banging sound out of my head) right thats better now the business is

    Re: Passing Grade For Thelema?
    by Fra THA;M on Friday August 03, @07:34PM
    An elitism is inherent in Thelema. Crowley circumvented the possible problems this creates by loudly proclaiming over and over that the more 'advanced' an initiate becomes, the more they are required to devote themselves utterly to the wellfare of the human race.

    The knowledge one constantly accumulates makes the initiate responsible to those who haven't had the opportunity to acheive gnosis (those initiates who fall shall suffer exquisitely, and in their suffering they shall wish they had never been born). Those who use the Great Work as a platform to gratify the ego; those claiming exalted states but failing to squeeze every last drop of blood into the cup of Babalon, such are the slaves. Such are the contemptable wretches worthy only of our scorn. Why? Because they knew better. On the other hand, brotherly debate and verbal sparring can be a useful exercise, and not necissarily a sign of an ego abscess.

    Re: Passing Grade For Thelema?
    by Rev.Mikey 666 on Sunday August 05, @01:24PM
    there are three pillers of the tree.
    A left, a right and a middle.
    All three lead to the same degree.
    One is for you, one is for her,
    the other for people, as crazy as me.
    Rev. Mikey 666

    Re: Passing Grade For Thelema?
    by Will on Sunday August 05, @10:25PM
    I don't see elitism in the initial two verses. In I:40, the breakdown is fairly traditional, and is mirrored in many organized religions. For example, in the Eastern Orthodoxy, you have the Monks--single and reclusive, turned inward; the Priests--married and in the community, turned outward; and the lay people. A priest often becomes a monk if his/her spouse dies. Also look at the 4 ashrama in Hinduism which are divided differently, but are a similar division of each individual's life.

    I:50 just deals with the fact that everyone needs a push in a different direction. See the 3 gunas. Tamas--inertia--could be overcome by fire. Rajas--selfish work--could be identified and surpassed by the intellect. Sattva--blissful spirit--must be tried "in the highest" (whatever that may mean).

    Perhaps the other verses are also non-elitist. "Ye are against the people..." seems to refer explicitly to the prophet. Although I:31--"but ye are my chosen ones" is a bit difficult to write off...and also a bit too much like the Judaic scriptures to be taken at face value. I would suggest that the "chosen ones" are those that are not controlled by material desires and not guided by programmed responses (very few indeed--myself maybe not one of them).

    The rest also seems too far removed from context to be taken as an espousal of elitism. As you mention, it is only "seemingly inherent." You find what you look for.

    And as for elites, there will always be Michael Jordan's that are just plain better than the rest of us at some skill we admire. Luckily, the nature of True Will is that each of us has the potential to be pretty darn good at something, if we can just find it.

    • Re: Passing Grade For Thelema?
      by Mordecai on Monday August 06, @03:40PM
      >"Ye are against the people..." seems to refer explicitly to the prophet.

      It seems like the opposite to me. If it had referred to the Prophet why wouldn't it use the singular "Thou" instead of the plural "Ye"?

      >As you mention, it is only "seemingly inherent." You find what you look for.

      That being my point. It seems that many online Thelemites are looking for elitist proclamations to substitute for the reality of actual achievement. I certainly never meant to imply that non-elitist forms of Thelema are invalid or undesirable, and I apologize if I gave you that impression.

      • Re: Passing Grade For Thelema?
        by Will on Monday August 06, @07:47PM
        It seems like the opposite to me. If it had referred to the Prophet why wouldn't it use the singular "Thou" instead of the plural "Ye"?

        Good point. Look back to I:17 where it is stated that "ye are not so chosen." The chosen appear to be the Beast (presumably Crowley) and his woman. So it's possible that the "ye" in "Ye are against the people" is Crowley and his current Scarlet Woman (maybe Rose specifically).

        • Re: Passing Grade For Thelema?
          by Mordecai on Tuesday August 14, @03:08PM
          It's certainly possible that this "Ye" refers only to the Beast and his Bride, but the fact that the verse before is talking about hermits and Kings leads me to think otherwise. As I said, it's all a matter of context (of course people can still disagree about what a specific context implies).

    Re: Passing Grade For Thelema?
    by jazzcat on Monday August 06, @05:46PM
    ...ok, leave it to Mordecai, to kind of observe
    everything then, in his methodical way to attemt
    to wrap it all up nice and neat, and no small feat
    is that!...

    ...now i will attemt to do something, along those lines, in the way that i do such things; except
    with the extra added hindsight, fingers crossed
    symbolicly, cuz that would imply some sort of superstition on my part, and in my estimation,
    the 'work' being called the "great work", would imply, at least to my mind, a certain leeway
    in interpretation, as far as such magical/mystical
    tomes, that are suppose to be a source for our illumination, as it were...Now, in theory and in practice, each initiate, is either initiated into
    a certain mystery, or as what more commonly happens, the first initiation, being a kind of jolt to the psyche, perhaps drives the subject
    slightly insane, at least by the excepted social norm standards, the hermetic community would then
    step in and help the mystic student, to make the transition from the world of mundanity to the world of spirituality, this being traditional, in
    theory, however in my experiance, my first initiation, was self induced, actually the first time i ingested etheogenic substances, i started out on a different path, from that of "normal society"...but that was me, so moving right along,
    at about the age of 21, i underwent a prolonged
    disorginazation of the senses, that seemed to excelerate after i came across a copy of the Book of Thoth, that book somwhow became the center of my inner journey, and bumpy ride it was, cuz there
    was none to guide me through my ordeals, none but my own mind, and my will to poetic vision, how ever limited that was, somehow that various ATU's
    as i haphazard maped them to my psyche, seemed
    to literaly peel away unconscious conditioning
    like debrie, falling away, i sort of walked the paths like a shaman, experiancing various psychic phenomenon, sleep depervation for days on end, and in lu of sleep i seemed to travel to various astral realms, which if truth be told, was very painful and utterly draining, but also i experianced rushes of energy that seemed to revive me at the most difficult moments, having a kind of psychic radar, but there was no way around the
    necessity to undergo almost horrific travals, nay
    absolutly horific, like a Bosh painting, or saint Anthony, at one point i literaly went to a place that was like Dantes inferno to the lowest rung,
    (remember that rungs are just that they go up a ladder)...so i was in this imposible sufficating
    place where people were suffering in a kind of underground warren or rooms like mole people,
    ...after undergoing various other very strange
    incedents, and psychic events, like feeling a flock of birds burst from my chest, when i was laying on the ground in a basement, and also finding books that seemed to come out of nowhere like the Book of Thoth, i also found some sort of Masonic tract
    that told a wonderful story about the Queen of Babylon, that i have never seen since, i also remember seeing a book, that someone left in the house i was living in that when i opened it, i saw a magician, that transformed into a black falcon
    i saw this, and i never read the book, but it just happned, and i was also reading a book about Merlin, and so much much more that i could write a book about it, at one point i was in terrible pain
    cuz i had blood poisioning, and i had not been sleeping, and i was just sitting in his stuffed chair,
    and suddenly i felt a light come through the window, and the pain vanished and i felt the presence of a egyptian god, and i just sort of basked in the energy for awhile...years later when i played Sol in the Rites of Elusis it was like
    the same energy....

    so many more thoughts that i would say...93/93

    • Re: Passing Grade For Thelema?
      by Mark Shekoyan on Monday August 06, @10:29PM
      At 19 I ingested a high dose of an Etheogen that catupulted me into a 12 year initiatory cycle. Along that path I ventured East to Asia, I ran naked through the forests as Pan, I danced under the moon in the forests of Cascadia and I was nursed by the Goddess in Silence.

      I spent time exploring the occult in the Monasteries of the Mind, and actively in the presence of likemindeds in the psycdelic time
      warped Emerald City in the NorthWest rain forests.

      I ate with Magicians, and walked as a Fool. I spent hours reading thousands of books filling my mind with words to grasp the earthly contours of the QUANTUM BUNDLE of visonary cyber linguistic Gnosis that was downloaded to my brain that intense 8 hours in Aldrich Park, Febuary of 1988.

      I groked the nature of space time as a continuum in a multi-model matrix of energy/intention. I rediscovered the reality of magic, I reclaimed the sanctity of Creativity as the source of nature's overflowing superabundance.

      The "grade system" has always been a formality to me. I figure my own struggle with the Shamanic dismemberment of the self that I induced, and then reintegrated, was my own inner A:A path.

      Its nice to have a structure to talk about and relate to as a point of reference, but the initiatory path is ultimately individualistic, poetically inspired, and unique.

      Regardless of the demons I've wrestled with in my own rendition of Jacob's ladder, I'd do it all again that I might walk the path of Love and Will with my angel, and that I might know the sweetness of living a life in service of the marvelous.

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