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Sacred River explores spirituality grounded in religious naturalism & progressive ethics that is both non-theistic and non-supernatural.


On Thelema

Understanding that Stability is Change, and Change Stability, that Being is Becoming, and Becoming Being, is the Key to the Golden Palace of this Law.
—"De Lege Libellum"

Every Star has its own Nature, which is "Right" for it. We are not to be missionaries, with ideal standards of dress and morals, and such hard-ideas. We are to do what we will, and leave others to do what they will. We are infinitely tolerant, save of intolerance.
—New Commentary, II:57

So therefore Our Law of Thelema is justified also of Biology and of Social Science. It is the true Way of Nature, the right Strategy in the Way of Man with his Environment, and the Life of his Soul.
—Liber Aleph

There seems to be much misunderstanding about True Will [...] The fact of a person being a gentleman is as much an ineluctable factor as any possible spiritual experience; in fact, it is possible, even probable, that a man may be misled by the enthusiasm of an illumination, and if he should find apparent conflict between his spiritual duty and his duty to honour, it is almost sure evidence that a trap is being laid for him and he should unhesitatingly stick to the course which ordinary decency indicates [...] I wish to say definitely, once and for all, that people who do not understand and accept this position have utterly failed to grasp the fundamental principles of the Law of Thelema.
The Magical Diaries of Aleister Crowley, p.21

I admit that my visions can never mean to other men as much as they do to me. I do not regret this. All I ask is that my results should convince seekers after truth that there is beyond doubt something worth while seeking, attainable by methods more or less like mine. I do not want to father a flock, to be the fetish of fools and fanatics, or the founder of a faith whose followers are content to echo my opinions. I want each man to cut his own way through the jungle.
The Confessions of Aleister Crowley, Ch. 66

Each of us has a Will of eternal import, necessarily related to everything that exists, and all our conscious desires are so many masks—one fixed expression concealing our infinite variety.
—"A Memorandum Regarding The Book of the Law"

Nuit commands mankind to invoke Her, that is, to fulfil their utmost Selfhood, under Her stars, that is, by the study of all other Points of View beside one’s own.
—"The Djeridensis Working"

Sin is defined as Restriction: that is; the setting of limits, or the desire to set limits, to any thing that is, seeing that as above set forth the true Nature of all things is to fulfil themselves in all Ways. Yet though all things be thus lawful in themselves, it is often Restriction to act, and Freedom to refrain. For that Freedom is worth the other, and each case must be judged by its own Nature.
—"The Djeridensis Working"

When you can [help others] as it should be done, without embarrassment, false shame, with your whole heart in your words—do it simply, to sum up—you will find yourself way up on the road to that royal republic which is the ideal of human society.
Magic Without Tears

On Magick & Mysticism

Why should you study and practice Magick? Because you can't help doing it, and you had better do it well than badly.
Magick Without Tears,

The main purpose of the Ritual [Liber Samekh] is to establish the relation of the subconscious self with the [Holy Guardian] Angel in such a way that the Adept is aware that his Angel is the Unity which expresses the sum of the Elements of that Self, that his normal consciousness contains alien enemies introduced by the accidents of environment, and that his Knowledge and Conversation of His Holy Guardian Angel destroys all doubts and delusions, confers all blessings, teaches all truth, and contains all delights.
Liber Samekh

There is a fourth kind of atheist, not really an atheist at all. He is but a traveller in the Land of No God, and knows that it is but a stage on his journey—and a stage, moreover, not far from the goal....This atheist, not in-being but in-passing, is a very apt subject for initiation. He has done with the illusions of dogma. From a Knight of the Royal Mystery he has risen to understand with the members of the Sovereign Sanctuary that all is symbolic; all, if you will, the Jugglery of the Magician. He is tired of theories and systems of theology and all such toys; and being weary and anhungred and athirst seeks a seat at the Table of Adepts, and a portion of the Bread of Spiritual Experience, and a draught of the wine of Ecstasy.

By my side as I write wallows in exhaustion following an age of torment one who did not understand that it is a thousand times better to die than to break the least tittle of a magical oath.

Only when we consciously attain to the enjoyment of life as a sacrament, only when the universe is understood as being a vast replica of our own nature, do we accept the cross, and hail death as the culmination and prize of life.
The General Principles of Astrology

[T]he essential of all magical work: the uniting of the microcosm with the macrocosm.
The Book of Thoth ("Hierophant")

Salvation, whatever salvation may mean, is not to be obtained on any reasonable terms.
The Book of Thoth ("The Fool")

Ah! Mr. Waite, the world of Magic is a mirror, wherein who sees muck is muck.
The Goetia

I am not concerned to deny the objective reality of all "magical" phenomena; if they are illusions, they are at least as real as many unquestioned facts of daily life; and...they are at least evidence of some cause.
The Goetia

What is the meaning of Initiation? It is the Path to the realisation of your Self as the sole, the supreme, the absolute of all Truth, Beauty, Purity, Perfection!
Magick Without Tears, ch. 71

It is spoken of the Sephiroth, and the Paths, of Spirits and Conjurations; of Gods, Spheres, Planes, and many other things which may or may not exist. It is immaterial whether they exist or not. By doing certain things certain results follow; students are most earnestly warned against attributing objective reality or philosophic validity to any of them.
—"Liber O"

It is extraordinary how the formula of Hermes Trismegistus holds throughout; Magick is but the extension of the microcosm in the macrocosm. And as the macrocosm is the greater, it follows that what one does by magick is to attune oneself with the Infinite.
—"The Revival of Magick"

The mystic attainment may be defined as the Union of the Soul with God, or as the soul's realization of Itself, or— but there are fifty phrases to define the attainment. Whether you are a Christian or a Buddhist, a Theist or an Atheist, the attainment of this state is as open to you as is nightmare, or madness, or intoxication.
—"The Attainment of Happiness"

...if it must be that one's most sacred shrine be profaned, let it be the clean assault of laughter rather than the slimy smear of sanctimoniousness!
Magick Without Tears, Ch. 44

On Sex

Sex is the sacred song of the soul; sex is the sanctuary of Self.
—"On Sexual Freedom"

Some writers suppose that in the ancient rites of Eleusis the High Priest publicly copulated with the High Priestess. Were this so, it would be no more “indecent” than it is “blasphemous” for the priest to make bread and wine into the body and blood of God. True, the Protestants say that it is blasphemous; but a Protestant is one to whom all things sacred are profane, whose mind being all filth can see nothing in the sexual act but a crime or a jest, whose only facial gestures are the sneer and the leer. Protestantism is the excrement of human thought, and accordingly in Protestant countries art, if it exist at all, only exists to revolt.
—"Energized Enthusiasm"

I see thee, Woman, thou standest alone, High Priestess art thou unto Love at the Altar of Life. And Man is the Victim therein. Beneath thee, rejoicing, he lies; he exalts as he dies, burning up in the breath of thy kiss. Yea, star rushes flaming to star; the blaze bursts, splashes the skies.
Every Woman is a Star

On Women

We respect woman in the self of Her own nature; we do not arrogate the right to criticise her. We welcome her as our ally, come to our camp as her Will, free-flashing, sword-swinging, hath told Her, Welcome, thou Woman, we hail thee, star shouting to star! Welcome to rout and to revel! Welcome to fray and to feast! Welcome to vigil and victory! Welcome to war with its wounds! Welcome to peace with its pageants! Welcome to lust and to laughter! Welcome to board and to bed! Welcome to trumpet and triumph; welcome to dirge and to death!
Every Woman is a Star

But now the Word of Me the Beast is this: not only art thou Woman, sworn to a purpose not thine own; thou art thyself a star, and in thyself a purpose to thyself. Not only mother of men art thou, or whore to men; serf to their need of Life and Love, not sharing in their Light and Liberty; nay, thou art Mother and Whore for thine own pleasure; the Word I say to Man I say to thee no less: Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law!
Every Woman is a Star

On Teaching, Learning, and Knowing

I certainly have no intention of "holding you down" to "a narrow path of work" or any path. All I can do is to help you to understand clearly the laws of your own nature, so that you may go ahead without extraneous influence. It does not follow that a plan that I have found successful in my own case will be any use to you. That is another cardinal mistake of most teachers. One must have become a Master of the Temple to annihilate one's ego. Most teachers, consciously or unconsciously, try to get others to follow in their steps. I might as well dress you up in my castoff clothing!
Magick Without Tears, ch. 17

I slept with faith and found a corpse in my arms on awakening; I drank and danced all night with doubt and found her a virgin in the morning.
The Book of Lies

Truth teaches understanding, freedom develops will, experience confers resourcefulness, independence inspires self-confidence. Thereby success becomes certain.
—"On the Education of Children"

It is not actually wrong to regard me as a teacher, but it is certainly liable to mislead; fellow-student, or, if you like, fellow-sufferer, seems a more appropriate definition.
Magick Without Tears, Introduction

The central principle of my teaching is to compel the pupil to rely on his own resources, and having thus acquired good judgment and confidence, to develop intelligent initiative.
The Confessions of Aleister Crowley, Ch. 89

We insist from the beginning on the individual character of the work, and upon the necessity of maintaining the objective and sceptical standpoint. You are explicitly warned against reliance upon "authority," even that of the Order itself. Consider my own assets, personal, social, educational, experiential and the rest: don't you see that all I had to do was to put out some brightly-coloured and mellifluous lie, and avoid treading on too many toes, to have had hundreds of thousands of idiots worshipping me?
Magick Without Tears, ch. 71

But when your teaching is of the disputable kind, explain that too; encourage [the student] to question, to demand a reason and to disagree. Get him to fence with you; sharpen his wits by dialectic; lure him into thinking for himself.
Magick Without Tears, ch. 72

I am as near seventy as makes no matter, and I am still learning with all my might. All my life I have been taught: governesses, private tutors, schools, private and public, the best of the Universities: how little I know! I have traveled all over the world in all conditions, from "grand seigneur," to "holy man;" how little I know!
Magick Without Tears, ch. 72