A Discourse on the Fourth Article

T Polyphilus

In previous discourses
I have endeavored to share with you
Some of the facts and ideas
That contribute to my own understanding
Of the first three articles of our creed.
I have set forth some histories
And some points of orientation
To show how we might aspire and strive
To know what we believe
Rather than to believe that we know

In the fourth article we say,

And I believe in one Gnostic and Catholic Church
> Of Light, Life, Love and Liberty,
> The Word of whose Law is Thelema.

What does it mean to believe in a church?
What is a church anyhow?

The English word church
Actually derives from the Greek kyrios
Meaning “Lord,” so a “church”
Is a “House of the Lord”
And thus we might see our church
As an institution dedicated
To the secret and ineffable Lord
Whom we acknowledge in the first article.

But in this particular case (as in many others)
We see that church is being used
As a translation and synonym
For the Latin word ecclesia
Since the “Gnostic Catholic Church”
Is the same as “Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica.”
The Latin ecclesia is a transliteration
Of the same word in Greek
And that Greek ekklesia means “assembly.”
The Theosophist James M. Pryse
Was an esoteric student of Greek
And he wrote The Apocalypse Unsealed,
A book that earned rave reviews
From Aleister Crowley and John Yarker.
In Pryse's book he discusses the meaning
Of the Seven Churches in Asia
In the biblical Revelation to John;
Pryse looks at the Greek ekklesia
And he understands it allegorically
So that the “assembly” or “gathering”
Is a “nervous plexus or ganglion.”
He correlates these seven churches
To the seven lampstands and the seven seals
Of the Apocalypse, and identifies them all
With the seven sat chakras:
The centers of energy or attention
Along the central column of the human form.
Now the Sanskrit word chakra
Means a “wheel,” and it too is used
To indicate a spiritual association
Or a circle of believers:
A body of Tantrists is called a chakra.
Considering these various links
We may imagine the Church as a Wheel
With the Lord for its axle!

Now we call our church catholic
And this word is sometimes a source of confusion.
In casual speech, “Catholic” religion
Implies a capital C, and refers
To the Church of Rome, which seems to have
A de facto trademark on the word “catholic.”
But this word has an earlier history
And a larger meaning.
Catholic means “universal.”
The opposite of this sort of catholic
Is not “Protestant,” but ethnic.
By calling itself “Catholic,” the Roman Church
Was asserting that its sacraments
Were suitable for all people
And available to all who would believe in it,
Not just those who were born into it,
Not just those of a particular nation,
Of a particular language or color–
And this is true of our Church also.

Now it is also true that at one time
Before our Church embraced the Law
It took the word Catholic into its name
To express a sense of kindred symbol
With the Roman Church
When the founding bishops in France
Were concerned to establish
An esoteric church body
That could provide sacraments
To former Roman Catholics
Who had forsaken that church
By joining esoteric societies
Like the Martinist Order of Gerard Encausse.
But our Church is now under the Law of Thelema
Not the Gospel of Christianity,
And the Roman Church is at most
An old stepmother to our Gnostic Church.

Gnostic is the final qualifier
That goes to form the Church's name.
There is plenty of scholary controversy
Over the correct application
Of the word “Gnosticism” to religions
In the early centuries of the Christian era
The name was originally a term of derision:
Iranaeus and Hippolytus wrote with scorn
Regarding the “so-called Gnostics”
Whom they worked to expose
As subversives and dangerous heretics
But that “so-called” is key
Since even the orthodox wanted to claim
That their path was the one to true gnosis
The unmediated knowledge of God.
Still, no practitioners actually used “Gnosticism”
To refer to their own religion
Until the nineteenth century
When the esoteric antiquarian Jules Doinel
Founded his Eglise Gnostique or “Gnostic Church”
The church from which ours descends.

Now our Gnostic Catholic Church
Is a body within Ordo Templi Orientis:
All of our clergy are initiates of O.T.O.
And the summit of initiation in O.T.O.
Is called the “Sanctuary of the Gnosis.”
We can contrast our “Gnostic and Catholic Church”
With the “Catholic and Apostolic Church”
That appears in Christian creeds.
The legitimacy of “apostolic” churches
Rests on an “apostolate,” that is
An organized line of followers
Commissioned by their founder Jesus.
Our “gnostic” legitimacy
Rests instead on an initiatory system
That is the vehicle of a particular gnosis
Which is sometimes called
“The Supreme Secret of the Ninth Degree.”
We say we believe in one Church,
But there are two kinds of unity:
There is the general unity, which is one
Because it includes all possible variations.
But our Church is a particular unity,
Which is one because it is individual,
Possessed of its unique identity
And willing to persevere in that identity,
Rather than to dilute itself
In some ecumenical recognition
Of different religions
Of interchangable value.

Our Church is certainly distinctive
In being the first ecclesiastical body
To proclaim that the Word of its Law is Thelema.
The word Thelema has a long history, though.
It is a common word in the Greek writings
Of the “New Testament” in the Christian Bible.
It means “will” in that book,
But especially divine will.
It is the will of God,
Or the will of authority figures
Who clearly represent God in parables,
And once it is the will of the Devil.
Thelema is the “will” of “Thy will be done”
In the Christian Lord's Prayer
And it is the “will” of “Not my will, but thine, be done”
As Jesus resigns himself to death.
Even so, our Church draws its teachings
From The Book of the Law, not the Christian Bible,
And our view of will is one in which a new Law
Supersedes both Christian grace and Hebrew guilt
With a fourfold word: Do what thou wilt.

There is some hint of our Law
In the writings of Saint Augustine,
Who declared, “Love, and do what thou wilt.”
But Augustine subordinated will to love,
And our law is “love under will.”

Many centuries after Augustine
The Dominican monk Francesco Colonna
Wrote an exotic tale of a dream adventure
Called the Hypnerotomachia
Where the hero Poliphilo is counseled by two nymphs:
One is Logistica or reason,
And the other is Thelemia or desire.
He follows Thelemia's counsel
In pursuing the object of his affections,
And Love and Will are thus united
In this magical story.

Our Saint Francois Rabelais read Colonna's book,
And from that nymph he drew the name Theleme
Which was to adorn the utopian abbey
Of his imaginary Thelemites.
Rabelais wrote of the manner of living
At the Abbey of Theleme as follows:

In all their rule and strictest tie of their order,

There was but this one clause

To be observed: DO WHAT THOU WILT.

Because men that are free, well-born,

Well-bred, and conversant in honest companies,

Have naturally an instinct and spur

That prompteth them unto virtuous actions,

And withdraws them from vice,

Which is called honour.

After the Prophet Aleister Crowley
Had received The Book of the Law
Through the magick of the Cairo Working,
He acknowledged “the prophetic fire”
Of Rabelais's writings on Theleme.

But our Law and its word Thelema
Is bound in The Book of the Law
Which is borne to the High Altar in every Gnostic Mass
Which rests on the heart of the priestess
And receives the kisses of the priest,
It is the Law given by To Mega Therion
“Unto everyone that holdeth himself holy.”

From that Law spring four rays, which are

Light, Life, Love and Liberty

And if Thelema is the word of our Law
Then these four should be its expression
In the body of the Church:
The Light of our doctrines
The Life of our sacraments
The Love of our members
And the Liberty of their consciences.

These four letters L around a common center
Make the swastika or thunderbolt
Which is an emblem of whirling energies
That create and destroy.
The isopsephy of lamed or lambda
Is thirty, so the four letters L
Sum to one hundred and twenty
The value of ON, which is the name
Of our Lord and Father the Sun
By which He is called
When the priest offers unto Him
the Body and Blood of God.

Light is the Paten with which we redeem,
Life is the Sword with which we destroy,
Love is the Graal with which we preserve,
Liberty is the Lance with which we create,
And these weapons are the letters
Of the holy tetragrammaton
Cascading out of the gnosis
Of our unique and unifying Church,
Within which we can believe as we will.

In the name of CHAOS, Amen.

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