Joseph Thiebes is our guest in podcast episode 123. Joseph has served as a past master of Sekhet-Maat Lodge in Portland, Oregon, a past editor of Agapé, the official organ of the U.S. Grand Lodge of O.T.O., he has facilitated classes and workshops on Thelema and Western esotericism in Europe and the U.S., and is presently an active initiator of Mysteria Mystica Maxima, and a priest of Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica. Joseph is also one of the primary forces behind the excellent Speech in the Silence podcast, as well as Aleister Crowley 2012.
To begin the interview, Thiebes describes his interest in esotericism, specifically Thelema. While he initially was a member of the Order of De Molay and a Freemason, Joseph’s interest waned and he was drawn more towards ceremonial magick and eventually Ordo Templi Orientis. He dedicated his life to Thelema and the promulgation of its Law because of his steadfast belief that this radical form of liberty should be spread throughout the world. Joseph specifies Thelema as a religious philosophy which stipulates that every individual has the right and duty to find and manifest their true will, or inmost nature, derived from Liber AL vel Legis, the Book of the Law. Thiebes also discusses the way in which Thelema overturns previously existing religious paradigms, asserting the inherent divinity of humanity and valuing science over superstition.
“Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.”
“There is no Law beyond Do what thou wilt.”
“The word of the Law is Θελημα.”
The Key to this Message is this word—Will. The first obvious meaning of this Law is confirmed by antithesis; “The word of Sin is Restriction.”
Again: “Thou hast no right but to do thy will. Do that and no other shall say nay. For pure will, unassuaged of purpose, delivered from the lust of result, is every way perfect.”
Take this carefully; it seems to imply a theory that if every man and every woman did his and her will—the true will—there would be no clashing. “Every man and every woman is a star,” and each star moves in an appointed path without interference. There is plenty of room for all; it is only disorder that creates confusion.
From these considerations it should be clear that “Do what thou wilt” does not mean “Do what you like.” It is the apotheosis of Freedom; but it is also the strictest possible bond.
Do what thou wilt—then do nothing else. Let nothing deflect thee from that austere and holy task. Liberty is absolute to do thy will; but seek to do any other thing whatever, and instantly obstacles must arise. Every act that is not in definite course of that one orbit is erratic, an hindrance. Will must not be two, but one.
Note further that this will is not only to be pure, that is, single, as explained above, but also “unassuaged of purpose.” This strange phrase must give us pause. It may mean that any purpose in the will would damp it; clearly the “lust of result” is a thing from which it must be delivered.
But the phrase may also be interpreted as if it read “with purpose unassuaged”—i.e., with tireless energy. The conception is, therefore, of an eternal motion, infinite and unalterable. It is Nirvana, only dynamic instead of static—and this comes to the same thing in the end.
The obvious practical task of the magician is then to discover what his will really is, so that he may do it in this manner, and he can best accomplish this by the practices of Liber Thisarb (see Equinox I(7), p. 105) or such others as may from one time to another be appointed.
Thou must (1) Find out what is thy Will. (2) Do that Will with a) one-pointedness, (b) detachment, (c) peace.
Then, and then only, art thou in harmony with the Movement of Things, thy will part of, and therefore equal to, the Will of God. And since the will is but the dynamic aspect of the self, and since two different selves could not possess identical wills; then, if thy will be God’s will, Thou art That.
There is but one other word to explain. Elsewhere it is written— surely for our great comfort—“Love is the law, love under will.”
This is to be taken as meaning that while Will is the Law, the nature of that Will is Love. But this Love is as it were a by-product of that Will; it does not contradict or supersede that Will; and if apparent contradiction should arise in any crisis, it is the Will that will guide us aright. Lo, while in The Book of the Law is much of Love, there is no word of Sentimentality. Hate itself is almost like Love! “As brothers fight ye!” All the manly races of the world understand this. The Love of Liber Legis is always bold, virile, even orgiastic. There is delicacy, but it is the delicacy of strength. Mighty and terrible and glorious as it is, however, it is but the pennon upon the sacred lance of Will, the damascened inscription upon the swords of the Knight-monks of Thelema.
Love is the law, love under will.
Aleister Crowley (The Master Therion, AKA the Great Beast 666) further extended the religious philosophy of Thelema in his writings, including Liber OZ.
We then embark upon an exploration of Thelema and politics and the implications of applying Thelemic doctrine to the political sphere. Joseph talks about the difference between government for the greatest good versus the greatest freedom of the individual. He notes that in modern political debate, the policy objectives often have little to do with individual freedom, ultimately eroding that freedom in a piecemeal fashion. Thiebes also talks about the humorous nature, and serious intent, of the Aleister Crowley 2012 project, whose motto – “Change we can be skeptical about” contrasts nicely with typical political sloganeering.
In the Occult of Personality Membership Section, Joseph Thiebes and I continue our conversation about Thelema, Aleister Crowley, philosophy, and politics. Join us!
“Aleister Crowley” Wikipedia entry
outro music – “The Lonely Wizard” by Rildrim
I also want to thank all the dedicated listeners who stepped up to provide generous support and aid in getting this web site and podcast running again this past week. Occult of Personality is only possible because of your help. Thanks again! I would’ve mentioned it in the opening remarks, but this episode was already completed before the site was taken down on September 26th. I’ll have some extended remarks about the situation and a proper thank you in the beginning of the next episode.