The tradition of Thelema could be said to have been formally inaugurated when Crowley received Liber AL vel Legis in 1904. In Liber AL it is declared “The word of the Law is Aleph” (AL I:39) which is “Thelema,” or “Will” in Greek. It continues, “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law” (AL I:40) and also “There is no law beyond Do what thou wilt” (AL III:60), as if we hadn’t already gotten the picture. An argument against the idea that Crowley established Thelema in 1904 with the reception of Liber AL might mention that the words “Do what thou wilt” have been uttered at least twice before. Firstly, St. Augustine of Hippo wrote “Dilige, et quod vis fac” in his Confessions at the end of the 4th century CE, which means “Love, and do what thou wilt.” Here St.Augustine means that if one loves God, one is free to act because their will is surrendered to the will of God (and therefore apparently can’t possibly act wrongly). Though the wording is extremely similar, this is not what is meant by Liber AL vel Legis in its aphorisms of “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law” (AL I:40) and “Love is the law, love under will” (AL I:57). As Crowley says in “Message of the Master Therion” so concisely, “While Will is the Law, the nature of that Will is Love. Love is as it were a byproduct 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.” Here he explicitly states that the “Love” in Liber AL is not the sentimental love that many think of when first hearing the word, and it is especially not love of the orthodox Judeo-Christian-Islamic notion of a vengeful Father-in-the-sky God. The idea of “Love” in a Thelemic context will be more fully treated in later chapters.
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Aleister Crowley - Liber Al Vel Legis Scans
Aleister Crowley - Liber Al Vel Legis