Thelemic Practices

Thelemic Practices Cover he Law of Thelema is a system of experiential spirituality. This means that Thelemites engage in various spiritual practices in order to realize the truth of the spiritual life in and for themselves. The ultimate goal of the spiritual life is to identify with and actually become a spiritual being, free of the constraints and constrictions of conditioned existence. The state of being a spiritual being is an ecstatic, powerful state of union with everything (Thelemic "compassion"). The Law of Thelema also teaches that all religions are variations of one fundamental underlying spiritual truth, which become fragmented into different religious traditions as a result of variations of place, time, and degree of realization and mutual isolation and hostility as, with the passage of time, religions become increasingly diversified and exclusive. Religions thus harden into increasingly exoteric systems, based on devotion to priest craft and rules, in which individual spiritual experience is increasingly repressed in favour of an official orthodoxy, ultimately the prerogative of the Black Brothers, which becomes increasingly metaphorical and vicarious. Thus, the Law of Thelema rejects aereligiosity" altogether, and actively seeks to destroy it, since the religious attitude in this sense is harmful to the spiritual life and impedes, blocks, restricts, and interferes with real spiritual progress. Consequently, Thelemites incorporate practices from all religious traditions without distinction, in order to reconstitute the primordial tradition that underlies them all. Crowley compared this process to recombining the colours of the spectrum into white light. This reconstruction is the special task of Scientific Illuminism, which is one aspect of the Law of Thelema, the operative branch of which is Magick.

Spiritual practices are pursued in the context of various systems of attainment, which are appropriate to different types of aspirant, differentiated by race, culture, personal psychology, and degree of realization or "grade." Consequently, not all practices are suitable for all aspirants at all stages of development. Recognizing which practices are suitable to which aspirants at different stages of their spiritual development is the special skill of a spiritual master.

In the system of the A...A..., the grades correspond to specific tasks and corresponding attainments, arranged in an hierarchy. Many of these tasks and attainments have become the special study of parapsychology and transpersonal psychology in recent years. In the system described by Crowley, these are the main attainments of the Outer Order (collated from the three main documents describing these attainments, Liber XIII, Liber CLXV, and "One Star in Sight"):

The Neophyte formulates the Body of Light (popularly known today as "astral projection").
The Zelator masters Hatha Yoga, specifically, Asana and Pranayama, resulting in the experience of aepsychic opening."
The Practicus achieves Kundalini Awakening, so-called (see Lee Sanella, The Kundalini Experience).
The Philosophus masters Rising on the Planes (popularly known as the "out of body experience" or "OBE").
The Dominus Liminis acquires the power of mental Concentration (ekagrata).

The Adeptus Minor attains the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel, so-called, corresponding to the Hindu trance-state known as Atmadarshana, but with important differences as well.
The work of an aspirant to the A...A... is so subtle and advanced that it is beyond the ability of most people, although a few aspirants attained high grades in the A...A... during Crowleyaes lifetime. The tests, some of which are published, which Crowley applied to aspirants in order to qualify were very stringent, and Crowley did not grant grades casually. For example, one has to "astral travel" through an abstract symbol that one has never seen before and describe a vision the character of which is consistent with the symbolaes meaning in order to pass the test for "rising on the planes."

Crowley was promoted to the leadership of the English branch of the O.T.O. in 1912 e.v., and he used this order ever afterwards as a vehicle for popularizing the Law of Thelema, as well as the practice of the Supreme Secret of the O.T.O. During his lifetime, this secret was zealously guarded, although it is not always discreetly hinted at in the esoteric literature of the day and by Crowley himself. However, since Crowleyaes death the cat has long been out of the bag. The Supreme Secret of the O.T.O. is nothing other than the use of sex in the pursuit of spiritual enlightenment, equivalent in fact to a Western Tantra.

Sex is, of course, the single most powerful psycho-physiological energy in man, so pressing it into the service of spiritual development is a natural evolution, once one overcomes the restriction of shame. From the Tantric point of view, sexual abstinence is really a form of "sex magick," so-called, since sexual abstinence modifies the sexual instinct. Exotericism sees in sexual abstinence the rejection of sexuality per se as contrary to the spiritual life, but the Tantric view is more subtle and profound. Rather than rejecting sex, the Tantric practitioner seeks to sublimate the sexual energy, inhibiting its outflow so that the energy accumulates in the brain, its original source, where it induces the state of illumination (the physiological precursor of enlightenment).

Once one realizes that this is how sexual abstinence actually works, the possibility of a contrary methodology presents itself to the discerning consciousness. Instead of repressing the sexual energy, one can intensify it to the point where the sheer excess of sexual arousal causes the energy to ascend the spine and, once again, "illuminate" the brain. In the latter case, however, the body is also "illuminated." Thus, the formulae of sexual abstinence and orgiastic excess are realized to be essentially identical, variations of the same underlying energy-economy.

The members of the O.T.O. are encouraged to engage in practical experimentation, and many members pursue various tasks connected with the Great Work. This is especially true of the followers of Kenneth Grant, who has created a system of Thelemic attainment strongly suggestive of Vodou, the primal religion of Africa and humanity, since, according to current archaeological research, humanity originated in Africa.

In addition to the major tasks of the Great Work described above, committed Thelemites are enjoined to engage in a number of regular daily practices that have the effect of disciplining and directing the mind and regulating oneaes life according to objective natural cycles. These include (based on the Official Publications of the A...A...):

A short reminder of oneaes dedication to the Great Work, spoken before meals.
Rituals of purification and empowerment, performed at the beginning and end of each day (see Liber V, XXV, and XXXVI).
A daily eucharist (see Liber XLIV).
The adoration of the Sun, followed by one hour of meditation, repeated four times daily; thus, the truly committed Thelemite, like the followers of the Sant Mat, meditates four hours per day (see Liber CC).
Adoration of oneaes Star, performed as it rises above the horizon (see Liber CMLXIII)
In addition to the foregoing, members of the O.T.O. observe the Gnostic Mass (see Liber XV), in which the Supreme Secret is rehearsed and an eucharist consumed by the celebrants, and various visualization practices. The Book of the Law also refers to the spiritual use of drugs, which informed the spiritual practice of many significant spiritual teachers before their criminalization, including Georges Ivanovitch Gurdjieff (according to Timothy Leary), Julius Evola, Aldous Huxley and others. Drugs are also an integral part of many different South American aboriginal shamanic cultures. The traditional cultures of the Quiches, Incans, Mayans, and Aztecs bears many striking affinities to the Law of Thelema, more so even than Africa.

Books You Might Enjoy:

Zoroaster - The Chaldean Oracles
Anonymous - Wicca Beliefs And Practices
Greg Wotton - Suffering A Thelemic Perspective

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