Of Dogma, and Giving Credit Where Credit is Due

One would think that one of the prime characteristics of the “New Aeon” would be that those promoting it would have a perspective on things like religion that was, in fact, new. What I have seen recently is not just old but a stupid version of old.

As I’ve stated before, I find the odds that one group of people have discovered “The Truth” incredibly slim. Thus it should be no surprise that the notion that one person did so seems categorically absurd to me. The same arguments apply: really big Universe, very narrow perspective interpreting it.

Spewing out a lot of post-Marxist Continental crap in between Crowley quotes will not impress me either. To me, Thelema is about, among other things, thinking for yourself. When someone’s word count reaches more than 2,000, and 1,500 of those are snippets from Crowley, I find it hard to believe a person is doing that.

This sort of religion, where the words of dead people count for more than personal experience, should be just as dead by now.

My last thoughts aside, I do find the drive toward a totally non-Crowley Thelema a bit odd to say the least. To begin with, we’re talking about a massive amount of material that would simply have to be ignored. Even keeping only Class A documents would be chopping out several million words from the sources one references. To me, this sounds like an utter waste.

Of this body of material, I would say roughly forty percent consists of amateur social theorizing based on long discredited Victorian pseudo-science that can be safely set aside as irrelevant simply on account of its own weakness. This is generally combined with the most ridiculous reading of Nietzsche one can imagine outside of a Marylin Manson interview. One must remember that Crowley switched majors out of philosophy before taking anything he said on the subject at face value. He was a poet and a seer not a systematic philosophical thinker.

This leaves sixty percent of Crowley’s corpus. Much of which is really good shit. Whole aspects of modern occultism derive from his practical and theoretical work.

Another point: While there may have been antecedents to Thelema, these in themselves do not constitute a system or a religious philosophy. Crowley was, in my opinion, one of the last systematizers of occult practice coming out of the nineteenth century. Before that trend, there wasn’t really much going on that could be described as a coherent “Tradition.” There was a general tendency amongst a large number of disparate practitioners, revolving around the bits of Lurianic Kabbalah that were available, and several different kinds of alchemy along with a host of different individual bits of technology such as Arts of Memory. But the “Hermetic Tradition” as such was largely a figment of the late Renaissance imagination.

What Crowley did was focus on those bits that tended toward sensuality and individual freedom, as well as incorporating “Eastern” practices. Again, not something that should be discarded, since these influences and ideas actually fill huge gaps left in Western Esotericism by the centuries of Christian dominance.

I think what I’m getting at is, while I don’t think it’s appropriate to idolize or slavishly follow the words of any individual, give the man some fucking credit would ya? Really, if one looks at the cultural atmosphere in which Crowley moved, he actually comes out looking pretty good. We just need to remember that our current society is to that of the early twentieth century what that period was to the late middle ages in terms of progress. In this sense, Crowley can be seen as a Renaissance man.

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