“Because half the truth is just how much there is.”
– The Tragically Hip, The Kids Don’t Get it
I’m trying, I’m really trying. If you read this blog you know about my great love-hate relationship with one Frater Perdurabo, Master Therion, that’s Aleister Crowley to the uninitiated. I find his followers intelligent, amusing, engaging and great fun to be around. I find his works obtuse, convoluted, and patently ridiculous. To clarify the misunderstands I may have about Crowley’s work, a friend advised me to read The Magick of Aleister Crowley by Lon Milo DuQuette. I have heard DuQuette speak several times, and I respect him. The jury is still out on whether or not he will help me understand Uncle Al’s work.
The book has so far been disappointing. I yearned for an in-depth post-mortem on Crowley’s rituals. Instead I got a lot of reprinted material from Crowley’s works and some commentary on the benefits of using it. Starting with a total reprint of The Book of the Law probably didn’t help endear him to me.
He falls into exactly the same trap as many occultist before him, do this, then that, like a recipe. Don’t bother to teach what it means or why you are doing it that way. It also presumes knowledge of the kabbalah and insists that Crowley’s world view, what he calls the Thelemic pantheon, fits exactly within its structure. It reaffirms Crowley’s expertise on the subject, implying that if you feel differently you’re just not as well studied on the subject. Maybe I am, maybe I’m not. But I have studied kabbalah and AC’s assertions as to to the nature of the sepiroth bears no likeness to the concepts presented by actual Jewish scholars. We need to assume that maybe, just maybe, Frater Crowley didn’t know shit.
What really gets me though is how an intelligent man like DuQuette present it as gospel truth, and insist that perfection of these rituals is the only way. let’s quote:
“For practical workings these Pentagrams must not only be memorized but imprinted firmly upon the unconscious mind.”
Translation, my way or the highway. You will draw pentagrams the way Crowley taught you to draw pentagrams or you will go nowhere.
This is why I love chaos magicians. They will downright tell you that if that way doesn’t work try another. In fact, that way may work for some things, but not for others.
It’s no surprise that the founder of chaos magick is a quantum physicist. To me, magick should be approached in that manner. We constantly look for a grand unified theory, one great equation: kabbalah, astrology, chakras, tarot, etc. But we know by experience that no matter how we try, all of magical experience cannot be forced into one of those models.
In quantum physics the only way for us to explain the way energy behaves is to approach it from the contradictory perspectives that it is both a particle and a wave. Chaos magick realizes this, and internalizes it. A chaos magician can switch from one perspective to the other as soon as he realizes the first one doesn’t work in this instance, and return to it when it does.
We realize that our goal is a grand unified theory, but we’re smart enough to know we haven’t reached it yet. So we can keep searching outside of a given paradigm, leaving those stuck in one way of looking at things in the dust.
So perhaps the chaos magick motto – Nothing is true, everything is permitted – is superior to – Do as thou Wilt shall be the whole of the Law. Because the Thelemic model assumes there is a “Law”.