For study and reference — work in progress…
Thelema is a social or spiritual philosophy derived from Western esotericism. The word thelema is the English transliteration of the Koine Greek noun θέλημα, “will”, from the verb θέλω : “to will, wish, want or purpose”. While Thelema is most often regarded as a religion—a new religious movement and contemporary mystery religion in particular—it is also referred to as a philosophy, religious philosophy, spiritual philosophy, or “religious matrix”. An adherent of Thelema is traditionally referred to as a Thelemite, and all phenomena within the scope of Thelema are termed Thelemic.
The fundamental axiom, tenet, or boilerplate underlying Thelema—known as the “Law of Thelema”—is “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law”. The traditional corresponding phrase is “Love is the law, love under will.” Other common phrases, coined by Aleister Crowley, which are associated with Thelema are, “It is the mark of the mind untrained to take its own processes as valid for all men, and its own judgments for absolute truth“, and “For pure will, unassuaged of purpose, delivered from the lust of result, is every way perfect.“ These expressions can be characterized as having moral, mystical, and socio-political implications. In the Thelemic worldview or model, each person has a “True Will” and (insofar as each person acts in accordance with his or her Will) the nature of a person’s interactions with the world (or universe) is a form of “love” or harmony. This is expressed further by a third metaphor, “every man and every woman is a star,” which portrays the distinct nature of every individual as residing in a non-overlapping point of space and time; collisions between different persons being infrequent if each is aware of—and acting in accordance with—their true purpose in life.
Thelema was developed in the early 1900s by Aleister Crowley, an English writer, mystic, and ceremonial magician. He believed himself to be the prophet of a new age, the Æon of Horus, based upon a spiritual experience that he and his wife, Rose Edith, had in Egypt in 1904. By his account, a possibly non-corporeal or “praeterhuman” being that called itself Aiwass contacted him and dictated a text known as The Book of the Law or Liber AL vel Legis, which outlined the principles of Thelema.
The Thelemic pantheon—a collection of gods and goddesses who may either exist literally or serve as symbolic archetypes or metaphors, depending on the view of the individual—includes a number of deities, primarily a trio adapted from ancient Egyptian religion, who are the three speakers of The Book of the Law: Nuit, Hadit and Ra-Hoor-Khuit. Crowley described these deities as a “literary convenience”. The religion is founded upon the idea that the 20th century marked the beginning of the Aeon of Horus, in which a new ethical code would be followed: “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law”. This statement indicates individual adherents of Thelema should seek out and follow their true path in life, i.e. their True Will. The philosophy also emphasizes the ritual practice of Magick.
As Crowley developed the religion, he wrote widely on the topic, as well as producing more “inspired” writings that he collectively termed The Holy Books of Thelema. He also associated Thelema and Thelemic spiritual practice with concepts rooted in occultism, yoga, and both Eastern and Western mysticism, especially the Qabalah.
Aspects of Thelema and Crowley’s thought in general provided inspiration for the development of Wicca and, to a certain degree, the rise of Modern Paganism as a whole, as well as chaos magick and Satanism. Additionally, aspects of Thelema are believed by some scholars, such as Hugh Urban, to have been an influence on the development of Scientology, However, other scholars, such as J. Gordon Melton, deny any such connections.
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