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Sat, Sep. 8th, 2007, 10:30 pm
On Rabelaisian Thelema

I am a bit bored tonight, so since I have written both here and in Behutet on” Rabelaisian Thelema”, I thought I might offer a few thoughts regarding Sabazius’s comment on the same at Notocon this year.  In his address he said:
We are a religious Order. Our religion is that of Thelema. Our Thelema is not some meaningless diversion like this so-called "Rabelaisian" Thelema—Saint Rabelais never intended his satirical, fictional device to serve as a practical blueprint for a real human society.

Now, he is entitled to his own opinion, and it is no longer any business of mine what the Order does or does not believe. But just for fun I would submit the following:

First: It was far braver for Rabelais to write about an Abbey of Thelema in the 1500's than it was for AC to actually start an Abbey of Thelema in the 20th century. Whether the man wanted to make it reality or not, and I would argue that Sabazius had no better insight into this than I do, he COULDNT do it, The church would simply not allow it.He would have been killed. As it was, only the influence of very powerful friends kept him being labeled a heretic after the Sorbonne and Catholic Church condemned and banned his books. Far from a simple “satirical and fictional device” his books were allegorical fiction, sending up a beacon of freedom amidst a stifling spiritual climate, and continuing the thread laid down by Colonna in the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili, another book that is WAY more than fiction. 

More important than the above however is that Rabelaisian Thelema isn’t really about Rabelais or his book. This fact is of course hard for gung-ho OTO types to understand because they are evolving Thelema to be just another religion adhering to one supreme book and one supreme prophet. In fact in the last five years, I have seen a dramatic increase in OTO members looking to mainstream churches as a template for their goals: replacing Christ with Crowley and the Bible with AC. This was particularly amusing when I read the cracks Sabazius made that "our Order must be firmly united to face the Slave Religions

Rabelais is a convenient name to show that Crowley borrowed his ideas and was just one thread in much wider fabric. Franscisco Colonna, PB Randolf, St Augustine, Meister Eckhart, Didymus Thomas, and countless others have articulated other threads, and the Rabelaisian Thelemite is free to explore them all precisely because there isn’t a vast corpus of work from one man claiming to be a prophet that supersedes everything that came before. Even more importantly they are free to articulate their own expressions of the current without having to keep it in line with “The Prophet” and the symbol set he spun. 

A well known Thelemite once said to me in a journal post “what if I declared a Rabelaisian Buddhism, how would you feel about that?”. My reply was that if Rabelais articulated the four Noble truths 400 years before the Buddha, I would be thrilled to accept it. My reply and his question to me were of course, wiped from his journal…

The same Thelemite had criticized the movement saying: (paraphrase here) “Where are the writings? What has it produced? If I could see the kind of amazing libers that Crowley produced than I might take it seriously…”  

My answer is two-fold. First, is that vast amounts of written material are NOT an indicator of Gnosis. Neither Buddha, nor Jesus, nor Mohammed left ANY written writings of their own. I don’t know what most Thelemites mystical experiences are like, but genuine visions and earth shattering mystical states don’t exactly leave me itching to write, Indeed what is often conveyed is so ineffable that its hard to write it down. 

The second part of the answer is that Rabelaisian Thelemites, or Free-range Thelemites (a term Sam Webster recently shared with me) aren’t necessarily looking to crystallize something into a religion or an order with oodles of pompous pronouncements and manifestos declaring yet another new path. We have enough of those. Instead, free-range Thelemites seek to imbue the current into whatever they are in: be it Christianity, Buddhism, Hindusim, Masonry, or god-forbid Crowleyanity… which could use a good dose of it from time to time.

Sun, Sep. 9th, 2007 06:08 am (UTC)

"Franscisco Colonna, PB Randolf, St Augustine, Meister Eckhart, Didymus Thomas, and countless others "

Don't forget the most underappreciated current of all: Puritanism. (Among other indications, such as his own father's influence, his evangelism, his secret self-doubt and constant self-examination, and his obsessive diary keeping and his spiritual will to dedicate every hour and minute to God, how many people pass right over Crowley's revealing comment in his Tunis Diaries that he is "rightfully regarded as the King of the Puritans"?)

Have Sabazius put that in his pipe and smoke it.

Thanks for mentioning the Hypnerotomachia, btw. I only discovered this text from a lead in _Club Dumas_/_Ninth Gate_, mentioned in my lj of last year I believe. Absolutely astounding text and woodcuts.

Sun, Sep. 9th, 2007 11:52 am (UTC)

such is the way of it.
the tendency to become dogma and ritual.
Funny how most tend to overlook the comment at the end of Liber Al vel Legis.

Sun, Sep. 9th, 2007 09:28 pm (UTC)
xeyeofhorusx: Home on the Range

I don't see overlooking the comment as having necessary bearing on the source of these behaviors. One can establish a religion of the book with a completely open pool of interpretation of that book, so long as one establishes some *other* source as the standard of reference for behavior. In this case the OTO bylaws function as that standard, and in my experience, initiates choose of their own free will whether to engage the Order by these rules. Discipline borne of intersubjective agreement does not equate to dogmatic totalitarianism.

Of course, these tautologies do not in any way *prevent* dogma, and if some believe that recent statements indicate a shift in direction towards dogma, I would understand their perspective.

Mon, Sep. 10th, 2007 12:45 am (UTC)
inominandum: Re: Home on the Range

I for one have no problem with dogma. Its a word that has taken a beating for 50 years, but should be redeemed at some point. I am fine with OTO going the way its going, I just didnt want to go with it. I wanted only to comment on the Rabelaisian Thelemite jab.

What I will say though, is that if Crowley had anything really spiritually valuable it wasnt in the stuff that can be made into yet another religion, but the stuff that relates to changing the matrix of spirituality itself...

Mon, Sep. 10th, 2007 05:01 am (UTC)
xeyeofhorusx: Re: Home on the Range

Oh I had meant that as a response Chemalfait. I can't say I understand Sabazius' motivation for the dig, but I kinda just don't care.

Tue, Sep. 11th, 2007 12:40 am (UTC)
aq777: Re: Home on the Range

> it wasnt in the stuff that can be made into yet another religion, but the stuff that relates to changing the matrix of spirituality itself...

Well said!

Mon, Sep. 10th, 2007 11:29 am (UTC)
chemalfait: Re: Home on the Range

no it doesn't have a bearing on the source of those behaviors yet it serves as a caution in anticipation of the tendency to establishment.
The statement quoted in the original doesn't seem to espouse an open pool of interpretation.

Sun, Sep. 9th, 2007 09:58 pm (UTC)

I have also wondered about the question of gnosis and texts produced, but I haven't really arrived at a conclusion about that. I think you can look in a person's eyes and know if they have had experience, but I do not presume to know another's Will, so it makes it difficult to extrapolate too far someone's spiritual status or achievements from their externally visible behavior. It is an axiom of games with superior players that they have the potential to mask their true intentions from lesser players.

"She moves in mysterious ways, yeah."

- Bono

Mon, Sep. 10th, 2007 12:47 am (UTC)

Amen to that. I havent found ANY system that consistently produces Gnosis, but have witnessed it in several people from varried backgrounds.

I always like to point out to Buddhists that the only thing that the 84 classical Mahasiddhas had in common was that they all attained enlightenment differently.

Wed, Sep. 12th, 2007 08:27 pm (UTC)

I sent a link to this LJ post to Aion (Denny Sargent), whom I do not think you know. He is one of the co-founders of the Horus/Ammat-Lodge and an editor of Silver Star online magazine. I suggested he might like to include it in the next issue.

Aion wrote back to me, saying
"I quite like it and would love to print it - but I see no email on his blog- let him know Id print it, ss8 maybe or ss9 for sure"

Below is the URL for the index of issues of SS, followed by his e-mail address.



Thu, Sep. 20th, 2007 06:01 pm (UTC)

Hi, I added you. I am working on a rebuttal to your rebuttal, which I will post in the next day or two, and wanted you to be able to see & respond if you wish.

Incidentally I think that you show a good deal of integrity by simply seeing the OTO as going in a direction that you do not wish to go, and I respect the fact that you have chosen not to sulk in disgruntlement as so many other ex-members have in the past.

Thu, Sep. 20th, 2007 10:18 pm (UTC)

Thanks for the heads up. I look forward to your post. I have added you as well.