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Aleister Crowley

Primary & Secondary Quotations with Links

  1. "In philosophy I was a realist of the Cabbalistic school.
    "In 1900 I left England for Mexico, and later the Far East, Ceylon, India, Burma, Baltistan, Egypt and France. It is idle there to detail the corresponding progress of my thought; and passing through a stage of Hinduism, I had discarded all deities as unimportant, and in philosophy was an uncompromising nominalist. I had arrived at what I may describe as the position of an orthodox Buddhist; but with the following reservations.
    1. "I cannot deny that certain phenomena do accompany the use of certain rituals; I only deny the usefulness of such methods to the White Adept.
    2. "I consider Hindu methods of meditation as possibly useful to the beginner and should not therefore recommend them to be discarded at once."
    -- The Confessions of Aleister Crowley, pp.356-357

  2. "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law."
    "There is no Law beyond Do what thou wilt."
    "The word of the Law is Velhma."
    Velhma--Thelema--means Will.
    The Key to this Message is this word-Will. The first obvious meaning of this Law is confirmed by antithesis; "The word of Sin is Restriction."
    Again: "Thou hast no right but to do thy will. Do that and no other shall say nay. For pure will, unassuaged of purpose, delivered from the lust of result, is every way perfect."
    Take this carefully; it seems to imply a theory that if every man and every woman did his and her will--the true will--there would be no clashing. "Every man and every woman is a star," and each star moves in an appointed path without interference. There is plenty of room for all; it is only disorder that creates confusion.
    From these considerations it should be clear that "Do what thou wilt" does not mean "Do what you like." It is the apotheosis of Freedom; but it is also the strictest possible bond.
    Do what thou wilt--then do nothing else. Let nothing deflect thee from that austere and holy task. Liberty is absolute to do thy will; but seek to do any other thing whatever, and instantly obstacles must arise. Every act that is not in definite course of that one orbit is erratic, an hindrance. Will must not be two, but one.
    Note further that this will is not only to be pure, that is, single, as explained above, but also "unassuaged of purpose." This strange phrase must give us pause. It may mean that any purpose in the will would damp it; clearly the "lust of result" is a thing from which it must be delivered.
    But the phrase may also be interpreted as if it read "with purpose unassuaged"--i.e., with tireless energy. The conception is, therefore, of an eternal motion, infinite and unalterable. It is Nirvana, only dynamic instead of static--and this comes to the same thing in the end.
    The obvious practical task of the magician is then to discover what his will really is, so that he may do it in this manner, and he can best accomplish this by the practices of Liber Thisarb (see Equinox I(7), p. 105) or such others as may from one time to another be appointed.
    Thou must (1) Find out what is thy Will. (2) Do that Will with a) one-pointedness, (b) detachment, (c) peace. Then, and then only, art thou in harmony with the Movement of Things, thy will part of, and therefore equal to, the Will of God. And since the will is but the dynamic aspect of the self, and since two different selves could not possess identical wills; then, if thy will be God's will, Thou art That. There is but one other word to explain. Elsewhere it is written-- surely for our great comfort--"Love is the law, love under will."
    This is to be taken as meaning that while Will is the Law, the nature of that Will is Love. But this Love is as it were a by-product of that Will; it does not contradict or supersede that Will; and if apparent contradiction should arise in any crisis, it is the Will that will guide us aright. Lo, while in The Book of the Law is much of Love, there is no word of Sentimentality. Hate itself is almost like Love! "As brothers fight ye!" All the manly races of the world understand this. The Love of Liber Legis is always bold, virile, even orgiastic. There is delicacy, but it is the delicacy of strength. Mighty and terrible and glorious as it is, however, it is but the pennon upon the sacred lance of Will, the damascened inscription upon the swords of the Knight-monks of Thelema.
    Love is the law, love under will.
    -- The Message of The Master Therion, viz., an Epistle by Aleister Crowley which first appeared in The Equinox III(1) (Detroit: Universal, 1919); quotations from Liber Legis-The Book of the Law

  3. (THE [GNOSTIC] SAINTS) The DEACON. Lord of Life and Joy, that art the might of man, that art the essence of every true god that is upon the surface {353} of the Earth, continuing knowledge from generation unto generation, thou adored of us upon heaths and in woods, on mountains and in caves, openly in the market-places and secretly in the chambers of our houses, in temples of gold and ivory and marble as in these other temples of our bodies, we worthily commemorate them worthy that did of old adore thee and manifest thy glory unto men, "Lao-tze and Siddhartha" and Krishna and "Tahuti," Mosheh, "Dionysus, Mohammed and To Mega Therion, with these also," Hermes, "Pan," Priapus, Osiris, and Melchizedeck, Khem and Amoun "and Mentu, Heracles," Orpheus and Odysseus; with Vergilius, "Catullus," Martialis, "Rabelais, Swinburne and many an holy bard; Apollonius Tyanaeus," Simon Magus, Manes, "Pythagoras," Basilides, Valentinus, "Bardesanes and Hippolytus, that transmitted the light of the Gnosis to us their successors and their heirs;" with Merlin, Arthur, Kamuret, Parzival, and many another, prophet, priest and king, that bore the Lance and Cup, the Sword and Disk, against the Heathen, "and these also," Carolus Magnus and his paladins, with William of Schyren, Frederick of Hohenstaufen, Roger Bacon, "Jacobus Burgundus Molensis the Martyr, Christian Rosencreutz," Ulrich von Hutten, Paracelsus, Michael Maier, "Roderic Borgia Pope Alexander the Sixth," Jacob Boehme, Francis Bacon Lord Verulam, Andrea, Robertus de Fluctibus, Johannes Dee, "Sir Edward Kelly," Thomas Vaughan, Elias Ashmole, Molinos, Adam Weishaupt, Wolfgang von Goethe, Ludovicus Rex Bavariae, Richard Wagner, "Alphonse Louis Constant," Friedrich Nietzsche, Hargrave Jennings, Carl Kellner, Forlong dux, Sir Richard Burton, Sir Richard Payne Knight, Paul Gauguin, Docteur Gerard Encausse, Doctor Theodor Reuss, "and Sir Aleister Crowley." Oh Sons of the Lion and the Snake! With all thy saints we worthily commemorate them worthy that were and are and are to come. May their Essence be here present, potent, puissant, and paternal to perfect this feast! -- Magick in Theory and Practice, by Master Therion (Aleister Crowley)

  4. Crowley's negative view of intellect is comparable with Blake's view of Newton and Urizen. If we accept that Crowley was in spirit a nominalist and freethinker then it becomes possible to think of him as one of the highly differentiated points on the existentialist spectrum, perhaps a kind of occult Kierkegaard. Other existentialists also dedicated much of their work to the reclamation and validation of denied or underworld feelings. In this respect existentialists are related to the decadent poets, of which Crowley was a late example. He might deserve more study than he has gotten as a literary contributor but he does not hold up as a philosophical contributor -- he was a sloppy thinker, and he often allowed his doctrine of contradictions to degenerate into a mere excuse for representing contradictions as paradoxes.
    -- Introduction to Crowley: Truth and Falsehood, by Tim Maroney

  5. The Law of Thelema is both a revolutionary postmodernist analysis and a substantiation of religion, which maintains going outside all previous historical allowances and exposing to mankind the foundation of a new religious era, the New Aeon of Horus (the Age of Horus), the Crowned and Conquering Child.
    -- Aleister Crowley: Prophet Or Kook?, by entertainment correspondent, Bernie Alexander

  6. The Book of the Law is both a radical postmodernist critique and an endorsement of religion, which claims to go beyond all previous historical dispensations and reveal to humanity nothing less than the basis of a new spiritual epoch, the New Aeon of Horus, the Crowned and Conquering Child.
    -- The Law of Thelema, Part I, by Alexander Duncan

  7. "Well, now, before going further into this, I must behave like an utter cad, and disgrace my family tree, and blot my 'scutcheon and my copybook by confusing you about 'realism.' Excuse: not my muddle; it was made centuries ago by a gang of curséd monks, headed by one Duns Scotus—so-called because he was Irish—or if not by somebody else equally objectionable. They held to the Platonic dogma of archetypes. They maintained that there was an original (divine) idea such as 'greenness' or a 'pig,' and that a green pig, as observed in nature, was just one example of these two ideal essences. They were opposed by the 'nominalists,' who said, to the contrary, that 'greenness' or 'a pig' were nothing in themselves; they were mere names (nominalism from Lat. nomen, a name) invented for convenience of grouping. This doctrine is plain commonsense, and I shall waste no time in demolishing the realists.
    "All à priori thinking, the worst kind of thinking, goes with 'realism' in this sense.
    "And now you look shocked and surprised! And no wonder! What (you exclaim) is the whole Qabalistic doctrine but the very apotheosis of this 'realism'? (It was also called 'idealism', apparently to cheer and comfort the student on his rough and rugged road!) Is not Atziluth the 'archetypal world?' is not—
    "Oh, all right, all right! Keep your blouse on! I didn't go for to do it. You're quite right: the Tree of Life is like that, in appearance. But that is the wrong way to look at it. We get our number two, for example, as 'that which is common to a bird's legs, a man's ears, twins, the cube root of eight, the greater luminaries, the spikes of a pitchfork,' etc. but, having got it, we must not go on to argue that the number two being possessed of this and that property, therefore there must be two of something or other which for one reason or another we cannot count on our fingers.
    The trouble is that sometimes we can do so; we are very often obliged to do so, and it comes out correct. But we must not trust any such theorem; it is little more than a hint to help us in our guesses. Example: an angel appears and tells us that his name is MALIEL (MLIAL) which adds to 111, the third of the numbers of the Sun. Do we conclude that his nature is solar? In this case, yes, perhaps, because, (on the theory) he took that name for the very reason that it chimed with his nature. But a man may reside at 81 Silver Street without being a lunatic, or be born at five o'clock on the 5th of May, 1905, and make a very poor soldier. "'No, no, my dear sister, how tempted soever, To nominalism be faithful forever!'
    "(If you want to be very learned indeed, read up Bertrand Russell on 'Classes'.)
    "Enough, more than enough, of this: let us return to the relative value of various types of thought.
    "I think you already understand the main point: you must structuralise your thinking. You must learn how to differentiate and how to integrate your thoughts. Nothing exists in isolation; it is always conditioned by its relations with other things; indeed, in one sense, a thing is no more than the sum of these relations. (For the only 'reality,' in the long run, is, as we have seen, a Point of View.)"
    -- Magick Without Tears, by Aleister Crowley

  8. Crowley insisted that he was not an idealist but a nominalist, while also insisting that the Tree of Life in the form known to him from the Golden Dawn truly represented the esoteric structure of reality and could only be harmed by changing its arrangement. This is one of many contradictory statements in Crowley's approach to philosophy and whether it is an inspired paradox or a careless contradiction is a subject of controversy.
    -- The Tree of Life, by Tim Maroney