Magick Etc
The biggest red flag for young intelligentsia approaching OTO is the “Magick” jargon. Even the spelling bespeaks a need for attention that subcultures crave for validation. Like so much with OTO culture and the contemporary conversation surrounding Thelema, what is sound and appealing is otherwise veiled in throes of obscurantism. While there are several good reasons for secrecy in esotericism, Crowley wanted the larger Thelemic movement to be tangible to everyone. It was my hope, in these essays, to discuss more salient topics candidly, with the hopes that Thelema might have an appeal to people other than those who revel in cultural alienation.

Crowley attempted to defeat the distinction between Magick as sorcery (utilizing centuries-old techniques to communicate with spirits and accomplish personal ends supernaturally) and a broader philosophical idea. This philosophical idea of Magick he called “The science and art of causing change in conformity with the Will.” For Crowley, the Will was something peculiar to a person that they must strive to discover and then do. He continued, "Magick is the Science of understanding oneself and one's conditions. It is the Art of applying that understanding in action." The obvious question is why he would refer to this process and imperative of doing one's will as “Magick.”

The spelling is not just a creative flourish. It recalls the spelling employed during the Renaissance. The intellectuals of the time were deeply interested in Magick as a religious pursuit alternative to that offered by Catholicism, or Christianity as a whole. Recall that during this time the church of Rome had betrayed the trust of its laity with debauch and corruption, and much of Christendom was disenfranchised from “salvation.” The Protestant Reformation attempted to cut out the middle man, but the smartest of the time decided that the millennium-old propaganda of the Papacy was rotten to the core. They trans-valuated their religious aims, seeking personal enlightenment rather than the mirage of eternal rest. They understood that they therefore had more in common with classical Mediterranean religion (which had been newly rediscovered thanks to the Crusades facilitating communication with Muslim and Jewish scholars) and looked to classical philosophy, mythology and ritual for means to satisfy their spiritual hunger.

They were searching for power, identity and distinctiveness in this pursuit. They were searching for union with some divine source – Love. They sought knowledge and instruction – Will. They envisioned the psychopomp/messenger/initiator of this enlightenment to be Christ-like, or otherwise Angelic, a savior, Genius, Augoeides, Daemon, Grace of the World – the Holy Guardian Angel. They looked at the ancient texts by which Greeks called upon Apollo/Helios/Mercury, seeing these gods as Solar Savior figures. They studied medieval grimoires by which sorcerers in the service of the aristocracy would call upon demons for blood pacts, just as Solomon the King had, and thought how they might make blood-pacts with their "Holy Guardian Angel", making blood holy, To Pneuma Hagion, Sangraal, Spiritvs Sancti. They studied and practiced meditation and visualization, ceremony and initiation, sacrament and sacrifice.

This movement veiled itself as a sort of underground Protestantism, or scholarly monasticism, for intellectuals. If the details of their machinations were to become public, an ignorant and unworthy populace would undoubtedly resort to their timeless custom of lynching. Some were less careful and died on their cross – such as Pico Della Mirandola, Giordano Bruno, and Michael Maier – just like the mythical father of their magick, Jesus Christ, the Sorcerer of Nazareth. But the widespread popularity of this pursuit among Renaissance European intelligentsia had a larger social effect. For instance, the aforementioned Mirandola befriended Rabelais, whose Gargantua and Pantagruel inspired the Abbey of Thelema, the motto of which was fais ce que voudras, Do What Thou Wilt. This was most likely rooted in a work by Mirandola's mentor, Francesco Colonna, entitled Hypnerotomachia Poliphili, the "Pagan bible of the Renaissance." Rabelais was a huge influence on Erasmus, whose In Praise of Folly was a nod to Hypnerotomachia, and a slap in the face of the Papacy. Erasmus later begged Martin Luther to give up his petty philosophical bickering, saying to him that the only rule of life was “Fais ce que voudras.” Erasmus was one of the fathers of the enlightenment. The very term “Enlightenment” came from the Illumines of France, which became the Illuminati of Bavaria, but was before the Alumbrados of Spain, a crypto-Catholic mystery cult that practiced sex magick to achieve communion with Christ. Their name was derived from the Zohar, which opened with Daniel 12:3, "And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever." How hilarious is it that the contemporary atheist movement harkens to “The Age of the Enlightenment” as the dawn of man's movement away from religion. From the corrupt church? Absolutely. But the fathers of the enlightenment were initiates seeking a religious revival, a Pagan Renaissance.

Magick was a means by which the individual might find liberation from the dross and melancholia of profane life, achieving Gnosis. For Crowley, this meant the discovery of one's nature as dynamic rather than static. It is a discovery of what one IS in terms of what one is to DO. Crowley felt that this solution provided a resolution for the ethical discussion of continental philosophy, in keeping with the Romanticism of Emerson and Schlegel and the Dionysiac spirit of Nietzsche. The question of Ethics – how can one both WILL distinctly and LOVE socially – was resolved: Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law. Love is the law, love under will. Again, for Crowley, one who knows and does their Will, a Thelemite, was a Magician.

Stemming from the esoteric Protestantism of the Enlightenment, Freemasons tried to establish a progressive society in their own para-Christian manner. Hosting initiations and departing philosophy, Freemasons tried to bestow a haughty sense of morality and social justice on their initiates. But Freemasonry is the bastard of the real Renaissance movement: Rosicrucianism. Crowley wanted something truer to the real movement, a departure from Christianity, an answer to overbearing paternalism, an appeal to classical continental mystery cults. Crowley's two surviving organizations were designed to accomplish this - the “Next Step.” The Next Step for the individual was personal communion with the Holy Guardian Angel, and this is accomplished in the A∴A∴. The Next Step for society was the securing of strongholds of Thelema, and this is accomplished by the OTO, which is also preparatory for the work of the A∴A∴. This Duplexity catalyzes what our Renaissance forefathers called the Magnum Opus, or Great Work.