Monday, June 8, 2015

The Pagan Experience: TO WILL

I’ve not read a lot of Aleister Crowley, but his influence on modern Paganism and occultism is unmistakable.  He helped integrate the shadowy occult world of ancient times with modernist world-views and sensibilities, helping usher in a new age, or Aeon, if you will, of magicians and witches.  Like him or not, he’s incredibly influential.  I remember an article in either NewWitch or PanGaia where they called him "the Creepy Uncle of Paganism" (or something along those lines) and I never forgot that.  He is the creepy uncle – full of esoteric lore and “bad touches.”  But like it or not, he taught us a lot.

It seems like he’s quoted more than any other Big Name Pagan from that era.  He is directly quoted or referenced more than Uncle Buck or Dion Fortune, even.  I knew few who have actually read his books, but those who do either adore him and meditate upon every word, or glance through them and say stuff like “yeah, his ideas were cool but I just can’t get behind his ego.”  Like any other cult leader, he’s met with extreme adoration or vague indifference, I suppose.

One of the most popular definitions of magic came from Crowley, whether or not people realize it.  He said that magic(k) was “causing reality to conform to will.”  It’s such a popular definition that I’ve seen it used in Penczak, in Starhawk, and yes, even in my own book.

But what does Crowley mean when he talks about the “Will”?  Is he talking about the will of the ego, crazy and untamed hedonism, oppression and domination?  Or is he talking about something more pure, more Cosmic, mystical, and spiritual?  Within Thelema and some communities of ceremonial magic, the True Will is seen as one’s higher calling.  But it’s not just your passion or something you enjoy – it’s that mystical point of synthesis and union where your skills, talents, and desires are perfectly aligned with the Will of the Divine.  That is, acting in accordance to one’s True Will would be a form of mysticism. 

So… how exactly does one become aware of their True Will?  Well… that’s the real mystery, isn’t it?  (Despite spending over a year writing on this topic… I have no answers!)

(TO WILL is perhaps a companion to this post... TO DARE)

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