Thelema is a known spiritual philosophy/religion that was founded by the renowned ceremonial magician, Aleister Crowley.

He had a supernatural experience with his wife in Egypt which led him to write a text that he claimed to transcribe for a non-human entity that visited him.

This visitation influenced The Book Of The Law which is the primary go to guide for the followers of Thelema.

Within the Thelemic belief system there is a concept known as True Will. Followers of this tradition believe that acquiring true will, uninhibited by restrictions should be a person’s primary goal in life. Those that are in touch with their the true will, that of being in complete harmony with themselves, nature and the Universe are said to have completely gotten rid of their false desires and bad habits and are able to connect directly with the divine. The true will is separate from earthly desires. It reflects one’s higher purpose in life.

Their system of magick is one which encourages physical, mental and spiritual exercises that strengthen all of the facets of the body and mind so that they can be stronger receivers of information from the deities that they worship.

Thelemites believe in the ancient Egyptian pantheon and symbolism related to those deities. The very highest and most revered deity in Thelema is the goddess Nuit. Many of the rituals of the magical order of the O.T.O (Ordo Templi Orientis) is the worship of a priestess who through ritual is the physical embodiment of the Egyptian Goddess herself. Practitioners may then go to the Priestess and pray to her because the messages are received directly by the Goddess.

Within the practices of Thelema there are four distinctive sections provided to be set up as laws. These have become rather famous in the pagan community especially the concept of ‘Do as Thou Wilt, will be the whole of the Law.’ This dramatically differs from the commonly adhered to, ‘Golden rule,’ that of, ‘An it harm none, do as ye will.’  Basically implying that you can do whatever you want as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone.

But Crowley set up his phrasing to be specific only to doing what actions one must do in life in order to connect with one’s True Will. Theoretically if you are following your True Will, you would be in harmony with all things and therefore wouldn’t really hurt anyone anyway. But many modern day pagans take issue because this small phrase has caused a lot of controversy with others demanding that they do not have moral ethics governing them.

Aleister Crowley set up four other sections specifically for the OTO in order to give them some additional information for guidelines. These duties are as follows:

  • Your Duty To Self
  • Your Duty To Others
  • Your Duty to Mankind
  • Your Duty to All Other Beings and Things

Modern day Thelemites follow the general theory behind ‘Do what thou wilt’ but in addition to this there is a wide range of interpretation where some believe in the philosophy of the religion, who are practically fundamentalists in the way that they pursue the religion. While others choose only to follow the basic tenants as they are, which they apply in their own way to their everyday lives borrowing from other traditions the information that makes them feel the best.

By Florance Saul
Nov 7, 2012