Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.

Monday, November 23, 2015

On Liber V vel Reguli

Liber V vel Reguli – the “Book of the Princes” or “The Ritual of the Mark of the Beast” – is, in Crowley’s words, “an incantation proper to invoke the Energies of the Aeon of Horus, adapted for the daily use of the Magician of whatever grade."

On first glance, the ritual looks something like a “Thelemicized” version of the Supreme (aka Greater) Invoking Ritual of the Pentagram. On deeper inspection, this ritual is an enactment of Thelemic cosmology that functions by dramatizing the LAShTAL formula. It thus expands and deepens the Supreme Invoking Ritual of the Pentagram as the Star Ruby does the LBRP.

The ritual is a symbolic means of saturating one’s consciousness in a “Thelemic” view of the world, as summarized in the word LAShTAL. It thus indeed “invoke[s] the Energies of the Aeon of Horus” in the truest sense of those words. No supernatural energies are stirred by this ritual: as in the LBRP and Star Ruby, the mechanism and effects are purely psychological. As Crowley put it in Magick in Theory and Practice, “The sincere student will discover, behind the symbolic technicalities of this book [i.e. behind the symbols of ritual magick], a practical method of making himself a Magician. The processes described will enable him to discriminate between what he actually is, and what he has fondly imagined himself to be.”

In what follows I examine the performance and function of Liber V by reading it against the essay Crowley appended to it.

You should consider reading my articles on the LBRP and the Star Ruby as preliminaries to this article.

If you intend to perform Liber V, I recommend a solid grounding in the standard pentagram rituals first and some significant experience with invoking.

Read on for more.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Gems from the Forums: The Benefits of Religion and Spirituality?

I’m reproducing below part of a conversation I had on Lashtal earlier this year. My interlocutor’s words are in italics, and mine appear below. The initial question he put to me was whether I think people are “lesser” simply because they “use religion or spirituality or even metaphysics and praeterhuman entities to better their thinking, to help them improve (even in their own minds), or even just to help them cope.”

As I go on to explain, such people are not “lesser” – in fact, the idea of “lesser” is an incoherent concept, especially in the context of Thelema – but the assumption of the question (that “spirituality,” broadly defined, actually does benefit people) needs to be questioned.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Experience Has No Explanatory Power

This post reproduces the first post I made on the Temple of Thelema forums a few years ago. Some readers may recall that I appeared on those forums with the intent of offering a perspective that differs from the supernaturalism typically pedalled there. Of chief importance to this new perspective is the simple fact that bare experience -- all by itself -- explains nothing because the process of explaining is a rational one.

It is rational thinking about experience that has explanatory power.

After a period of my participation in the forums there, the moderator made the decision to institute a new policy: that any post would be deleted unless it starts from the assumption "that we are spiritual beings." Since I do not begin from this assumption, I am functionally banned from participation at the Temple of Thelema forums [Importantly, it should be noted that I also do not begin from the assumption that "we are not spiritual beings"...I make no assumptions at all about this point]. This is a decision that is entirely within the scope of the moderator and website owner, and it is not a decision that I consider unfair at all. Every person with a website is entitled to have whatever kind of website he or she likes.

For some reason, the moderator also decided to delete the thread I started upon my arrival there (the thread that opens with the post I will reproduce below). So much for my making a dissenting point of view available on the forums, eh? As luck would have it, Google retained a cache of the thread for some weeks, and I was able to recover nearly all of the thread and save it for my records.

Over the next several months, I may -- as time and inclination see fit -- examine different parts of the conversation on that thread to explore the kinds of faulty thinking that underlie supernaturalism.

Read on for my initial post.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Gems from the Forums: Is Thelema a Religion?

Here’s a short forum post from last year that discusses the ever-popular question of whether Thelema should be considered a religion.


Monday, August 17, 2015

Gems from the Forums: Moral Nihilism in Thelema

This post reproduces a forum post from several years ago in which I discuss moral nihilism and its relevance to Thelema.

At the end, I address two new objections to moral nihilism.
Further reading includes three excellent essays by Erwin Hessle on the subject of moral philosophy (link, link, and link).

Read on for more.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Video(s) of the Day: The Glass Pipe Fallacy

When it comes to defending the claims of various religions and supernaturalism in general, there are many awful arguments. But there’s nothing quite like a poor, religious person babbling a string of incoherent words to support wacked out beliefs.

Today’s three videos of the day come from the internet show The Atheist Experience, and they feature callers who base their religious beliefs on drugs trips that they’ve had, using these experiences to justify jumbled nonsense.

Read on for descriptions of these videos and links.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Video of the Day: Matt Dillahunty on Essentialism

Today’s Video of the Day is a podcast starring Atheist Experience host Matt Dillahunty. In this video, Matt talks about the essentialism that underlies the thinking of most people (and that finds its expression in a lot of religious arguments).

The guy talking to him is kind of annoying, but luckily he doesn’t have too much to say: the video mostly consists of Matt freely discoursing on this subject, with the interviewer just bringing up various topics for him to discuss. Some of the topics covered include the “Ship of Theseus” thought experiment, identity/labels, abortion, gay marriage, Hitler sweaters, and in what way numbers can be said to “exist.”

This is one of the best podcasts I’ve listened to in a really long time.

You can find the video here.

Readers may want to reflect on the ways that the argument from definition – a favorite of religious dunderheads – is the product of one kind of essentialism. As Matt mentions in the video, words don’t actually have (essential) meanings…they have usages that vary in different contexts and that develop over time. He tells the story of one debate he did in which the Christians in the audience were dumbfounded by this idea and mocked him for it…but it’s precisely this kind of essentialism that underlies so many faulty religious arguments, from assumptions like “Marriage is a union of a man and a woman” to “Materialists start from the assumption that the natural world is all there is.”