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

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Gems from the Forums: Three Kinds of Restriction on Love

Since one of the key slogans of Thelema is “Love is the law, love under will,” we can conclude that the concept of love is vital to understanding this philosophy. But this conclusion immediately raises the question of what exactly this phrase means. Looking through various “Thelemic discussions” online, one can see that there’s no shortage of self-proclaimed Thelemites willing to blather on about their mushy feelings and pretend it has something to do with the writings of Aleister Crowley.                                                                                                                            One gets the impression that a lot of these jokers think that love in Thelema has something to do with “love” in the sense of mystical Christianity – love of God, or selfless love for all of mankind. Others seem to think that this “love” refers primarily – or even only –  to the kind of “free love” that came into popularity in the 1960s. Still others seem to think that the teary eyes they get when watching Marley and Me has something to do with Thelema.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                          The “under will” part presents even more problems. The most common misreading of this line of Liber AL is to treat “love” as “underlying” the True Will, as if the True Will springs from the emotions that commonly get called “love” in our colloquial speech. The theory, it would seem, is that as long as you’re experiencing some kind of emotion that you can label “love” in some way, then hey, all you have to do is act and viola! You’re doing your will.                              
                                                                                                                          Worse, there are even those alleged “Thelemites” committed to using their misunderstanding of the concept of “Restriction” in Thelema as an excuse for obnoxious or vile behavior. “The word of Sin is restriction,” reads the Book. So, naturally, it should come as no surprise that dumbasses read this verse as implying that any woman with enough standards and self-respect to reject their socially inept advances is “restricting” them. Others accuse anyone who expresses a dissenting opinion – particularly anyone who dares express a dissenting opinion with conviction (and particularly anyone who can support this dissenting opinion with compelling evidence) – of “restricting” them (presumably on the grounds that they “love” being idiotically wrong).         
                                                                                                                         But what is love in Thelema? How can love be “restricted”?
                                                                                                                           The answers to those questions were the subject of a forum post I wrote several years ago and will reproduce below.
                                                                                                                           Read on for more.