Thelema—Religion or Philosophy?

Originally posted October 21, 2009

No, I don't intend to give you a deep scourging in answering this perennial question. In fact, the question was once again asked a few weeks ago on a Facebook group, and I answered it concisely, and in a manner I thought might be helpful to people wanting to cut to some kind of chase.

So, I will repost it here:

This question gets asked a lot, and the same answers given:

1. Religion.
2. Philosophy.
3. Both.
4. Neither.
5. Something else (additionally or instead)).

So, what gets learned or settled?

What makes something a religion?
What makes something a philosophy?

Greek philosophers were rejecting or avoiding a religious worldview and adopting another brand, which invited skeptical inquiry and disputation.

I think most philosophers would be bothered and find dubious a commandment such as "Do what thou wilt", especially given its alleged origin, a praeternatural entity. They would not only want to know why such a commandment is correct for humans to follow, but they would question its authority per se.

Crowley of course answered that objection. He said if Aiwass said do something, it doesn't matter what you think about it. It's the Law.

And that isn't a philosophical attitude. It's religious.

Thelema is fundamentally a religion. It does incorporate a lot of aspects of Nietzschean philosophy (as Crowley understood that), but the only reason these have any authority in Thelema is because they align with something Aiwass said about the nature of the Law.

Someone asked in reply to this what I could cite in support of Aiwass saying do what you're told.

And I replied:

"Magick Without Tears", in a letter entitled "Morals of Liber AL" (Crowley is answering regarding moral "difficulties" of Liber AL):
"You disagree with Aiwass—so do all of us. The trouble is that He can say: 'But I'm not arguing. I'm telling you.' "
(jk)—adjustment avatar for Glenn F. Wright


Popular Posts

Satanism, Dead Babies, & Lon Milo DuQuette

Thelemic Jihad

"Mercy Let Be Off", A Commentary on Liber AL III, 18