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Thelemist vs. Thelemite?

To: alt.magick
From: (Tim Maroney)
Subject: Thelemist vs. Thelemite?
Date: 4 Feb 96 00:21:36 GMT

>>|Speaking of Crwley, is there a label made for those who follow his 
>>|Mythology, I mean Aiwass, Horus, Nuit, Hadit, 93, etc. as opposed 
>>|to Thelemites who follow the Law of Thelema: writes:
>I don't know of a term for folks who use the mythos of the Book of the Law
>but not the principles of Thelema - same source, same mythos.

I haven't met anyone who "followed" Crowley's mythology but claimed to
reject his principles or those of the Book of the Law. There is some
penetration of the Beast and Scarlet Woman ideas into neo-paganism,
though rarely, and while most neo-pagan traditions have embraced the
Star Goddess, they almost never call her Nuit or refer to any part of
her character from the Book of the Law that was not pre-digested by
Gardner. I'm not sure there is anyone fitting the proposed description
who needs to be labelled.

If instead of "follow" the poster meant "use", then no, there is not
such a term. I'm one of these people and I don't feel the need for such
a self-labelling.

>Do you mean those
>who follow Liber AL without acceping Crowley's take on it? That is well over
>half the Thelemites I know.

How does one "follow" a book that is against the followers? There's
this vague term "accept" on the O.T.O. pledge-forms, but that's been
explained to me as currently meaning only that one does not wish to
publish an edited version. That's about the only sense in which I do
"accept" the book. It has a mixed bag of ideas, many of which are
ambiguous, and to which I have differing personal responses.

>I know Tim Maroney spoke to a usage of Thelemist vs. Thelemite, with the latter
>meaning a Liber-AL-with-or-without-Crowley Thelemite, and th former
>speaking to the conception of Do-what-thou-wilt as expressed in Rabelais.
>At least I think that was the premise - I apologize to Tim if I am mangling his
>proposed usage or misrepresenting his position.

Actually, you've switched my two usages, but thanks for the comment anyway.

The word "thelemite" is from Rabelais' _Gargantua_. This term described
a fictional group of people who lived in a sort of anti-monastery, with
"do as you will" as their sole law. Rather than sombre and serious,
they were playful and flighty, dedicated to the cultivation of virtue
rather than the avoidance of sin. Because they had cultivated virtue
within themselves, they contained an inner spur or goad which
automatically drove them towards it -- a reversal of the concept of
original sin.  This usage of the term "thelemite" is long established
in Western culture (albeit used only by the well-read and educated) and
I do not think it should be usurped for a group with particular
religious doctrines. "Thelemite" as referring by allusion to people who
have this quality of character should be retained.

For those who follow the Law of Thelema as expressed in the Book of the
Law, there should be a more specific term. Since they are following a
tradition, the customary suffix "-ist" should be used. This gives the
word "thelemist", a follower of the movement or tradition of Thelema.

This is no way implies that there are no thelemites among the
thelemists. There are people who revere the Book of the Law in this way
and also have the qualities of character that qualify them as
thelemites in the Rabelaisian sense. There are also thelemists who are
not thelemites, as well as thelemites who have never heard of Crowley,
Rabelais, or the term "thelemite". The sets intersect, but one is not a
subset of the other.
Tim Maroney.  Please CC all public responses to

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