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TMaroney: Thelemic Communities

To: alt.magick.tyagi,alt.thelema,talk.religion.misc,talk.religion.newage,alt.magick,talk.politics.misc,talk.politics.theory,talk.philosophy.misc,alt.politics.radical-left
From: (nagasiva)
Subject: TMaroney: Thelemic Communities
Date: 30 Jun 1997 18:45:09 -0700

[both from Tim Maroney ]

>The crux of the problem is this:  there are times when a community, to 
>remain a community, must impose on at least some of the members, or force 
>them out.  A Thelemic community (which is not the same as a community of 
>Thelemites) would have at its foundation the idea that no such imposition 
>or exclusion is possible.

I'm not sure why this would be the case. The definition of Thelemite (and 
as always, I'm using Rabelais) focuses on a psychological process in the 
individual. A Thelemic community would be one in which the members were 
Thelemites, which is to say, they had an inner spur or goad toward virtue 
rather than being driven primarily be external codes. This doesn't mean 
there are no external limitations on action, and it doesn't mean that the 
people who have this process going on within them couldn't find 
themselves in conflict and have to resolve it. It also doesn't mean that 
they could never come to general consensus on modes of governance, or 
choose to enter into contracts. It just means they would live by their 
own lights.

A community of Thelemites does exclude conflict in Crowley's system of 
interpretation, since such people would be in touch with the magical will 
of all that Crowley invented for this purpose, and that is a will in 
which no individual will is in conflict with any other. This 
interpretation of his, which can be found numerous places including "The 
Heart of the Master", does not seem particularly in line with Liber AL, 
which preaches eternal conflict, but then Crowley was never possessed by 
Emerson's hobgoblin. In any case, Crowley felt that it was the general 
will to create a benevolent despot who would guarantee a smoothly 
functioning society -- and of course, the despot would be someone like 

To me the biggest problem with creating a community of Thelemites would 
be finding enough of them, and excluding non-Thelemites without turning 
into a sort of tyrrany of judgment. "The enlightened elders have 
determined that you are not sufficiently self-motivated to join in our 
community" -- eeeewwww! One might hope, though, to devise some sort of 
society in which the self-selection process would be biased towards 
getting Thelemites interested and losing non-Thelemites to voluntary 
attrition. This is a sticky problem and I don't have a solution to 

Tim Maroney

>Seriously, I see where our apparent disagreement is.  I agree with 
>everything you say, given your definition of "Thelemic community".

Hi Jeffrey,

You didn't quote your correspondent, but I think you're talking to me 

>But I 
>have something different in mind:  a community founded on Thelemic 
>principles which may or may not be entirely composed of Thelemites.

The only Thelemic principle I know is that of being a Thelemite: of 
cultivating and listening to deep sources of virtue in the self, rather 
than being blindly programmed from the outside. That being the case, I 
don't know how to define a Thelemic community except as a community of 
Thelemites, or at least a community in which Thelemites are able to be 
Thelemites and others are able to become so if they choose. This requires 
institutionalized guarantees of individual liberty and social rewards for 
expressions of individuality, as well as the least restrictive social 
contract possible. It wouldn't need to be entirely composed of Thelemites 
-- and it certainly wouldn't need to include anyone who uses that name.

>I agree that a group in which everyone is trying to follow their Will, or 
>is goaded to virtue from within, or however you want to formulate it, is 
>ideal.  But then you have to have a means of deciding who is such a 
>person, with possible unThelemic complications.  Suppose I am a 
>Thelemite, with a nonThelemite lover who wants to live with me?  Can the 
>community justify my lover's exclusion?  Or does it allow the lover to 
>come in? And how, once in does it deal with the nonThelemite?

Yes, a very sticky issue. Ideally a community is formed by voluntary 
self-selection and the only reason anyone would be excluded would be 
serious crimes such as murder, armed robbery, exploitation of workers, 
etc. But how does a voluntary process lead to a community of people with 
a particular personality trait? One way is to skew the nature of the 
society so that those without the trait tend to lose interest and select 
themselves out.

An example of skewed self-selection would be on ARCANA, the occult 
scholarship list you and I belong to. Every few months a person or two 
who is completely lacking in the qualities needed for scholarly 
discussion pops up and starts posting five or ten stupid messages a day. 
Usually the listowners don't have to do anything -- everyone tunes out 
the bozos, and getting no responses, they go off to find greener 
pastures. When three or four appear at the same time, then they start to 
reinforce each other and the listowners have to start laying down the 
law, because it's all one big room; chances are if it were more 
internally divided by voluntary self-selection into rooms frequented by 
various people, this intervention would not be required.

How to skew the process towards Thelemites? A Thelemic community could 
simply decline to give any external programming to the zombies who crave 
it, or give so many different possible sources of programming that they 
fail to find the comfort they seek in abdicating their freedom to choose: 
a kind of active pluralism.

Fortunately, I think Western society is already heading this way. The 
twentieth century crisis of values is causing the formation of enclaves 
of thought. Right now they tend to be superstitious and anti-pluralistic 
within themselves, but I think their contact with other groups in a 
secular society is likely to cause that to loosen up over the next fifty 
years or so. Look at Europe -- there's a lot of attachment to local 
tradition, as there should be, but the increasing closeness of the 
European community brings home to its people, who routinely travel 
between countries, the fact that their traditions are only points in a 
continuum of possible traditions. There are rivalries and superstitions, 
but in general there is also the tolerance and openness that comes from 
exposure to different worldviews.

The alternative is that we wind up with a bunch of warring cults, each 
with its own closed doctrinal system. Thelemites can't be free in such 
groups because they are not free to publically pursue lines of thought 
that wander from the straight and narrow. It is ironic that many of the 
groups today which call themselves Thelemic are narrow-minded and 
doctrinally exclusionary, with no internal process for the public 
expression of non-party-line sentiments. These quasi-Thelemic groups are 
made up primarily of people who have accepted the external programming of 
the belief-system called Thelema, with only a smattering of 
inwardly-determined Thelemites in the membership. Again I hope that they 
will find themselves participating in the general social trend towards 
greater pluralism.

Rather than forming Thelemic communities now, which would be very 
difficult given the problems with membership selection, we may just want 
to consider how to make society at large more acceptable for Thelemites.

>What I am thinking of goes in two directions:  how an political entity 
>established on the principles of Thelema would relate with those of its 
>members who are not Thelemites;

1: Guarantee rights.

2: Lead by example. One thing a government could do, for instance, would 
be to make celebrities of whistle-blowers, people whose intrinsic sense 
of ethics did not allow them to take the easy road by supporting corrupt 
social institutions.

Under no circumstances would it ever be acceptable to establish a social 
hierarchy of differential rights based on judgments of merit. Any 
institution of this sort would be rapidly subverted. It's a similar 
problem to that of Crowley's "benevolent despotism". Let's say you 
somehow manage to find a person who would be suitable for the despotic 
role and put them in power. (Not Crowley -- god, what a nightmare that 
would be!) Then what about their successor? The people most motivated to 
seek the role of despot would be those least qualified for it. The first 
benevolent despot would probably die by poison or coup, and then a more 
traditional despotism would be established. Similarly, those most drawn 
to attaining the status of being "officially enlightened and thus 
entitled to more freedom" are exactly those people whose insecurities and 
need to dominate others make them most unsuited to that role. The only 
answer is simply not to establish systems that invite this kind of abuse.

>and how a community on a smaller scale 
>might handle the situation of strangers among us--that is nonThelemites 
>who, for economic reasons or emotional bonds or what have you, are a part 

>of the community.

I don't have any good answers here. The only smaller communities I feel 
comfortable in are those dedicated to particular projects, rather than 
insular tribal live-work communities. I have yet to encounter a tribal 
group that didn't exhibit a doctrinal rigidity and a discriminatory 
insider/outsider dynamic. My goal is to join with more than one smaller 
project-oriented community which only consume small slices of my life.

Of course I also have my social community of friends, most of whom are 
artists, musicians and writers rather than occultists. Somehow these 
issues don't come up there.
Tim Maroney

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