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Various: Was Rabelais a Thelemite

To: alt.magick.tyagi,alt.magick,talk.religion.misc,alt.satanism
From: (nigris (333))
Subject: Various: Was Rabelais a Thelemite
Date: 3 May 1997 03:17:09 -0700

[from Jeffrey Smith ]
[technical difficulties enforced delay -- apologies for outdatedness]

Since we are back to debating the subject of preCrowley Thelema, I have a 
question to pose, already mentioned by someone (David).  Just how 
"Thelemic" were all these predecessors?

Take Rabelais:  he devised an Abbey of Thelema and gave it a motto:  
but  how Thelemic is that Abbey?  From what I remember of the description 
given in Gargantua and Pantagruel, it is much more like an idealized coed 
dorm full of upper and upper-middle class students than anything else: 
with plenty of servants who serve.  And while obviously some of them 
might be engaged on the Great Work, there is no stated purpose to all 
this delightful existence:  one could diddle away one's life just as 
easily there.  [Of course, perhaps diddling away one's life is actually 
an effective means of achieving the Great Work.]  The motto as applied 
does indeed carry more of the meaning "do as you wish" than "do as you Will".

Whether we accept it or not, the Crowley model and terminology is the 
Thelema we all have in mind when we speak of Thelema; and much of it did 
indeed originate with Crowley.  I happen to find that the terminology 
translates very neatly into the terminology of Christianity, of Judaism, 
of Islam, etc.--if only because all ways are one, and there is nothing 
new under the sun.  While this knowledge does not make me a better or a 
worse magician, it does have its benefits.

On the other hand, I've never heard of Throbbing Gristle, and I 
definitely like Thomas Tallis.

  Jeffrey Smith
This is the bread of affliction that our ancestors ate in the land of 
Egypt.  All who are hungry, come and eat!  All in need, come and join in 
the Passover celebration!  This year we are here, next year in the Land 
of Israel! This year slaves, next year free men!--Haggadah shel Pesach

"In their rule was only this clause:


because people who are free, well born, well bred, moving in honourable 
social circles, have by nature an instinct and goad which always impels 
them to virtuous deeds and holds them back from vice, which they called 
honour. These people, when by vile subjection and constraint they are 
oppressed and enslaved, turn aside this noble affection by which they 
freely tended toward virtue, to throw off and infringe this yoke of 
servitude: for we always undertake forbidden things and covet that which 
is denied us."

This is anything but a naive whimsicalism. It postulates a particular 
mental force which makes for virtue within oneself, contrasting it with 
servitude. It is (fortunately) not so metaphysically grandiose as 
Crowley's idea of the True Will, but it is plainly the seed of that idea. 
The members of the Abbey lived their lives in the refinement of various 
virtuous arts, whether dancing, hunting, sewing, writing, music, 
language, according to the dictates of this inner goad to virtue, and 
surrounded by the beauties of all the arts. A more Thelemic ideal could 
hardly be imagined.

>I happen to find that the terminology [of Crowley's Thelema]
>translates very neatly into the terminology of Christianity, of Judaism, 
>of Islam, etc.--if only because all ways are one, and there is nothing 
>new under the sun.

That's one of the main reason I'm not enamored of Crwoley's system of 
thought -- it is in fact largely isomorphic to traditional religion. I 
realized twenty-three years ago that I didn't believe in God, but it took 
me some ten years laboring under Crowley's system to realize that the 
True Will is God and that I don't believe in that either.

Tim Maroney

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