Introduction: Following on from a series of short conversations at The Occult Conference 2014, and online here at The Blog of Baphomet, we present for your education and edification an exchange of words and more between our two colleagues (for we must declare we are not in fact entirely neutral towards either of these men, admiring much about both of them regarding their works, and having socialised and worked magickally with each of them as well.) The essays as presented are as submitted to us, with any grammatical corrections having been approved by the authors.
Sef isn’t writing on behalf of OTO, Pete isn’t representin’ for the IOT, and of course neither Adept can voice any more than their own understanding of Thelema or Chaos Magic (through this medium, at this time). The other contributors to, and editors of this blog have a whole cornucopia of views, but we may well stand silently by here and let Pete and Sef get on with the task they’ve set each other (maybe… 😉 ).
Let the explorations begin!
Good news from your HGA
A little while ago, Peter J. Carroll raised the possibility of a studious and friendly discourse on the topics of Thelema and Chaos Magick, and led with the following:
…you said at dinner that you frequently opened a conversation with a stranger with the words “Do you think that you are here for a purpose?” It would interest me to know how you respond to anyone who replies “Absolutely not, random events underlie my manifestation here, nothing has any purpose unless we choose to ascribe one to it.”
This is an incredibly important question, as is this dialogue, and firstly I consider myself privileged to be hashing such concepts out with Pete. To answer his question, I must explain my approach to Thelema – and I must very clearly state here that this discourse is utterly independent of the position of Ordo Templi Orientis in the UK or any other territory, being my own views only.
Thelema, for me, is ultimately teleological. There is an end, and that end is the True Will, or Pure Will, depending on your reading of the text(s). I would normally whip out a quote from Uncle Al at this point, but it seems far more appropriate to consult Liber Lux, by Mr Carroll himself:
“As the avatar of Kia on earth, the Augoeides represents the true will, the raison d’etre of the magician, his purpose in existing. The discovery of one’s true will or real nature may be difficult and fraught with danger, since a false identification leads to obsession and madness… The magician is attempting a progressive metamorphosis, a complete overhaul of his entire existence. Yet he has to seek the blueprint for his reborn self as he goes along. Life is less the meaningless accident it seems. Kia has incarnated in these particular conditions of duality for some purpose. The inertia of previous existences propels Kia into new forms of manifestation. Each incarnation represents a task, or a puzzle to be solved, on the way to some greater form of completion.”
So in this paradigm, where people have chosen to incarnate to undergo the ordeal or solve the puzzle of their current manifestation, I absolutely believe that people have an innate awareness somewhere that they are here for a reason. Even the most ardent atheist, in my understanding, has an Holy Guardian Angel – though perhaps the equivalent of the Public Defence Lawyer from US cop shows, minimum wage and miserable… On some level, the person who says that their existence is entirely by random happenstance will be able to hear their HGA, whose attempts to move them towards doing their Will might have a little more traction because of my interaction.
I am not therefore immediately speaking to the person per se, but to the idea of the perfected soul in front of me. I’m offering an olive branch (or life-preserver) to their Daemon, and if they come back to me that they utterly refute the possibility of a purpose to their life then I nod and, depending on the rest of the conversation, either wish them well or move to another topic in the wide landscape of magical discussion.
While my success rate for introducing people to O.T.O. is reasonable, and for introducing people to Thelema even better, I am much more concerned with people doing their Will than calling what they do Thelema (see my previous post here). At the Conference, I genuinely hoped to see people from all paths and traditions taking a more active role in doing their Will as I understand it, whether they call it the same or not, whatever that might be. The person who is stridently averse to ascribing any purpose to their life may go on to perform great acts and fulfil the very purpose that they eschew – one meets one’s destiny on the road one takes to avoid it.
The short answer to your question, Pete, is that sometimes I just shrug and talk about something else. I rarely approach people on the street like the Church of Latter Day Saints – despite my haircut and suit – and say “have you heard the good news from your HGA?” And anyway, it’d be more of an interim report actually, but I can still help with the pending actions. Generally my “opening gambit” to discussing someone’s path follows either overt invitation, or my Crowleyan spidey-sense that someone is looking for spiritual encouragement in some way shape or form.
I live in Glastonbury after all, there’s a lot of it about. I want to help these people along their path, and I hope that this satisfies your question.
I shall close this essay with my own question to your good self:
“The current flavour of the OTO rather surprised me. The louche debauchery that allegedly characterised the revived order in the past seems to have given way to something more akin to Scientology, all sharp suits and short haircuts and a Jesuitical fervour for The Articles of Thelemic Faith.”
You seem to find fault with both of these approaches (if the IOT was set up partly in opposition to O.T.O., and I assume the above is a criticism of mine and Adrian’s presentation of the Order at this event), so how would you ideally create – or re-create – a magical order in the modern world? I do not necessarily seek a critique of IOT, the Knights of Chaos, or any of your past or current projects. Merely: What makes for a good magical organisation, what aims, and how should it be presented to the world we live in?
I look forward to your reply, and to the comments that I hope will ensue!
Sef Salem is a Thelemite, member of O.T.O., and has just launched The Visible College to facilitate fantastical events for precisely such discussions around the country.