“Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law”
In an answer on Tumblr it was stated that “Thelema is atheistic”.
I do not think this is entirely correct.
First of all we have to distinguish between atheism, nontheism, apatheism and so on. Atheism is a statement that one does not belive in the existence of Deity.
Several religions dont have a central God but this leaves them either nontheistic or transtheistic Crowley mentions that we dont know wether God(s) exist or not (and it is not relevant to the great work any more than faith is ).
Buddhism and Taoism are fundamentally and originally nontheistic, or in short, religions without a central or creating Deity.
Later versions ,syncretized with local polytheistic cults have made them rather transtheistic. Meaning that there is no ultimate God. Ultimate truth is not a sentient being or “God” but a “state” (actually not even that term suffices….since no term does). Their Gods are in a sense like man (though on a “higher” level), on the way to the same goal, the same union or henotheosis with the ultimate.monadic truth.
Similar thoughts could be found in ancient Greece among several philosophers.
Terms like Kether (Kabbalah), Bythos (Gnosticism), Monad (Neoplatonism) and in the east Moksha, Nirvana and so on being this first emanation without duality (and thus obviously without a “personality” too).
To categorally say that all Thelemites are atheists is simply wrong ( i am not an atheist and i have been a “devout” Thelemite for over 20 years ).
Among fellow Thelemites there are differing ideas on Deity, cosmology, objective reality and even wether Thelema is a religion or not (Crowley makes statements to both ).
Defining Deity is a problem within comparative religion and philosophy of religion that one encounters rather soon.
Anthropologists have the same problems with “Religion, Magic, Good, Evil” and many other “Christocentric” concepts that doesent nessecarly apply to another culture or philosophy.
Besides, the argument is made that the only “Divinity” in Thelema is “the universe”. That would make it Pantheistic, not Atheistic.
In some cases there is not only cultural or philosophical differences to the concept of “Gods” but also demi Gods, daemones, angels, lwas / orixas and other supernatural beings to wich there are different opinions to wether they are “Gods” or not.
Clear is that Crowley did think of supernatural beings influencing the lives of man (in one way or another). I´m thinking of (some of ) “The Secret Chiefs” that seems to be more than human.
If Aiwass, why not Michael? If Michael, why not Thor?
There is also a statement that Satanists do not generally worship Satan or think of him a a literal Deity.
This is correct for LaVeyan Satanism (wich actually states that it is,literally, atheistic) and other “philosophical Satanism”.
There are however several (and quite diverse ) forms of Theistic Satanisms.
Both Gnostic such, “inverted Christianity” and others.
Just like entire ontologies, cosmologies and epistemologies of different religions differ, so does their concepts of “God(s)”.
The Greek “Theoi”, Roman “Dei”, Norse “Aesir” and Egyptian “Netjeru” are not understood exactly the same, even if Christian ethnocentrics call them all by the Germanic term “God”.
God is not even viewed the same way throughout Christendom (with rather big differences like unitarian, trinitarian and even monolatric views of him as a physical being ).
Complex philosophical systems focused on the individual such as Thelema will obviously render diverse thoughts on the concept too.
One Liber Al quote that is supose to disprove the existence of anything supernatural is: “Infinite Space, and the Infinite Stars thereof.” And, the text states that “there is no other God than me.” .
To ME it clearly says “there is no OTHER God than me”
If you now look at “Every man and every woman is a star”
“The Khabs is in the Khu, not the Khu in the Khabs.”
Hadit being a point of view (a center, a “star” or “khab”), Nuit being the starry sky, the circumference / sum of all possabilities, each star being a Hadit from it´s own point of view that statement makes perfect sense (and in a sense also proves your own divinity ).
In short, if Jehova literally exists, his “center” would also be Hadit and he to a “star”.
This would be equally true for Santa Claus though.
Liber Al II: 23 says : “I am alone: there is no God where I am.”
This being Hadit, too makes sense. Like the Thelemic Hermit (who is not alone at all in the traditional sense ) he says that he is “alone”. Being the center of the center of the center ad infinitum, ofcourse he is alone. Hence “center”. There can only be one absolute middle.
The quote “There is no God but man” is also presented in the answer, given with a clear “only truth” interpretation despite the fact that this can be seen in a number of philosophical ways, including Gnostic ones, solipsistic ones and a bunch of others (and some of them combinable ).
The question is not “Is Thelema Theistic in any sense of the word”, but “Is this Thelemite Theistic in any sense of the word?”.
“Love is the law, love under will”