“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”
When i search for polytheism on Tumblr i get a whole lot of not so educated Abrahamic “monotheistic” bullshit, rewriting history and explaining what is wrong with it.
1. To refer to polythistic religions as primitive is not only bigotry but outright stupid.
These are customs and cultures that in many cases where around in one form or another for thousands of years before two guys invented Christianity in Rome (and no, neither was named Jesus and only one of them even met him).
2.Abrahamic “monotheists” (i only consider certain forms of Islam as truly monotheistic. Christianity is a text book case of soft polytheism….just like most forms of Hinduism) like to spell God with a capital “G” when its a monotheistic God, and with a “g” when its a polytheistic God. That says a lot.
3.Romantic shrines to pagan Gods, supposedly Germanic, built in Victorian times or during the nazi romanticism are NOT part of any culture, Germanic or otherwise.
Well. Now there is a post by a polytheist, about polytheism tagged “Polytheism”
The social constructionists
In recent years, some academic writers have described religion according to the theory of social constructionism, which considers how ideas and social phenomena develop in a social context. Among the main proponents of this theory of religion are Timothy Fitzgerald, Daniel Dubuisson and Talad Assad. The social constructionists argue that religion is a modern concept that developed from Christianity and was then applied inappropriately to non-Western cultures and European pre Christian cultures.
Similar views to social constructionism have been put forward by writers who are not social constructionists. George Lindbeck, a Lutheran and a postliberal theologian, says that religion does not refer to belief in “God” or a transcendent Absolute, but rather to “a kind of cultural and/or linguistic framework or medium that shapes the entirety of life and thought … it is similar to an idiom that makes possible the description of realities, the formulation of beliefs, and the experiencing of inner attitudes, feelings, and sentiments.” Nicholas de Lange, Professor of Hebrew and Jewish Studies at Cambridge University, says that “The comparative study of religions is an academic discipline which has been developed within Christian theology faculties, and it has a tendency to force widely differing phenomena into a kind of strait-jacket cut to a Christian pattern. The problem is not only that other ‘religions’ may have little or nothing to say about questions which are of burning importance for Christianity, but that they may not even see themselves as religions in precisely the same way in which Christianity sees itself as a religion.”
Polytheistic reconstructionism (Reconstructionism) is an approach to Neopaganism first emerging in the late 1960s to early 1970s, and gathering momentum in the 1990s to 2000s. Reconstructionism attempts to re-establish historical polytheistic religions in the modern world, in contrast with syncretic movements like Wicca, and “channeled” movements like Germanic mysticism or Theosophy.
Many practitioners of folk religions live outside of the original cultures and territories from which those historical religions arose, and reconstructonists consequently face the problem of understanding, and then implementing, the worldview of pre-modern rural societies in a modern, possibly urban environment.
- There is no attempt to recreate a combined pan-European paganism.
- Researchers attempt to stay within research guidelines developed over the course of the past century for handling documentation generated in the time periods that they are studying.
- A multi-disciplinary approach is utilized capitalizing on results from various fields as historical literary research, anthropology, religious history, political history, archeology, forensic anthropology, historical sociology, etc. with an overt attempt to avoid pseudo-sciences.
- There are serious attempts to recreate culture, politics, science and art of the period in order to better understand the environment within which the religious beliefs were practiced
Asatru – Norse (Please keep in mind that some practices of Asatru differ between Scandinavia and America, partly since the custom never really left here butb stayed in traditions, folklore, placenames and so on. The actual FAITH is the same though).
Hellenismos – Greek
Religio Romana – Roman
Anglo – Saxon Heathenry – Anglo – Saxon
Celtic Revivalism – Celtic
Natib Qadish – Caanaanite
Romuva – Lithuanian
Finnish Paganism – Finland
Estonian Paganism – Estonia
Kemeticism – Egyptian
These are only a few (the biggest) reconstructive religions out there, and dont forget that using terms like “Germanic, Celtic” or “Slavic” are simplifications.
There whyere several tribes of each of these larger ethnic groups and time and geography would mean variations. Even within what is now Sweden there where differences in cult.
The biggest reconstructive polytheistic religion last i checked was Asatru.
There are about a 100 000 Hellenists in Greece, a country that only recently gained religious freedom (ie it was forbidden to be a Hellenist) and a whole lot in the US