What Are “Centres of Pestilence” Pt. 1

Centres of Pestilence

Dear Friend:

Si Vales, Valeo

What is a “Centre of Pestilence”? What a great question. Clearly, you have read The Comment at the conclusion of The Book of the Law and are confused by it. Join the club. No, really. This is something that many Thelemites struggle with. On the one hand, the comment warns us:

The study of this Book is forbidden. It is wise to destroy this copy after the first reading.
Whosoever disregards this does so at his own risk and peril. These are most dire.
Those who discuss the contents of this Book are to be shunned by all, as centres of pestilence.
All questions of the Law are to be decided only by appeal to my writings, each for himself.

The idea is, in my opinion, that each of us should be free to come up with our own interpretation of the Book. That there is no right or wrong way to look it, and the only thing that matters is the readers personal interpretation without the possibility of being swayed in one direction or another by another person’s views on the matter. Sounds reasonable until we get to the “All questions of the Law are to be decided only by appeal to my writings, each for himself” part, in which Crowley appears to say only his opinions matter when you are studying the Book.

But then we are taken back to the first line in The Comments which advice the reader that they should not study the Book at all. Not only is it not allowed, but you have to destroy it after you have read it.

The study of this Book is forbidden. It is wise to destroy this copy after the first reading.

Wow. How confusing is that? And to further add to this befuddlement, if we were to read Magick Without Tears, which is a compilation of letters from Crowley to his students, we find this little gem in the addressing a female student.

I think you should have a copy of The Equinox of the Gods and make The Book of the Law your constant study.  But I thought you said studying it was forbidden?

The matter has not yet been settled, but for what it is worth my opinion is that understanding and knowing what Thelema is and what Thelema is not are inextricably bound to the idea of manifesting a Thelemic culture. Even more so if we start thinking as Thelema as a world force, as Crowley did. So, speaking for myself, I don’t even consider the question as something I have to concern myself with for these reasons:

  1. Nowhere does it say that being a “centre of pestilence” is a bad thing, unless you consider being shunned by others that don’t share your opinion is a bad thing. I think it is good to have different opinions, and I am no stranger to being shunned.
  2. The Book of the Law was dictated in 1904. We should read The Prophet’s commentary of ALL the Holy Books. But many things have changed in our world since 1904, and not taking those things into account, the things Crowley could never have imagined, will only serve to drive Thelema into irrelevance, and Thelemites will be groups with some anachronistic movement like the Society For Creative Anachronism, where people are gather to play make-believe in the so-called “good old days” of REAL pestilence, injustice and unnecessary suffering. Oh, what fun! I must repeat the immortal words of the most famous transvestites of them all, Frank N. Furter: “Don’t dream it: BE IT!”
  3. I find looking for mysteries to be mentally stimulating. Thelema is my chosen way of life, philosophy and religion. I refuse to mimic the oh-so-many-Christians who have turned us into a country supporting anti-intellectualism.

Lastly, if you stay tuned and come back next week, I will provide an example of what a Centre of Pestilence does, so you will have a better idea of whether or not you should be one, or avoid it like the plague. (See what I did there?)

Pax Profunda


Gerald del Campo

Gerald Enrique del Campo (b. 1960) is a poet, musician, song writer, photographer, magician, philosopher, author, Bishop and lecturer on occult and religious topics. He was born in Córdoba, Argentina on January 14, 1960.

Comments are closed.