Is Thelema a religion? It doesn’t seem to have any of the problems that other religions do? Isn’t religion superstitious?
Si Vales, Valeo
Thank you for your question. When we attempt to mingle the idea of religion with the scientific attitudes of Thelema, we form a fascinating philosophical paradox. First, let’s not confuse Magick with Thelema. Magick stands on its own: Religion not required. If we can treat them as different we can avoid the rampant confusion perpetuated by the myth that since Crowley was a magician, so must all Thelemites be.
I am not convinced that Thelema is a mere religion. It is much more than that. But as a religion, those who understand it seem to avoid some of the traps inherent in them. For example:
Trap 1: Most Old Aeon religions have a place for women, and it is not as equals to men.
Masonry and other masonic-inspired fraternities have fallen into this trap. The end results are numerous closings of once beautiful and heavily populated temples. Any New Aeon religion – especially the religion of The Child, must put away superstition and embrace social and scientific discoveries which elevate the spirit of humanity. Regardless of sex, color or sexual preference. Thelema does this. Those who are adherents, have a symbiotic relation to it. It evolves with our own personal human understanding. That understanding expands Thelema. It makes it bigger.
Trap 2: Us vs Them (God’s Chosen People).
This is an inescapable fact of the desert religions. It separates adherents from the rest of society and helps the tribe to bond together. Thelema makes it easy to resist the temptation to indulge in the stupidity of the past. Our battles must be with our selves, not other people. Our enemies are illusion, superstition, lies and deceit. I would add poverty, disease, and superstition which holds humanity from achieving its evolutionary greatness. It has been said: “The Law is For All,” and “Every Man and Every Woman is A Star.”
There is a line, I think it is from the movie Angel Heart, in which the Devil says: “They say there’s enough religion in the world to make men hate each other, but not enough to make them love.” Make Love your God. Love is the Law.
Trap 3: Thelema is all things to all people.
You don’t have to “believe” in Thelema. It just is, and you are in it and it is in you. Thelema cannot be shoved down the throats of others, as Christianity has tried to do. Our individual Salvation does not depend on the salvation of others. Furthermore, we are saved by knowledge, as in Gnosis. Adherents to other religions seem unable to believe in their own salvation unless everyone agrees with them. This insecurity in ones faith, for lack of a better term, has been the motivation throughout history that has led to wholesale slaughter of millions of people in the name of God.
So what is the most profound difference between the religion of Thelema and the old aeon religious philosophies? If Thelema is not able to accommodate scientific discovery and new universal theories based on those discoveries it can no longer really be called Thelema. It is called Orthodoxy and Dogma. Magick, on the other hand, often requires the application of metaphysical paradigms which are not subject to scientific scrutiny.