Si Vales, Valeo
Thank you for your question regarding political responsibility and Thelema. What a sticky subject. I have to say, from the get go, that these are my opinions only, and that they are subject to change as my understanding of these things grow.
I believe that Thelema suffers from a lack of ethos, and a coherent mythology. The number one purpose of any School of the Western Mystery Tradition is to teach. This teaching takes place through initiation and curriculum. Why is teaching so important? Imagine taking a mystery so profound and exposing someone to it and then throwing them to the water to figure it out on their own. How effective is that initiate going to be helping the Mystery School accomplish its task? Try to visualize an arrow with 15 heads on it, and then imagine trying to hit the bulls eye. The aims of such schools are so narrow and refined, so specialized and so important that it would be totally ineffective trying to accomplish its mission unless everyone is on the same page. But most importantly: The purpose of a Western Mystery Tradition School is to create agents of change and let them lose into the world, there to cause change in accordance to their True Will.
I am not suggesting that everyone should be a clone, or that there is a right or wrong way to think of the mystery. Surely, if the candidate is worthy, there is no doubt that they will latch on to some piece of the puzzle. It is through initiation and guidance that the candidate is able to flower in the mystery of his own divinity.
I don’t believe that the ethics, of which I am writing presently, can be taught as they are in college when one is after a philosophy degree. The ethics implied by initiation are beyond the scope of our language. Sure, we can get close. We can use Qabalah and Gematria in order to discover the language of the unconscious mind, but it must be illustrated by example in initiation. Or as Joseph Campbell would say, The Heroes Journey.
One way of teaching by example would be for the School to oppose and endorse certain social issues. It is no good to jump on the political correct bandwagon once an issue has been solved and settled by the rest of society. This is a mark of a coward. Remember, religion is supposed to be revolutionary. In fact, the struggle is the surest way to impress upon the student what your School represents. I’ll give you an example: The Thelemic Gnostic Church of Alexandria was the first Thelemic Church to accept women in the role of priest, which is usually rigidly restricted to men in other groups. Our list of heroes, the Order of The Maltese Cross, contains women. We were also the first to come out publicly and offer to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies.
We believe it is more important to impart the values gifted to us by the egregore we have created than to be popular. Right is right, wrong is still wrong, and as subjective as those terms may be, each School MUST take a stance. It is part of the teaching they must do: by example. And the student and their education must be the focus if it to be worthy of being called a School of The Western Mystery Tradition.
That said, the worst part of our American political system is how voters approach it like a ball game, in which each side must support one of the two parties they have chosen regardless of the issue, right or wrong. Imagine in the US, a country with over 300,000,000 people only having two parties to represent them! It wouldn’t be so bad if we could be focused on issues rather than party, but with only two-parties, we get elections that resemble Monday Night Football more than a democratic participation in government.
So how does this answer your question? I think that as Thelemites we can easily agree on what is not Thelemic regardless of political affiliation. We can begin there. And in the end, we may have to accept that some of the people who identify with Thelema may have failed to grasp Thelema in the true sense of the word, regardless of whether they pay their dues or not.
I believe that we, The Order of Thelemic Knights has an advantage over other organizations because our focus is on Thelema where it meets the road, and not with Crowley. We respect him, and love him as Our Prophet, but we are unconcerned with his private life. His spiritual life is what concerns us, and this is why. If you believe that Crowley channeled, for lack of a better term, The Book of the Law, and that his Class A material was inspired by some aspect of his unconscious, or perhaps because he was able to tap into some part of the Universal Unconscious as per Jung, then his personal opinions however much one agrees or disagrees with them are irrelevant. Why? Because I believe that Crowley did not fully understand the magnitude of his work. Thelema is a mystery to be continuously unraveled and observed over time, and this means Crowley could not have understood Thelema in our present. I say this in full recognition of the accuracy of his predictions and some of the things he pondered he couldn’t possibly have known about during his time. This confuses people who are much more interested in Crowley’s bad-boy reputation.
I would be surprised, if in my lifetime, OTK is ever any more than a handful of idealistic Thelemites wishing to show people that Thelema really is a life-enhancing philosophy, and that Thelemites can make more meaningful contributions than the self-serving they see coming out of other Thelemic groups. No one is paid in OTK, all money is gathered from dues and donations, but more often than not, it comes out of member’s pockets. If we can do so much with so little, think of how much is wasted by organizations whose rosters number in the thousands.
Change is not going to happen from the top-down. We mustn’t wait until we are personally threatened by something before we form an opposition to it. If you see injustice, ask yourself whether or not such a thing deserves to exist in a Thelemic world. It may be justified. Thelema is the law of the strong, after all, and that requires discipline. But if it is truly unjust and does not meet the litmus test of being in harmony with Thelema, form an opposition and fight. But don’t just react like an animal, respond instead. Also, don’t get so busy trying to save the world from evil that you forget to respond to positive stimulus. It is better to stand for something, than against something. Be kind. That is a sign of strength. But also carry a big stick.
I have seen good, hard working people tossed aside like broken tools for trying to cause change within their School, Order, Lodges or whatever. Don’t forget that cult leaders use peer-pressure, social currency and the myth of individualism to divide members against one-another to preventing this sort of ground-up change. If you are one of those people, remember the Stone the Builders Rejected, and be that.
Lastly, politics aside: we are Thelemites. By calling ourselves Thelemites we have embraced a huge responsibility. If we could understand that, the weak ones: the ones that see Thelema as an excuse to party, rape, steal and murder, would run from the strong ones that are using their magick to change the world. Organize. That’s how I believe it begins… with you and me.