Self-will is the key to magical success

That theatrical old occultist of the early 20th century, Aleister Crowley, had a slogan. It was: "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law."

Now what does that mean?

Well, apart from the annoying anachronism (adding that extra "T" to give the word "will" an archaic quality) he is referring to the process of magic whereby the magician's will or intent is focussed through ritual practice to harness the psychic and natural powers of the universe to influence events.

In other words - and put less cumbersomely - you have to believe in what you are doing in order for it to work.

It's no good practicing magic if you don't believe in magic. That is perfectly obvious. Self-will is the key to magical success.

Actually there may be a partial truth in this. It is certainly true that by the use of repetition, incantation, sleight of hand and magical gestures, anyone can weave a spell to cast an illusion over the whole world.

It's what Tony Blair and George Bush have been up to all the time. Abracadabra, hey presto. Look: they've conjured a "war on terrorism" out of thin air!

Some of you will have heard of Aleister Crowley, no doubt. He was famously referred to by the tabloid press at the time as "the wickedest man in the world," a title Crowley himself revelled in, calling himself the Beast 666 and Baphomet and other such evocative names.

He also had a penchant for dressing up for the camera, of shaving his head, of wearing ritualistic robes and head dresses and of painting himself in "gay cabbalistic symbols" while dancing about with his acolytes on various magical "workings" to raise this or that supernatural being or spirit.

Before he died a certain pilgrim paid a visit to his last place of residence in Hastings, East Sussex to see what the great man was up to these days. The landlady answered the door and called up the stairs for her lodger. Crowley descended the stairs of this quaint, suburban seaside-town guesthouse, naked, with his head shaved and painted bright pink. He was obviously in the middle of a ritual.

Not that any of it ever did him any good.

All those strange chants, that waving about of ritual objects, scourging, casting circles, weaving spells, burning candles, muttering incantations, sacrificing cockerels in the dead of night, using naked women as altars, forming pentagrams in the earth and all the rest. What was the point?

He died lonely, broke and forgotten in December 1947, mostly ignored by a world that only a decade or two earlier had been vicariously shocked and titillated by his outrageous behaviour.

Not so much a case of magical self-will as self-delusion, perhaps.

Originally the slogan came to him after he invoked the god Horus in Cairo, Egypt in March and April 1904. According to Crowley, the god told him that a new magical era had begun, and that Crowley would serve as its prophet. On a succession of days an extra-dimensional being named Aiwass dictated a book which was later published under the name The Book of the Law.

It's opening lines are:

1. Had! The manifestation of Nuit.

2. The unveiling of the company of heaven.

3. Every man and every woman is a star.

It really is a hodgepodge of pure hokum. Line 8, for example reads: "The Khabs is in the Khu, not the Khu in the Khabs."

I bet you always wanted to know that didn't you? Next time you mislay your Khabs, you'll know where to look. It‘s in the Khu.

Lines 24 and 25 read:

24. I am Nuit, and my word is six and fifty.

25. Divide, add, multiply, and understand.

So there you go. The secret of the universe is seven times eight.

Another name for Aiwass might be Eyewash.

One thing you can say about Crowley is that he had a sense of humour.

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Comments 47 comments

moonbun profile image

moonbun 8 years ago from London

Excellent read. Crowley was a nut, but yes, he sure did have a sense of humour.


TheCellist profile image

TheCellist 8 years ago from Nebraska

I had never heard of Crowley before this article. He sounds like a crazy guy! Thanks for introducing me to someone I might not have heard about otherwise!


Bard of Ely profile image

Bard of Ely 8 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal

Great video by the Bonzos, Chris! I love that band!

But what is the power of a silly robe or headress? I am just thinking of Jamiroquai who is asknown for his outrageous hats as his songs! And I am thinking of Osho who had always had a hat, a robe and his huge beard!

And if gurus, priests, shamans and magicians need a strange and mystic appearance how come modern wizards like Bush and Blair can create spells that have power over the masses even though they dress in boring suits?


CJStone profile image

CJStone 8 years ago from Whitstable, UK Author

I think "theatrical" is the operative word in this hub. It's the word that came to me when I was thinking about Crowley. But Bush and Blair are just as much actors. At least Blair is. He must have practiced that look for hours in front of the mirror to get just the right air of sincerity into it. It almost makes you yearn for a character like Crowley. At least he was only pretending to be evil.


CJStone profile image

CJStone 8 years ago from Whitstable, UK Author

Just realised something. The Viv Stanshall video is positioned next to a line describing Crowley adorning himself in "bold cabbalistic colours", which is actually a quote from Stanshall, from the Donought in Granny's Greenhouse. How precise!


CJStone profile image

CJStone 8 years ago from Whitstable, UK Author

It's from Rhinocratic Oaths, and he says "his face painted in gay cabbalistic symbols". I'll put a link in.


CJStone profile image

CJStone 8 years ago from Whitstable, UK Author

It looks like I'm talking to myself here, but I recommend everyone to follow the link to the Bonzo Dog track, although it has nothing to do with Crowley beyond the odd coincidence of me quoting the track - sort of - while writing this piece. But it's very funny.


Bard of Ely profile image

Bard of Ely 8 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal

I love that album and you're not talking to yourself, Chris! lol It's a sign, it's synchronicity magic in action!

Blair was excellent at acting in school I saw on a documentary on him. Acting and politicians go together well that's why Reagan was president and look at Arnie! It comes naturally to them!

BTW I've started the Scientology hub and should be done on Sunday because I'm out all day tomorrow.


pgrundy 8 years ago

I was laughing out loud by the end of this. It happened at about the point where you explain where to look for one's Khabs should they be mislaid.

I just watched the movie version of "The HitchHiker's Guide to the Universe" where the know-it-all computer thinks for a gazillion years and comes up with the answer to life, the universe and everything as being '42'. I wonder if Crowley was in on that secret. (Well, now it's not a secret is it? But during his lifetime it would have been.)

Have you ever noticed though that when people start channeling 'ancient spirits' they tend to say really goofy stuff? Ouija boards are like that too. I've had spells work but I only do simple ones when I'm really stuck, so it's hard to say if it's the spell or just that I'm already fed up beyond all reason--when a person gets into that state doing almost anything except thinking some more can be helpful.

Thanks for another great hub and a healthy laugh!

BTW I will be watching for the Bard's scientology hub. That should be killer.


Constant Walker profile image

Constant Walker 8 years ago from Springfield, Oregon

Great hub, CJ. I've seen Wiccan magic work. As an experiment (I didn't believe in all that hokum), I wrote a simple chant, burned candles and incense and played Zen music. It was dark and I was alone. I repeated the chant for a good hour, actually entering a self-hypnotic state, when the water faucet behind me (I was sitting at my small kitchen table) suddenly, and loudly, began shooting hot water. Scared the hell outta me! I couldn't get it turned off and had to call the manager (who wasn't thrilled in the middle of the night) to get it turned off. I have sense learned that the energy around us can, indeed, be manipulated. This is what the Wiccans call their "Magick." So, did I perform Magick, or did the hot water faucet suddenly break at that time?

I'd heard of Crowley before, most notably in the Ozzy Osbourne song,


CJStone profile image

CJStone 8 years ago from Whitstable, UK Author

Which Ozzy Osbourne song Constant Walker? He's from the same town as me. When I was a teenager Black Sabbath were our local band. I'm going to look it up on the internet. But it must be something about Birmingham and the Black Country. Led Zeppelin were from around there as well, and Jimmy Page was also a great fan of Crowley. Don't know about your Magick, though. Were you intending to break the faucet or was it just the law of inintended consequences?


CJStone profile image

CJStone 8 years ago from Whitstable, UK Author

Here's the link to Ozzy Osbourne's tribute to Crowley, if anyone wants to listen to it. It's not to my taste.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pdlS7tab5rQ&fea...


Chef Jeff profile image

Chef Jeff 8 years ago from Universe, Milky Way, Outer Arm, Sol, Earth, Western Hemisphere, North America, Illinois, Chicago.

The prime era of soothsayers was in the 1930's, it seems, and men like Crowley were all over Europe. Even Hitler had his own "spiritualist" who predicted that in April of 1945 Roosevelt would die and Britain and the U.S. would side with Germany against the Soviet Union before summer was out.

I do not know if anyone has a telephone service to the future, but I do know that people are always fascinated by things like this, because we all want to know answers to questions that seem to have no answer.

As much as I love science, it can't answer all questions, and neither was it meant to. But equally religion doesn't so much answer questions as it does evoke a person to believe in, to have faith in, an answer. If you believe strongly enough, it will be so. Which brings me to my interpretation of Crowley's cryptic message at the start of this hub.

Believe it to be so and in your mind it shall be so.

By the way, the word Wicca comes from Old English and would be pronounced "Witch-cha." It's the root of our word for witch, even though it had a different meaning back then. Wic was a camp or town, as often seen now in the word "wich" such as Sandwich. Maybe back then sorcery was more common in towns.


CJStone profile image

CJStone 8 years ago from Whitstable, UK Author

How fantastic. So "wich" in the town name has the same root as "witch". I live near Sandwich, btw. I'll have to pay them a visit and let them know they're all a bunch of witches!


marisuewrites profile image

marisuewrites 8 years ago from USA

I've always "believed" that "believing" is the 1st ingredient to success in anything.  I think it is an actual "force."  We all have it, as it exists and is there for all to use.  Evil knows of it's existence and uses it.  Good, sometimes does not rely on belief, but rather on their own power standing alone...yet when coupled with belief, people can perform at miraculous levels of achievement. 

I don't "know" this, but I "believe" it and have seen it all around me, as well as having accomplished things I never could have -- without belief. 

Now, if I could just "believe" more strongly in the lottery...

I've never been good at chants as I either fall asleep, or get the words all wrong and I'm afraid I'd break out in warts or something...or change the hubby to a toad...no wait, that's already been done...

Super thought provoking hub CJ, and I'll take a ham and cheese with mayo please.


marisuewrites profile image

marisuewrites 8 years ago from USA

Bard of Ely, didn't you know? Bush is really naked, and they keep telling him he's wearing a boring suit. the Emperor has no clothes...


CJStone profile image

CJStone 8 years ago from Whitstable, UK Author

Ah but marisuewrites, isn't that just the point of the lottery, that it occupies our beliefs and our believing to the exclusion of other more useful things? It's a distraction, in other words. Maybe if we believed, all together, that war was just a stupid waste of precious life we could make it go away for good. In fact the vast majority of the world's population DO believe that. So how come it continues?


Bard of Ely profile image

Bard of Ely 8 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal

Problem with the lottery and believing you will win it is that all the other people are believing the same thing so they all cancel each other out - there are only a certain number of winners.

Yes, I agree it is a deliberate distraction for the masses.

 War continues because countless people  are lured into signing up for it by promises of decent money, seeing the world and with appeals to their patriotic nature and so they can show how brave and good they are. Those methods ensure enough cannon fodder and if that fails then there's conscription.


CJStone profile image

CJStone 8 years ago from Whitstable, UK Author

Steve, I arguing against the idea that belief has any intrinsic power, against the philosophy of the Secret, if you like. Most of the world believes that war is a waste. It continues because it serves the interests of those in power. The beliefs of those in power are inherently stronger, simply because they have the power, and the Lottery, and the Secret are just tools for distracting us from this, slights of hand, illusions, something Crowley tried to do but failed at, but Bush and Blair managed to do very well. These are just my thoughts on the matter.


Constant Walker profile image

Constant Walker 8 years ago from Springfield, Oregon

The faucet wasn't the objective. A side affect? Clearly, I shouldn't be messing around with magick.


marisuewrites profile image

marisuewrites 8 years ago from USA

Perhaps we could schedule a collective National Believe Day, and and believe ourselves right out of Iraq/Iran, no telling what we could accomplish. At the rish of over-simplifying, there is more truth to that thought-- than we might "believe."

If faith (belief) the grain of a mustard seed can move a mountain, maybe...

I will never win the Lottery as I am so distracted by life that I forget to buy the tickets. There seems to be a connection between tickets and winning; but what do I know.


CJStone profile image

CJStone 8 years ago from Whitstable, UK Author

Maybe if we all believe together we can fix Constant Walker's faucet!


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 8 years ago from Central Oklahoma

"Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and believing the outcome will be different". Which pretty much sums up why we let ourselves be drawn into wars that, as you so correctly observed, Chris, are ever only waged for the benefit of those in power.

Am I the only one who gets the parallel between "Crazy Crowley" performing rituals with all sorts of theatrics and fanfare that rarely (if ever) worked, and Bush-Blair using theatrics and fanfare to make us believe their version of "reality" is NOT a bunch of hocus-pocus?


CJStone profile image

CJStone 8 years ago from Whitstable, UK Author

Crowley messed up a lot of lives, but I guess most of those drawn into his games knew what they were doing. Bush and Blair have no such excuse.


Chef Jeff profile image

Chef Jeff 8 years ago from Universe, Milky Way, Outer Arm, Sol, Earth, Western Hemisphere, North America, Illinois, Chicago.

If I remember right Crowley messed up the lives of wealthy, bored people who had no clue what it meant to pay society back for their good fortune. Kind of like Paris Hilton and her ilk.

As for Bush, I never cared for him and I was shocked when Tony Blair (of the "Blair Bush Project") followed him in the fiasco in Iraq.

Bush and others who supported him said that Saddam H. was killing thousands of his own people. If that was one of the main motivators to go to war, then why not also help in the Congo, where at least 5 million people have died from civil war & genocide????


pgrundy 8 years ago

One of the worst things I've ever seen is this clip of Bush chewing with his mouth open at some kind of state dinner while Tony Blair flutters and fusses around him like a little bitch, and Bush has food falling onto his jacket and is laughing and just blowing Blair off as if he we a gnat at a picnic.

It's so unflattering to both of them, which is why I like it. If I can find it, I'll post it.

My second favorite is the one where Bush starts massaging Angela Merkl's shoulders as he passes behind her at dinner and she gets this startled look on her face as if he goosed her or something.

What an ass he is.


CJStone profile image

CJStone 8 years ago from Whitstable, UK Author

Yes Chef Jeff, Crowley spent most of his time messing up the lives of the bored aristocracy. Is the Bush Blair thing the one where Bush goes "Yo Blair," and Tony's being all sycophantic. Repulsive.


pgrundy 8 years ago

Yes, that's the one. Ugh.


CJStone profile image

CJStone 8 years ago from Whitstable, UK Author

Funny, here's you writing a comment on my page, while I'm over at yours writing a comment to you.


pgrundy 8 years ago

I know, we seem to be at the computer at about the same time each day. I'ts 8:15 in the morning here, and I'm about to leave for my four hours at the bank (bleechk).

Have a good day (night?) CJ--I always look forward to your hubs and comments.

Well, I'm off. (In so many ways.)


CJStone profile image

CJStone 8 years ago from Whitstable, UK Author

I'm just getting home from work as you're leaving. I think there's a five hour time difference. I'm guessing that you live on the East Coast, is that right? My brother lives near Syracuse in New York state.


pgrundy 8 years ago

No, I live just east of Lake Michigan, about 90 miles north of Chicago. NY is about two days drive from here, but we're on the same time zone I think.


michaelallen profile image

michaelallen 8 years ago from Clearwater, FL

Ah, now I get it. I know where to find my khabs should I ever misplace them. Great read!


modernPrimitive 7 years ago

I find the article rather superficial and ignorant.

A rough English rendering of "The Khabs is in the Khu" would be "The spirit is in the soul" but of course that rendering would lack the philosophical depth inherent in the Egyptian mythos.

If you had any formal insight into philosophy you would recognize that Liber AL vel Legis solves the philosophical problems of nihilism, dualism, and monism and indeed actually gives an answer to the "question of existence".

Moreover, you imply that it is somehow less successful or desireable to die "lonely, forgotten and broke" (in your words) than otherwise. Firstly to die wealthy could well be a "crime against society and nature" as there are only so many resources available (whether virtual or actual). We must take only what we need, no more, no less. There is no need to bleed society or nature dry for resources that we cannot take with us when we go.

Secondly you propose that to die with friends, family or fans would somehow be more desireable. By what set of standards do you make that assumption? Did Van Gogh die lonely and broke? Did that make him any less successful? By the standards that society proposes for "success", well yes, Crowley was highly successful. He was the most prolific writer on the occult ever. He formed various occult societies that have accepted tens of thousands of initiates over the years and there are probably hundreds of thousands of non-initiates that follow Crowley's methods and mythos. His collaboration with Gerald Gardener resulted in the popularization of Wicca as a "New Age" religion that is fast becoming a religion of choice for young adults. His mentorship of L Ron Hubbard resulted in Hubbard's founding of Scientology and even though Hubbard fell into self-delusion, his influence in turn has been huge.

Yes, Crowley was highly successful. His influence on the religious and occult worlds is absolutely massive, larger than anyone since Siddharta Gautama Buddha or Yehashua Ben Yoseph...probably inestimable.

Aside from those points, you're quite right, Crowley had a great sense of humour, but since he followed largely a Tantric philosophy, who's aim it is to "unite opposites", we will find some Crowley's most serious statements shrouded in humour. But of course it is for you to interpret those statements as you "will" or "wilt".

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.


CJStone profile image

CJStone 7 years ago from Whitstable, UK Author

Oh dear, an offended fan.

Actually you make my case for me: if Crowley is in any way responsible for influencing the creation of either Scientology of Wicca, then he deserves the opprobrium.

But I stand by my initial insight: the man was essentially theatrical, and I forgive him for that.


modernPrimitive 7 years ago

Your rebuttal lacks any comprehensive or cohesive argument,

By what standards do you judge Scientology or Wicca? By your upbringing perhaps? By the way you think religion or society should be? Could you provide a solid argument for these?

Sure, the man was theatrical, as Shakespeare said "all the World's a stage"....and o, arent' we all theatrical? What is there to forgive in this? You are the perciever of "a percieved" (namely Crowley, in this instance), what makes you think you understand with any valid substance the object of your perception?


CJStone profile image

CJStone 7 years ago from Whitstable, UK Author

I'm not aiming for comprehensive or coherent argument. I'm a reporter not a philosopher. I report what I see. And what I see is this: Crowley was a theatrical old fraud who damaged almost everyone who came into contact with him. Scientology is dangerous bullshit, which hurts everyone who comes into contact, Wicca less dangerous, but just as fraudulent (Gardiner being another person who was economical with the truth on more than one occasion). Do I measure these things by my upbringing? Of course i do. From my perception of things, and I make no apology for that. And what I perceive, from a life time of experience, is that while Crowley undoubtedly had a sense of humour (you only have to read the Book of Lies to know that) most of his followers are pompous dupes. Once more you make my case for me.


modernPrimitive 7 years ago

What you seem to think constitutes a "case" for any of your arguments is little more than your uninformed opinion - something that would be remedied by a thourough grounding in epistemology.

By your own admission you're incapable or not willing to engage in philosophical discussion and yet in the same breath you suggest that Gardiner was "economical with the truth"...a decidedly epistemic (philosophical) statement. I'd suggest that you would do well to refrain from reporting on philosophical topics in the future.



Ur Anaite profile image

Ur Anaite 6 years ago from The Land of the Dead

Not offended, not a fan... just not impressed. I would expect to some actual material in your article rather than an abridged satirical.

I suppose your hub was just an attention grab, well it worked. (But trying to pass it off as reporting?)


CJStone profile image

CJStone 6 years ago from Whitstable, UK Author

Glad it grabbed your attention though. Maybe I'll write a more comprehensive piece in the future, when I have the time...


bri36 5 years ago

really? did you actually read anything that Mr. Crowley wrote? Are you capable of understanding that you really don't matter anyway... Bush and Blair? you do know it is 2011 right?


CJStone profile image

CJStone 5 years ago from Whitstable, UK Author

This is a column written for Prediction magazine about 2007 I think: hence the title. I've read quite a lot of Crowley. He was, as I say, a theatrical old fraud, but dangerous only if you bought into his self-publicity. I'm quite capable of understanding that I don't matter. How about you?


Therion 4 years ago

Babies


CR Rookwood profile image

CR Rookwood 4 years ago from Moonlight Maine

Hey CJ--You totally matter. IMHO.

Anyhoo, having just read another column in which Crowley figured as this demonic force in British politics, this was exactly the antidote I needed. Thanks.

Now I have to go move my khabs...


Frater Sekhem 4 years ago

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law.

How cute! You think you know the meaning behind all Thelema! Well, it certainly must be rewarding babbling on about something that one certainly is no authority in whatsoever to get attention! I thought this was a real article, with sources, facts and proofs and all that unimportant jive that makes relevant and considerable reading. It's obviously an ignorant rambling blog. I must admit, you too have a sense of humor! It also was an entertaining, yet unstimulating and poorly writen, waste of 3 minutes. Perhaps some study of Crowley's work would shed some ever-so-needed light on some of you guys' comical but misplaced "opinions" of his meanings of these things. A simple glance at a definition or two might make sense of it as well. It must truly be more enlightening discussing things one hasn't put any effort into researching than to try to connect with ones Essence through meditation, prayer and ritual: I mean who ever heard of that?!

Love is the law, love under will.

93 93/93


CJStone profile image

CJStone 4 years ago from Whitstable, UK Author

Yawn.

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