Dear Earnest Reader,
Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
The "L" in Lateralus is represestative of lamed, the balance. By combining a force with its opposite, balancing it against it we create the movement of force, as with the union of a man and woman, the war that results from opposing viewpoints, and our conscious, architectural manipulation of those forces. This is aleph, the whirling swastika, the creative force of nature, the life of the world. We use this to build beth, the house of the magician. "L" is also one arm of the swastika, which by paring it with its opposite initiates the process of creation that creates the four, then the sixteen and on to the 10,000 things. The swastika is also "der reine thor", the pure fool of Parsifal. It is myself choosing to live the life I want to live, to do whatever I desire, without regard for an end, and by that redeeming that which must be redeemed and becoming wise.
As an artist and a magician that idea of life without end or not being held to a particular standard is very important to keep me free and open. All to often people desire to become something in particular. They desire an identity. They must have a label for themselves. Artists do this by taking on big projects or careers early on and trying to force their nature to fit them. Your work in the A.'.A.'. is to gain a scientific knowledge of the nature and powers of your own being. This cannot be done without experimentation. You must wander. You must get lost. It is my opinion that the A.'.A.'. and magicians generally, forsake this necessary self-exploration for a forced tank building project. This is a recipe for building robots, not men and women. True, our work IS a very long ritual ultimately culminating in knowledge and conversation. But you will be of no use to your angel and of little use to your students if when you get there your pantacle looks like someone took a bite out of it. And how do you expect to instruct your students in knowing themselves if you have not done so yourself?
Altogether they are "33" which is significant as the year in life that Jesus was crucified. The new aeon is not disconnected from the ways of the past. You might say it is like the result of the chemical transformation of the last age. L.A.B. than symbolizes the movement from the last aeon into the new one. And those that study the song and the transformation that it describes will see that is what the song describes, by being completely receptive to the will of God (from a place of suffering and disconnection) as christ is described as being, one is capable of unifying with it. The water of receptivity, christ vigilantly adhering to the cross, becomes the fire of the new age.
I have been told the probationer degree is technically not on the tree. It is also considered to be a very difficult journey. While there is no expressed requirement to endure any kind of suffering, moving out of darkness and into the light, for many of us is very painful. We are instructed to drive on, in service to mankind as to ourselves, as Jesus did on his way to Golgotha.
I realize this association with the religion of the old aeon makes a lot of thelemites uncomfortable. There is actually a movement in our community to distance ourselves from it, and in the most absurd ways. Crowley may have been critical of Christianity but he acknowledged its importance and even used its metaphors to describe the functions of the various weapons in Book 4.
Perhaps on a more personal level it is significant as my own religious history is Catholic, and that of the people whose lives are generally connected with mine also Christian. L.A.B. is a banner to them in a language they understand, to take up their own cross, as I have done, and to make that journey to their own hell, the center of their being, through the gates of Hades, to find liberation.
You descend into that hell, the dark fire of your determined existence, by knowing yourself, and gaining power of the deep recesses of your being through magick, yoga and whatever other methods you derive.
Love is the law, Love under will.
Dear Earnest Reader,
Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law.
When I orginally took the oath of a probationer in the A.'.A.'. a few years ago I took the motto "Lateralus Ad Baculum" or "L.A.B." for short. For those who know a little about the work of the A.'.A.'. the task of the probationer is to gain "a scientific knowledge of the nature and powers" of his own being. This oath goes beyond that specific grade and carries over into the work of the whole system so you can see the blue egg that contains the tree as being like the hermetically sealed chamber where the scientist does his work and grows his "child" (himself) into what he desires to be.
One of the things I liked about L.A.B. was that the initials spelled out "LAB" as in a laboratory. There were other symbolic and significant plays with the word. You could see it as referring to the three-headed dog Cerberus that stood at the gate to the underworld or as lamed, aleph, and beth; the balance, the primordial whirlings and the house of the magician. Or you could also break it down into its component words for the revealing of wisdom in analyzing each of them and seeking out their origins.
I did this not only for myself but for anybody I came into contact with. They could study the word too and gain their own wisdom. I intended to share it with a lot of people. But since I took the motto I haven't been giving it very much play. And since a year from now I will very likely be a neophyte and will take on another motto I guess I should start using the word for what I intended it now.
The first word "Lateralus" is a reference to the song by Tool. At the time the song was very inspiring to me. Each of its lyrics, especially the line "As below, so above and beyond, I imagine, drawn beyond the lines of reason, push the envelope, watch it bend" put into words some of my most valued personal motivations in prose I found quite beautiful, powerful and evocative. I also saw the song as an invocation of Horus and as an excellent example of what an effective invocation should be when done as a work of art. I wanted others to see this as well. (Really, you cannot understand what I mean unless you listen to it. And while you are at it, listen to the whole album. Magicians, take notes.)
Another angle of that word that mirrored my aspiration was another word you could take out of it, "Lateral" as in Lateral thinking. Lateral thinking is the use of indirect and creative means to solve problems, by the use of logic or thought processes that are not immediately obvious or easily fathomable by our conventional modes of thought. Why this is such an important aspect of my nature I am not exactly sure but for people generally I think the ability to break out of our usual modes of thought is necessary to avoid stagnation and to open up new sources of power and inspiration in life. For ceremonial magicians which I think the collective culture in thelema is heavily geared towards, that word is meant to help break them out of the kind of boring practice and habits that so many seem caught up in, myself included. (I am not nearly as happy with my magical practice as I think I could be and very easily allow myself to settle for a half-satisfied, frustrated and impatient attitude towards my work when my VISION beckons me to something much greater.)
As I think about it now, the meaning of that word has greater significance for me. My whole life I have watched people use methods to solve problems in life not because they were the most effective but simply because that's the way they were done and had always been done. Buckminster Fuller was quite fond of pointing this out in our architecture. We still use the post and lintel method of building that we've been using since the neolithic age when we have the materials and the intelligence to use much more structural efficient means to build.
This attitude pervades all aspects of life. It seems that there is a basic logical directive in the human psyche to do things just because that's the way they are, as if we are half simply trying to create some kind of collective momentum or are perhaps half controlled by something that is.
I don't want to be like that. I don't want to be someone whose mind is closed to new possibilities and herded by a kind of collective hypnosis. I want to be someone who can see those mechanisms and the possibilities that lie beyond them, someone who creates new things and new methods, and I always have been that kind of person.
This follows well on the next part of the motto, "Ad Baculum", which is a reference to a common logical fallacy, "argumentum ad baculum" or argument by force. By making it part of my motto I am saying that I, myself am a logical fallacy. I am also saying that you are too. It is in part a reference to specific lines in the Book of Law concerning reason and human nature. It is also a reference to a certain understanding of the nature of the wand which at the time I was deriving the name were becoming clearer to me.
I'd like to continue writing on this and I do hope you read it and have enjoyed it and taken something from it. I am not working on any specific schedule but should be continuing with this soon. Peace be unto you.
Love is the law, Love under will.
p.s. If you see the Buddha on the road, don't shoot him. He owes me money.
Can you really say you know how the world works, or what is possible? What would it take to actually know? I want to learn everything I can, and see just how far the envelope "bends".
I once had a friend tell me he saw Peter J. Carroll, a famous occultist and author, who you should also check out, manipulate fire magically. I've never done it but I don't see why I should claim I know if its possible. Now maybe if I spent my whole life trying to find out how and exhausted every possibility then I could say that I'd never found the way. But that would be all I could say. There would still be an infinite universe out there that I had not yet explored. Also, something else may have changed with the world I HAD lived in, to make it possible.
Aleister Crowley, who you will hear a lot about if you spend some time studying the occult, once said that when men discover the secret of physical flight, they will laugh at how simple it is (Liber LI, The Lost Continent, III "Of the Aims....."). What you will also discover about Crowley if you study him long enough was that he was not an idiot. He was incredibly intelligent and worldly. And if you study him even longer and follow out with some of his methods you will discover that when it comes to magick and yoga he knows what he's talking about. So when he said that yes, men can fly, was he just pulling our leg? I don't know and neither do you.
A lot of occultists, both the experienced and inexperienced will act like they know all sorts of things. They will do this to your face and in the books you read by them. And more often than not one of the things they ACT like they know but really don't IS just how far the envelope bends. And how to bend it. Their dialogue will often have a curiousily smothering effect to your sense of imagination and feel like its forming lead boots around your feet. Don't listen to them. Your sense of anything being possible is one of your most powerful weapons in life as well as magick.
.....maybe you don't want to study any of these guys or their methods. Maybe you have your own ideas about what magick is supposed to be and how you want to do it. PLEASE, for the sake of us all, but especially for you, give those dreams a chance.
And, if you are a thelemite, what is another name for the Goddess?