Published: Feb 6, 2014 by Joe Larabell
(a discourse on myriad diverse matters)
0. Learn first -- Oh thou who aspirest unto our ancient Order! -- that Equilibrium is the basis of the Work. If thou thyself hast not a sure foundation, whereon wilt thou stand to direct the forces of Nature?
Of all the material published by Crowley, one of my favorite documents is Liber Librae. In this paper can be found a summary of the proper “attitude” of a Magician. The spirit of Librae, however, is not new. These same concepts are to be found in the Fourth Knowledge Lecture of the Order of the Golden Dawn, in the section entitled “On the General Guidance and Purification of the Soul.” What IS new is Crowley’s attempt to marry the diverse concepts of science and religion into one cohesive system. These two seemingly diverse sides of our Thelemic coin form just one of the many manifestations of the dichotomy of Hod vs. Netzach – the battle between the Head and the Heart.
Sometimes we allow ourselves to become trapped into a two-valued way of thinking. “If yo’s not wit’ me, yo’s ag’in me.” There is, in reality, a continuous gray-scale between any pair of opposite values. For example, total intellect might reside at one end of this scale while total emotion would be found at the other. Some nebulous “balance” point would exist between these two, as would an infinite number of points in between. (Does the scale extend into infinity at each end? Do the two ends sort-of “wrap-around” to meet each other? These are truly profound questions – an exercise of meditation left to the reader.) This is true of ANY Physical Universe trait or quality.
Most of us tend to “set up camp” at some established point on this Head-vs-Heart scale and few seem to wander from that “safe point” over their lifetimes. That is not to say that those who are predominately intellectual are unable to experience emotion or vice-versa. On the contrary, any finite movement on this scale toward one end or the other could be just as influential regardless from whence on the scale you start. But, despite occasional emotional outbursts, an intellectual person does tend to remain predominately intellectual.
The situation is likewise within a group. In a totally democratic organization, the “position” of the group on this scale might tend to be the median of the positions of each active member. In a hierarchical magical organization, the position of the group usually closely aligns with its leader who, if properly picked, generally approximates the median of the group, anyway. Because of the multiplicity of individuals involved, this so-called “position” is actually a finite range of possible attitudes in regard to the scale under consideration. When we take into account the effect of the “range” of the group on any number of other similar scales, we begin to see the group assuming a definite “flavor.”
An individual, coming upon this group, will either find themselves closely aligned with the attitudes of the group (“This is the spiritual home I have been looking for all of my life.”), just within the periphery (“Interesting people – maybe I could learn something here.”), or well outside the range (“I’m not really interested, thanks anyway!”). One’s view of the group would also depend upon the position of the individual himself with respect to the attitudes of the group. A predominately emotional person could find the group impossibly intellectual, while a predominately intellectual person might find that same group too emotional for his or her taste. When you have a hammer in your hand, everything looks like a nail.
A similar issue came up at a recent meeting where, in our usual fashion, an argument arose over whether or not we could ethically screen (i.e. exclude) people from membership in the Order. The bottom line was that it is, in reality, our DUTY to so inform the prospective applicant of the nature of our group that the individual will, if necessary, screen themselves. Once we have done that, we can cheerfully accept all comers, knowing that the percentage of new members who simply “don’t fit in” will turn out to be relatively small.
Any group exists to further the common aims and beliefs of those who comprise the group. It behooves the prospective member, as well as the group itself, to KNOW what those common objectives are before entering into the Bond of Brotherhood. The membership bond in an occult Order, and to a lesser degree in any organization, is one of establishing a tacit agreement between the “group mind” and the individual. Only a self-centered Ego, severely off their course, would join a group for which they were not suited, in an attempt to change the group mind to coincide with their own views. It seems very unfashionable (and somehow unpatriotic) these days to formulate a privately-run and privately-funded group, along with other individuals like yourself, for the purpose of associating with those who share common backgrounds, interests, etc. – to the exclusion of others. People seem to have a “button” on exclusion. By enforcing the “civil rights” of the excluded parties, we are, in fact, thwarting the legitimate rights of the group members to associate as they will. Of course, even the slightest public funding of such a group would change the whole picture.
Occult Orders are a unique sort of group. We are admonished that the OTO is a serious Body of Men and Women and not a group instituted for the amusement of grown-up children. We believe that by stimulating certain areas of the subconscious through the dramatic re-enactment of myth and legend, we can awaken powers hitherto unknown to Man. When someone breaks the concentration of such a ritual, whether through disinterest, inattentiveness, or laziness, the entire group suffers – whether or not we realize it at the time. When someone treats initiation as a “game” or “something to do to have fun,” they are missing the real joy of ritual Magick. They will get no more out of the ritual than they might get from playing Monopoly at home.
If you had a job as a rocket scientist and one day began connecting valves and wires indiscriminately because it was “fun,” you would not have a job for long. Some people take their Magick more seriously than they would any occupation in the world. There is a noticeable difference in Energy between a well-timed ritual performed precisely and a sloppy rendition. To bumble through the motions of a ritual in the name of “levity” is the ultimate disrespect to those who have come to us in an effort to further their own spiritual growth and to the other members of the group. In this respect, I am proud of Baphomet Lodge’s performance.
A piece of Musick is “fun” to play when all of the notes are in their right places. Regardless of the strict regimen, there is a certain joy to the correct playing of a complex piece. One out-of-place note, however short or discrete, changes the overall feeling of the piece. Great musicians are orders of magnitude ahead of mediocre musicians because they do not allow room for mistakes in the name of “fun.”
Being part of an OTO Lodge, participating in the initiations, attending quarterly meetings, performing in the Rites, etc., helps the individual to develop their OWN magical regimen. The Lodge IS what it IS – that is what attracted each of you here in the first place. It is what empowers you to do those things which you truly Will by providing a sure and stable foundation from which to operate. From the seemingly limited confines of the “group” arise the most diverse vistas of individual expression. The one thing we all have in common is that we are all different. By constantly tripping over each other, we can learn a great deal about ourselves.
Our role as a group is to expand our horizons without flying apart in the process. While it is important to continue introducing Thelema into society, we must not forget our own capabilities and limitations. Right now, I do not believe that the Lodge, or the Order for that matter, could withstand the Forces which would result from inducting a true “cross-section” of the world population into our number – the world itself can hardly withstand the stress. In these “growth” years of our Order, we must find those of LIKE mind who will stand with us in the battle as we recruit and train our elite. With the limited resources at our disposal, is it not better to tend to those crops which will bring us a good harvest than to waste our resources on those which cannot further our ends. Sounds cold and mercenary, I know – but, is it not also in the best interest of the individual to continue onward if he discovers that this is not the system he seeks, rather than to align with something from which he will learn nothing, only to ultimately move on anyway? Groups can fail either by lack of a stable center or by over-extension from that center. We must not confuse the overall goal with our immediate target. Eventually, the OTO will be all things to all people – that is our charter as the “new social Order.” But for now, small as we are, we cannot help but cater to a narrow audience – and practical Magick IS, by nature, a Hod activity.
The task of a Lodge Master is to govern his Lodge in accordance with the rules of the Order. My role, as the leader of Baphomet Lodge, is to provide a stable axis around which the Lodge can revolve and to delineate the sphere in which we will operate. A generator is able to create electricity because its magnetic poles are held rigidly apart. If left to their own “wills,” these poles would collapse together and the generator would cease to be useful. Unpopular though it may seem, it is the discipline that produces the growth – not simply memorizing a few tables or reading a book which captures your interest, but confronting, face-to-face, those parts of yourself and the of group which LEAST amuse you. We should each seek to understand WHY our own particular “pet-peeve” is actually an essential part of the system of the OTO.
The Lodge has been accused of favoring the Head and ignoring the Heart – probably so. Let us then strive for Equilibrium in our Work. In the interest of the Heart, I have created a “Hearts and Flowers Committee,” headed by Soror Gaia (who wryly renamed it the “Beaus and Eros Committee”), whose job it will be to remind us of those Netzach-side things which we might tend to forget in our effort to strengthen the (often overbearing) Hod-side of our group.
This post was originally published as: https://larabell.org/wordpress/let-not-one-know-well-the-other/
The Disqus comments section is currently under evaluation. You should not have to be logged in to post a comment. If you have any trouble or see anything strange in this section, please let me know. Thanks.