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Anyone who has read Liber AL vel Legis, the Book of Law, has surely come upon the Comment which appends this great work. It inspires a cornucopia of reactions from awe to fear to zeal. For the sake of completeness I quote the Comment in full:Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
The study of this Book is forbidden. It is wise to destroy this copy after the first reading.
Whosoever disregards this does so at his own risk and peril. These are most dire.
Those who discuss the contents of this Book are to be shunned by all, as centres of pestilence.
All questions of the Law are to be decided only by appeal to my writings, each for himself.
There is no law beyond Do what thou wilt.
Some take this Comment as an injunction that only the individual can properly interpret the Book of the Law for him or herself, which I believe is, on its face, quite correct. But what I want to explore are some interesting implications and ideas surrounding this Comment.
Firstly, it hasn't been noted widely that this Comment itself requires interpretation. Many people interpret this Comment itself in various ways. We might take this Comment on its face and interpret it literally. In this case we should shun anyone who discusses the Book of the Law at all as "centres of pestilence," but we should also have destroyed the Book of the Law upon our first reading. This is exactly what many have done, having burned the book, thrown it into the ocean, or many other stories I have heard. Further, people often ignore the very first and very last lines of this Comment which both contain the phrase "Do what thou wilt." Couldn't it possibly be within the scope of one's Will to discuss, study, and interpret this Book? If there really is "no law beyond Do what thou wilt" then the other injunctions can only be mere appendages to this imperative. Therefore, even on a literal interpretation, if we take into account the first & last lines of the Comment, we are therefore still not obligated to either destroy the Book or shun others as centres of pestilence. In a sense, the literal interpretation is self-refuting.
Further, if we accept the Book of the Law's prime injunction of "Do what thou wilt," we might be able to interpret the other lines of the Comment in another light. If the sole authority of each star is his or her own Will, then there are absolutely no other authorities to guide his or her conduct. Therefore, one could view the injunctions to destroy the Book and to shun others as "centres of pestilence" as a sort of test. If one is still susceptible to obeying another's commands without thought of one's own Will - if one, in short, still is not acknowledging one's own Will as the sole authority of one's conduct - then these commands will naturally get rid of the "weeds" insofar as it causes them to destroy the Book and avoid discussion & study of it. Going even further, what true Thelemite is afraid of "risk and peril"? Did the perils of the unconquered mountains deter the Beast from his expeditions? "Is fear in thine heart" (Liber AL II:46) when you hear these seemingly harsh statements of forbidden activity? In the Book of the Law itself we are bidden to "fear not to undergo the curses" (Liber AL III:16), and, going even further, to "Fear not at all; fear neither men nor Fates, nor gods, nor anything. Money fear not, nor laughter of the folk folly, nor any other power in heaven or upon the earth or under the earth" (Liber AL III:17). Again, the Comment may appear in this way as a sort of "test" upon the reader and aspirant: if one is still following other's commands of what is "forbidden" and what to "shun, if one is still afraid of facing consequences & engaging in "perilous" activities... then perhaps this Book and its Word is not for you (at least at that time).
We might also look further into the words used in this Comment. Many people would acknowledge that the words used in Liber AL vel Legis have a symbolic meaning and I see no reason to see why the inspired Comment cannot include such symbolic meanings. The symbols of Thelema can often be off-putting on first glance with its mentions of war, pestilence, pitilessness, etc. Even "poison" is used as a symbol of mysticism in Liber LXV at various times (for example, "Thou hast fastened the fangs of Eternity in my soul, and the Poison of the Infinite hath consumed me utterly." -Liber LXV, III:39). The word "pestilence" itself is used in Liber LXV when it is written, "I too am the Soul of the desert; thou shalt seek me yet again in the wilderness of sand. At thy right hand a great lord and a comely; at thy left hand a woman clad in gossamer and gold and having the stars in her hair. Ye shall journey far into a land of pestilence and evil; ye shall encamp in the river of a foolish city forgotten; there shall ye meet with Me." (Liber LXV IV:61-62)
In short, the Comment itself requires interpretation. If we take the Comment literally or symbolically, neither interpretation (which is what they are) lends itself to an obvious following of the injunctions to destroy the Book, not study it, not discuss it, or shun those who choose to do any of the following (or their opposites). In my opinion, the growth of Thelema and its widespread & diverse community can be sustained not through dogmatic verbotenism nor through extreme secrecy, i.e. the shunning of all people who even hint at commenting on or interpreting or discussing this Book in part or in full. I say, with the Beast, "To hell with this Verbotenism!" (The Law is For All). The best path for growth is in all cases for a variety of opinions to come together and discuss their various points-of-view without taking any of them to be the One True Opinion. The only other advice would be to avoid "folly" insofar as we neglect to "appeal to [The Beast's] writings" on the matter of Liber AL in his own commentaries and writings like Liber Aleph, De Lege Libellum etc. In this way, we may measure our own understandings against others and perhaps learn something ourselves from the views of others.
- Number of posts : 545
Registration date : 2008-09-15
I was digging through chapter III after reading about how someone said 3:71&73 'prophesied' 9/11 and came up with some interesting speculation. I'll post it when I can get my HD working again. It's been giving me shit (And thus interfering with my torrents lately ). IMHO it read more like an instruction book for Armageddon than a prophecy of such.
- Age : 36
Number of posts : 57
Registration date : 2008-11-15
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