Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
Initiation is the first real step toward the accomplishment of the Great Work; it is the first rung upon the ladder to the Palace of Wisdom. Without it there is no possibility for genuine self-realization. It is the beginning of the creative process of individuation, of the soul traveling inward and achieving integration or true unity of being. It is the golden dawn of the soul, the blossoming of the inner lotus of the spirit.
From the Thelemic point of view, initiation is the birth of the golden flower of the True Will; it is the realization of one's true path in the cosmos, thus making for the manifestation of the knowledge and power of one's True Self. To put it in other words, Thelemic initiation is the realization of the True Will, which makes for the greater attainment of the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel.
Thelemic initiation is a threefold process, having three principal grades of attainment, called the Hermit, the Lover, and the Man of Earth. Each grade in itself partakes of a threefold quality. In the T.·. G.·. D.·., the work of the Man of Earth is (1) to attain the knowledge of his/her True Will (2) to put that knowledge into practice (3) to link that knowledge to a higher power; the work of the Lover is (1) to attain the knowledge and conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel (2) to attain the Power to Combat (3) to attain the Power to Love, and to perfect him/herself in all things, inevitably confronting the critical decision to cross the Abyss; the work of the Hermit is (1) to be a Master of the Universe and tend his/her "garden" of disciples (2) to be a Master of Magick and utter the Word of his/her True Self (3) to be a Master of all modes of existence, and attain The All in All. These are, however, very limited definitions of the threefold work of each grade, yet do they define the general quality of that work.
Thelemic initiation is the awakening of the development of efficiency with regard to the active execution and fulfillment of one's True Will. Efficiency is the power to produce effects. It is, ergo, the proper application of the Will, and the power to make changes in conformity with Will. Of this there are definite grades of attainment, and only the most dedicated and diligent student need apply him/herself to the serious work of these grades.
Thelemic initiation is the scientific exploration and realization of the nature and powers of your own Being. It is the purification of all that is an hindrance to your progress, and it makes for the free development and consecration of all those parts of yourself which are an essential element in the constitution of your True Will, so that you may attain the Great Work of the New Aeon of Horus.
Thelemic initiation is a very serious matter, involving the awakening of the highest in you. Those who take a Thelemic initiation without understanding the actual powers that are awakened in the process are unaware of what they do and, more often than not, they will fail the initiation, being unable to comprehend the serious quality of its formula. To be initiated in a Thelemic system of Magick within a Thelemic Order is to take complete responsibility for yourself, to dedicate yourself to the task of realizing all of your creative potentials as a human and spiritual being. Such is the task of one who is, relatively speaking, seeking to master all things.
Those who undertake a Thelemic initiation without understanding and doing the necessary grade work are missing the whole point of the initiation. It is simply stupid to undergo an initiation in a Magical Order without the will to advance in the Great Work. There are many who are attracted to Magical Orders and who undergo ceremonial initiations for purposes that, unfortunately, have no relation to the Great Work. Most of them, however, remain but a short time in the Order, since they are generally incapable of handling an ordeal of initiation, which is an essential part of the initiatory process.
Ordeals can be either a help or hindrance to progress, depending on the knowledge and strength of the initiate or his/her lack thereof. If the initiate has proper knowledge regarding the true nature of an ordeal, and if s/he has the courage to face the naked facts of the matter, the ordeal then becomes a source of progress and illumination, raising the initiate on the ladder to freedom. The Way of Initiation is beset with ordeals no matter how we may approach the Great Work; and those who attempt to evade an ordeal are unworthy of the title "initiate."
An ordeal of initiation is meant to make, not break us. But more often than not, an ordeal will appear as an external conflict, sometimes seeming insurmountable, until, through experience and growth, we develop a genuine knowledge of the nature of conflict. If the initiate is true of heart, s/he will inevitably realize that all conflict stems from within the self, that there is never any real conflict without, and s/he will, as a result of this knowledge, stop projecting his/her conflicts without, knowing that the source of all conflict is within, and that there is no enemy or inimical force outside of the self.
Thelemic initiation is a personal battle with the self. The initiate of Thelema is a warrior of Spirit who knows only one enemy―the self. It is to the self alone that s/he directs his/her attention during any seeming crisis, conflict or adversity from without, knowing that s/he is, in fact, the real source of the conflict. Thus the initiate learns how to respond creatively to all seeming conflict by centering his/her attention within instead of without, recognizing and resolving his/her own inner complexes which are the source of all conflict in his/her life. Through this creative response, the initiate genuinely grows. For it should be borne in mind that how we respond to conflict strongly influences the formation of our personality structure. If we respond creatively we build strength of character, whereas if we react out of ignorance we do damage to ourselves and miss an actual opportunity to progress on The Path of the Wise.
Through creative response we experience less and less seeming conflict with others, since others generally act toward us in a certain manner based on the way we respond to their own actions. If, in a seeming conflict with another, the initiate acts on the knowledge that the source of the conflict is within, projecting nothing unto the other and maintaining poise in the midst of the turmoil, more often than not the other will leave the initiate to his/her own, and harmony will ensue.
By recognizing the self as the only enemy, and subduing this enemy through self-control and discipline, the initiate will find, to his/her own satisfaction, that s/he is able to prevent and/or control most seeming conflicts. To master the enemy within by the Sword of Truth constitutes a genuine form of intuitive power which makes the initiate aware of a so-called conflict before it actually arises, thus allowing the initiate to prevent it from happening through his/her own self-control. Or even in the face of an unavoidable seeming conflict the initiate is able, through knowledge and self-control, to overcome it and promote peace. Such is the true nature of The Path of the Warrior, to perceive and prevent a potential conflict or danger, or to control such a conflict to the extent that no one is hurt, and this by overcoming the real enemy within. The so-called enemy without is but a symbol for the true enemy within, thus by controlling the latter we can control the former, and thereby promote peace and order.
The weapon of the warrior-initiate of Thelema is the Sword of Truth, which is never used to destroy the enemy without―at least not literally!―but rather to control the enemy within. The Sword of the warrior-initiate is but a symbol of the Love that is attained through division. As it is written in The Book of the Battle of Conquest: "Now the name of Thy Sword, O warrior, is Love; it is the One Weapon by which thou shalt succeed in the Battle of My Conquest, to raise My Spell, to overcome all. Every other weapon will prove a misfortune for thee! Thou shalt have no other weapon than Love if thou wouldest conquer by My Force!"
The Sword divides the initiate from the attacker, yet it also unites them. In other words, the Sword is the knowledge which discriminates between the real and the unreal, between the actual enemy within and the false enemy without, and through this form of discrimination the initiate and the attacker, the inner and the outer, become one. It is only through this form of discrimination and identification with the enemy without that we are able to truly defeat him/her, or prevent him/her from destroying us. If we become one with the enemy through the recognition that s/he is a reflection of the true enemy within, we are then, and only then, in a position to truly defeat him/her.
As warrior-initiates of Thelema, we are bound to fight and defend ourselves, and to defeat the attacker of our Will to freedom, not by destroying him/her―for all life is precious!―but by controlling and preventing him/her from destroying us. This we accomplish through our own personal battle, using the enemy without only as a focal point for self-realization, to control and defeat the true enemy―the self. Such is the nature of Thelemic initiation and The Path of the Warrior of the Golden Dawn of Thelema!
Love is the law, love under will.
By David Cherubim
(Frater Aurora Aureae).
Copyright © 1998 e.v.
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