This is just a basic out line and history of Thelema. I'm sure many here already know this, but this is where we can delve into how it effects us, and what it means to us.
What is Thelema?
Thelema is the English transliteration of the Ancient Greek noun for "Will" or the verb for "To Will", "Wish", "Purpose". The early Christian's used the word to refer to The Will of God, The Will of Man, and The Will of the Devil.
Where does modern Thelema come from?
Most of the modern Thelemic movement traces their origins to the works of Francois Rabelais and Aleister Crowley.
Francois Rabelais (1494 - April 9, 1553) was a Franciscan and later a Benedictine monk of the 16th century. He later left the monastery to study medicine in Lyon in 1532. It was there that he wrote Gargantua and Pentagruel, a connected series of books. They tell the story of two giants- a father (Gargantua) and his son (Pentagruel) and their adventures- written in a amusing, and satirical vein.
In the first book he writes of the Abbey of Theleme, built by Gargantua. It pokes fun at the monastic institutions, since his abbey has a swimming pool, no clocks in sight, and maid service.
Under all the humour was the very real concept of utopiaand the ideal society. Rabelais gives us a description of how the Thelemmites of the Abbey lived and the rules they lived by:
All their life was spent not in laws, statutes, or rules , but according to their own free will and pleasure. They rose out of bed when they thought good; they did eat , drink, labour, sleep, when they had a mind to it and were disposed for it. None did awake them, none did offer to constrain them to eat, drink,nor to do any other thing; for so had Gargantua established it. In all their rule and strictest tie of their order there was but one clause to be observed,
" DO WHAT THOU WILT;"
because men that are free, well-born, well-bred, and conversant in honest companies, havenaturally an instinct and spur that prompteth them unto virtuous actions, and withdraws them from vice, which is called honour. Those same men, when by base subjection and constraint they brought under and kept down, turn aside from noble disposition by which they formally inclined to virtue, to shake off and break that bond of servitude wherein they are so tyrannously enslaved; for it is agreeable the nature of man to long after things forbidden and to desire what is denied us.
The same phrase would appear in 1904 in The Book of the Law by Aleister Crowley.
Also Sir Francis Dashwood adopted some of the ideas of Thelema from Rabelais and quoted this same phrase in French when he founded a group called the Monks of Medmenham better known as "The hades Fire Club". Tom's History of the hades fire Club
Aleister Crowley (1875 - !947) an English occultist, writer, and social provocateur - claimed to have received and written down The Book of the Law, which was to serve as the foundation of the religious, and philosophical system called Thelema, so named , in according to Friend of the 1930s Shri Gurudev Manendranath, " in reverence to the Rabelaisian masterpiece."He summed up the Law of Thelema in these phrases from the Book:
*"Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law"
*"Love is the law, love under will"
*"There is no Law beyond Do what thou wilt"
Crowley wrote that the Law is not a license to indulge in casual whim or to or to mindlessly accept cultural mores, but is rather a mandate to discover andmanifest one's True Will, which he described as one's inner divine nature, spiritual destiny, or proper course in life. True Will does not spring from conscious intent, but from theinterplay between the deepest Selfand the entire Universe. The enlightened Thelemite is one who is able to eliminate or bypass one's ego-created desires,conflicts, and habits, and tap directly into the Self/Universe nexus. A lack of Lust for Result! (That also sounds like the basics of Chaos magick. They are linked to similar origins, which is a point for discussion.)
We can also consider Dr John Dee's and Edward Kelly's Enochian Magick system of the 17th century, Kabbalistic interpretations of the Middle Ages, and the Renaissance the different practices of Magick (Alchemy and Witchcraft), Magick in Free Masonry, Rosicrucian, and the revival of Paganism, are all examples of Thelema