Tonight, two friends and I are leaving the City of Angels for the “Valley of the Sun” .
There is something special about packing a bag and departing from the known, for however short a time period, that raises the energetic level of our lived experience. It is something like dance: a motion that carries meaning. While the place we are journeying to may be pedestrian for those that live there, and our own domicile may seem mysterious and exotic to other people all over the world, the very act of departing, and the uncertainty that comes with it, calls to something in our souls. While the proverbial “road trip” technically requires a destination, this is only a formality. The point is the pleasure of the journey itself, and the unknown that it carries us into.
Also the Holy One came upon me, and I beheld a white swan floating in the blue.
Between its wings I sate, and the æons fled away.
Then the swan flew and dived and soared, yet no whither we went.
A little crazy boy that rode with me spake unto the swan, and said:
Who art thou that dost float and fly and dive and soar in the inane? Behold, these many æons have passed; whence camest thou? Whither wilt thou go?
And laughing I chid him, saying: No whence! No whither!
The swan being silent, he answered: Then, if with no goal, why this eternal journey?
And I laid my head against the Head of the Swan, and laughed, saying: Is there not joy ineffable in this aimless winging? Is there not weariness and impatience for who would attain to some goal?
And the swan was ever silent. Ah! but we floated in the infinite Abyss. Joy! Joy!
White swan, bear thou ever me up between thy wings!
-A. Crowley, Liber LXV II:17-25
There is a tendency in the modern world to put “safety first”, but this attitude has done little to improve the quality of our lives. Instead we have made the world monotonous, sterile and boring. Even the relatively bourgeoisie days of this author’s youth seem a mad cap adventure, compared to what passes for childhood in the increasingly codified, styro-foam coated, bubble wrapped present. As modernity increasingly removes all sense of the transcendent from daily life, it becomes harder and harder to risk ourselves in any great adventure – to find anything worthy of risk. This is why, I believe, we have become so concerned about the welfare of “future generations”. We seek to put off the questions of our own time by invoking the struggles of our children and living for their sake. Paradoxically, this tends to make our lineage less likely to survive into the far future, as a few generations of risk-averse, over-protective, indulgent parenting has succeeded in producing risk-averse, cowardly, intellectually and physically flabby descendants.
Anyhow, there’s no such thing as safety. Life is a gamble. From the moment of incarnation a million accidents are possible. Miscarriage, still-birth, abortion; throughout life, until your heart beats for the last time, “you never can tell” – — — — and then you start all over again with your next incarnation!
-A. Crowley, Magick Without Tears, Ch, 80
Nietzsche put forward the idea of the “eternal return” as a way to test an individual’s fitness. If life were repeated, over and over again, in all its unfair, strange, incomprehensibly terrible glory, would you rejoice or fall down weeping? Are you strong enough to live for the journey, or do you need a safe pasture – well fenced, to graze in for all eternity?
This is not a question of logic, but of fundamental orientation. It can, perhaps, be called a matter of “taste” but this serves to reduce what is, essentially, a hierarchical difference in spiritual temperament to an issue of personal preference. What is most vexing about the modern, socialized, corporatized world is not that it exists, but that it seeks to put itself forward as the only rational type of existence – the ne plus ultra of human evolution. This “one size fits all” approach to human culture is incredibly unpopular, yet it persists because people cannot imagine a viable alternative. Despite this cultural myopia, the material for the construction of an alternative is out there – it exists. It is, perhaps, not yet polished and “turn key” material, but that is what makes it truly dynamic and compelling: a risk, a gamble… a journey.
Democracy dodders. Ferocious Fascism, cackling Communism, equally frauds, cavort crazily all over the globe. The are hemming us in. They are abortive births of the Child, the New Aeon of Horus. Liberty stirs once more in the womb of Time.
Evolution makes its changes by anti-Socialistic ways. The “abnormal” man who foresees the trend of the times and adapts circumstance intelligently, is laughed at, persecuted, often destroyed by the herd; but he and his heirs, when the crisis comes, are survivors.
Above us today hangs a danger never yet paralleled in history. We suppress the individual in more and more ways. We think in terms of the herd. War no longer kills soldiers; it kills all indiscriminately. Every new measure of the most democratic and autocratic govenments is Communistic in essence. It is always restriction. We are all treated as imbecile children. Dora, the Shops Act, the Motoring Laws, Sunday suffocation, the Censorship— they won’t trust us to cross the roads at will.
Fascism is like Communism, and dishonest into the bargain. The dictators suppress all art, literature, theatre, music, news, that does not meet their requirements; yet the world only moves by the light of genius. The herd will be destroyed in mass.
The establishment of the Law of Thelema is the only way to preserve individual liberty and to assure the future of the race. In the words of the famous paradox of the Comte de Fénix— The absolute rule of the state shall be a function of the absolute liberty of each individual will. All men and women are invited to cooperate with the Master Therion in this, the Great Work.
– A. Crowley, Introduction to Liber AL vel Legis, Ch. 5