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Thelema and Witchcraft

Updated: May 26, 2023

Wyrd bedfellows by Tim Ozpagan

"I am the blued-lidded daughter of Sunset; I am the naked brilliance of the voluptuous night-sky." I:64 Liber AL vel Legis.


Birth of a Coven


In 1999, I began the formation of a coven called Nuit's Veil. Inspired by the ancient Egyptian Goddess Nuit, who symbolizes the night sky and the cosmos, she is the creative force behind existence. Nuit (Nu't) was the name the Ancient Egyptians gave to the cosmic Great Mother who nurtures divine and mortal life alike.


But, it was in the late 1970s that I was first drawn into a deeper connection with Nuit; I had psychically received mantric invocations while in a ritual trance at a full moon esbat. Over several months, these invocations were added to from further trance states, I was being prompted to incorporate these spell-songs into our coven's core practices. Gradually this became our version of "Drawing Down the Moon", a central ritual used in modern Witchcraft.


Scholars trace the Goddess Nuit's ancient origins back to Egypt's pre-dynastic period, around 6000-3150 BCE. By the Old Kingdom (c. 2700-2184 BCE), she was already an integral part of the Egyptian pantheon, personifying the sky and offering protection from chaos. Then in modern times, Nuit reappeared as the first deity to communicate instructions recorded in "Liber AL vel Legis", the inspired book of Thelema. In 1904, through Aleister and Rose Crowley's experience of occult darshan, a direct and personal experience of a mystical state of consciousness, they gave birth to the Thelemic tradition. (Read more here "Thelema, under the honey moon".)


During my encounters with Thelema in the late 1970s, Nuit became an enduring feature of our coven rituals. Finally, 20 years later my Coven circle formally adopted the name Nuit's Veil Coven in honour of her nurturing and cosmic essence within a modern Witchcraft tradition.


The philosophy of Thelema


The foundational text of Thelema, received by Aleister and Rose Crowley, is "Liber AL vel Legis" or "The Book of the Law". The book comprises three brief chapters, each dictated via the spirit of Aiwass giving voice first to Nuit, the Goddess of infinite space and infinite stars, then Hadit, the heart of every star, and finally, Ra-Hoor-Khuit, the light of rebirth of a new age.


"Liber AL vel Legis" introduces the central tenet of Thelema, "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law, Love is the Law Love under Will". This is interpreted to mean that each person should realise and follow their True Will, that is, their self-potential or destiny. The revealing of "Liber AL vel Legis" set the stage for the development of Thelema as a spiritual and philosophical system, with Aleister Crowley as its foremost proponent.

From the Cairo Museum Egypt, the stele of Ankh-af-na-Khonsu.


In "Liber AL vel Legis," the deities Nuit, Hadit, and Ra-Hoor-Khuit play key roles in conveying the spiritual teachings of Thelema. Nuit represents the infinite, the divine feminine, and the universe's boundlessness, embodying the possibilities and potential of existence. Hadit symbolises the divine masculine, the essential point of consciousness, and the experience of individuality. Nuit and Hadit illustrate the interplay between the infinite cosmos and the individual soul. Ra-Hoor-Khuit, a form of the god Horus, represents the active principle and the energy that drives individuals to follow their True Will. These deities serve as spiritual guides, imparting wisdom and insight to help seekers understand and embrace the principles of Thelema in their lives.




Embracing the Book of the Law and modern Witchcraft


While the Book of the Law or "Liber AL vel Legis" is primarily associated with Thelema, some modern Witches have embraced the text as an essential spiritual document. Here are four parallels between the traditions of Thelema and modern Witchcraft, but there are many more.

  1. Shared themes: Thelema and Wicca share such themes as self-determinism, personal transformation, and the use of Magick for spiritual growth and initiation. These shared philosophical values can be seen in the ideas expressed in both "Liber AL vel Legis" and the poetic rituals of modern Witches.

  2. Respect of the divine feminine and masculine: "Liber AL vel Legis" highlights the importance of the divine feminine through the Goddess Nuit, who represents infinite possibility and the numinous. This aligns with Wicca's veneration of the Goddess, often seen as the divine feminine principle in balance with the Horned God or the divine masculine, expressed through the God Hadit in Thelema.

  3. Ritual and ceremonial magick: Both Wicca and Thelema incorporate ritual and ceremonial magick in their practices. While specific rituals and ceremonies may differ, the underlying principles of using magick for spiritual growth, self-discovery and personal initiation are used by both Wiccans and Thelemites.

  4. Personal freedom and responsibility: Thelema's core tenet, "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law. Love is the Law, Love under Will" emphasises the importance of individual freedom and personal responsibility. Many Wiccans find this concept compatible with the Wiccan Rede, which states, "An it harm none, do what ye will." Both principles advocate for following one's True Will or Path while taking responsibility for one's actions.

Both Thelema and modern Witchcraft have diverged from the prevailing monotheistic culture by adopting and honouring ancient divine archetypes. In doing so, they reconnect with the polytheistic pagan values of earlier times, and celebrate the rich and diverse pantheon of ancient deities.


The core teachings of both Thelema and modern Witchcraft emphasise discovering the divine within and encourage individuals to personally experience the numinous. They share the concept that self-transformation can be pursued by anyone as a journey of initiation and personal growth. However, it is important to note that not all Wiccans or modern Witches follow "Liber AL vel Legis," as Thelema and modern Witchcraft are distinct spiritual paths with their own beliefs and practices. Nonetheless, an increasing number of modern Witchcraft practitioners find immense value in the mystical teachings of "Liber AL vel Legis." This is largely due to the shared focus on divine feminine and masculine themes, as well as the central role of Magick in both paths as a means to seek personal transformation and spiritual growth.



Come forth, o children, under the stars, & take your fill of love! I am above you and in you. My ecstasy is in yours. My joy is to see your joy.”

Liber AL vel Legis, Chapter 1, verses 12 – 13, the Goddess Nuit speaking through Aiwass.


 

Reference

You can download a free copy of Liber AL vel Legis, The Book of the Law, here.





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