Is Thelema a religion or a philosophy?

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Is Thelema a religion or a philosophy?

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1Suralon
lokakuu 4, 2006, 2:32am

There has been an ongoing debate in the Thelemic Community on this very subject. What do you think?

2rfreeman
joulukuu 2, 2006, 5:20pm

I don't know if this question will ever be answered definitively. I think it largely depends on the individual connotation.

For some Thelema merely refers to "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law. Love is the law, love under will." In this sense, it is a philosophy that could be applied broadly within the context of nearly any religion (its origins are Christian, by the way) or applied as a code of conduct without any religious implications at all.

For others, Thelema represents an entire system of practices based around Liber Al Vel Legis (i.e. the EGC). So, those applying this connotation would likely view Thelema as a religion.

Interestingly, the latter group also identifies as "Gnostic." Now we know that there are Christian Gnostics as well as Thelemic Gnostics; and even Islamic Gnostics. I may be going out on a limb here, but I actually view Gnosticism as the real religion here. That is, Gnostics of any flavor seek communion with the divine within as a means toward liberation from the world of illusions. Gnosticism is also non-dogmatic by nature, in that it utilizes myth and symbol, and often ritual as a sort of "language of the soul." Therefore, it seems that whether the myth and symbol derive from Christian (or more traditionally "Gnostic") texts (such as those found in the Nag Hammadi) or from Liber AL, the bottom line ends up to be pretty similar: liberation.

So, Thelema as religion or philosophy? Given the varied interpretations, it seems that Thelema will perpetually loom in the "and/or" state.

3caseydunham
joulukuu 17, 2006, 9:07pm

I usually refer to Thelema as a philosphy. I've been a practicing Thelemite for a few years now and I generally treat Thelema as a religion with a few caveats. To me and many others I know, religion implies deity. I've met very few Thelemites who actually treat the trinity ( Nuit, Hadit, Ra-hoor-khuit) as actual gods above us instead of the models of what they represent. Another problem as I see it is that many people who claim to be Thelemites treat the whole idea of "Do what thou wilt" very superficially. I have not decided yet if I think it is actually in line with Thelema to be a Thelemic Buddhist or Thelemic Christian. While I have used techniques from other religions such as the use of a rosary, it is with the intention and knowledge of using it as a tool to further my own spirituality. I consider myself a Thelemite and even if I use practices from other religions I will never call myself a Thelemic Christian or any other mixed bag.

I believe at some point a choice needs to be made and the people I've met who declare themselves as a mixed religion usually aren't willing to completely accept Thelema for what it is. Thelema is not an easy religion or philosophy to adhere to. It is not for the faint hearted as the blow during confirmation reminds us.

It should also be noted that the Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica, the ecclesiastical side of the Ordo Templi Orientis, is a recognized 301(c) religious body.

4paradoxosalpha
syyskuu 19, 2011, 6:39pm

To amend the ancient post #3 with some more accurate information:

The entire Ordo Templi Orientis, of which E.G.C. is the principal public rite, is incorporated and registered as 501-c(3) religious body.

As far as I'm concerned, Thelema is a broadly-construed formula of initiation and thus the hallmark of a philosophical school like Neoplatonism or Taoism, both of which precedent schools are notable for precipitating religious forms, just as Thelema does. The rites of O.T.O. (i.e. E.G.C., M.M.M., and F.L.H.) are the most venerable examples of such forms dependent on the Thelemic school.