I read "22 Crazy Facts About Aleister Crowley". I am quite intrigued about the "claim" which stated that Crowley encouraged people to cut themselves with a razor every time the word "I" is used. I am not a shining example of an ideal Thelemite, nor am I well educated in every aspect of Thelemic practice, but my current knowledge of Crowley's writings lead me to believe that Crowley was the biggest advocate for individualism who had ever lived. (Consider the curriculum of the A A which Thelemites are encouraged to peruse "on their own".) I realize Crowley had vehemently denied that aforementioned "claim", but I would like to know your thoughts in regard to the aforementioned "claim". Was Crowley an advocate for individualism?
Allow me to be the first to comment!
DISCLAIMER: THIS IS ALL MY OPINION BASED ON HIS WRITINGS - I AM NOT AN EXPERT ON THELEMA
He seemed to me to have a balance between the value of individualism (finding your True Will, and your realisation of being a Star. And by realisation I mean the true act of Gnosis), and true discipline and obedience to an ideal.
By that I mean, one cannot be a true individual until one has conquered all of one's personal hang-ups and faults at least in their minimal outer aspect initially. Sometimes this takes us the whole of our lives!
In other words, discipline is superbly important (spoken like an Army brat and vet but also very low initiate). Obedience to a teacher but ultimately to oneself, lies in the ability to force oneself to do the Work, even when one doesn't want to; to do the work even when your superior or the teacher says to, but you find it disagreeable.
This is not to say you should be a slave. If you are truly deepest in your heart, not 'feeling it' because you truly know that it is not for you (not because you are lazy!) but that it is not what resonates with you, then don't do it. But if you feel those obstacles, yet you truly have the Will to do that particular Work, that is your ego being shorn away.
So in a nutshell, as all great teachers and thinkers are, he was directly in the middle for the most part. There is a nice balance between individualism and obedience. That is a far step from say, communism, because although he had a commune, it was merely a grouping of individuals.
I hope I was not rambling too much and that I helped you somewhat.
I am sorry I neglected to address the initial portion of your query RE cutting from Liber Jugorum.
Yes he did advocate ritual/mystical cutting when one had broken one's 'oath' regarding the use of a word.
These days, I, and many others, substitute that for the use of a slap, punch, or rubber band. Anyway, it is a very useful practise which I have found great use in, but it is not to be fetishised or over-thought.
And to state quite clearly, that Liber is not a book about a specific word 'I,' it is a book about ANY word. It is about the training of the mind.
For example, you could use it thus: 'I will not walk to the right at all today.' So you make your turns differently. It is all about mindfulness essentially. A quintessential Buddhist and Hindu ideal which is useful for all mystics and mages.
Was Crowley an advocate for individualism?
It can appear that way. But in my opinion Crowley was first and foremost an advocate of discovering and expressing True Will, and the source of that lies beyond the individual, in the universal. 0 = 2, as one nonentity said to another.
Cutting was/is not done in response to "I," unless one chooses that word. One is supposed to pick a word (individual choice, eh?), then cut when that word is uttered. Variations include "thoughts" and "acts." I used a razor blade for one series; after that, I switched to a ball-point pen, which has the advantage of marking and counting the "breaks."
AC was all for individualism, until you failed to do what he said to do. Please refer to the Cefalu diaries: Lots'a arguments and squabbles.
Crowley advocated inflicting a cut with a razor after saying "I" as a way of defeating the ego. As mentioned above, the practice is a way of training the mind and does set you thinking about personal identity and individalism.
Not eveyone approved of the technique. People came to visit the Abbey at Cefalu to learn esotericism from the master, this was one of his "lessons". Betty May was said to object to the practice and disliked the teaching - but then she also disliked the Beast and much else about the Abbey
The big mistake Crowley makes is whenever he states that the point of such an exercise is to "destroy", "defeat" or "annihilate" the ego. That is most emphatically not the point, since of what use to society and one's fellow human being is a person who has no functioning personality? Look at the shambling wrecks of one-time acid casualties who are incapable of so operating, in part because they believed that that was the cool thing to do & programmed themselves to self destruct! No, the art (and science) is knowing how to control that manas faculty, for the vehicle to be a better servant than a tyrannical master in elementally balanced service of the Higher (Self), as per the writings of Liber LXV, etc..
AC was all for individualism, until you failed to do what he said to do. Please refer to the Cefalu diaries: Lots’a arguments and squabbles.
Yes there's an ironic disconnect somewhere isn't there. This is a good example of the little-known "Do as I say, my way or the highway" School of Thelema (but still found to be practised these days in some parts of the [C].O.T.O., for instance.)
Norma N Joy Conquest
"Look at the shambling wrecks of one-time acid casualties who are incapable of operating"
present company excluded of course...
present company excluded of course…
You'd have a sensible point to contribute to the discussion there, "of course"? Or in the apparent absence thereof, then at the very least something reasonably witty to remark?
No, thought not.
Ain't nobody here but us
"shambling wrecks of one-time acid casualties who are incapable of operating"
I believe many of us old crocks may prefer to be referred to as "psychedelic veterans".
P.S., I did say "incapable of so operating"!