I’ve always thought of myself as a person of considerable will. (I seem to remember my mother inferring as much when I was a child, as well).
I was still in my teens when I had an understanding that, whatever goal I set for myself, I could accomplish it, as long as my personal will was strong enough. I never experienced failure in things about which I truly cared. That’s still true.
So yes, I am a woman of considerable will. But what does “Will” mean, exactly. Like most ideological concepts, its definition has changed and evolved for me over the years.
At first it was simply the force behind a strong desire, and a certainty about an outcome. I could make things happen. Will translated desire into action. Action. Persistent, consistent, driven Action created the desired outcome.
In my late teens and early twenties I went through an unhealthy period of alcohol addiction. Upon realizing that I was no longer acting out of my own will but allowing my life to be ruled by the next drink, I developed a desire to rid myself of that burden. I discovered self help groups which convinced me (for awhile) that I was powerless. The reasoning behind that claim of powerlessness is to promote total abstention, which I still believe was totally necessary for me, at that time. But the group discussions continued to focus on that powerlessness, not only over alcohol, but over everything. Let me be clear. I believe, still, that those groups saved my life. I needed sobriety. And the process and philosophy helped me get there. But my evolution required me to come to my own conclusions about life, about personal power and about Will.
My spiritual journey led me to witchcraft, not before stopping to sup, for awhile, at the tables of many other faith systems. I had begun a regular meditation practice, so, naturally, Buddhism caught my attention. Hinduism still holds a very sacred space in my heart. And Taoism just makes a lot of damn sense!
But when I came to understand the reverence for Nature, the concept that everything is connected and the worship of the Divine Feminine which is prevalent in Wicca and paganism, I knew I had come home. (*for now). And when I discovered the tenets (and the science) of Magick, I came full circle to my belief in my own personal will.
There was a phrase repeated more times than I can count in my Catholic upbringing, and in the Christian based support group I had joined to become sober;
“Thy Will, Not Mine, Be Done.”
That carries a
powerful (no, strike that!) PowerLESS message. It says, “I have no say in this. I am submissive. I bow to the will of another and accept whatever that may be.”
I had done that long enough. It wasn’t working.
When Wicca and witchcraft and spellcraft caught my attention, I began to believe, once again, in my considerable personal will. My. Spells. Work. Nothing gives you more confidence than success. I have changed things, bent reality, achieved my desires with the use of witchcraft (fueled by my personal will).
I am a person of considerable will, after all.
In my studies about The Craft, I became familiar with Aleistar Crowley. This man put forth the idea that we are all like stars of the universe. Stars. That our orbits, unless corrupted by outside forces, are perfect and harmonious. And our orbits are determined by our own will.
Do what thou wilt be the whole of the law. Love is the law. Love under will.
So how does Crowley define Will?
The following passages are from, “Liber II The Message of The Master Therion”, Crowley’s explanation/interpretation of his prime directive, occasionally quoting from his seminal work, “Liber Legis” or “The Book of The Law”.
“…Again: “Thou hast no right but to do thy will. Do that and no other shall say nay. For pure will, unassuaged of purpose, delivered from the lust of result, is every way perfect.”
Take this carefully; it seems to imply a theory that if every man and every woman did his and her will–the true will–there would be no clashing. “Every man and every woman is a star,” and each star moves in an appointed path without interference. There is plenty of room for all; it is only disorder that creates confusion.
From these considerations it should be clear that “Do what thou wilt” does not mean “Do what you like.” It is the apotheosis of Freedom; but it is also the strictest possible bond.
Do what thou wilt–then do nothing else. Let nothing deflect thee from that austere and holy task. Liberty is absolute to do thy will; but seek to do any other thing whatever, and instantly obstacles must arise. Every act that is not in definite course of that one orbit is erratic, an hindrance. Will must not be two, but one.
Note further that this will is not only to be pure, that is, single, as explained above, but also “unassuaged of purpose.” This strange phrase must give us pause. It may mean that any purpose in the will would damp it; clearly the “lust of result” is a thing from which it must be delivered.
But the phrase may also be interpreted as if it read “with purpose unassuaged”–i.e., with tireless energy. The conception is, therefore, of an eternal motion, infinite and unalterable. It is Nirvana, only dynamic instead of static–and this comes to the same thing in the end.
The obvious practical task of the magician is then to discover what his will really is, so that he may do it in this manner…
Thou must (1) Find out what is thy Will. (2) Do that Will with a) one-pointedness, (b) detachment, (c) peace.
Then, and then only, art thou in harmony with the Movement of Things, thy will part of, and therefore equal to, the Will of God. And since the will is but the dynamic aspect of the self, and since two different selves could not possess identical wills; then, if thy will be God’s will, Thou art That.”
……”Thou Art That” … oooh those lovely Hindu philosophies that are stimulated and awakened at that phrase!
It doesn’t mean “Do What You Like”. It means, “Find your Purpose.” (and by the way, you find this by following your bliss ala Joseph Campbell). And when you find your true calling, you must follow it to the exclusion of all else, to the point that others might call madness.
To quote Sharon Devlin, from her interview which appeared in Margot Adler’s, “Drawing Down The Moon”, when asked to paraphrase Crowley’s statements,
“If we were all doing what we REALLY wanted to do, we would do it in perfect harmony. … If you were what you could be the best, and if you did what you loved to do with all your might, you would create such light and such power that it would give pizazz to everybody in your immediate area, and even those distant, perhaps.”
So, Crowley’s idea of “Do What Thou Wilt” is no feel-good, new-age, love & light bathed path to enlightenment. It is a driven, maniacal, bash-your-head-against-the-wall, frenzied run for the end-zone.
And the fact is that once you’ve found what you’re supposed be doing in this realm of existence, you’d better do everything you can, every day, to reach your goal. And I pray that you are a person of considerable will.
You’ll need it.
** (for now) – Next up for the blog… Why I’m open to changing my beliefs an any moment.