Monday, January 4, 2010
Big words and good books
Egotistic: Yeah, but who isn't?
Megalomaniac: Possibly. But when on your time?
Messianic: Shouldn't we all be? Well, maybe just a little bit?
Verbose: Yeah...you got me there. Can't argue with that assessment. :)
It's time for A Girl Called Woo's book suggestion of the week! Not that I'll have one every week. Sometimes it takes me longer than a week to read a book. Sometimes I don't want anyone to know what I'm reading. But because I don't have anything egotistic, megalomaniac or messianic to say, I'll just stick with being verbose.
Aleister Crowley's "Book of Wisdom or Folly"
Papa Crowley details 200+ lessons for basic spiritual survival in this classic tale of seeking out the Divine. While I admit that most ritual magick books published before the 1960's (and many published after that...) take enormous concentration and will to keep from falling asleep on their pages, this one makes me actually to turn its coffee-stained pages. I even opted to stand up and read on the subway this morning instead of clawing my way to a seat to write.
Bottom line, Crowley is funny. Cryptic, esoteric, elusive, but really, really funny. Any examples I put up here are going to be out of context and will miss the point, so I encourage you to read and see for yourself. I think it's the tone in which he writes. Even the title, "Wisdom or Folly" goes to show that even he isn't nearly convinced that he knows what he's talking about--which is refreshing when so many books written by spiritual people try to boast that they know everything.
The basic thesis is there is a singular life path for each person and to find true happiness and spiritual fulfillment, one must figure out that path and stick to it like gum to a boot-sole. He calls it, "The Will." And when you "Do What Thou Wilt", it means you're following your life's calling. It's not clear whether Crowley believes this divine will is congruent to the heart's desire or not. He also doesn't give a lot of advice on finding out what your will actually is.
On the downside, Crowley doesn't think very highly of women. In fact, one of his chapters is entitled, "`On Truth, Which Should Not Be Told To A Woman." The editors try to cover for him, saying, "He means the truth should not be told ABOUT women!", yet his reference to women as "Sirens", "Witch-Women (and not in the good way)", and insists that women are too gossipy to be told "The Truth." Dude. Really. I do not know any man who is less gossipy than the average woman. It's a human trait, not a gender thing.
BUT! On the upside, he really does have some good things to say. He talks about temperance in all things, encourage sex but only if both parties are amicable, and despite his nasty feelings about women, honors the Great Mother and reveres Nuit. One of my favorite passages reads, "Thus it is written in the Book of the Law: Remember all ye that existence is pure joy; that all sorrow are but as shadows; they pass and are done; but there is that which remains." This verse was particularly soothing on a PMS-laced crying jag that hit last night.
Not everyone likes Crowley. But even if you don't like Crowley, I strongly encourage you to read him, anyway. Many of the contemporary Wiccan rituals have at the very least been influenced by the work of the Secret Societies--including Crowley's O.T.O. We talk about "Do What Thou Wilt," but few Wiccan text really meditate on what this concept means. Crowley provides thought fodder for this idea.
It's so cold in this room that my fingers are shrinking inside my pentacle rings. Oy. Oy. Oy. Time to go home, eat soup, do an assignment my HPS gave me, and maybe watch some Dark Shadows, which my sister gave me for Christmas!!!
By the way, another super-creepy vintage class is this one. I've been getting creeped out by it since the 4th grade. Now. That's enough Amazon.com advertisement. They're not paying me anything. Just so you know.