One of the first strategies I thought I’d try rolling out to establish the E.G.C. Megachurch was something akin to what I had in past experiences in Christian Churches: Wednesday Night “Bible” Study. It was a weekly thing that involved simple reading of text, and discussion, and snacks. Fun stuff, not dogmatic indoctrination, though it was totally indoctrinating. It was something I could invite people to that would expose them to the Holy Texts of Thelema. Why not?
Well first, we couldn’t have it be “Holy Book Classes.” Because for it to be a class, there would have to be a teacher, and no one tells anyone what anything in the Holy Books of Thelema means in the E.G.C. We all get to figure it out ourselves.
So no classes, or instruction, or anything that could be construed as someone pushing their own interpretation of the Books. That’s not what people who’s Word of the Law is Thelema would do. So it was determined, with the help of a Bishop, that “Holy Book Discussions” were ok to have, but not to let anyone get all dogmatic about things, to establish “opinion only” brackets around the entire thing.
So I was like, perfect! Let’s do it!
We started last week with Liber 65, Chapter I. I did not invite anyone, and I fully expected it to be me, Harper (my lovely partner and local Body Master), and my two teen-age boys, who are fascinated by Thelema, but are trying to find a place in it for themselves and their friends. In preparation, I put together a timeline of Crowley’s life, from teen Chess Club Revolutionary, to the time period in which Liber 65 was written, and a little after. Just to provide some context.
So I went over all that, right when we were supposed to start, because it looked a lot like we’d be the only people there.
It’s a good thing, too. As I went from birth to around 1907, when he received the bulk of the Holy books of Thelema, and on to the events that occurred later through around 1911, we were joined by folks who had been in the Order for decades. Local members who know full well that we usually start things later than posted on the schedule. I suspect.
Lots of good discussion ensued as we went over the details of the life of Crowley. It took up about half the scheduled time. Everyone who has studied Thelema and the O.T.O. and E.G.C. has theories and questions, and interesting snippets of information that aren’t published on the internet, but are verifiable in certain editions of texts published since the 1970s, and from personal experience related to such things.
Then we read the first couple of verses, and talked about them. The only “authoritative” interpretation we accepted was Crowley’s commentaries, and even those we discussed in detail. I think we made it through about 15 verses or so before we called it quits, a full hour or two after the scheduled quittin’ time.
It was AWESOME. I learned so much. We discussed gods mentioned, the stones used as references, the poetry, the myths around the images used, and we managed to do it without anyone pontificating or talking about any kind of absolute meaning. Teens, twenties, forties, fifties, and sixties all had a chance to speak their minds about what it meant. People from 0 initiations to initiations that are none of my business were given equal opportunity to express what the verse meant to them, and no one said, “YOU’RE WRONG!”
It went really well.
But honestly, it turns out that Holy Book Discussions are not particularly introductory level discussions. We got dense. We got deep. We referred to 777 columns, color charts, things that may or may not have happened around the time Crowley wrote these things, and even to his record of Hashish entries in his diary as he penned these texts. It was … hard to get.
One attendee pointed out that studying the Holy Books was never SUPPOSED to be easy, and I was like, yea, but the E.G.C. is supposed to be approachable by all who get the Law. The response was, well, that’s the Mass…
So, we’re doing a 6-week test of the Holy Book Discussions, and if it gets more noob-friendly, I want my boss to come, but so far we haven’t had a discussion I’d feel comfortable inviting anyone to as an introduction to what we’re all about.
We need a feeder program, that provides sustenance, and demonstrates our integration of the Word of the Aeon that doesn’t overwhelm and obfuscate with occult shadows.
Notes, thoughts, things. Holy Book Discussions are great for core-building, but we need something less dense. I think.