In researching definitions of the word “Liberty,” I came across one that defined liberty as “the condition of being a freeman.” What an interesting word, one that we hardly hear any more.
The word freeman actually carries a lot of weight. At one point in American history, a freeman was someone who was formerly a slave, but who had either won their freedom by escaping slavery or bought it at great price.
It illustrates what a privilege it is to have the ability to make decisions for yourself, rather than have someone make them for you. It illustrates the blessing of being in control of your own destiny.
No longer a slave, apprentice or indentured servant, you have the ability to do your Will. A freeman/freewoman is able to cause change in accordance with Will. Not only that, they dare to cause that change. Following that to its logical conclusion, the power of Liberty – the quality of being able to act according to your Will – is, in a sense, magick itself. Being free, having liberty, and acting on it, is causing change to occur, and therefore every decision can be seen as magickal.
Liberty can also be seen as a process of disengagement from what we think Liberty is. With someone who is following a spiritual path, one of the watermarks of evolution is a constant and steady effort to set the self free from beliefs that limit or confine or wrongly define the self. This makes Liberty an ongoing process, an act that continues to be.
Liberty is not mere license or simple licentiousness. Ideally, it is directed by Knowledge and Law (or Order, if you prefer), with all these being under the guiding hand of Love. The concept of Love running through each point of the Pearl pentacle, Love as the guiding force, is very central. Love is not an instrument or an option, it is the Beginning and the End, which is why every Pearl pentacle working ends with the energy coming back to Love.
Liberty is the freedom of Love to act in space and time. It is the quality that allows Love to move in the world and in the Universe. Or, even better: Liberty is the means by which Love expresses itself in the Universe.
Liberty comes from knowledge, in that knowledge of the self enables knowledge of the Will. Knowledge enables Liberty to act in accordance to Will, rather than in the service of ignorance, which is the difference between Liberty and mere licentiousness.
The difference between Liberty and license is worth mentioning. They are not necessarily mutually exclusive, but they are not by any means the same. License is simply doing whatever we want (or think we want) without direction or purpose. Knowledge provides direction and purpose. Without direction, there is nothing for the Magickal Will to focus on, and when that happens, Liberty is impossible.
Without direction, we are imprisoned by indecision. We are not moving, but only thrashing around, tossing in our sleep of ignorance. This is license, not liberty, and leads us to a tragic state where we believe we are free when, in fact, were are enslaved by the same habits that we wanted to be free to indulge. This is not liberty, but an elaborate self-deception; Gurdjieff’s dream that, according to him, many people are trapped in.
Liberty, on the other hand, is the state of awakening. Equally important is staying awake. There is so much around us that is lulling and falsely comforting. The hum and buzz and drone of television, computers, and smart phones are tempting for many. The urge to immerse ourselves in the anesthetic buzz and drift on the seas of meaningful and meaningless information, being pulled here and there by the tide, is hard to resist.
But liberty, true liberty, demands that we stay awake and engaged with our true Selves and with the Universe, and not allow ourselves to be lulled or pacified by that which is not worthy of us, which eventually will enslave us.
Being a freewoman, or a freeman, is an ongoing Work. Liberty is a continuing act of Magick that we engage in, because it is part of our Work to make a pathway for Love to express itself in the Universe. It is not an easy working, but it is worthwhile; it is work that is worthy of us at last.