I noticed in the fill/kill controversy currently extant among Thelemic people that a curious thing happened. The people who opposed the “correction” of “fill” to “kill” in the Solar salutation in book III of the Book of the Law fell into several categories.
The first category of person, to which I actually belong, contains the group of people who feel that this change is a complete mistake based on misguided scholarship.
The second category is people who believe somehow that the change from fill to kill is an attack on them, personally, by Hymenaeus Beta, who somehow is trying to undermine their personal practice.
The third category is interesting in that, at first, they masquerade as people who believe that this is an error in scholarship on the OHO’s part. Then, as time went by, they started inferring that there were other areas where Hymenaeus Beta’s scholarship was in error. Then, as they got an audience and people began following them on Facebook or on message boards, they began talking about “problems” with the upper echelon of the OTO. This escalates to a laundry list of problems and errors, all of which are the OHO’s fault, and eventually comes to a point where the speaker says flat out that Hymenaeus Beta is not fit to be the OHO and that the OTO is completely misguided and misled and entirely out to sea, and Crowley would be horrified and incensed at its existence and would undoubtedly disown the OHO and every one of the high-ranking membership.
Then it always comes out that the speaker says that they themselves are the rightful Outer Head of the Order, or that they are the “real” Caliph, or that they are the actual and true head of the A:.A:., or some such claim to glory, but that they were forced out of the order because of internal politics and the evil will of Hymenaeus Beta, who is being controlled behind the scenes by the False Head of the A:.A:., sort of like Darth Vader is controlled by the Emperor. Thus the organization becomes sort of the Sith OTO. And the speaker eventually proves themselves to be bat shit crazy, out of the ball park, bananas, koo koo nutty bonkers insane.
It usually turns out that they were thrown out of the OTO for some reason, and to date, I have found that these have all been pretty good reasons to be thrown out of an organization.
I observed this deliberately. Even though I disagree with the change, I am not about to throw the baby out with the bathwater. My personal feeling is that I will see how it goes. If this is indeed an erroneous change, then we will know pretty damn quick, not because any group of people will do anything but because the Book of the Law takes care of itself. If it is a proper correction then nothing will happen.
But in observing the reactions to it, I learned a lot about the Thelemic community, the OTO, and people who call themselves Thelemites. It was highly enlightening, and sometimes entertaining, in the same way that a reality TV show can be entertaining. It was very similar to the Feri controversy of 2009/2010 in a lot of ways, except that there wasn’t an open schism with blood and guts all over the place.
The people who had schismed from the main body remained schismed, and used this controversy as a way to advertise and recruit people into their various organizations. It may have worked and it may not have worked. Probably some people have switched allegiances or dropped out of the OTO or joined one of the many “A:.A:.” ‘s out there vying for attention from people who are interested in that sort of thing (after all this, I am definitely NOT interested in the A:.A:. – anyone’s).
But my whole point in writing this is that in all the objections from the second and third set of objectors as listed above (sorry to be so academic-sounding) I did not sense that anyone was doing any actual Work.
I saw a lot of angry people. I saw crazy people. I saw bitter people, sarcastic people and people with incorrigibly inflexible beliefs that their version of Thelema was the right version, no matter how sideways or adulterated it may or may not be. But out of all the people in the second and third versions of the objectors, apparently no one was actually doing the Work. I didn’t hear about what they did, only about what they thought, only what their opinions were. I didn’t hear about what they were doing. Were they having Mass? Were they meeting in groups and talking about spiritual stuff?
I don’t think they were. Some of them, I’m absolutely certain they’re not doing any magick at all.
The OTO may be a flawed organization (and find me one that isn’t!) with flawed people (find me some that aren’t) and the OHO may have made a mistake to change “fill” to “kill” (he did, but that’s just my view). However, I don’t see this as a reason to get out of the OTO or abandon it as a failure, or follow the advices of all the whomevers out there, the would-be OHOs and/or True Caliphs and/or Praemonstratores of the A:.A:. who seem to be the occult equivalent of Louis XX.
I guess the lesson I learned is that some people will take any excuse to confuse others and stir shit in order to get power for themselves or reinforce their egomania. And that this is something that happens in every single spiritual, religious, or political, or philosophical group that there ever was or will be.
So, is this a lesson I should have learned a long time ago? Probably I knew it, but I just needed a reminder. So, Universe, thanks for the reminder. Again.