Interview: Solve et Coagula

Solve et Coagula is a Thelemite who associates with 418 Lodge in the Valley of Sacramento, California.

How did you hear about Thelema and what
drew you to it?

I was browsing for sacred texts online and was considering purchasing The Book of the Law (about which I knew nothing). I liked what I had read about Aleister Crowley and so when I found that The Holy Books of Thelema included The Book of the Law and more, I ordered it. I read through it cover to cover. I was generally confused but I enjoyed reading the seemingly crazy imagery I was sure had deeper meaning. After I finished, I found that there was a huge amount of material available online and read Liber ABA.

For a long time I just considered Crowley an expert magician and a clever writer but after reading a lot, at a certain point, I realized that I had no real disagreements with him (philosophically at least).

What is Magick to you?

It’s hard not to go straight to Crowley’s definition and postulate: “Magick is the Science and Art of causing Change to occur in conformity with Will” and “any required change may be effected by the application of the proper kind and degree of Force in the proper manner, through the proper medium to the proper object.”  What I find interesting to focus on is the type of changes a person might want to cause which have no obvious means.  Something like invoking Jupiter into a talisman or transforming a Cake of Light into the Eucharist cannot be done in a mundane way.  The methods are subtle and still rather obscure because of persecution.  “Every intentional act is a magical act,” but it’s the subtle ones which draw us together into groups which practice ceremonial magick.

Why do you think Thelema is different from other philosophies? What makes it stand out to you?

The focus on subjective morality, e.g. The Rights of Man from the commentary on Liber AL, III:60 (here condensed):

“Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law. There is no god but Man. Man has the right to live by his own Law [and] in the way that he wills to do; dwell where he wills to dwell; move as he will on the face of the Earth; eat [and drink] what he will; think[, speak, write, mould, paint, carve, work, rest & to dress] as he will[s to do.]; love as he will, when, where & whom he will die when & how he will; [and to] kill those who would thwart these rights.”

This is the only moral system I believe in completely.

What do you love about OTO? What drew you to it? What makes you stay?

Well I was drawn to it because the back of my copy of Liber ABA had contact information. Eventually I moved to a city that had a lodge nearby and I figured since I was working through Crowley’s stuff anyway, I might as well find some people to talk to about it.

After attending a Mass, I took Minerval; largely because of the tenor of the group, blending ritual solemnity with blasphemous esoteric sex jokes.

What do you think are most important Magick and meditation practices?

I find Raja-yoga very useful. Work through the eight limbs but don’t worry about Samadhi at first, just work on your concentration, either thinking of nothing at all, or a single thing if that’s easier.

If you’re involved in a group, the rituals you do together are important. Infrequent solitary things are best composed yourself and based on your own æsthetics in my view. Having daily practices has also been rewarding for me, e.g. Resh, Will, and LBRPs.

What do you think is the thing that most people misunderstand about Thelema?

Well, many people looking into Aleister Crowley are looking for things to confirm their belief in the veracity of his tabloid title: “the wickedest man in the world.”  For people that want to see it as such, the morality of Thelema compels one to do nothing except live without guilt (not actually the worst advice, but this is less than half of the story).  From Liber II: “Thou must (1) Find out what is thy Will. (2) Do that Will with (a) one-pointedness, (b) detachment, (c) peace.”

Why do you think OTO is important to Thelema?

As far as I know, it’s the largest Thelemic organization; this would make it a large contributor toward greater promulgation of the Law of Thelema and I believe that makes it important.  Any agency which accepts (or even better, promotes) the Law of Thelema is important in this way, and Ordo Templi Orientis has the added benefits of being relatively large and having been governed by the Prophet of the New Æon.  I have to imagine it’s the largest vehicle for the promulgation of Thelema.

What do you think are the most important aspects of Thelema?

Providing liberty and promoting courage.  All deserve the freedom to learn and do their Wills with detached courage.

Do you have any stories from any experiences with Magick?

Ritual has a profound impact on my mind; I’m almost addicted to subconsciously absorbing imagery and poetry at this point. Working with the Body of Light has been very rewarding in terms of scrying invoked spaces and in generally disassociating with materiality.

Where do you see OTO going in the next 10 years?

I wouldn’t be surprised if we kept chugging along. I think we’re building a foundation and that as more and more people are exposed to Crowley’s materials and other occult resources, we’ll continue to grow. I’d like to see Camps and Oases pop up in those places where attendees have to drive hours.

How do you see the world differently as a Thelemite?

Being committed to the idea that each person is in the best position to assess their own morality means the only thing I want to impede is the denial of liberty; AL I:41, “The word of Sin is Restriction.”

What is your favorite part about the Gnostic Mass?

Participating as Priest has been the most fulfilling.  As a congregant, I love the fraternal feeling I get celebrating the Mass with my friends as well as getting to meet any new attendees afterwards and talk with them about ritual and philosophy.

How do you see Thelema evolving in its 2nd Century of existing (i.e. after 100 years)? How is it different or how is it going to be different? What has grown or changed?

Well, we’re carrying the torch now instead of it’s Prophet; this is a large difference but I hope it’s one which will eventually lead to less association of Crowley’s infamy with the nature of the philosophy.  I think the internet will create a lovely new environment in which the curious and uninformed can quickly read some A.C., get impressed, switch tabs to look up Hermetic Qabalah and figure out what Tiphareth is, then switch back and continue reading.

Is there anything else you would like to talk about related to Thelema, OTO, and/or Magick?

I hope all are brought to the accomplishment of their True Wills.  Thelema is a wonderful and mysterious philosophy riddled with links to other masterful systems and inasmuch as Ordo Templi Orientis is a major vehicle for the promulgation of Thelema, it does a great service in the expression of beauty and encouraging personal freedom.

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