Sy Calaelen is a Thelemite from the UK.
See the interview in video format:
How did you hear about Thelema and what drew you to it?
I first came across Aleister Crowley a few years back during my witchcraft and occult days. My most profound moment came when discussing him and his system of magick to an old friend who quickly told me off. I had a deep seated feeling I needed to continue following what I was drawn to, and then Thelema entered my life. I accepted Thelema as my path back in May 2012. I’m still very new to the movement as a whole, but many of the concepts and practices are already familiar to me. I’ve always worked with Classical pantheons, researched various areas of philosophy and psychology (both at school and at home) but never truly worked them all together. Thelema has done that for me, by showing me how to combine it all to make sense. Thelema is perfect (and underrated), what can I say?
What is Magick to you?
This is a bit of a hard question, like arguing the existence of God. So far in my analysis, magick is a vibrational energy that connects you to the Universe. It’s all around, and through the practice of occult science, witchcraft, meditation, yoga, psychology, divination and many others, you learn to tap into it, communicate with it (through deity and spirits), manipulate it and centre yourself with it. Magick is what will help you fulfil your Will, and lead you to completing the Great Work.
Why do you think Thelema is different from other philosophies? What makes it stand out to you?
The more I read, the newer Thelema is, not just in the literal sense on the page or in practice, but a lot of the concepts have changed the way I view the world, myself and how I work my magick. One quotation I have written at the beginning of a few of my journals has been taken from the ‘Equinox vol. III No. I’, “Look at things from the point of view of the Sun.” I read the essay and everything changed; Thelema has shown me to move up and not be afraid of exploration, inside and out.
Crowley’s theory of being a magician without being a slave was a total surprise. I had never thought of that concept before, and it really sat well with my soul. The idea of honouring deity through a pantheist viewpoint, without having to follow dogma or bowing down, or even being controlled by a book or leaders is what I find enthralling. Working with energies that are both above and below (inside and out) has helped me understand philosophy and pantheism more than I had before. On top of that, understanding the literal theories and then putting them into practice makes the whole journey all the more inspiring.
Crowley, and many others after him, has opened up a world of knowledge so far ahead of itself it can be daunting at first. Once I started working my way through, and building up a path for myself, I realised how credible Thelema is. It’s a philosophy all right, but it is so much more than that.
What do you think are most important Magick and meditation practices?
I’ve only been practicing for the last few months and so far I have been building up a weekly regimen for myself. I started with the Qabalistic Cross, Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram and the Middle Pillar for overall grounding and centring. When I first started practicing I did make a few mistakes which knocked my ego down a peg, but I picked myself and had a deeper respect for magick which helped me refine the rituals. A lot of the Hebrew has started coming back to me, growing up with a part Jewish family opened me to Hebrew as a young child but I eventually stopped after the age of 12. Another practice I recently started performing without too many issues, and with an even greater sense of Magick (within and without) and connectedness with Sol and Luna is Liber Resh. So far this one is daily, very quick and perfect for my hectic schedule.
One area I have been practising for years is yoga, both the stretching and the other 7 spokes on the wheel. I have been practising Kundalini and Hatha yoga for years, and often recite mantra at my small altar to either receive vision or just to keep wired. I am not sure whether writing in my journal would be considered a meditation, but it is something I have done since I was a child, so writing up the day’s events according to magick and then looking back at past events is good.
The most important aspects for now are to keep focused and stay grounded at the moment.
What do you think is the thing that most people misunderstand about Thelema?
The fact that it is so far ahead of its time; there are so many religions and spiritual paths steeped in the histories based on ideas that are increasingly becoming void in this era, or at least this Aeon. Our methods in thinking have developed a lot in the last few hundred years alone, but a lot of people seem scared by the idea of going beyond their own understanding. Thelema is and always has been seen as a dark area of magick, a dangerous practice based on the teachings of a sex-mad Satanist. If only they knew how wrong that all is. For the sake of language, the pronunciation of the word Thelema. People who aren’t practitioners’, but are very well versed in research have told me off for saying “The-leema” rather than “Tel-eema” – Come on now.
What do you think are the most important aspects of Thelema?
There are so many that I have thought about, but one aspect I admire most is the freedom. Whilst there are various books, instructions and theories present, the underlining tenant is the constant reminder of freedom of Will. It is as if Liber Oz just becomes part of your psyche; it’s knowledge I always knew, and to see it in print and to live it each day is encouraging. Thelema is the proclamation of working your whole life up to Kether, with a very modern way of doing it. Thelema is profound, intimate, personal and ideal. Thelema is common sense. There are no restrictions.
Understanding how to apply Hebrew mysticism to magick is ideal for me, which means I can get stuck into my past practices too. I like the diversity of Thelema.
Do you have any stories from any experiences with Magick?
One thing that constantly happens is the collection of intense dreams I get after a ritual or meditation. My mind just goes into storytelling mode, and the amateur psychology student in me always tried to decipher them. There are a handful of reoccurring dreams that have occurred in the past, but I see them all as my inner self trying to communicate with my conscious self the best way it can. A part of me has always seen them as messages from particular deities trying to teach me a valuable lesson for the waking hours. A small aspect would be the use of witchcraft from my occult days, most of the workings I performed were usually for inner understanding, insight or building energy which usually turned out well. I wasn’t really one to practice magick to make something happen, but reading these spells and rituals did plant a seed of regard and understanding as far as correspondences’ and symbolism goes.
I think, besides the psychological aspect, magick has made me a happier person.
How do you see the world differently as a Thelemite?
I see every individual, whether positive or negative in personality as a star; “every man and every woman is a star.” Everyone is individual, like the stars, but we all form the sea of people of this planet. Different stories, different experiences and rights. I have learnt to accept people as they are, it’s not easy, but it is helping to form some understanding of myself as an individual too. I work in essence of my Great Work, like others do.
Years of practicing solitary has helped me define the path I’m walking, and Thelema has shown me that I need to make mistakes in order to learn vital lessons, otherwise I’ll only receive a white washed version of magick, which won’t lead me to fulfilling the Great Work. I’m inquisitive and have noticed my slight OCD has a place within my workings. I pay a meticulous amount of attention and detail into making sure I follow magick as best I can. Others have told me my methods are a little over the top but, “no other shall say nay.” I have the freedom to theorise, test and learn. I am more in tune with that inner voice that is guiding me in the right direction, and that alone gives me conviction.
It’s okay to be different, to have different methods and different procedures. I try and look at things from the view of the Sun (outside the box) and conduct myself accordingly.
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?
I’m still very new to Thelema as a whole, and what I have gathered so far is not only incredible but thought provoking too. Folks tend to write to me and ask where one should start with Thelema, as it is something that is slowly coming to a head in recent years, especially online. Others have written to say my videos and blog have helped them make that step from practising basic witchcraft for something more intelligent and spiritually deeper, something that will quench their thirst for enlightenment I guess you could say. Over time, but not yet, I think Thelema will become a far greater philosophy once individuals who were previously afraid of stepping outside the circle, become more aware. I hope I can help to debunk some of the silly jargon and myths with the work I do.
Is there anything else you would like to talk about related to Thelema, OTO, and/or Magick?
IThere is so much I could say about Thelema, and the understanding of Magick as both an energy force and practice that just won’t fit. At the moment I am just trying to work out what magick truly is, how it functions and how someone can show people the difference between reverence and dabbling. At the same time I would love to find myself a group of friends who are willing to share their thoughts and ideas as one community. Over time I will work my way through B.O.T.A. and the Fraternity of Hidden Light. Thelema is perfect. So perfect, I’ll never grasp it fully.