thelemite

“Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law” is a moral utterance found in the Thelemic foundation scripture, which is called the Book of the Law. “Do what thou wilt” is known as the Law of Thelema. It is derived from the rule of the fictional Abbey of Thélème in the classic satire Gargantua by the French priest and occult student François Rabelais. Crowley recommends study of Rabelais when discussing the Law. In Rabelais this rule was “fay çe que vouldras”, French for “do what you will.” From his work the maxim became a well-known part of Western literary life, and was adopted by the satirical English gentleman’s society called the Hell-Fire Club or the Friars of Medmenham.

It is also similar to the pagan proverb: An ye harm none, do what thou wilt; but the oldest known statement of a similar assertion is that of St. Augustine of HippoLove, and do what thou wilt.

In Crowley’s writing, the Law of Thelema is explained in terms of True Will, the ultimate spiritual core or quintessence of each person, which has a divinely self-ordained path through the world of experience. “Do what thou wilt” refers not to the outer emotional and intellectual self but to this sacred inner core of personal divinity. Often will is contrasted with whim, and the knowing and doing of the True Will is painted not in terms of license and ease but of responsibility and hard work.

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