Here begins a series of posts on the subject of promulgation. It will probably be about 8 to 10 parts, wherein I will discuss some of the ideas set forth in my promulgation lecture available on YouTube (Link to Part 1 of 6
). I begin today with the question of what promulgation is, and why we as Thelemites promulgate the Law.What is Promulgation?
Before I talk about what promulgation is, I'll tell you a couple things that it is not.
Promulgation is not about waiting for what Crowley called "drifting occultists" to grace our doorstep, with their many varied solutions to AL
II:76. It is not about finding people who dress like us, look like us, have similar socioeconomic backgrounds, or who come from the same niche subcultures, or who have similar religious upbringings and aesthetic values. It isn't about waiting for people who have already read Crowley's books to finally get around to coming to meet us.
Promulgation is not coercion, and it is not 'enticement'. It is not conversion, and it is not argument.
As it is written in the Book of the Law: "Success is thy proof: argue not; convert not; talk not overmuch!" and, "to each man and woman that thou meetest, were it but to dine or to drink at them, it is the Law to give. Then they shall chance to abide in this bliss or no; it is no odds."
Giving the Law is simply that. No more and no less. We do not pressure people or argue with them to try to convert them. We do not convert by the sword, of course. We do not put booklets in people's hands unless they reach out to take one. We do not try to "sell" people on the idea of Thelema. We do not dilute Thelemic doctrines, nor do we paper over Crowley's failings in order to make his legacy palatable for the masses. We do not seek to recruit, but we clear avenues and make ourselves visible to those who become interested after hearing the Law. Promulgation is simply about spreading the information, and letting people do with it what they will.
What the recipients do with the Law is their business. 90% will refuse it. Of the remainder, 90% will throw it away or forget about it. Of the remainder, 90% will have a merely passing interest and maybe develop a book collecting habit. Of the remainder who become involved with O.T.O. or E.G.C., many will continue for only about two years. It is no odds.
Almost everyone you talk to will, eventually, never be heard from again. But at all these levels, we continue to promulgate simply by giving the Law.
We must spread the Law by preaching, just as as Crowley wrote to his Magical Son in 1915 e.v.:
"I have got my A∴A∴ grade ... and that too, exactly at the time prophesied. ... I must do my duty ... and that is to preach my Law. Therefore this is the Word of Baphomet to all the members of the O.T.O. [THELEMA] ... One must take some very simple, very deep word which cuts at the heart of things. ... I say [THELEMA]. Go on, therefore, preaching this and nothing else in season and out of season. You won’t have to wait long for results."
Sabazius offers us a definition along with a bit of commentary in Agapé 10, No. 4
"The word 'promulgate' is a term used primarily in in the legal profession and means to publicly declare or announce a decree, rule, law, code, or constitution, thereby putting it into effect.
"The etymology of the word is interesting:
1530, from L. promulgatus, pp. of promulgare 'make publicly known,' perhaps from provulgare, from pro- 'forth' + vulgare 'make public, publish.' Or the second element may be from mulgere 'to milk,' used metaphorically for 'cause to emerge.'
—Online Etymology Dictionary, Douglas Harper
"The use of the term 'promulgation,' then, carries the meaning of putting the Law into effect simply through the act of proclaiming it, of 'putting it out there,' of disseminating it."
I like this idea of "milking forth" the Law, as a metaphor for causing it to emerge. As it is written, "Now ye shall know that the chosen priest & apostle of infinite space is the prince-priest the Beast; and in his woman called the Scarlet Woman is all power given. They shall gather my children into their fold: they shall bring the glory of the stars into the hearts of men." (AL
I:15) They have done this, and now it becomes our duty to help the glory of these stars to emerge from the veils that hide them.
At this time you might enjoy taking a moment to watch this thought-provoking video by Penn Jillette
(someone well known for being harshly critical of superstitious religion) about an experience he had with a Christian who was proselytizing.Why Promulgate?
On a personal level, the only reason Thelemites do anything is because in some way it is in support of accomplishing our individual True Wills. In all cases, promulgation of the Law helps this because it causes our society to become more free. In a more free society, we become more free to do our will. It's as simple as that.
Our sole Duty to Mankind
according to Aleister Crowley in Duty
is to Establish the Law of Thelema as the sole basis of conduct. He explains, "You may regard the establishment of the Law of Thelema as an essential element of your True Will, since, whatever the ultimate nature of that Will, the evident condition of putting it into execution is freedom from external interference." Karl Germer reiterated this admonition in a letter to Reea Leffingwell, March 7th, 1951 e.v., when he wrote, "Then there is the Greater Great Work to which we are all pledged, which is the establishment of the Law of Thelema. We can help it only if we devote ourselves exclusively to this one job. If you divide it with such phantasms as 'redeeming another' and similar things, you only sink into qliphotic obsessions. If, on the other hand, you lose yourself fully in your work, with the living thought and responsibility back of it to make your work subservient to the Great Work, then you will forget all nonsense. The Book of the Law
is very emphatic on many of these aspects."
For we who are members of O.T.O., there is the additional reason of the fact that promulgation and establishment of the Law is the primary purpose of the organization, as indicated by leaders throughout the history of our Holy Order's acceptance of the Law of Thelema all the way up to today. For example, the first stated purpose of the Order in the bylaws of O.T.O. International is "the high purpose of securing the Liberty of the Individual." Additionally, U.S. Grand Lodge has made promulgation and establishment of the Law a core part of its Mission, Program, Vision, and Values Statements
. Furthermore, Aleister Crowley made it more than abundantly clear that he felt O.T.O. should focus its efforts in this direction. Here are some quotations from Aleister Crowley's letters
and our founding documents which explain the importance of promulgation to our Holy Order.
Modern research by social scientists and economists such as Rodney Stark, Laurence Iannaccone, Roger Finke, and others, suggests that dissemination of core teachings is necessary for the survival
of any new religious movement, especially such movements which are in a state of tension with their surrounding culture, as are we. In fact, in terms of numerical strength, we are minuscule and some would question whether our current existence is even significant. Fenway Park has a capacity of about 36,000. that's about ten times the size of O.T.O. If you took all the O.T.O. members and all the A∴A∴ members and all the self-identified Thelemites that have ever lived and put them in Fenway Park, you might come close to filling this one stadium in Boston. Not quite what is necessary to establish the Law of Thelema.
Through the course of this series, I will look at what strategies work well in promulgating the Law. We'll look at techniques Crowley recommends for us and how well these match up to the findings of modern research. We'll also look at a number of findings by Stark et al.
which might give us some indication about possible directions to take things as time goes on.
I hope you'll join me in reading along, but I hope most of all that you will share the perspectives that you have won through your experiences, and discuss your opinions and ideas for where we all can go from here.Click here to read part 2