Liber Al Vel Austin

So this quote came up in a book I’m playing in Google books.

Love & do what you will. If you hold your peace hold your peace out of love. If you cry out cry out in love. If you correct someone correct them out of love. If you spare them spare them out of love. Let the root of love be in you: nothing can spring from it but good.

St Augustine, Sermon on Love

And I was struck instantly by the memory of the parallel with Crowley’s Book of the Law line, “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law… Love is the law, love under will.”

Crowley had noted that the Greek letters for love (αγαπη) Agape and will (θελεμα) Thelema each added up to 93. He felt that the pair of 93s meant something. But what? He took a lot of occultists down the mistaken route of assuming that mere wanting to do something meant it was love. In fact that assumption is so common as to be a cardinal virtue of secular culture: do whatever you want. You do you. Follow your bliss. It’s like the credo of abortion, gun violence, racism, sex and every other non-christian moral problem we have. Crowely founded the Abbey of Thelema where his disciples could show up and do whatever they wanted, trying to discover their “True will”. The wiki reports some successes, but it is said that by the middle of the last century there were basically a bunch of pre-hippies left there in various states of dissolution.

Then I heard the line from Augustine and my mind wrapped around Aleister and Augustine (Al’n’Austin) and held them together for a while. Al couldn’t’ve led that many people astray without having at least a tiny kernel of the truth. That line from Augustine must be the key, but how does it connect?

At first, it seemed like it was enough to say “love” (agape) can’t be for anything ungodly, so anything you can love as God loves it is ok. That was wrong because we can will a lot of things that are not godly and we can will them very strongly. So love and will don’t match up. Aquinas (and Pieper) make it clear that the unjust man can do a just action now and then, likewise the righteous can do something unjust. It’s also possible to mistakenly love. All sin rises thus: we love something – the wrong thing – too much. We are mistaken. That mistaken love is not real love… or is it? Because we can only love the Good, the True, the Beautiful. Even disordered love thinks it’s directed thusly. We will to love, but we will to love wrongly.

Yet this line of reasoning seemed to not connect back. We will to love, but we’re fallen. That’s right. Does it follow then that our (disordered) love is not then real love? I wrapped & twisted & chewed. Then there was a light breaking in. Because real love (agape) is God. Not eros, not phila but any real agape – even a disordered agape – is a (very faulty) holy reflection. So even in our failings, if we really agape it’s God trying to get to us. In fact, it is God getting to us.

God is utterly simple. God’s will is love is justice and is entirely one. The same action of God, each and all actions of God, is utterly just, utterly merciful, utterly loving. God’s Agape (αγαπη) love and Thelema (θελεμα) are always the same. 93 right? Remember where this started – Crowley’s 93s. God is simple. These things cannot conflict in God. Yet Crowley (as often is the case with that dude) was both right and way off.

Humans are not God. Our will is the most broken part of us and humans are not utterly simple. Our desire for self-will instead of submission to God’s will results in confused self-love. So our αγαπη agape love and our θελεμα thelema will are not always the same, and we confuse pride with agape. Yet, even as our will is broken it is possible for us to love. This is where Aleister Crowley got it right. Human love and divine will can cooperate, can be the same thing. Not all human will is divine love but sometimes, with humble faith and sacramental grace, human love can participate in the action of divine will in the world. Submission is the key.

It is our continual submission of our will to God that allows our participation in this process. In our fallen state, it is necessary to constantly redo the act of submission. The primary choice in human action is, in every moment, “Let it be unto me according to Thy word.” We do this in love. Love is the law, love under will. Love, and do what you will.