Beginners’ Guide to the Theorems of Magick Part 3
There are infinite ways to be magickal. There are also infinite ways to be a witch. This article, as a beginners’ guide, is simply one place of many to start your journey or to stop along your path. All content in this article is an analysis and discussion of the introduction of part III of book 4 of Magick in Theory and Practice by The Master Therion (Aleister Crowley). It is linked at the bottom through the internet sacred text archives, which is a wonderful resource for magickal research. This is part three of five, I invite you to read the first part here, the second here, and stay tuned for the next two additions!
12) Man is ignorant of the nature of his own being and powers. Even his idea of his limitations is based on experience of the past, and every step in his progress extends his empire. There is therefore no reason to assign theoretical limits
note: i.e., except---possibly---in the case of logically absurd questions such as the Schoolmen discussed in connection with "God".
to what he may be, or what he may do.
(Illustration: A generation ago it was supposed theoretically impossible that man should ever know the composition of the fixed stars. It is known that our senses are adapted to receive only a fraction of the possible rates of vibration. Modern instruments have enabled us to detect some of these supra-sensibles by indirect methods, and even to use their peculiar qualities in the service of man, as in the case of the rays of Hertz and Roentgen. As Tyndall said, man might at any moment learn to perceive and utilize vibrations of all conceivable and inconceivable kinds. The question of Magick is a question of discovering and employing hitherto unknown forces in nature. We know that they exist, and we cannot doubt the possibility of mental or physical instruments capable of bringing us into relation with them.)
Theorem 12 explains why Master Therion believes humans are capable of anything and everything. He reasons that if we can now do and know things that were previously thought to be impossible, there is no reason to think that impossibilities are unachievable. There is no reason to theorize about what we can and cannot do or know because we will only be wrong. Instead, we should try to test our assumed boundaries and progress in order to expand our knowledge and abilities.
13) Every man is more or less aware that his individuality comprises several orders of existence, even when he maintains that his subtler principles are merely symptomatic of the changes in his gross vehicle. A similar order may be assumed to extend throughout nature.
(Illustration: One does not confuse the pain of a toothache with the decay that causes it. Inanimate objects are sensitive to certain physical forces, such as electrical and thermal conductivity; but neither in us nor in them--so far as we know--is there any direct conscious perception of these forces. Imperceptible influences are therefore associated with all material phenomena; and there is no reason why we should not work upon matter through these subtle energies as we do through their material bases. In fact, we use magnetic force to move iron and solar radiation to reproduce images.)
I personally think that this theorem is excessively confusing and completely unintelligible without the provided illustration (thanks Master Therion, I guess) which is deeply unfortunate because it is one of the more important ones. Essentially, we experience physical change or effects from sources that are not perceivable. This is why we can feel pain without seeing the cause or use magnets to move iron. This theorem is meant to state that because inanimate objects can be changed by an imperceptible force we can work with those forces and use them to alter the physical world as they would without our participation. We can direct or harness these forces to conduct our own will.
You may be thinking that this is just science; that magnets aren’t magick, they’re just magnets. So, I would like to refer back to the first theorem in part one of this series: Every intentional act is a Magickal one. A significant number of Master Therion’s theorems are based on the idea that magick is simply science we don’t yet understand. Whether you agree with this idea or not, his theorems provide a solid foundation to challenge your assumptions and allow you to move past the questions of “what is magick?” and “why does this work?”.
14) Man is capable of being, and using, anything which he perceives, for everything which he perceives is in a certain sense a part of his being. He may thus subjugate the whole of the Universe of which he is conscious to his individual Will.
(Illustration: Man has used the idea of God to dictate his personal conduct, to obtain power over his fellows, to excuse his crimes, and for innumerable other purposes, including that of realizing himself as God. He has used the irrational and unreal conceptions of mathematics to help him in the construction of mechanical devices. He has used his moral force to influence the actions even of wild animals. He has employed poetic genius for political purposes.)
This theorem states that as long as you fully understand a concept, you can use it for your own pursuits. Anything you want to do can be done with the help of the conceptualizations of others and the universe that surrounds you. Anything that we experience or perceive becomes a part of our memory and by extension a part of ourselves. As long as we fully comprehend it, any part of ourselves can be used to further our Wills. Another important note on this theorem is Master Therion’s opinions on God and religion. Frankly, any faith is suspect and naive in his eyes. This is not particularly open-minded of him, but it doesn’t impact the genuine underlying theorem: that concepts give us the power to change ourselves and our surroundings.
15) Every force in the Universe is capable of being transformed into any other kind of force by using suitable means. There is thus an inexhaustible supply of any particular kind of force that we may need.
(Illustration: Heat may be transformed into light and power by using it to drive dynamos. The vibrations of the air may be used to kill men by so ordering them in speech so as to inflame war-like passions. The hallucinations connected with the mysterious energies of sex result in the perpetuation of the species.)
Theorem 15 states that any force, or type of energy, can be transformed into any other. In the same way, Einstein’s theory E=mc2 explains that matter can be converted into energy and vice versa by saying, “the increased relativistic mass (m) of a body times the speed of light squared (c2) is equal to the kinetic energy (E) of that body (Encyclopedia Britannica).” By extension, there is no force in the universe that we do not have in excess.
16) The application of any given force affects all the orders of being which exist in the object to which it is applied, whichever of those orders is directly affected.
(Illustration: If I strike a man with a dagger, his consciousness, not his body only, is affected by my act, although the dagger, as such, has no direct relation therewith. Similarly, the power of my thought may so work on the mind of another person as to produce far-reaching physical changes in him, or in others through him.)
The illustration of this theorem is a bit extreme, but it does illustrate the point Master Therion is attempting to communicate in it. By affecting any one aspect of a being or object, you will also affect all other aspects; tangible and intangible. This follows the same logic as the butterfly effect in chaos theory which says a small change to a basic part of something will have enormous and lasting effects over time. In the same way, if you affect one aspect of a person, whether that is their physical being as in the illustration or their consciousness through a conversation or spell, it will have continuing effects on their life and all parts of it, even if those are not traceable.
17) A man may learn to use any force so as to serve any purpose, by taking advantage of the above theorems.
(Illustration: A man may use a razor to make himself vigilant over his speech, by using it to cut himself whenever he unguardedly utters a chosen word. He may serve the same purpose by resolving that every incident of his life shall remind him of a particular thing, making every impression the starting point of a connected series of thoughts ending in that thing. He might also devote his whole energies to some one particular object, by resolving to do nothing at variance therewith, and to make every act turn to the advantage of that object.)
This theorem is much simpler than Master Therion is making it seem. It begins and ends at this: you can make any action serve any purpose because the purpose of an action is decided by yourself. Once you learn how to use a certain force or type of energy, you can apply it to your own purposes. In spells, this means that once you understand the different types of magick and spells you can utilize them to perform a spell for whatever purpose you choose. For example, studying the elements specifically will allow you to eventually understand them well enough to use elemental magick in spells for success or time when they are not necessarily obviously applicable.