News in Magick #4
The traditional Thelemic new year.
According to Aleister Crowley (777, The Law is for All), each Thelemic year starts on the Aries equinox, coinciding with the Thelemic Holiday called the Feast for the Equinox of the Gods. There are, however, several different modes of observance among Thelemites today. These include:
- Strict Observance: The Thelemic New Year is celebrated on the Aries equinox.
- The Feast for the Supreme Ritual: This holiday is explicitly different from the Feast for the Equinox of the Gods, and Crowley states that the holiday is March 20 (The Law is for All). Since the Equinox of the Gods typically will be March 19, 20, or 21, this can be confusing. Quite often, in fact, the two holidays occur on the same day. Because of this, the two are sometimes conflated and the Thelemic New Year said to be March 20.
- Thelemic High Holy Season: This holiday is recognized as the period of twenty-two days falling between the common dates of March 20 (The Feast for the Supreme Ritual) and April 10 (the Third Day of the Writing of the Book of the Law). Thelemites observing this season variously attribute the Thelemic New Year to the Aries equinox, March 20, or the First or Third day of the Three Days of the Writing of the Book of the Law. Some have treated this Season as existing outside any “year,” in the conventional sense, or as one long, twenty-two day Thelemic New Year. Some celebrate the Thelemic High Holy Season by conducting a 22-day Pathworking.
- Convenience: Due to the fact that Thelemites today live in a worldwide culture which does not use the Thelemic Calendar, the holidays are often translated to a date on the common calendar. When the Feast for the Equinox of the Gods is translated in this way, it is typically ascribed to March 20 as a matter of convenience. As another matter of convenience, Thelemic New Year is at times observed on the weekend, when the accepted date occurs on a weekday.
Many Thelemites combine two or more of the above approaches, and possibly others, sometimes varying from year to year.1
Ordo Templi Orientis (O.T.O.) members, as well as other Thelemites, traditionally meet on April 8, 9 and 10 for a re-reading of The Book of the Law as a celebration of this Feast, which occurs on the anniversary of the original writing of the manuscript.
The full title of this book is
Liber AL vel Legis
sub figura CCXX
The Book of the Law
as delivered by XCIII=418 to DCLXVI
The religion known as Thelema was established with the writing of The Book of the Law. It was written (or received) by Aleister Crowley in Cairo, Egypt in the year 1904. It contains three chapters, each of which was written down in one hour, beginning at noon, on April 8th, 9th, and 10th. Crowley claims that the author was an entity named Aiwass, whom he later identified as his own Holy Guardian Angel. The teachings within this small book are clearly expressed in the Law of Thelema, expressed by these two phrases:
- “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law” (AL I:40) and
- “Love is the law, love under will” (AL I:57)
Interpretation of this book is considered a matter for the individual, and openly promoting personal ideas about its meaning is strongly discouraged. Although Crowley expressed the desire to see the Law of Thelema promulgated in all areas of society, success in this endeavor is to be based on others willfully following the the good example of Thelemites rather than by evangelization or direct attempts to convert others. “Success is thy proof: argue not; convert not; talk not over much!” (AL III:42)2
This book is the foundation of the new Aeon, and thus the whole of our Work.
It was dictated in Cairo between noon and 1 P.M. on three successive days, April 8th, 9th, and 10th in the year of 1904.
The Author called himself Aiwass, and claimed to be “the minister of Hoor-paar-kraat;” that is, a messenger from the forces ruling this earth at present. The elements are Nuit — Space — that is, the total of possibilities of every kind — and Hadit, any point which has experience of these possibilities. The third element is Horus, from whom we may come to perceive events as a continual growth partaking of both these principles.3
Ostara is a Neo-pagan holiday celebrated on the Vernal or Spring equinox, typically either March 20 or 21, when the sun enters the sign of Aries. It corresponds to the Christian Easter, and is emphasized particularly in Wicca. Celebrate this sabbat by planting a garden, gathering and coloring eggs, and conducting fertility rites in preparation from Beltane.
The Spring Equinox brings a time of balance. The Sun God has overtaken the darkness, and day and night are of equal lengths. The Goddess, our Earth Mother, awakens from Her long slumber to replenish the Earth. We see new Life rising from the cold ground.
The Horned God has grown weak from the Winter and at this time dies in order to return to the healing Earth. From His “death,” He is reborn as the Green Man. He has shed his antlers and fur for green leaves and vines. He is young still, but as the days grow longer he gains strength. He is a God of fertility, to aid our Goddess in the growing of our fields and livestock.
Ostara is the beginning of the fertility festivals. Buds begin to push their way through the earth to reach the strengthening sun’s light; animals in the wild feel the ancient instinct to breed; the energies of Nature shift subtly from the torpor of Winter to the exuberant activity of Spring. It is a time of new beginnings, of action, of saying goodbye to the old and making room for the new. We can see this urge reflected in our lives even today. We talk of “Spring cleaning” and “In Spring, a young man’s fancy turns to…”; the desire to run the greening fields (or, in our world, walk the parks, fish, and other outdoor activities) vies urgently with the obligation of our workday routines, often resulting in sick leave days and spur-of-the-moment “personal days” where the real excuse is “Spring Fever.”5
- March 21 (GMT) — Vernal Equinox (sun enters Aries). Ostara. Thelemic New Year. International Earth Day.
- March 25 — First quarter moon (Cancer).
- March 29 — RTV’s managing editor Sheta Kaey’s birthday.
- March 31 — Pluto goes retrograde (Sagittarius).
- April 2 — Full moon (Libra).
- April 6 — Jupiter goes retrograde (Sagittarius).
- April 8-10 — The three days of the writing of The Book of the Law.
- April 10 — Last quarter moon (Capricorn).
- April 17 — New moon (Aries); release of Beltane issue of Rending the Veil.
- April 19 — Saturn goes direct (Leo).
- April 24 — First quarter moon (Leo).
- Thelemic Holidays http://www.thelemapedia.org/index.php/Thelemic_Holidays#Thelemic_New_Year
- The Book of the Law.
- The Book of the Law http://www.thelema.org/aa/documents/the_book_of_the_law/index.html
- Sabbats www.summerland.org/sabbats.htm
- Ostara Rituals http://www.tryskelion.com/ostara.htm
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