Over the weekend on the US East Coast, TTO celebrated its first public mass, ordinations, and consecrations. At the same time also on the East Coast, at a Tops supermarket in Buffalo, New York, a racist gunman shot thirteen people between the ages of 20 and 86, killing ten of them.
It is not just that this casts a pall over the joy and beauty of the day. There is no use for a meaningless “thoughts and prayers” response. We cannot possibly deliver words or sentiments that would be of any comfort, nor are we relevant to the families of those who suffered. Action is needed rather than thoughts and prayers.
We can and must use this occasion to focus on the mission of our Church and of Thelema.
This was a premeditated act in which the terrorist left behind an explicit statement modeled on the Christchurch Manifesto. Kathleen Belew, the author of “Bring the War Home: The White Power Movement and Paramilitary America,” and assistant professor of history at the University of Chicago says: “The Christchurch, El Paso, and Buffalo manifestos are increasingly seen as tactical documents. This is one of the reasons that I would encourage people who are nonexperts to not post or share these documents. A lot of them are dedicated to things such as selecting weapons and protective gear, assessing the target, where to strike—things that are meant as instructional materials for other potential shooters.”
It may be easy to believe that we have nothing to do with this; in fact, Belew traces the ideological background of the Buffalo shooter in the racist theory of “the great replacement,” to “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” from 1903. Says Belew, “But it’s really the same ideology as the New World Order conspiracy, the idea of the Zionist occupational government—which is how people talked about this in the nineteen-eighties and early nineties.”
In many cases, our community, our esoteric community, is the breeding ground and epicenter, for the tolerance of intolerance. Every time we excuse intolerance, excuse fascist behavior, excuse those who refuse to concede that every human being is a star in the company of stars, we feed and fuel this intolerance. We fuel intolerance when we tolerate these beliefs in our friends and associates. We fuel oppression when we tolerate these beliefs in our political leaders.
Says Belew “We’re operating on a continuum rather than in two camps of ideology. It’s very difficult to think Tucker Carlson and others who are using the words ‘great replacement’ don’t have some knowledge of what they’re doing, or of the consequences in radicalized groups. There’s no way to think about ‘great replacement’ as a phrase separated from its long record of violent acts against communities of color and its broader project of undermining democracy in the United States….either Tucker Carlson and others, like Stephen Miller, like Donald Trump himself, are invoking this language in order to gin up frustration, violence, anger, and acts like this for their own purposes, or there’s a degree of sincere belief…it doesn’t matter, because once that is ginned up it does not go away. It is not containable, and there will definitely be shootings like this.”
As Thelemites and practitioners of Magick it is our duty to oppose this. We cannot pretend otherwise.
This is neither the hour, nor the place to produce the fantastic body of evidence that opposing oppression lays at the core of Thelema. Theodor Reuss described the duty of Adepts as bearing the “banner of freedom against tyranny in whatever shape this appeared, whether as clerical or political or social despotism or oppression of any kind,” a charge which Crowley repeats in his initiatory cycle.
There can be no question of what “side” we are on. As intelligent people who advocate “the Method of Science,” it should be abundantly clear that conspiracies about DNA alteration, killer cellphone towers, or a secret cabal that intends to replace white people are nonsense for fools. The most basic decency should assure us that profiting from ginning up sentiments that lead to shooting innocent people in supermarkets is in direct opposition to the Law of Light, Life, Love and Liberty.
Nor can we pretend this is something far away, remote from us. There has been extensive public writing about the occult roots of QAnon. While the Christian right ultimately co-opts most such conspiracies, their fuel and initial push comes from the bitter, the credulous, and the intolerant in the very communities where we speak and operate. The Esoteric Community has always had a disproportionate impact on dialog, and the origins of QAnon should disoblige anyone who thinks we have become a footnote or sideshow.
As the battle for the New Aeon is decisively joined, we see a threat that the forces of oppression and intolerance will be victorious over those of freedom. Ironically those who advocate intolerance and oppression are often led by those who are most adamant about their “personal freedoms,” but are unable to understand the core message within Thelema, and the Western Tradition, that we are all connected and that every one of us is a star.
Our world is beset on many fronts, but we cannot address any of them if our governments are co-opted or coerced by narrow-minded nationalists and white supremacists.
Our Order cannot begin to repair the hurt done to people in Buffalo. We can stop enabling those who do them harm and deny them safe spaces and recruiting grounds within our communities. Now more than ever before this is our duty and obligation, and that obligation starts at home and in our shared spaces.
This is a time for decisive action, within our Esoteric Communities, and we make the following calls:
1) Every one of us should review our personal relationship with white supremacy and intolerance and people who advocate those positions, however “casually.” Not just those who draw guns and kill, but those who seek elected office, or empower intolerance. We can support absolute freedom of speech, while recognizing this means allowing individuals to say what they would without arrest. We do not, therefore, incur any obligation to tolerate their presence, or provide them with platforms, when they advocate intolerance.
2) We call on every Thelemic and Western Tradition organization to stand with us in speaking out, explicitly calling attention to the rising threat of white supremacist extremism; and in vowing to deprive platforms and safe harbor in our community both to white supremacist conspiracists and to those who implicitly or explicitly justify and fuel their actions.
3) We call on every Thelemic and Western Tradition organization to devote time and resources to teaching and advocating those understandings which make it clear that intolerance is the foe of the core of our shared Tradition. Most powerfully, we call on all groups and individuals to, at every opportunity, strip the camouflage of “tradition” from those who support hatred, oppression, and intolerance.
We cannot think of these struggles as something removed from us. In real terms, the esoteric community plays a strong role in the cultural ferment that blossoms into vast conspiracy theories of one-world government or Satanist child sacrifice, which then are used to justify intolerance and Fascism. Our indisputable role is to oppose this with the Thelemic and Western Tradition of Light, Life, Love and Liberty.
This fight is more real every day. It has taken and will continue to take innocent lives. Every day that we fail to declare ourselves, take a side, and represent our beliefs, we empower the forces of oppression. We must stand together against the forces of ignorance, tyranny, and superstition.
Chief Prelate/Pontifex, Ecclesia Gnostica Heterodoxa