02 February 2022
I know that there will be people who won't agree with my assessment. I've never been a part of Thelema, but I do know some folks who practice it (called "Thelemites"). We've had honest discussions, and I'm reporting what I learned from them, along with my own limited reading of Crowley's works. His teachings are couched in symbolism and parables. It is a heart-borne religion, and the insiders will warn you that there can be no single orthodoxy, only recurring themes.
Their primary doctrine is that you should discover your true self. When you read their creed -- "Do what thou wilt" -- this isn't some mindless hedonism. For them, it's a very concerted contemplative effort to discern from their hearts what's really inside. They are seeking convictions without the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit. Instead, they seek all manner of other spirits. They load up on ceremonial magic as a means to get there.
Another creed is, "Love is the law; the law is love." It's one of those mystical statements that isn't supposed to make sense logically. In actual practice, though, it tends to mean self-love. A lot of the pop psychology about loving yourself is connected to the this. However, with Thelema it's a reference to your "true self" that you must discover. You spend your whole life seeking to refine your self-knowledge at the heart level. You are committed to it, rather like a deity. At the same time, loving your true self inevitably means a proper love for others, to include the whole universe.
The assumption is that once you are connected to your true self, everything else will start to make sense. They reject the doctrine of the Fall, but they are keen observers of fallen human nature. For them, the world is messed up because of secularism and moral shallowness. People keep looking for rules so they don't have to turn inside and face their true self. They regard it as courageous to examine things inside the self that most people would rather ignore.
They reject common notions of morality. But because the mainstream world clings to such things, they are very big on privacy. You don't blab about your true self to the blind world around you. This partly explains the images of Thelemites with a finger over their lips for silence. They aren't too eager for the rest of the world to learn their ways, but it's less about secrecy and more about privacy. The rest of the world isn't ready to hear the truth, and it is apparently impossible to move the world in the right direction, as they see it. Meanwhile, they try to avoid going out and making trouble by publicizing their rejections of conventional morality.
They don't struggle with mysticism at all. It's the nature of what they do, and it's eclectic. They can find a place in their beliefs for a lot of esoteric religions. They can absorb the Kabbalah, Freemasonry, and elements from the Bible. Meanwhile, they tend to be quite well versed in pagan mythologies. They look for common themes. Because they do understand human nature so well, you'll find them quite at home with the Men's Red Pill lore. There are some fundamental differences, but they can teach and diagnose romantic relationships with the best. They operate above the purely intellectual level.
But they are all over the place when it comes to the afterlife. It seems there is no official doctrine, except that you can't intellectually know about it. Thus, they emphasize how to get through this life. There is no one path for everyone. They won't tell you how to live, but will teach you how to discover your own true self and how to stay out of trouble. They are at home with being on the fringe of the mainstream. They treat it like a mark of kinship, and are quite welcoming of anyone else on the fringes. They are as genuinely loving with each other as Christians claim to be.
Again, the best way to understand them is to grasp the truth that Satan's strongest lie is mostly the truth. It is unlikely that Thelemites will ever be actual enemies of the gospel. In an apocalypse, they would be much more likely to act like allies. The biggest difference is that they reject the covenant doctrine of moral boundaries. They consider them all artificial, which is why some of them are quite depraved in private. Yet, they feel obliged to avoid giving offense when possible. The also reject the unique claims of Jehovah to be the only God. They will encourage you to pursue your convictions and faith, particularly if you manifest a heart-borne awareness.
They aren't much of a threat, and there's really nothing we can do about them. Only miracles can avail. They have no plans to take over the world; they aren't very evangelistic. When the moment seems right, they'll be glad to share what they know about anything, but they tend to remain private most of the time. I'm not suggesting you get to know them. That's something only our Father can lead you to do. Rather, my point here is that you stop the blind condemnations that miss the mark. Criticize them for what they actually get wrong, and take down the false image of them as Satan worshipers.
Connected movements include Golden Dawn and Scientology, as previously noted. Their influence across a wide variety of other religious movements comes from their own eclectic approach that embraces common themes. You'll find Thelemites in churches of all brands. Some of them do have very real powers of "magic" in a certain sense.
Just for the record, I learned about Thelema after I got established with Christian Mysticism.
This document is public domain; spread the message.