The Scarlet Letter
Volume IV, Number 3 | September 1997
Thelemic Culture:
Bridging the Generation Gap

By Sr. Sulis

ChildsunChristmas was always a time of wonder in my childhood. Boxes were hauled down from the attic, lights were untangled and tested, advent calendars were put on the walls. The smell of cookies filled the air and we warbled “O Du Froliche” along with the Bad Toltz Boy’s Choir. As each ornament was carefully unwrapped and hung on the tree, one of my siblings would call out, “Oh, that’s my favorite one!” We celebrated, like good German Catholics, on Christmas Eve, with candlelight reflecting off the tinsel as we opened the presents.

Now I am a mother, and a Thelemite, and I run a sort of schizophrenic interior dialogue each year; remembering the joy of Christmas, and resenting like hell that my kids are singing “O Little Town of Bethlehem” for Christmas pageants in school. I grumble, but what’s a mother to do?

I tried to explain to my five-year-old daughter that we were not Christians, and this was not our holy day. She regarded me suspiciously; the thought forming that maybe this meant no tree, no presents. I admit that it did not sound very convincing, even to myself, and there was no way she was buying it. She listened patiently, then asked what Thelemites do at Christmas. I hemmed and hawed and admitted that we did whatever it was our Will to do. “Then, at Christmas-time, I am a Christian…” she announced, “because they get presents.”

“Well, what about the Solstice?” asked my evil scientist son, Sigma. “It is a solar holiday, and Ra Hoor Kuit is a sun god. …” I saw the glint in his eye as he continued “…and it comes earlier than Christmas!” He nudged his sister, whispered in her ear and they began singing It’s Beginning to Look a lot like Solstice.

I reluctantly agreed, still not convinced, but not seeing any other way around it. I felt uncomfortable simply substituting one holiday for another. True, many aspects of Solstice celebration were incorporated into Christmas, and borrowing it back wasn’t a big deal. But there was still something itching in the back of my head. I was looking for a tradition. A Thelemic one.

Of course, Thelemites will do whatever they will for any reason at any time. But the kids were longing for that sense of identity that comes when a community does the same thing at the same time. They want to know what it means to be a Thelemite. Mostly, to them, it means that we do a lot of weird, inexplicable things that nobody else’s family does. They see that we do initiations and the Mass, and the Rites, but to them it comes down to beanie weenies for dinner ‘cause mom’s rushing about, chasing misplaced robes and polishing swords. Although they rarely and peripherally participate in Oasis events our children are a big part of our community. A quick count showed that if one includes the children of members, they would represent about 20% of the Oasis. So what are we doing for them; what should we be doing for them, as a community?

Parents are a child’s main initiators into the mysteries of life. This is followed closely behind by schools, which initiate them into a social sphere and church, with initiation into the spiritual. In both of the latter, the parents act as a filter to the child’s perception; assisting them to interpret the data they receive from other sources, sort of a Hitchhiker’s Guide for kids.

How do we explain “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law” to a child? Ever consider how frightening Chapter 3 can be to a youngster? My son had some legitimate and serious questions about verse 24 in particular. Try not being a cop to that! And what are we doing in the Mass? I don’t think little Johnny-down-the-street’s mother would understand at all that they were “just doing the Mass,” if she finds them in the garage, parting the veil! This is one of the more crucial parts in Thelemic parenting, because after all, we’re sex magicians, and a rollicking, rousing bunch of them at that! How do we do what we do and keep it sane and healthy for the kids?

One way we have approached this is to state the nature of our get-togethers before hand, so attendees may gauge the speed limit. The attitudes we developed, in our early years as a camp, are being tempered as we add a more diverse population to our community. Through birth, association, and initiation, we welcome new members into our group. The real issue of how different people approach Thelema at different stages of their life have to be considered. What is appropriate for one at a certain time of life, may not be the same for someone else at a different stage. Know your own speed limit, and be courteous to others on the road.

The next step is for us, as a community, to look around and start to come up with a definition of this grand and wonderful social experiment that our kids can use. Thelema in fruity, nutritious nuggets! I think most of us cringe with the thought of anything that resembles Sunday school, but consider this: the initiatory experience is re-enactment of a myth designed to impart a certain consciousness at a certain time. This can be at a time of life, such as the onset of puberty or a time of year, i.e. the vernal equinox. Holy days. Holidays. Days that are out of the realm of the ordinary to offer a door of perception and. the wisdom of the season. What insights to their path as young Thelemites can we give to help them do battle in the cause of freedom in accordance with the Book of the Law?

Big questions.

Big answers to follow!

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