In Greek, the word "thelema" means variantly "will" or "to cast a magick spell". In modern mysticism it refers to a religious system created by Aleister Crowley, and founded on Liber AL vel Legis aka The Book of the Law.

The basic belief of the system of Thelema is "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law. Love is the law, love under will." Its techniques include yoga, zazen, and ritual, and its deities include Nuit, Hadit, and Ra-Hoor-Khuit. Practices revolve around communicating with one's Holy Guardian Angel (or Higher Self), and understanding and implementing one's Magick Will.

Thelema is related in its ancestry to the Golden Dawn system. In addition, it is historically connected with Wicca -- Aleister Crowley wrote ritual for Gerald Gardner, and the Wiccan "An it harm none, do what thou wilt" has a pretty obvious source. There are more tenuous historical links between Thelema and Freemasonry. Modern Discordianism, too, has some Thelema in it, thanks to Robert Anton Wilson.

Aleister Crowley borrowed the idea of Thelema from the 16th century writer, Francois Rabelais. Rabelais' book, "Gargantua and Pantagruel," describes the contruction of a monastery, the Abbey of Theleme for a new religious order "contrary to all others".

The Abbey of Theleme admitted women and men on a basis of equality. Rather than taking vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience, the monks and nuns of the order were at liberty to marry, be rich and to leave at any time. The order had one rule, strictly observed: do what thou wilt.

Crowley repeated this commandment in The Book of the Law, and even attempted to create Rabelais' utopia in Italy under the name of the Abbey of Thelema.

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