What is Thelema?
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What is Thelema?


In today’s world, we often encounter an array of spiritual beliefs and practices that diverge from traditional Christianity. As followers of Jesus Christ, it is our responsibility to explore and understand these alternative belief systems to deepen our own faith and engage in informed conversations with others.

One such belief system is Thelema, an esoteric spiritual philosophy and religion that emerged in the early 20th century. In this blog post, we will delve into the origins, beliefs, and practices of Thelema, and compare it with the core tenets of Christianity, citing the New King James Version (NKJV) of the Bible where applicable.

Thelema was founded by English occultist Aleister Crowley in 1904, when he claimed to have received divine revelations from a spiritual entity named Aiwass. These revelations were recorded in a text called “The Book of the Law,” which serves as the central scripture for Thelemites.

Crowley incorporated elements of various Western esoteric traditions, including Kabbalah, Hermeticism, and ancient Egyptian religion, into the development of Thelema. As a result, the religion is characterized by its eclectic nature, often described as a blend of spirituality, magic, and mysticism.

Given its complex origins and diverse influences, Thelema can be challenging to understand for those unfamiliar with esoteric thought.

While it is beyond the scope of this blog post to provide a comprehensive analysis of Thelema, we will endeavor to present an overview of its main beliefs and practices, and offer insights into how they contrast with those of Christianity.

Our aim is to provide you with a solid foundation for understanding Thelema and engaging with Thelemites in a respectful and informed manner.

Origins of Thelema

As previously mentioned, Thelema was founded by Aleister Crowley, a prolific writer and occultist. Crowley, who was born in 1875, was raised in a strict Plymouth Brethren household, a Christian denomination known for its conservative beliefs.

However, he eventually rejected Christianity and began exploring alternative spiritual paths, eventually joining the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, a prominent occult organization of the time.

In 1904, while on his honeymoon in Cairo, Egypt, Crowley claimed to have received revelations from a spiritual entity named Aiwass, which he transcribed in the text known as “The Book of the Law.”

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This text serves as the foundational scripture for Thelema and contains its core teachings, most notably the central tenet “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.”

Central Tenets of Thelema

Thelema has several core tenets that distinguish it from Evangelical Christianity. These are briefly summarized below:

The Will

Thelema’s most famous dictum, “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law,” emphasizes the importance of the individual will. Thelemites believe that every person has a unique “True Will,” or inner purpose, which they should strive to discover and fulfill.

This concept is vastly different from the Christian idea of submitting one’s will to God, as expressed in the Lord’s Prayer: “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10, NKJV).

The Divine Self

Thelemites regard each individual as a manifestation of the divine, with the potential to realize their inherent divinity through spiritual practices. This idea contrasts with the Christian belief in the inherent sinfulness of humanity and the need for salvation through Jesus Christ.

The Bible states, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23, NKJV), and “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23, NKJV).

The New Aeon

Thelema posits that humanity is currently in a new age, or “Aeon,” characterized by the realization of individual divinity and the manifestation of one’s True Will. This concept differs from the Christian belief in the second coming of Jesus Christ, which will usher in a new era of peace and righteousness.

As stated in the Bible,

“For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17, NKJV).

Thelemic Practices

Thelema incorporates a variety of spiritual practices, including ceremonial magic, divination, meditation, and ritual. These practices are designed to help individuals discover their True Will and realize their divine nature.

Some common Thelemic rituals include the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram, the Star Ruby, and the Gnostic Mass.

Thelemic practices stand in contrast to the traditional Christian practices of prayer, worship, and studying Scripture. While both systems aim to foster spiritual growth, their methods and ultimate goals differ significantly.

Thelema and Christianity: A Comparison

Although Thelema and Christianity share some superficial similarities, such as the use of ritual and a belief in the existence of a higher power, they diverge significantly in their core beliefs and practices.

Thelema emphasizes the individual will and the realization of one’s divine nature, while Christianity stresses submission to God’s will and the need for salvation through Jesus Christ.

In light of these differences, it is important for Christians to approach Thelema with a discerning mind and a solid grounding in biblical truth. As the Apostle Paul advised, “Test all things; hold fast what is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21, NKJV).


In summary, Thelema is an esoteric spiritual philosophy and religion founded by Aleister Crowley in the early 20th century.

With its emphasis on the individual will and the realization of one’s divine nature, Thelema contrasts sharply with the core tenets of Christianity, which focus on submission to God’s will and salvation through Jesus Christ.

As Christians, it is important for us to be aware of alternative belief systems like Thelema, so we can engage in informed and respectful conversations with those who hold different beliefs. By doing so, we can better understand our own faith and more effectively share the Gospel with others.

In a world of diverse spiritual beliefs and practices, we must remain steadfast in our commitment to Christ, remembering the words of Jesus: “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6, NKJV).

May we continue to grow in our faith and be a light to those seeking truth in a complex and often confusing spiritual landscape.

Pastor duke taber
Pastor Duke Taber

Pastor Duke Taber

All articles have been written or reviewed by Pastor Duke Taber.
Pastor Duke Taber is an alumnus of Life Pacific University and Multnomah Biblical Seminary.
He has been in pastoral ministry since 1988.
Today he is the owner and managing editor of 3 successful Christian websites that support missionaries around the world.
He is currently starting a brand new church in Mesquite NV called Mesquite Worship Center, a Non-Denominational Spirit Filled Christian church in Mesquite Nevada.