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Atu VIII - Will: "It ain't Free unless it's True."


Aeon418

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Equilibrium stands apart from any individual prejudices; therefore the title, in France, should rather be Justesse. In this sense, Nature is scrupulously just. It is impossible to drop a pin without exciting a corresponding reaction in every Star. The action has disturbed the balance of the Universe.


Crowley's renaming of Justice as Adjustment was intended to show how this card was a fact of Nature. Everything that exists is constantly seeking balance. This contrasts with the older title, Justice, which carries with it arbitrary human ideals of equity and fairness.


On the Tree of Life the card sits on the 22nd* Path of Lamed - the Ox Goad. An ox goad is basically a long stick with a sharp end, that is used to coax cattle to move in a willed direction. An oxen towing a plough needs the Ox goad to encourage it to move, and to keep it moving in a straight or "true" line. As uncomfortable as this might make us feel, this symbolism points to an underlying purpose of pain in our experience of life.


(*22 is also total number of paths on the Tree of life and also the Major Arcana. It is also the value of the Hebrew, IChD - Unity.)


The Path of Lamed sits between the spheres of Tiphareth and Geburah. Tiphareth is the centre of human experience and the seat of the ego. While Geburah corresponds to volition and our sense of agency that allows us to make decisions and choices. We call this Free Will. But is it really free?


If a dropped pin is capable of disturbing the balance of the universe, what effect do my actions have? Surely I have Free Will, rooted in my sense of separate existence, that allows me to do whatever I like. But Atu VIII - Adjustment, signifies the law and limitation characteristic of a closed system. If I act in one direction, a compensatory reaction is required to restore the balance. This begins to make Free Will sound like a bit of a trick. No wonder Crowley describes this card as the "ultimate illusion which is manifestation." 


But even though all is illusion, each one of us has a totally unique point of view. This is the pivot upon which the entire universe balances. Within Thelema this is called Hadit. As the one who "goes" Hadit is the source of our unique motion through life and the universe - the  body of Nuit. This is the True Will of each individual. The Path of Initiation is the way of ever deepening awareness of the True Will that helps the individual to progressively become ever more conscious of this inner purpose. This increasing awareness allows the individual to consciously and voluntarily align their individual life choices with the universe in an act of "love under will." (Atu XII - The Hanged Man points to this conscious (re)alignment from a different angle.)

 
We all enter life with little or no awareness of what we are doing or where we are going. We blindly blunder from one extreme to another, all the while being constantly coaxed back on course by the universe. Often deeply resenting and rejecting this guidance. (Saturn, the Great Teacher, is exalted in Libra) If we push too far one way, sooner or later a compensatory impulse will manifest in our lives. Sometimes this can be in the form of unpleasant experiences. But who knows where, when or how? The Lady of Adjustment is masked and mysterious.

 
She also wields the Sword of the Magician. This is the same sword shown on the Ace of Swords. The word "Θελημα - Thelema,", Greek for Will, is engraved upon the blade which points to a 22 rayed crown (at least according to the Book of Thoth 😄). In MAGICK, Book 4 - part 2, Crowley says "In all dealings with demons the point of the Sword is kept downwards." In the context of card VIII these demons are the Qliphoth. Quoting J Daniel Gunther:

 

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"The Qliphoth are the aspects of an unbalanced Tree of Life and stand in contrast to the characteristics of the balanced Tree: division in the place of Unity, obfuscation and ignorance instead of Wisdom and Understanding; a merciless world tending to violence, chaos, hatred, insanity, infirmity and obsession."


All of these unbalanced tendencies are capable of manifesting within ourselves and thereby tipping the scales of Adjustment and necessitating the swift, cutting action of the Sword.
But the Sword is naturally held between Lady Adjustment's thighs. The balanced path of the True Will, unique for each individual, is our Natural way to Union with the Universe/Nuit. This is one meaning of the suggestively sexual phrase - the Satisfaction of the Woman.

 

Liber Amoris vel Calicis, verse 12 (James A. Eshelman):

 

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“Even if I wander from Thee, Thou art there. Thy pleasure ever leads me into the depths of Thee; thy chastening hand is the caress of reclaiming me. I walk through the alleys of Hell, in the byways of my deeds, and the stifling heat is the clasp of thine embrace – yea, of thy holding me tight unto Thee.”

 

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Balance against each thought its exact opposite.
For the Marriage of these is the Annihilation of
Illusion.

 

In one pan there is Determinism. In the the other pan there is its exact opposite, Free Will. The marriage of these is True Will.

 

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Antti P. Balk: "Those who think they have free will reckon they can freely will this or that and just as easily will the contrary, being masters of their own resolution, whereas the advocates of determinism would have us believe that the power of decision lay with God [or material science], who in his infinite wisdom has made all the decisions for all the ages. The third option, of course, is following your True Will in every situation."

 

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Aleister Crowley, Liber II: "From these considerations it should be clear that “Do what thou wilt” does not mean “Do what you like.” It is the apotheosis of Freedom; but it is also the strictest possible bond."

 

"Then, and then only, art thou in harmony with the Movement of Things, thy will part of, and therefore equal to, the Will of God. And since the will is but the dynamic aspect of the self, and since two different selves could not possess identical wills; then, if thy will be God’s will, Thou art That."

 

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Eliphas Levi - "The will of the just man is the Will of God himself, and the law of Nature."

 

There's a hidden subtlety in Crowley's renaming of Atu VIII - Adjustment that reflects the doctrine of True Will. The old title of Justice suggests something outside the individual that imposes its will upon them and forces them to conform with its judgements. While the new card name, Adjustment, is pointing towards the ongoing, moment-to-moment balance and course correction of someone doing their True Will.

 

The alchemical transmutation of Destiny into True Will is the process whereby the individual begins to recognise and accept the underlying direction of their life.  Instead of constantly fighting against this current (elsewhere Crowley refers to this as the "inertia of the universe"), one increasingly becomes an active and intentional co-creator in the life the universe wants one to lead. This is the resolution of Destiny and Free Will implied by Adjustment. 

 

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"This above all - to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man."

Hamlet, Act 1, scene 3. 

 

But should one wilfully seek to be false to oneself, then one is essentially standing apart from oneself and thereby invoking the judgment and justice of that Self. 

 

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Liber AL, I:52. " .... if the ritual be not ever unto me: then expect the direful judgments of Ra Hoor Khuit!"

 

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Aleister Crowley's neat little summary of everything said so far.
 

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Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law! Refuse this, and fall under the curse of destiny. Divide will against itself, the result is impotence and strife, strife-in-vain. The Law condemns no man. Accept the Law, and everything is lawful. Refuse the Law, you put yourself beyond its pale.

 

The Equinox of the Gods, chp.8

 

 

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The appearance of Adjustment may also signify a woman or a man coming to maturity, or anyone becoming or being responsible for his own balance, judgment, or truth.

 

This interpretation of Adjustment appears in Snuffin's, The Thoth Comapanion. I like it. 

 

"Coming to maturity" suggests to me an interpretation of the doctrine of initiation in the New Aeon called, Setting the Daughter upon the throne of the Mother. In the Book of Thoth, Crowley calls this the "final adjustment in the formula of Tetragrammaton." The latter is the IHVH, where H and H-final are the mother and daughter respectively. Symbolically these two H's represent the Universal and the Individual. These are two polar opposites that are brought back into balance through the process of initiation, whereby the individual soul is raised to universal consciousness.

 

In his magical order Crowley refers to this as the Master of the Temple of A.'.A.'.. The initials of this title form the name M.A.A.T. - the Egyptian goddess of Truth.

 

The path towards this state of consciousness could be interpreted as a maturing process during which one slowly learns how to self regulate one's own ethical behaviour in line with this inner divine truth. This marks a transition and graduation from the more parental dominated view of the world, as seen in conventional religion with its endless lists of moral commands that guide the behaviour of the faithful as if they were naughty little children that can't control themselves. The New Aeon that Crowley declared marks an Adjustment in human understanding that recognizes that human behaviour isn't enforced by diktat from an external and separate god, but is rather generated from the True Self or God within each of us. Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law is the only commandment needed by those who are ready to shoulder this immense responsibility.

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