True Will


The phrase “True Will” is often used to indicate the specific and essential meaning of the concept of Will in Thelema, especially as in the Law of Thelema – “Do what though wilt, shall be the whole of the Law” (AL I:40) as opposed to the more general meaning of the word as it is used outside of Thelemica.

True Will

The phrase “True Will” does not appear in the Book of the Law however the phrase “Pure will” does (CCXX I:44) and for all intents and purposes the two are synonymous. Crowley’s various commentaries on the Book routinely use the phrase “True Will” rather than “Pure will”, but the two are equivalent.

The concept postulates that each individual has a unique and incommensurable inherent nature (which is identical to their “destiny”) that determines their proper course in life, that is the mode of action that unites their purest personal will with the postulated course that preexists for them in the universe.

The idea is that to the extent that one is pure in their will, one is carried along effortlessly by the momentum of the universe like an expert sailor allowing the current to carry the ship along its intended course with minimal effort. To the extent that one is not pure in their will, they are tossed about aimlessly like a piece of drift wood on a stormy sea. In other words, one’s effectiveness or impotence in life is determined by how purely they adhere to their True Will.

In general, it is supposed by contemporary Thelemites that no one can know the True Will of another, but in Crowley’s essay “The Secret Conference” (written under the pseudonym of Gerald Aumont, and prefaced to The Heart of the Master), he suggests that a technique may (indeed, must) be devised, by which a child’s True Will may be discovered at birth, or as early as possible in life, in order to permit the correct ordering of society. We can speculate that Crowley had an astrological method in mind, although subsequent historical developments may lead us to consider genomics as a better candidate for the hypothetical technique.

In Crowley’s ethical treatise “Duty”, he identifies True Will with the Nature of the individual. This capitalized “Nature” may be compared with the “Perfect Nature” of earlier Gnostic systems, which was another term for the personal daimon or augoeides, usually referenced by Crowley as the Holy Guardian Angel. (For this use of the term “Perfect Nature,” see Corbin’s Man of Light in Iranian Sufism.)

One can say the one’s True Will is pure by nature or that that their true Nature is their Pure Will.

“The Message of the Master Therion” (Liber II) is a seminal document that attempts to delineate the doctrine of True Will. By reference to “Liber Thisharb”, Liber II implies a theory of metempsychosis, whereby the individual True Will is the resultant of a person’s prior incarnations.

In “De Lege Libellum” (Liber CL), Crowley defines True Will as the will which does not “rest content with things partial and transitory, but … proceed[s] firmly to the End,” and in the same passage he identifies that “End” as the destruction of oneself in Love, the uniting of the self with the not-self resulting in the loss of the sense of individuality, as if the ego is a drop of water that is united with the ocean. In one sense, the drop is lost forever. In an other sense, the drop becomes none other than the ocean itself.

Pure Will

Although the phrase “True Will” does not appear on the Book of the Law, the phrase “pure will” does (CCXX I:44) and is referred to as being perfect (CCXX I:44-45) and “one Perfect and not two” (CCXX I:45).

Transcendent Will

The phrase “transcendent Will” also appears in Thelemic literature (The Law of Liberty Liber CL לענ De Lege Libellum and is used interchangeably with “True Will” and “Pure Will”.

Quotations on “Pure Will” from The Book of the Law, Liber Al Vel Legis CCXX

  • For pure will, unassuaged of purpose, delivered from the lust of result, is in every way Perfect. (AL I:44)

  • The Perfect and the Perfect are one Perfect and not two; nay, are none! (AL I:45)

Quotations on “True Will” from Aleister Crowley

  • The most common cause of failure in life is ignorance of one’s own True Will, or of the means by which to fulfill that Will. – Magick, Book 4 pg.127

  • A man who is doing his True Will has the inertia of the Universe to assist him. – Magick, Book 4 pg.128

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