Crowley, Witchcraft and Mental Health
I've been doing some reading about Magick, and predominantly about Aleister Crowley. For those who don't know, he was known to some as the 'wickedest man in the world', but he also played a huge role in Magick. Crowley lived from 1875-1947, and as a drug user and bisexual, he would have been considered morally wrong in such times. He is, however, a thoroughly fascinating subject. Crowley formed his own religion - Thelema. There are many elements to Thelema, and I have only just begun to explore them, but what I have found has interested me greatly.
It is no secret to those who know me that I have struggled with my own mental health for many years. Generalised Anxiety Disorder is what I have been diagnosed with. I have tried medicinal aids with varying success, but the most useful treatment I have ever received has been a combination of mindfulness techniques, and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). Mindfulness is a great leveller in the face of a panic attack, and learning to redirect my thoughts and energies has helped me enormously.
Whilst browsing my Kindle store this morning (I am new to Kindle - as a book lover there is just no convenience that can compare to holding and being able to smell a book), I came across a book about Thelema. I will attach the link below. Reading the book, I was fascinated to learn that the most basic elements of Thelema are Meditation and Mindfulness. Being able to identify your true self and identify your true purpose and will. Put very simply, to remove the learned and programmed responses and find your true will. Mindfulness - 'a mental state achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique'. To truly meditate, and to achieve true mindfulness take practice - and an acceptance that at times your mind WILL wander, and that's ok. Learning to then bring your mind back from the wandering is an art. For me personally, I found it fascinating to discover that the mechanisms I use day to day (and which are widely accepted in society today), are so very closely linked to Aleister Crowley and Thelema - an association I suspect would have been deemed unacceptable back in the days of his life, and likely would be unacceptable to many in this day in age, based on prejudicial opinions of Magick and the occult and it's perceived associations to darkness and Satanism.
I truly believe that what works for one person may not work for all. That we may choose to use elements of practices/religions/faiths without fully subscribing to that path or ideology. You may choose to read the book I mention, and if you do, you will very probably take away something entirely different than I have. For me, practicing as a witch is a state of mind - I believe the magick can work, and so it has the power to work. As Aleister Crowley himself once said 'Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law' - not meaning to take a hedonistic approach, but to act in response to your calling. I have a long way to go to finding mine, but I am closer every day.