Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law. - AL I:40
I am saddened by the ignorance spewed forth on the E-lists which shows an insipid or immature knowledge of how Oaths work. I could try to educate the masses, but I fear Aleister Crowley is right in that you can only understand a spiritual topic in relationship to where you stand on Mount Abiegnus. Obviously there are many on the E-lists who merely pick flowers while dreaming of being mountain climbers.
I've had the opportunity to talk at length with Grady McMurtry on this subject and I have recordings of such during lectures he held at my house back in the seventies. As any true magician will attest, an Oath assumes a variety of forms. I'd like to point out that a Magickal Oath is often too easily confused with the Fraternal type. Yes, it could be argued that all acts are magickal acts. However, as Grady was always quick to point out, these two particular type of Oaths are very different in the manner in which they bring about Karma. Let me try to explain as simply as possible.
A Magickal Oath is something which binds a magician forever to its intent and is an affirmation between the magician and his Universe. An example of such might be what a magician swears between himself and his Angel or if they were to take the Oath of the Abyss. This type of Oath never includes a third party as do Fraternal Oaths. If such an Oath is violated, karma is a bitch and no one shares in the repercussions but the individual who originally swore the intent.
On the other hand, study history. Fraternal Oaths were designed to invoke a dire medieval type of punishment on any individual should they violate their Word as sworn before the Order and its membership. These Oaths are 'control oriented.' This type of Oath has arguably not kept up with the times. Although such might have actually been practiced to the letter as a means to intimidate violators, in modern times they have been reduced to gibberish and are totally unenforceable without consequences of today's Law. Thus many modern fraternities, unable to enforce the threats, ply the old 'karmic scare' as a means of control but usually in such a manner that it portrays pure ignorance regarding the nature of karma.
Karma is merely one's actions followed by consequences. That is it, nothing more. In a Fraternal setting it implies the actions of ALL people concerned with a given incident including the Order itself. In other words, if the Order's actions against a member are just then it accrues good karma or consequences. If the person's actions against the order are bad then they accrue bad karma or consequences. Or vice versa. It's that simple. What most individuals fail to realize is that a Fraternal Oath is always a double-edged sword or two-sided, fifty-fifty and the karma goes to he who violates the Oath first, the Order or the individual. Both parties are inseparable. Therefore, no organization is karmically exempt from its own actions.
In other words, when a person takes an initiation he or she does not sign away their life to the whims of their leaders. Yes, you could ask, "But isn't a Fraternal Oath taken for life?" I can only answer; yes, and no. First, it all depends whether or not the individual remains a member of the fraternity or if he or she quits or was expelled. Obviously once outside the fraternity one may no longer be bound by these archaic 'threats' under the guise of a karmic retribution unless one is burdened with some kind of guilt over their actions while in the Order. Then karma will exact its toll whether you're a member or not.
Here is how a Fraternal Oath works in a nutshell when the Order is at fault. As an example, if an Order attacks or treats a member in a totally unfraternal fashion then it must assume the consequences of its actions, or karma. Common sense dictates that part of said consequence which the Order receives is how a member reacts to being treated unfairly. Of course, that person's actions automatically creates further karma or consequences which that person must accept based upon those 'actions' and not their previous Oaths unless they still feel an 'internal' bond to the Order. This is the danger of expelling someone unjustifiably. You stand the chance of internally freeing that person of all the Oaths and Obligations which they have sworn to that Order simply because of the nature of karma or consequences. In other words you could produce someone who is guilt free and no longer feels any 'bond' to the Order simply because of being shafted by that to which they previously were emotionally and internally bonded. It's as if the Order, by its unfraternal actions, took an invisible sword and severed any ties the initiate may have had and freed him. You can not automatically assume that the Order is always right with its actions and that the member is always wrong. It's not that simple. Every case is different.
In other words, how was Aleister Crowley freed from karmic retribution when seemingly violating his Golden Dawn Oaths? What I've just told you was Grady McMurtry's explanation about how Crowley felt regarding that which he swore within the Sanctuaries of The Hermetic
Order of the Golden Dawn. They attacked him and broke the Bond of Brotherhood, not the other way around. They freed him to act accordingly.
Love is the law, love under will. - AL I:57
J. Edward Cornelius
[This article is excerpted and slightly edited from a previous Epistle]