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Love and Death: My Thelemic Grief Journey

Love and Death: My Thelemic Grief Journey

This article is written by guest contributor Soror Sinistra.

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.

My husband died six months ago. He had several serious medical conditions but ultimately succumbed to a heart anomaly that had been diagnosed about a month earlier.

He was only fifty-seven years old. I had eleven years with him. When we met, we both considered ourselves Pagan, and he never wavered in his dedication to his path. However, when I began to explore Thelema and became passionate about it, he not only encouraged me, but participated with me in classes and meetings, going so far as to take Minerval with me. He often played devil’s advocate with me, questioning my ideas, making me think about them – helping me to destroy illusion through the union of opposites. The void he left in my life may never be completely filled. My grief will never fully assuage, but one thing I know is that without Thelema, I would not be where I am in my recovery.

Thankfully, no one said, “he’s in a better place,” though in a sense I know that he is. He never feared death, and with all of his health issues he often longed to, as he put it, “rest in the arms of the Mother.” He had full confidence as to what his afterlife would entail. He believed that he would return to the cosmos and become part of the ‘all’ again. His death did not sadden me because I feared for him – I feared for myself. My aloneness, the emptiness. The loss of his humor, his love, his input in my life. I came home from work most nights soon after, and stared at the walls. Not only was he gone, but all the duties I had caring for him left me with nothing to stop the memories from assaulting me.

Reading Liber CVI: Concerning Death

When he died, I consulted Liber CVI. As I sat at his bedside just after he passed, I read it aloud to him through my tears. This sentence in particular seemed to fit how he lived his life:

“For inasmuch as thou hast made the Law of Freedom thine, as thou hast lived in Light and Liberty and Love, thou hast become a Free-man of the City of the Stars.”

This Liber, which I had never before read, gave me such inspiration; not only for his passing, but for myself as his survivor. It seemed a tribute to him, as if written for him. I’ve read it many times since when I need to remind myself what his death truly means. I may be left behind for now, but I, too, will experience this beautiful transformation one day.

I became more regular in my invokings and banishings; performing the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram and the Lesser Ritual of the Hexagram together. I had been doing this for a short time before his death, and knew that I needed to continue the practice. I also kept up writing in my magickal journal. Putting my thoughts on paper was difficult and there were things I did not want to bring to the surface, but I knew that in order to confront my grief, I had to examine them.

“Exceed! Exceed!”

There is this, a journal entry a few days after his death: “I’ve also had thoughts of my true will, and all the frustration I had in determining what my true will was if I never had time to learn it (referencing my caregiving responsibilities). I tried to see how caring for him was my true will and was never able to reconcile it. I have guilt and regrets about that, but above it all I know that he wanted me to pursue the Great Work. He said it many times and did all he could to help me. So now I have to continue, or – ‘exceed, exceed!’ as I am driven. I know he is beside me, encouraging me.”

I had support from my family, work colleagues, and above all my OTO family, and felt that my grief wasn’t debilitating. Still, I sought out a grief counselor. I’d lost my parents before, but losing a spouse felt entirely different, and I wanted to know if my journey in grief could be made easier, or if there were things that I had not yet come to terms with that I would need to in order to truly move on.

Due to my work schedule, the appointments were spread over about a two-month period. This seemed to work out well, as my therapist was able to see my progress over that time, and to have a better idea, perhaps, than she might have otherwise, as to how my long term coping skills worked. She had never heard of Thelema but I explained it as simply as I could, and told her that this had been my mainstay since my husband’s death. She had no judgment as to the ‘occult’ nature; she was open-minded and listened as I detailed my personal philosophy of the Law, and how it was helping me to accept this huge change in my life.

Loving without Attachment

She commented at nearly every session that I seemed ahead of most of her clients in moving on with my life while still acknowledging the loss. At our final session, she gave me her assessment: that she did not believe I would need further counseling, and she credited my religious practices with how I was coming to terms with grief.

From my journal: “We talked about loving without attachment – the very heart of Thelema. She said most people can’t release the attachment, but that I am doing it. It doesn’t mean I don’t love Elton. It only means I had to let go of the delusion that he’ll come back to me, that I’ll ever have him again.”

In the months since, I have, with the outstanding support of my Brothers and Sisters, taken my Second Degree initiation. While in contemplation before I was summoned to the temple, I meditated with my husband’s Minerval copy of The Book of the Law. He was with me then, and he will be with me always, in every accomplishment, in every failure. He lives on in my heart. I go on, stronger and wiser for having had him in my life. Thanks to Thelema and its positive concepts of Love and Death, I know that must do my Will.

“Do that, and no other shall say nay.”

Love is the law, love under will.

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