I have long felt that one of the last Old Aeon "virtues" to go would be false humility; one of the last Thelemic virtues accepted, pride. Pride requires careful definition, of course: it isn't arrogance (which includes an inability to learn from others) or vain boasting (which claims what it has not accomplished); nor does it allow one to overvalue oneself: Thelemic pride never loses sight of the pointlessness, and the divinity, of every creature on earth. One of the big reasons Thelemic pride can be mistaken for arrogance is an associated unwillingness to whine: Thelema disdains weakness, most especially in oneself, tends to hide the natural pain we all undergo, and some may see the result as either preternatural good luck, or disdain for the sufferings of others. I hardly ever get personal in a post, but I believe I will to make my point.
The Old Aeon reflex is still very much with us: we are taught to value pretended humility, and resent even the most deserved pride. An OTO friend (who would probably prefer to be unnamed here) provides a recent example: flush with hard-earned accomplishment of which he had every right to be very proud, he posted what I read as rather a modest appreciation of his (and others') hard work. Almost immediately he had to apologize (as genuinely proud people are always more than willing to do) for what others -- to my mind, foolishly -- saw as his disparagement of their own efforts. I admire him for apologizing...and confess disappointment that his brethren could not pat him and his fellows on the back for what they'd done, rather than feel diminished by his daring to mention it.
Thelemic pride should, I think, be tempered by (for want of a better word) gentlemanliness; in particular, it is pride in accomplishment, not in luck or accident. The few times in my life that I've made halfway decent moolah I have disdained to mention it, just as the many times that I have had major challenges to overcome I have disdained to whine -- even when pressed pretty much to, or beyond, the limits of my endurance. For example, until her death in September 2001, nobody much knew of my first wife's twenty-year struggle with the breast cancer that finally killed her, much less of the staggering personal, financial, and simply emotional hardships it entailed for us both (and indeed for all three of us, Cath included, for the final fifteen years of that time). But when, at modest cost which was nevertheless a serious reach for us, I was able to buy a beautiful Egyptian necklace for Cath (featuring original beads some thousands of years old, and I'm not kidding, by most people's standards it really was very cheap), I was proud to take her to an OTO function (not in Los Angeles) where I believed she could wear it with pride: not only did people there not appreciate its pedigree, they seemed downright offended she was even wearing such a thing. That stuff about raising oneself in pride and wearing rich jewels? Not the time or place that night, folks, even if we had to break our backs to obtain it, and at that paid less for it than some of our fellow Thelemites (and most of those present that night) spend on a night on the town. We have also learned not even to mention (in person) what work Cath is getting (she's an actress), however ordinary it is that she be working in her field: people will project an imagined arrogance onto such accomplishments.
Worst of all, of course, is the issue of Thelemic attainment itself. Resolving one's internal contradictions, honing one's Will to a point, should be as common among Thelemites as tying one's shoelaces properly or basic manners. Crowley intended the process to be more rapid than had traditionally been thought possible, and in the early days he tended to get people through it in something like six months to a couple of years. Afterwards, however, they tended to head immediately on to other things, rather than continuing to help him establish Thelema, so he became somewhat less forthcoming after that: leaving broad hints rather than making increasingly full explanations. Today -- this will change -- attainment is not infrequently considered something between a lifelong (at least!) goal and a practical impossibility, largely because its nature has been temporarily obscured by superstition, ego games, and the like. Frankly, I am not in the slightest proud of my own attainment*: it took me fifteen quite agonizing years, I felt blisteringly stupid when I finally got the point, and I am crestfallen at how little I have been able, in the ensuing thirteen years, to pass its mechanism along to others (which is, by the way, the only reason I ever mention it: I would like to see others get the benefit of the experience, in a fraction of the time it took me). But I don't intend to whine about that, either: it's my Will, I'm stuck with it, and on with the show.
I am always willing to apologize for giving offense, even unintentionally, and I do so with embarrassing frequency -- though as God is my witness, I virtually never try to give offense, certainly never do absent someone else offending first.** But for the record I'd like to predict that someday all Thelemites, everywhere, will raise themselves in pride, and delight in helping others to do the same. In the meantime I tend my little garden, as I am sworn to do -- and as so many others do, by the light given them, all over the world.
93 93/93 -- AJ
* Particularly given some of the unusual advantages I had going in: e.g., years of religious study and an honors degree in English Lit.
** The sole exception I can think of involved what seemed, and seem, to me serious issues of the Law, and even that was done with profuse apologies, then and since.