# I have been reading and notating my way through
# Samuel Putnam's book: "Francois Rabelais: Man
# of the Renaissance (A Spiritual Biography)" (1930),
# and have found much content of interest, for
# instance this passage found in Chapter 15 "The
# 'Substantific Marrow'" where he discusses the
# Abbey of Thélème (pages 389-392)
excellent. a focus on history badly understood
and often skewed by modern occultists.
# For those who are interested, I am posting the
# other four parts of this chapter to
# where I am collating my other research:
wonderful. I'm so glad you're placing this emphasis.
it would be very helpful were we to have contributors
of this dedication from the English language side of
Thelemic discourse (many of whom stop with Crowley).
# Rabelais' scheme, when summed up, tended to the
# Humanist ideal of the free life; and that ideal
# is nowhere better, more visibly manifested than
# in the visionary Abbey of Thélème which Gargantua
# proposes to found for Friar John. This has been
# termed a monk's dream, and as M. Plattard observes,
# it was, doubtless, a dream with which many a monk
# before François' time had toyed. The underlying
# conception, that of a "religion," or convent,
# founded in direct opposition to all the principles
# of ordinary institutions of the sort,
we might ask how these principles change and
develop through time, how it is that they arise
and why, and generally, what the principles and
particular implementations of them seek to achieve.
# is to be found in a number of precedent writings,
# among which might be mentioned the Temple de Venus
# of Le Maire de Belges and Droits Nouveaux,
# De Presumptionibus of Coquillart.
I've never heard of these. are any of them in English?
this kind of source list is imperative for the Thelemic
culture and its *actual development aside from cults*.
there was a huge surge of Thelemic writings at the start
of the 20th century and almost all of the authors who
were part of that have been forgotten unless they were
cultural (Rabelais) or cult (Crowley) icons preserved.
more importantly, what *are* these principles? how can
we look at them today in fresh and understanding ways
that both properly houses them in context but allows
us an opportunity to see how they may apply in our lives?
# "...founding an abbey of beautiful women and pretty
# girls, more gallant than devout, and of giving them
# a rule suited to their manners...."
this is about form, not principle. we might fix on
the form of folklore and recall Arthurian tales of
the Castle of Maidens.
# ... the Queen of Naples, ...had founded an Abbey of
# Venus, the matron of which bore the title of Abbess,
# the rule which she laid down being still in existence."
what was the Rule? how did the abbey function and what
were its ideals?
# ..."a sort of college or society of immodest women,
# under the direction of a superior, taking Venus for
# their patroness, and taking lessons from abandoned
# old debauchees in order to learn how to render
# debauchery more agreeable, all the revenues
# accruing from these pursuits being devoted to the
# profit of the community."
sounds like a spin on traditional Christian convents.
# ...Thélème represents, in addition to François' own
# innately anti-ascetic temperament, the lines of
# thinking on which he was engaged when he sat down
# to compose his Gargantua. It is not, for one thing,
# an erotic institution at all (Mr. Cabell and others
# have very generally misread their Mâitre on this
# point), but a highly moral and idealistic one. The
# sexual ideal, so far as one is able to deduce it,
# appears to be a strict monogamy:
yes, it would be the male fantasists who tweak the
ideal into a Holy Temple of Prostitutes. far more
rational is the comparison with Noyes and the Oneida
Community, Complex Marriage, utopian socialism, and
polyamory integrating fidelity.
# When the time came that any member of this abbey,
# either at the request of his relatives or from some
# other cause, wished to leave, he always took with
# him one of the ladies, the one who had taken him
# for her devoted follower; and the two of them were
# then married. And if they had lived at Thélème in
# devotion and friendship, they found even more of
# both after their marriage, and remained as ardent
# lovers at the end of their days as they had been
# on the first day of their honeymoon.
the instilment of romantic love to the conditions of
marriage contracts has been part of neo-tantra and
the interests of women for an enduring period, often
something which they sought to spearhead, as did the
wonderful Alice Stockham and her "Tokology". all of
this focusses in principle upon egalitarian and
responsible kinship, the proper use of technology
to free up options, rather than constrain them, etc.
# This, it must be confessed, does not sound
# extremely rakish or abandoned, --like a free-love
# colony or anything of that sort.
'free love colony' typically denies the stabilizing
marital and genetic responsibilities as a facet of
male interests in increased options, and so tends
toward masculine principles of autonomy and
independence over that of interdependence and
security (as for children) which is, within my
culture at least, associated with the feminine.
# It does not even sound like Mr. Cabell's Land
# of Cockaigne; leisure and luxury, yes, but not
# Florio's "the epicure's or glutton's home."
we begin to understand that the abstemious ideal
is not being turned on its head in inverso-
Christianity as a kind of debauching and corrupting
satanism, but *a different set of values was put
into place*. typically these are overlooked by
Thelemites as integral to Crowley's ideologies of
Gnosticism and post-Christian de facto Satanism,
but there are so many many other options available.
# Here, too, there is a survival of chivalry.
# Much misconception has been due to a misreading
# of Mâitre François' motto, that FAY CE QUE VOULDRAS.
# According to certain commentators,
who are these "certain" commentators? what are their
arguments? what is the opposing argument in response?
# the complete motto would read:
# Fay ce que vouldras
# Avoir faict, quet (quand) tu mourras.
# ("do what you would wish to have done,
# when you come to die.")
that last specificity ('when you come to die') offers
a serious limitation to the meaning of the whole.
# ...Rabelais ... is [in Gargantua & Pantagruel]
# engaged in setting forth the Humanist ideal of
# freedom, based upon the belief that if coercion
# is removed
those who enter into monastic circumstances are not
actually coerced into their circumstance by and large.
with convents there was a history of women being
forced into them and therefore coerced by superiors,
but even this seems on the downward slope.
the author here is talking about constraint and the
rigours of discipline in accepting tutelary practices
which are inhibiting to what they may regard, if it
can be believed given the tendencies of formalized
educational processes, as 'natural'. by 'coersion'
he seems to be talking about the artificiality of
context as compared to some loose confederacy or
club of interested mystics engaging known practices
without the overarching direction of an abbess. as
such, and without additional description, we are
free to imagine anything from parlours of debauch
to BDSM dungeons overseen by dominant mistresses.
# and man is left to his own noble instincts, all
# will be well with the species; our modern anarchists,
# most sentimental of beings, hold to the same faith.
we should also mention Rousseau, though his complex
argument didn't reliably lead to the same conclusion.
anarchists, like some religious philosophers in marked
contrast to those which house 'sin' and 'Original Sin',
do have faith in the general soundness of the citizen
without preventative conditioning. the tone of acceptance
and rejoicing in the natural flows through some ideologies
more strongly than those which are pent up in restriction
and demonizing of the sensual.
the adjusted evaluation of this naturalism is that, far
from a 'raw noble state' (something which anyone spending
any time raising children might dispute), what is actually
required is an adjustment to concordance with our ordinary
nature and character, refined into a type of aesthetic and
romantic epitome (epicurean).
# Thélème, moreover, is to be an asylum, a sort of
# summer-colony for liberals....
of the time. for information's sake we should be comparing
today's "liberals" in the US or Europe with those for whom
the abbey functioned as an sociological alternative and
experiment. what principles are generally held as common
to convents and monastic situations *across cultures*?
how might these be applied in community conditions in
which there is no pyramidal hierarchy dominating?
thank you very much for forwarding this portion of your
research to our forum. we badly need this type of
grounding in order to begin a thorough and cohesive
exploration of will-based theories, rather than merely
remaining barracaded in spermognostic cults exalting
the miscreants and misanthropes that post-moderns adore.