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essays & notes


Thelema & Modern physics
some considerations...

In his commentary to the very first line of Liber AL, Crowley writes: "The theogony of our Law is entirely scientific, Nuit is Matter, Hadit is Motion, in their full physical sense. (The Proton and the Electron, in a metaphysical sense, suggest close analogies.)" Even if he hypothetically wrote this on the day of his death in 1947, his potential knowledge of the physical realm is wholly inadequate compared to modern advances in science. His attempt, though, was entirely admirable, making Thelema adherable to the 'Old Aeon' sciences, that is: classical mechanics (with the exception of Copernicus & Galileo I would say who espoused quite "New Aeon" ideas - heliocentrism and an earlier form of relativity, respectively). Classical mechanics conceived of everything as Matter-in-motion; hence why he considers this conception of his of Nuit as Matter & Hadit as Motion 'entirely scientific.'

In this sense, it is interesting to note not only what Liber AL anticipated but some more modern physical theories that we may see inform Thelema. These are some comments and observations to consider:

* * * * *

* Firstly, it should be remembered that Liber AL vel Legis was received in 1904. In this we have statements like in Liber AL II:3, "In the sphere I am everywhere the centre, as she, the circumference, is nowhere found." A year later in 1905, we have Einstein's 'miracle year' where he explains special relativity (among other things). One of the most important parts of special relativity is that there is no preferred frame of reference, or, said in another way: the laws of physics are the same for all observers in uniform motion relative to one another. This concept is foreshadowed symbolically in the aforementioned line in Liber AL. Although, this statement actually goes as far back as Empedocles, a presocratic, and Einstein's relativity really goes back to Galilean relativity from the 17th century.

*Developments in science have fundamentally altered the many classical views we used to have. For one thing, Einstein helped destroy the notion of the luminiferous aether (it was a 'preferred reference frame' and is a hypothetical substance that cannot be detected and doesnt thereotically even need to exist if you consider light as quanta). Secondly, he helped show that space and time are two aspects of one thing: space-time. Similar unions of two concepts uniting, like space & time into space-time, have happened as well: electricity and magnetism into electro-magnetism by James Clerk-Maxwell, waves and particles into wave-particle duality (Einstein, de Broglie, and others), and also more recently: electro-magnetism and the weak force into the 'electroweak' force. We are learning more and more and more that the diverse forms we see are just two (or more) ways of looking at the same substance: light can be observed both as particles and waves - these terms 'particles' and 'waves' are the human, fallible models of what we are experiencing (Bohr expanded on this more). String theory theorizes that all particles (found in the Standard Model of particle physics along with gravitons to account for gravity) are all various manifestations of these sort of pan-dimensional string-vibrations (which are either strings (I) or loops (O))...

* Modern string theory, since the five main strands of theories have been supposedly unified by M-theory, posits that there are actually 11 dimensions. Liber AL I:60 states, "My number is 11, as all their numbers who are of us." and Liber AL II:15-16 states, "For I am perfect, being Not; and my number is nine by the fools; but with the just I am eight, and one in eight: Which is vital, for I am none indeed. The Empress and the King are not of me; for there is a further secret. I am The Empress & the Hierophant. Thus eleven, as my bride is eleven."

Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics (QM), and any interpretation of QM that believes in some kind of wave-function collapse (including Cramer's "transactional," and "consciousness causes collapse" interpretations), has a new sort of dichotomy that is possible to attribute to Nuit & Hadit (instead of Matter & Motion or Space & Time): Possibility (Nuit) and Observer/Participator (Hadit) which generate a particular 'Actuality' may be the best words. It goes something like this: a system is in a state of probabilistic indeterminacy (between A & B) and it requires some kind of measurement or observer to to make it "collapse" into being perceived as being either A or B. It is the interference by an observer that makes teh sense "actualize" into either A or B. (Many-worlds interpretation would say that at this point it splits into multiple universes in which one sees it as A and one sees it as B). This probabilistic (according to Copenhagen, many-worlds, objective collapse interpretations of QM) indeterminacy is Nuit and the observer/measurement that may make it collapse into either/or is Hadit. The Actuality is the resulting experience. Crowley writes about Liber AL I:13 on this subject in his Tunisia diaries explaining, "A man's possibilities are the heights to which he should climb. They are inherent in his own nature. Possibility fulfils itself whenever any individual makes it actual. The effect of any such act is to create the ineffable joy which accompanies the satisfaction of the ache resulting from the sense of imperfection."

*In particle physics, we may see another microcosmic parallel: when Hadit (photon) interacts with the Nucleus (Nuit) with sufficient energy, this interaction generates two complementary opposites: the electron (e-) and its anti-particle, the positron (e+). (Notice also that their angle is Theta, the first letter of Thelema). These two may reconnect and annihilate, though not completely: they generate gamma rays in their annihilation as shown below in the Feynmann diagram (confirming much of what Crowley speaks of Love in Liber Aleph, i.e. two things unite/annihilate and generate energy/ecstasy.)


On this subject, Crowley writes in his New Comment to Liber AL I:29, "From the standpoint of Physics, the original Inertia expresses itself as two complementary forms of Energy -- the small active Negative Electron (Hadit) [labeled the 'Electron' above and e- below] and the large passive Positive Electron (Nuit) [labeled the 'Positron' above and e+ below]. (It has recently been shown that the mass of Matter is zero). When these satisfy each other, two phenomena occur: (1) their opposed equalities cancel out to Zero. (Perhaps even to 0 to the 0 power, thus restoring the original Indeterminate Nothing). (2) a 'child' is born of the union; i.e., a positive phenomenon is ;produced, whose nature is entirely different from that of either of its 'parents'; for it is finite, and possesses limitations and qualities of its own [the gamma radiation in the below model]. Groups of such primaeval units form the various kinds of 'atom', according to the number and geometric disposition thereof. (This involves projection in space and time, ideas which are not necessary to the Electrons, they being simply ideas posited to serve as a basis for any dualistic expression to which Zero may be equated, such as Being and Form, Matter and Motion. We invent Space, Time, Sense-Impression, etc. to enable us to distinguish between 'experiences"' to express our conception of the multiplicity of the possibilities contained in the Idea of Zero."

Feynmann diagram of electron & positron annihilating and creating gamma rays:


* Even further, these two equations: (a) 9 (Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle) & (b) |Ψ|^2 (Max Born's probabilistic interpretation of the wave-function) ... essentially strike at the root of 'determinism' as known in classical mechanics and also relativity (Einstein famoulsy retorted to this, saying: "I, for one, don't believe God plays with dice" to which Niels Bohr replied, "Einstein, stop telling God what to do!") On the subject of free will (since many interpretations believe everything is strictly determined so there is no free will), there are interpretations of QM that are deterministic, and even if they arent deterministic they are simply probabilistic (and only at the atomic/subatomic level) and so dont come close to solving the problem of free will (it would just make it random instead of determined!) On this subject, here is a short excerpt from the film "Waking Life:"

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