Sponsorship as a Karmic Vehicle

Submitted by Brother Clay  
☉ in {sdeg}º {ssign} : ☾ in {ldeg}º {lsign} : dies {dow} : Anno {year1}:{year2}

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

Our work — performing our rituals and promulgating the Law — is important and necessary. Without it, the Law will remain an undercurrent within the unconscious, rather than illuminating mankind to new degrees of revelation. Our order, the legatee of Aleister Crowley, is in a unique position to accomplish this work and because of its importance, it demands high-quality initiates.

However, “quality” is difficult to describe with a rigid set of rules or precepts. Individual circumstances vary considerably, and one’s merits can be gauged along many dimensions. Because this determination requires suppleness, we have few hard rules: free, of full age, and of good report. In their basest form, these are necessary — not sufficient — conditions. But as our Grand Master explains in his essay, there is much subtlety in these stipulations.

For example, is a person currently “free” if they are experiencing financial hardship, whether temporary or chronic? If they have compromised their free will with habit, sentiment, or enslavement to another? If they disavow their own divine agency, resigning themselves to a life that “happens” to them? Is a person of “good report” if their principal magical practice is shirking responsibility, either in their duties to the lodge or their personal lives?

These are hard questions, with individual circumstance often answering them in even more complex ways. This complexity is why the rules are so simple and few. It is up to each initiate to enforce the subtle vision that the process demands.

This is not to say we shouldn’t seek to aid and encourage our brothers and sisters who are in need. And it’s important to emphasize that this is not an opportunity to punish a brother for his “sins.” But there is a very good chance that denying them sponsorship for further initiation is exactly the aid they need, since it is possible that undergoing the process would harm the seeker, the Order, or both. It is the duty of I° members not to sponsor candidates for whom this outcome is a distinct possibility.

At the same time, we can use these standards to motivate and encourage our brothers and, to a lesser degree, our prospective guests. We propagate our personal values within the Order by setting and enforcing these standards. Sponsorship is yet another opportunity to make the Order yours, for it to look a little more like your vision. Saying “no” to a candidate and explaining the reason establishes that reason as important. If they truly desire your sponsorship, they now have an opportunity to strive for self-improvement. And even if they do not step up, and instead opt to seek — and manage to receive — sponsorship elsewhere, they will still know that not everyone shares the values embodied by their actions. It is difficult to avoid internalizing this judgement and having it shape one’s behavior anyway.

There are two classic forms of motivation, expressed in myriad ways: desire & repulsion, union & violence, carrot & stick. Happiness and joy arise from the dynamic balance of these principles. Without one or the other, people slip into ennui, cruelty, depression, sentiment, rigidity, and stasis.

Our initiations provide many opportunities to perturb and strike this balance. Though initiation’s larger purpose is actually a thorough whipping with the stick, people think of it as the carrot: they strive for mystery even at the expense of the ordeal which it demands. It is then our duty as sponsors to provide the carrot in the form of that true karmic nectar borne of applying self-discipline to accomplish a goal. But in order to fulfill the inversion of the formula and balance the ordeal, we must disguise this boon as the stick, as a burden to undertake. It is through this process that we display our love for our brothers and sisters.

We each have our own vision, even a blurry one, of what our order looks like. It is not for me to say what your sponsorship standards should be. But I will take the liberty of saying that, whatever they may be, you should have them.

Love is the law, love under will.