Love is the law, love under will.
– Liber AL vel Legis, The Book of the Law
Eight words the Wiccan Rede fulfill,
An it harm none do what ye will.
– Doreen Valiente
The concept of “will” (which I’m going to refer too with the capitalized “Will” here, for clarity) is a big one in paganisms influenced by the fabulous Aleister Crowley, whose Book of the Law I’ve quoted above. See also the Wiccan Rede. Lots of people like to interpret Will as “whatever you want,” but it’s actually more specific.
The idea is that each person has a purpose, a reason for being here — their Will. It’s what, once they know themselves thoroughly, they really want to do with their lives, what they feel drawn to. Figuring this out requires self-knowledge and contact with one’s higher self / GodSoul / divine nature. The process of attaining contact with one’s higher self, learning your Will, and accomplishing it is collectively referred to as The Great Work.
There was recently a handful of blog posts on the idea of “doing the work.” Doing the work means actually meditating, practicing techniques and rituals, and so on, rather than being an armchair magician. The posts are here, here, and here. Please do read them, they’re really interesting and insightful.
Doing the work is vital. You can’t find your Will by reading about it, you have to actually keep up a daily practice, to sit your ass down and meditate even when you’re tired or bored (or scared shitless. People seem to discount how terrifying to the ego sitting meditation can be), to keep practicing ritual and magic until you know what you’re doing, and so on.
This idea of constant self-improvement, of the need to find one’s purpose, is at the heart of my ongoing practice. It’s what helps me to keep coming back to my daily practice, even after I’ve fallen out of the habit for a while. It’s what helps me to keep working to be healthy enough to go to Aikido practice regularly.
Interwoven with the other values I’ve written about earlier this month, Will becomes the piece that ties them all together. The drive to find my Will is what keeps me seeking to have more integrity, to be fiercely compassionate, to be filled with love, and to filter all this through my pragmatic lens.
Thanks for coming along with me on this little adventure! It’s been an interesting experience to try putting all these ideas into words. Please don’t hesitate to ask questions on any of my Pagan Values posts, I welcome the opportunity to clarify or expand on anything folks are interested in!