Conflict Management – Brotherhood Unity Delicacy and Strength

This piece is written by a current Deputy Master in the Valley of Atlanta and is about his local body’s approach to conflict management incorporating Thelemic principles and referencing Crowley’s thoughts on conflict.

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

Over the course of the last year much attention has been given to various aspects and levels of conflict in our Order. One positive result of this has been a renewed focus among our leaders and members on our devotion to Pax Templi, the Path of Mediation, and other policies and core values that can help us to manage and even resolve conflict when it arises. And of course, conflict does arise in every local body of the Order from time to time, including our own.

As a large, active, and diverse group here in the Valley of Atlanta, these issues can prove challenging, but we know our fraternal and philosophical values are up to the challenge. It is in that spirit that I have composed this document as a small but necessary step toward better communicating, embracing, and embodying those values. We hope that our efforts will help those in other Valleys to do the same.

Love is the Law, Love under Will.

Frater Volantis

 

Brotherhood, Unity, Delicacy, and Strength

 

By Fr. Volantis

 

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

“Lo, while in The Book of the Law is much of Love, there is no word of Sentimentality. Hate itself is almost like Love! ‘As brothers fight ye!” (Liber AL III:59) All the manly races of the world understand this. The Love of Liber Legis is always bold, virile, even orgiastic. There is delicacy, but it is the delicacy of strength” (“Liber II: The Message of the Master Therion”).

I would like to look at Crowley’s commentary as we discuss infighting in our community and how we manage conflict.

“Fight like gentlemen, without malice, because fighting is the best game in the world, and love the second best! Don’t slander your enemy, as the newspapers would have you do; just kill him, and then bury him with honour. Don’t keep crying ‘Foul’ like a fifth-rate pugilist. Don’t boast! Don’t squeal! If you’re down, get up and hit him again! Fights of that sort make fast friends.” (New Commentary III:59, The Law Is For All)

Crowley goes on to further suggest that the “brothers“ fighting is an internal conflict: an Elder Brother, the silent self, that slays the immature Younger Brother, the conscious self. The Elder arises incorruptible after the internal conflict.

Now let us look at the proceeding verse, Liber AL III:58 – “But the keen and the proud, the royal and the lofty; ye are brothers!” Our camaraderie within Thelema, is with these: the keen; the proud, the royal; the lofty. Do we see our fellows as noble, and do we treat them with respect? When we are done sparring, are we ready to fight alongside our noble kin towards our shared goals?

Just as a student of the martial arts may spar with their teacher, without malice, without rancor; so too must brothers fight, leaving aside hatred, we choose instead to be mindful of the bonds that are forged as we learn and grow with one another.

We live in a world where on every side is cried “peace!” But it is not so. Were the adepts to sit, and relinquish vigilance, the world would fall utterly to pieces. Consider that even Jesus, the Prince of Peace, ran through the temple with a scourge, beating the money changers. What those advocating peace really desire is a life of security. If security is to be more than an illusion, we must each individually find it. Who better to spar and train with than our loved ones while we seek to hone that which will give us security?

So we have fought with our brothers, delighted in the exchange, and allowed it to come to a conclusion, how do we continue on with our brethren after a fight? As Thelemites we embrace the reality that conflict will happen, but as OTO members we most move forward as brothers fighting toward a common goal. We may fight, but then we must find harmony with our siblings if we are to spread the message of Thelema.

Here are some suggestions to manage conflict and to find resolution:

Recognize that others have their own perspectives. Assumptions about what other people already know, think, or intend can fuel resentments and build conflicts. Many people argue simply because they want to feel heard. Simply being a good, active listener can be enough to inspire trust and resolve with your fellows

See Opportunities in Conflict. Some people seek to avoid conflict or attempt to use it to prove dominance. Neither of these are productive but if we can lean into the conflict, there are opportunities to find resolution allowing all parties to grow, develop and learn. If we have tended to avoid conflict, the underlying topics and details are likely things that will grow into a snarling bramble in the dark. Let us shine a light rather than withdrawing from them, and grow!

Build the Temple!  Help to build a culture that encourages giving and receiving feedback. Ask your brethren for their frequent feedback. Allow unpleasant truths to trickle through gradually, and foster a sense of camaraderie and understanding within our organization while we deal with them. More than in any other place, we have a control over what our community will become.

Manage your own anxiety. As scary as conflicts may be to us, if our fears or anxiety overtakes us, we will not be effective in reaching towards our True Wills. It is not that we as individuals shouldn’t allow ourselves to feel our emotions, but it is important to find a way to manage them so that there is maximum ability for everyone to feel some openness in expressing their concerns without overwrought feelings shutting things down. Most importantly: Breathe!

Understand that a particular issue is always a part of a larger emotional system operating in our community. Rarely is a conflict only about a particular issue or person, as much as it may seem like that at the time. Find some help in uncovering the deeper concerns at play without scapegoating or furthering rumor about a particular person or engaging in the fantasy that you can easily solve a systemic issue, but….

Be open to solutions. Understanding and communication are all very well and good, but do not help much if you don’t have a solution for the underlying problem, whatever that problem may be. Conflict often happens because no one can come up with a workable solution, so resolving the conflict depends on creating a solution. If you cannot reach a solution, turn to others for help.

Above all, ask for help! Contact your local leaders, ask for information and familiarize yourself with the Path of Mediation, and contact the Ombudspersons when an issue starts to be too much!

Love is the Law, Love under Will.