Do What Thou Wilt Shall Be the Whole of the Law

Do What Thou Wilt Shall Be the Whole of the Law: A Philosophy of Freedom and Responsibility


“Do What Thou Wilt Shall Be the Whole of the Law” is a phrase often associated with Aleister Crowley, an influential occultist, writer, and philosopher of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This statement encapsulates the core principle of Crowley’s philosophy, known as Thelema. This article aims to explore the meaning behind this enigmatic phrase, its origins, and its implications in modern society. Additionally, a frequently asked questions (FAQs) section will provide clarity on common misconceptions and concerns surrounding this controversial concept.

Understanding “Do What Thou Wilt”:

Contrary to popular belief, “Do What Thou Wilt” does not advocate for reckless indulgence, lawlessness, or moral relativism. Instead, it promotes a profound understanding of one’s true will or purpose in life. In Crowley’s philosophy, each individual possesses a unique will that aligns with their essential nature. Discovering and following this will is seen as the ultimate source of fulfillment and spiritual growth. However, this pursuit comes with a crucial caveat: “Love is the law, love under will.” This means that while individuals are encouraged to follow their true will, they must do so without causing harm to others or infringing upon their rights.

Origins and Influences:

The phrase “Do What Thou Wilt Shall Be the Whole of the Law” derives its roots from various historical and philosophical sources. Crowley drew inspiration from the 16th-century French writer François Rabelais, who wrote, “Do what thou wilt because men that are free, of gentle birth, well-bred, and at home in civilized company possess a natural instinct that inclines them to virtue and saves them from vice. This instinct they name honor.” Crowley expanded upon this concept, infusing it with his own occultist beliefs, Eastern mysticism, and his interpretation of Western esoteric traditions such as Hermeticism and Theurgy.

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Implications in Modern Society:

The philosophy of “Do What Thou Wilt” challenges traditional moral frameworks that impose external rules and limitations on individuals. It advocates for personal autonomy, encouraging individuals to explore their passions and desires without guilt or societal judgment. However, this freedom does not absolve one from responsibility. Thelemites believe that by following their true will, individuals contribute to the harmony and evolution of the world. This philosophy encourages self-reflection, ethical decision-making, and the pursuit of personal growth, ultimately leading to a more authentic and fulfilling life.


Q: Does “Do What Thou Wilt” promote selfishness and disregard for others?

A: No, it does not. Thelema emphasizes the importance of love and responsibility. Following one’s true will requires considering the well-being and rights of others. It is a philosophy that encourages individuals to find their unique path while respecting the autonomy and happiness of others.

Q: Can “Do What Thou Wilt” be applied to any situation?

A: While the philosophy promotes personal freedom, it does not endorse harmful actions or behaviors. The true will should align with one’s higher self and contribute positively to the world. It is essential to distinguish between true will and fleeting desires that may lead to harm or negative consequences.

Q: Is Thelema a religion?

A: Thelema is often described as a spiritual philosophy rather than a traditional religion. It provides a framework for personal development and self-discovery but does not dictate specific rituals or worship practices. However, some individuals incorporate Thelemic principles into their religious or spiritual practices.

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Q: Does “Do What Thou Wilt” conflict with societal laws and regulations?

A: While Thelema encourages personal autonomy, it does not condone breaking the law or infringing upon the rights of others. The philosophy recognizes the importance of living in harmony with society and advocates for responsible actions within legal boundaries.


“Do What Thou Wilt Shall Be the Whole of the Law” encapsulates the core principle of Thelema, Aleister Crowley’s philosophy of self-discovery and personal responsibility. This article has shed light on the true meaning behind this phrase and debunked some common misconceptions. The philosophy of Thelema encourages individuals to find their true will, align it with love and responsibility, and contribute positively to the world. As with any philosophical concept, it is essential to approach it with an open mind, critical thinking, and a willingness to explore one’s own beliefs and values.