Based upon academic research at the University of Amsterdam's Center for the History of Hermetic Philosophy and Related Currents, One Truth and One Spirit is a much-needed work that covers a previously unexplored history of the modern religious movement known as Thelema. This work details the theoretical framework of Aleister Crowley's spiritual legacy in the O.T.O. and the A?A? and covers the years of Thelema since Crowley's death in 1947.
One Truth and One Spirit approaches a complex topic with a complex history, with exhaustive citations and sources, but it is written for anyone interested in the subject of Thelema. The author utilizes published source material as well as previously unavailable information, which makes this a unique contribution to the available literature.
One Truth and One Spirit is expected to be of interest to the novice, the scholar, and the seasoned practitioner of Thelema. The work provides a general historical overview of Thelema from a theoretical vantage point, explores the historical development of the movement from the 1960s to the 1990s, and applies the author's own critical discussions on the topic itself.
“Everyone interested in Crowley’s institutional and philosophical legacy—and especially members of Thelemic bodies—will benefit from reading Keith Readdy’s extensive study. Its strengths lie in clarifying Thelema’s growth as a religious movement, in expressing its peculiarities as religion, philosophy, and magical order, and in adumbrating Thelemic ethics, along with the tangled history of the A...A... and O.T.O.
Readdy traces the development of Thelema as a system after its initial prophetic impulse in 1904, making helpful distinctions between “religion” and “spirituality.” Above all, he delineates the fate of Crowley’s two principal orders after his death in 1947 in the context of a discourse on “duplexity.”
Thelema’s reliance on its publishing history is clearly presented, as is the long battle for possession, or re-possession, of Crowley’s institutional legacy—principally his copyrights—waged between Karl Germer’s protégé Marcelo Ramos Motta and Crowley’s intended successor to Germer, Grady McMurtry. Tensions and hostility between Jane Wolfe’s former “pupil” Phyllis Seckler (representing A...A... interests), and husband McMurtry (representing O.T.O. interests), receive detailed treatment, building on James Wasserman’s autobiographical account Into the Center of the Fire(2012). The issue of A...A... “lineages” is a primary interest of the book’s latter part.
Readdy illuminates the disconcerting reality of schism in the O.T.O. and continuing vexation in the A...A... system over adherence to Crowley’s original intentions. Readdy’s concise, lucid treatment of the O.T.O.’s internalized Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica is a boon to understanding the complex Thelemic synthesis as manifested in practice.
Above all, while the author writes as an infra-movement adherent and specialist—accepting Crowley’s privileged spiritual authority—he issues a summons for a rational case for the extension of academic interest in Thelema from the burgeoning chapel of Western Esotericism, so to engage with mainstream philosophy, sociology, psychology, political science, behavioral and cognitive sciences, even environmental studies.
Thelema has apparently reached a new stage in its 114-year development, and Readdy’s book is both symptomatic of this, and arguably vital to its continuance. The time-factor is interesting. Most lasting religious movements go through a century or so of inward, incubatory drama before emerging on the greater stage of life. Readdy presents Thelema as a system ready to take its full place in the world.” --Tobias Churton, author of Aleister Crowley: The Biography and Aleister Crowley in America