Book Review: One Truth and One Spirit


Keith Readdy – One Truth and One Spirit: The Spiritual Legacy of Aleister Crowley. Ibis Press.

The release of One Truth and One Spirit comes with a great deal of anticipation and interest in the Thelemic community. No small part of this interest has been generated by some who have chosen to adopt a hard line of opposition—in the majority of cases without having seen the work itself—to the documentary evidence that Readdy previously announced would be included in this book. That the primary evidence he presents features exclusive examples of private personal correspondences between formative members of the modern expressions of the A.’.A.’. and the O.T.O., as well as unpublished documents and photographs from the O.T.O. archives (personally provided by the Outer Head of the Order), challenges Readdy’s detractors with a predicament of whether they should rationally argue their cases to the information presented with equal evidential rigour or whether they should instead resort to the flat denial of the proofs offered and ad-hominem attacks on the author. Sadly, thus far at least, some have opted for the latter option, as is evident in one of the reviews apparent on Amazon by an individual who opened his diatribe with the proclamation that he had no intention of either purchasing or reading the book. But as is always the case, those who engage with an open-mind to either inform or challenge their views on the world will find their reward.

Putting the storm of discomfort this book’s appearance may have conjured to one side for a moment, what we find in Readdy’s work is a concise overview of the history of Thelema from Crowley’s initial formation of its doctrine, including his vision of the work of the A.’.A.’. and the O.T.O., through to the battle for legitimacy in the ‘interregnum’ between Crowley’s death and the modern reorganisation of the two Orders. It is this section in particular that proves unsettling for those who disagree with the author’s assertions, not least because of the documentary proof of the implausibility of one of Thelema’s most beloved figure’s position as the primary link in the chain between Crowley’s manifestation of the A.’.A.’. and the manifestation that resulted from its gradual rebirth between the 1970s and 1990s.

Although such sensitive points will naturally be seen as contentious to some, the overall theme of One Truth and One Spirit is, as the title suggests, an appeal for unity. Readdy demonstrates well that there is a much wider and broader manifestation of the Thelemic movement in the modern world that goes beyond the boundaries of the O.T.O. and the A.’.A.’. and, despite what some critics may suggest, this is not portrayed as a bad thing, as any worldly manifestation of the Law of Thelema serves the ultimate purpose of successfully establishing the New Aeon. What may be argued from his assertions is not that the many diverse strains of Thelema available to us today are _in themselves_ illegitimate, but that they don’t have a very _specific_ legitimacy. The nature of that legitimacy is then clarified in the book’s content.

Other than the arguments made to prove the legal and spiritual legitimacy of the modern O.T.O. and A.’. A.’., the only point in this book that could be construed as at all ‘negative’ in any sense is Readdy’s dissection of the phenomenon of The Digital Magus in Chapter 12, which to me resonated very succinctly with some of the realities of 21st Century occultism. The reasons for such criticisms will no doubt already be clear to many without further need for clarification, but Readdy assertively and eloquently elucidates the obstacles that social media places in the way of those who would seek to do the Great Work but instead find themselves plunging into the pits of narcissism and self-aggrandizement.

Despite the undisguised calling-out of those who have forged their online projections in accordance with the aims of Choronzon, this chiding comes with the same call to unity in its intentions as those that are echoed in the author’s closing statements. Thelema, states Readdy, comprises of a highly diverse and comprehensive set of practices and activities that are ultimately designed to bring the practitioner spiritual freedom. The triad of Thelemic organisations, the A.’. A.’., the O.T.O. and the E.G.C., offer the means to assist with this and with the integral demand for the philosophy of Thelema to accept all of humanity in all of its diverse forms, its overall message is one that calls to end the fragmentation that has characterised the Thelemic movement since the death of its prophet so that it may mature its advance in the world and fulfil its purpose of providing humanity with the keys to its own salvation.

One Truth and One Spirit is available for pre-order on Amazon, or can be purchased now, directly from the author, here: