Ceremony of Baptism of a Child
Thelema rejects the idea of original sin. So, for us, baptism represents a symbolic birth into the Thelemic community. The child heeds the call of Nuit, who declares, “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.” The child enters the portals of Her Church, where he or she is welcomed into the community of worshippers, leaving the profane world and its materialistic obsessions behind.
The baptized child joins the community at what is essentially a probationary level. The recitation of the creed by the congregation during the baptismal ceremony represents the instruction of the child in the essential tenets of the church. The child is not a full member of the community until he or she has learned these tenets and has made a conscious, informed decision to accept them.
(The Temple is arranged for the Gnostic Mass, but the Veil is closed. The guests are admitted and seated. The child to be baptized, who is at least eleven years old, enters with his or her parents and Godparents; they sit near the Tomb in the West. The Godparents should be confirmed members of the Church.
The Priest, Priestess and Deacon are all present, clad in plain white robes. The Deacon holds a small towel over his arm, and a goblet of wine is ready near the Font.
The part labeled PRIEST(ESS) may be filled by either the Priest or by the Priestess; or the Priest and Priestess may allocate the lines between each other and administer the ceremony conjointly if both are ordained and recognized.)
The DEACON (facing East, with the appropriate gesture): “APO PANTOS KAKODAIMONOS.”
(He turns, and invites the Candidate and the Sponsors to advance to the Font.)
The DEACON: “Every man and every woman is a star.” We are all born free, independent, shining gloriously, each one a radiant world, according to the Law of Liberty. “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.”
The PRIEST(ESS): It is written in the Book of the Law:
“Come forth, o children, under the stars, & take your fill of love!”
“They shall gather my children into their fold: they shall bring the glory of the stars into the hearts of men.”
PRIEST(ESS): [Describes the object of the baptismal rite in the E.G.C. The following language is suggested.] The origins of the Rite of Baptism are lost in antiquity, but its meaning is as clear as living water: it symbolizes birth. The object of this Rite is to commemorate the birth of a child as a member of the Body of Nuit, whose Life is one, individual and eternal; to welcome this child through a symbolic second birth into the knowledge, fellowship and sanctuary of our Congregation; and to remind us of our duties toward each other and toward all children.
PRIEST(ESS) (to the parents): Brother N and Sister N, there are Bonds which lead to Slavery, and Bonds which lead to Freedom. We are all bound in many Fetters by Environment, and it is for ourselves in great Part to determine whether they shall enslave us or emancipate us.
Consider the Bond of a harsh Climate, how it maketh Man a Slave; he must have Shelter and Food with fierce Toil. Yet hereby he becometh strong against the Elements, and his moral Force waxeth, so that he is Master of such Men as live in Lands where bodily Needs are satisfied without Struggle.
Consider also him that willeth to exceed in Speed or in Battle, how he denieth himself the Food he craveth, and all Pleasures natural to him, putting himself under the harsh Order of a Trainer. So by this Bondage he hath, at the last, his Will.
Now then the one by natural, and the other by voluntary, Restriction have come each to greater Liberty.
It is not the Will of any person which ultimateth in his own Ruin and that of all his Fellows; and that is not Liberty whose Exercise bringeth him to Bondage. Thou mayst therefore assume that it is always an essential Part of the Will of any Child to grow to Manhood or to Womanhood in Health, and his/her Guardians may therefore prevent him/her from ignorantly acting in Opposition thereunto, Care being always taken to remove the Cause of the Error, namely, Ignorance, as aforesaid. Thou mayst also assume that it is Part of the Child’s Will to train every Function of the Mind; and the Guardians may therefore combat the inertia which hinders its Development. Yet here is much Caution necessary, and it is better to work by exciting and satisfying any natural Curiosity than by forcing Application to set Tasks, however obvious this Necessity may appear.
It is important that thou shouldst understand as early as may be what is the true Will of the Child in the Matter of his/her Career. Be thou well aware of all Ideals and Day-dreams; for the Child is herself, and not thy Toy. Recall the comic Tragedy of Napoleon and the King of Rome; build not an House for a wild Goat, nor plant a Forest for the Domain of a Shark. But be thou vigilant for every Sign, conscious or unconscious of the Will of the Child, giving him/her then all Opportunity to pursue the Path which he/she thus indicates. Learn this, that she, being young, will weary quickly of all false Ways, however pleasant they may be to him/her at the Outset; but of the true Way he/she will not weary.
Now in this Training of the Child there is one most dear Consideration, and it is this, that since that which can be thought is not true, every Statement is in some Sense false. Even on the Sea of pure Reason, we may say that every Statement is in some Sense disputable, therefore in every Case, even the simplest, the Child should be taught not only the Thesis, but also its opposite, leaving the Decision to the Child’s own Judgment and good Sense, fortified by Experience. And this Practice will develop his/her Power of Thought, and his/her Confidence in herself, and his/her Interest in all Knowledge. But most of all beware against any Attempt to bias his/her Mind on any point that lieth without the Square of ascertained and undisputed Fact. Remember also, even when thou art most sure, that so were they sure who gave Instruction to the young Copernicus. Pay Reverence also to the Unknown unto whom thou presumeth to impart the Knowledge; for he/she may be one greater than thou.
PRIEST(ESS): Sister N and Brother N, is it your will that your child be brought under the wings of our Gnostic and Catholic Church?
Parents: It is. (To the child:) “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.” (They kiss the child, and leave the room.)
PRIEST(ESS) (to the Godparents): These are the responsibilities of the members of our Church towards children:
All children of members are to be considered as children of the whole Church to be protected and aided in every way by its members severally, as by its organization collectively. No distinction is to be made with regard to the conditions surrounding the birth of any child.
There is an especially sacred duty, which every member should fulfil, with regard to all children, those born without the Church included. This duty is to instruct them in the Law of Thelema, to teach them independance and freedom of thought and character, and to warn them that servility and cowardice are the most deadly diseases of the human soul.
PRIEST(ESS): Is it your will to accept, protect and aid this child as you would your own?
The Godparents: It is.
PRIEST(ESS): Do you swear to defend his/her freedom, and bring him/her to initiation?
The Godparents: I do.
PRIEST(ESS): Then lead us in the confession of our Creed.
The Godparents: (lead all in reciting the Creed.)
PRIEST(ESS): Will you instruct this child, and assist him/her in his/her way to true knowledge and understanding of the mysteries of our Creed?
The Godparents: I will.
PRIEST(ESS) (to the child, taking child’s hand): Say after me: I will know my own Will. I will do my own Will. I will rejoice in the Will of my God.
DEACON: Lord of Life and Joy, grant unto this Child the Power of the Holy Spirit to persevere in this intention, and to grow in Knowledge and Understanding.
PRIEST(ESS) [consecrates water. The following formula is suggested.] (holding hands over the Font): “This is the world of the waters of Maim; this is the bitter water that becometh sweet.” (breathes over Font).
PRIEST(ESS) [consecrates wine. The following formula is suggested.] (brings a goblet of wine, and elevates it over the Font): “I came to the house of the Beloved, and the wine was like fire that flieth with green wings through the world of waters.” (makes ☩ with wine over Font).
DEACON (to Godparents): Under what name does this child approach baptism?
Godparents: (Give Baptismal Name of child.)
[The child is now baptized with water, then with wine. The following formula is suggested.]
(The Deacon helps child position his/her head over the Font, and places the towel at the child’s breast to protect his/her clothing. The Priest(ess) then takes the Ewer, fills it with consecrated water from the Font, and pours the water over the child’s head thrice into the Font [alternatively, the PRIEST(ESS) may take a rose from the altar, dip it in the font and sprinkle the child with the water from the rose], saying:)
PRIEST(ESS): [Baptismal Name] I baptize thee in the name of NUIT (pour), of HADIT (pour) and of RA-HOOR-KHUIT (pour).
(The Priest(ess) then pours the consecrated wine from the goblet over the child’s head into the Font [alternatively, the PRIEST(ESS) may sprinkle some of the wine over the Candidate’s head, or apply a small quantity of the wine to the Candidate’s head with her hand], saying:)
PRIEST(ESS): “I am uplifted in thine heart; and the kisses of the stars rain hard upon thy body.”
[The Child is received.]
PRIEST, PRIESTESS and DEACON: We receive thee into the Gnostic and Catholic Church of Light, Life, Love and Liberty, the Word of whose Law is THELEMA.
(If more than one child is being baptized on this occasion, each is brought in turn to this point, then all assemble beside the Font.)
PRIEST(ESS): (raising hands in blessing): Gloria Patri et Matri et Filio et Filiae et Spiritui Sancto Externo et Spiritui Sancto Interno, ut erat est erit in saecula Saeculorum sex in uno per nomen Septem in uno ARARITA.
(Deacon rings the bell 333-55555-333)
DEACON: Now I begin to pray: Thou Child,
Holy Thy name and undefiled!
Thy reign is come; Thy will is done.
Here is the Bread; here is the Blood.
Bring me through midnight to the Sun!
Save me from Evil and from Good!
That Thy one crown of all the Ten
Even now and here be mine. AMEN.
PRIEST(ESS): (delivers exhortation.) [This may be extemporaneous or pre-written. It should be tailored to the particular Candidates, if possible, and should encourage the Candidates to: (a) find their own way of life through the active pursuit of self-knowledge; (b) respect and learn from the experience, both positive and negative, of other members of the Church; and (c) contribute to the growth and welfare of the Church and the Order.]
(Applause. The Veil is opened. The Officers retire and prepare for the Gnostic Mass. The Gnostic Mass is then celebrated, with only the child(ren) baptized partaking of communion. Afterwards, the child(ren) baptized receive instruction in the step and sign, and a copy of the Creed.)
Original Publication Date: 1997
Draft Version: 10/28/98 e.v.