The Great Work describes a lifelong goal of achieving a particular state of consciousness we call Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel. This section will try to convey a better idea of what the Great Work is and why it matters.
In our discussion about Thelema, we discussed the concept of Will (capital "W"). In review, we discussed the idea that each person has a divine Will which is their purpose in life to accomplish. The problem that the initiate faces is that not everything that one wishes to do in this life aligns properly with one's divine Will. The challenge then is to discern what one's True Will is and to move forward towards accomplishing that True Will.
There is a part of each of us that knows without a doubt what our True Will is. We call that the Holy Guardian Angel. The Holy Guardian Angel is that part of our soul which is immortal--that is, it does not reincarnate but simply always "is". It is the part of the human soul which is divine. The Holy Guardian Angel can also be thought of as one's "higher self".
In our tradition, we believe that the Holy Guardian Angel and our waking consciousness is separated by a great Abyss. This is why it can be so hard to hear the voice of our Holy Guardian Angel and learning to discern it's voice is of utmost importance. Many of the techniques and tools of Magick that the OAV teaches involve learning to cross the Abyss in order to better communicate with one's Holy Guardian Angel or "higher self".
Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel describes a state of waking consciousness in which the initiate has crossed the Abyss and established a working relationship with his "higher self". He has learned to discern the voice of his Holy Guardian Angel and is able to do his Will because he is aware of what is Will is. Many spiritual traditions describe a similar type of state of consciousness and each provides different tools for obtaining it.
The Great Work is the lifelong process of achieving and maintaining Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel. It is an ongoing quest to discover and do our Will. This is the goal of the magician and the goal that all initiates of the OAV strive towards.