by Soror Şoim
Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on organizations around the world, and the Ordo Templi Orientis (OTO) has been no exception. In recent years, OTO has struggled to maintain membership and engagement, and the pandemic has only exacerbated these issues. However, there are concrete steps that OTO can take to revitalize and reinvigorate the organization, ensuring that it remains true to the original intent of being a blueprint for a new Thelemic society. In this article, we will explore seven ideas for revitalizing OTO in the era since COVID shutdowns, and discuss how these ideas can help the organization evolve and adapt to the changing times while remaining true to its core values.
1. Reconnect with the original principles
Organizations can lose their way over time, and it’s important to reconnect with the original principles that guided the formation of the group. Reconnecting with the original principles of an organization can be a powerful way to revitalize and refocus its mission. For Ordo Templi Orientis (OTO), this would mean revisiting the founding principles and practices of Thelema, the philosophy and religion created by Aleister Crowley, which is the foundation of the organization. It would also mean a return to the original documents of MMM, EGC, and the founding documents of the Blue Equinox. Here are three actionable ideas for OTO to reconnect with its original principles:
- Have experts apply the original texts to the organization: OTO could organize study groups by higher-degree initiates to delve deeply into the original texts of Thelema, including both Holy Books and OTO organizational texts such as Liber 101, as well as other works by Crowley and his contemporaries. These initiates could then formulate their understanding of the intent of OTO and applications of Thelemic philosophy to its various organizational aspects. It is very rare to hear upper degrees opine on how we can improve organizational structures and processes.
- Encourage membership to read Blue Equinox materials: The OTO is based around the Blue Equinox model but not many members actively know of its components nor are excited to work together toward attaining its goals. This could also help members gain a deeper understanding of the core principles and practices of the philosophy and religion that inspired OTO’s creation .
- Create educational resources: OTO could create centralized educational resources, such as online courses, podcasts about Thelema, and webinars to teach the principles of OTO, to help members and the general public learn more about the history, philosophy, and practices of Thelema and OTO. This could help OTO promote its original principles and attract new members who are drawn to the organization’s core values.
2. Foster a culture of intellectual rigor
Encouraging members to engage in challenging conversations and debates can help promote a culture of intellectual rigor, which is essential for the development of new ideas and the growth of the organization. By fostering a culture of intellectual rigor, OTO could help its members develop a deeper understanding of Thelema and its principles, as well as strengthen their analytical and critical thinking skills. This could help the organization evolve and adapt to the changing times while remaining true to its core values. Here are three actionable ideas for fostering such a culture within OTO:
- Host regular intellectual discussions by experts: OTO could host regular intellectual discussions by upper degree initiates and other Thelemic experts on topics related to Thelema, OTO, philosophy, and spirituality. These discussions could be facilitated by members with expertise in the subject matter and encourage a respectful and open-minded exchange of ideas. It can ideally demonstrate to younger members a certain kind of intellectual strength and curiosity that will serve them in all walks of life.
- Organize debates: OTO could organize formal debates on controversial topics related to Thelema or spirituality in general. This could help members learn how to construct and defend arguments, and gain a better understanding of opposing viewpoints. It can also help develop an understanding of parts of OTO’s philosophy that may need more development.
- Encourage critical reading: OTO could encourage members to critically read and analyze texts related to Thelema and other spiritual traditions. Developing the powers of critically interpreting and carefully reading the founding texts is a skill that must be shared and taught by those with experience. This could be done through book clubs or reading groups where members are encouraged to share their interpretations and critiques of the texts.
3. Rebranding and Marketing
Rebranding and marketing could help OTO shed any negative associations or perceptions and attract new members who share its values and principles. By successfully rebranding and marketing itself, OTO could attract new members who share its values and principles, and help the organization grow and evolve in a positive way. Here are three actionable ideas for OTO to successfully rebrand and market itself:
- Develop a clear brand identity: What does OTO stand for? What kind of people are in it? Why would you join? What is it really for? OTO needs to develop a clear and consistent “brand identity” that reflects its values and principles. This could include creating a new logo (perhaps a unified logo that all bodies use locally), developing brand guidelines, and creating marketing materials that reflect the organization’s mission and purpose. Like it or not, your public image matters!
- Host public events: OTO could host public events, such as lectures, workshops, and rituals, to introduce its philosophy and practices to the wider community. We can use more publicly-facing Thelemites to host events in person and online. This could help demystify the organization and make it more accessible to those who may be interested in joining.
- Use targeted advertising: OTO could use targeted advertising to reach potential members who are interested in Thelema, spirituality, or other related topics. This could include advertising on social media platforms, such as Facebook and Instagram, as well as targeted ads on Google. If you are not using these resources, you’re leaving a powerful magical weapon on the table!
4. Increase transparency and communication
By improving transparency and accountability within OTO, the organization could increase trust among its members and create a more democratic and participatory organization. This could help the organization evolve and adapt to the changing times while remaining true to its core values.
- Publish detailed financial reports: OTO could publish financial reports to its members, detailing the organization’s income and expenditures. This could help increase transparency and accountability and provide members with a clear understanding of how their dues and donations are being used. There are annual financial reports given by USGL but not by IHQ, and the reports given by USGL are particularly vague and un-detailed. How much of our dues are going toward what? Why would someone invest their material resources in an organization that is not open about what they are using their resources on?
- Create a transparent member feedback system: OTO could create a member feedback system that allows members to provide feedback and suggestions to the organization’s leadership. This could help create a more participatory and democratic organization and ensure that members have a voice in the organization’s decision-making. Right now the Path of Mediation is a kind of straw man: the actual “justice system” of OTO is highly complex and opaque, Kafka-esque even, and suffers from a complete lack of oversight. Regular members, even those of higher degrees, often have no idea how the system works or what kinds of complaints should go to whom and how they should be done. A coherent, consistent, and transparent system would go a long way to develop trust.
- Leaders must be more open about their intentions and values: Leaders on the local, national, and international levels must speak up and let both the public and their members know where they are steering the sheep. They must be clear about what values they hold and what they will not tolerate It is otherwise murky and unclear how individual members should behave.
5. Improve outreach and communication
Improving outreach will ensure there are new members to help sustain the organiation. Improving communication within OTO could help ensure that members are informed and engaged with the organization’s activities and decision-making.
- Create new forms of media : OTO could create videos, documentaries, podcasts, mailing lists, and so on. A deliberate effort around formalizing the intent and guidelines for outreach should be started, and the most suitable members with relevant capacities selected to start these projects. Not all of them will succeed but any organization that believes in itself is going to try to bring others in to join.
- Use social media platforms: OTO could use social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram to communicate with its members and share information about upcoming events and initiatives. This could help reach a wider audience and engage younger members who may be more active on social media.
- Hold town hall meetings: OTO could hold town hall meetings where national and international leaders speak about the organization to its members. This could allow members to engage in open discussion with the organization’s leadership. This could help ensure that members have a voice in the organization’s decision-making and provide an opportunity for constructive feedback.
In conclusion, the Ordo Templi Orientis (OTO) has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, leading to struggles in maintaining membership and engagement. However, there are concrete steps that the organization can take to revitalize and reinvigorate itself while remaining true to its original principles. By implementing these ideas, the OTO can adapt and evolve to changing times while remaining true to its core values, attracting new members who share its principles and values, and growing the organization in a positive way.
Love is the law, love under will.
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