by Soror Falcon
Ordo Templi Orientis (OTO) is unquestionably the biggest, the most well-known, and the most recognizable organization dedicated to Aleister Crowley’s magical system (or philosophy) of Thelema. Crowley has been an almost mythical figure, appearing throughout pop culture since his death from being on the cover of the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album to Ozzy Osbourne singing “Mr. Crowley” (albeit with incorrect pronunciation, of course).
That all being established, it is strange to know that OTO is stagnant and has not truly grown. Back in the “good old days” (when there were even fewer rules, more drugs, and – believe it or not – even more drama) of the 1990’s, there were lodges that were more active than the busiest lodges around today. With all that history of OTO going back to 1913 or so, and with all the pop culture around Crowley and OTO (although most of it is Illuminati-type conspiracy mongering), one might wonder why OTO is not more popular.
I think there are innumerable reasons that OTO is not only at fault for their lack of growth, but are essentially doomed to failure. I dont think OTO will ever disappear: it will likely continue to sputter and dwindle, having little bursts of interest amidst the long and drawn-out slow death. In this way, it is doomed to never grow in significant ways, either in terms of membership or in terms of developing the system and structure of OTO.
When I speak about these reasons that OTO is doomed, I speak as someone who has dedicated around 15 years of my life to the organization in various ways, at various levels, and have strongly personally wanted to see it develop into its full potential. Unfortunately I think that is now essentially impossible for various reasons that I will discuss. Some of these reasons are structural: they are permanent features of OTO unless it completely re-organizes. Other reasons are not permanent but likely unchanging due the personalities currently in power.
For those still in OTO, waiting for the slightest justification to dismiss this article due to being “anti-OTO” or “just bitter” or something like that: this article is actually meant with the members of OTO in mind. I want people joining and part of OTO to be fully aware of what organization they are a part of. And more importantly: If there are people with persistence greater than mine, who still remain in OTO and want to make it a better place, then I give my blessings to you. These reasons OTO is doomed should be part of a healthy contemplation of how the organization can be made better. Unfortunately, this is unlikely to happen due to one of our first reasons…
1) Dissent is not tolerated
This probably seems ridiculous to say to many OTO members, due to the fact that nominally OTO is in favor of freedom in general, especially freedom of speech. However, in practice, this is not true. The problem is that it is done in subtle ways that are not so obvious as an overt threat of punishment for dissenting opinions.
The truth is that the social life of OTO is not invulnerable to the various pitfalls of tribalism that are inherent in human psychology and sociology. People even in small groups immediately divide themselves into in-group and out-group, and find anything challenging the in-group’s social cohesion to be a threat. In this way, even mild and well-intentioned criticism is met with social consequences that reinforce the idea that dissent is not wanted or tolerated. If you express dissent with local issues, you may find yourself frozen out of important roles for events. If you express dissent with regional or national issues, you may find yourself not invited to any of the degrees beyond Man of Earth. It is so well known that there is even a term for what happens after you say something negative – you get “the call”. Someone in authority will call you or ask to meet with you and essentially make your life a bit more difficult for having spoken up.
Luckily, this is a theoretically fix-able problem… but it would require strong, intelligent, informed leadership guided by principles that are transcendent, like spreading Thelema, rather than simply avoiding conflict or making things appear “okay”. This is unlikely to happen because…
2) The leadership is the same old white dudes from 30 years ago
I have nothing against old people, white people, or dudes but come on. The same calcified leadership is in place, and not because they’ve done such a great job. If OTO is supposed to be a vanguard of Thelema of sorts, then you will not simply need new and fresh ideas but also youthful virility, vision, and persistence. There is no diversity of opinion and – believe it or not – Crowley had some choice words to say about uniformity.
Older people tend toward conservatism in the sense that they tend to seek homeostasis, security, consistency, and safety. This also creates a tendency toward not being willing to self-examine, to reform, and especially not likely to make large structural changes to anything. In this way, there are no new and bold ideas in OTO. In fact, I’d surmise they’re about 30 to 40 years behind the curve in terms of adapting to new trends in religion, technology, and organizing. When one person was asked how they might increase OTO’s web presence, someone in all seriousness suggested a webring. A webring. Most of you probably dont even remember them. There are adults writing about Thelema now who were not born before the last webring died. That person should in all seriousness have been laughed out of the room, but it is simply symptomatic of the behind-the-times approach OTO has to everything. And the structure of OTO reinforces this problem: You can only go up in degrees, you can never go back, you can never be “fired” from being a VII* after being made a VII*. It therefore is largely a measure of how long you have been in the Order (and not caused any kerfuffles or annoyed any of the wrong people) rather than a form of meritocracy that people have earned. This is all exacerbated by the fact that….
3) OTO has no vision for itself
I am fully aware there are founding documents and even vision and values statements from the United States brethren. Still, I do not think that modern OTO has figured out what exactly it is fundamentally. There diametrically opposite views of what OTO is and should be from people in positions of great authority in OTO. The differences tend to be regional but it still speaks to an internal conflict within OTO: What exactly is OTO? Is it a fraternal order dedicated to social and political purposes such as increasing freedom in society? Or is it a secret society meant for the few and the elite, not to be known or understood by the masses?
Part of the problem is that OTO has largely dropped the pretense of following what is known as the “Blue Equinox” model (because it is based on a model of OTO described in documents that were in a volume of The Equinox that had a blue cover). The Blue Equinox documents are primarily Liber 52, 101, and 194, and are proudly hosted on USGL’s web library with a length note from Sabazius (head of US OTO) explaining all the many ways that the Blue Equinox model is not only not adopted but never will be. This is for various reasons, theoretically including that maintaining 501c3 status within the US would not allow for several provisions in relation to property, for example. But the entire spirit of the Blue Equinox is not part of the general purpose of OTO. Half the people want OTO to grow and be a social-political force, or some kind of Thelemic community center at least, and the other half resent this effort because they want it to be their secret club. There is no greater clarity when listening to leadership. No real efforts are made to do much other than further expand and amplify OTO’s internal bureaucratic structure into further complexity.
A lot of these problems are tied together in my opinion: The lack of vision makes people all the more likely to create interpersonal drama and perform social triangulations, and so on. In an organization like OTO, you need a unifying transcendent goal that binds people of different qualities together into a single purpose – it’s almost like some of that stuff is inherent in the teachings of OTO itself but is summarily ignored. So a lack of vision leads to tribalism, and the leadership is too tired to recognize the issue let alone do anything about it.
4) A complete and total lack of transparency
Members of OTO like to slap each other on the back and congratulate each other for conforming to the complex and opaque bureaucratic systems of OTO that are at least nominally there to improve the organization. Systems like the Grand Tribunal or the Path of Mediation to resolve interpersonal conflicts in the United States are confusing and opaque – ask any two OTO members how you might get an issue before the Grand Tribunal, and you will probably get two shrugs. Reporting bad behavior in general is opaque: There is no justification given for many rulings, simply a ruling handed down. There are appeals but it is like sending it back into the same black hole. People say “trust the system” or other trite clichés like “the justice of OTO grinds slow but true”, but that is frankly not true. There are innumerable cases of injustice done to members by the opaque bureaucracy of OTO: you would not hear from many of these people at OTO events because they are simply not going to hang around an organization they see as having betrayed them.
There is also a clear benefit to ingratiating yourself with people who hold social capital in OTO. People who are friends with Bishops, Kings, and other important authorities within OTO will almost inherently get preferential treatment. There are so many cases of this that surely people reading this will immediately think of one or two. This is inherent in human psychology: preferring your in-group is natural, but OTO should be better. OTO should theoretically create initiates who are of higher spiritual and moral quality than the average person off the street. But unfortunately this kind of nepotistic favoritism goes hand in hand with the opaque nature of decision making in OTO.
5) The whole weird sex magick thing at the center
Many people (in my opinion, rightfully) look down upon Scientology for their bait and switch tactics. They draw people in with “classes” about general subjects, like organizing your life, improving your mental abilities, or obtaining basic skills for life. At some point, Scientology takes a hard left turn and then appears Xenu, a billion year old alien who steals souls. This Xenu mythology is central to the higher degrees of Scientology but many people in the lower, local areas do not know about it. This is an exact parallel to OTO in many ways: The local bodies put on various generic events about occultism and Thelema but, at a certain point in OTO, you realize the central secret is a sex magick secret. It is not entirely secret anymore, of course. This secret involves, to some extent or another, consuming one’s own and your partner’s sexual fluids. “Come for the sigil-making classes, stay for the consumption of sexual fluids!” It’s not the catchiest slogan in the world. Frankly, it is a bit of a poison pill, in my opinion.
This is not something that can be extracted from OTO. You cannot turn OTO into another Freemasonry 2.0 that just replaces ideas with Thelemic gods and Freemasonic virtues with Thelemic ones. You will always have this sex magick secret at its core. And the higher you go in OTO, the more people care about this secret. Really, many of the Hermits see OTO’s purpose as primarily safeguarding this secret, not doing anything in the world, or growing, or anything in the Blue Equinox. In this way, OTO’s lack of growth is to its own benefit. Were OTO to grow, it would gain public scrutiny and people would inevitably start asking questions why everyone is consuming sexual fluids in weird occult rituals.
And the odd thing is that many members at the “local body” level do not even know about this secret, or think it isnt as important as it is to OTO. This again speaks both to a lack of vision (is OTO really just supposed to be able safeguarding a sexual fluid consumption ritual?) and a lack of transparency.
6) OTO doesn’t offer its members much except to become managers to administer the system
There have been a few conversations online about this idea recently that OTO doesnt really teach much of anything. The classes OTO teaches are virtually all informal and created without oversight by the individual members. There is no structured teaching beyond the degree rituals themselves, which are informally understood to be able to be interpreted in any way you like. So at a certain point, you might find yourself asking what exactly do people “do” in OTO beyond just hanging out and talking about obscure trivia over some wine? In the US, most people “do Mass”. The repetitious performance of the same, single ritual every week or month. People get ordained just to do this one ritual, essentially. The only other option is to join the local body as an “officer” and suffer the tribulations of trying to run OTO as an organization.
There are no real overarching goals, no transcendent purposes, no big projects, no sense of mastery or progression except the slow time-sink of waiting for your next initiation (or invitation to the next degree). Importantly, there isn’t a whole lot of “Thelema” you can do except for the Mass. There are, if anything, committees. And many of us know that committees are where good ideas go to die (and where good people go to spiritually die). You can join the endless bureaucracy of administrative positions that have been generated so that you can do more Masses. There are no real ways to participate other than these things which, after a while, seem repetitious and hollow to many people. It is surely one of the many core reasons for attrition in OTO – there’s nothing for most people to do except show up and hang out.
7) Behind the times on gender, racism, and responding to sexual assault
Thelemic Union has several articles by multiple authors on these subjects so I wont go into depth but, needless to say, there have been some important controversies in the last few years in OTO. One issue is the gender essentialism at the core of OTO, leading to policies in the ecclesiastical arm EGC that non-binary people have to pick one gender or the other, basically. OTO has put itself into a position of trying to please everyone and ending up annoying everyone instead. OTO will have to think a little bit harder and deeper about the ramifications of accepting the idea that gender is a spectrum rather than a binary – even small things like the Committee of 4 being composed of 2 men and 2 women… So anyone identifying as non-binary is barred from such a position? I give this as just one example of how there are many unexamined repercussions for adopting certain positions… which is fine, but it appears OTO has not done any of this contemplation. It does not want to accept that non-binary people truly are non-binary, and so forces them into one or the other role with the Gnostic Mass, while also allowing for things that imply understanding non-binary individuals like calling oneself Sibling rather than Frater or Soror.
There have also been incidents of high-profile Thelemites engaging in racist behavior or support for overtly racist groups and organizations. The organization’s response to this was almost entirely opaque – no one would ever know if anything ever happened to the people saying racist stuff – except that, at least from the outside, OTO appeared to still support these people with headlining speaking engagements and putting their articles in books they were publishing. This is not simply being woke, it is holding oneself to a very basic (and honestly a low) moral standard. Same with OTO’s response to sexual assault. One recent case in the UK led to the King of UKGL OTO issuing a public decree that appeared to basically be telling everyone to shut up about it. I personally experienced several cases where people’s complaints about sexual harassment and assault were either ignored or ridiculed. The complaints were slow-rolled. They were made to feel bad, like they were burdening OTO members by telling them about being harassed or assaulted, like a cop who won’t listen to a report because it means doing paperwork. This is a morally untenable place to stand in relation to the bodily integrity and safety of members and guests. The opaqueness of OTO’s deliberative processes, combined with the fact that the people in charge are old white men, means that these policies are highly unlikely to change, let alone with the training to more likely prevent these things from happening in the future. The end result is that the demographics of OTO are, by and large, white and male. A bureaucratic diversity council of low degree members is tantamount to virtue signaling: a top-down organization requires change to come from the top, not simply adding to the already overly bloated bureaucracy of OTO by creating more committees.
Overall, I hope this has been interesting and informative to people. I write this out of concern for the future of OTO and its members. I certainly have my own anger and annoyances at having put so much time and effort into a system that seems irreparable to me now. I do think there is a great future for Thelema in other organizations, or in decentralized “cells” that might be far more creative and risk-taking than any kind of stodgy centralized organization we’ve seen so far. But I hope that, in some small way, this helps the health of OTO. Unfortunately, I think many of these points will be dismissed without consideration (on account of some of the issues listed above) but for those with earnest and genuine interest in the growth of Thelema and see OTO as part of your Will, then I believe considering these problems is necessary.
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36 thoughts on “7 Reasons OTO is Doomed”
Thank you for your contribution. You hit on many of the reasons I stopped doing OTO stuff over a decade ago and why I have no intention of returning. Whether it’s the fascist/racist contingent, the gender essentialism that relegates our NB siblings to deaconship at best while excluding them from leadership and priestx roles, the massive sexism and 19th century obsession with binaries—especially gender binaries—that insists on seeing a world that consists of a full spectrum of colors (variations) in simplistic and abstracted terms of black and white, or just the fact that OTO is being run by an authoritarian leadership who demands obedience and total control over everything, there is very little left to recommend the OTO to the 21st century Thelemite, especially one who is not a cis-het white male.
As for the “secrets” of the 9 and 11 degrees…I had learned more sex magick from Donald Michael Kraig books by the time I was in my teens than is contained in these openly published—and common knowledge to most modern occultists—“secrets”. And this fixation on sex magick and sexuality leads to a predatory culture where the few women still active are circled by the sharklike men…so long, of course, as they are conventionally attractive, sexually available cis women (woe to the woman who is not conventionally attractive and perpetually sexually available in OTO circles…they might as well not exist most of the time). This leaves most women in the OTO with the choices of being defined in terms of their sexuality and attractiveness to others or being ignored, a choice that reproduces the sexism of past eras uncritically and almost gleefully.
There is also the issue of the OTO deliberately letting Crowley’s books fall out of print because they are now in the public domain and they don’t hold the copyrights—and thus the sole rights to profit off of Crowley’s work and name—anymore. This is actively harming the future of Thelema and interfering with the promulgation of the Law that is ostensibly the goal of the OTO…all so Beta can make money.
In the end, it just comes down to the OTO being a gross good old boy’s club with pretensions of occultism. It’s time for other organizations and orders to take up the baton and continue the race…because the OTO has stopped running.
Interesting seeing this becoming a more common, and more grounded, discussion.
When I first started writing about this, I said OTO had 5 years in it left… maybe I should give them a couple more due to the pandemic and lockdowns, but it’s clear that they cannot continue their bait and switch for much longer.
Many points seems to be unfortunately valid in general, no matter in which part of the OTO you actually are. From my experience, members across all the degrees are conscious about some of the issues, but for some time the will to help and develop organisation is stronger than discontent. At some point either you leave or get kicked in some way by using various tricks. Dissent cannot be accepted by so-called leadership, as it seems they use organisation as a vehicle to fulfil their narcissistic (sometimes pathologically narcissistic) needs to be an “elite”. People become burned out, like there is some vampiric mechanism involved. In some cases one need to be really brainwashed to stay longer in such circumstances. While I believe some national sections may succeed and develop in proper direction, it would be better for OTO to collapse and rebuilt. You can’t build on incompetent and lazy international executives which clearly don’t care about the organisation. Informations about sexual harassment cases and breaking internal laws are ignored even by IHQ officers so how can it work at lower levels of hierarchy, there seems to be some kind of negative selection due to issues on the top.
I was ostracized from the clique like mentality in a local oto simply because they didn’t like me. Furthermore a member had claimed I sexually assaulted them when I had never even met them and this was instantly believed and pushed me further out of the lodge. Grand Lodge did nothing about it. No investigation. No anything.
A great deal of people are blaming the pandemic. Well maybe, or maybe the OTO shut down when other religions did not. You need a vax card to participate in person. Def not the freedom in my opinion Crowley believed in. Be open, not so secretive. No one will understand but what they Will.
The OTO is already dead, the pandemic killed it.
Perhaps the way to deal with some of these issues is to create strong and loving local bodies. I feel very fortunate to belong to Tahuti Lodge in NYC. I feel that the leadership of the Lodge is strongly committed to inclusiveness and developing strong fraternal/sororal or sibling bonds between members. A magical lodge is first and foremost a place to develop as magicians. If this is a primary goal, I think the Order as a whole will be stronger for it. In our Lodge we don’t just sit around drinking wine and talking about Crowley and his writing, we are are actively working magic for our own benefit and the benefit of others and in active exploration of ceremonial and other magic systems. I wish you all joy and the accomplishment of your Will.
That’s the usual fallacy: “my yard is fine, who cares if the people running the yard are corrupt”.
I agree with you that strong local leadership can make a huge difference, and I agree with you that the development of local culture should be a primary focus, but after 8 years in OTO, I can also tell you with 100% confidence that this is nowhere near sufficient. The dysfunction at the national and international levels will reach you and will erode local progress.
This has been the opposite of my experience with that lodge. I tried to meet the lodge, at the time they were doing this outreach thing at a bar. We talked and I was nice but I felt kind of dissuaded. I tried to attend events with prominent thelemites at your lodge later, but was informed I was not invited. I did not do anything to warrant this. I have also heard bad stories from others that are practicing Thelema in NYC but not with you, because they were in your lodge and felt ostracized. This person told me this unprompted. Later, I went to a non thalemic magical group event and upon hearing I had thelemic background, they told me unprompted about their bad experience at Tahuti lodge. These are people that told me these things without me having brought you up or bringing up my bad experience. Hard pass.
Not to mention – what are they doing with our money ? Because I doubt very much the odd freebies we get at initiations are worth the hundreds of quid we give them every year.
Exactly. The money grafted off from local and national bodies to send to IHQ is absolutely detrimental to local and national body functionality and improvement. It creates a stagnate bankrupt environment that must change if survival is a goal.
I’ve also been around for 10+ years. I’m past master of a large local body and obtained some degree of distinction for the work accomplished during my time. I’m currently taking a break from all things OTO, and I’m unsure if I’ll ever return. Though I’ve been a far from perfect member, the system has a way of chewing up and spitting out many of its most devoted members. This is especially true for those of us out of step with the primarily milquetoast bidenesque ethos that many in middle and upper management seem to privilege over anything that isn’t tepid. This kind of conformity can be seen in who gets appointed to various committees, etc. For example, though I laud the intentions of those involved in USGL’s diversity initiative, not one of them has any expertise in the subject. The modules come across as sophomoric and are destined to be disregarded. It’s another pointless exercise that does little to address the root issues vexing the Order. The primary criteria used to select this committee’s participants seem to be that they’re in the PNW and are chums with the MoMod head.
I find points 3 and 6 to be particularly compelling. OTO is a perfect place for bureaucrats to fetishize minutiae to their hearts’ delight to say nothing of empty headed senior initiates who mistake hierarchical superiority for genuine spiritual authority.
The fact that USGL has yet to publish its 2020 annual report imo reflects how truly desiccated it has become. I used to pride myself as being one of those who would persevere to the end, but more and more I ask myself that most fundamental question of ours: to what end? Despite everything that I’ve contributed and experienced, I can’t come up with a satisfying answer to that question. After the trauma of being master, the idea of additional thankless service seems like a cruel joke.
Though I have no desire to see OTO wither away and die, I have absolutely no basis for any confidence that anything will improve as anyone with potentially transformative creative aspirations will eventually find themselves smothered by some smug areopagite who believes that the continuation of OTO’s death march is the right and only way.
I realised that Bill Breeze, who you know as Hymenaeus Beta, had no visible aura when I visited him in Boston in the spring of 1977. At the time I just figured he would eventually lose interest in Thelema, since there was no HGA to motivate him to continue with it. Later that year, at the launch party for Liber 440 in Montreal, Jim Beck exclaimed his surprise at seeing Bill, saying “It’s like he’s not there.”
I saw Bill again in Toronto in 1986, when he had just been elected Frater Superior of O.T.O. He invited me to join at that time, but I had already seen and heard my Holy Guardian Angel and completed the consequent Ordeal R, so I had no need or desire to join the club. I was surprised, though that they would elect a dog to head the O.T.O.
Note, the word ‘dog’ in the Book of the Law simply refers to a human life that is not the incarnation of a star. I liked Bill at the time and don’t wish to put him down, but it is what it is. I’m a little miffed that others who have interacted with Bill over the years seem not to have the use of their eyes of light, but perhaps, like me, they are diffident.
In my opinion, the Thelema of the Book of the Law was never a religion, Crowley’s failed efforts to establish Thelema as a religion not withstanding. Thelema is a technology. It doesn’t matter what you believe; it matters what you do.
I think the Temple of the East will be an important resource in the future, but it will have a radically different organisational structure in line with what is needed rather than a mockery of Christianity. Very hard times are coming for humanity as our environment degrades and our numbers plummet. Thelema will have true survival value. It is better for a dog to be head of O.T.O., leading followers astray, at this time, rather than in a few hundred years as humanity recovers into completely different social structures than those with which we are familiar today.
I am shocked and dismayed at the rampant misinformation being peddled as Thelema. My Thelema is not an intellectual contest among entitled white male First-World pretenders. It is a personal journey inwards to connect waking awareness with one’s own inmost self, the consciousness that remains across many lifetimes in the world. Thelema is available to everyone irrespective of gender identity, sexual orientation, race, nationality or location, that is, to all stars. It is the premier survival technology and cultural influence for the next approximately 2,000 years.
I think it is past time to stop fooling around.
An excellent post. I’d especially like to highlight:
“n my opinion, the Thelema of the Book of the Law was never a religion, Crowley’s failed efforts to establish Thelema as a religion not withstanding. Thelema is a technology. It doesn’t matter what you believe; it matters what you do.”
I share you view of Thelema as not being a religion.
Hehe. You don’t even understand The Book of Perfection.
I’m usually not inclined to speak on posts about O.T.O., but this post sparked a lot of thoughts about my own experience with William Blake Lodge, O.T.O., in Baltimore, Maryland. That said, I will say nothing other than that some of the points made are quite valid.
I did want to talk about the implications here for the future of Thelema in general.
4) A complete and total lack of transparency
5) The whole weird sex magick thing at the center
While they’re presented in context of O.T.O. in this article, I don’t think these issues are unique to O.T.O. In fact I see them in a lot of Thelemic culture, whether or not the individuals have an organizational affiliation.
“Were OTO to grow, it would gain public scrutiny and people would inevitably start asking questions why everyone is consuming sexual fluids in weird occult rituals”
I’m perfectly comfortable saying “yes some people in our organization consume semen.” If that’s a problem, move along. This is 2022. Kink is a thing. I support the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom and work at major East and West Coast Kink events that include sacred sexuality and whose single event attendance is in the thousands. Consuming sexual fluids is, in the world of modern sexuality, pretty tame.
What matters is transparency. People want to KNOW about the sex. Do I have to do sex? (no). Can I do sex? (yes, consensually). People want to know they are not walking down a path that ends in some sort of non-consensual sexual situation. On the other hand, many of them also want to know that if they are operative sex magicians they will not be shamed by their community for actually *practicing* what everyone *reads* about.
People want to know if there is going to be pressure to have sex. People want to know if their sexuality and gender will be respected, and that includes ACE/Aro (Asexual/aromantic) Spectrum identity.
If we don’t even tell people it’s part of the mystery, we can’t have conversations about consent and choice. If we don’t describe exactly what the IX° and XI° meant historically we can’t have conversations about what they should mean today, and how people can explore them in ways that work *FOR THEM*.
We can’t build structures where it is clear from the groundwork that any leadership structure that implies or coerces that one should have sex in a certain way, at a certain time, or with certain people, especially leaders, is inherently corrupt. That our role is to teach about what *can* happen, not to dictate how individuals choose to do magick. The role of Thelema is to empower, not to disempower, and that includes supporting “no,” through consent training, and “yes,” through awareness of the social concepts of slut-shaming, kink-shaming, and gender-policing.
Sex magick isn’t a secret and we don’t live in fear of the inquisition. These things need to be openly discussed in ways that allow everyone to sit at the table and make decisions for themselves, not be told by some “Higher degree” how things have to work.
Of the issues raised in “7) Behind the times on gender, racism, and responding to sexual assault” Transparency around Sex Magick would fix two of these. If we have modern understandings of gender and consent, that may not stop every instance of gender discrimination or sexual assault, but it will certainly do a great deal to allow the behaviors to be constructively addressed.
Articulating Thelema as something other than a one-line soundbite, so that its ethics, including the fact that one “should unhesitatingly stick to the course which ordinary decency indicates.” would go a long way toward rectifying that, but that is an entirely different subject.
Damn, does this seem like my life some years back! Estranged from the Order and happily doing new things. This whole crap is literally built into oaths sworn in initiation, you swear to the Old White Dudes in New York! There were MOE degrees given or not given at the criteria or whim of the local master, mistreating of minervals, leading them into dangerous situations, no accountability as to what happened with money from dues and fees, and the hierarchy was dismal, patronising and condescending to the maximum. I remember almost a whole body of initiates being invited to leave the Order if they didnt’ like what the OWD wanted to impose on them. “Do the Mass, do the Mass”, only thing they had to say. To this day, HB pressures to hinder any publication of Crowley works that is not from their camp (which is virtually none) or sanctioned by them. No new magickal development ever came from the OTO in the last four decades, let alone any interesting books, or anything that would add to the corpus. People would do well to bolt out of this sad Renaissance fair that is a disservice to the Book of the Law and is as dated as old dairy in your fridge.
Maybe we or I expected too much from the OTO. I have come to regard it as a Mausoleum of Crowley, which conserves his time with the Golden Dawn and Budge Egyptology.
For the points of 3 and 6 can be articulated even sharper.
There is no place for creativity whatsoever in the OTO. All you can do is filling already described roles.
What matters is the writings of Crowley and his ideas. And why not, they are severely needed in this world.
Maybe new times comes when Breeze dies.
But i wouldnt bet on it, the conservative powers pervades the whole of the member mass of the OTO. And i sure wouldnt want any woke revolution therein.
OTO with Crowley was quite so gender revolutionary in their time, with the scarlet woman, the loud and shameless woman coming along as an affront to the Victorian Christianity.
How OTO could respond to the changing of times is all up to the little group of high degree initiates. And they dont seem to be able to do much, apart of H.Beta.
As for H.Bs editing of Crowley i have been sceptic since i have seen his contemptous remarks on Crowley and as i also once had an old Dover edition of MTP – when i got HBs book 4 Ii couldnt recognize the definition of the great work, it was something else. Probably made by alternative writings .
Maybe the good way to look at the OTO is as a education in Crowley and Thelema. Good but limited to only that.
The dea l is yu are very selfish & lazy, that’s why you find nothing new but merely analyze the old, presuming the outer order is the head.
It Is Not.
You are the new ‘Christians’, blind to the meaning of the words; Because merit is Made by Effort.
You’re not Pioneers – you’re pissants, drinking thy gullets full of whatever swill will get you off.
It’s already been said the result of this.
You always know someone has a good argument when it’s nothing but insults and completely ignores the argument it’s supposedly responding to.
Authoritarian organizations love to claim there is some hidden, greater authority behind their bullshit. Without evidence, we have no reason to believe them. And there is no evidence of anything like that in the OTO. Just Beta and his cronies being Beta and his cronies.
But good job being a follower and “true believer”. That’s totally what Thelema is about. You’re totally a “pioneer”.
Each has the choice to listen and review the facts and proofs. Middle management betrayers of the Chief rescind the Order and receive the full payment of the cost, by the Law. Each has the choice to understand or be a pimple. The Law is for All. Selfish little pissant abusers get raped in eternal Hell, and you pay full Interest on everything you did to stem progress and harm the representative.
Know your place, merit your station, and else- keep silent in the synagogue or have your tongue torn out.
There will be many amputees in the Hell you’ve woven for yourself, child abusing rapists with your excuses. Shut the fuck up.
The only fascism is that of the selfish pissant that cares only about its degraded black lusts and ensures progress is held back. Its inverse is liberty which is order to the Higher.
You choose to ‘misunderstand’ truth with your baloney and fallacy; All is revealed, and you will be places in Prison with the same clowns Aleister fought against, gnats and hypocrite perverts that seek only control and pleasure above all else. Attempting to kill Kings, which endure and stand for something, you wallow in pig shit and cover the world in it. You will die agonizing. A Just sentence for what you did to the innocent and all others.
That you brought only on yourself. You’re a Murderer, and a Betrayer, and therebeit Scum. We no longer need your pussy farts for progress. And the Rule is, First Do No Harm. Truth is not harm. Your lazy ass blabbing nonsense and refusing to learn anything, grow, or investigate, means you will lose all power and die in the gutter you tried to throw Angels into.
Good luck in Hell. It’s quite real. Maybe if you were an Initiate, instead of a pompous pretender, you would have spared yourself the Hells.
Spare me your Puritan compass of what you ‘think’ and assume is sensible. Your grave ignorance is not better than Awareness, and one at the apex sees much more than you. You choose to spit on those helping you, so you’ll end up suffering with the Mormons in Hades. But you Did choose to suck on the River Styx, intentionally murdering babes. Horus is disgusted by you, as you are no Human, let alone a Sun.
You’re Welcome, foolish child.
Rule#1: Don’t be an asshole. #2: Don’t falsely call the truth tellers assholes so you can violate #1.
Idiots keep your fucking mouth shut if you can’t keep your self from spewing forth assertions on things you don’t KNOW. Only Cunts spit on the one with more knowledge trying to spare them the error. Grow up. Or get Taught. You will learn the easy way or the hard way; the Law of Nature. Those which seek to delay it foment agony for all, holding onto their grasp over the filth of their fruits, and will face the properpt exponential fee for hurting everyone needlessly.
“I am Satan. Yes! Didst thou not know? I believe you did. But what ye all know not is that I am not only King of Hell, but Lord also of Heaven. My name is three-hundred and fifty-nine; that is half 718, which is the number of this Book of Codes. Why half? Thou shalt know that the half must be united.”
Weasels, know your place. Betraying the circle of life, you will fall far lower, and indeed, the Terror you’ll face there is an eternal one.
Those Nights you cried out in fear of the endless abyss beyond the moments of human perception, flavored by the dung of your drugs, will be your eternal home, never-ending.
But that’s your choice. Since you’re a lazy slob without any decency or Courtesy.
Malign! Malign! Spit more rubbish; throw more offal. You will not be forgiven.
Go Learn. Else, tread on Kings, and Pay, Vermin.
Mocking viprous demons have no place in forming the kingdom of Horus. You won’t be having any excuses then. You either serve your place as a Human, responsible over the land and the creatures, or Nature razes you off the globe and flings you into an infinite Void.
But you wanted to see what would happen. Funny. You Will.
Gevurah chapter Dion F. M.Q.
But you’re really just looking for someone to take care of you so you don’t have to do any Work, to make a slave. So of course, you never bother. Not even knowing the Green Language, you take things literally like a Good Slave, and don’t even move past the grounding symbols to the higher order intel.
The Good Loving King forgives a few slaps, for a while. Quit being lazy Cunts and abusing the few souls that actually do real Work because you’re afraid of losing your worldly possessions. You chose not to be nice. Quit blaming your victims, or get throat cancer and die.
Thanks for your help, Sneer Malice.
Cthulhu’s my daddy, you have any more problems you take it up with He. I do so love his tentacles.
What happened to the thread? It got took over by some psychotic tweeker with really bad Grammer. I don’t understand what they’re trying to say, or if they are supporting the current OTO regime and it’s governance of the Order.
The OTO needs a new prophet if it is ever going to survive.
I think the complete lack of spirituality amongst the long term senior members of OTO points to an organisation not in tune with and not serious about its own, and Crowley’s, message. The empty beer cans of these senior members rolling around the floor during celebration of Mass demonstrates the lack of respect held by them for the junior Clergy of the Mass and for the ritual itself. Their inability to teach a coherent message about the various Degrees demonstrates a lack of knowledge of the subject, or that the knowledge is no longer held. And on that note, the inability to teach anything theoretical or practical about the OTOs unique use of the chakra system at each degree is completely baffling. It’s the heart of the system. OTO’s incestuous relationship with AA is absolutely poisonous when OTO senior members can, and do, detrimentally influence the progression of AA Aspirants. The secrecy of its sex magick is self-defeating, serves no purpose and will kill it in the end. Attainment is all that matters, not the release of the secret, which is not a secret anyway. It’s pseudo-military structure and demeanor is so outdated and really kills the mood, slanting senior members attitudes in this military direction whilst debasing any spirituality in the process. The senior US 9th degrees were handed their degrees out of a cornflakes packet anyway, so they hardly hold any authority that should be listened to. Away with them.
Reason #8, the uppermost OTO leaders have actively avoided making promulgation a priority. Promulgation means spreading information about the principles of Thelema.
Anyone who starts working on promulgation and begins to have some success will find themselves in the crosshairs of people like HB and SLQ. These so-called leaders prefer to keep OTO small enough that they can continue to avoid having any real responsibility or accountability.
Meanwhile OTO continues to hemorrhage membership by tolerating and protecting those who engage in sexual harassment along with psychological and physical abuse.
I think it’s worth criticizing US Grand Lodge OTO, but this article is way off base and clearly has an axe to grind.
First off: so sorry that recreational drug use has been managed out of the order. People who can only use drugs to be recreational were shown the door. Do you think something different is going to grow the order? — how is the order doing if sober people come in and hook up with a druggie? Clue phone ringing: most working adults don’t do drugs all the time, and if you can’t have fun without them you’re in violation of what the degrees teach.
Is dissent not tolerated? I am ordained in the EGC and I’ve criticized the post-Covid policy of Grand Lodge directly to the faces of SGIGs. What I got in return was them taking my concerns seriously. Maybe my dissent was tolerated because I’m a white man?
Does OTO not offer much beyond responsibility? — I don’t know what you’re smoking. The core degrees ask for nothing. The lovers triad demands leadership… but so what? Crowley designed it that way for a reason, and he explains along the way. You know… growing as an individual requires leadership (but it’s hard to do while getting high all the time). What a shame that the order encourage leadership… maybe employing some would help you get past your other hangups with it?
And after lauding the old days when everyone was getting high at lodge events, you get prudish about the sex magick core? You’re all over the place… maybe you’re stretching? If anything… I’d prefer not to see men advertise the themselves being in a “sex magick” cult to get hook-ups. But that’s just because I don’t want to see OTO become a hook-up scene. Do you have something different in mind?
John St. John,
I understand your desire for a new prophet of Thelema, however Aiwass incarnated as Aleister Crowley, subsequently incarnated as James Charles Beck, I believe reincarnated some time around 2005 and has yet to reveal themself. In Liber 440, Ankh-af-na-Konsu, Crowley, and Beck are referenced as the same prophet. The mockers running the O.T.O. today have chosen irrelevance, but Thelema itself will never die, it will simply give birth to the next aeon in about 2,000 years. If you give life to a symbol of Nuit with every orgasm, then Thelema lives in you. Your job is to discover and strengthen links to your own Holy Guardian Angel.
I love Aleister Crowley’s writing and the Book of the Law has been the linchpin of my world view for more than 50 years, however the reality is that Crowley was a heroin addict from 1923 until his death on 1 December 1947. Whatever the O.T.O. was in 1923, it eventually became simply a source of income for Crowley toward the end of his life. He bitterly lamented that very few took up and practiced his methods, preferring to theorise instead of practice, think instead of do. Karl Germer, head of the O.T.O. in California, may have had some degree of actual initiation, but Grady McMurtry, who eventually followed him as head of the order, clearly did not, though he did consolidate Germer’s library of Crowley material. Bill Breeze took over as O.H.O. in 1986 and claimed to me that he had access to O.T.O. secrets and that I should join the order to find out. I refused, knowing that 1.) you cannot understand the secrets of Thelema by reading them off a page, 2.) sadly Bill had no Khu, so he was not the incarnation of an HGA and could never gain initiation of any kind, and 3.) having contacted my own Angel in 1972, I was not about to swear to keep O.T.O. secrets that I already knew. McMurtry and Breeze used the O.T.O. as a source of income and access to young female novices. Of course, in today’s social climate, people in authority seducing employees or club members is morally reprehensible, but in the ’80s and ’90s it was just poor judgement.
At some point, I think in the ’80s, the O.T.O. became a tax-exempt religious organisation in the United States. I remember that Bill Heidrick argued that Satan is not a figure in Thelema, when Crowley had made clear that Sun gods are Satan, and particularly that the Secret Name of Horus is explicitly Satan (359). So HB, as you refer to him, and his fellows are running a Satanic Sex Cult in the guise of a Christian-style tax-exempt church. I do not see how this is sustainable. But then I do not think any of today’s institutions will survive the next two or three hundred years, during which that which we have done to the wild will be done to us. Yup. We are in deep doodoo.
Meanwhile they are actively suppressing Crowley’s writings. Specifically, their web published version of Crowley’s Commentaries on the Book of the Law omits significant portions of the information available to me in Kenneth Grant’s 1974 “Magical and Philosophical Commentaries on the Book of the Law.” I did not notice these omissions until recently, as I normally reference the printed book on my shelf. Grant’s 1972 book, “The Magical Record of the Beast 666,” the Diaries of Aleister Crowley 1914-1920, has not been digitised by the O.T.O., presumably because it reveals the so called secrets of the O.T.O. That is unfortunate from my perspective as I found it very informative when I read it as a street urchin fifty years ago. It is hard enough to put together a coherent picture of Thelema when those who purport to know about it restrict information which should be freely available.
So, yes Ralphie, I share your frustration. Restriction is the word of Sin.
I think I understand your dismay at the insularity of the O.T.O. leadership and their reluctance to promulgate the Law. But, again, they know ABOUT it, they do not know it and they do not practice it. Thelema announces the end of death. Every man and every woman is a star. The stars are our Angels. The Holy Guardian Angel, our inmost Will, is the aspect of ourselves which reincarnates. That is why it is imperative that each of us strives to contact and strengthen links to our own Eternal Selves. The body and mind to not reincarnate, nor does the Ka, nor does the Khu, but the Khabs does reincarnate. Thelema looks very different from the point of view of the Khabs than it does from the perspective of the physical mind-body complex. Note this verse 17 from the first chapter of the Book of Codes, dictated by Aiwass to Jim Beck on 5 January 1976.
“Know also that the Kings rise and set within their bodies as do the stars; the dogs merely die: indeed, they barely live! Their kas may remain in the realm of the dead for a time and a half, but they shall never return to earth, and they shall not ascend into Heaven. Jesus shall not receive his lambs save in illusion, but the Kings abhor the realm of the dead and its lifeless Lord. Magick of old time was concerned with the communication and resurrection of the defunct ka. Let this not again become fashionable.” — 718,1:17
Those who reject Thelema are in no position to promulgate it. It does not matter what you believe. It matters what you do.
Do what thou wilt is the whole of the Law.
WOW, what can I say, I had to leave for the exact list you have formulated. Its really disappointing, its become a mental prison rather then a space for liberation, as the structure is outdated and way too patriarchal , the white guys on top with degrees and money..etc, the whole thing, and its not practical for the ever-changing age of aeon, and all the rest you mentioned is absolutely 101% correct. They are so stuck, they will never get out. Even if you give them greater ideas it actually intimidates them, because they are stuck, all religions become dogmatic, that’s why new ones are born.
If as I suspect there are more Thelemites outside the OTO than within it this would completely support the view that OTO is doomed.. Also I would suggest that the view that Thelema is an actual religion rather than a spiritual philosophy, I think propagates cliques of OTO inepti LARPING as ritual magicians.