by Frater Αγάπη και Φως
Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law.
I want to start by saying that I am an initiate of the O.T.O. and have been for over 20 years. I love my Holy Order and am committed to this for life. I have worked in multiple lines of the A∴A∴. I settled into a lesser known quiet lineage that you probably never heard of. Naturally our narrative ties into a line which has been a major player since the 70’s. Many of us are O.T.O. initiates and are interested in maintaining a working relationship with them. We do not care who claims or thinks they are the leader of the A∴A∴. We are not interested in anyone’s narratives of exclusivity. We have no interest in being in charge of anyone else, their group, or their work. We do not care whose address is in the back of Crowley books published by the O.T.O.. We are interested in doing the work and uplifting our Brothers and Sisters in their personal efforts to do the same. We believe that the diversity we see today in the world of Thelema and especially in the lineages of the A∴A∴ are beautiful and a testament to the genius of Aleister Crowley. Those who think it needs them or their superior to fix it fail to see the beauty of its design as a splinter cell network. We see this as critical to its longevity. Putting everything back in the box is counter to our natural evolution and is the road towards the death of Thelema. Recall the warning of our Gnostic Saint, Nietzsche, “God is dead, and we have buried him beneath our churches”.
I am a Thelemite, first and foremost. I have nothing to sell you. My opinions are owned by me and me alone. I have several college degrees and graduate degrees. Some associates egged me on to go through and do this write up with the idea that I could be more academic than Readdy and company. It is my goal to not compete in that way. I hope to stick with the facts and to speak plainly and clearly.
The foreword is by Vere Chappell who is really a very nice guy. Vere makes a strong case for why we need a strong unified narrative. This is based on his personal experience of the many abounding myths of Thelema which circulated California throughout the late 80’s and 90’s. He suggests that before this book most people were relying on unconfirmed tall tales to piece together our modern and current history particularly with regard to the A∴A∴ system. He goes on to promise that through factual historical context and critical analysis this is the book to put everything to rest. He promises that we will be shown Crowley’s true vision of what the O.T.O. and A∴A∴ really were. There is an overarching disingenuous attitude throughout this foreword where by we are being set up to believe that no one else knows the truth but these guys. That everyone else is just selling a story and we should beware. All the while here we are being set up to have a very particular narrative spoon fed to us.
Right away in the introduction we read,
“… what I refer to in the following pages as the “Thelemic movement” includes the modern efforts of individuals associated with both the establishment (and re-establishment) of the two main magical orders forwarded by Aleister Crowley in his lifetime: the O.T.O. and the A∴A∴. This study focuses primarily on the contemporary development of these two orders since his death. “Keith Readdy, pg.5
Later in the book it becomes clear that by O.T.O. he means Bill Breeze’s O.T.O. and by A∴A∴ he means the claimant group run by ex-Motta student J. Daniel Gunther. So, for anyone who thought they were reading a book on the history of Thelema and its modern and contemporary developments this is incorrect. What he means by Thelemic movement is precisely the story of two modern aspirants, Breeze and Gunther. There is a clear and distinct dishonesty in claiming to have written an academic treatise on modern Thelema and then be fully committed to only expressing the distinct opinions of the leaders of your group. I find there to be a distinct air of dishonesty around a lot of the Gunther narrative, certainly when it comes to all of the ways their policies are and have affected the O.T.O.. He very likely would have sold as many books if he had labeled it the Gunther/Breeze story, and what we were sold would be honest at least.
Later in the introduction he discusses the critical role that publication has played in the development of the movement. He then goes on to credit Breeze et al for being so instrumental in being on the front lines of Thelemic publishing. There was indeed a short time when this was true. I find it disingenuous to praise a group of people who have not published a book in over 20 years. He even lists the last date of publication being 1997. There are Thelemic groups all over the world publishing all kinds of amazing things right now. The fact that he literally refuses to discuss any group outside his own as even constituting a part of the Thelemic movement today means he has only two choices of who to praise. So, the guy who hasn’t done anything in 20 years wins. I suspect this is indicative of the kind of self-pandering we might see throughout this work.
Straight away in the introduction there is this theme being laid out. The only groups that matter historically are his own and no matter what, they are always worthy of praise. There is the notion developing that they are infallible. Already we have a sense that the historical context Vere spoke of will be strictly within the Gunther narrative and that there won’t be much critique in the analysis.
This point is further demonstrated by his attempt at using rather bad statistics to demonstrate success. This is a general quality of company men in the O.T.O.. I recently watched a Brother on a personal post try to extrapolate a statistical trend from a single data point and then declare that his viewpoint had been demonstrated. We see this attitude repeated in the introduction when he brags about having taken the order from roughly 12 initiates in 1967 to 4,000 worldwide in 2018. If we are really going to put our movement into the historical context of new religious movements with a critical analysis then these numbers hurt us more than they help us. Take a cursory comparison with any other new religious movement and this is clear. Take the Bahai faith which was founded only about 50 years prior to Thelema. Today they claim to have 7.9 million followers worldwide with immaculate temple compounds in Israel and all over the world. Compare this to a group who gained 4,000 followers over a similar timeframe and which not one single entity has yet to own or purchase a single piece of property. Even the Rastafarians are doing better than we are and they were founded 60 years after Thelema. So again, bad statistics with no real comparison or analysis does not make us look better.
There is a further dishonesty here also. They are leaving out the fact that the O.T.O. had about this many worldwide members 20 years ago. This is to mask the fact that the Order is not and has not been growing in a long time. Mention of this opens the leadership, Readdy’s boss’, up for serious criticism. So, while O.T.O. saw a rapid growth spurt through the late 80’s and 90’s its population has remained rather stagnant for more than 20 years. As a person on the ground this seems odd because we have been so active doing initiations. The truth is that we do indeed bring new people in constantly however, we are turning at least as many away down the road as quickly. The Order lacks retention and thus hasn’t grown very much in some time.
I honestly and sincerely hoped that I would read right through the first section of this book and feel pleased enough to be able to say lots of nice things. My assumption was that this would be a fairly standard approach to the basic history of Crowley and Thelema. I was hoping to be taken away by a nice writing style that I could enjoy. However, when I started chapter one, I found that nearly every page was a painful chore to push through.
In one of the highlighted blurbs for selling this book Richard Kaczynski claims that Readdy tackles the thorny question of whether or not Thelema is a philosophy, spirituality, or a religion. I was really looking forward to this discussion. Well, in chapter one we find much more of a fumble than a tackle. This chapter reads like an intro to philosophy 101 paper. He gives what reads like cut and paste Wikipedia definitions of empiricism and rationalism which he then does nothing with. So, we get really no conclusion and a really useless discussion of a few times Crowley refers to Thelema as a philosophy. The section ends with him declaring that anything from Plato to Foucault can be incorporated into Thelema. Well, ok then.
He goes on to place Thelema in the context of western esotericism which is clearly a more comfortable place of discussion for Readdy. He introduces all kinds of new terms and jargon to a tradition already pretty overweight with complicated concepts and terms. Frankly I fail to see how this really helped things at all.
He ends this chapter with a discussion of ethics and politics. The section on ethics, which is a favorite topic of mine was pretty disappointing. Here he fails to really even make a coherent point at all concluding that it is up to the individual to determine their right or wrong. While this is correct this is exactly the question moral theory tries to address. How exactly are individuals expected to determine right from wrong within this system? He fails to address this leaving his discussion of ethics in Thelema basically without any point at all. I conclude that the best way to fix chapter one would be to delete it all together. I found it clumsy and mostly void of any point whatsoever. If anything, these points should have been discussed after a thorough introduction to Thelema had already been made. My assumption is that anyone unfamiliar with Thelema will find this chapter very confusing and not helpful.
Reviewing Chapters 2 – 4
Chapter two contains a rushed but descent overview of Crowley’s life. It jumps around a bit but is not too bad to follow. I think it is as good as anyone could do with a single chapter being devoted to a single overview. I was personally pleased to see a sober and historical presentation of the Tunis Comment included.
Chapter three is an overview of the histories of both the A∴A∴ and the O.T.O.. Again, we find all the standard stuff. It is well written and I enjoyed his explanation of the structure and government of the A∴A∴. I would be hard pressed to recommend another essay which covered those basics in such a thorough way.
His discussion of O.T.O. is also mostly straightforward. I only have a few minor points to make. At one point he contrasts the A∴A∴’s path of return on the tree of life with the O.T.O.’s path of eternity. I have never seen the O.T.O. be referenced in this way. I am reminded of the teachings within the Grady McMurtry lineage of the A∴A∴ which demonstrate the way the O.T.O. degrees function on the Tree of Life. Since essentially all of Grady’s A∴A∴ students have been expelled from the O.T.O. its current leadership has rejected this interpretation and I have personally been told by upper degree members not to bring it up. Readdy merely states the name and gives us no further indication of what it means or implies in terms of any paths on the tree. I am personally very curious as to what Keith means when he wrote that O.T.O. follows the path o eternity. Some explanation would have been nice.
There is then another interesting statement.
“In short, O.T.O. initiations aim to refine individual members into efficient and functional members of society.”Keith Readdy
This statement really caught my eye as coming from way out in left field. While on the one hand it clearly reflects a masonic tone, which is indicative of O.T.O.’s roots, it flies directly in the face of how our Prophet lived his life and how many people relate to being a Thelemite. This is not a typical description and just hit me as an odd way of wording things.
The last technical point I would pause for in this chapter is in regards to his brief comment on the length of time that one spends working the degrees of the O.T.O.. He briefly comments that one usually takes decades to ascend through the system. This, however, is completely inaccurate historically. Most people were given the entire system within a matter of a few years. For Crowley the key was really the last 3 degrees which he commonly elevated people though fairly quickly. I am in part convinced it was because he was looking for serious people to help work out the details of the 9th degree. In Reuss’ day one entered at their Masonic equivalent. So, a Scottish Rite Mason would enter the O.T.O. as a 7th degree and begin working its sexual mysteries right away. In modern times it takes a person less than a year to ascend the Scottish Rite system and is very often done in a matter of months. In the O.T.O. today, it takes ordinary people 20 to 30 years to become a 7th degree member. It is a modern trend in Breeze’s leadership to leave people sitting in a single degree for decades or more at a time. It is not clear that O.T.O. was ever intended to work this way. Many of the O.T.O.’s modern critiques would cite this as one example of why the O.T.O.’s growth has remained stagnant for more than 20 years. When I joined the O.T.O. I never imagined that decades later I would still have only seen half of what our system is made of, it is mind boggling to think about. Imagine telling a new Scottish Rite initiate that it was going to take them the next 30 years to work through the entire system. There would be no mystery as to why so few people would waste their time with it.
Chapter four was really well laid out. I don’t think I had ever seen anyone lay out the development of Thelema through the critical workings and periods of Crowley’s life in this way. I enjoyed it a lot. It puts the entire thing into a really nice perspective for looking at its doctrinal developments throughout Crowley’s life. The only critical thing I have to point out here is in the final section of the chapter he discusses the office of the OHO and the Imperator. Here we can see clearly the Gunther/Breeze politics seeping in. This relates to their private property interpretation of duplexity which is the primary topic of the final section of this book. Their narrative depends on convincing us that the two Orders are bound administratively. That the one should govern the other. The basic argument presented here to start is noting that Crowley took the motto of Phoenix as OHO while the wand associated with his office in the A∴A∴ as imperator was the phoenix wand. I find this to be a fairly weak and circumstantial argument to make. I think if Crowley thought that the OHO had to also be the imperator, he would have simply said that somewhere in the many thousands of pages he wrote on this topic.
One more point about chapter four that I should note is that there is a distinct doctrinal addition in their story of Crowley assuming the title of the OHO. They are saying here that because Crowley was a Magus of the A∴A∴ and Reuss did not recognize the importance of his word then it showed Crowley that Reuss did not have a link to the Secret Chiefs and so Reuss was not qualified to be the OHO. There is no real evidence that this is how Crowley saw things. Crowley always described having won the position fairly. So, this is a subtle shift in the historical narrative which is going to start setting the stage for their notions of duplexity.
Chapters 5 & 6: The Beginnings of Duplexity
Chapter five is where we begin our descent into their duplexity argument. For the most part I have to admit that I really enjoyed this chapter. It is mostly focused on the history leading up to his reception of the word of the 1915 Spring Equinox, duplex. Right away Crowley saw this is an indication of what he called the mystic marriage of his two Orders. This results in the Blue Equinox where he laid out his vision for the work of both Orders. I’ll add one quote here that caught my attention,
“Crowley began to believe that the A∴A∴ and the O.T.O. has definite, albeit different, methods to accomplish the same goal, which was to promulgate Thelema.”Keith Readdy, pg.130
I thought this was odd for a few reasons. Firstly, the two Orders both existed before Crowley decided to run with Thelema. So, this is not why either one was created. They both have clear goals from their founding documents that are not identical and make them unique in their own rights. Certainly by 1915 Crowley had began to see the potential for both to celebrate and promote Thelema. This statement however is so abstract that it begs the question of why we need two Orders to do exactly the same thing in the first place. Furthermore, it casts the work of both Orders into such a generic mold as to not really be very indicative of either.
Chapter six is an attempt to distinguish the two groups one as spiritual and one as religious. The first sections explore some basics of religious studies. To me it read like it was written for a thesis advisor and wasn’t very helpful for a student of Thelema. He could have given us his definitions and rolled with it. The section on the A∴A∴ being the source of the spirituality in Thelema was interesting and I mostly agree. Interestingly I found the most true and coherent statement about how the A∴A∴ works that I have ever seen coming from the Gunther camp,
“Hymenaeus Beta has recently noted the efficacy of the system, even for those who are solitary practitioners, saying: “there are kids out there in their bedrooms just using the internet for this information who are really doing this stuff, and they are getting places with it, and that is the most encouraging thing about it.”Keith Readdy, pg.145
This is great. Most of us thought that they were trying to own the A∴A∴ based on a misunderstanding of how it worked. Here we can see that they understand how it works which really leaves me puzzled about why they think it needs them to be in charge of it.
The next section gets into O.T.O.’s function as the religious element of Thelema. The first sentence sort of made me double take,
“The O.T.O. serves a different function than that of the A∴A∴. As we saw in chapter three, its aim is to promulgate and help establish Thelema in the world at large.”Keith Readdy, pg.146
This says exactly the opposite from the quote I used in the previous chapter, only 16 pages prior he said they shared the same goal, to promulgate Thelema, and here we are told that the O.T.O. serves a different function which is to promulgate Thelema. Very confusing. Two sentences later he declares that the distinctions made between the two systems are not hard divisions but fluid. Again, this is just confusing. He goes on in the next page to quote Gunther stating that the goals of the systems are the same which is why they must and do work hand in hand. In the next paragraph he goes back to them being different and continues like this. Basically, the whole section can be summed up as him saying the two system are the same but different also.
The last section here is basically a sociological rant to define his use of the word occulture. He ends this chapter with this line,
“Thelemic occulture can refer to Thelemic publications that were present throughout the 1960s and 1970s, as well the various digital platforms that appropriate Thelema through online channels today”.Keith Readdy, pg.152
This sentence is really troubling for two main reasons. First recall on page 5 of the introduction he defines the Thelemic Movement to be Breezes O.T.O. and Gunther’s A∴A∴ group. Thelemic Occulture is a term he is using to define any other Thelemic group which does not belong to the two aforementioned groups. In this line he directly asserts that these other groups are an appropriation of Thelema. So here we have an ideological assertion that the Breeze and Gunther group are the real Thelema and the other groups are a rip off of Thelema. The other sort of underhanded implication here is that only his Thelemic movement publishes real books, everything else is digital media. As I mentioned above his Thelemic movement has not published a book since 1997, over 20 years ago. The last decade has seen scores of amazing Thelemic publications being put out by a plethora of other Thelemic groups. Here we see another example of the subtle dishonesty which permeates this groups narrative.
A Review of Chapters 7 through 9
Chapter seven was not too bad. There is a mildly nasty tone in reference to Jane Wolfe and Seckler but honestly isn’t too off from the historical evidence. He introduces Wolfe as a Thelemic refugee from Cefalu which just seems like an odd thing to say. He introduces the notion that Motta’s madness might be due to Germer leading him to take the oath of the abyss too soon. It is important to note that they were very candid about the lack of any actual grade work done by either Germer or Motta in the A∴A∴. I think it is significant in light of the recent essay by Vere Chappell about Phyllis Seckler when she became inducted in the Order of the Eagle. His primary argument is that she was not an Adeptus Minor because she failed to complete all of the tasks of the outer order grades. Yet, here are two people, Germer and Motta who are critical links in the Gunther narrative who also did not complete the tasks of the outer order grades. So, if it is true for Phyllis it would then be true for both Germer and Motta and thus it would mean everyone in the Gunther line is fraudulent, of course only if you agree with Vere Chappell and Keith Readdy.
Chapter eight was not bad. For the most part the story was accurate and it was well written. There were more undertones of any other expression of Thelema being an appropriation or “self-identified”. He points out Seckler’s failure to have worked the outer order grade curriculum, I saw that coming. There is some strange language noting her propensity to attract Thelemic partners which seems like a weird thing to add.
He states that Solar Lodge activities ceased in 1972. If we are relying on Shiva’s book on Solar Lodge he closes it in 1972. In reality there are remnants of Solar Lodge still active today. They are highly insular and culty in all the typical ways people use the word. I personally know an ex member. They have a compound in the very southern tip of California below San Diego. I have heard reports that not all of the Crowley library was burnt up in the ranch fires and it is still in their possession today. The group is called Blue Sky Ranch. He gets a pass since he clearly declares that he does not consider this a part of the Thelemic Movement.
Chapter nine honestly was mostly pretty good and I enjoyed the read. Again just a few minor comments to make here. The one thing that had me double taking was their suggestion that Motta, “may have been certified as a IX”. This was almost certainly not true. The story offered by Motta was that Germer offered him training in either the A∴A∴ or the O.T.O. but not both and that he chose A∴A∴ without hesitation. Also, they note interestingly that Motta claimed to be only a Zelator by the time of Germer’s death. In the past some of the Gunther folks would typically point to the imprimatur from Liber Aleph and try to insist he was a recognized Exempt Adept at Germers death making him the highest-ranking member of the A∴A∴ living at that time. I can see now why they have been attacking Seckler’s claim to Adeptus Minor if they are going to admit Motta was only a Zelator at this time. The leadership would fall to Seckler technically unless they can show she was not of that grade which is honestly impossible to really demonstrate.
Chapter 10: The 70’s and the College of Thelema
Chapter ten is really where we are going to start getting into all the splitting of the hairs. For one thing the story is presented as though there was no A∴A∴ activity going on in th e 70’s. Basically the argument is that Gunther wasn’t able to get in contact with any of the Orders representatives and so therefore he had to make contact with the Secret Chiefs himself. Afterwards he made contact with Motta and began working with him as his mentor. They point out that Seckler recognized Motta as Praemonstrator of the A∴A∴ initially. This is very much true. Not only that but Grady also recognized Motta as such. Grady’s thought was; who in their right mind would claim such a thing if it wasn’t true, and so he accepted Motta on his word.
A technical side note about the College of Thelema that is a little off in this chapter. The College of Thelema was the original brain child of Grady McMurtry. He was basically an ABD Ph.D by the late 50’s and was trying to find someway to promulgate Thelema without stepping on Germers toes. He and Germer’s relationship had soured over a car loan made to Grady by Germer. Germer had closed down operations within O.T.O. proper and had all but refused to review Grady’s A∴A∴ journals. Grady made an attempt to unite the remaining Agape Lodge members but this was not fruitful. By this time there were several camps promoting who they thought should be the next world teacher. Helen and Montenegro were pushing for Wilfred Smiths son Kwen to be the next leader. Jean Silhoven was pushing for Crowley’s blood son Ataturk to take the reins. Seckler was supporting Germer at this time which left Grady basically alone with his Caliphate papers. It was amidst this climate that he came up with the idea of forming an independent College of Thelema under who’s banner he could teach classes and promulgate. When he and Seckler united they together laid the foundation for this but as their relationship soured quickly Grady moved on to establish the Clerk House system and Phyllis continued on to fully develop what became her College of Thelema.
For a second time they bring in this notion that Phyllis was only a Neophyte. Motta admits that even Germer thought she was a Minor Adept but he continued to accuse her of confusing knowledge and conversation with the vision of the angel in malkuth. In a previous chapter they print some of their original correspondence when this occurs. Motta speaks like a paranoid and insecure individual. Making hard and fast accusations about someone he barely knew with a clear attempt of placing them below himself. This kind of ego inflated nonsense is characteristic of the Gunther line. Slandering other people and trying to dictate the grade of others is always bad form, and often indicative of that person’s attainment.
On page 219 they completely misrepresent and slander Grady as not having been involved in the A∴A∴ at all. They declare that because Crowley suggested that Grady use his O.T.O. degree signs for Resh that he was not being instructed in the A∴A∴ proper. Again, this is an example of how little they understand their own duplexity argument. The thing one needs to understand when it comes to Grady is this. By the time Grady came along AC was near the end of his life. He had already experienced the failure of two magical sons which he had declared openly. Grady became a last hope for him and he went about things in a completely different way. Grady was instructed to work on his own. AC was planting the spiritual seeds of duplexity within Grady which we see come to fruition when he utters his Word as a Magus 9=2 of the A∴A∴ at the founding of Grand Lodge O.T.O. in 1977. His Word was, OTO. Grady claimed K&C in 1958. He wrote his Exempt Adept Thesis in 1962. He took the oath of the abyss in 1970. By 1976 Grady was a seasoned and solid 8=3, a Master of the Temple and he was correct to not spurt that out to a person whom he had just recently met. So, the fact that he was ambivalent with Wasserman about his grade in the Order is more of an indication of his grade rather than, as they suggest, that he was not a representative of the Order. One thing is clear and that is that it did not matter to Grady who the head of the A∴A∴ was, he was set to do the Work which was put to him by AC himself.
Another important thing to keep in mind when discussing the Grady history is that Crowley gave him a very special title. Crowley almost never does anything randomly. Consider the titles people would be fighting over, Praemonstrator, Imperator, O.H.O., these were all administrative titles which gave people specific duties within specific organizations. Crowley gave Grady the title of Caliph. A Caliph is not an administrative title, it is a spiritual title. A Caliph is the spiritual heir to an entire tradition. We cannot assume Crowley used this word accidentally. AC designated Grady Frater 777, a title reserved for his magical son and then gave him the title of Caliph or spiritual heir to all of Thelema. Grady only used this title to gain authority within and reconstitute the O.T.O. because that is a mundane social organization which requires such things legally. Grady understood that it did not matter what grades or titles a person claimed in the A∴A∴ as it was a spiritual Order which consisted of doing the Work. To Grady it didn’t matter who claimed to be the leader for him to continue his Work. Several times throughout the 1950’s Grady sent his journals to Germer to be assessed for advancement. Germer replied in a hostile tone, “why are you sending me your journals?”. So, Grady simply continued working on his own. In 1970 Grady signed the oath of probationer under Phyllis to forge a temporal link to the Order on paper. He immediately took the oath of the abyss and began working on attaining to the grade of Master of the Temple. In 1977 he assumed the grade of a Magus 9=2 in the A∴A∴.
It is noteworthy that he mentions Wasserman taking his Minerval initiation under Grady in 1976. Even more interesting is the fact that he leaves out that both Gurney and Gunther also took their Minerval initiations at this time, with Wasserman. I have always found it odd the way in which Gunther is presented in the O.T.O.. We have lots of local bodies who spend a lot of money hosting a guy who basically has nothing to do with the O.T.O.. When we ask publicly if Gunther is a member of the Order you get this run around about how it is improper to comment on people’s membership publicly and so forth. Wasserman recounts Gunther having taken his Minerval with him under Grady in 1976 in his book, In the Center of the Fire. No one discusses the fact that Dan Gunther resigned from the O.T.O. 30 days later stating he could not support an organization which required the study of the Book of the Law per his own understanding of the Tunis comment. Gunther returned to Nashville and spent years continuing the work of Motta through both A∴A∴ and his S.O.T.O.. So, for the record Gunther is not a member of the O.T.O..
They claim that S.O.T.O. failed and closed its doors. I do not think this is accurate. I know for certain there were active lodges in the 90’s when I joined O.T.O. and we have received Minerval applications from people who accidentally got involved with the S.O.T.O. thinking it was O.T.O. just within the last 5 years.
As I finished the section on the late 70’s my mind is completely blown concerning Readdy’s omission of two critical points in our history. The first point is Readdy’s complete omission of Grady’s founding of Grand Lodge O.T.O. called Thelema Lodge, in 1977. This is the most significant expression of duplexity since the publication of the Blue Equinox. Here Grady used his Word as a Magus of the A∴A∴ to breath life into the O.T.O., his Word was, OTO. This was a critical moment in the spiritual aspects of duplexity. It is hardly surprising that a group of people who see it as a marriage certificate rather than a holy sacrament missed this great point.
The second really important thing Readdy leaves out is that in August of 1978 when James Wassermen took his 1st degree in the O.T.O. he also took the oath of a Neophyte in the A∴A∴ under Grady McMurtry. This is clearly stated in Wasserman’s account, In the Center of the Fire. However, I suspect that Readdy left it out because it flies right in the face of his attempt to deny Grady his status within the A∴A∴ which is slanderous to say the least. Readdy will go on later to suggest that Grady was even confused about the difference between the two Orders. Wasserman was so convinced that Grady was the guy that he accepted him as his new mentor in the A∴A∴ which Readdy must then conclude that Wasserman was also confused. So, when it comes to Grady we have a clear case where Readdy didn’t even bother to get his story straight with his own team. We have Wasserman showing us how confident he was in Grady’s claims to the A∴A∴ and then we have Readdy’s claims that Grady was not A∴A∴, so either Readdy is wrong or Wasserman is wrong. Also, there is a public radio interview, with Margot Adler, that Wasserman and Grady did over that same weekend where you can clearly hear Wasserman piping in to back up Grady’s authority over Thelema. It is very significant in how different of a story we get from these two sources.
Here in the final section of this chapter, after the election of Beta, we get to his mentioning what became of the A∴A∴ which is really strangely put until you realize that when he says A∴A∴ he just means one guy, Dan Gunther.
“The administration of the A∴A∴ was essentially dismantled once the court battles with Motta began … and the A∴A∴ went silent for many years.” –pg 233-234Keith Readdy, pg.233-234
So, this is complete nonsense. Dan Gunther was expelled from Motta’s A∴A∴, had already resigned from the O.T.O., the S.O.T.O. was a flop, and so Dan Gunther went silent for many years trying to figure out what to do with his life while the A∴A∴ was exploding with activity all over the world.
“Amidst this breakdown, a power vacuum emerged creating the popular discourse of “A∴A∴ lineages” that many Thelemites know today.”
Keith Readdy, pg.234
Here we have a very strange and narcissistic statement. They claim that Gunthers silence through the 80’s is the reason why lineages exist today. This is so backwards as to how history works it is embarrassing. It is good to see them claim responsibility for creating all of the lineages as a result of their silence. Now we have it in writing that it is all their fault.
They mention that in 1992 they reconstituted their A∴A∴ lineage. They mention building a temple of initiation and having the Seals of the Adepti remade. I just have to smile as I sit her looking up at my oaths which are pressed with Seals owned and used by Crowley. It is not as important as some would like to make it out but it is pretty cool and worth mentioning. Also, it is curious why the needed a Temple of initiation, this is not how Crowley ran the Order.
Chapter 11 and the Lineage Debate
Chapter eleven takes on the story of A∴A∴ lineages directly. He begins with a discussion of history versus mnemohistory. I thought this section was interesting and even promising for discussing all of our narratives. He gives some examples of mnemohistory such as the story of the Golden Down and their cipher manuscripts from the Secret Chiefs. At the end of the section He goes on to define all of the narratives of all of the A∴A∴ lineages, aside from his own, as mnemohistory which is to say that they are “history as remembered”, or constructed narratives that aim for legitimacy within a circle of adherents. So again, we find this level of academic dishonesty by defining every group aside from his to be fake history. If he had the courage to include is own narrative along with everyone else’s then this would be an honest discussion but right from the start we can see that his intent is to show that they are all wrong and he is right, thus further demonstrating this is not a history book but one of political ideology.
He continues with a great definition and historical context for lineages in new religious movements that I think captures our situation well. He then defines the concept of A∴A∴ lineages as a fundamental dispute over succession. This is only partly true. Before the Guntherites appearance in the early 90’s the lineages were less advertised and those type of schismatic arguments where mostly only occurring within localized groups such as some of Motta’s other students who made a split to form H.O.O.R. in the 80’s. It wasn’t until a single group, that no one else had ever heard of, showed up in the early 90’s using the power and backing of the modern O.T.O. to proclaim that they possessed the only true link to the heads of the Order and thereby every other claimant group was a fraud. This is what brought issues of succession to the foreground. Before this there was no reason for people working under Ray Eales (Motta student) to argue with or doubt people working under Jerry Cornelius (Grady student), for example. The history is just an obvious result of what happens when a splinter cell type group evolves through time. Whenever a teacher died their students took on the work and kept the Order going. So, the growth of the Order over time began looking like a very typical family tree with many points of bifurcation throughout. Through the 70’s and 80’s this just seemed like an obvious result of how the system was designed. It was not a big deal.
He mentions everyone’s silence concerning A∴A∴ matters throughout the 70’s and 80’s as suspicious and something which should give us pause. I don’t think it is mysterious at all. I think it is clearly just a continuance of the culture that these folks came out of in the 40’s with Agape Lodge. We are really speaking of Grady, Helen, and Phyllis here. O.T.O. was the public banner under which Thelemites congregated and discussed the Law. The A∴A∴ was deeply personal and reserved for discussions between student and teacher only. As they carried this work through the 70’s there was no need to make public claims about any of it. They did the work like they were told to do within the literature itself which was of central importance.
He continues building the argument for why O.T.O. must recognize one A∴A∴ branch singly by stating that they are required to jointly issue volumes of the Equinox. I find it amazing that this is their big point for unity when these two groups have been united for 30 years and they put out one edition of the Equinox in 1994, 25 years ago, which is right now out of print and costing Thelemites large sums of money to purchase. For the 30 some odd years Breeze and Gunther have been working together they have literally done absolutely nothing towards the goals stated as the purpose of their union. I simply find this baffling. Also, there is an implicit notion that what Crowley did is what we should do, sort of a fundamentalist idea. The O.T.O. and the A∴A∴ published and advertised themselves separately for most of their existence. In 1915 we saw the Blue Equinox and Crowley’s attempt to unite their publication wings. This has been more or less true in various ways but the culture of O.T.O. during Agape lodge was one of separation. They were not advertising A∴A∴ but rather O.T.O. with various people within the lodge taking students under them in the A∴A∴. This approach was worked under Crowley and during his lifetime. Now the playing field is different. The idea that O.T.O. cannot publish without being linked to a particular A∴A∴ claimant group is simply absurd, especially today.
“The popular opinion is that affiliation with the A∴A∴ is personal and private, and concerns one’s spirituality.”Keith Readdy, pg.244
Yes, exactly this. So, they do get it.
“The implication of a singular A∴A∴ suggest that other lineages or claimants aren’t legitimate.”Keith Readdy, pg.244
To be clear it is the Guntherites who directly suggest that other lineages are frauds be defining them as appropriations of Thelema as clearly stated previously in this book. Their interpretation of the single A∴A∴ is that they are everyone’s leader, that everyone must answer to them and their interpretations of Thelema. Other lines have always saw themselves as answering to the same spiritual head of the Order, V.V.V.V.V., and thus it is all united in the supernals. Spiritually there is and always has been one head of the A∴A∴ and there are many outward expressions of that throughout the world as each branch developed through its own particular lens of Thelema. This diversity is beautiful and ensures that there is a place for even wider types or styles of people within Thelema itself. This is a key to our growth and longevity. Those who fail to celebrate the diversity of Thelema as it is in the world are enemies of the aeon, not its saviors.
He claims it would be impossible to write a full analysis of the many lineages due to the fact they are not contactable and would refuse to cooperate. This is a real copout to say the least.
His discussion of the Soror Estai Lineage is really bad. Firstly, he claims that they only came into existence by the 90’s and perhaps the 80’s. Soror Meral, Phyllis Seckler, took her first student in 1970. She clearly states in a letter to Motta that Readdy included earlier in this book on page 212 that by 1976 she had already founded her College of Thelema and been taking students in the A∴A∴. Here is another example of where Readdy lacks self-consistency with the story he is presenting, never mind the actual history. Seckler and Eshelman had an operational initiatic Order called the Temple of Thelema off the ground by 1986. It is a little discussed fact that Sabazius served as the Imperator of the Temple of Thelema for many years in the late 80’s and 90’s. A page later he tells us that Seckler and Eshelman began taking students in the early 80’s which is a complete contradiction to the opening sentence of this section. He continues with a really off description of how the College of Thelema operates. Namely he presents it as though it was used as a barrier to their A∴A∴ insinuating that one had to complete her courses in order to be eligible to work in A∴A∴ which is not true at all. People could request association at anytime but completion of course one in the College was considered a passed student phase in the A∴A∴ . Criticizing her for taking money for the College and later TOT to cover fees is like criticizing Crowley for taking dues in the O.T.O. especially if you take their duplexity argument to heart, that they are one Order. It is a bad and pointless thing to discuss. The contrived power dynamics between Seckler and Eshelman are circumstantial at best. Only someone with an agenda would try to sell us so much speculation as an academic work.
They go on to question Janes ability to have taken Seckler as a student and then question her attainment of 5=6 under Germer. If we take his attack on Seckler and Eshelman seriously then it must apply to all Thelemites. For Phyllis they indicate that Germer was describing her experience rather than assigning her a grade. If we challenge her lack of grade work and Eshelman’s “Self-initiation” through the grades then the entire system of A∴A∴ falls flat on its face. Germer himself lacked 100% of the grade work. So, their argument also implies that Germer was not really A∴A∴. If this is the case then anything, he gave Motta would be fraudulent and thus Gunther and their entire claim fails also. If “self-initiation” excludes one from being real A∴A∴ then how is it we can take anything Crowley said seriously at all? Grades are a crown of attainment not a checklist of assignments. It is not the business of the A∴A∴ to provide busy work for its aspirants but to elevate them to where they truly sit. There are no gatekeepers save V.V.V.V.V. and we can only ever fool ourselves which is our loss. He continues by pointing out that Soror Meral was only advertising herself to be a Neophyte, the grade required to accept students. Once a Neophyte always a Neophyte, a person of any grade can at anytime reasonably present themselves as such.
At the bottom he makes a clearly slanderous statement towards David Shoemaker. He writes,
“Given his seasoned involvement and recognition within the O.T.O., he (David Shoemaker) has found the latter to be an effective vehicle for the promotion of his A∴A∴. efforts.”Keith Readdy, pg.251
As someone who has been around David Shoemaker, I can personally account for the fact that it was always important for him to not cross those lines. David Shoemaker is an active 7th degree in the O.T.O. and it makes them look really bad slandering someone of this position. In USGL progression through the Lovers triad is determined by Sabazius alone. Having himself been a product of the Phyliss line we can understand why he would have promoted one of her Adepts to the 7th degree. Progression into the Hermit triad is determined by HB alone and he does not progress people from other A∴A∴. lineages. There was a rumor floating around that HB had at one time offered Shoemaker his own Kingdom in the O.T.O. to drop his work carrying forth the Phyllis line of A∴A∴ and the Temple of the Silver Star. David’s continued efforts towards realizing Phyllis’ dream is a testament to his own personal integrity.
They go on to attack Grady McMurtry. They try to argue that he never was A∴A∴ at all and include some bitter statements from Phyllis to indicate such. They confuse the entire story of him using his Word as Magus of the A∴A∴ to found Grand Lodge O.T.O. in 1977. Readdy is clearly confused by the facts and simply declares that Grady must have been confused about the two Orders. This is truly a sad example of scholarship. He does include Grady’s attitude towards the A∴A∴ when they include this quote,
“An Inner Order should be free from politics.” –Grady McMurtrypg.253
Which was Grady’s attitude.
They reiterate this same notion when they discuss him giving Jerry Cornelius the 8th degree O.T.O. and having him take the oath of the abyss. They use this instance as a chance to slander both Jerry and Grady concluding that they didn’t understand the two Orders. Again, seeing how they failed to get straight the facts concerning Grady’s use of his Word as Magus it is no wonder they fail to articulate the details of this exchange. They present their ignorance through their slander. Once again, you will recall Crowley’s first magical son Frater Achad took the oath of the abyss to assume the grade of Master of the Temple in an effort to help Crowley fully activity his newly acquired grade of Magus. Grady thought he needed similar assistance from his top student, who was Jerry, Grady had 3 primary students in the A∴A∴. Grady needed him to take the 8th degree in O.T.O. because he thought it would give him control over the Areopagus, a governmental body within the Hermit triad of O.T.O.. This was based on a series of recent events which had transpired in southern California where a secret 5th degree Temple was built to initiate a group of people which Grady perceived as an attempt to take over the Electoral College, a governmental body in the Lover triad of O.T.O.. I always saw this as an example of how conferred titles and perceived power can really rot people’s brains, it even got to Grady.
A∴A∴ Under Attack?
The final section is especially dishonest. Readdy attempts to paint the picture as though the Gunther group and its claims are under constant attack from their competitors which is causing problems for the O.T.O., which is absurd. In this section he presents statements made by Seckler, Eshelman, Shoemaker, and Cornelius as though they were outright attacks on the Guntherites. This is very disingenuous as in each of these cases what we are reading is a response to something that was said by Breeze or Gunther. Readdy fails to include what each one is in response to nor does he tell you that they are reactions to their claims in the first place. He is basically lying to us all here. All of these other groups are friendly and supportive of one another. They were all operative long before the Gunther group made their existence public. There is only one A∴A∴ claimant group who claims to be the one true link to the A∴A∴ and that thereby all of the other groups are frauds. What he presents in this last section is a reaction from these other guys after being told they were the fake A∴A∴, all of the dramatic fallout from this is the responsibility of the people causing the drama, the Guntherites and it is indeed having negative effects within the O.T.O.. If nothing else they have made all of A∴A∴ seem like a complete joke.
In the final few pages of this chapter he recounts what is supposed to be HB’s commitment towards tolerance.
“I will tolerate almost anything, but I will not tolerate a threat to the O.T.O.”—Hymenaeus Betapg.263
The problem with this is they are building this idea that other people in leadership positions are using O.T.O. to recruit for their specific groups. To me this seems like a very arrogant position for such a tiny group to take. We literally have a worldwide organization which is smaller than the Lady’s Sewing Circle of North New Jersey and sometimes people really need to get a grip. Eshelman was guilty of doing this for TOT before he resigned from the Order but that was over 20 years ago now. This is clearly still triggering paranoia. Honestly this type of nonsense has no place in such a tiny fledgling movement. The Gunther supporters have caused far more division among Thelemites than anyone else in our history. We should not be surprised that real Thelemites are standing up for the truth and defying the dishonest lying and slandering coming from the Gunther camp. At the end he prints a statement from Sabazius where again he makes the statement,
“…it is also not the case that O.T.O. can have a “close alliance” and working relationship with a multiplicity of A∴A∴ administrations.” –Sabaziuspg. 263
Again, they make this statement with no clear argument as to why. It makes no sense really. Especially when you consider the very real fact that the O.T.O. hasn’t published anything since 1997. Why does O.T.O. need A∴A∴ in the 21st century, really? This is not clear particularly on the administrative levels which their duplexity arguments dictate. An argument must consist of something more than the strength of one person’s convictions in the matter.
Chapter twelve moves on to a discussion of Thelema in the cyber age of the internet. It is humorously titled, The Digital Magus. They begin with the hypothetical need for there to be a standard to protect Probationers learning to memorize their chapters of Liber LXV. Indicating if they learned a version online which had been edited incorrectly then they would have spiritually failed this task as a Probationer. This is more letter of the law type interpretations from a group of fundamentalists. He goes on the indicate that most of the secondary online Thelemic literature is not official because it is not issued from the O.T.O.. This is more nonsense in which they are conflating Thelema with the O.T.O., the former is a movement and the latter is but one organization within that movement. Thelema is a much larger slice of the Venn diagram than O.T.O. is alone.
His discussion of internet identities and profiles was interesting. There was a hint of, this applies to everyone but us. He breaks to make a strange doctrinal point about the attainment of the knowledge and conversation of the holy guardian angel. He uses Crowley quotes to back up his point. There are Crowley quotes which say the exact opposite point also which he fails to mention here. He is making the point that the HGA is not part of yourself but a separate entity. This is part of their view that has been criticized as a mechanism of control. They have an underlying teaching which indicates that aspirants do not get an HGA until Gunther says so. Crowley, however, teaches us that all separation is illusion.
“… it is nevertheless a fact that members of the Thelemic movement can be anticipated to be more wholesome in character than the non-initiate still walking in darkness amongst the profane world.”Keith Readdy, pg.280
Here we have more examples of their elitist narrative which dictates that they are the only true path of initiation and that all others are walking in darkness. This is narrowminded Christian bullshit, pure and simple. It is the Universe which is our initiator. Our Orders provide us with tools to work and engage the Ordeal which the Universe delivers. To claim efficacy for only your group alone is nothing short of ignorant bigotry.
“Through disciplined motion and impassive one-pointedness we can understand and do our will while allowing others to do theirs. There is plenty of room for all.” –pg 281Keith Readdy, pg.281
Yes Keith, this all day long. It is what we all want. Brother, you could start by not saying everyone outside your claimant group is walking in darkness, just rude really.
Duplexity is a spiritual sacrament, not a decree of ownership
Finally moving on to the 3rd and final section of the book, starting at chapter thirteen. The theme with their private property interpretation of Duplexity as a mystic marriage of the two Orders is that with the Gunther claimant group, they reduce this concept to the marriage certificate with almost no discussion of the actual sacrament at hand. Their agenda is clearly one of ownership. Their discussion lacks any real spiritual analysis at all. The few circumstantial things they mention as lining up are more likely the result of Crowley being led by his Angel than any attempt at uniting the Orders. The spiritual aspect of Duplexity lies in seeing that Crowley expressed different aspects of Thelema through each of these Orders. The Solar mysteries became enshrined within his re-working of the O.T.O. while the Lunar mysteries were implanted within his system of A∴A∴, and Crowley tells us very clearly that the Sun and Moon united form the Mark of the Beast. So, duplexity has always been about each aspirant working the mysteries of each Order together, to form the Mark of the Beast. It is not clear in anyway that Crowley ever intended for one group to be run or administrated by one or the other groups. Duplexity is a spiritual sacrament not a decree of ownership. They could not be more off with regards to this principle.
This quote is interesting,
“Grady McMurtry held a very different, and, in some ways, opposite view of the A∴A∴. His belief that the A∴A∴ is self-initiatory, and that guidance from a Superior in the Order is not necessary, seems to be a common attitude today.”Keith Readdy, pg.289
Grady’s “belief” is only him executing what he was instructed to do by Crowley himself. Grady was instructed to work alone. As mentioned above he attained to K&C in 1958, he produced his Exempt Adept Thesis in 1962, he took the oath of the abyss in 1970, and assumed the Grade of Magus in 1977. Not only did Grady follow Crowley’s instructions to work on his own but he found success in this approach. For Grady it was obvious that people could self-initiate, this was Gnosis he had obtained for himself through his own work. There was certainty in his outlook and it was less a belief than a demonstrable fact in his own life. If we seriously begin to question the self-initiatory aspects of the A∴A∴ then we must do so across the board. If one is not able to self-initiate then how was it possible for Gunther to forge his own personal link with the Secret Chiefs and continue the Work of the Order? How was it possible for Crowley to attain these Grades? How was it possible for Germer to be a Master of the Temple when he clearly had no knowledge of the Outer College grades at all? To deny the fact that this system is a system of self-initiation is to deny our history, our leaders, and the ability for the system to work at all for anyone. In their attempts to slay our Caliph they in fact bring down the entire system.
There are several places in this text where they mention the need to build a Temple of Initiation for their A∴A∴ line. He quotes Frater Shiva mentioning it again on page 291. I just want to make a quick note that this is very far outside of how the A∴A∴ ever worked historically. It is starting to show a subtle underlying pattern to why their A∴A∴ line is commonly referred to as the reformulated A∴A∴ all throughout this book. They have created something much different than the Order created by Crowley. Recall, that no one in this Order should know anyone but the person who took them in and any other students that they themselves take on. There is no group work in the A∴A∴ which begs the question as to why they need a Temple of Initiation? The reason is because they are one of the lines which utilize Crowley’s outline for a Neophyte ceremony called Throa, which is a group rite where 3 people initiate another single candidate into the grade of Neophyte. The Phyllis line also uses this ritual. The fact remains however that Crowley never once used this ritual to receive a single person as a Neophyte, this is an addition in modern times and in the Gunther line we see many instances where it is used as a mechanism of control to determine who they want to progress beyond Probationers. Eventually Throa was re-written into Liber 671, Liber Pyramidos, which turns it into a rite of self-initiation which does not depend on others. So, here we have a clear indication of how Crowley saw this as operating in the A∴A∴, where Liber 671 was produced to allow people at a distance to progress themselves in the Order. I think this makes it rather clear as to how Crowley saw things.
He continues in a section on succession with a stream of Motta apologetics. He points out that Phyllis accepted his claims to be Praemonstrator of the Order. To be clear, as I mentioned above, everyone excepted his claims. Not one person protested his claims. For Grady it simply did not matter who was officiating these offices. Crowley had instructed him to work alone and he had already assumed the grade of Master of the Temple by this point. Motta’s claims were simply inconsequential to Grady and Phyllis at that time. After nearly a decade of dealing with his rants and slander Motta’s claims became questionable to all of these folks; as is evidenced by all of his students jumping ship to Grady’s camp in 1976.
Duplexity: Love it or Leave it?
He concludes the section with some rather confusing statements.
“H.B. participated in reconstituting the A∴A∴.”Keith Readdy, pg.297
This is a weird place to land. Readdy has spent so much time trying to demonstrate a line of succession which legitimizes the Gunther claimant group. Then after trying to demonstrate that they have a working paper trail and a legitimate connection to the Secret Chiefs we are told that they reconstituted the Order. So, if they are the true successors of the Order why did it need them to reconstitute it and what does this even mean exactly? As noted above they have moved in a direction away from how Crowley ran the Order by building Temples of initiation and using Throa to induct new Neophytes. A reconstitution implies something new not a continued line of succession. This is as confusing as their entire duplexity argument that the two Orders are one, but separate, but the same, but also different.
He addresses how one’s affiliation in the A∴A∴ affects a persons progression in the O.T.O.,
“It is also pertinent to clarify that membership or advancement in the O.T.O. has never been contingent on ones affiliation the A∴A∴, or even affiliation with any claimant referring to itself as A∴A∴.”Keith Readdy, pg.298
He continues by including a statement released by Vere Chappell concerning this matter. A bit of unwritten history concerning this statement. This statement was released after an O.T.O. brother made a public statement that a Hermit had confirmed to him that statistically speaking only Gunther students were being promoted to the Hermit triad and in the Kingdoms where the tenth degrees themselves are Gunther students they are not inviting people to even the 5th degree, Lovers triad, unless they are Gunther students. This statement was reported to H.B. who contacted the Hermit in question. The Hermit contacted the Brother in question and made him go back and deny the truth of this statement. After which some other 9ths drug him through the mud by suggesting that his statement was turning people away from the O.T.O.. The Hermits wife then pursued a line or personal attacks over that next year slandering this Brother even further. These public statements pushed Vere to issue this official statement which Readdy here includes at the bottom of page 298.
“… alienation from the O.T.O. as a result of its alliance with A∴A∴ is unfortunate.” “It will be a decision that the individual must make for themselves: whether to continue to work with the O.T.O. administration and remain active, or resign for this or other reasons.”Keith Readdy, pg.299-300
I want to address this comment. There is a growing attitude in these online debates where the Guntherites tend to take a stance which basically boils down to, love it or leave it. For those of us who have been around for twenty years or more this attitude is sad and disrespectful. It echoes of the deep authoritarian nature of the O.T.O. and its full expression under Breeze’s leadership. We are reminded again and again that we have no say in these matters. That the O.T.O.’s administration is none of our business and that we should either get on board or leave. The fact that we cannot choose our leaders or administrators is rubbed in our faces as H.B. floods the third triad with yes men who can only ever agree with him. These appointments are for life terms. So, the damage being done is essentially un-fixable.
“Much more important to revealing the chain of transmission is the fruits of the Work being produced by aspirants to the A∴A∴.”Keith Readdy, pg.301
Indeed, a truer statement was never made. He goes on to praise Breeze and Gunther for all of their wonderful contributions. Since he has defined the Thelemic movement to include only the two groups being led by Breeze and Gunther, and that this book is only focusing on the Thelemic movement, then clearly there is no one else to credit here. Again, this wreaks of dishonesty. If we judge by our experience of this book alone their fruits seem to be growing from a bed of dishonesty and slander.
Breeze and Gunther are uniting Thelema in exactly the same way that Darth Vader brought balance back to the force.
“This begs the question that if the so-called “lineage-groups” would effectively consolidate their respective efforts under the rubric set forth by the current A∴A∴ administration, could the issue be resolved at long last?”Keith Readdy, pg.303
Yes Keith, if everyone just did what Breeze and Gunther said there would be no conflict, by definition. From dishonesty, to slander, to bad statistics, to circular logic their venture requires a lot of work to basically end up taking you nowhere. There is only one group of A∴A∴ claimants who lie and slander all of the other groups; who claim everyone is false but them. Most lineages except Gunthers claims to have formed a link with the third Order. Your team is the one causing all of these problems Brother Keith. This power play is running Thelemites away from the O.T.O. in droves. Please stop.
Recall the 4th degree in O.T.O., the Manipura Chakra. This chakra is rooted in survival through the tribe, or society. The ego trap of this chakra is the notion that one’s survival in the tribe comes through the subjugation of others. This manifests in always needing to win the argument or be seen as dominant within the community. Your value in the tribe comes from knowing and doing your will, not by winning arguments. On behalf of the many other flavors of the A∴A∴ I invite my Brother Keith along with any other Guntherites to rise up to their heart centers and have a real dialogue in the Anahatta Chakra. Love is the law. Love is the only path towards resolution. Get out of your ruach and feel the current with the rest of us. This is the way home.
Chapter 14 is an introduction and an analysis of Liber XV, The Gnostic Mass. Honestly this chapter was a nice break. I mostly enjoyed his personal analysis of the mass. I think a much better case can be made for duplexity in the mass than what he gives here. In some ways it felt like he was grasping at straws for chances to bring in concepts from the A∴A∴, while leaving out some more obvious examples which play nicely into the spiritual aspects of duplexity. One thing that seemed a bit strange was his identification of the first stage of ON with the O.T.O. and the second stage with the A∴A∴ proper. The mysteries of ON have more to do with the central secret of O.T.O. altogether but does show up more generally within the mysteries of Thelema. This particular identification is new to me and I am not sure what, if anything, it does for us. Overall his discussion of mass and the E.G.C. was good and enjoyable to read.
“Thelema, even as a religious phenomenon, extends beyond my purposefully circumscribed definitions of the Thelemic movement.”Keith Readdy, pg.335
Yes, Keith, this is the absolute worst aspect of your book. The book is sold as a history of modern Thelema and then right away in the introduction you reduce this large and colorful world to a movement within a movement. Your perspective is so limited that it is bad form to call this a history of Thelema when in fact it is a 400-page apology for the Breeze and Gunther politics within A∴A∴, the O.T.O., and modern Thelema as a whole.
His call toward the need for Thelema to be more academic and compete within all fields of philosophy is overstated at best. The academic world is as niche as the occult world, maybe even more so. The fact is that these academic approaches are only ever going to matter to other academics. This is not how Thelema is going to be promulgated to the masses. Personally, as an academic, I am a bit tired of watching so many modern Thelemites use their extensive footnotes, references, and quotations, as a means of hiding the fact that they really have nothing to say. It is boring and useless. If you want to bring Thelema to the masses start a band. Academics are good for the academics not for the Priests. Your footnotes are good for historians but less so for a normal kid trying to figure out what it means to know and do their Will.
” ‘Thelemic tradition’ lies within the structure and organization of the Thelemic movement (i.e. the A∴A∴, the O.T.O., and the E.G.C.)”Keith Readdy, pg.341
I can see how one might think this makes sense with regards to how these terms have been defined in this book. In truth, Brother Keith has this completely backwards. Thelema is the Word of the aeon. Thelemic organizations are an attempt to funnel these truths to their aspirants in very particular ways. In each case these Orders are a particular expression of Thelema articulated in a particular way. Thelemic tradition must include all expressions of Thelema not just the ones coming from the groups we belong to. Furthermore, this attitude alienates anyone who considers themselves a Thelemite but has no interest in joining a group.
“… the groups and individuals within the Thelemic occulture exist primarily in a vacuum of anarchy.”Keith Readdy, pg.346
Yes and no. Many of the other Orders are themselves based in the system of the A∴A∴ or in some cases the Golden Dawn. They themselves have their own discipline of hierarchy. Breeze and Gunther possess no monopoly on this. Outside of their Orders there is no reason to dispute amongst themselves regarding these trumped up issues of authority and legitimacy. They have received the Word of the aeon and are focused on doing the Work of their Orders. It doesn’t matter to anyone outside of the O.T.O. that Gunther claims to be the leader of Thelema. It is little more than comedy to real Thelemites. Think about this. Thelemites putting crowns on one another should be an endless source of comedy.
“What organization would allow multiple authoritative chains of command within its own boarders?”Keith Readdy, pg.347
This is a fallacy of the false dichotomy. Readdy never explores what another option might be or how many possibly workable alternatives exist to their elitist and exclusive approach. He states over and over the need for the two Orders to be united administratively but offers almost no reasoning as to why. He basically just says it a lot over and over. They reference publishing but they have been united for 30 years and have not published anything in 22 years. So that reasoning just sounds ridiculous. In reality this is the story of one guy using his power in the O.T.O. to promote his A∴A∴ teacher. They could do a lot of other things instead and it would be better for both Orders. Their egos only allow them to see a single option. Their principles of total surrender are similar to the attitudes which brought us world wars.
He ends the book rooting for the success of his Thelemic Movement, A∴A∴, O.T.O., and the E.G.C.. I believe that many people desire such a result. I think the number one source of division in the Thelemic community today is the Gunther camp claiming to be the only real A∴A∴, a claim which isn’t even necessary for what they are doing. Beta united his O.T.O. with his teacher’s A∴A∴ lineage. Far less people would have a problem if we could only be honest about it. We don’t care what addresses you put in the backs of all the books you don’t publish anymore. We just want to be respected and uplifted in the Work, let the Word be Reciprocity.
Love is the law, love under will.
Frater Αγάπη και Φως
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