- The Purpose of O.T.O.
- The Spirit of Fraternity
- Of Public Opinion
- Societal Change
- What we hold in common
- Of Our Duties as Order Members
- The Power of Working Together
- Manifesting Divinity in Our Lives
- Why We’re Dangerous
- Opposing racial and sexual prejudice is a Thelemic value
- What is Promulgation?
- On Being a Religious Order
The Purpose of O.T.O.
In order to understand where we need to be going, we need to understand our fundamental purpose as an organization. If we understand our fundamental purpose, i.e., what we actually do as an organization, we can then place our various functions, goals, and objectives in proper perspective – as factors that develop, enhance, improve, and promote, that which we do.
So—what is our fundamental purpose as an organization? Is it to extend the influence of the Law of Thelema? To teach Magick? To transform society? To develop Thelemic culture and community? To recruit more members and raise lots of money? To own property and buildings? To throw great parties? Some of these are legitimate enough goals, or functions; but I think the term “fundamental purpose” must entail something much more basic, and something toward which all our various goals, functions and objectives are ultimately pointed – more or less. I submit that, boiled down, the fundamental purpose of OTO is to collectively approach, encounter, and magnify the Divine, especially via two specific paths; paths which are very much intertwined.
Our first path to the Divine is through our shared Fraternal bonds, which is to say, through the yoga of our interpersonal relations as initiated Brothers and Sisters, as we discussed in detail two years ago. We learn to see the Divine in each other, and we see it grow within our collective spirit as we work and learn together. Our second path to the Divine is through the sacred rituals that we work together. We walk this path individually as initiatory candidates, and collectively in the Gnostic Mass and as initiatory participants. We are a Religious Order, and the principal expression of our nature as such is Sacred Drama.
“Brothers and Sisters, we are the vanguard of the New Aeon.”
The Spirit of Fraternity
Our rituals should always be performed rightly, with as much joy and beauty as is possible, and with more each time. Candidates who come to initiation, and those who come to Gnostic Mass for the first time, should be awestruck by that joy and beauty, and power – it should sweep them into the presence of the Divine. All Brothers and Sisters – you – should actualize the living spirit of fraternity by contributing to, and participating in, these noble efforts to the greatest extent you can – by constantly helping your local body to exceed its past limitations. The more you put into your local body, the more it will give back to you, and the more we will all be able to give to the world.
So help your local body to grow, but not just in numbers, help it to grow in quality. If you have sponsored a candidate for initiation, take an interest in that person’s progress. Encourage them to work to understand the initiation they have just undergone. Help them practice their signs, grips and words. Make sure they receive their study guides, and help them gain access to the materials they need. Help them remember their oaths, and support them when they face their inevitable ordeals. Encourage them to participate in local activities, find and suggest ways for them to apply their talents and abilities toward contributing to the collective effort of the local body. Infect them with your own enthusiasm.
Finally, be an example to those you sponsor, and to all your Brothers and Sisters. Realize in your self what our Order has offered to teach you. Be a model of self-actualization and self-control. Do not try to escape your oaths by forgetfulness, or sophistry, or hair-splitting – but seize them with joy and courage, as you would a shining sword, take them and cut down your own weaknesses and false limitations. Love and Honor your Brothers and Sisters, and what we have built together, and what we will build together. Open yourself up to the Divine that we seek, and let it shine forth from within you, for Thou art That.
Of Public Opinion
Brothers and Sisters, we are the vanguard of the New Aeon.
What is tyranny, if not the obstruction of one person’s True Will by the greed of another?
What is superstition, if not the suppression of truth by blind faith in established dogma?
What is oppression, if not the subjugation of the Will of the individual to the Will of the group?
Let us construct our Temple to be dazzling in its beauty, and let it ring constantly with the sounds of solemn worship and ecstatic rejoicing; but let us also fortify and guard that beautiful Temple as a formidable Fortress; strong enough to withstand the tremors and upheavals of politics, the blasting winds of bureaucracy, and the cannonballs of public opinion.
It is the will of our Order to be an active agent for change in society, and every initiate of our Order partakes of that will. We may work this Magick in many different ways, according to what we each bring to the table: through teaching, through publishing, through putting on local events and events like this, through engaging in community service, through political action, through art, through music, through satire, and of course, through that old-time ceremonial; but in all cases we do this by living our lives by our core principles – by integrating the Light of our initiations into our very beings, so that it shines out as an inspiration to our friends, our co-workers, and to everyone we meet. So shall we manifest the initiation of the World into Thelema.
“There is strength in beauty, brothers and sisters, and there is beauty in strength.”
What we hold in common
Even while we celebrate our diversity and individuality with justified exuberance, it is critical that we remember those principles we hold in common, and those things we owe to each other as brothers and sisters of this, our Holy Order.
We are a religious Order. Our religion is that of Thelema. Our Thelema is not some meaningless diversion like this so-called “Rabelaisian” Thelema—Saint Rabelais never intended his satirical, fictional device to serve as a practical blueprint for a real human society. And it is not some revisionist imposture, such as that put forth by some of the proponents of the so-called “New Aeon English Qabalah.” Our Thelema is that of the Book of the Law and the writings of Aleister Crowley—the Master Therion, the Prophet of the Aeon of Horus.
This is what we are about, and this is what we are—our guide is the Book of the Law, and our Law is “Do What Thou Wilt.”
Despite all our individual differences of manner, opinion, preference, interest, and enthusiasm, these are things on which we must agree.
Of Our Duties as Order Members
[J]ust as our Order must be firmly united to face the Slave Religions in strength, so must each of us be firmly united in ourselves to accomplish our True Wills. We must hold ourselves accountable for the Oaths we have taken, the commitments we have made, the allegiances we have forged, and the duties we have willingly accepted. In our dealings with each other, we must exercise the utmost in frankness and good faith. We must each become fluent in the literature of the Law of Thelema, we must learn to apply this Law in our day-to-day decisions and challenges, and we must extend it into the world for the benefit of those whose will it is to receive it. We must strengthen ourselves–and each other—with knowledge, wisdom, wit, energy, fraternity—and art.
There is strength in beauty, brothers and sisters, and there is beauty in strength.
The Power of Working Together
I consider the Order to be a special case of society—a voluntary association of individuals that share similar views regarding individuality. We recognize and celebrate each other’s individual uniqueness—at least when we are at our best—and we work towards seeing to it that society at large at least tolerates it. We are, in a way, united by this common interest in individuality, and this unity is expressed and fostered by our rituals; by our group rituals in particular, in which we participate as if we were each an organ in a great body. I have definitely felt this sense of unity most strongly when acting in concert with my brothers and sisters to jointly achieve a particular ceremonial result, my mind focused, like a shining nail, on my prescribed and uniquely individual role, with the knowledge that the minds of my brothers and sisters are focused in the same way on theirs. And so do we paradoxically express our unity, and our individuality. Let us apply this principle to all that we do together, nationally and locally. For, as we read in Liber Librae, “if a chance thought can produce much effect, what cannot fixed thought do?”
“Opposing racial and sexual prejudice is a Thelemic value”
Manifesting Divinity in Our Lives
My Brothers and Sisters, you are (in various stages of manifestation) these true gods upon the surface of the Earth. “Deus est Homo.” “There is no god but Man.” It is our shared and individual essence, continuing knowledge from generation unto generation, that is that secret and most holy Lord of life and joy adored by us and our saints–our Lord in ourselves, whose name is Mystery of Mystery.
Understanding this is the true basis of the Law, and the true foundation of all human rights. Realizing this is the essence of true kingship. Manifesting its glory is the essence of true Sainthood.
Why We’re Dangerous
If we know ourselves each to be elaborations and extensions of the divine, then how can anyone have undue power over us? How can we be dominated by any other creature without our sovereign consent? We can be deprived of our money, our property, our health, our limbs, our loved ones, even our individual lives; but, once we understand our true nature, we can never be deprived of that.
And this makes us rather dangerous.
There have always been, and will always be, a class of slaves who will vainly attempt to palliate their myopic egos by amassing and wallowing in greater and greater pigsties of material ostentation, who will seek to profit—in their own pathetic way—by sowing ignorance and superstition and fear and confusion and guilt and shame among the people, struggling to hide from them the truth of their divine nature. Like the vampires of folklore, their design is to reduce the humble villagers to a state of cowed subservience, that they may be more easily preyed upon.
They thrive on the life-blood of a populace that has been conditioned by deceit and threat to labor and kill for their betters in exchange for toys, spectacle, transient pleasures, and false honor—things that numb their pain of division, without satisfying it—a populace without self-understanding or consciousness of individual Will, a populace that has submitted to voluntary spiritual castration, a populace, as it were, of zombies.
This is why we must promulgate the Law of Do What Thou Wilt: the Law of the Strong, the Joy of the World. This is why we must manifest the glory of the Lord—by learning and teaching; by reading and writing and speaking; by painting, drawing, carving, and moulding; by song, by dance, by building and by steadfast resistance; with ecstasy and passion and strength; individually—and with our arms linked in fraternity.
Undertake the Great Work. Find out who and what you really are. How else can you ever know what’s really important to you, and what isn’t, as you tread the path between East and West?
“Promulgation—which is a magical act—must include the active advocacy of fundamental Thelemic values and principles.”
Opposing racial and sexual prejudice is a Thelemic value
Every individual human being needs Light, Life, Love and Liberty; and has a right to the liberties described in Liber Oz. Furthermore, every human being has a right to be recognized as a human being—a Star—with a True Will, with all the attendant rights, and not dismissed as merely an outsider.
Those with initiative, dedication, resourcefulness, and genius certainly should be allowed to freely enjoy the fruits of their labors; and may also deserve a certain elevation of privilege if their labors also serve humanity. But these fundamental rights that underpin the ability to freely be oneself and do one’s will are for everyone—who does not reject them. They are not market commodities to be cornered through cleverness or family connections; either to keep to yourself or dole out selectively to your chosen and preferred. And if we stand idly by as other sovereign individuals have their basic rights eroded or torn away against their wills because of their group classification: their skin color, their gender, their ethnicity, their nationality, their preference in love, their economic status, their religion of their parents, even their I.Q., then we are guilty of hypocrisy. Everyone has their will to discover and do. The only ones who deserve abrogation of these basic rights are those who would deny them.
Thus, if we are to honorably claim these rights for ourselves, we must affirm their universality. Now, this puts us in a peculiar position that many of us will find uncomfortable. Because we live and participate in a culture that, through centuries of structuralization based on unscientific and pseudo-scientific notions, has internalized and institutionalized discriminatory biases based on race, gender, ethnicity, economic status, and a host of other arbitrary distinctions—and many, if not most, of us here, happen to be on the winning side of those biases. Whether we like it or not. You don’t have to be a bigot to benefit from institutionalized prejudice. And when you do so benefit without protest, or even awareness of it, you are a tacit participant in an oppressive system. Opposing racial and sexual prejudice is a Thelemic value; even for white, heterosexual, middle-class men—like me. Even if we have to summon the courage confront our own fear of losing the automatic social privileges we have become accustomed to as societal insiders.
What is Promulgation?
The Law is for all. Promulgation is not the same thing as recruitment, or publicity. It is not enough to get new folks to Minerval, or to the Gnostic Mass. Promulgation is not just selling more copies of Crowley books, wearing Thelemic jewelry and clothing, and using our conventional greetings and daily rituals.
Promulgation—which is a magical act—must include the active advocacy of fundamental Thelemic values and principles. In the world: the Rights of Man. All men, all women. Within our Order: peace, tolerance, truth. Fraternity. Harmony. Rejoicing in each others differences. Setting an example for newcomers. How can we act effectively to establish the Law of Thelema in the world if we do not have our own house in order? If we are tied up internally with our own factionalism, petty power struggles and overblown controversies, how can we ever be a force for positive change in the world? Moreover, how can we even survive the massive waves of change that are sweeping the world right now?
On Being a Religious Order
But there is a different way to challenge the power of the ossified, oppressive structures of the old times—because religious beliefs themselves are a two-edged sword. The other edge of the sword is esotericism—including occultism, mysticism, and magick—from which our religion of Thelema derives. This is where religion recognizes that its core consists of the ecstatic religious experience—the experience of divine union–which ultimately must be sought out and achieved by the individual—with or without help from others.
We of Thelema desire to seize the tools of religion and employ them to liberate, awaken and challenge the human spirit by appealing to its nobility, its curiosity, its desire to understand itself, its sense of adventure, as well as its sense of humor. We want you to pursue and experience religious ecstasy. We are, therefore, committed to a spiritual struggle against those entrenched ideas and beliefs that have been spread to enslave, oppress, exploit, and divide the human spirit–against those characteristic aspects of religion that make the very word religion repulsive to many.
As I mentioned before, religion, at its core, comprises the various collections of customs, rituals, practices, stories and beliefs that deal with our human relationship with the divine, centered around the ecstatic religious experience—the experience of divine union made possible by division: which some call Gnosis. True religion is this personal experience, and the community and culture that naturally develops around it.
I believe that O.T.O. constitutes such an intentional community of religious culture. But one of the fundamental ideas that we as a community hold especially sacred is the idea that the religious experience is ultimately an individual one, and thus we place a high value on individual will and individual rights. Despite our cohesion and common characteristics as a group, we insist on maintaining a recognition of each individual as having their own agency, their own autonomy, their own rights of expression and creation, and their own right to be themselves and live according to their uniqueness, rather than conforming to an arbitrary standard imposed on them. Paradoxically, one such arbitrary standard is that of the independent individual who stands apart and is responsible only for and to himself. Even though we recognize the absolute rights of the individual, we, as members of a sodality, still pledge each other our appropriate aid, honest discourse, and reasonable cooperation. We believe in the rights of the individual, but we also believe in the value of community.
But, ultimately, all these things that make us unique are things that take us farther from the Unconditioned Essence of Self that we were before we incarnated in these bodies. Even if we accept the doctrine of reincarnation, all the lives that we experienced before simply added more experience and knowledge and conditioning and limitation and restriction to that Nameless Essence–to the You that is beyond all you are. You have become a living, sentient work of art, beautiful and joyful and tragic in your uniqueness, sculpted with Love by Life from formless Chaos. One way to look at the religious experience, the experience of union with the divine, is to see it as a conscious, inspired journey of return to the understanding of–and reunion with–this primordial Self; the Center and Secret of the Sun, the Most Holy Mystery of which you are the vehicle. Look around you and see, in their glorious diversity, the other vehicles of that identical Mystery–which is beyond death and life. And security.