Ordo Templi Orientis
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This article is about the international organization incorporated in California. For the international magical order based in Great Britain, see Ordo Templi Orientis (Typhonian).
Aleister Crowley
Ordo Templi Orientis (O.T.O.) (Order of the Temple of the East, or the Order of Oriental Templars) is an international fraternal and religious organization founded at the beginning of the 20th century. Originally it was intended to
Be modelled after and associated with Freemasonry,[1] but under the leadership of Aleister Crowley was reorganized based on the Law of Thelema as its central religious principle. This Law—expressed as “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law" [2] and "Love is the law, love under will” [3]—was established in 1904 with the dictation of The Book of the Law. Similar to many secret societies, O.T.O. Membership is based on an initiatory system with a series of degree ceremonies that use ritual drama to establish fraternal bonds and impart spiritual and philosophical teachings.  [Frickin lie ]

O.T.O. Also includes the Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica (EGC) or Gnostic Catholic Church, which is the ecclesiastical arm of the Order. Its central rite, which is public, is called Liber XV, or the Gnostic Mass.

O.T.O. Claims over 3000 members in 58 countries; about half of these are in the United States.[citation needed]


The early history of the O.T.O. Is difficult to trace reliably. It originated in Germany or Austria between 1895 and 1906.[4] Its apparent founder was Carl Kellner (probably with the German spelling Karl)[4], a wealthy Austrian industrialist, in 1895 (although nothing is known of the Order until 1904).[5]

Theodor Reuss (1855-1923) collaborated with Kellner in creating O.T.O., and succeeded him as head of the O.T.O. After Kellner's death. Under Reuss, charters were given to occult brotherhoods in France, Denmark, Switzerland, the U.S.A. And Austria. There were nine degrees, of which the first six were Masonic.[5]

In 1902, Reuss, along with Franz Hartmann and Henry Klein, purchased the right to perform the Rite of Memphis and Mizraim of Freemasonry, the authority of which was confirmed in 1904 and again in 1905.[citation needed] Although these rites are considered to be irregular, they, along with the Swedenborgian Rite formed the core of the newly established Order.[citation needed]

[edit] O.T.O. And Aleister Crowley
Reuss met Aleister Crowley and in 1910 admitted him to the three degrees of O.T.O. Only two years later, Crowley was placed in charge of Great Britain and Ireland, and was advanced to the X°. The appointment included the opening of the British section of the O.T.O. , which was called Mysteria Mystica Maxima.[5] Crowley then went to Berlin to obtain the instructional manuscripts and also the title of Supreme and Holy King of Ireland, Iona and all the Britains within the Sanctuary of the Gnosis.[5] Within the year Crowley had written the Manifesto of the M?M?M? Which described the basic ten-degree system with Kellner’s three degree Academia Masonica forming the seventh, eighth and ninth degree.

In 1913, Crowley composed the Gnostic Mass while in Moscow, which he described as being the Order’s “central ceremony of its public and private celebration.” In 1914, soon after World War I broke out, he moved to America. It was around this time that he decided to integrate Thelema into the O.T.O. System, and in 1915 had revised rituals prepared for use in his M?M?M?

In 1917, Reuss wrote a Synopsis of Degrees of O.T.O. In which the third degree was listed as "Craft of Masonry" and listed the initiations involved as "Entered Apprentice, Fellow Craft, Master Mason" and elaborated on this with "Full instruction in Craft Masonry, including the Catechism of the first three degrees, and an explanation of all the various Masonic systems." The same document shows that the fourth degree of O.T.O. Is also known as the Holy Royal Arch of Enoch. It was summarized by Reuss as the Degree of "Scotch Masonry", equivalent to "Scotch Mason, Knight of St. Andrew, Royal Arch", and he described it as "Full instruction in the Scottish degrees of Ancient and Accepted Masonry."[6][7]

In 1919, Crowley attempted to work this Masonic based O.T.O. In Detroit, Michigan. The result was that he was rebuffed by the Council of the Scottish rite on the basis that the O.T.O rituals were too similar to orthodox Masonry. He described this in a 1930 letter to Arnold Krumm-Heller:

However, when it came to the considerations of the practical details of the rituals to be worked, the general Council of the Scottish Rite could not see its way to tolerate them, on the ground that the symbolism in some places touched too nearly that of the orthodox Masonry of the Lodges.[8]  Crowley subsequently rewrote the initiation rituals of the first three degrees, and in doing so removed most of those rituals' ties to Masonry. He did not, however, rewrite the fourth degree ritual, which remains in its form and structure related to the various Royal Arch rituals of Masonry.

Crowley wrote that Theodor Reuss suffered a stroke in the spring of 1920. In correspondence with one of his officers, Crowley expressed doubts about Reuss's competence to remain in office. Relations between Reuss and Crowley had begun to deteriorate—the two exchanged angry letters in November of 1921. Crowley informed Reuss that he was availing himself of Reuss's abdication from office and proclaiming himself the Outer Head of the Order. Reuss died on October 28, 1923. Crowley claimed in later correspondence that Reuss had designated him as his successor. Lawrence Sutin, among others, casts doubt on this claim, although there is no evidence for or against it, and no other candidate stepped forward to refute Crowley by offering proof of succession. In 1925, during the tumultuous Conference of Grand Masters, Crowley was officially elected as OHO by the remaining administrative heads of O.T.O.[9]

During WWII, the European branches of O.T.O. Were either destroyed or driven underground. By the end of the war, the only surviving O.T.O. body was Agapé Lodge in California, although there were various initiates in different countries. Very few initiations were being performed. At this time, Karl Germer, who had been Crowley’s representative in Germany, came over to America after being released from Nazi confinement. In 1942, Crowley appointed him as his successor as OHO,[citation needed] the office he filled after the death of Crowley in 1947.

[edit] O.T.O. after Crowley
Under Germer, O.T.O. activity dropped to near extinction. He died in 1962 without naming a successor. It was not until 1969 that anyone stepped into the void when Grady McMurtry invoked his emergency authorization from Crowley and assumed the title of Caliph (X°). Grady did not claim the title of OHO, stating in 1974 that "There is at present no Outer Head of the Order for Aleister Crowley's Ordo Templi Orientis. The Outer Head of the Order is an international office (see p. 201, The Blue Equinox) and Aleister Crowley's Ordo Templi Orientis is not at this time established organizationally to fulfill the requirements of its Constitution in this respect."[10] He began performing initiations in 1970. O.T.O. was incorporated under the laws of the State of California on March 26, 1979. The corporation attained Federal Tax exemption as a religious entity under IRS Code 501(c)3 in 1982. Grady McMurtry died in 1985, having successfully saved the O.T.O. from extinction.

McMurtry requested that members of the Sovereign Sanctuary (members of the Ninth Degree) elect the next Caliph, which they did in 1985. William Breeze was elected to become the next Caliph (X°),[11] taking the name Hymenaeus Beta X°.

Sometime between 1995 and 2005 Breeze apparently assumed the title of OHO. In the Fall 1995 issue of The Magical Link, he is designated "Hymenaeus Beta X°"; in the Fall 1997 issue of The Magical Link, he is designated "Hymenaeus Beta XI°"; by May 2005, he is designated "O.H.O. Hymenaeus Beta XII°" on the O.T.O. website.[12] In 1996, Sabazius X° (David Scriven) was appointed as National Grand Master General for the U.S. Grand Lodge. In 2005, Fr. Hyperion X° was appointed the National GMG of the newly formed UK Grand Lodge. Fr. Shiva X° was appointed the GMG of Australia Grand Lodge in 2006.  [ Note they don't give their real names ]

[edit] Philosophy of O.T.O.
O.T.O. was described by Crowley as the "first of the great Old Æon orders to accept The Book of the Law". O.T.O. originally borrowed ritual material from irregular Masonic organizations,[6] and although some related symbolism and language is in use, the context has changed to Thelema and its tenets. "The Order offers esoteric instruction through dramatic ritual, guidance in a system of illuminated ethics, and fellowship among aspirants to the Great Work of realizing the divine in the human"[13] O.T.O. has two core areas of ritual activity: initiation into the Mysteries, and the celebration of Liber XV, the Gnostic Mass. In addition, the Order organizes lectures, classes, social events, theatrical productions and artistic exhibitions; publishes books and journals; and provides instruction in Hermetic science, yoga, and magick.

Crowley wrote in his Confessions, "the O.T.O. is in possession of one supreme secret. The whole of its system [is] directed towards communicating to its members, by progressively plain hints, this all-important instruction." Of the first set of initiations, "the main objects of the instruction [are] two. It [is] firstly necessary to explain the universe and the relations of human life therewith. Secondly, to instruct every man [and woman] how best to adapt his [or her] life to the cosmos and to develop his faculties to the utmost advantage. I accordingly constructed a series of rituals, Minerval, Man, Magician, Master-Magician, Perfect Magician and Perfect Initiate, which should illustrate the course of human life in its largest philosophical aspect." The initiation rituals after the V° are such that "the candidate is instructed in the value of discretion, loyalty, independence, truthfulness, courage, self-control, indifference to circumstance, impartiality, scepticism, and other virtues, and at the same time assisted him to discover for himself the nature of [the supreme] secret, the proper object of its employment and the best means for insuring success for its use" (p.701).[14]

Of the entire system of O.T.O., Crowley wrote in Confessions:

It offers a rational basis for universal brotherhood and for universal religion. It puts forward a scientific statement which is a summary of all that is at present known about the universe by means of a simple, yet sublime symbolism, artistically arranged. It also enables each man to discover for himself his personal destiny, indicates the moral and intellectual qualities which he requires in order to fulfil it freely, and finally puts in his hands an unimaginably powerful weapon which he may use to develop in himself every faculty which he may need in his work (p.703).[14]

An Excerpt on the Reconstituted O.T.O.

What is Freemasonry?

An Excerpt on the
Reconstituted O.T.O.

From his Confessions

What follows is Crowley's own account of his motivations and methods in reconstructing the O.T.O. And its rituals. It is excerpted from The Confessions of Aleister Crowley, PP. 700-n-704. In this excerpt Crowley discusses his revision of the ``Oasis'' initiation rituals of O°-n-III°. His explanatory introduction to these revised rituals, as presented to then-Frater Superior Merlin Peregrinus X° when the reforms were proposed, appears elsewhere in this issue.--H.B.

``WHAT IS FREEMASONRY?'' I collated the rituals and their secrets, much as I had done the religions of the world, with their magical and mystical bases. As in that case, I decided to neglect what it too often actually was. It would be absurd to judge Protestantism by the political acts of Henry VIII. In the same way, I could not judge masonry by the fact that it had denounced the Concordat. I proposed to define freemasonry as a system of communicating truth--religious, philosophical, magical and mystical; and indicating the proper means of developing human faculty by means of a peculiar language whose alphabet is the symbolism of ritual. Universal brotherhood and the great moral principles, independent of personal, racial, climatic and other prejudices, naturally formed a background which would assure individual security and social stability for each and all.

The question then arose, ``What truths should be communicated and by what means promulgated?'' My first object was to eliminate from the hundreds of rituals at my disposal all exoteric elements. Many degrees contain statements (usually inaccurate) of matters well known to modern schoolboys, through they may have been important when the rituals were written. I may mention one degree in which the candidate is portentiously informed that there are other religions in the world besides Christianity and that there is some truth in all of them. Their tenets are explained in many cases with egregious error. The description of Buddha as a god is typical. I saw no point in overloading the system with superfluous information.

Another essential point was to reduce the unwieldly mass of material to a compact and coherent system. I thought that everything worth preserving could and should be presented in not more than a dozen ceremonies, and that it should be brought well within the capacity of any officer to learn by heart his part during the leisure time at his disposal, in a month at most.

The eighteenth-century Rosicrucians, so-called in Austria, had already endeavoured to unite the various branches of Continental freemasonry and its superstructures; in the nineteenth century, principally owing  To the energy and ability of a wealthy iron master named Karl Kellner, a reconstruction and consolidation of traditional truth had been attempted. A body was formed under the name O.T.O. (Ordo Templi Orientis) which purported to achieve this result.

It is purported to communicate the secrets, not only of freemasonry (with its Rites of 3°, 7°, 33°, 90°, 97°, etc.,) but of the Gnostic Catholic Church, the Martinists, the Sat Bhai, the Rosicrucians, the Knights of the Holy Ghost and so on, in nine degrees, with a tenth of an honorary character to distinguish the ``Supreme and Holy King''of the Order in each country where it was established. Chief of these kings is the O.H.O. (Outer Head of the Order, or Frater Superior), who is an absolute autocrat. This position was at this time occupied by Theodor Reuss, the Supreme and Holy King of Germany, who resigned the office in 1922 in my favour.

The O.H.O. Put the rituals of this Order at my disposal. I found them of the utmost value as to the central secret, but otherwise very inferior. They were dramatically worthless, but the prose was unequal, they lacked philosophical unity, their information was incomplete and unsystematic. Their general idea was, however, of the right kind; and I was able to take them as a model.

The main objects of the instruction were two. It was firstly necessary to explain the universe and the relations of human life therewith. Secondly, to instruct every man how best to adapt his life to the cosmos and to develop his faculties to the utmost advantage. I accordingly constructed a series of rituals, Minerval, Man, Magician, Master-Magician, Perfect Magician and Perfect Initiate, which should illustrate the course of human life in its largest philosophical aspect. I begin by showing the object of the pure soul, ``One, individual and eternal,'' in determining to formulate itself consciously, or, as I may say, to understand itself.

It chooses to enter into relations with the solar system. It incarnates. I explain the significance of birth and the conditions established by the process. I next show how it may best carry out its object in the Eucharist of life. It partakes, so to speak, of its own godhead in every action, but especially through the typical sacrament of marriage, understood as the voluntary union of itself with each element of its environment. I then proceed to the climax of its career in death and show how this sacrament both consecrates (or, rather, sets its seal upon) the previous procedure and gives a meaning thereto, just as the auditing of an account enables the merchant to see his year's transactions in perspective.

In the next ceremony I show how the individual, released by death from the obsession of personality, resumes relations with the truth of the universe. Reality bursts upon him in a blaze of adorable light; he is able to appreciate its splendour as he could not previously do, since his incarnation has enabled him to establish particular relations between the elements of eternity.

Finally, the cycle is closed by the reabsorption of all individuality into infinity. It ends in absolute annihilation which {...} may in reality be regarded as an exact equivalent for all other terms soever, or (by postulating the category of time) as forming the starting point for new adventure of the same kind.

It will be clear from the above that the philosophical perfection of this system of initiation leaves nothing to be desired. We may write Q.E.D. The practical problem remains. We have already decided to incarnate, and our birth certificates are with our bankers. We do not have to worry about these matters, and we cannot alter them if we would; death and what follows death, are equally certain, and equally able to take care of themselves. Our sole preoccupation is how to make use of our lives.

Now the O.T.O. Is in possession of one supreme secret. The whole of its system at the time when I became an initiate of the Sanctuary of the Gnosis (IX°) was directed towards communicating to its members, by progressively plain hints, this all-important instruction. I personally believe that if this secret, which is a scientific secret, were perfectly understood, as it is not even by me after twelve years' almost constant study and experiment, there would be nothing which the

Human imagination can conceive that could not be realized in practice.

The degree of Knight Hermetic Philosopher follows, in which his intellectual and moral attitu

De is further defined. In the VI°, his position having been thus made precise, he is shown how to concentrate himself to the particular Great Work which he came to earth in order to perform. In the VII°, which is tripartite, he is first taught the principle of equilibrium as extended to all possible moral ideas; secondly, to all possible intellectual ideas, and lastly, he is shown how, basing all his actions on this impregnable rock of justice, he may so direct his life as to undertake his Great Work with the fullest responsibility and in absolute freedom from all possibility of interferences. ....

In the VIII°, the secret is once more manifested to him, more clearly than before; and he is instructed in how to train himself to use it by certain preliminary practices involving acquaintance with some of those subtler energies which have hitherto, for the most part, eluded the observation and control of profane science.

In the IX°, which is never conferred upon anyone who has not already divined from previous indications the nature of the secret, it is