by tau meithras
Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
The last few weeks have seen the Thelemic community shaking even more than the usual: in a stunningly reactionary and gender essentialist move by O.T.O., non-binary individuals are now no longer allowed to perform as Priest or Priestess in public celebrations of Liber XV: The Gnostic Mass.
While this resolution comes along with the creation of a new role in their clergy, the Deacon-Sacerdote, which is open to non-binary individuals and, allegedly, will have the same administrative weight as that of Priests and Priestesses, being tied to the invitational Degree of K.E.W. in O.T.O., it is safe to say that the upheaval and reactions we have witnessed so far prove this has been a very ill-received move. The full text of the resolution can be found here.
While it is important to remember that, as it stands, this resolution has been implemented only by the O.T.O. US Grand Lodge 1We acknowledge that other Grand Lodges and International Sections barely exist, and most if not all of them just tend to defer to USGL’s policies through and through., and while we are deeply sympathetic with the woes of the seemingly many non-binary individuals who have seen their efforts towards full Ordination as Priest or Priestess thwarted – and we commend Thelemic Union for publishing a heart-warming open letter, which can be read here – we also want to take the discussion further, before outlining which policies we will enforce within our own Sovereign Sanctuary.
First of all, let’s all remember that despite the narratives we have seen unfold in the past 10 years or so, along with the rise of social media communication, and the efforts of a selected number of very liberal-minded O.T.O. initiates that took the chance at the power vacuum left by their Frater Superior – a man that has been unable to seize the opportunity social media offered from the beginning – to portray O.T.O. as the banner of liberal and progressive thought. As the last few years proved, from the demented rants of James Wasserman post-Charlottesville and the constant rise of the alt-right faction within the O.T.O., fuelled by the Breeze-Gunther cult of personality masquerading as the one and only A∴A∴ the real face of Ordo Templi Orientis is finally surfacing for all to witness – especially the vast majority that never really paid attention, and that has been swayed for now over a decade by the decoy those well-meaning, but at the time still party-line-towing liberal minded initiates set up online. It’s also telling that in the same period of time, those same people have been eventually abused, marginalised, ostracised and, in some cases, eventually expelled from O.T.O. by the very masters they were serving.
And this is where I ask: why does it seem so strange to many? Peter König, in his monumental archival opus, warned us all since the 90s – and earned the title of “enemy of the O.T.O.” because of it. But even taking several steps back, we should not forget that Ordo Templi Orientis was none but “the first of the great orders of old to accept the Law of Thelema” – and even then, none of the propaganda Crowley wrote in several pamphlets, especially Liber CLXI, came to pass, or any of the benefits and privileges from being a member publicised in Liber CI.
As relics of the Old Aeon, the Mysteries of Ordo Templi Orientis are steeped into it: and that includes heteronormativity and gender essentialism. The Secret is none other than the Old Aeonic alchemical process we can find in final Degrees of the Masonic Rite of Memphis-Misraim2Memphis-Misraim itself deriving from the Ordo Aegypti of Raimondo Di Sangro and the School of Naples, with the very same final Degrees called “La Scala di Napoli” – something Crowley hinted at elsewhere in his writings. Once again we are in a strictly Old Aeonic setting., aptly called Arcana Arcanorum , which is Latin for Secret of Secrets, or you might say… Mystery of Mystery. I am sure this is where the penny drops for those Thelemites who have not thoroughly researched their own Tradition.
And while the Master Therion added the Thelemic spin to the Athanor here and there, the Man Crowley3The difference is poignant and fundamental. – he himself steeped in the Old Aeon he was so fundamental in archiving – never felt the need to go any further than presenting a “revised” Catholic Mass which is every inch as heteronormative and gender-essentialist as it gets.
This is a fundamental point: yes, there is a vast majority of people, especially in the United States, that have joined the O.T.O. after listening to podcasts like Thelema Coast to Coast, or Speech in the Silence, or after watching videos from the early days of YouTube that went every possible length to present Thelema as the ultra-liberal dream of a religion free of the shackles of ultra-reactionary patriarchy, and that presented Ordo Templi Orientis and Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica as the organisations sworn to defend that dream.
These people were lied to. Those bleeding heart heralds which stormed the then-new ground of social media lied to them, even if, in hindsight, it is safe to say they did so in good faith, being used in order to bolster the ranks of an ever-shrinking organisation – only to eventually end up being tossed aside by a leadership emboldened by the sudden changes towards authoritarianism and neofascism of the past few years.
Liber XV: The Gnostic Mass of O.T.O. is an heteronormative, gender-essentialist ritual that aims at an incredibly specific alchemical process, and no amount of clamouring will change this fact.
We are in fact thankful that the Primate of E.G.C. in the U.S. has finally decided to stop pretending otherwise.
But likewise, it is also time to stop pretending that is the only alchemical process that there is, that only through the mixture of the Red Lion and the White Eagle you can transubstantiate the Logos: there are further Formulae to experiment within Thelema, and even more beyond – it is the task of the Adept to do so.
And likewise, it is time we drop once and for all the pretension that the Man Crowley was “queer”, a “liberal”, and let go of the narrative those well-meaning, but ultimately misleading now-ex O.T.O. members tried to install onto the then-fledgling blogosphere. There are no doubts he was bisexual, and a real iconoclast, but he was also deeply racist, well beyond what was the average for his times, and politically he was well on the right wing, a true “High Tory”. To keep believing this lie is to keep fomenting Crowleyanity instead of promulgating Thelema: and it’s Crowleyanity to blame if the Black Brotherhood has taken over the ruins of O.T.O. and is working almost uncontested to establish Restriction. After all, Crowley himself warned against it, didn’t he?
“I admit that my visions can never mean to other men as much as they do to me. I do not regret this. All I ask is that my results should convince seekers after truth that there is beyond doubt something worth while seeking, attainable by methods more or less like mine. I do not want to father a flock, to be the fetish of fools and fanatics, or the founder of a faith whose followers are content to echo my opinions. I want each man to cut his own way through the jungle.”The Confessions, Chapter 66
The next few years will be pivotal in determining whether these new Formulae will germinate the seeds that have been planted, but in the meantime we do sincerely and earnestly hope that more and more people will come to understand the reality of what Ordo Templi Orientis truly offers, and move away from the delusion that nothing can exist outside it.
In regard to our own Sovereign Sanctuary, we will continue to accept and empower each and every sincere seeker that will prove dedication and devotion to Our Lady of the Stars. To do so, we will continue to work towards new and improved rituals and celebrations that better suit the Aeon of the Child, and the Adumbration of the Aeon of Ma’at – even while still teaching and performing Liber XV in order to better show how Formulae progress and change over time and through proper experimentation.
The possibilities are endless, and the Work never ceases.