Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
The Gnostic Mass is the central public rite of Ordo Templi Orientis. In normal times it is regularly celebrated at most local bodies in the United States.
In a pandemic, some local bodies have found new ways to connect with this central rite.
We were able to do mass in our living room because we have four ordained clergy living in the same house, which is enough people for a barebones mass team and a cameraman. It was important to us to not break the physical distancing rules not only for our own sakes but also because of the message it would send if he had other people present – we wanted to encourage people to stay safe at home.
We borrowed some mass equipment from the lodge (tealights, large stele, etc.) but a lot of it we either already owned or MacGuyver’d out of things we had lying around. Our tomb is some black cloth draped over a couple banner poles and a broom handle tied to the curtain rod. The shrine veil is a bed curtain and its rod on some banner poles tied to the wall. The altar is a piano bench, and the super altar is a piano. It’s been pretty fun.
It’s kinda difficult to tell exactly how many people have watched it, and it kinda depends on how you define that, but for each of the two publicized ones we’ve done so far we’ve had 65 to 70 people online the entire time. I don’t know if those people were present for the entire ritual. I presume that’s just viewers at any given time.
We did not have children or congregants. Since we stuck to only the four people in our house we had a priest, priestess, deacon and camera operator.
We mostly don’t notice the camera when we’re actually celebrating, with the possible exception of during the various circumambulations when you have to walk by it a few times. We did practice cheating out a little bit so that people could hear more clearly and get a better view of what’s happening. Given the limitations of our space and our ad hoc temple if we hadn’t done this a lot of the second half would have just been the priest’s back. You wouldn’t have been able to see the priestess because she was sitting on the piano bench.
The only things I’d add to that is that we’ve been really humbled by people’s response to this and humbled by all the support we’ve received, and also that doing mass online is far more nerve wracking than doing mass for an in person congregation – it feels very much like we’re doing mass for everyone, and since it’s recorded any of our mistakes will be there forever! Also, we’re all really happy that we haven’t had to turn any of them into requiems. Good job staying healthy everyone!
Stay tuned for more news on what local bodies are doing during this very weird time we’re in!
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Love is the law, love under will.