All are Welcome: Sign, Sign, Everywhere a Sign

In the next few months, the Electoral College Blog will be posting a series on diversity initiatives.

Black Sun Lodge has been a thought leader in this regard, and they are this month’s Local Body Spotlight.

A month or so ago, a Facebook post caught my attention because it had a sign which read:

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.

“Every man and every woman is a star.” – Liber AL vel Legis, 1:3

“We are all free, all independent, all shining gloriously, each one a radiant world.” – “Liber DCCCXXXVII: The Law of Liberty”, from Equinox III(1)

In accordance with the words of our Prophet, Aleister Crowley, Black Sun does not discriminate against anyone based on their race, color, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, sexual identification, or any other petty bias the world may decide to conjure up. ALL person who walk through these doors will be welcomed with the same warmth of welcome that we accord to our brothers and sisters, without exception. We also expect that you will treat all those within with respect and kindness and without bias.

If it is not your Will to welcome ALL and to return the warm welcome that awaits you inside with courtesy, you are welcome to find your enlightenment elsewhere. Prejudice and ignorance have no place within these walls.

Love is the law, love under will.

Respectfully,

The Officers of Black Sun

This month’s Local Body Spotlight is an interview with Sr Lori Lent, Deputy Master of Black Sun Lodge.

Q: When did Black Sun decide to put up the sign?

A: Black Sun has always been interested in diversity, we just weren’t really sure how to do the outreach part.  So we batted around a lot of ideas, but there wasn’t a lot of forward momentum until after Sabazius gave his keynote at the 2015 NOTOCON in Austin.  He talked about our responsibilities to others as Thelemites, and it resonated with us in a big way.  We got a copy of the transcript and read it again as a body (for those who were unable to attend NOTOCON), and afterward we did a brainstorm session together to find ways to put our ideas into action.  We’ve been working on putting implementing these plans for two years now.

In Chapter 73 of Magick Without Tears, we find Crowley himself explaining how racism and classism are both rooted in fear, and how they bring out the worst in people. — Excerpt from NOTOCON X keynote speech

Q: What is the history of the sign? Who created it? When was it put up?

A: The sign was my first act toward fostering a culture of inclusiveness.  I was trying to find a way to announce to everyone at every event that this is what we do here, and this was my solution.  I didn’t really talk to Br Andrew, our body master, about it before I wrote it. I just presented it to him and said: “Can we put this up somewhere?  Maybe on the front door?”

He was really excited about it, and he was happy to let me put it up.  It went up in late 2015, and it’s graced our door ever since.  I love it, because it not only announces to everyone who walks through our door that they are welcome, but it also reminds all of us to do our best to be inclusive, to respect and welcome everyone, regardless of who they are or where they come from.  It’s been very effective on both fronts, I think.

Q: Do newcomers comment on it? If yes, what do they say?

A: I don’t know that any newcomers have commented on it, but it has generated a lot of conversation among our membership and in our region.  People here are proud of it, and several local bodies around us have adopted similar ideas.  If it gives just one person that last little incentive they needed to come through the door and stick around, then it’s served it’s purpose.

Q: Have you ever had any push back on it?

A: Actually, we have, though it wasn’t on the local level.  When I first posted the sign, I put a picture of it up on Facebook, and it was shared out by several people, so it got around.  The reaction for the most part was very positive, but there were several people on FB who were asking why we needed a sign, why we felt the need to advertise such a thing, what had happened to make such a sign necessary, and one person even implied we put it up because we secretly wanted to discriminate against people, and it was a case of “protesting too much.”  I remember feeling shocked at the reaction, because I thought what Thelemite can argue the fact that every man and every woman is a star?  It just boggled my mind.

Q: Have you seen any impact on diversity representation because of the sign?

A: We have definitely seen more diversity locally in the last year or so than we have had in the 7 years I’ve been affiliated, but that could be due to  many different factors.  We have several members who are very dedicated to bringing Thelema to a more diverse audience.  We currently have a minority pagan support group that meets quarterly, and an LGBT pagan support group that meets monthly at the LGBT Center here in Cleveland.  We printed postcards with the events for the quarter on them, and we distributed them in every neighborhood in the Cleveland area, which represents a lot of diversity.  We are presenting a Kwanzaa ritual at the end of December. We have a community altar set up in our Lodge with deities and items from nearly every religion in the world represented. We had an Ifa priestess come in and do orisha readings for people. Our local body has also done presentations on everything from African religion to gender and the importance of using preferred pronouns.  We are dedicated to the ideas put forth in our sign, and our efforts and our space and our calendar all reflect that dedication.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of U.S. Grand Lodge or of O.T.O.