The U.S.G.L. COVID Response Team (CRT) has been working over the past months to develop protocols for Order events in the safest possible manner. At this time, we have determined that indoor events remain prohibited.
Local Masters may request one-time dispensation for outdoor celebrations of the Gnostic Mass or Minerval initiations by contacting the CRT via firstname.lastname@example.org. The team will communicate the process for submitting a proposal and work with masters one one one to ensure their outdoor facilities and COVID mitigation planning is sufficient.
I wanted to share some things on my radar from various local bodies.
Gnostic Mass – Pandemic style
We have one local body that can celebrate the mass and then share it via video, most local bodies don’t have enough people co-located together to do that. But local bodies are still focusing on our central rite.
Blazing Star Oasis normally had mass celebrations on Sunday evenings. They are currently facilitating EGC related discussion. At a recent session, they discussed Crowley’s comments on the portions of Liber AL from which the Priestess’ speech from behind the veil is taken.
They are also looking at ways to incorporate group meditations or guided visualizations into various aspects of the Gnostic Mass.
Thelesis Oasis is doing “Dramatic Readings of Liber XV” and broadcast via a Zoom group.
They have a Priestess and Priest working together at home while a Deacon works from Thelesis’ stand alone space in Philadelphia as he lives a few blocks away!
To make their dramatic reading more visually interesting they have pulled together Mass equipment from around the house. Funny the things you’ll find around occultists’ homes!
They’re doing these every two weeks, on Saturdays at 1PM EDST. The next one will be Saturday May 9.
(Note from the editor: have you seen any of the youtube videos with symphonies playing alone at home, but together? I love seeing this applied to our Gnostic Mass. Very creative!)
Thelesis Oasis is holding online events including a recent lecture by Frater Lux Ad Mundi, “The Structure of the OTO” which reviewed the Constitution of the OTO and compare the written document with what modern day members actually experience. No secrets were discussed of course, but there were still plenty of surprises.
All of their events are being recorded and released through their YouTube channel and to their patrons on Patreon.
Blazing Star Oasis is currently hosting online events three times a week. They have been pleasantly surprised by the number of attendees at events, and their generous donations and contributions. It has been encouraging to see how many people have been able to make it out to these events. Under normal circumstances BSO holds classes every Tuesday evening. They’ve now transferred that schedule online. Currently they are running a Book of Lies reading and discussion group and also an extended series on ancient and modern forms of Gnosticism. They’ve also started up a Friday night study group on Carl Jung’s Red Book, which has been quite popular.
Star Sapphire Lodge has developed an affiliate membership program but they’re calling it a Class Pass. I only knew that term from yoga type classes but the term seems to resonate better than “affiliate membership”.
As they started planning out an online schedule in response to the pandemic, they initially only thought about how to keep the local body connected. But they had an uptick in email subscriptions and received an inquiry from a non-initiate that sparked a bigger idea. The email inquiry was from someone wanting to pay dues and wanting to get plugged into the community even if it couldn’t be face-to-face yet.
That was the impetus for the Class Pass. Subscribing to it for $22/month gets you access to up to 2 events/week!
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.
At Horizon Lodge, 4 initiates live together and are also ordained clergy so they were able to celebrate the mass and live stream it.
Here’s a fun time lapsed video of them turning their living room into a Gnostic Mass temple. They had to get creative with some of it since Horizon Lodge has free standing temple space where mass is usually celebrated!
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!
You can watch the mass here
Stay tuned for more news on what local bodies are doing during this very weird time we’re in!
Stay up to date with Horizon Lodge events by following them on Facebook.
OTO membership is confidential. The fact that someone comments here, or in other fora, is not proof that they are an OTO member. If someone chooses to be open about their membership, that is their choice; but there are members who choose not to do so, and their reasons for not doing so are their business. Intentionally violating another member’s membership confidentiality in order to “expose” them is an extremely unfraternal act.
Today we have a guest blog post from the Office of the U.S.G.L. Historian.
Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
Hi everyone! I am currently gathering the (largely anachronous) materials listed below. I hope you can help.
Local Body Study Guides
Before the availability of official degree study guides, several local bodies developed their own study guides to be given to new initiates. These varied from a basic study program, typically based on Liber MCLI (more details below), to elaborate and ambitious book-length stacks of documents, speculations, and recommendations.
Please do not send copies of Liber MCLI itself, but rather study guides and programs written specifically for local or regional use- even if they are simply re-worded and locally branded derivatives of MCLI.
Local Body Supplementary Study Guides
When official study guides were issued throughout the 1990s, local body study guides became less common. Instead, some LBs would supplement the official guides with additional materials in the form of symbolism papers, excerpts from books or encyclopedias, further study recommendations, and other materials.
What I am specifically looking for are supplementals that were given out by a local body to every initiate as a part of the degree study materials as opposed to general papers or presentations on degree symbolism.
Official O.T.O. Study Guides (1992) and USGL O.T.O. Study Guides (1998)
The above dates are when these guides were issued, internally they may include earlier dates of composition. I do not need study guide revisions from 2002 forward. I have seen a few examples of LBs altering these guides – removing some pages and adding others in, if this is the case please include the local body name, location, and reason for the alteration (if known).
Tests and Exams
Written in the late 70s, Liber MCLI became the standard study program and examination criteria for the Order under Caliph Grady McMurtry. Some local bodies used MCLI as a basis to develop local and regional examination forms and tests. (And other LBs took it much further, greatly embellishing on that program – resulting in high standards that looked hardcore on paper but were rarely enforced.) By 1986, MCLI was no longer required, but still encouraged. It continued to be widely used until the mid to late 1990s.
I am looking for any LB or regional degree test and examination forms either based on or inspired by MCLI or developed locally.
Please do not send any documents with personal information on them. Ideally, I am looking for clean pages without additional notes when possible. I am looking for materials used within the U.S. before and after the formation of the U.S. Grand Lodge. Currently, my focus is on MOE materials, but I will happily accept materials up to the degree of KRE.
For 1,2 & 4 please include as much of the following as possible: Local Body name, date written or assembled, years of use, author or compiler, and any other information available.
Today’s post is about the work that members of U.S.G.L. are doing to help establish O.T.O. in Mexico.
All names and images are being used with permission.
Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
Marco lived in Mexico until immigrating to the United States when he was a teen. When he joined the Order and beginning his initiatory journey, he knew Mexico was ripe for Thelema but trying to figure out the logistics was hard. And these were early internet days. (No, there was no Facebook!) So he spent time corresponding with people but over time, they fell away.
In August of 2009, he met Gerardo Braham at NOTOCON in Seattle. Br Gerardo was a 1st° initiate, (initiated in Arizona), but was a Mexican national living in Mexico City. He had been looking for Br Marco because he’d heard that Marco had obtained his International Headquarters Initiation Charter for this purpose. Gerardo told Marco that he had a lot of people in Mexico City interested in initiation.
Gerardo and Marco stayed in contact and planed various things. Marco found a sister, Sophia (current New Orleans Bodymaster at Alombrados Oasis) willing to help with initiations. Gerardo limited the number of applications to 12 and on September 20, 2014 Marco conducted 11 Minerval initiations (one last minute cancellation) in Mexico City with Gerardo assisting in those initiations and Sr Sophia providing boundless support. These were almost certainly the first ever OTO initiations on Mexican soil.
In late 2015, Marco returned with Sister Amber from Denver to help with mentoring the new initiates in their quest to start the first ever OTO body in Mexico. Marco felt confident that they were ready and he and others assisted them with their application for Camp status.
On May 20, 2016, the Ordo Templi Orientis Frater Superior, H.B. signed and approved the charter for that first ever OTO body in Mexico, “Campamento Ciudad de Las Piramides” (City of the Pyramids Camp.)
In 2017, Marco returned again with Sister Nena from Las Vegas to provide the nascent Camp with support and counsel. During that visit, the local body expressed interest in holding Minerval and first degree initiations and the Gnostic Mass. In July of that year, they did just that.
After that visit, there was one 1st°, 12 Minerval degrees and one 3rd° (moved to Mexico City from Norway) before this trip. And there were 6 active members, total.
Fast forward to 2018 and Ciudad de las Pirámides indicated they had 18 Minerval applications and four 1st°applications. Marco could not do this alone or even with a small number of helpers. He needed a big team. An effective team! Basically teams of OTO bad asses who could get things done.
“I had a squad of 14 people travel with me. They came from my local body Star Sapphire in Los Angeles, from Khonsu Camp in Las Vegas, Oregon, Florida, New Orleans and North Carolina”, Marco said.
The local body did not have much equipment and United States Grand Lodge brethren brought some equipment and then initiates in Mexico built two Mass temples, one 1st° temple and one Minerval temple to serve the two days of intense ritual.
The Seneshal team put together an amazing Middle Eastern feast for dozens of people.
6 people interested in initiation came from Jalapa, Veracruz (about 4 hours by car) and that group may start a local body soon. Br Marco is actively mentoring them with that project now. Others came from Acapulco, Puerto Vallarta, Toluca, Mexico City and possibly even more places. Many had been Thelemites for a long time, but it’s very tough for them to travel for initiations. One of our most brilliant and sharpest new Minervals was deported from the USA as a teen, so she could never come return to the USA for initiation or any other reason.
Numerous non-Spanish speaking Brethren memorized initiation officer roles and the mass in Spanish. Some of the rituals used a mix of English and Spanish (the first mass, the Deacon spoke Spanish and the Priest and Priestess spoke in English.) The 2nd mass in that trip, was all Spanish.
Giant thanks to Vahe Yaymayan (New Orleans), Sophia Vera (New Orleans), Ruben Ruiz Marron (probably the first Deacon ever ordained in Mexico and from Mexico City), Nena Cunningham (Las Vegas), Rafael Aguilar (Los Angeles), Bjorn Furuknap, Felipe Bustos (Xalapa, Veracruz), Michael (Los Angeles), Shelley M. (Florida), Deborah Woody (North Carolina), Bill Woody (North Carolina), Abbi Habdas (Las Vegas), Will Habdas (Las Vegas), Vanessa McCulloch (Los Angeles), Gerardo Braham (Mexico City), Soror Miyan (Oregon), and a very special shout out to Marco Rodriguez (Los Angeles) whose vision and work has been the driving force behind this.
There are others whose work was critical to these events who do not wish to be named. But you know who you are and this great work could not have happened without you!
The Electoral College took the following actions online on January 26th:
Passed the Mastership of Dove & Serpent Oasis (Atlanta, GA) from Sr. Rebekah S. to Br. Bobby C.
Passed the Mastership of Lapis Lazuli Oasis (Phoenix, AZ) from Br. Scott P. to Soror Prunikos
Passed the Mastership of Star of Babalon Camp (Raleigh, NC) from Soror Crystal Lal to Frater Temujin
Passed the Mastership of Tahuti Lodge (New York City, NY) from Soror Alecto to Soror Constance
Extended the tenure limits of the masters of Anabasis Camp, Azul Nox Oasis, Black Sun Lodge, Hidden Spring Oasis, NOXULUXON Camp, Roar of Rapture Camp, Sekhet Bast Ra Oasis, Song of Freedom Oasis, and Star Sapphire Lodge for a period of one year.