Local Body Events and Practices: Pandemic Edition

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

I wanted to share some things on my radar from various local bodies.

Gnostic Mass – Pandemic style

Gnostic Mass Liber XVWe 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!)

Other News

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!
If you want a Class Pass, you can sign up here:
https://starsapphire-oto.org/membership/
Since launching on April 8, they have 11 subscriptions who are mostly non-initiates.
Star Sapphires use of technology will be featured in an upcoming post.

Local Events (that we can all attend these days!)

Blazing Star Oasis calendar
Thelesis Oasis calendar
Star Sapphire calendar
Love is the law, love under will.

Liber XV in a Pandemic

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.

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.

Love is the law, love under will.

Conflict Management – Brotherhood Unity Delicacy and Strength

This piece is written by a current Deputy Master in the Valley of Atlanta and is about his local body’s approach to conflict management incorporating Thelemic principles and referencing Crowley’s thoughts on conflict.

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

Over the course of the last year much attention has been given to various aspects and levels of conflict in our Order. One positive result of this has been a renewed focus among our leaders and members on our devotion to Pax Templi, the Path of Mediation, and other policies and core values that can help us to manage and even resolve conflict when it arises. And of course, conflict does arise in every local body of the Order from time to time, including our own.

As a large, active, and diverse group here in the Valley of Atlanta, these issues can prove challenging, but we know our fraternal and philosophical values are up to the challenge. It is in that spirit that I have composed this document as a small but necessary step toward better communicating, embracing, and embodying those values. We hope that our efforts will help those in other Valleys to do the same.

Love is the Law, Love under Will.

Frater Volantis

 

Brotherhood, Unity, Delicacy, and Strength

 

By Fr. Volantis

 

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

“Lo, while in The Book of the Law is much of Love, there is no word of Sentimentality. Hate itself is almost like Love! ‘As brothers fight ye!” (Liber AL III:59) All the manly races of the world understand this. The Love of Liber Legis is always bold, virile, even orgiastic. There is delicacy, but it is the delicacy of strength” (“Liber II: The Message of the Master Therion”).

I would like to look at Crowley’s commentary as we discuss infighting in our community and how we manage conflict.

“Fight like gentlemen, without malice, because fighting is the best game in the world, and love the second best! Don’t slander your enemy, as the newspapers would have you do; just kill him, and then bury him with honour. Don’t keep crying ‘Foul’ like a fifth-rate pugilist. Don’t boast! Don’t squeal! If you’re down, get up and hit him again! Fights of that sort make fast friends.” (New Commentary III:59, The Law Is For All)

Crowley goes on to further suggest that the “brothers“ fighting is an internal conflict: an Elder Brother, the silent self, that slays the immature Younger Brother, the conscious self. The Elder arises incorruptible after the internal conflict.

Now let us look at the proceeding verse, Liber AL III:58 – “But the keen and the proud, the royal and the lofty; ye are brothers!” Our camaraderie within Thelema, is with these: the keen; the proud, the royal; the lofty. Do we see our fellows as noble, and do we treat them with respect? When we are done sparring, are we ready to fight alongside our noble kin towards our shared goals?

Just as a student of the martial arts may spar with their teacher, without malice, without rancor; so too must brothers fight, leaving aside hatred, we choose instead to be mindful of the bonds that are forged as we learn and grow with one another.

We live in a world where on every side is cried “peace!” But it is not so. Were the adepts to sit, and relinquish vigilance, the world would fall utterly to pieces. Consider that even Jesus, the Prince of Peace, ran through the temple with a scourge, beating the money changers. What those advocating peace really desire is a life of security. If security is to be more than an illusion, we must each individually find it. Who better to spar and train with than our loved ones while we seek to hone that which will give us security?

So we have fought with our brothers, delighted in the exchange, and allowed it to come to a conclusion, how do we continue on with our brethren after a fight? As Thelemites we embrace the reality that conflict will happen, but as OTO members we most move forward as brothers fighting toward a common goal. We may fight, but then we must find harmony with our siblings if we are to spread the message of Thelema.

Here are some suggestions to manage conflict and to find resolution:

Recognize that others have their own perspectives. Assumptions about what other people already know, think, or intend can fuel resentments and build conflicts. Many people argue simply because they want to feel heard. Simply being a good, active listener can be enough to inspire trust and resolve with your fellows

See Opportunities in Conflict. Some people seek to avoid conflict or attempt to use it to prove dominance. Neither of these are productive but if we can lean into the conflict, there are opportunities to find resolution allowing all parties to grow, develop and learn. If we have tended to avoid conflict, the underlying topics and details are likely things that will grow into a snarling bramble in the dark. Let us shine a light rather than withdrawing from them, and grow!

Build the Temple!  Help to build a culture that encourages giving and receiving feedback. Ask your brethren for their frequent feedback. Allow unpleasant truths to trickle through gradually, and foster a sense of camaraderie and understanding within our organization while we deal with them. More than in any other place, we have a control over what our community will become.

Manage your own anxiety. As scary as conflicts may be to us, if our fears or anxiety overtakes us, we will not be effective in reaching towards our True Wills. It is not that we as individuals shouldn’t allow ourselves to feel our emotions, but it is important to find a way to manage them so that there is maximum ability for everyone to feel some openness in expressing their concerns without overwrought feelings shutting things down. Most importantly: Breathe!

Understand that a particular issue is always a part of a larger emotional system operating in our community. Rarely is a conflict only about a particular issue or person, as much as it may seem like that at the time. Find some help in uncovering the deeper concerns at play without scapegoating or furthering rumor about a particular person or engaging in the fantasy that you can easily solve a systemic issue, but….

Be open to solutions. Understanding and communication are all very well and good, but do not help much if you don’t have a solution for the underlying problem, whatever that problem may be. Conflict often happens because no one can come up with a workable solution, so resolving the conflict depends on creating a solution. If you cannot reach a solution, turn to others for help.

Above all, ask for help! Contact your local leaders, ask for information and familiarize yourself with the Path of Mediation, and contact the Ombudspersons when an issue starts to be too much!

Love is the Law, Love under Will.