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!
At the recent Fall 2017 meeting of the Electoral College, a resolution was passed that provides for limits on the length of time any given person can hold the position of master of a local body.
The base tenure limit is 4 years, starting on the date of the E.C. meeting at which the master was appointed or confirmed.
By the submission deadline for the fourth anniversary of that E.C. meeting, that master must have either turned in an application for change of mastership or a tenure limit extension application. For example, a master appointed at the Fall 2016 meeting must turn in an application by the submission deadline for the Fall 2020 meeting.
Tenure limit extensions, when approved, will add one additional year to the tenure. These will be readily approved for most reasons.
All current masters will receive their tenure expiration date information soon. Masters who were appointed or confirmed three or more years prior to the next Winter meeting on 1/6/2018 will have the following Winter meeting in January 2019 as their tenure limit date.
The goal of this policy is to encourage regular turnover of mastership, which can be indicative of, and conducive to, good body health. If masters are given an expectation of a tenure limit, our hope is that they will be more likely to turn over the mastership instead of holding onto it even if they are feeling burnt out. It also helps prevent a body from becoming too reliant on the mastership of any individual, promoting delegation of responsibility to offices that can persist beyond the tenure of any master.
However, turning over of mastership just for the sake of doing so is not always beneficial to the body, especially in developing or low population areas. If there are reasons that the mastership can not be passed on, it is good for the E.C. to be aware of them.
It should also be noted that this is not an establishment of a term for body masters, thus the use of “tenure limit” instead of “term.” A master does not need to fulfil 4 years; rather that is the maximum amount of time that they can be in the role without providing an explanation of why they cannot hand it off to another person. Masters who wish to allow someone else into the office sooner are more than welcome to do so.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact the E.C. Tenure Limit Secretary at Mike.Estell at oto-usa.org
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.
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.