The following is an update from the Local Bodymaster, Brother Sacha, of ARARITA Encampment and is our featured Local Body Spotlight for May 2017.
Despite the sometimes thankless work that goes into running a body, the experience of running ARARITA Encampment has been the single most fulfilling thing I have done in my life. This is not a statement that I make lightly. My life has been full of excitement, from writing software for embedded heart monitors that help save patients’ lives to traveling to the remains of the Abbey of Thelema and doing ritual amidst art painted by our Prophet, among other things that discretion dictates I omit from the public record. Still, there is nothing quite like the feeling one gets in building a Brotherhood that has such a profound impact on the lives of its members, especially knowing the potential said Brotherhood has in one day transforming society on a massive scale.
As an Encampment, ARARITA is a young body and still has many trials to overcome before it blooms into its full potential. I think this sometimes causes others to underestimate us, and I completely understand. After all, countless previous camps have come and gone, many left buried in the sands of time, forgotten to all but a handful of former members. I feel most honored to count myself among a group of people that I think are worthy of breaking the so-called “Curse of San Diego,” being a term others before me have used to describe the inability of a body to really take off here.
My vision for ARARITA, to date, can be summed up in three phrases: “with business way,” “the Law is for all,” and “we take care of each other.” I am doing my best to embody each of these as best I can, in hopes of creating a sustained momentum that continues long after my time as Master comes to an end. I’d like to briefly outline what each of these phrases means to me, in the context of running ARARITA:
“with business way” – On the surface, this one may seem obvious. I strive to adopt a business-like attitude toward body operations. Yes, we are a fraternity, but we still need to pay the bills and draw in new members. This means having multiple streams of revenue, setting a monthly advertising budget along with a sophisticated marketing strategy, and encouraging innovation.
Innovation can be as simple as investigating emerging technologies and experimenting with their application to local body operations. I like what some members are doing with technologies like virtual reality and Periscope, for instance. One of my goals right now is to develop a simple SMS reminder service that allows our members to opt in to receive text messages notifying them of upcoming events, schedule changes, Mass roles for which they’ve signed up, etc.
We have only just recently begun enforcing regular dues payment, but with that accomplished we can finally expand our Facebook advertising strategy and begin experimenting with print ads and other options. In the past, Facebook has had a substantial impact on event attendance. With experimental targeting and sustained campaigns, I think we can take it to the next level.
One thing I believe very strongly is that there are many thousands of people out there looking for exactly what O.T.O. offers, without knowing that something like this exists. Without a strong promulgation campaign, those people will never come across us.
“the Law is for all” – In the context of running ARARITA, to me this means identifying the different needs and desires of our attendees and potential attendees. While Mass and initiations are core activities in O.T.O., people have repeatedly expressed that they appreciate the fact that we host regular classes. For some people, this is all they are looking for. By making classes available to them, we are able to encourage a proliferation of Thelemic thinking into society outside of O.T.O.. and bring in revenue from people who may otherwise not be interested in Mass or initiations.
Along a similar note, there are many people who are absolutely in love with the Mass and other ecclesiastical services, but who have no interest in pursuing initiation. We are currently experimenting with the idea that maybe initiation isn’t for everyone. While we certainly have no interest in discouraging people from initiating, we also want to make sure people who are exclusively interested in E.G.C. feel welcome returning as lifelong members of the laity.
Finally, I want to do everything I can to avoid unnecessary cliquishness and some of the problems that are associated with that. While there will always tend to be friend groups within a body, and obviously not everybody will like everybody else, I want to make sure that people of all stripes feel welcome coming by. Nobody should ever feel unwanted or like their advancement might be capped at a certain point because they aren’t friends with the right people, for example. Similarly, we should be reaching out to all kinds of people, not just people in our own subcultures.
“We take care of each other” – In my opinion, some of our fraternal bonds compel us to assist each other when difficulty strikes. The extent to which we are obligated to do so can be argued, but I want to build a culture in which our members know that we have each other’s backs.
I recently had the great honor of being able to assist one of our members in attaining freedom after he was abducted from his home by immigration officers and locked in a detention center for a month because of an expired piece of paper. Said member is bisexual and transgender, and we are now working to help him seek asylum in the United States.
While many of the benefits described in Liber 101 will never exist, or belong to the distant future, it is my opinion that our Prophet clearly envisioned an Order in which members took their obligations to their Sisters and Brothers very seriously. This vision seems to be reinforced in the Baptism ceremony, where sponsors agree to “accept, protect, and aid this Candidate as you would your own child.” I’d like to see a future in which this agreement is fully taken to heart.
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.