sp28-15.gif (11085 bytes)


Interview: Tane Bwca /
Editor: Cyfrin


Paul Hume discusses the Thelemic connection to just about everything.


Thelema and the Ordo Templi Orientis - two influences on 20th Century magick it@#146;s virtually impossible to avoid. When we thought of asking someone to help us trace these influences for a piece in Shadowplay, one of the first names to be suggested as an ideal interviewee was Paul Hume. Although Paul@#146;s a relatively recent member of the OTO, his long term emergence in Thelema and Ceremonial Magic and his lucidity in describing these complex connections clinched the deal.

Paul was born in 1950, was brought up Catholic, albeit by "terrifically intellectual, anti-authoritarian parents, who rather off-set the brainwashing inherent in a 1950@#146;s Catholic education." He credits Catholic high liturgy as one of his major influences in his being drawn to Ceremonial Magic - "Staying with the medium, despite rejecting the message you might say." After taking Bachelors and Masters Degrees in Theater, and spending a decade of attempting to break into acting, Paul changed careers and has been a self-confessed "computer nerd" for General Electric ever since. Again, nothing is wasted - the theatrical education also aids his ritual performances. His magical curriculum vitae began in 1968 with his loss of faith in Catholicism and, shortly thereafter, in Atheism too. Then a chance encounter with Crowley@#146;s Magick in Theory and Practice set him off in a strange new direction. "When the dust settled, while I hadn@#146;t understood one word in five... it was very clear that there was a living tradition of theurgy in the 20th Century." He was off and running, joining the Occult Renaissance which began around that time and is still moving on. "Besides inventing sex, political protests and marijuana," he remembers, "We@#146;d also discovered magick!".


During the subsequent twenty years, Paul@#146;s magic was solitary, but eventually a time came to change the pattern. After a short involvement with another organization, in 1991 he "was initiated into the OTO and have dwelt happily there since." Paul@#146;s other commitments include writing role-playing games, SF and aikido.


S: Paul, first up, could we talk about the utility of the Lodge structure in CM?

PH: It seems to me there are a few points to clarify here. CM for much of its history has been an intensely private matter, not a Lodge function. Lodges have their roots in Freemasonry and Magical Orders as we know them seem to have originated with the Golden Dawn. Second, there is no ONE style of CM, anymore than there is ONE tradition of Wicca.

The structure of a Lodge or Order or Temple (or Coven) is based on several things:

* it satisfies the social elements of human nature, which operates as strongly in the spiritual as it does in other facets of our lives.

* in a "technology" of the sacred, it provides a means of passing on advice from one generation of magicians to the next.

* in initiatory traditions, such as the OTO or Traditional Wicca, the model of the group includes the premise that the group rituals have a particular value in bringing humans to greater awareness of their Divine nature. "Lodge" initiations are quite simply Mystery Plays, carrying on the tradition of Eleusis, the Mithraic mysteries, and many other "ancestral" examples.

These three points explain the value of Lodge organizations, complementing the ESSENTIAL work of the solitary magician - for I hope no one thinks ceremonial magicians who join an Order stop doing the Work on their own. There is no magick in such a case - just a social club that dresses funny. Even strict teaching Orders, such as the G.D. or A ... A ... , prepare the magician to apply their particular system to his personal Work - they do not, cannot, substitute anything for that personal effort.

S: Okay, now a tricky one: what is magic and how does it work?

PH: When the wind is southerly, I know a hawk from a handsaw, but if it@#146;s blowing in from the east, it beats the heck outta me. Well, magick (and I cannot emphasize strongly enough that the only point of view here is mine) is any act or Willed thought which brings the microcosm that is Man closer to the macrocosm that is God. To dip into mathematical terms for a moment, magick increases the similarity of the human model to the universe until it approaches congruence. That leads to your question about how magick operates, since a magician who has begun to approximate this congruence, and in the process learned to rearrange aspects of his personal microcosm, can, by sympathetic magick cause corresponding changes in the macrocosm with which he is identified. The symbols of ceremonial magick are a convenient "vocabulary" for expressing these changes.

I will suggest that the popular chestnut in some discussions of magick and paganism you hear these days - "But if they are @#145;merely@#146; symbols, why use any particular set?" - crashes and burns if one accepts that the symbols used MUST speak intensely to the magician, literally in the voice of God/dess. A cool and rational appreciation of ritual symbols ("oh, yes, that is the sigil of the Goddess as She was known to the Phoenicians, first found in digs dating back to, oh let me see, 3000 BC, I believe...") is the WORST possible mindset for effective magick, in my own arrogant opinion.

S: Could you fill in those of us who haven@#146;t been paying attention on the history of the OTO and how it@#146;s changed over the years?

PH: The Ordo Templi Orientis was founded around the turn of the century, by a German occultist named Karl Kellner. It combined his views on esoteric Masonry with tantric teachings which Kellner claimed to have learned while travelling in the East, though there are indications that his work also included material from the U.S. esotericist, Paschal Beverley Randolph. Kellner died in 1902, and was succeeded by Theodor Reuss.

In 1912, Reuss called upon Crowley, who was an initiate in the lower grades of OTO, as he was in many other fraternities, in a high dudgeon. Reuss accused Crowley of revealing some of the central secrets of OTO magick. This was news to Crowley, as he was not an initiate of the grades in question. When he made this clear to Reuss, and Reuss verified that Crowley had made these discoveries as a result of his own researches, the impressed OTO. initiated Crowley into the highest degrees of the Order, and chartered him to start an English chapter. Later, having accepted the Law of Thelema, Reuss designated Crowley as his successor to head the Order. Upon Reuss@#146; resignation (following a stroke) in 1922, Crowley began to reconstruct the OTO as a vehicle to express the Law of Thelema, rebuilding its rituals and symbols using the imagery of Liber AL.

A number of German Lodges of the Order schismed at this point, rejecting Crowley@#146;s leadership, the first, but certainly not the last, major split in the Order. The old and new forms of OTO functioned as separate entities in Germany until 1938, when both were wiped out in the Nazi purge of Freemasons and esoteric groups.

The Order under Crowley fluctuated pretty wildly in membership and activity. At one point, there were chapters in the UK, U.S., Switzerland, South Africa, Canada, and Australia. Affiliated sections existed in France and Brazil, under charters granted by Kellner and Reuss. By the time of Crowley@#146;s death in 1947, the only functioning Lodge of the Order that we know of was in Pasadena, the Agape Lodge.

Crowley@#146;s successor was Karl Germer, who had headed the German section of the Order, and did time in a concentration camp when the Nazis suppressed it. Germer emigrated to the U.S. and conducted most of the Order business as Crowley@#146;s second-in-command as the war, and failing health, curtailed Crowley@#146;s contact with Agape Lodge.

Under Karl Germer, the OTO ceased initiating, and devoted itself to editing and publishing the Crowley literature. Quite frankly, the Order was almost extinct by the time Germer died in 1962. His successor, Grady McMurtry, had been initiated into the Ninth (second-highest) degree of the Order under Crowley while on military service in England during WWII, and been chartered by Crowley to take command of the Order in the event of that it seemed in danger of extinction. McMurtry activated that charter in 1969, inviting surviving members of the Order to resume operations under its terms. There is debate in various circles as to whether the charter was legitimate, and if so, whether Grady adhered to its terms, but naturally, the Caliphate maintains that it was and he did.

This is the line of succession that brings us to the "Caliphate" Ordo Templi Orientis as it exists today, some 2,000 members strong, with Camps, Oases, and Lodges throughout the U.S. and in over a dozen other countries. Grady@#146;s successor, chosen by a conclave of initiates, goes by the magical name of Hymenaeus Beta (and yes, there are jokes about the "Hymenaeus Dynasty") and as part of our mythos, we don@#146;t acknowledge knowing his mundane identity.

S: Whatever became of Rose Kelly, the channel for The Book of the Law in the first place?

PH: Rose Kelly Crowley appears to drop out of the magical history of Thelema after the writing of The Book of the Law. Some modern Thelemites, myself among them, feel she is terribly shortchanged in magical history. However, it does seem that Crowley is correct, despite his typical vitriol in discussing Rose, when he says that she really had no interest in occultism.

This is one of the points which supports the remarkable nature of the revelation of Liber AL. Rose, with no formal training in archaeology or occultism, produced a string of dead-accurate statements about the Gods of Egypt, and on qabalistic matters, which grabbed Aleister by the scruff of the neck and made him pay attention to the messages received in Cairo, 1904.

Unlike later Scarlet Women, such as Leila Waddell and Leah Hirsig, however, Rose seems to have been truly a vehicle for Divine forces, rather than what we might call a fully empowered magician in her own right.

S: Does Thelema need the OTO? Or vice versa?

PH: Without Thelema, the OTO as presently constituted seems to me to have no purpose. However, if we OTO types all dropped dead tomorrow, Thelema would, I firmly believe, go on to influence human development. Some of the more anarchistic Thelemites, or Thelema-friendly magicians, would suggest that losing the various OTO@#146;s would enhance Thelema no end, as they feel strongly that any hierarchy is hostile to its principles.

I find the structure of the Caliphate a useful framework for my own work, and have been lucky enough NOT to be involved in the politics that seem inseparable from any esoteric organization, so I may just be naive in this regard (like a liberal who hasn@#146;t been mugged yet, and thus feels no motive for becoming a conservative).

S: You mentioned Randolph@#146;s material earlier; could you elaborate on its connection with the OTO?

PH: The possible influence from the U.S. on Kellner@#146;s original material was the teaching of Paschal Beverley Randolph on sexual magick. It differs from classic tantra and related Taoist systems in that retention of sperm and avoidance of orgasm is not required, or even recommended - in this, it resembles the "public" material by Crowley on "The Secret" i.e. the Ninth Degree formula of sex magick taught by the OTO. Further than this, deponent knoweth not - being only a Fourth degree.

S: I guess another story we@#146;d better look at is the much speculated about link between Crowley and Gardnerian Craft.

PH: Crowley was a voluminous diarist. Indeed, he insisted that magicians must maintain meticulous journals, their Magical Records, if they were to be anything more than dabblers. In addition, he was not shy about claiming credit for inspiration in others - whether he had any right to the claim or not. In those hundreds of pages of Crowley@#146;s journals, researchers have found no reference to Gardner, to classic Gardnerian Craft, to the New Forest Coven, or any similar phenomena. This has no bearing on the ever-hot topic of pre-Gardnerian Wicca, but it seems to me it puts the kibosh on the rumors that Crowley was an initiate of the New Forest Coven at some time, before they kicked him out. He was entirely open about his membership in other organizations that gave him the boot: the Golden Dawn, to name the one most significant to his later magical career. He was, in fact, usually vociferous in bad-mouthing former associates, as well as cataloging magical affiliations. So it seems to me unlikely that he would remain mum about membership in the Craft.

In addition, his final years were well witnessed, by associates such as Louis Wilkinson and Lady Frieda Harris, as well as quite busy (finishing The Book of Thoth, and the collaboration with Lady Frieda which produced the superb Tarot deck that bears its name). Combine these factors with his declining health, and even a writer as prolific as Crowley would be hard-pressed to produce the Gardnerian Book of Shadows, much less to do it without leaving a literary trail.

When Gardner came to consolidate his earlier BoS, whether it was a matter of organizing an extant Craft tradition or of creating Wicca himself (and I have no fixed opinion on that issue either way) he arguably used a lot of material by Crowley, based on both literary evidence (see Aidan Kelley@#146;s flawed but provocative work, Crafting The Art Of Magick) and anecdotal evidence from his associates (such as Doreen Valiente@#146;s assorted writings, notably Rebirth of Witchcraft). If we may believe Valiente, Gardner borrowed ritual structure and phrasing from Crowley (and from Mathers, and from The Key of Solomon, and half a dozen other sources), but one can hardly deduce from this that Gardner collaborated with Crowley (or Mathers, or even Solomon).

S: Moving into contemporary developments, how do Thelema and Chaos Magick fit together?

PH: There is no direct connection. While Chaos draws much of its inspiration from Spare, who was a student of Crowley@#146;s at one time, Spare developed his own gnosis (as I would hope every good Thelemite does) in its own direction. Both Ray Sherwin and Peter Carroll, two magicians who are generally accepted to be among the parents of Chaos Magick, are profound students of Crowley@#146;s magick. The influence of the OTO (and related schools of thought, such as Gregor Gregorius@#146; group, the Fraternitas Saturni) in Germany seem to be influential in the "ancestry" of the prolific Chaos Magicians in that country, such as Frater U.D., whose works are being printed by Llewellyn.

Similarly, many Thelemites of my acquaintance are admirers, and students, of Chaos Magick, and suggest that its model of magick divorced from any particular set of cultural archetypes, systems, etc, is very much in keeping with the "scientific illuminism" espoused by Crowley. All that said, a Chaos Magician certainly need not be a Thelemite and a Thelemite need not be a Chaos Magician.

S: We listed among your personal interests aikido and gaming. Are we stretching it to look for magickal links there?

PH: Well, apart from its mechanical concerns (and the processes of extending Ki are almost identical to those for directing energy in the body and on the "astral plane" in magick), yes, I find that aikido properly practised induces a harmony with the universe, which seems to me to be directly akin to the notion of doing one@#146;s True Will.

As for gaming, there may be a relationship between the interest in the two phenomena. The vast majority of gamers in my acquaintance, however, have no interest in pursuing a magical Path. In fact, I am afraid I rather worry some of my fellow writers and gaming hobbyists because I am a practising magician - and thus would be a sheer delight to the anti-gaming faction if they ever discovered me. Mostly, they vilify Gary Gygax, who is a dedicated and pious Christian, since the sole concern of most of the "Gaming=Satanism" crowd is, as far as I can tell, whipping up fear of a scapegoat, and D&D is the most visible target around, hence richest in PR.

I cannot object strongly enough to the notion that gaming per se fits one for the occult path, either in the negative sense that the anti-gaming faction, especially outright loons like Larson and Raschke, insist, or in the sense some Neopagans have advanced. Liking fantasy and fantasy gaming a la D&D does not make one a magician, any more than liking hard science fiction and SF gaming a la Traveller makes one a scientist.

S: Getting back to Thelemic philosophy, how do you see the concept of the Holy Guardian Angel - psychological construct or independent entity?

PH: Some folks approach the HGA as a Jungian-type entity. In Jungian terms, the effect of Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel corresponds to the integration of the Self (as in Jung@#146;s The Undiscovered Self). In the glimmers and gleams I have achieved of conversation with my Angel over the years, it seems to me that He/She is an independent entity, operating with knowledge and insight I don@#146;t have. Could this "merely" be a state of consciousness within my own psyche that integrates knowledge and produces intuitions my ego-consciousness cannot manage? Sure. But if only for pragmatic reasons, I treat the Angel as separate - albeit uniquely connected to "me," i.e. the incarnate Paul Russell Hume.

S: Now, to wind up, the Big One - does the practice of Thelema produce happiness?

PH: Happiness - a tricky term. Joy is certainly one of the signposts of contact with the Angel. And happiness is the natural result of doing one@#146;s Will. But no, I would rate this rather as a side effect, a satisfaction of the yearning expressed in the ego, of contact with the Holy Guardian Angel. Joy is the product of doing the Will - even when what you Will to do is not necessarily what you wanted to do (a discussion in which many, many, many mugs of beer can be consumed all by itself).

You become a Ceremonial Magician to intensify the unity between Deity and Humanity, for the same reason one becomes a Wiccan or a Catholic or a Buddhist; because you have found a manner of interpreting the relationship with the Divine which has a peculiar beauty that reaches past all your petty ego-defenses and touches your inmost soul. Melita Denning and Osborne Phillips, who have written some tremendously valuable works on magick (and even their schlock is worth reading), remark in one book that they can only answer the question "Why are you an occultist?" with the statement: "For love of the invisible splendors."



Published in Australia  1984 - 1990 - In Seattle & Sydney 1990-1994
Sydney/Seattle Webzine 2000
WebDesign: Rhea - Page last updated November 2000

Copyright Shadowplay 2000. All Rights Reserved.