Paul, first up, could we talk about the utility of the Lodge structure
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
structure of a Lodge or Order or Temple (or Coven) is based on several
it satisfies the social elements of human nature, which operates
as strongly in the spiritual as it does in other facets of our
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.
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.
Okay, now a tricky one: what is magic and how does it work?
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Whatever became of Rose Kelly, the channel for The Book of the Law
in the first place?
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.
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.
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.
Does Thelema need the OTO? Or vice versa?
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
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).
You mentioned Randolph@#146;s material earlier; could you elaborate
on its connection with the OTO?
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.
I guess another story we@#146;d better look at is the much speculated
about link between Crowley and Gardnerian Craft.
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
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.
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).
Moving into contemporary developments, how do Thelema and Chaos
Magick fit together?
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.
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.
We listed among your personal interests aikido and gaming. Are we
stretching it to look for magickal links there?
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
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.
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.
Getting back to Thelemic philosophy, how do you see the concept
of the Holy Guardian Angel - psychological construct or independent
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.
Now, to wind up, the Big One - does the practice of Thelema produce
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).