CALIPH HYMENAEUS BETA X°Introduction Culture vs. CultDo what thou wilt shall be the whole

Master Index Current Directory Index Go to SkepticTank Go to Human Rights activist Keith Henson Go to Scientology cult

Skeptic Tank!

CALIPH HYMENAEUS BETA X°Introduction: Culture vs. CultDo what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.OUR FOUNDING EDITOR, ALEISTER CROWLEY (also known as Baphomet X°, TheMaster Therion etc., etc.) considered a balanced, wide-rangingeducation a prerequisite to complete initiation. Unlike most spiritualteachers, Crowley was worldly-wise as well as unworldly-wise,conversant with the work of the artists, writers, scientists andphilosophers who defined his times. He accordingly used The Equinox,which he subtitled ``The Journal of Scientific Illuminism,'' topublish reviews and study guides, as well as individual works thathave since become standard references. A poet in his own right, hemaintained that initiation finds tangible expression in creativegenius, and so issued the finest literature and poetry possible. Thisformed the editorial subtext of the original Equinox, and in thatspirit we issue this new number. Successive generations of artists,writers, poets, filmmakers, dramatists, scientists and philosophershave contributed much to the birth of what we call Thelemic culture.Magick and the arts share the willingness to explore new modes ofperception and expression, to experiment with consciousness itself,and communicate even if a new vocabulary is called for. This issuefeatures both contemporary poetry and cinema (the poetry of light)that demonstrate this.The poets have always been with us, although we (for our part) havenot always fully reciprocated--after being introduced to AllenGinsberg in the 1950's, my predecessor Frater Saturnus X° reportedlyasked that ``beatniks'' not be brought around. I mean no disrespect toSaturnus, who after all knew and (in his way) encouraged half of theartistic contributors to this issue. But I am reminded of RobertKelly'sscribes & scholars of the College of the Holy Spirit, resting fromtheir carnival appearances or conning the sermons they will whisper, oholy poison, in the ears of sleeping dominies. These are men who livefor nothing but truth & love. Which is true of everyone in the world,but these men know it.We must never forget that it is we who run the risk of becoming``sleeping dominies''--the poets know their business and a goodly partof ours. I should know--my poetry submission was respectfullydeclined.The work of living writers forms a counterpoise to the historicalmaterial in this issue, all of whose authors are deceased (with thepossible exception of Frater Ad Veritatem). We have collectedvirtually all of the O.T.O.'s founding documents for this number--itwas dubbed the ``ancestor worship'' issue during compilation. Thepurpose of this collection is twofold: first, to provide a readycompendium of the essential O.T.O. material as a guidebook during therenaissance the Order presently enjoys, and secondly, to make plain tothe public exactly what the Order is, and is not. The O.T.O. is amanifold organization with a complex history and philosophy, rich inwritten, oral and ritual tradition. It is also the Aleister CrowleyEstate, responsible for preserving his writings and setting consistentstandards for Thelemic scholarship. These are essentially conservativefunctions, yet the O.T.O.'s design preserves flexibility andadaptability, without which ``Thelemic Order'' would be acontradiction in terms. While it has never been necessary to join theO.T.O. to be a Thelemite, it is central to the Order's ``experimentaldesign'' that being a Thelemite never becomes a bar to membership. Inthis important sense, the O.T.O. is a crucible for the development ofthe social models necessary to a Thelemic culture, as opposed toThelemic cult.My predecessor as head of the O.T.O., Caliph Hymenaeus Alpha 777 X°,rescued the O.T.O. from the brink of extinction. Only a decade ago thesurvival of the Order was in question, but as the leader of a handfulof survivors from the Crowley era who had tended the flame for overforty years, Hymenaeus Alpha fanned it into life. Educated inpolitical science and a management analyst by profession, he alsosuccessfully addressed the greatest long-term threat to the Order: the``cult'' tendency in Thelema, manifesting as extreme conservativism onthe one hand, and anarchic radicalism on the other.The ``conservative'' wing--Marcelo Motta and his Society Ordo TempliOrientis (SOTO)--evinced a fanatical elitism that laid claim toexclusive representation of Thelema in all its forms. After toleratingrepeated attacks from this group in their apocryphal Equinox ``VolumeFive,'' Hymenaeus Alpha filed suit in Federal Court and won a clear-cut victory--not for the O.T.O. alone, but also indirectly for manyothers who were abused in, or simply confused by, the offending works.The ``anarchic'' wing's development was spurred by the writings of Mr.Kenneth Grant, whose excellent book The Magical Revival indeedcontributed to a genuine revival in the early 1970's. In subsequentworks, Mr. Grant (who was expelled from the O.T.O. in the mid-1950's)claimed to be Outer Head of the O.T.O., and proceeded to organize an``O.T.O.'' with complete disregard for the intent of Crowley and theoriginal founders. Grant was, for example, extremely critical of thebusiness aspects of the O.T.O., which are clearly a part of theoriginal charter. Hymenaeus Alpha met this trend by simple example--heestablished a reputation as a tolerant monarch, and thereby gave thelie to anarchy. We count some of Mr. Grant's most enthusiastic readersamong our members.First published in England beginning in 1909 EV, The Equinox served asthe Official Organ of the A...A.... Crowley issued a new number oneach equinox, and the ten numbers of Volume I are now a standardreference-library set. After Crowley's induction into the Ordo TempliOrientis in 1913 EV The Equinox became an Official Organ of the well, beginning with Volume I(10). Although they shared the samejournal for several numbers, the A...A... and the O.T.O. were and aredistinct organizations. They are so often confused that Saturnus X°asked Crowley for an official statement on the subject:The difference between the A...A... and the O.T.O. is very clear andsimple. The A...A... is a sempiternal institution, and entirelysecret. There is no communication between its members. Theoretically,a member knows only the superior who introduced him, and any personwhom he himself has introduced. The Order is run on purely spirituallines. The objective of membership is also entirely simple. The firstobjective is the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy GuardianAngel. The next objective, omitting considerations for the present ofthe 6°=5 and 7°=4 degrees, is the crossing of the Abyss, and theattainment of mastership of the Temple. This is described very fullyespecially in Liber 418. Much less is written about the 5°=6 degree,i.e. the Knowledge and Conversation, because it is too secret andindividual. It is impossible to lay down conditions, or to describethe experiences in detail. The O.T.O. has nothing to do with this, except that The Book ofthe Law and the Word of the Aeon are essential principles ofmembership. In all other respects, it stands by itself as a bodysimilar to Freemasonry, but involving acceptance of a social andeconomic system which is intended to put the world on its feet. Thereis also, of course, the secret of the IX° which is to say, the weaponwhich they may use to further these purposes. To show you the difference, Theodor Reuss was Supreme Head ofthe O.T.O., but was not even a probationer of the A...A....Crowley spent the last of his inheritance in releasing Volume I, afterwhich its publishing history becomes erratic--The Equinox had thefirst of many interruptions in 1913 EV. Crowley termed this firsthiatus Volume II, ``a volume of silence,'' in accord with an A...A...rule of alternating 5-year periods of speech and silence.Volume III was issued by the O.T.O. under four administrations of theOrder over 67 years. (The ``5-year'' rule was disregarded, presumablysince it pertained to the A...A....) Volume III has a complicatedbibliography whose twists and turns are a bell-wether of the Order'sfortunes. The first number of Volume III to appear was the well-known``blue'' Equinox, issued from Detroit in 1919 EV. Crowley outlined theproposed contents of the remainder of Volume III in this number, butVolume III(2) never appeared (although it reached galley-proofs andwas included in the series as if issued). In subsequent numbers ofVolume III The Equinox came to assume the character of a series ofoccasional monographs. Number 3 reached galley-proofs in 1927 EV, butwas delayed until 1936 EV when it appeared in partial form as TheEquinox of the Gods (actually part one of four parts of Book Four PartFour, to have included the Commentary to The Book of the Law). Number4 appeared in 1938 EV as Eight Lectures on Yoga. Number 5 wasannounced in 1938 EV as the Tao Teh King but actually appeared in 1944EV as The Book of Thoth. Number 6, Liber Aleph, was close toproduction at Crowley's death in 1947 EV but appeared posthumously in1962 EV. (Its ``publication fund''--contributions from the AmericanO.T.O.--was found untouched under his deathbed.) This was followed bythe Shih Yi (Yi King) (Number 7) in 1971 EV, the Tao Teh King (Number8) in 1975 EV and The Holy Books of Thelema (Number 9) in 1983 EV. Thepresent issue therefore completes Volume III.The O.T.O.'s structure, history, aims and philosophy are well-represented in this last number of Volume III--the most comprehensivecollection since Volume III(1). Caliph Hymenaeus Alpha was apragmatist as well as a visionary, considering these papers plans forthe future O.T.O. He observed the principles, and where practical,implemented them formally, as we are doing with the forthcomingpromulgation of the Constitution. Although much of this material hasbeen termed outdated or ignored outright--even by self-styled``representatives'' of the Order--these papers stand as the foundationon which we must build if we would


E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank