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Date:2017-01-12 18:33
Subject:"Does OTO even teach magick?" excerpts from correspondence

With respect to the "magical" content of O.T.O., it is a complicated issue. First, it may interest you to know (if you haven't already read) that in the M.M.M. degree system, the title Magician plays a role analogous to that of Mason in Freemasonry. Thus, our Second Degree is Magician, our Third is Master Magician, and our Fourth is Perfect Magician. Second, M.M.M. is an outer order, for which F.L.H. (sometimes called "O.T.O. proper," and consisting of the degrees from Seventh onward) is the inner order. To apply a Masonic distinction, the M.M.M. deals primarily in speculative magick, which is to say, it uses the traditional language and paraphernalia of ceremonial magic to communicate moral instruction and to inculcate Thelemic fraternity.

At the same time, many progressively plainer clues are provided regarding the mysteries of the higher degrees, and the initiate is equipped with the intellectual infrastructure for a wide variety of magical operations, and furnished with incentives to attempt them. The F.L.H., on the other hand, has as its focus the communication and practice of certain techniques of operative magick. In this regard, O.T.O. structure is quite analogous to the that of the outer and inner orders of the H.O.G.D. and R.R. et A.C. respectively, as they were conceived in the late 19th century.

The A.'.A.'. system is Crowley's reform of the GD/RC which introduced rigorous operative criteria to the formerly speculative Elemental Grades, and abrogated the lodge-based elements of its predecessor in favor of independent work under a mentor. O.T.O. and A.'.A.'. initiation are both rooted in a common Thelemic view of the sequence of magical attainment, and the Ninth Degree of O.T.O. and Major Adept 6=5 Grade of A.'.A.'. have overlapping powers and concerns. This overlapping is documented in the Adeptus Major section of "One Star in Sight" from the A.'.A.'. perspective, and from the O.T.O. side it is attested by remarks in correspondence from Crowley to Charles Stansfeld Jones.

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Date:2016-09-03 11:32
Subject:Papers/Talks in Preparation

Coven, Lodge, and Cabal: Magical Organizations in American Culture
A discussion of freemasonry, amorcrucianism, organized witchcraft, discordianism, etc. in rebuttal to the claims of Catherine Albanese (A Republic of Mind and Spirit) and Mitch Horowitz (Occult America), who both downplay and dismiss the importance of secrecy and social organization in American esotericism (alleging that these features are more proper to a European scene). Suitable for the general public.

Circling the Cross: Beginnings and Endings of Christianity
Reflection on Christian origins with specific reference to both Burton Mack and Crowley on Christ (DCCCLXXXVIII), balanced against various endings: the establishment of orthodoxy (Christianity has always already ended!), 1,000 A.D. chiliasm, Joachimist prophecy, Kingsford's hermetic apocalypticism, and of course the New Aeon. Intended for Thelemites.

Melt Your Face: Secrets of the Thirteenth Logion
A far-ranging explication of a saying from the Gospel of Thomas, for initiates of the Thelemic Rose-Croix only. ("Lord, you are like the most discreet and perceptive bartender.")

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Date:2016-08-23 18:05
Subject:The Feast of Abiezer Coppe

From the prologue to Coppe's "Fiery Flying Roll" (London 1650):

And now (my dear ones!) every one under the Sun, I will only point at the gate; through which I was led into that new City, new Jerusalem, and to the spirits of just men, made perfect, and to God the Judge of all. First, all my strength, my forces were utterly routed, my house I dwelt in fired; my father and mother forsook me, the wife of my bosom loathed me; mine old name was rotted, perished; and I was utterly plagued, consumed, damned, rammed, and sunk into nothing, into the bowels of the still eternity (my mother's womb) out of which I came naked, and where hereto I returned again naked. And lying a while there, rapt up in silence, at length (the body or outward form being awake all this while) I heard with my outward ear (to my apprehension) a most terrible thunderclap, and after that a second. And upon the second thunderclap, which was exceeding terrible, I saw a great body of light, like the light of the Sun, and red as fire, in the form of a drum (as it were) whereupon with exceeding trembling and amazement on the flesh, and with joy unspeakable in the spirit, I clapped my hands, and cried out, Amen, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Amen. And so lay trembling, sweating, and smoking (for the space of half an hour) at length with a loud voice (I inwardly) cried out, Lord, what wilt thou do with me? My most excellent majesty and eternal glory (in me) answered & said, Fear Not, I will take thee up into mine everlasting Kingdom. But thou shalt (first) drink a bitter cup, a bitter cup, a bitter cup. Whereupon (being filled with exceeding amazement) I was thrown into the belly of hell (and take what you can of it in these expressions, though the matter is beyond expression) I was among all the devils in hell, even in their most hideous hue.

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Date:2016-06-18 16:37
Subject:Practical Aspiration in EGC and MMM

In a recent conversation, a sister mentioned having heard fellow members of OTO declaring themselves to be seeking EGC clergy status solely as a perceived prerequisite for advancement in MMM--this despite actual disinterest in or even distaste for EGC work in itself. Speaking as a bishop (who administers holy orders to clergy) and as an SGIG (who invites MMM initiates to the first invitational degree, i.e. KEW), I have to say that this approach is not only wrong-headed, but quite possibly counterproductive.

First, EGC clergy status is not a prerequisite by rule for any MMM advancement. Initiates have been advanced to the Seventh (and final) degree of MMM without any prior clergy status, and even (in very rare cases) without any history of work as officers in the Gnostic Mass. Candidates for invitational MMM degrees are "expected to be very familiar with the Man of Earth initiation rituals of the M.M.M., and the Gnostic Mass of the E.G.C." Such familiarity in both rites can be fully demonstrated through work as a ritual officer in private functions for initiates, as well as through study and writing--none of which requires any official standing in EGC. While capable, dedicated service as EGC clergy (or an Oasis Initiator for MMM) is certainly cited as a positive feature when considering degree invitations, I have never encountered a situation where the lack of such was rated as a failing or disqualifier.

If you are clergy under my supervision, you are quite unlikely to be invited to KEW until you have demonstrated your readiness for ordination to the priesthood of EGC. In effect, by entering the novitiate, you have renounced your advancement to KEW until such time as it can be paired with your ordination. If, on the other hand, you are not clergy at all, your suitability for KEW initiation may be remarked to me (in my SGIG role) by your lodgemaster, or by other members of the Fifth Degree who see you as a potential contributor to their Chapter. At that point, the much lighter requirements of knowledge about the Gnostic Mass and helpfulness with regard to local EGC activities would be under consideration.

Insincere commitment to the rite and orders of EGC poorly serves both the Church and the aspirant to OTO who makes such commitment.

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Date:2016-05-05 12:50


If you still have a chance to vote for Sanders, please do.

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Date:2016-03-20 17:34
Subject:Happy New Year

The Secret Instruction of the Master for Atu II, pertinent to the Year of the Law V ii:

Purity is to live only to the Highest; and the Highest is All: be thou as Artemis to Pan!
Read thou in
The Book of the Law, and break through the veil of the Virgin!

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Date:2016-02-08 08:49
Subject:More HGA in EGC: "attitude of Resurrection"

The PEOPLE communicate as did the PRIEST, uttering the same words in an attitude of Resurrection: There is no part of me that is not of the Gods.

There is, in my experience, exactly zero variation in practice regarding the interpretation of the "attitude of Resurrection": it consists of crossing the arms over the breast in the X of the LVX signs, also known as the "Sign of Osiris Risen." There is no text of Liber XV prepared by Crowley where this gesture is made explicit, however. Is our practice entirely a matter of transmission through a series of witnesses? I don't think so.

The sign is significantly paired with the declaration "There is no part of me that is not of the Gods." This sentence ultimately derives from the Papyrus of Ani (which is not "only the Latin for toilet paper"), by way of the Adeptus Minor ceremony of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. The "attitude of Resurrection" is the "saluting Sign" of the Adeptus Minor grade in the old GD ritual.

The Gnostic Mass was written in part for public performance, with the knowledge that participating congregants would not necessarily be initiates of any particular rite or grade, and certainly not all GD Minor Adepts. By incorporating this coupled gesture and declaration at the climax of the ceremony, the Master Therion appears to have intended that each communicant, witting or no, would put him or herself in sympathetic resonance with the 5°=6# grade of the Golden Dawn, in which the central obligation was to "promise and swear that with the Divine permission I will, from this day forward, apply myself to the Great Work, which is, to purify and exalt my Spiritual Nature so that with the Divine Aid I may at length attain to be more than human, and thus gradually raise and unite myself to my higher and Divine Genius, and that in this event I will not abuse the great power entrusted to me." Likewise, in Crowley's reform of the GD system, all that remains of the obligation in that grade is "To prosecute the Great Work: which is, to attain to the knowledge and conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel."

Thus, by means of this artful device, the Gnostic Mass communicant benefits from a sort of morphological field generated by the work of the Vault of the Adepts, and reinforcing the basic Eucharistic process by which "The magician becomes filled with God, fed upon God, intoxicated with God. ... To a Magician thus renewed the attainment of the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel becomes an inevitable task; every force of his nature, unhindered, tends to that aim and goal of whose nature neither man nor god may speak, for that it is infinitely beyond speech or thought or ecstasy or silence" (IV:III:XX:I).

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Date:2016-02-03 09:50
Subject:"canon missae"

In the Roman Rite of traditional Christianity, the Latin phrase canon missae drifted over time from its original meaning of simply the "rule of the Mass," or a ritual standard for the Mass. It featured as a heading over the fixed speeches and rubrics for the Eucharist set within texts for the "Mass of the Faithful," and thus it eventually came to denote that component liturgy focused on the consecration of the Eucharistic bread and wine. In this sense, it corresponds roughly to Section VI "Of the Consecration of the Elements" in Aleister Crowley's Gnostic Mass.

However, the Gnostic Mass ritual text Liber XV also has for its full title O.T.O. Ecclesiae Gnosticae Catholicae Canon Missae. In this case, the Latin phrase canon missae clearly carries its original meaning, and not the acquired sense that is common in Roman Catholic usage. Liber XV provides the rule or standard for an entire Mass, and not a "canon" component within one.

It is interesting to note, however, that other Thelemic Gnostic verbiage has already begun to undergo a degeneration comparable to the one by which "canon" acquired its more specific meaning in Roman Catholicism. Gnostic Mass participants can sometimes be heard or observed referring to "Liber Fifteen" as a thing done, an event or activity, which is properly speaking The Gnostic Mass, rather than as a document as the word Liber ("book") plainly indicates. Just so, Roman Catholic liturgists often refer to the "canon" as a performative component of their mass, rather than simply a section within their missal.

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Date:2015-12-13 14:39
Subject:Newly Available

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Date:2015-12-13 12:22
Subject:SF textus and media technologies

In his work notes "From the Triton Journal" (1976), Samuel Delany observes:

Text, of course, comes from the Latin textus, which means "web." In modern printing, the web is that great ribbon of paper which, in many presses, takes upwards of an hour to thread from roller to roller throughout the huge machine that embeds ranked rows of inked graphemes upon the "web," rendering it a text. All the uses of the words "web," "weave," "net," "matrix" and more, by this circular 'etymology' become entrance points into a textus, which is ordered from all language and language-functions, and upon which the text itself is embedded.

The technological innovations in printing at the beginning of the Sixties, which produced the present "paperback revolution," are probably the single most important factor contouring the modern science-fiction text. But the name "science fiction" in its various avatars – s-f, speculative fiction, sci-fi, scientifiction – goes back to those earlier technological advances in printing that resulted in the proliferation of "pulp magazines" during the Teens and Twenties.
The technological basis for pulp paper is creditable to Karl Kellner, the Spiritual Father of Ordo Templi Orientis. Thus the social organization of the Thelemic movement in O.T.O. is a close causal cousin to the literary egregore of science fiction, and they have remained in friendly, semi-explicit dialogue, observable in such instances as the Gnostic Mass in Cabell's Jurgen (1918), Jack Parson's enthusiastic participation in SF fandom, the crypto-Thelemic fable of Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land (1961), Illuminatus! (1975) and the sprawl of associated literature by Robert Anton Wilson, Piers Anthony's Tarot novels, and The Fuller Memorandum (2010) by Charles Stross, among others. Even more interesting are those cases of clear sympathy where there is no evident case for influence, such as the sacramental Neognosticism of Phillip K. Dick, Theodore Sturgeon's Godbody (1986), and James Morrow's Eternal Footman (1999).

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Date:2015-11-30 09:49
Subject:Happy Holidays!

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Date:2015-09-05 12:52
Subject:Hands up, don't shoot!

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Date:2015-06-03 14:50
Subject:Noted in 2012

Our timid new world of climate-change denial, entitlement liquidation, broken oceans, torture braggadocio, drone bombers, smarter phones and stupider humans is just being gamed out in the informational digestive tract of a godlike alien intelligence.

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Date:2015-05-10 19:59
Subject:Right and Wrong Sponsorship

The NGMG Sabazius has recently had occasion to issue a memorandum regarding sponsorship, in response to certain recent situations where there seems to have been a tendency to impose "standards" on seekers of Third Triad Degrees, requiring them to undertake particular studies and tasks not dictated by Grand Lodge. Hopefully everyone is clear about the procedural consequences. Local bodies and their officers cannot add further requirements for degree advancement beyond those dictated by USGL, and sponsors should not have their own "set tasks" to challenge applicants.

For my own part, I'd like to emphasize some of the reasoning behind this (long-standing) position of the government of the Order. Sponsors should not be empowered to create extrinsic ordeals for the Degrees, which phrase in other contexts might be glossed simply as "hazing." Even if such is done with noble intentions and to the educational benefit of the applicants, the sponsorship requirement is not intended to give sponsors the authority of gurus or preceptors! Most importantly, sponsorship itself should be viewed as the responsibility of the sponsor to be acquainted with the candidate, not for the candidate to "prove himself" to the sponsor.

Keep in mind that these degrees are not seals on attainment, but opportunities for attainment.

No one is obliged to sponsor anyone. It's totally okay to say, "I'd be more comfortable sponsoring you if you showed more interest in our basic ritual practices. Would you be willing to demonstrate X for me?" It is most certainly okay to say, "I won't consider sponsoring you until you pay me back the money I loaned you." Likewise, it's fine to say, "I can't sponsor you at this time, and if you want to advance now, you should ask someone else."

It's actually not okay -- even for an individual, rather than a local body -- to say, "Anyone who wants my sponsorship has to do X" when X isn't a USGL requirement for advancement. Of course, we can't, and don't particularly want to, keep people from privately considering certain accomplishments as bellwethers of worthiness. But these shouldn't be noised about as quasi-criteria for advancement, nor to distinguish the "more rigorous" sponsorship of Stan from the "laxer" sponsorship of Ollie.

It's also important to note that administrative officers of a local body tend to be sponsors of "first resort" for newcomers, and their individual approaches to these matters serve as models to the other members for sponsorship.

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Date:2015-02-10 13:42
Subject:Boney and the Drones

Today is the Greater Feast of J.F.C. Fuller (1878-1966). As the inventor of "artificial moonlight" and a pioneering proponent of mechanized warfare, Fuller is reported to have been acknowledged by Hitler at the latter's 50th birthday parade,

as "for three hours a completely mechanised and motorised army roared past the Führer." Afterwards Hitler asked, "I hope you were pleased with your children?" Fuller replied, "Your Excellency, they have grown up so quickly that I no longer recognise them." (Wikipedia, citing Max Boot, War Made New)
And what indeed would he have made of these?

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Date:2014-12-10 08:49
Subject:I can't breathe.

The US seems to have entered a phase--however brief--in which the mass-mediated punctuation of time (so-called "news") has shifted from stochastic mass shootings to the wantonly unpunished murder of unarmed black men by authorities (first poseur, then official). The most recent of these apparent blessings of police violence is the one for the killing of Eric Garner, whose last words have risen into motto status: "I can't breathe."

The agents of contempt and cruelty who have chosen to identify with killer cops (on the basis of race, property, authoritarian reflex, or whatever) have drawn extra attention to the three-word sentence by disputing it. Still, as honest viewers of the murder video can attest, Garner's words weigh against the innocence of the police who killed him, rather than excusing their assumption that he was fit to endure their unprovoked violence.

I recently read an article on the Great Orange Satan regarding the actual mechanisms of speaking while being unable to breathe. And it occurred to me as I read that there is substantial metaphoric depth to people around our country taking up the slogan "I can't breathe." It's as if the civic being of the US (in the rapacious, polluting stranglehold of the money power) can't manage to inhale the oxygen it needs to survive, only to use the remaining impoverished air in its lungs to cry out its distress.

Murdering unarmed "suspects," profiting from fraudulent foreclosures, stripping people of expectations of privacy, poisoning rivers and aquifers, liquidating productive industry, establishing programs of torture and rape, none of these things merit punishment or even a court case to determine guilt when they are conducted under the aegis of government or corporate authority. Meanwhile our country's penal systems imprison a greater percentage of our population than has been done for any society in known history.

I can't breathe.

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Date:2014-11-28 08:56
Subject:One of these Things is not like the others

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Date:2014-11-24 15:13
Subject:The Shrine - Paraphrase

There is a very old teaching story identified with the Bektashi Dervish order, about a young man whose father tended a famous shrine, where people would come from all the surrounding lands to pay their respects to the holy person who was interred there. In the normal course of events, the son could have anticipated gradually taking over the management of the shrine, and deriving a comfortable and honored life from its maintenance.

However, as he came to maturity, this fellow was taken with an irrepressible thirst for knowledge and wisdom, and he set off in quest thereof. He saddled a donkey and took few possessions on his journey. The years of his travels saw him sojourn through Egypt, Arabia, Persia, and India. Having entered the formidable mountains beyond India, his long-suffering mount fell ill and died. This donkey had been the man's only companion during long stretches of his wanderings, and he was devastated by the loss. He buried the noble animal there in the mountain wilderness, and remained, wordless and disconsolate, at the crude grave.

Other travelers on the mountain trail could not fail to notice the mysterious mourner, and supposed that he must have been the disciple of a sainted teacher to whose grave he was now attached. Word traveled, and soon visitors began to arrive expressly to visit this nameless saint's resting place. A wealthy visitor even exercised his benevolence by having a shrine raised on the site.

It came to pass that this mountain shrine became so famous that its reputation carried all the way back to the father of the mourner. This man, craving some adventure in his declining years, made the long trip to the east and discovered his son at the site. "My son! You must tell me of what has passed! How did you come to set down here?" The son told the story, and the father replied in amazement, "I can now tell you that the shrine where you were brought up as a boy was founded through a similar circumstance, when my own donkey died many years ago."

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Date:2014-10-16 14:11
Subject:The Feast of Ida Craddock

"Judge McKean so far forgot his oath of office (to administer justice impartially) as to hotly denounce my book as "blasphemous" (presumably because I am teaching the duty and the joy of communion with God in the marriage relation so as to render it sacramental)."

--Ida Craddock, October 16, 1902

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Date:2014-07-31 12:22
Subject:How I Bishop

In response to my claim to be "religious, not spiritual," an interlocutor recently said that what he liked least about his own religion (American Episcopalianism) was the church hierarchy, particularly that "The idea that a church or a bishop has any say over my beliefs or actions is against my belief." I observed to him that that's not my role as a bishop, for several reasons.

First: Our clergy don't "have any say over beliefs" of anyone. Our church does have a creed, but its function is primarily liturgical, and it serves to enumerate those things that our members are drawn to think about, rather than to tell them what to think. Even less do we presume (as clergy) to judge the actions of our members in their lives outside of worship.

Second: As a bishop, I primarily serve and instruct the clergy rather than the laity. My episcopal role is to provide a sort of ceremonial quality control, and to help clergy understand the (quite narrow!) limits of their magisterial authority, while leading them to a more profound and differentiated understanding of our mysteries.

Third: The episcopacy of the Episcopal Church, like that of Rome and the various Christian Orthodoxies, is founded in the notion of apostolic succession, transmitting the organizing authority of (supposedly) Jesus himself through a historical chain of supervisory relationships. My own episcopal authority is granted instead by gnostic extension, transmitting the guidance of the Holy Spirit through a contemporary connection with the Sovereign Sanctuary dedicated to our highest sacrament.

Fourth: There is no mechanism by which any of our clergy occupy a position of mediation between the congregant and his or her god. Instead, we offer ceremonies to illustrate by symbol and metaphor the process by which congregants may come to their own direct knowledge of the divine. Nor do we audit the consciences of our members; we encourage every individual to "test the spirits" for themselves.

There is no law beyond Do what thou wilt.

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