OTO as a (Non)Initiatory Order

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OTO as a (Non)Initiatory Order

Postby Forever93 » Wed Oct 26, 2005 12:02 pm

All:

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.

In his lecture on the Mystery religions and modern initiatory Orders in New York, Jim advanced the idea that the chief justification for secrecy in such orders was to separate off the specialized symbol systems which they employ, which -- although arbitrary in themselves -- help to create a common system of magical working which would allow the initiates to better build a "group mind," building up their ability to move magical and initiatory force.

This comment struck me with irony, because just a little time before, Jim had given an (apparent) example of petty politics in a major initiatory Order. I asked Jim about the seeming paradox: magical Orders should create powerful unity of purpose in their members for the purposes of their magical/initiatory activity (and not more broadly: we are not creating "the Borg," I hope!), which should let magicians work together in harmony for the high purposes of the Order, and yet the record seems to show that petty politics have, if anything, been even more disruptive in magical Orders than in organizations clearly founded on simple self-interest.

I gave the particular examples, drawn out of the hat, of the Golden Dawn and the OTO (although I could have cited others). Jim said that the TOT had thus far been blessed with little such troubles, and gave brief sketches of what he thought were the fatal flaws in the particular Orders he cited. I would like to hear a more detailed explications of these ideas.

Jim said that the often-dysfunctional, fratricidal politics (my words, not his!) of OTO could largely be chalked up to the fact that it doesn't properly train its initiates in fundamental techniques of Magick. If I understand the thought correctly (which I have sometimes had myself in slightly different contexts), there would be a couple of major problems with this.

First, you wind up with people "all dressed up with nowhere to go:" given high-level initiations when they really haven't reached a level of development where they're ready to receive the new current of energy, because they haven't done the work to integrate the previous initiations, or just aren't sufficiently spiritually developed generally.

Second, and subsequently, you'd have people receiving initiations from folks who, having not themselves integrated the processes initiated by the Degree initiation, are hardly in a position to pass it on in an effective and balanced way (the inherent virtus of the ritual itself notwithstanding).

As I say, I have a lot of gut-level sympathy for this view. Part of me -- and a few years ago, it was all of me -- says that a person's state of spiritual development is, after all, entirely hir own affair: outside of "the world would be so much better if we had a few more Buddhas," it really is no one's business but one's own where one is spiritually, and whether one's inward life is a heaven or a hell is a quite separate issue from what one is doing in the outward world. But the issue of these folks being initiators, or administering the Sacraments in the Mass, complicates this matter a great deal -- as does the fallout in petty politics, which may indeed (it would seem) be exacerbated by badly-integrated magical energies. It would seem that (as you (Jim) say) to properly initiate or be initiate requires people to be doing the work of Magick and Yoga!

But it does run into a rather profound structural problem with OTO itself, and in particular with the OTO of today as opposed to in AC's day: that OTO was explicitly set up by Reuss, and passed on by AC, as an Order that would not be "initiatory" in the broad sense. The OTO's teachings and initiation rituals were designed entirely to gradually reveal to/elicit from a person the theological and magical secrets peculiar to OTO, not to develop people spiritually in the way that is eg A.·.A.·.'s remit. Jim, I'm sure you've seen all of the below, but let me quote them here. First is a letter from Crowley to Germer explaining the difference between the A.·.A.·. and OTO, quoted in "Culture vs. Cult" by Hymenaeus Beta in Equinox III.10:
The difference between the A.·.A.·. and the OTO is very clear and simple. The A.·.A.·. is a sempiternal institution, and entirely secret ... The Order is run on purely spiritual lines. The objective of membership is also entirely simple. The first objective is the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel. The next objective ... is the crossing of the Abyss ... The OTO has nothing to do with this, except that The Book of the Law and the Word of the Aeon are essential principles of membership. In all other respects, it stands by itself as a body similar to Freemasonry, but involving acceptance of a social and economic system which is intended to put the world on its feet. There is also, of course, the secret of the IX* -- which is to say, the weapon which they may use to further these purposes.


More explicitly, in MAGICK WITHOUT TEARS, Chapter LXXI: Morality (2):
The OTO is a training of the Masonic type; there is no "astral" work in it at all, nor any Yoga. There is a certain amount of Qabalah, and that of great doctrinal value. But the really vital matter is the gradual progress towards disclosure of the Secret of the Ninth Degree. To use that secret to advantage involves mastery both of Yoga and of Magick; but neither is taught in the Order. Now it comes to be mentioned, this is really very strange. However, I didn't invent the system; I must suppose that those who did knew what they were about.


And when Sr. Meral came to visit us in Victorious City Lodge back in '93, she agreed with this assessment, taking it as another rationale for her work in COT/TOT: the need for an Outer Order for the preliminary work of A.·.A.·., or of A.·.A.·. on a lower octave (as it were).

Fundamentally, then, OTO was never intended to be "a teaching Order" in the magical and mystical disciplines (as vs. eg. the A.·.A.·.) or as a way to bring people toward spiritual attainment. It was intended to be a social and pseudo-political Order: a sort of society-within-a-society within which the structures of the "artistocratic communism" that AC envisioned as the ideal sociological manifestation of Thelema could develop.

Further complicating this is the fact that, whatever its founders' vision or intent might have been, most of today's OTO initiates join it with the belief that it is exactly a magical/initiatory Order. Almost all members, I think I can say without fear of contradiction, are in it with the belief that it will further their spiritual development, through taking the initiations, receiving the Sacraments in the Gnostic Mass, and the informal mystical and magical training that happens in the style of a jazz musician's club. Few are interested in the old sociopolitical vision AC held for OTO -- the so-called "Blue Equinox OTO" mourned by Keith418 and other critics of today's Order.

Moreover, the initiatory rituals certainly seem, to many people (myself included), to be themselves initiatory in the broader sense, designed to resonate with the inner world of the initiate and elicit the next stage in hir spiritual development in the candidate, and not "only" a way of gradually revealing the Secrets of OTO. Indeed, when he was a high-ranking OTO officer, Jim wrote various pieces on the esoteric interpretation of the rituals, focused largely on just these aspects. I also assume (Jim, feel free to correct me that I'm wrong) that he had a hand in writing the Study Guides that were circulated out of Baphomet Lodge (which he used to Master), which are pretty clearly designed in large part to consolidate and complete the spiritual processes that one might see in the rituals, and also to guide hir to at least experiment with some of the core techniques of Magick and Yoga.

As a further complication, I think that many people choose to join OTO and not A.·.A.·. precisely because they want to have a less structured spiritual path. A formal set of requirements to pass from Degree to Degree, as in A.·.A.·., might well make OTO an unacceptable vehicle for such folks, as would the requirement for some sort of Guru figure as an instructor and ultimate examiner. And one of the wonderful things that this lack of a formal curriculum does engender in the more serious folks within OTO is a wonderful and genuine eclecticism: not just making a hodge-podge of superficialities from multiple traditions, but of serious, practicing Tibetan Buddhist Thelemites, etc, who are not doing the LBRP because they are working so hard on their Ngakpa refuge/shielding disciplines.

Where am I going with all of this? I'm actually not quite sure ;). I would, however, like to hear Jim's (and perhaps others') reflections on all of this, and in particular how OTO could be reformed to (a) resolve these inner (seeming) contradictions, (b) transform it into a "truer" initiatory Order -- and if he thinks this is even possible or appropriate at this time.

Thanks!

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Re: OTO as a (Non)Initiatory Order

Postby Jim Eshelman » Thu Oct 27, 2005 6:54 pm

Jim said that the often-dysfunctional, fratricidal politics (my words, not his!) of OTO

Whew, thanks for clarifying that these weren't my words! :roll: For the record, I neither said nor meant nothing of the kind.

could largely be chalked up to the fact that it doesn't properly train its initiates in fundamental techniques of Magick.

That wasn''t my point at all, though I can see how you mistook what I was saying. My point was that any system that (1) has efficacious rituals that activate energy centers in the subtle body and (2) does not require its members to perform a regimen of ongoing work will produce certain phenomena. Those phenomena look like the out-of-control aspect of adolescence breaking out, where there are similar strong effusions of similar energies into the psyche and soma, often without any sense of organization or direction about it.

I then opined (being just a little catty, admittedly, but being honest and not naming names) that a test of this would be to see if an organization of this sort actually produced a particularly high percentage of people passing through it who displayed the traits of out-of-control adolescence.

First, you wind up with people "all dressed up with nowhere to go:" given high-level initiations when they really haven't reached a level of development where they're ready to receive the new current of energy, because they haven't done the work to integrate the previous initiations, or just aren't sufficiently spiritually developed generally.

I'm jumping tracks here a bit because you really didn't get my last point right, so this current paragraph is really a new subject. I might suggest you consider the difference between a spiritual order and a fraternal order. Their goals, purposes, and methods are different. Crowley, in writing about the O.T.O., was quite explicit that "spiritual stature" was not at all a criteria for advancing - that someone of a very early degree might be way "beyond" everyone in the higher degrees. And, while this could be true in any group, in the context of his remarks he was saying simply that this isn't a criterion in that particular organization. He might as well have said that red hair isn't a criterion for advancement, and that people of lower degrees might, in fact, have much redder hair than those in higher degrees.

I speak, BTW, of the O.T.O. as Crowley conceived it and rolled it out. Current leadership has taken a strong hand in reconceiving it, and I wouldn't be qualified to speak about those changes or their fruits.

I would agree (though I don't know if this was part of your point) that giving higher numbers and fancier titles without the person concurrently undergoing some ongoing personal healing process (initiation, therapy, whatever) can lead to greater and easier ego inflation.

Second, and subsequently, you'd have people receiving initiations from folks who, having not themselves integrated the processes initiated by the Degree initiation, are hardly in a position to pass it on in an effective and balanced way (the inherent virtus of the ritual itself notwithstanding).

There are two types of degrees in magical, spiritual, quasi-magical, or quasi-spiritual orders. I call these "opening forward" and "opening backward" degrees.

If you were using a Tree of Life model, an "opening forward" system would, at the Hod stage, give you Hod work. The confirmation of the degree is an awakening of a potential that may or may not develop. If it is part of a system where standardized work is assigned, then the person is given specific work to do for two reasons: (1) to develop the seed that got planted and (2) to protect them against undirected energies getting out of control and producing lowest-common-denominator manifestations.

But an "opening backward" system would, in Hod, give you Netzach work. In such a system, being "at" Hod means you've already stabilized in that level, and the work to do is to move on by developing the Netzach side of yourself.

The A.'.A.'. is an "opening backward" system. Traditional Golden Dawn forms are "opening forward" systems.

Now, magical, spiritual, quasi-magical, and quasi-spiritual organizations that exist foremost for fraternal purposes have another differentiation from this. They are, at root, "opening forward" systems. Taking a degree unlocks a potential for something about that degree to develop in you. But they take it one step further: They don't actually (usually) require that anyone ever develop the seed. The pack of seeds is a gift, but you have to decide what to do with them yourself.

One of the side-effects of this is that you don't have the problem you cited above of having people unqualified to give the degrees because of lack of personal development. In such systems, the degrees aren't conveyed by impaction or darshan. They have other means to seal them that don't require anything from an initiator besides the ability to deliver the scripted words and actions.

The approach of a given organization varies with that organizations style but also with its inherent purposes.

But it does run into a rather profound structural problem with OTO itself,

Does it? Or does it only run into a problem with your view of what O.T.O. is or should be?

I spent a lot of years trying to turn the O.T.O. into what I thought it was always intended to be. Along the way I think I did a great deal of good for the organization, first as a gadfly and later as a senior member and officer, but, at the end of the day I finally got that I had been building my own projection of what O.T.O. should be, and that this projection didn't match either the collective view of the membership taken as a whole, nor the view of the membership. The only Thelemic thing for me to do was to let it be that which it truly is and has always sought to make of itself, and to go my own way and create the sort of thing I had wanted all along. There's not a hair's width of recrimination in any of it! Just a recognition that two things can be, are, and often blessedly are, different things.

It seems to me that you are either trying to warm your food in a refrigerator and cool it in an oven preheated to 180° C. - I'm not sure which - and then complaining about the stove or refrigerator.

Fundamentally, then, OTO was never intended to be "a teaching Order" in the magical and mystical disciplines

BTW, I don't agree with that. It isn't consistent with general plans by Reuss or for particular statements by Crowley in Blue Equinox source papers. I think it was part of the design, but a part that never got developed.

or as a way to bring people toward spiritual attainment. It was intended to be a social and pseudo-political Order: a sort of society-within-a-society within which the structures of the "aristocratic communism" that AC envisioned as the ideal sociological manifestation of Thelema could develop.

Yes, Crowley said as much quite plainly in many places. That's the vision, people's projections notwithstanding.

Moreover, the initiatory rituals certainly seem, to many people (myself included), to be themselves initiatory in the broader sense, designed to resonate with the inner world of the initiate and elicit the next stage in hir spiritual development in the candidate, and not "only" a way of gradually revealing the Secrets of OTO.

I always experienced them as being enormously efficacious and have always said so. In the decade-plus since I left membership, I had further occasions to deeply appreciate the elegance of Crowley's rewrites - I mean that in the mathematical sense as much as anything! - If, for example, you take the British craft rituals of Freemasonry (say, 1°), parse it out into sections, and compare it to the O.T.O. equivalent, there is a true and ingenious elegance in the rewrite that he did. I respect them enormously, both from ceremonial and analytical perspectives.

Indeed, when he was a high-ranking OTO officer, Jim wrote various pieces on the esoteric interpretation of the rituals, focused largely on just these aspects.

Actually, unless I'm forgetting something, I wrote all of those when I was a low-ranking O.T.O. member and non-officer. But maybe I'm forgetting something ;)

I also assume (Jim, feel free to correct me that I'm wrong) that he had a hand in writing the Study Guides that were circulated out of Baphomet Lodge (which he used to Master)

Two hands, in fact. I wrote them, period.

Where am I going with all of this? I'm actually not quite sure ;). I would, however, like to hear Jim's (and perhaps others') reflections on all of this, and in particular how OTO could be reformed to (a) resolve these inner (seeming) contradictions, (b) transform it into a "truer" initiatory Order -- and if he thinks this is even possible or appropriate at this time.

I set aside the need to try to reform the O.T.O. when I resigned my membership, recognizing that (like any person I might encounter) it needed to grow in its own way and at the hand and by the vision of it's O.H.O., and that I needed to go a different way.

I still think you're trying to make a refrigerator and an over behave like each other, though. You lay out a keen certainty of what O.T.O., then complain that it isn't something else. Liber L. gives us some advice which works in most troubled relationships: "Yea! deem not of change: ye shall be as ye are, & not other."
Last edited by Jim Eshelman on Fri Oct 28, 2005 6:24 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: OTO as a (Non)Initiatory Order

Postby theophiles » Thu Oct 27, 2005 8:30 pm

Forever93 wrote:I would, however, like to hear Jim's (and perhaps others') reflections on all of this, and in particular how OTO could be reformed to (a) resolve these inner (seeming) contradictions, (b) transform it into a "truer" initiatory Order --

(a) Why does OTO need to be reformed just to resolve what you see as contradictions? Perhaps the contradictions will resolve themselves within you, as you meditate on them further.
(b) Why does OTO need to be reformed when it will always be up to *you* to transform yourself? *You* are the only initiator.

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Postby Forever93 » Fri Oct 28, 2005 12:37 pm

All:

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.

Jim Eshelman wrote:
Forever93 wrote:Jim said that the often-dysfunctional, fratricidal politics (my words, not his!) of OTO

Whew, thanks for clarifying that these weren't my words! :roll: For the record, I neither said nor meant nothing of the kind.

Sure, and I definitely did not want to put words in your mouth. If this wasn't totally clear to all, let me rephrase. In the New York lecture, you (Jim) advanced the idea that the chief justification for secrecy in such orders was to separate off the specialized symbol systems which they employ, which helps to create a common system of magical working which would allow the initiates to better build a "group mind." This is a very interesting idea, on which you kinddly expanded here. But it struck me with irony at the time, because the history of many of the most important magical Orders -- and OTO and the Golden Dawn spring immediately to mind, but one might equally cite the Theosophical Society, the Hermetic Brotherhood of Luxor, or many others -- is rife with "often-dysfunctional, fratricidal politics" (again, my thought). So there is a seeming paradox here.

Now, you (Jim) have already given some insight on some of the problems inherent in the Golden Dawn system -- the details of which I've wanted to follow up but haven't yet found the time. I think that it's fair comment that OTO has also had similar problems, especially amongst the various claimants to being the true OTO, but also in different ways even within the "Caliphate."

Now, when I asked about this, I understood you to be saying that it "could largely be chalked up to the fact that it doesn't properly train its initiates in fundamental techniques of Magick." If that wasn't what you meant, then I do apologise for mis-summarizing; but let me put it this way. You note that

Jim Eshelman wrote:any system that (1) has efficacious rituals that activate energy centers in the subtle body and (2) does not require its members to perform a regimen of ongoing work will produce certain phenomena. Those phenomena look like the out-of-control aspect of adolescence breaking out, where there are similar strong effusions of similar energies into the psyche and soma, often without any sense of organization or direction about it. ... [A] test of this would be to see if an organization of this sort actually produced a particularly high percentage of people passing through it who displayed the traits of out-of-control adolescence.

Now, let me stipulatively assert that (1) and (2) above are, IMO, rather clearly attributable to the OTO system as it stands, and that in my reading of the history of the Order (of which I am fundamenally a loyal son) and observations of recent happenings within it, too often the expected outcome of the test that you propose seems to be, accordingly, fulfilled in at least some individuals and bodies within OTO.

Now, you (Jim) rightly
Jim Eshelman wrote:suggest you {Forever93} consider the difference between a spiritual order and a fraternal order. Their goals, purposes, and methods are different. Crowley, in writing about the O.T.O., was quite explicit that "spiritual stature" was not at all a criteria for advancing - that someone of a very early degree might be way "beyond" everyone in the higher degrees.

Right: that is one half of import of my quotes from the letter from Crowley to Germer explaining the difference between the A.·.A.·. and OTO, quoted in "Culture vs. Cult" by Hymenaeus Beta in Equinox III.10 and from MAGICK WITHOUT TEARS, Chapter LXXI: Morality (2): what I'm suggesting is that this fact is closely related to (the product of) you (2) above.
Jim Eshelman wrote:I would agree ... that giving higher numbers and fancier titles without the person concurrently undergoing some ongoing personal healing process ... can lead to greater and easier ego inflation.

I wasn't actually making that point, although I certainly agree that it would compound the problem!
Jim Eshelman wrote:
Forever93 wrote:Second, and subsequently, you'd have people receiving initiations from folks who, having not themselves integrated the processes initiated by the Degree initiation, are hardly in a position to pass it on in an effective and balanced way (the inherent virtus of the ritual itself notwithstanding).

There are two types of degrees in magical, spiritual, quasi-magical, or quasi-spiritual orders. I call these "opening forward" and "opening backward" degrees.

Good terminology: initiations as things that actually initiate new psychospiritual processes in the initiate vs. those that are a seal on existing attainment.
Jim Eshelman wrote:Now, magical ... organizations that exist foremost for fraternal purposes have another differentiation from this. They are, at root, "opening forward" systems. Taking a degree unlocks a potential for something about that degree to develop in you. But they take it one step further: They don't actually (usually) require that anyone ever develop the seed. The pack of seeds is a gift, but you have to decide what to do with them yourself.

Again, agreed -- and that has its strengths within OTO as I've said, but I submit that it also creates the "one-two punch" that you carefully outlined, in the abstract, above. Now here you say,
Jim Eshelman wrote: One of the side-effects of this is that you don't have the problem you cited above of having people unqualified to give the degrees because of lack of personal development. In such systems, the degrees aren't conveyed by impaction or darshan. They have other means to seal them that don't require anything from an initiator besides the ability to deliver the scripted words and actions.

Hm. I agree that they aren't delivered by darshan (I'm not sure how you're using "impaction" here, though), but I do think that they are delivered by a combination of the inherent power of the design of the ritual on the human mind ("setting" in the Learyan sense), the state of the Candidate on entering ("set,") and the magical power that is invested in them by the initiators ("dose," though also a key aspect of "setting").

ISTM that the latter aspect is quite important: I can definitely attest that both theatrical and magical abilities of initiators delivering the same OTO initiation rituals can have quite a difference in their effects on the Candidate and even on spectators or fellow Officers. I would be surprised to learn that you really disagreed with this. And indeed, even if one were to believe (based on the quotes from AC given above) that AC never intended this to be a factor, I suggest that the belief and magical intent of both initiate and initiator will tend to cause it to be so, as magical energy is invested -- well or poorly, in a clean or muddled way, with great or little force -- into doing just that.

For instance, it is public knowledge that the OTO Man of Earth Degrees are intended to open up or activate the major Cakkras. There are particular moments in these initiations which seem to many of us to be especially important in accomplishing this goal. A well-disciplined, spiritually-developed, and experienced initiator -- particularly one in whom the Cakkra in question is already open, charged up, and flowing freely -- will ISTM do a better job of accomplishing this in the Candidate than one who is not. Of course, it is then up to the Candidate to consolidate the initiation and tend to the implanted seed by the Sunlight of Will, the Waters of insight, the Air of hir intellect, and the Soil of labor via spiritual disciplines -- but that original delivery of momentum must not, IMO, be dismissed.

Jim Eshelman wrote:The approach of a given organization varies with that organizations style but also with its inherent purposes.

Right -- and this is where ISTM that we run into a structural problem. Even if we accept the narrow sociopolitical vision of OTO, ISTM that the "one-two" punch you describe above does happen within the Order, just as it would if similar rituals were put to use even in eg. a for-profit corporation or a charitable organization -- let alone if you believe that the Order either is de facto or ought to be an "opening forward" initiatory Order in the strong sense of the GD.
Jim Eshelman wrote:
Forever93 wrote:But it does run into a rather profound structural problem with OTO itself,

Does it? Or does it only run into a problem with your view of what OTO is or should be?

Both, ISTM, for the reasons given above.
Jim Eshelman wrote:I spent a lot of years trying to turn the O.T.O. into what I thought it was always intended to be. Along the way I think I did a great deal of good for the organization,

FWIW and from my very limited viewpoint (having really never heart your name IIRC until a year or so ago), looking at the materials that I have that I did not know then but know now are your creations, and a very few secondhand anecdotes, you did a lot of good in the Order based on that vision.
Jim Eshelman wrote:at the end of the day I finally got that I had been building my own projection of what O.T.O. should be, and that this projection didn't match either the collective view of the membership taken as a whole, nor the view of the membership.

I think that today most members take the OTO to be an "opening forward" initiatory Order. this is not from a formal poll but from interactions with members in a fair number of quite different Bodies within and without USGL jurisdiction; see also this blog entry and comments on OTO as "Our Teaching Order". But again, I think that a good case could be made that the problem that I outline is not just in member expectations, but in the inherent effects of having these rituals in the Order, based on the idea that it is a case of the "one, two punch" that you outline above. And if so, then it would be a cause of the adolescent tantruming that you would predict from such a situation, and that I will put forward has been observed in OTO, even if the membership did not hold this view of the Order -- though the fact that they do, to the extent that they have any magical talent at all, may tend to exacerbate both the positive and negative potentials in the Rituals.
Jim Eshelman wrote:It seems to me that you are either trying to warm your food in a refrigerator and cool it in an oven preheated to 180° C. - I'm not sure which - and then complaining about the stove or refrigerator.

I am wondering if perhaps I have an insulated box that is being put to both purposes, leading to significant food spoilage ;). I think that it can be made to work as a refrigerator with the right work put into it -- and I'm asking my friend the heating/cooling engineer (you) for some guidance on further developing the unit.

Breakig with the analogy, I am exploring the idea that OTO would work better both as a sociopolitical/Kinship Order, and as a spiritual one, if its Degree structure were better developed as a (strong-sense) "opening" initiatory process.
Jim Eshelman wrote:
Forever93 wrote:Fundamentally, then, OTO was never intended to be "a teaching Order" in the magical and mystical disciplines

BTW, I don't agree with that. It isn't consistent with general plans by Reuss or for particular statements by Crowley in Blue Equinox source papers. I think it was part of the design, but a part that never got developed.

So, what would your ideas be about developing that part? I'm not just trying to be a pest here ;). Despite my whining here, I love the Order in many ways; I want it to work better.
Jim Eshelman wrote:
Forever93 wrote:{OTO} was intended to be a social and pseudo-political Order: a sort of society-within-a-society within which the structures of the "aristocratic communism" that AC envisioned as the ideal sociological manifestation of Thelema could develop.

Yes, Crowley said as much quite plainly in many places. That's the vision, people's projections notwithstanding.

I am in part exploring the possibility that people's projections can either become magical manifestations or lower, Yetziratic shells.
Jim Eshelman wrote:You lay out a keen certainty of what O.T.O., then complain that it isn't something else.

Not quite, I don't think: I lay out what I understand AC's original vision of OTO to have been, and suggest that there both was originally, and is now, more to it; then I explore the possibility that this has created an internal contradiction that does have to be resolved in some way for the good of the Order and its membership (again, both as a sociopolitical and as an initiatory Order), and want some ideas on how this might best be resolved.
theophiles wrote:
Forever93 wrote:I would, however, like to hear Jim's (and perhaps others') reflections on all of this, and in particular how OTO could be reformed to (a) resolve these inner (seeming) contradictions, (b) transform it into a "truer" initiatory Order --

(a) Why does OTO need to be reformed just to resolve what you see as contradictions? Perhaps the contradictions will resolve themselves within you, as you meditate on them further.
(b) Why does OTO need to be reformed when it will always be up to *you* to transform yourself? *You* are the only initiator.

In the final sense, of course, I have to agree; however, in practical terms, if taken to its logical conclusion "on the ground," I'm afraid that this would leave us exactly nowhere on this particular subject, and eliminate the whole raison d'être of initiatory Orders generally. Sure, I must ultimately agree that samsara is nirvana if you look at it right -- but we aren't there yet and the work of spiritual discipline is necessary. If we were all Buddhas, we'd all be Buddhas ... but we aren't, in practice.

We come to these initiatory institutions for ... well ... initiation ;). Of course, the lightbulb has to want to be screwed in -- but the psychiatrist has a ladder for a reason ...

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Postby Jim Eshelman » Fri Oct 28, 2005 2:51 pm

Forever93 wrote:
Jim Eshelman wrote: One of the side-effects of this is that you don't have the problem you cited above of having people unqualified to give the degrees because of lack of personal development. In such systems, the degrees aren't conveyed by impaction or darshan. They have other means to seal them that don't require anything from an initiator besides the ability to deliver the scripted words and actions.

Hm. I agree that they aren't delivered by darshan (I'm not sure how you're using "impaction" here, though)

Essentially synonymous. "Impaction" is the technical term in the Western Mystery systems to mean that the heightened vibratory rate in the aura of one person (initiator, guru, etc.) contagiously incites a matching vibratory rate in the field of another person - either spontaneously or as a consequence of focussed intention.

Jim Eshelman wrote:
Forever93 wrote:Fundamentally, then, OTO was never intended to be "a teaching Order" in the magical and mystical disciplines

BTW, I don't agree with that. It isn't consistent with general plans by Reuss or for particular statements by Crowley in Blue Equinox source papers. I think it was part of the design, but a part that never got developed.

So, what would your ideas be about developing that part? I'm not just trying to be a pest here ;). Despite my whining here, I love the Order in many ways; I want it to work better.

LOL. My notebooks on that were put in storage a decade and a half ago - autumn 1987, in fact - and if I had them it would be a LOOONNNNGGGG answer. I'd really rather remain "retired" from the task of reframing O.T.O. :)
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Postby bethata418 » Tue Nov 01, 2005 4:24 am

THELEMA

i for one when joining the OTO was very disappointed in that the OTO was not a teaching order. when i 1st went to the OTO i never knew another OTO member except online, and he was also a AA member, and he was very pro-teaching. to tell you the truth at 1st i was kinda disguested about the OTO not teaching, and its all up to you, not that i am not up for learning all by myself, i was just think there would be MORE progress if i was pointed morre in the right way i should go. although i didnt find this in the OTO, i found something else that was very exciting, which was the fraternal expereince and bonds that were developed between my brothers and sisters.

i personally wish it was more like a AA work system, but i guess i now see the OTO as meaning Outer Thelemic Order, in that people intrested in thelema come to the OTO to learn about thelema. when they get serious they can either possibly do it by them selfs, or a better choice would be to ask for help through a organization like the AA or this. my experience with the OTO has been absolutely wonderful!!! but i must keep in mind it is not really a teaching order, more a organization that is fraternal and devoted to spreading thelema. i do not feel like i truely know enough to say that crowley wanted it this way or not, to me, at this point it no longer matters. i have found much in the OTO that is now very dear in my life that i wasnt even looking for, and i feel like i now have other avenues to choose from to find what i was originally looking for in the OTO but did not find.

would the OTO be better as a teaching order? maybe or maybe not? but it is not that, but what it is i feel is very very valuable for the progress of thelema. as i said i didnt find a teaching order that i was looking for in the OTO but instead i found something that is truely wonderful in its own respect.

AGAPE

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Postby DELETED » Tue Nov 01, 2005 9:36 am

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Postby zeph » Wed Nov 02, 2005 5:00 pm

Image

Or perhaps they should return to their Oriental roots...
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Postby bethata418 » Wed Nov 02, 2005 11:08 pm

LOL very funny!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Postby vitriol120 » Mon Jan 09, 2006 4:46 am

<i>Sure, and I definitely did not want to put words in your mouth.</i>

No doubt.
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Postby BlackSun9 » Thu May 04, 2006 7:36 am

For instance, it is public knowledge that the OTO Man of Earth Degrees are intended to open up or activate the major Cakkras. There are particular moments in these initiations which seem to many of us to be especially important in accomplishing this goal.


Not exactly my field of expertise, but wasn't the chakric material in relation to the OTO grades a Grady McMurtry addition to the system and not something found explicately in either Reuss or Crowley's presentations of the system?
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Postby Jim Eshelman » Thu May 04, 2006 8:04 am

BlackSun9 wrote:Not exactly my field of expertise, but wasn't the chakric material in relation to the OTO grades a Grady McMurtry addition to the system and not something found explicately in either Reuss or Crowley's presentations of the system?

No. The chakras have always been locked into the underlying Masonic system (just consider the penal signs of the three Craft Degrees for starters). With respect to the O.T.O., Crowley wrote the degree correspondences to the chakras in his personal copy of The Equinox and those marginalia (having been typed up by Germer) became the basis of 1970s attention.

But the chakra references weren't by names - they were by numbers. Bill Heidrick's original writings on the matter started counting 1-7 from the wrong direction, so there were several years when these were interpreted incorrectly.

In a mildly humorous anecdote, I was sent the correct list when I was IIRC a Second Degree in O.T.O. I wrote an article in a Lodge newsletter referencing the chakras in passing, and the only one I cited specifically was the only one that was right! An individual having the original list sent it to me through my Lodge Master. It was still an issue of controversy and debate until Equinox III:10 contained the full original information.
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Postby BlackSun9 » Thu May 04, 2006 8:33 am

No. The chakras have always been locked into the underlying Masonic system (just consider the penal signs of the three Craft Degrees for starters).


Seems like a little bit of a stretch, or simply a desire to read one symbolic set onto another, but I can understand the interpretation.

With respect to the O.T.O., Crowley wrote the degree correspondences to the chakras in his personal copy of The Equinox and those marginalia (having been typed up by Germer) became the basis of 1970s attention.


I remember reading that Crowley found attributions but that he hadn't left anything in the way of details. Interesting to know that he had done degree attributions.
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