INTERVIEW @ PERSEUS ARCANE ACADEMY
This was my first written interview in a very long time. I used to do countless of them in my years as a musician, but nowadays, it’s all podcasts or livestreams.
Here’s an excerpt:
What prompted you to eventually leave the O.T.O. after being an active member, and what core lesson did you take away from that experience?
Multiple reasons locked in my decision to leave Ordo Templi Orientis, likely more than I can discuss here for the sake of brevity. However, this topic comes up repeatedly in discourse, and since I was recently talking about it with my friend and esteemed author Peter Levenda, I will share part of our conversation with you.
In a nutshell, the main issue is that O.T.O. is different from what it says on the tin. You are promised a magnificent organisation with a very complex yet well-thought-out structure that allows for solid leadership to act as needed, which, at the same time, is controlled by an ingenious set of checks and balances that ensure the whole never devolves into tyranny and nepotism.
Unfortunately, tyranny and nepotism are the very things you will find in spades. This is even before addressing the problem of the need for valid initiatory channels with the original egregore. The “history lessons” you find plastered over the official websites and printed by the “official biographers” (always high-ranking members) in the “official sanctioned publications” are nothing but propaganda which ends up being parroted diligently by those rank-and-file newbies who learn very early on that the only opportunity they have to ever been admitted to the sought-after “invitational degrees” is to simply comply with the party line.
Crowley never intended O.T.O. to be a system where a carrot was forever dangled in front of its members. The Secret of the Ninth Degree was meant to be used, shared, and conferred to those who could understand it. Since William Breeze, aka Hymenaeus Beta, took over in 1985, he worked solely to recreate O.T.O. as a cult of personality with him at the centre, stripping its rituals by core initiatory clauses (with oaths being sworn to him or to the few other National Grand Masters, as opposed to Baphomet) and, when the attempt of turning it all into a USA-style mega-church failed already in the 90s, the tendency has been to use O.T.O. as the breeding grounds for his own “true” A∴A∴
Too bad he was expelled by his own superior, Marcelo Motta, alongside his co-conspirator J. Daniel Gunther. But truth and facts don’t matter when you control a brand because people will flock to it in ignorance.
And then, of course, there are the countless issues of sexual abuse constantly silenced, the harassment of ex-members (I am still targeted to this day — the only bad reviews of my book on Amazon are from O.T.O. members, go figure), and the growing contingent of alt-right and straight-up far-right members in its fold.
The core lesson here is simple: it’s time to move past the delusion of hierarchical groups. It’s a great idea on paper, but at its core, it always hinges on the utopian vision of a caste of Philosopher-Kings able to run it. Humanity will always, invariably disappoint you.
Furthermore, another thing that has bothered me about the Order is that they know that the IX degree secret (for instance) is available virtually everywhere on the Net and in print in various places. Still, they act as if their initiations add something meaningful to the written secret.
I have no problem with that, but restricting the invitational degrees the way they have is a little like trying to lock the barn after the horse has been stolen.
The best and the brightest have already left the Order. Its inability to retain initiates indicates that the strategy concerning the invitational degrees does not work. That means there is a fundamental flaw in the process. By arbitrarily restricting access to the higher degrees, they inadvertently devalue the lower degrees. The higher degrees are not awards to be handed out for good behaviour, but the Order leaders see themselves as gatekeepers to Thelema itself. They restrict access to Crowley documents, to the Crowley copyrights, etc. and to the higher degrees. Thus, they can actually seriously talk about “heresy”. Their model becomes the very thing the New Aeon was designed to avoid: a College of Cardinals and Papal infallibility and an Office of the Inquisition. The Order has managed to suck the joy out of Thelema by trying to mould itself along the lines of organised religion.
There are Mysteries and Magick in Thelema, and they protect themselves quite nicely from the ignorant and the authoritarian. If a person’s progress and attainments merit further initiation, they are entitled to it, regardless of how well or poorly they suck up to the leadership.
Basically, if you trust the system, if you trust Thelema, then trust it all the way and do not stand in front of the Gate with a baseball bat and a sneer. You are not the Order. The Order is bigger than you are, bigger than the sum of its members. Get out of the way. By limiting access to initiation, you are limiting the Order to your own ego. I think that’s called being a Black Brother, but I could be wrong.
Now, before the usual suspects accuse me of seeing all black and being negative because I didn’t fit in the system, I will also admit that for folks who crave, first and foremost, a local community of like-minded people, the experience of the Man of Earth Triad and so of the local Lodge/Oasis/Camp will often be rewarding. However, it is a problem when a Holy Order is reduced to a weekly esoteric book club with a bit of cosplay on top.