Burning Down The House
Ordo Templi Orientis, Caliphate
When "the O.T.O." is referred to here, it means the American variation, which is actually the ‘Caliphate’.
In a way, it is always more than what one can say about it. No thing that exists can be grasped in its entirety. There is never a complete approach. In the context of this article, this O.T.O. is portrayed as a train wreck, similar as to other variations, like the Swiss O.T.O. and the Brazilian O.T.O.
Some of the below seems to be a summary of what is already known.
The ‘Caliphate’ O.T.O. is anything but a democratic organization (cf. Liber CXCIV:10). Its structure is based on a mixture of templarism and freemasony. Hence it is hierarchical and pyramidic in its structure. In other words, few at the top and many at the bottom. In the annual demographics, we can see that less than 3% of the total initiates are of the Fifth degree or higher. This has unfortunately not changed considerably within the last few decades.
In that perspective, this setup looks more like a sectarian structure, than an ordinary order structure: a Hierarchical power pyramid, the lower degrees paying for a top–down leadership, etc.
Another challenge the (c)O.T.O. has looks like what we encounter in most esoteric circles: That the not necessarily vegan secrets so heavily guarded have been revealed long ago. The initiations have been published by Francis King and more recently by Peter–Robert Koenig. The innermost secrets, those of sexual magick, that might have been taboo in Victorian age England, are hardly worth a footnote in this day and age of internet porn and the post–hippie sexual revolution. A quick internet search will reveal many pages of in depth analysis of the sexual magickal
secrets as well as the basic O.T.O. texts that Crowley promoted within the O.T.O. top degrees. The secrecy might thus, in this light, be interpreted as nothing more than an instrument of power and a strategy of securing, as well as maintaining, said inner–order power and money–flow.
Admittance and advancement
Young organization, relatively speaking, with little to no supervision of the many departments world wide. Meaning that instances of molestation and oppression in diverse forms are free to happen with an absent leadership, that only seems to be interested in taking the money and protecting its organization.
With an Order that has a structure that siphons money from the lower degrees to the leadership, having a hierarchical power structure and simultaneously having nothing original to provide (as all the secrets are public), and at the same time having nothing in its structure that demands a magickal schooling as such (and thus failing to guarantee a leadership more spiritually evolved), one wonders what the (c)O.T.O. might provide other than physical initiations.
— Re–Booting: Legitimacy
Item 1: The re–booting of the Order
Concerning the Legitimacy of the (c)O.T.O. we can see that
although they currently have the copyright to the name and logo in the United
States, their claim rests on as legitimate a claim as many another O.T.O.
1.a: Karl Germer died in 1962. In 1969, in competition with the then Solar Lodge, Grady Louis McMurtry invoked his emergency authorization from Crowley and assumed the title of ‘Caliph’, which Crowley had granted him for California. He began performing sort of initiations in 1969.
(It seems that the German Friedrich Mellinger has been
targeted by both Crowley, as well as by Germer.)
Fact 2: Grady McMurtry (a.k.a. Hymenaeus Alpha) re–booted an O.T.O. as a ‘Caliph’ (and not as a Outer Head of the Order, O.H.O., proper) seven years after Germer's death.
Fact 3: The ‘Caliphate’ is not in an un–severed lineage with the Original O.T.O. as it is a re–boot, it is not identical with Crowley's Original O.T.O. and thus cannot legitimately claim to be the one–and–only O.T.O.
As such, Crowley's version of the O.T.O. would thus still have been regional (known as the M.'.M.'.M.'., i.e. Crowley's version for Britain and Ireland), meaning that other regional versions of the O.T.O. would be equally valid and entitled to the name O.T.O.
And what about Kenneth Grant?
O.T.O. AS A CORPORATION — (c)O.T.O.
Item 2) The re–formation of an Occult Brotherhood/Order into a Corporate entity
Item 3) The re–defining of Thelema as a Religion
CHANGING THE TEXTS
Item 4) The redaction of a Class A text.
When the Swiss O.T.O. changed the ingredients of the host at Mass (by adding grapes), it was branded as blasphemy by the american O.T.O. And when Hermann Joseph Metzger had himself declared the world leader by his own followers, it was declassified as improper and ridiculed.
But when you do the same thing, of course it becomes sacrosanct.
5) The Recreation of an Order: Consolidation of the O.T.O. and the A.·. A.·.
In an attempt to fusion the (c)O.T.O. with his own A.·. A.·. Lineage (i.e. Motta's), Breeze has gone after those in his O.T.O. that represent alternative A.·. A.·. lineages. In his endeavors to purge his O.T.O. of others claiming A.·. A.·. authority or perceived as such, he has subjected such members to expulsion from the (c)O.T.O. Following are a few examples.
5.a: Breeze vs. Phyllis Seckler (Jane Wolfe's A.·. A.·. lineage)
5.b: Breeze vs. Jerry Cornelius (Grady McMurtry's A.·. A.·. lineage)
“OBEY MY AUTHORITAH”
6) The re–configuration of an Order: The rewriting of the O.T.O. initiation oaths
6.a: The new VI°.
Thirdly, in respects to the change creating a precedence of a “Cult of Personality” within the O.T.O., it puts the individual member up against hirself. The change in the oath seems to be in
violation to that part of the first degree oath which deals with subjecting oneself unduly to another person, as that specific part of the VI° oath is now not taken to an concept like Baphomet or an office (like in the case of the OHO part), but rather to a living person, i.e. “Hymenaeus Beta” / William Breeze.
Yet, this swap was not undertaken by any of the immediate (c)O.T.O. leaders following Crowley (e.g. Hymenaeus Alpha), which therefore makes HB's interpretation a weak case.
The main critique here is that by re–booting the severed lineage of the O.T.O. and then claiming exclusivity to the name and lamen, re–formating the Order as a Corporate entity, re–defining Thelema as a Religion, re–dacting the Book of the Law, and re–creating the Order in a union of the O.T.O. with a specific A.·. A.·. lineage, the Order might have sacrificed its noble ideals for more worldly ones, or put in plainer words: The agenda of optimizing the profit made via members, publications as well as in a changed status towards society and the consolidation of all power into the hands of one leader without the necessary (and inherently required) balances and checks, seems to supersede the original ideals of e.g. a balanced Order, Brotherhood, promotion of Thelema (which includes protection of the integrity of the texts), and its ideals in accordance with the Prophet's original and channeled thoughts, and the betterment of its members/mankind via esoteric truths and practices. Corruption aside, what is equally sad is to see an esoteric Order's attempt at transforming itself as an exoteric extension of something that it no longer is and in the resulting chaos would seem to be ending up with destroying both endeavors.
Burning for Donald Trump
Donald Trump's Presidency split the O.T.O.
Let’s focus on one prominent member:
James Wasserman (b. 1948) discovered Crowley’s writings in 1969. He would eventually become general manager and managing editor of the New York firm of Samuel Weiser Inc., who were then publishing occult books under the direction of Donald Weiser. Wassermann was member of Marcelo Ramos Motta’s O.T.O. in Brazil. During the legal fights between Motta and the ‘Caliphate’ Wasserman misinformed Motta (who was still his Order superior) about the legal occurrences and, in 1976, Wasserman (together with his A.·. A.·.–allies James Daniel Gunther and Richard Gernon) transferred his loyalties to McMurtry. So, Wasserman became an instant high degree member of the ‘Caliphate`.
During the Donald Trump aera, he found a political harbor.
In August 2017 Wasserman and his followers consisting of alt–right thelemites publicly supported the neo–fascist resurgence of the "Unite The Right" rally in Charlottesville which was welcomed by Donald Trump.
O.T.O. ex–member Augustus Sol Invictus was one of the organisers of that rally (although he was not a part of the O.T.O. when Charlottesville event happened. Augustus was forced out of the O.T.O. maybe for two reasons: because of his Goat sacrifice in the desert in 2015 (prominently portrayed in mainstream media as some kind of media stunt?) a number of years prior to the Charlottesville event) and for his heresy of claiming the highest grade of the A.·. A.·., the Ipsissimus, and thereby defying the authority of the Gunther–Breeze–Wasserman trio).
Low level O.T.O. member Matthew Lyons became a poster image boy after being photographed by Getty Images with far–right leader
In early 2018 the O.T.O. US Grand Lodge was forced to make changes to its so–called vision statement due to anti–LBGTQ+ remarks by Wasserman and his defence of the Charlottesville neo–fascist protesters' rights to free speech.
In mid–2019 several high–ranking members left the ‘Caliphate’, including such flagships as Rodney Orpheus and Clive Harper.
Why Breeze tolerated Wasserman for so long has been an ongoing question. But as the
‘Caliphate’ is merely a money machine and recruiting office for the true thelemites, who of course belong to the A.·. A.·., one has to bear in mind that Wasserman, his allies and Martin Starr are important for Breeze’s A.’.A.’. claims.
Wasserman died on November 18th 2020.
Trump supporters are not known to take Covid protections seriously. Nevertheless, all O.T.O. events are on the hold at the moment due to Covid, so it would seem that some in the ‘Caliphate’ are taking precautions, at least at the lowest levels, to ensure the safety of their members — although they have a famous AIDS denialist in their high ranks (as a member of the Cabinet of the Caliphate).
Nothing has changed since the O.T.O.'s "Journal of Thelemic Studies", 1;2, 2008, http://thelemicstudies.com/JoTS1–2.pdf, page 40 has published that
"The reason these aspects of Thelema [Mass of the Phoenix, Liber Nu, Liber Had, Liber Astarte, Liber Thisharb, Liber VII, X, LVX, XC, CCXXXI] are omitted indicates the actual problem with presenting Thelema as a religion and attempting to get Thelema sanctioned by the government or approved by the public: Thelema is ultimately in contrast to and
transgressive of normative society. Thelema rejects the morals and values of normative society and acts to transgress and violate these norms. From the inclusion of intoxicants in ritual, to the positive view of sexuality, which frequently is seen as promoting promiscuity, to the pro–authoritarian and Nietzschian aspects of Thelema, normative society has much to reject in Thelema and conversely, Thelema encourages its adherents to reject most aspects of normative society."