Burning Down The House — O.T.O., A.'. A.'., James Wasserman, Donald Trump

background information

Burning Down The House

Ordo Templi Orientis, Caliphate
Argenteum Astrum, A.·. A.·.
James Wasserman, Donald Trump

With a closing chapter by P.R. Koenig

William Bill Breeze Caliph Ordo Templi Orientis Phyllis Seckler Meral College of Thelema Astrum Argenteum

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.

General critique:


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.
Certain higher degrees and positions within the order are required to give all property to the order in order to advance. They are then subsequently supported by the order. This also means that, in reality, the lower degrees and their fees are meant to support the higher degrees. Hence, it makes sense to have a large mass of lower degrees paying for a few at the top.

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
Since advancement in the O.T.O. is primarily on the background of the service provided to the order, it might be said that the O.T.O. is not a magickal order as such. It is, in other words not a teaching order. On top of that, since the lowest triad is open for anybody “free and of legal age”, many misunderstandings have arisen between leadership and newly initiated members (seeking a magickal order). Also, although there is much talk about “The Current of Thelema” and how initiations might influence the member, a member might in theory go through the O.T.O. with no magickal schooling, experience or even (spiritual) development.

Young Leadership

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.
One might therefore conclude that the (c)O.T.O. is an order ill adapted to our current day and age, and has no apparent agenda other than furthering its own growth.

Main Critique:

For convenience we shall limit the main critique involved to the following points.

— Re–Booting: Legitimacy
— Re–Formating: O.T.O. as a Corporation — (c)O.T.O.
— Re–Defining: Thelema as a Religion
— Re–Dacting: The redaction of the Class A Text “Liber AL vel Legis” (Class A means the holiest of the holies)
— Re–Creating: Uniting the O.T.O. and the A.’.A.’. in an attempt to consolidate the Power
— Re–Configuration: The rewriting of the O.T.O. initiation oaths


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. fraction's.

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.

Fact 1: Karl Germer was the head of Crowley’s O.T.O. after Crowley's death and passed on without (?) naming a successor.

(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.

Fact 3: There is to date no proof that Reuss ever handed over the leadership of the O.T.O. to Crowley. Did not Reuss expel Crowley and favour Hans–Rudolf Hilfiker?

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?


Item 2) The re–formation of an Occult Brotherhood/Order into a Corporate entity

2.a) Legal actions leveled against the brazilian version under Marcelo Ramos Motta (IX° and XI° O.T.O.).
How can an Order claim Legitimacy by suing other Brothers in a worldly court, when it clearly states in Crowley’s Liber CI (Seventh House: 25) that: "Lawsuits between members of the Order are absolutely forbidden, on pain of immediate expulsion and loss of all privileges, even of those accumulated by past good conduct referred to in the second part of this instruction."
In other words: the (c)O.T.O. has according to its own rules and by its own actions, invalidated its own existence.
2.b) Threats of legal actions against members.
The current leader of the ‘Caliphate’, Bill Breeze, has threatened members with legal actions due to differences of opinion. An example of this was his move towards Phyllis Seckler / Soror Meral (founding member of the ‘Caliphate’ and one of their IX°s).
2.c) Obscure and unfair expulsion of dedicated members.
The case of Allen Greenfield comes to mind.
Just like the case of Jerry Cornelius.
Or the Riettis.


Item 3) The re–defining of Thelema as a Religion

According to Crowley, one could call Thelema a Religion, yet he failed to see the reason to do so: In Magick Without Tears, he writes:
“To sum up, our system is a religion just so far as a religion means an enthusiastic putting–together of a series of doctrines, no one of which must in any way clash with Science or Magick. Call it a new religion, then, if it so please your Gracious Majesty; but I confess that I fail to see what you will have gained by so doing, and I feel bound to add that you might easily cause a great deal of misunderstanding, and work a rather stupid kind of mischief.”

The “mischief” that he refers to here might be the mischief we see happening around most religions. Namely: Corruption, Superstition, Tyranny, Redaction of historical facts, Manipulation of literary elements to fit the cosmology to the current agenda and Oppression.

3.a.: Invoking a secret–chief as the main reason behind your action and its legitimacy (Superstition)
In the Kill–gate Scandal (see point 4.a), initially Bill Breeze (H.B.) claimed that the Secret–Chiefs had guided him to make the changes to the Class A text known as Liber AL vel Legis. He writes on the official O.T.O. homepage (http://oto.org/news0413.html): "That this particular book—with corrections!—should arrive in that brief period when The Holy Books were being proofed was amazing, though not entirely unsurprising to me. I believe the Secret Chiefs are paying attention to our work and can arrange such things—if I didn’t believe that, I wouldn’t be editing The Holy Books in the first place!"

3.b.: The registering of the E.G.C. as a church and the following consequences
By having an outreach program to inmates in prisons as an extension of the officially E.G.C./O.T.O. registered Church (“The O.T.O. prison ministries”) and the compromise that this poses in relation to the philosophy of Thelema as it is manifested within the O.T.O. (it would seem that a more Christian–like rhetoric was chosen for this manifestation), the (c)O.T.O. engaged in a relationship (Baptism in the EGC and then membership of the Sekhmet–Maat Lodge) with the felon David Ray Taylor, who would later rape two sisters of the Order. He was later sentenced to death.
Whether or not a charitable program was seen as required in order to be a registered Church or if it was an attempt to Clean Up the name of the O.T.O. in the eyes of the mainstream communities or if it was a misguided attempt at going Good, the fact remains that this is a very clear example of how an esoteric and magickal order, trying to put themselves up as an exoteric Church, fails in their endeavor. Perhaps the (c)O.T.O. is going about this the wrong way?


Item 4) The redaction of a Class A text.

The risk of changing a Class A text, besides going against everything that the classification of texts stands for in general as well as the safeguards they represent when specifically speaking of a Class A text, might include creating a precedence of redaction of holy thelemic texts.

4.a The Kill–gate scandal
In May 2013, William Breeze (Hymenaeus Beta) issued a statement concerning the change of a letter in the Book of the Law based on a Marginal note in pencil probably scribbled by Crowley in the Book “Thelema” given by Crowley to James Thomas Windram in the fall equinox of 1913, which Breeze had received.
The statement is here.
His point being that there have been many errors in several books and these marginal pencil notes in that book are to be seen as a legitimate reason to change the text. He does this with the words: “What if all prior printed editions had it wrong?”. In other words, rather than taking a step back to reevaluate the situation and open up for dialogue and critical thinking, he asks that of everybody else after having made the change. In accordance with the guidelines found in Liber Legis, chpt 1:54, this is clearly not acceptable. Likewise we find, related to the Class A status of the text, in the relevant passage in Liber 207: “Class A consists of books of which may be changed not so much as the style of a letter. That is, they represent the utterance of an Adept entirely beyond the criticism of even the Visible Head of the Organisation.”
William Breeze's change thus signifies a break with the guidelines of To Mega Therion, the A.·. A.·. as well as the Thelemic current, as this change undermines the textual foundations whereupon the Thelemic current rests and through which it is promoted.

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)
As seen in the letter from Seckler to Breeze, Breeze seems to be striving to exclude any and every mention of other Agentum Astrum (A.·. A.·.) lineages than his own. This he does by trying to prevent Seckler from using the name or lamen of the A.·. A.·.. This is indicative not only of a consolidation of the A.·. A.·. and the O.T.O., but even of an exclusion of all other A.·. A.·. lineages within Bill Breeze's version of the O.T.O.

5.b: Breeze vs. Jerry Cornelius (Grady McMurtry's A.·. A.·. lineage)
With the indirect confrontation (via the release of Cornelius’ book Red Flame 7) of Breeze's A.·. A.·. lineage's monopoly within the O.T.O., Cornelius experienced a challenge within the (c)O.T.O.
As a result of Breeze ongoing endeavors to expunge the (c)O.T.O. of any and all other A.·. A.·. lineages besides his own, Cornelius experienced himself thrown out of the (c)O.T.O. As Cornelius had taken most of his upper degrees directly from Grady McMurtry, he was not subject to Breeze's attempts via the initiation oaths to, what some have seen as, suppress the members into submissions.
The tactics employed by Breeze to silence Cornelius' claims of an alternative A.·. A.·. lineage, included slander, misinformation and internal O.T.O. manipulations within the Areopagus. By blurring the lines between the O.T.O. and the A.·. A.·., Breeze attempted to convince the Areopagus that the two different Orders had always been one and the same, and that Cornelius' claims within the Red Flame 7 were not only untrue, but a threat to the O.T.O.
Based on the proceedings of the Areopagus on the 29th april 2000, Cornelius came to this conclusion:
“However, at the Areopagus meeting, Breeze admitted that his A.’.A.’. undisputedly runs the O.T.O. as a dictatorship and that both Orders are connected or 'entwined' as an 'Inner and Outer' school.”


6) The re–configuration of an Order: The rewriting of the O.T.O. initiation oaths

6.a: The new VI°.
Sometime during the early 1990s, William Breeze (Hymenaeus Beta) made changes to some of the Oaths in the (c)O.T.O. rituals, specifically the oath taken during the sixth degree. The oaths in the VI° degree are made to the “Grand Master Baphomet”. William Breeze removed Baphomet from the wording of the oath and implemented himself into the oath as “Grand Master Hymenaeus Beta”, which can be seen in the “new and improved” initiation papers. The implications of this change are diverse.

Firstly, as the oath of unconditional and unswerving obedience was originally to Baphomet, we must conclude that William Breeze meant this to mean not an oath to Baphomet as the Egregore of the Order nor as a metaphore of the Secret Perfected Self, but rather a reference to Aleister Crowley's magickal name “Baphomet”. As such, one might claim that the logic of the swap of “Baphomet” for “Hymenaeus Beta” makes sense. Breeze would then just be swapping the magickal name of a former O.T.O. leader for the current O.T.O. leader.
This, of course, only if Breeze disregards the fact that the wording in the initiation ritual already has references to the OHO (Outer Head of the Order) side by side with Baphomet, and therefore the swap makes no sense at all.
Therefore, Breeze's swap in the oath of obedience has now been cemented as a pledge of allegiance to a person and not a concept.

Secondly, by turning the (c)O.T.O. into a de facto “Cult of Personality” via this new oath, with anybody in the VI° and above sworn into obedience to Hymenaeus Beta, any and all conflicts or differences of opinion could be stopped immediately or alternatively the disagreeing member could be kicked out of the Order for “insubordination” with reference to the VI° oath. An example of this might be seen in the case of Allen Greenfield and his expulsion from the order on exactly those grounds, namely of “insubordination”.

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.

With the change of the oath in the VI°, the internal implications of this oath might be said to have been changed from a magickal oath to a wordly and political oath. A shift from “empowerment of the O.T.O. member” to “power of the leader over the O.T.O. member”.

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.
This swap has been criticized by old as well as new members alike, especially since it has been wielded as a power tool in consolidating Hymenaeus Beta's power within the O.T.O., and puts members at odds with previously taken oaths.


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.
Not all Thelemites supported such positions with Wasserman being the most vocal and visible right–wing Trump adherent who propagated a “militarism, patriotism”, “a strong military, decisive national self interest” and the “concept of the self–reliant citizen–soldier”. Some high degree members felt embarrassed by Wasserman, considered his views terrible and started to leave the Order in protest.

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 Gavin McInness.

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."

© Anonymous + P.R. Koenig, April 2021

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