An Open Epistle
on Lineages of the AA
Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law. - AL I:40
“Contrary to anything which you might expect, or have been told,
the A.'.A.'. is a controversial battleground in that few bloodlines agree
on all the historical facts as dictated by other branches. We are
not an exception to this rule ...” - Frater Iahwhs 7=4
There is a modern movement to discourage if not adamantly deny the concept of lineages but this is mostly due to a misunderstanding of the concept. In James Wasserman’s biography In The Center of the Fire (2012) he writes on page 210 – “I will add that had he (Marcello Motta) and Grady (McMurtry) been able to work out the agreement I tried so hard to help them craft, the entire modern fallacy of A.'.A.'. ‘lineages’ would never have developed. That unfortunate conceptual model was born in 1976.” For the record, both Grady Louis McMurtry and Marcello Motta were Magister Templi 8=3, while Jim Wasserman was a mere Probationer 0=0 and had yet to even officially join the Order. Is there any wonder why they ignored his suggestions? If there was any modern fallacy fostered back in 1976 it is his belief that there are no A.'.A.'. lineages. All other lineages, Grady McMurtry’s included, have never denied the fact that there is only one A.'.A.'.. We all strongly believe that the roots and trunk of this ever- growing Tree is firmly planted in the foundation established by our prophet, Aleister Crowley (1875-1947) in 1907. But many of the branches on this Tree have mutated and grown, and today no two are alike in leadership or teachings. Should all branches adhere to the rule of one? Hardly. Such restrictive behavior is contrary to the tenets of Thelema. To understand what has occurred within our Noble Order, I must first remind everyone that the early history of our noble fraternity is rarely debatable, but few know what occurred after the death of Crowley. It is no secret that Crowley left absolutely no provisions in his Last Will and Testament regarding what should happen to the A.'.A.'. after his death. This has been the root of the problems plaguing the fraternity today. We do know that the leading figure in the Order, Karl Germer, emphatically believed and wrote that it was Crowley’s last wish that in the event of his – “death or disability a General Council of the Order shall be summoned within a year and a day of that event by Frater [Saturnus, i.e. Germer] ... The Council shall discuss the existing conditions of the Order freely for 11 days; after hearing the same the members of the A.'.A.'. highest in rank (and in seniority) shall assume our present functions and govern the Order in our place.” Unfortunately, after Crowley’s death on December 1st 1947, Germer never organized a General Council to convene and discuss the future of either O.T.O. or A.'.A.'.. The closest he came was to send out an ‘official’ abridged note, quoted above, to other members. Grady Louis McMurtry received his attached to a letter dated March 1st 1948 in which Germer writes that the following paragraph is from a Crowley document “of interest.” However, as Grady often disgustedly said, nothing more ever came of this and no meeting was ever held despite his numerous pleas to Germer to fulfill Crowley’s last wishes. The difficulty with what Germer quotes is that he admits in his letter that it “is only a preliminary notice” and “will take months before the complete document will be available in New York.” The document he mentions is known as The Constitution of The Order of Thelemites. It seemed simple enough, but proved problematic. According to Germer, Gerald Yorke (Frater Volo Intelligere) had found the original document amongst Crowley’s papers and he – “thought it was important enough that I should have it.” The problem is that the document cited was from an Order which was, in fact, not related to the A.'.A.'.. This clearly implies that no election may have been required for someone to assume Head of A.'.A.'., however, Germer never received a copy of The Constitution of The Order of Thelemites to find this out for himself. The realization of what this document actually states and as to what it really implies has some claiming that it proves beyond a shred of a doubt that Germer automatically assumed Head of the Order whether or not he knew it, or accepted it during his lifetime. Yet this belief is childishly laughable, unjustifiable and a distortion of what actually occurred. It is merely an attempt to justify ‘present day myth-making’ while ignoring historical facts regarding leadership’s responsibility as such was perceived at the time. In other words, the over-all question which must be pondered is whether or not Germer’s belief while he was alive weighs heavier than what some are trying to foster today. Let’s look at it further from a legal standpoint. Obviously, if Germer never knew the truth, he could only act in relation to the knowledge he possessed. Whether such information is proved right or wrong long after his death is actually immaterial. You cannot rewrite our Order’s history. In fact, no leader of either O.T.O. or A.'.A.'. is exempt from this folly. Everyone, from Karl Germer, Grady Louis McMurtry to William Breeze has made errors during the course of their tenure. We’re constantly finding new Crowley documents which suggest this to be the case. Or is it? In truth they all acted ‘as if’ and supposedly in good faith with what they and others honestly believed to be correct. This could be construed as ‘legal justification for their actions’ in a Court of Law because they were or are, technically, in charge of running the affairs of the Order and every leader has the right to change old policies and set new ones. This is how organizations grow. The time to have debated Germer’s policies was back then, not now. At this point in time the best that we can do is reflect upon his actions as historical folly and then change so that future generations don’t have to go through the confusion all over again. So, regardless of all this modern day haggling, it is an undisputed fact that Germer honestly believed a meeting was mandatory but he never held one. He wallowed on this issue and kept putting it off until his own death on October 25th 1962. Therefore, contrary to what anyone would have you believe, Germer never was nor officially assumed Head of A.'.A.'.. The best we can say is he remained the Order’s senior member to whom others looked for guidance. Now, as fate would have it, when Germer died, just as he never held a meeting on Crowley’s behalf, he left no provisions for an assembly to convene on his own. Some believe that since he never assumed the position of leadership there may have been, at least in his own mind, no reason to hold such. Of course, in the early 1990s there were those ex-Marcelo Motta students, namely Daniel Gunther and William Breeze, who quickly harped to anyone whose ear they could bend that no meeting was ever required and that the senior ranking initiate automatically assumes the responsibility of the Order upon the death of the previous leader. This sounds logical but they ‘need’ people to believe that Karl Germer was in fact automatically Head regardless if he accepted such while alive because this promoted the idea that their teacher Marcello Motta assumed the responsibility of leadership upon Germer’s death since he was the highest ranking initiate holding the degree of 6=5. Then, upon acknowledging these facts it is a mere a hop, skip and a jump to claim their right to assume the leadership of the entire Order after Motta’s death on August 26th 1987. But for the record, not one of these ex-students of Motta have ever shown or proven which degree they actually held upon Motta’s death. They have never produced one magickal record. They simply want everyone to ‘believe’ that they, as Hidden Masters, have attained without a single hard shred of evidence proving otherwise. This violates every tenet of our Noble Order which fosters the scientific method. To this day many want to know why these guys are they not more forthcoming with information about their attainments and why so secretive. Need I remind everyone – “Mystery is the enemy of Truth”? Be that as it may, the greater question is whether or not Motta was really 6=5 as some claim. We know that Karl Germer published his edition of Aleister Crowley’s Liber Aleph: The Book of Wisdom or Folly in September of 1961. On the inside title page where it lists those individuals involved in the publication, Motta’s ‘symbol’ is there alongside 6=5 and followed by the title of Imperator. This title literally means an individual whose primary function is the responsibility of ‘hands-on’ management of the Order on a mundane level subject to the authority from above. Motta was obviously helping Germer get Liber Aleph published. There is little dispute over this fact. However, some would have you believe that Karl Germer was acknowledging that Motta was working magickally and spiritually out of the Qabalistic sphere of Geburah. But is this true? Motta himself has written about his own magickal accomplishments. He wrote (in the third person) – “After some initial correspondence, Motta visited the Germers personally and was offered the alternative of either joining the AA or the OTO. He chose the former at once: He had read One Star in Sight [sic], which describes exactly the kind of organization he had been looking for since he was eleven years old. It took him seven years and much tribulation to pass from Probationer to Neophyte.” (Marcelo Motta & Aleister Crowley, Magick Without Tears, being The OriflammeVol.VI No.3 1983, p.476-477.) Motta tells us that this first meeting with Germer occurred in 1953. However, if it took him seven years to make Neophyte, that would place him taking the degree around 1960. In other words, while he was working on Liber Aleph with Karl Germer he was not a 6=5 but only a Neophyte 1=10 by his own admission. To further substantiate this, in the summer of 1962, the year after Liber Aleph was released and three months before Germer’s death, Motta admits that he finally “passed through the Zelator Initiation.” (Ibid p.498) Now here is the Truth. There are those who need you to believe that Motta’s 6=5 was a ‘magickal attainment’ in order to foster their myth further that he was indisputably the highest ranking initiate when Karl Germer died but this is nothing more than a distortion of historical facts. Consider this parallel. J.F.C.Fuller is listed in many A.'A.'. manuscripts as N.S.F. 5=6 Cancellarius. The initials N.S.F. refer to Fuller’s motto, Non Sine Fulmine. Everyone acknowledges that this 6=5 was only an honorary degree for publishing purposes only. In truth, Fuller never got the past 0=0 degree or Probationer. Should we now consider Fuller’s 5=6 a magickal accomplishment now that he has died? Absolutely not! The same goes for Motta. His 5=6 is merely an honorary degree used to signify his efforts in publishing Liber Aleph. It’s NOT magickal, much less a leadership position.
There is major reason why some of Motta’s ex-students needed people to believe that Motta’s 6=5 degree was magickal. Take into consideration what Karl Germer wrote to Jane Wolfe in a letter dated June 24th 1952. He tells her – “You know that I have a high regard to P’s attainment. I’m sure she has gone through 5=6 some time ago. I’m sure she is under guidance.” Germer is referring to one of the most dedicated, if not brilliant A.'.A.'. initiates in the history of our noble Order, Phyllis Seckler. She was initiated a Probationer on June 3rd 1940, taking the magickal motto of Tenax Propositi (later Meral). On July 1st 1952 she obtained the Knowledge & Conversation of her Holy Guardian Angel. She shared this belief with Karl Germer in numerous correspondences and he acknowledges in a letter dated July 7th 1952 – “Dear child, your questions go to the bottom of one of the deepest problems that have puzzled and tortured all initiated men and women from time immemorial ... I suppose it is the conflict with being human with a body of flesh, and the fact that you have risen to or above Tiphereth where the voice of the Secret Chiefs is gradually taking over and begins to speak to your soul.” This implies that when Karl Germer died in 1962 she was obviously holding a degree above that of Zelator claimed by Marcelo Motta. This is why some of Motta’s ex-students needed everyone to believe that his degree of 6=5 was a magickal attainment and not honorary; this way they can argue that Motta held one degree higher than her which justifying their claim why Motta assumed head of the Order and not Phyllis. When this approach utterly failed, due to the obvious facts being revealed, these same jugglers set about trashing Phyllis Seckler’s and even Grady Louis McMurtry’s magickal attainments. In other words, if they could not legitimize their own claims, they set about trying to discredit all who held proper A.'.A.'. degrees; a tactic which they still use today.
Still, the one single historical detail which they could never easily explain away was the fact that while he was still alive, Motta threw all of these jugglers out of the Order for one reason or another which is why they had to wait until after he was dead before they could make any claims to A.'.A.'. leadership. I cannot comprehend how we’re now all expected to believe that regardless which branch we had initially joined or when, we are now all members in Daniel Gunther’s branch of the Order, under his leadership, me included! This seemingly ignores what Motta wrote while he was still alive. He acknowledges that Gunther – “withdrew voluntarily from the A.'.A.'. and was expelled from the O.T.O.” (The Equinox, Vol.V, No.4, 1981, p.xi) Now he’s back in and running the entire Order? How? Anyway, you can imagine to my surprise when I woke one morning in the early 1990s, after years of being in Grady’s A.'.A.'. lineage as a Magister Templi, only to find out that I had a new superior! (Had I known he was coming I would have baked him a cake.)
Be this as it may, since the terms ‘independent bloodline’ and ‘lineage’ have been mentioned, we need to extrapolate upon this topic further for clarity. Both terms dictate the present state of affairs of the A.'.A.'.. It’s no secret that, due to his own self-imposed isolation that Germer’s death was not discovered or openly acknowledged for many years. By this time both O.T.O. and A.'.A.'. had entered into a Dark Night. This is an historical fact. No one had been officially appointed Head of either fraternity and few initiations were occurring anywhere in the world. Both fraternities nearly vanished into the obscurity of history thanks to the infectious Saturnian actions of Karl Germer against his children which scattered them worldwide after his death in 1962. With the rebirth of western magickal traditions in the mid nineteen-sixties and early seventies, a new thirst for Crowley’s teachings was slowly beginning to emerge. Somehow Crowley knew this period was going to be a unique. He wrote to Grady in 1944 predicting that – “1965 e.v. should be a critical period in the development of the Child Horus.” Grady explained that Crowley spoke not of an adult Horus but of a ‘child’ as if to imply the New Aeon, slowly crawling along, would now be learning to walk. However, unbeknownst to Crowley, this period signifies when all the ‘children’ from Grady McMurtry, Phyllis Seckler, Kenneth Grant, to Motta and many others, who had been working the A.'.A.'. system privately for years, would slowly be coming into their own rights. One of the reasons for the present state of affairs of the A.'.A.'. is that not one of these emerging initiates would ever try to unite the rest. In fact, many had no knowledge of others and had little, if any, contact with anyone else in the world. Many simply assumed the responsibility or leadership in their area and their area only by virtue of being the senior ranking member of the Order. This is an important fact to realize because it created the structure of A.'.A.'. as it presently stands: splintered and often historically confused. Still, contrary to what some would have you to believe, it is during this period in our history and not during Crowley’s lifetime, that the A.'.A.'. really started functioning and growing. Prior to this period the number of active members constituted only a small handful scattered worldwide, disorganized and mostly on their own. The next critical stage in the developmental cycle of the A.'.A.'. would occur when many of the students of the above mentioned individuals began coming into their own rights in the nineteen eighties. Unfortunately, Hadit warns us, “the Eighties cower before me, & are abased.”(AL III:46) Since we are not allowed to comment publicly on verses found in Liber AL vel Legis, according to some people’s interpretation of The ‘Tunis’ Comment, I’ll let the reader ponder what they feel is being lowered, degraded and abased. All in all, and in Truth, we should not fret over the actions of our Secret Chiefs. We mortals cannot second-guess their motives. For all practical purposes the A.'.A.'. did not splinter into little pieces, it simply mutated into a far more Thelemic organization by offering diversity of thought rather than the rigidity of only one way. My own superior, the late Grady Louis McMurtry, was living in Washington D.C. at the time of Germer’s death. He often used the analogy of a Tree for the A.'.A.'., the roots of which are well founded in Crowley but whose branches began growing in different directions. The fruit of this Tree is very distinct depending upon the leadership of each branch or lineage. This was his way of explaining how others could be in the same Order but not be connected to him. To me this is the beauty of our Order, never cornering the market on Truth while being so eclectic in its labors which aids the diversity of humanity rather than the Egotistical Wants of a select few. This is true Thelema and whether or not this was Crowley’s intent when he set up the Order, it evolved to such over a period of years. In other words, the A.'.A.'., guided by the Secret Chiefs, is a beautifully growing tree whose branches reach toward the heavens with each designed to fulfill the varied needs of Thelemites worldwide. It was Grady’s belief as it is mine and Soror Meral’s and other lineages’, that a student is drawn toward the branch which best suits his or her needs. Ironically some branches face toward the Sun more so than others. The branches bathed in the Sun’s light produce fruit which is toward universal consciousness while those furthest away from direct sunlight tend to produce fruit mimicking the needs of the specific individual heading the branch. It is easy to determine which is which. Some branches reach upward into the Tree while other branches, often those lacking sunlight, can never aspire beyond the point on the Tree where their ‘ego’ is rooted. Not all A.'.A.'. branches are alike, nor should the reader consider that simply by joining the Order they’ll be taught the same thing as other branches. A branch can only teach in relationship to the foundation that it has created on the main trunk of the Tree. Healthier branches seek to produce only one piece of fruit, a single heir as Crowley refers to it. An unhealthy branch, often lower on the Tree, tends to Want to attract a multiple of kindred souls which can languish around its branch and look up at it as if it were the Sun itself. Herein lies the danger why group workings in A.'.A.'. are forbidden. Group workings and even gatherings in general tend to obscure the fact that the ‘method’ of achievement is more important than an individual who has attained through the system. Too many troglodytes around a branch are referred to by Grady McMurtry as “lead weights on your ass” and can keep an Adept from attaining anything of any worth. There is a fine line between quality over quantity and if an Adept is unable to distinguish between these two poles there is grave danger in their future. The question which needs to be addressed is, what happened to Grady McMurtry’s branch or lineage of the A.'.A.'. after he died? It begins with me, J. Edward Cornelius. I joined the A.'.A.'. in the summer of 1979. I moved up grade by grade and by 1984 I held the degree of Adeptus Minor 5=6. It was during this year that I headed to Syracuse New York to meet him. He had called earlier in the week and requested ‘strongly’ that I come up. It seemed urgent but he refused to tell me over the phone why he wanted to talk, other than to say it had to be in person. A bit of history is required to understand what was about to transpire. We all know that on October 12th 1977, just as the Sun passed the peak of an eclipse on the birthday of Aleister Crowley, Grady signed a Charter officially establishing the OTO in Berkeley, California, using Crowley’s special Seal Ring of Ankh-af-na-Khonsu. What is never discussed is that the Charter actually states, “Let all Thelemites know that I, Hymenaeus Alpha, 777 IX O.T.O., 9=2, Caliph of the Ordo Templi Orientis of Aleister Crowley, Baphomet, 666, do hereby Charter Thelema Lodge as Grand Lodge of O.T.O.” This is all well and good, but how many people are aware that Grady McMurtry actually signed the Charter as a Magus of the A.'.A.'. 9=2? He rarely talked about the specifics of this but his students will attest that according to Grady himself, who had been a Magister Templi 8=3 since 1970, he made the affirmation to assume the degree of Magus on the above date. Grady asserted that he uttered his magickal Word as a Magus under his breath. It was the letters ‘OTO.’ This affirmation would not only give birth to The Grand Lodge of the Ordo Templi Orientis but would reactivate and breathe life into the Order. In fact, Grady felt his entire life had been preparing him for this single moment and in many respects I agree. However, years later in 1984, he felt his Universe was in jeopardy of collapsing. There were ‘traitorous dogs’ nipping at his heels. He referred to them as Black Brothers who were trying to undermine the Order. The analogy he used was like “black crabs in that drainage ditch hard by Old Tokyo Bay” who lived in “shit.” It is not the purpose of this essay, although it is recorded elsewhere fairly in-depth, to explain why he felt this way but those who know the events of this period will attest that the O.T.O. was very unstable. The main reason for this according to Grady was his own continued inability to fully activate the degree of Magus which he had assumed in 1977. To achieve this he believed, whether rightly or wrongly, that he needed someone to assume the degree of Magister Templi, thus pushing him forward as Frater Achad had done with Crowley in 1916. I know that some people might disagree that Grady was ever a Magister Templi because I have heard grumblings of which degree some are willing to accept that he had obtained prior to his death but such is a ludicrous notion. I’ve already discussed the varied reasons why some need to degrade him but in Truth, according to Crowley himself, no one can ever dispute another’s claim to have sworn the Oath of the Abyss. That is Grady’s karma and his alone. In fact, all initiates have the right to swear this Oath no matter which degree they hold and as his student I will not deny Grady’s claim to having done such. I must honor my teacher. However, it can be debated whether or not Grady had the ability to fulfill the next degree, which in all honesty even he doubted. Still, we must consider the power behind the Word of a Magus. It is said to create a Universe. Grady’s Word created (or re-activated) the O.T.O. which many are still part of to this day; this is the true power of a Magus. If anyone within the O.T.O. denies Grady’s claims then they deny the very reason behind their existence. Anyway, back to Syracuse, after a rather lengthy conversation Grady took out a pile of assorted letters from a folder and began reading from them. He quoted a letter which Crowley had written to him in November of 1944, or “Trust not a stranger: fail not of an heir.” He also told me that, according to Crowley, an Adept only has 2 real steps to take: 1.) to achieve 5=6, which means bringing your Energy up to your Heart Chakra Tiphereth where you meet your HGA and then, ‘under that divine guidance’, to 2.) essay the adventure of the Abyss. He later gave me the folder to keep and study. It took me years to fully understand the ordeals which were about to be thrust upon me. Since, as he stressed, I had already accomplished the first step of 5=6 and was the highest ranking member in his lineage, he hoped I would be willing take the next step for his sake. He then took my copy of Magick, which I carried with me everywhere, opened it to a page and began to read – “No attainment soever is officially recognised by the A.'.A.'. unless the immediate inferior of the person in question has been fitted by him to take his place.” With his pen he then drew a big circle around the paragraph, as he put it, so I don’t forget. It became very clear as to what Grady was saying and why he wanted me to take the next step, possibly even the Oath of the Abyss. None of his students had taken his place as a Magister Templi when he assumed the degree of a Magus in 1977. Now, years later, he believed this was required. The urgency for me to move forward, at least in his mind, was the factor of his failing health and that his O.T.O. heir had recently, quote, “failed him miserably” and aligned himself with “the enemy” who were attempting to infiltrate and undermine the Order while he was in the midst of a lawsuit against Marcello Motta. Grady suspected that this was beginning to happen as far back as 1981 which is why he began to quietly groom me behind the scenes, as not to put all his apples in one basket. I’m not going to give all the details of the tragedies which occurred behind the scenes which prompted Grady to act. That is his karma and mine for accepting it. Besides, some of the players are still alive and it would do no one justice to reveal what tormented Grady during the last few years of his life. Contrary to what some people have claimed, at no time was my taking the Oath of the Abyss ever demanded of me. The decision was left totally up to me, as witnesses of what transpired in Syracuse will attest. In fact, Grady himself told me it was OK if I did not accept this “challenge”. Nothing between him and me would ever change and he would find another Way. However, there would be no need for that. Later that day of April 22nd 1984, after deeply searching my soul, I made up my mind to skip from my present degree of 5=6, to swearing the Oath of the Abyss in front of Grady Louis McMurtry. I assumed the degree of Magister Templi 8=3, as well as taking the VIIIº of the noble Fraternity of Ordo Templi Orientis. When he signed and sealed one of the appropriate documents he used black sealing wax. At the time, he turned to me and chuckled, saying, “Obviously obtained for this event.” I made a comment that it is understandably not a color he’d normally be using. I asked him where he found black sealing wax, of all things, on such a short notice in Syracuse late at night. He laughed and simply said “magick.” Later he confessed he had brought it along with all the quoted letters as “part of his plan” hoping that I’d be a part in it. One of the things which he stressed was that I should continue taking the two degrees between Adeptus Minor and Magister Templi in order to Balance myself karmically for the ordeals which would be imposed upon me by the Secret Chiefs. I gave him my Word that I would. When Grady returned to Berkeley things began calming down as if his Universe had re-aligned itself due to what transpired magickally in Syracuse. The opposing forces, some of whom were in-house fighting, shook hands and seemingly tried to work together. However, Grady would often tell me over the next year that he could never trust any of them again, nor confide in them as he had in the past. As for me, I immersed myself deeply into those things which Grady told me to study, especially in regard to certain chapters in Liber Aleph, The Book of Wisdom or Folly. My own life became filled with daily ritual and constant meditation. I was finding myself confronted time and time again by Choronzon. Life proved interesting. Then one day, while deep in a Magickal Retreat at Grady’s own request, I received a phone call that my beloved superior had quietly died in his hospital bed. This was one of the darkest days of my life. It was July 12th 1985. Two days before my thirty-fourth birthday. To this day I have vivid memories of leaving Syracuse (in 1984), wondering if my taking the Oath of the Abyss would really help Grady obtain what he wanted—now, a little over a year later, only the Gods would ever know. Like his predecessors, Grady McMurtry left no written provisions for anyone to take over his branch of the A.'.A.'. nor were there any plans given for a meeting to be called to discuss this dilemma. In truth, there were only three members in Grady’s lineage when he died; besides myself, the other two were a Probationer and a Neophyte. Be that as it may, we now know how Frater Achad had failed (Charles Stansfeld Jones) and how Grady became the One who replaced him as Crowley’ son. Years later Grady would comment in a letter to Phyllis Seckler (1917-2004) dated January 28th 1969 as to why Crowley had given him the number 777 and how it signified his belief that Grady was his new “adopted son”. He typed a question to Phyllis, asking – “why didn’t he ‘publicly’ say so?” He answers this himself saying that he believes the answer is found in Crowley’s November 21st 1943 letter in which Crowley laments – “It has been hell; so many have come up with amazing promise, only to go on the rocks.” The reference is, of course, in part to the failure of Achad. Grady admits that Crowley knew that in – “the ordinary course of events, finding a student, training, schooling him, had not produced the heir.” Grady adds, that in the past, Crowley’s proclaiming Achad as the son – “may have even have prevented it [sic] by letting loose Goetic forces that destroyed the ‘crown prince’.” Grady used the ancient Chinese parable of the Grandmother who – “when confronted with some idiot complimenting her on the beauty of her latest grandchild, immediately throws the demons off the scent by proclaiming loudly how ugly it is, how deformed, how poor in appearance, etc., for she knows, from ancient wisdom, that the maleficent forces only attack the rare, the good, and the beautiful, for why should they attack that which is already ugly, deformed and of no value?” How did Crowley come to learn to circumvent this problem? Grady claims, that in his – “opinion, he [Crowley] adopted the role of indirection.” Grady felt that Crowley did not want – “to blast my chances, and possibly me, by holding forth his hand [to acknowledge Grady as his son] because he knew by then, from very sad experience, what frightening, and unknown, forces could be set in motion simply by the holding forth his hand.” In other words, in order to keep the Goetic forces at bay – “He could help an individual create certain possibilities, but he could not complete those possibilities. That was up to the individual involved.” He merely wanted to plant the ‘magickal seed’ of 777 in order to let it grow. Grady would acknowledge this belief by writing that Crowley – “actually, accepted me as his magical son, but felt that, for various reasons, it would be best not to say so at the time ... I think that he did, on pronouncing my number to be 777, accepted me [sic] as the magical son he had been talking to when he wrote Liber Aleph.” Yes, throughout his life, Grady would be torn between trying to live up to Crowley’s view about 777 while at the same time grooming his tree to stand tall in order to fulfill where Achad had failed. In some ways the lack of leadership in Grady’s A.'.A.'. lineage after his death was my own fault. I’ve given assorted excuses over the years but in truth, none really explains how I was being consumed in the Dark Night of my own Soul. The ordeals which I was going through at that time were severe and I felt that I should remain in my Magical Retreat. I have no regrets. After all, progressing through the degrees was the last thing Grady and I ever talked about and I felt strongly that I must fulfill it. I immersed myself into reading those things which, as Grady pointed out, would further my studies. It was on February 16th 1988 that I completed my Thesis for 7=4. Then, five years to the day when I swore the Oath of the Abyss, which was on May 22nd 1989, I completed all the tasks which Grady McMurtry had requested of me and I came full circle. I remember that back on April 22nd 1984 I wrote in my diary that after being alone for hours, “When Grady arrived I simply looked up at him from the chair and humorously to break the ice, asking, ‘Why me, are you sure I’m what you’re looking for?’ He walked past me toward the kitchen and said harshly, ‘Jerry ... you’re he!’ I turned, said, ‘OK I’ll do it.’ He simply said ‘good’ as if I, a soldier, accepted his suicidal mission.” Yes, it took five years to the very day to come full circle to this point and five is the number of the Hebrew letter HE which, in a very strange and odd way, I was, as Grady pointed out—He. Later, when Luis Alvarado and I were leaving Syracuse, Grady gave me his personal copy of The Book of Thoth, the 1969 Shambhala Press edition. He told me then that “Someday, that’ll mean something to you.” At the time I shrugged this off and simply wrote this as a note in my diary. It would be weeks before I noticed that this book was a numbered edition; it being No.777. The ultimate question that plagued me for years was why Grady carried this particular book, of all books, all the way from California to give to me? Like the black sealing wax, I never got a straight answer. I knew that Grady was acquainted with the fact that I already had numerous copies of this book sitting on my shelf, so was this book simply a gift, or did it hold a deeper significance to him? I also remembered something that Aleister Crowley had written to Grady in November of 1944: “One of the (startling few) commands given to me was this: ‘Trust not a stranger: fail not of an heir.’ This has been the very devil for me. Fr. Saturnus is of course the natural Caliph; but there are many details concerning the actual policy or working which hit his blind spots. In any case, he can only be a stopgap, because of his age; I have to look for his successor.” At the end of this letter Crowley added a note quoting John Bunyan as if to tell Grady that this as how he had to assume leadership, or “My Sword to him that can get it.” After Grady’s death I asked the same question, if I was his heir, “why didn’t he ‘publicly’ say so?” In truth, I know now that the reason was similar to how Crowley circumvented the Goetic demons with him. By Grady giving me that particular numbered copy of The Book of Thoth (and a few other things relating to 777), he was, in a way, “indirectly” planting the seed for me to be his heir, if I could “grab the sword” and then run with it. Knowing the circumstances of what went down in Syracuse, I came to believe that this was exactly what he was doing. As for myself, I would not fully understand the concept of the spiritual heir referring to 777 or even embrace this concept until April of 1989. This is when, with no members of Grady McMurtry’s lineage even remotely in the lofty branches of the Tree, I officially ‘grabbed the sword’ and assumed the head of his branch of A.'.A.'.
Written in the City of Berkeley, CA
Edited and reissued, Sunday October 12nd 2014 e.v.
Sun in Libra, Moon in Gemini
Love is the law, love under will.—AL I:57
Editor’s Note: Most of this Epistle was taken almost verbatim and incorporated
into the Introduction to Red Flame, A Thelemic Research Journal No.7,
The Magickal Essence of Aleister Crowley in 1999ev.