Aleister Crowley’s ORDO TEMPLI ORIENTIS
Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
According to Aleister Crowley, ORDO TEMPLI ORIENTIS is “The first of the Great Orders of antiquity to accept the Law of the New Aeon emanating from the A.’.A.’., which is: Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law! reorganizing in accordance therewith,” (the Proclamation of the O.T.O.). That by this he meant the ORDER OF THE TEMPLE, or KNIGHTS TEMPLAR, founded during the Crusades and suppressed in the 13th Century, is made explicit on p. 197 of THE BLUE EQUINOX. This gives us a continuous history of at least 850 years. Hence the name of our publication, IN THE CONTINUUM.
I was initiated into the Agape Lodge of ORDO TEMPLI ORIENTIS in Hollywood in the late 1930’s and, due to my involvement with the armed forces (I staged out of England as a Company Commander in the American Army in the Invasion of Normandy) was the only member of the American O.T.O. to be with A.C. in England during War II. As a result of my time with him he advanced me to the rank of 9th Degree, ORDO TEMPLI ORIENTIS, wrote to me concerning the Caliphate, and gave me articles of broad authorization with specific emergency power to be used for the benefit of the Order in case of need. These articles are contained in two documents.
The first document, dated March 22, 1946, reads as follows:
“Ex Castro nemoris inferioris Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law. This is to authorize Frater Hymanaeus Alpha (Capt. Grady L. McMurtry) to take charge of the whole work of the Order in California to reform the Organization in pursuance of his report of Jan 25, ’46 e.v. subject to the approval of Frater Saturnus (Karl J. Germer). This authorization is to be used only in emergency. Love is the law, love under will,
The second document, dated April 11, 1946, reads as follows:
“Ex castro Nemoris Interioris” Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law. These presents are to appoint --Frater Hymanaeus Alpha— --Grady Louis McMurtry IX° O.T.O.— as Our representative in the United States of America, and his authority is to be considered as Ours, subject to the approval, revision, or veto of Our Viceroy Karl Johannes Germer IX° O.T.O. of 260 West 72nd St New York City N.Y. Love is the law, love under will. Witness Our Hand and Seal.
With the death of Frater Saturnus (Karl J. Germer) in 1962, these articles of authorization automatically went into effect.
Our Position On The Publication Of The Works Of Aleister Crowley: It seems that everyone is publishing Aleister Crowley’s books these days. People come to us expressing concern that we are not trying to stop them. Why should we? Every publication is an automatic advertisement for Aleister Crowley and his O.T.O. In any case the legal grounds are practically non-existent as A.C. did not bother to copyrite much of his material. Sometimes the results can be very funny. I was standing in SHAMBALLA BOOKSELLERS book store in Berkeley CA one day examining a copy of their then recently issued edition of Aleister Crowley’s THE BOOK OF THOTH. Noting it had the symbol for copywrite I turned to the owner of the store and asked why he had bothered. Whereupon he went into a rather excited and many gestured explanation that they had only copyrited the FORMAT! I thought that was far-out. But how is the buying public to know? Our real concern is with those who distort Aleister Crowley material when they publish it so that it is difficult to determine if it is really Aleister Crowley you are reading or what somebody wants you to believe that Aleister Crowley wrote. For example, there are the followers of Frater Achad who would have us believe that the “Achad Tree,” i.e. Frater Achad’s variation on the Tree of Life, is really the work of Aleister Crowley in spite of A.C.’s own words in Note 1, p. 7, of MAGICK IN THEORY AND PRACTICE telling us that the Achad Tree is complete nonsense. Another current example is the Xeno Press edition of THE BOOK OF THE LAW in which it is stated explicitly that it has been “Edited, Revised and Enlarged by Jerry Kay.” What was written by Crowley and what has been changed by Jerry Kay? Mr. Kay does not tell us, and only a person who has access to the Archives of the Order can straighten it out. If there is sufficient response we may consider doing a line by line exposition of the changes in the Jerry Kay edition of THE BOOK OF THE LAW if GNOSTICA NEWS is interested in printing it. Normally we only keep members of the Order advised on matters of this nature. But at least Mr. Kay is open enough to tell us that he has changed it. What is really pernicious are those who try to divert your thinking into their own private head-trip without telling you that they have changed Crowley’s words. “DO WHAT THOU WILT SHALL BE THE WHOLE OF THE LAW” is the most famous statement from Aleister Crowley’s LIBER AL VEL LEGIS (THE BOOK OF THE LAW), and is certainly covered by the admonition (Liber AL I 54), “Change not as much as the style of a letter…” Yet in an editorial on the back page of Level Press’s edition of Aleister Crowley’s LIBER ALEPH this is changed to “Do what thou wilt IS the whole of the Law.” and there is no notification that a change has been made. This is head-playing. Let the buying public beware. And anyone who knew Aleister Crowley personally knows how violently he would have reacted to this. In a letter to him I once made a typo in capitalizing “will” in the Thelemic greeting “Love is the law, love under will.” I received back a stinging reply, “And please do not put in capitals where they do not belong!” To a public unacquainted with Aleister Crowley’s works it might seem a small matter whether one says “SHALL BE” or “IS,” yet those who know their MAGICK IN THEORY AND PRACTICE as well as the rest of Crowley’s works know that it is vital to the Thelemic conception that nature shall be considered as EVER CHANGING and EVER BECOMING. Therefore to change that dictum to “IS” is to assert that stasis has been achieved. That the universe is finished in conception and change, “becoming,” or “by-coming” as Crowley sometimes put it, no longer applies. Whatever else it may be philosophicaly, such an argument is certainly both anti-Crowley and anti-Thelemic.
Speaking of Level Press, let me call the public’s attention to p. 2 of GNOSTICA NEWS for May 21, 1974 where Robert Anton Wilson withdraws his statement (GNOSTICA NEWS, Feb. 21, 1974, p. 9) that Level Press is “the publishing arm of the Ordo Templi Orientis in California.” It is impossible for Level Press to be the publishing arm of the O.T.O. since, as I pointed out to Mr. Wilson, I have in my possession a letter of resignation from Aleister Crowley’s ORDO TEMPLI ORIENTIS by the publisher of Level Press. Those who have bought copies of Level Press’s edition of THE BOOK OF THE LAW under the impression that it was published by the O.T.O. and is authentic Aleister Crowley writing will be interested to know that Level Press has removed A.C.’s 5 part Introduction to THE BOOK OF THE LAW. The 2 page filler they have substituted is not Aleister Crowley’s Introduction to THE BOOK OF THE LAW. As to what other unadvertised changes they are making in the books by Aleister Crowley they are publishing, the public is left to guess. All I can do is put the public on notice that Level Press is in the practice of changing Aleister Crowley material they are publishing without notice that it has been changed. Again, let the buying public beware. I have asked GNOSTICA NEWS to include Mr. Wilson’s retraction in this special Aleister Crowley edition.
The Caliphate: Aleister Crowley gave me a number of Instructions in writing concerning this high Office. These are known as The Caliphate Letters. After all Aleister Crowley would know that a successor to the Prophet in an Oriental Order would be a Caliph.
The Outer Head of the Order (O.H.O.): There is at present no Outer Head of the Order for Aleister Crowley’s ORDO TEMPLI ORIENTIS. The Outer Head of the Order is an international Office (see p. 200, THE BLUE EQUINOX) and Aleister Crowley’s ORDO TEMPLI ORIENTIS is not at this time established organizationally to fulfill the requirements of its Constitution in this respect (see The Constitution of the Order, THE BLUE EQUINOX). There is, however, a Caliph. As anyone would know, a Prophet can designate a line of succession to follow him.
Membership: ORDO TEMPLI ORIENTIS is a dues paying organization. If you are not paying dues to O.T.O. you are not a member of O.T.O. even though you may have been Initiated into O.T.O. at one time. Membership in O.T.O. requires (1) physical participation in the Ceremonies of Initiation, and (2) the payment of subscription and dues (The Constitution of the Order, p. 246, THE BLUE EQUINOX). We do not Initiate by correspondence or “on the astral,” anyone who fails to pay dues ceases ipso facto to be a member of Aleister Crowley’s ORDO TEMPLI ORIENTIS (p. 203, THE BLUE EQUINOX). We do have a College of Thelema whereby certain deserving persons may study and be instructed by mail prior to becoming duly Initiate member of O.T.O. This is not a “correspondence course” for the general public.
Obligations: On p. 29 of GNOSTICA NEWS for May 21, 1974, a “Frater Kerux” states in a “Notice to Thelemites…: It has always been a privilege to demand hospitality of any Lodgemaster for up to three days…” This is typical of the misinformation being broadcast these days. This privilege is extended only to members of O.T.O. (p. 200, THE BLUE EQUINOX). Even Achad Freaks call themselves Thelemites.
A.’.A.’.: O.T.O. and A.’.A.’. are entirely separate organizations (p. 198, THE BLUE EQUINOX). They are, however, closely allied. Frater Saturnus once asked A.C. to clarify this and, in a return letter, dated Sept. 16, 1946, Crowley, stated, “The difference between A.’.A.’. and the O.T.O. is (that)…the A.’.A.’. is a sempiternal institution, and entirely secret. There is no communication between its members. Theoretically, a member knows only the superior who introduced him, and any person whom he himself has introduced. The Order is run on purely spiritual lines.” Greatly simplified, we think of A.’.A.’. as being “the flaming heart” of O.T.O.
Alternate O.T.O.’S and Aleister Crowley’s ORDO TEMPLI ORIENTIS: At present both Kenneth grant in England and a Herr Metzger in Switzerland have laid claim to being Outer Head of the Order for the O.T.O. In both cases one can only presume that they are mistaken. Kenneth Grant can not be Outer Head of an Order to which he does not belong. He was expelled from ORDO TEMPLI ORIENTIS in 1955 by Frater Saturnus (Karl J. Germer) the successor to Aleister Crowley as Outer Head of the Order (see p. 166, Francis King, RITUAL MAGIC IN ENGLAND). Of course Mr. Grant can argue that he is head of his own O.T.O. Herr Metzger cannot be Outer Head of the Order because his “election” was only by his own Lodge in Switzerland, a purely national body attempting to effect an international decision. Herr Metzger can also assert that he is the head of his own O.T.O. Also there is a group in Southern California who claim they have an “original” O.T.O. charter from Louis Culling. This is pure farce. I have placed in the Archives a letter, dated Dec. 23, 1957, from Frater Saturnus (Karl J. Germer), then Outer Head of the Order, in which he states categorically, and I quote, “Culling…is, officially, no more than a 2nd degree O.T.O.” In the meantime O.T.O.’s are springing up all over the place and soon one will be able to take one’s pick of O.T.O. like shopping in a supermarket. Anyone attempting to use Francis King’s THE SECRET RITUALS OF THE O.T.O. to set up an O.T.O. will have some problems with Words, Signs and Grips in the Initiation ceremonies…the Word for the 2nd Degree Initiation is definitely not Adonai…nor are they likely to know that the only place the Thelemic Banishing Ritual has been published (to date) is in our own IN THE CONTINUUM (we always passed it along from hand to hand as a private paper before)…nor are they likely to know the familiar greeting by which Thelemites of the Order have universally known each other for years (as it only used between friends I have never heard it used by a nonThelemite of the Order)…nor are they likely to be able to do something so simple as to properly pronounce the god-names in THE BOOK OF THE LAW (Nuit, Hadit, Ra-Hoor-Khuit). One may join the Kennth Grant-David Smith O.T.O. or the Swiss O.T.O. or one of the supermarket specials O.T.O., and welcome. ORDO TEMPLI ORIENTIS itself is only interested in those who want a direct line of continuity and authorization from Aleister Crowley in person.
The number of people writing to tell us that they are incarnating/manifesting Aleister Crowley, Therion, TO MEGA THERION, The Beast, THE GREAT WILD BEAST, The Scarlet Woman, The Magickal Child, God, THE UNKNOWN GOD, 666, Ank-f-n-Khonsu (Aleister Crowley), Ank-f-n-Khonsu (an Egyptian Prince-Priest of Thebes of the 26th Dynasty), Frater Perderabo, The-One-To-Follow (this is usually accompanied by some extensive proof system…also a summary demand for an extensive library of rare and out-of-print or never printed Crowley material), etc., have been so numerous that at one time we considered circulating a roster so they could keep track of each other. Considerations of mailing costs caused us to desist, however. Also we have no relation with and have never been contacted by something called “The Bavarian Illuminati,” whatever that is, despite propaganda to the contrary.
Friends of Jack Parsons will be happy to know that our Departed Brother has joined other immortals of Science by having a crater on the Moon named for him. See “NAMES ON THE MOON,” SKY and TELESCOPE, Nov. 1970, for Crater Parsons at coordinates 37 North, 171 West.
Our address is still the same as that on the Caliph Card of the THOTH TAROT deck (Box 2043, Dublin CA 94566). Enclose a stamp or a self-addressed stamped envelope for a reply. Overseas correspondents should enclose an international postage certificate.
Love is the law, love under will.
Hymenaeus Alpha Ordo Templi Orientis
I wish to thank Frater Petros for making this page possible.