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Kings' Secret Rituals of the OTO

[from ]

To: alt.magick
From: (B Heidrick)
Subject: Re: Kings' Secret Rituals of the OTO
Date: 19 Mar 1994 21:56:01 -0500


Some points, maybe a little like a FAQ, s.v.p.

1) Why the O.T.O. insists on keeping the O.T.O. initiation
rituals secret, and what is in the rituals.
   Although it is not the principal reason for secrecy, O.T.O.
does feel that most candidates for initiation would have a
diminished experience if they knew the ritual beforehand.  O.T.O.
initiation rituals have always been taken as drama best served
cold.  There are particular points of surprise and crisis that
make for a better result.  Some would find it better to know in
advance.  My experience of several hundred candidates in
initiations where I was an officer indicates to me that
surprise is better.  O.T.O. will, however, on request by a
candidate, provide the text of oaths to be taken before the
actual ceremony.  There is no particular concern that anyone
would come to astral harm through such foreknowledge, beyond
diminishment of the experience.  If the candidate doesn't get
it, the candidate doesn't get it.  Retaining surprise helps
the candidate get the point.  At least as important is attending
initiations of other people after one's own.
   The secrets of the initiations are formal, not substantial.
They are limited to word, grip, sign and the actual dramatic
flow of the presentation.  The knowledge is freely available
outside these rites: Yarker's "Arcane Schools" details the
fundamental principles of these and other initiations.
Scottish Rite rituals published in the 19th century contain all
the action with a different myth found in the O.T.O.
initiations, as well as some of the words and signs.  Add a
good book on Kundilini Yoga, and you've got everything but
the literal language of the O.T.O. initiations themselves.
If that isn't enough, Crowley's Kundalini method is in Liber
Reguli and the IXth degree secret is all over MT&P: e.g.
Gnostic Mass, Grimorum Sanctissimum, formula of Thelema &c.
Let those who have eyes to read, read.
   Crowley took the Craft Masonic rites, Scottish rites and a
dash of Thelema.  He cut by 80%, added a sprinkle of new words
and seasoned with Yoga to taste.  The myth moved from Hiram
to a Sufi.  Six drafts later (that I have seen anyway), the
O.T.O. initiation rituals were done.
    To sum up:
   The words, grips and signs change with different
implementations, as do the actual sequence and flow of the
scripts --- those matters should remain private as long as the
organizations using them are still viable, working and need
proprietary secrecy to do their thing.  The functional elements
are and should remain public property, available to all.  That's
O.T.O.'s working view of initiation ritual secrecy.  Although I
can certainly understand wanting to look at active ritual
scripts, even sympathize to an extent, I won't accede to it.
The publication of an incomplete and inaccurate form of our
rituals by F.King (replace the period with two letters, if you
like) and the 19th century publication of AASR rituals both
annoy me greatly.  Having them, I read them.  Having read them,
I lost about as much as I gained.

2) Less obvious reasons for secrecy:
   A. Preventing fraudulent use of the rituals.  This has been
      a major problem for O.T.O.  Some groups and individuals
      have pretended to be O.T.O. with consequent damage to
      our reputation through introduction of violence or
      improper demands.
   B. To avoid being a laughing stock --- out of context and
      without adequate preparation, many initiation rituals
      appear ridiculous and even superstitious.
   C. Avoiding libel --- quoted out of context, certain parts of
      initiation rituals, especially symbolic "penalties of
      breach of oath" have furnished material for defamation.
   D. Avoiding a dramatic breach --- somewhat similar to #1
      above in some areas.  Certain initiations are intended
      to instill confusion at contradiction as integral parts
      of later initiations.  Without this state of "floating
      mind", it is difficult to introduce the next stage.
      Reading the initiations through does not provide for
      these sequential moments of crisis.

   E. Avoidance of violation of the Tao, minding one's own

3. Relation of duties to degrees.
   Some of the intermediate degrees(e.g. Senate, E.C., SGIG)
   Do carry administrative or other duties.  Some carry voting
   rights (e.g. VIIIth).  Not everybody who continues up gets
   all of those, skipping some of the optional intermediate
   degrees is more common than taking them.  You can't be an
   SGIG if you aren't a VIIth, but you don't have duties
   of inspection if all you are is a VIIth.  The Grand Master
   can be raised directly to Xth from Minerval, and at least
   one was so raised from IVth degree.  The GTG and GSG can be
   of any degree, although higher degrees are preferred for
   practical reasons involved in giving orders to IXth Deg.
   initiators and the like.  Some degrees grant the right but
   not the duty to sit on tribunals -- if not recused for
   conflict of interest in a particular case.

4. Purging Masonry from O.T.O. initiation rituals.
   No.  We just try to remove conflicts between O.T.O. and
   established masonic groups.  Why would we want to throw out
   the best part of our heritage?  O.T.O. is social and religious
   by nature.  The traditions of Masonic Charges going (perhaps)
   back before Athelstan are essential to our nature.  These
   predate speculative Masonry, and furnish our fraternal
   rights and obligations in clear and tested form.  Crowley
   added Thelema and attempted to reduce the accumulation of
   ages to a more functional and simple state.  Thelema belongs
   to everybody who embraces it.  O.T.O., as what Crowley called
   an "Academia Masonica", would lose its identity without
   Lodges and all the rest.

5. E.G.C. ='s Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica, the Gnostic Catholic
   Church --- brought into O.T.O. by Papus, head of O.T.O. for
   France.  Crowley's Gnostic Catholic Mass is the principle
   worship rite of O.T.O.

6. O.T.O. rituals by reading.
   O.T.O. contends that initiation through it's rituals is
   impossible unless either the rituals are performed in the
   flesh or the candidate is already started (self-initiated)
   in the manner intended.  In addition, O.T.O. does not at
   present grant membership in Degrees without actual, physical
   initiation --- Crowley did not always observe this last
   requirement, but we do at this time.

7. Conflicts between AASR and OTO.
   The use of titles conferred but not worked is a potential
   conflict.  As far as I know, there hasn't been any problem.
   O.T.O. does not purport to confer membership in AASR, but
   Crowley's language in the rituals leaves an ambiguity.
   Reuss and Thompson did claim to confer AASR degrees, and
   that was stopped in the 1920s e.v.  In fairness, most of
   these titles existed in irregular and York Masonry before
   there was an AASR --- at least according to Yarker and some
   other sources.  Of course, Yarker was kicked out of
   AASR ....

8. Entrance into higher O.T.O. degrees.
   O.T.O. was designed by Crowley's revision to have Vth degree
   as the natural stopping place.  Above there, specialized
   work begins for the benefit of the Order.  Most members on
   good report will eventually be invited to Vth degree.  Most
   members evidencing an interest and desire will eventually
   get to VIth.  Beyond that, it's demonstrate ability or don't
   hold your breath.  Not many IVth degree O.T.O. members show
   an interest in getting to Vth, let alone higher.  Can't say
   I blame them.  The secrets of the higher degrees can be
   found in so many places that it hardly pays to work for them
   unless you have a real vocation for becoming a hermit

9. Why bottom heavy is good.
   Higher degree O.T.O. membership is supposed to exist solely
   for the service that can be offered to the lower degree
   members and for benefit to society as a whole.  Too many
   chiefs make for bummers among the braves.  Although 1.5%
   is a tad pin-headed for the Order's upper profile, we are
   working on it.  For 40 years, it was just Minerval to IIIrd
   and then maybe IXth.  Restoring the dormant IVth through
   VIIIth has been a slow process --- of necessity the first
   generation to reopen these degrees had to be picked carefully
  and even then tends to have a high failure rate initially.
   Higher Degree O.T.O. members do get some of the perks
   mentioned in Crowley's "Blue Equinox" accounts, but nothing
   like he envisioned.  Most of those perks are just to cover
   necessities of high degree obligations, including magical
   retirement and counseling duties.

10. Personal omission.
   When I said I joined O.T.O. for life, love and liberty, I
   omitted "Light" intentionally.  At the time I thought I
   knew damn all more than O.T.O. could teach me.  Live and
   learn ;-}.  Laughter comes with the package automatically,
   as long as you hang out with Thelemites.

11. O.T.O. rituals as nicely done examples.
   A matter of taste.  If you feel so, as do some but not all
   O.T.O. members, don't kill the goose that lays the eggs.
   (what's a smiley for "teasing"?)

12. Time of advancement between degrees.
   By option: Minerval and Ist can usually be taken together,
   although some local O.T.O. groups want to see 9 months
   between.  Up into IIIrd at full speed generally takes about
   21 months.  IIIrd to IVth about a year to 1.5 years.
   IVth to Vth is not unusual in two or three years.  Above
   that it depends on performance and volunteering.  Some have
   gone from Minerval to IXth through all intermediate degrees
   in seven years, but that's rare.  About 1/3 who are invited
   to the degrees above IVth and PI decline, at least for a

13. OTO and A.'.A.'. about the same.
   No. OTO is social.  A.'.A.'. is each-one-teach-one.  OTO
   uses Kundalini Yoga, and therefore must employ actual presence
   initiations.  A.'.A.'., as a descendent(or perfection?) of
   the G.'.D.'., uses the Qabalistic Tree of life, with
   most initiation ceremonies even more private and simple than
   those of O.T.O.  The difference is about like that between
   snakes and doves.

14. Threats of legal action.
   It is a crime to threaten legal action directly and
   gratuitously to black-mail people into doing or not doing
   certain things.  Warnings and legal action via attorneys
   are the appropriate courses of action.  Blame the Romans;
   they introduced this irritating business into Western
   Culture.  It is not improper to ask someone to respect rights
   of ownership according to the culture and laws of the land.

15. Secrecy in Oaths.
   All obligations to keep secret the content of the initiations
   are set forth directly in oaths of initiation.  Additional
   obligations to inform members of private slander, to care
   for one's own health in the area of maintaining free will
   and to protect privacy are also either set forth directly
   in the oaths of initiation or through discussions of matters
   implicit in the oaths.

16. O.T.O. excessive in regard to secrecy.
   Flame away.  No substantive and impersonal secrecy is ever
   justified against people ready to receive knowledge.  No
   private high-diddle-diddle need ever be told for simple
   satisfaction of curiosity.  If I know and have the time to
   answer, I will be happy to disclose any impersonal secret
   I possess to anyone who shows me they can follow my
   mutterings --- except for the particular O.T.O. degrees,
   the particular language and the particular people who own
   or participate in ceremonial use of that secret. :-O

 93  93/93
  Bill Heidrick.


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