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The Truth About Marcelo Motta and the S.O.T.O.

To: alt.magick.tyagi,alt.religion.wicca,alt.gothic,alt.freemasonry
From: (Kevin Bold/Fra:. Baraka)
Subject: The Truth About Marcelo Motta and the "S.O.T.O."
Date: Mon, 19 Jan 1998 05:01:44 -0600

(Condensed from an article which originally appeared in Annuit
Coeptis and is reprinted with the authors' permission.)

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.

	"Society Ordo Templi Orientis" was the 1970's creation of the
late Marcelo Ramos Motta.  Motta was a Brazilian native and an A:.A:.
student of Karl Germer, late O.T.O. Frater Superior who immediately
succeeded Aleister Crowley; to fully understand Motta, one must first
know a few things about Germer. Unlike Crowley, Germer didn't originally
feel comfortable with the job of "Outer Head of the Order" (O.H.O.) or
"Frater Superior," but didn't mind wielding the authority, as shown when
he first issued then-O.T.O. member Kenneth Grant a charter to found an
O.T.O. camp in England, and later, when he revoked it and expelled Grant.
 (Grant would later proclaim himself O.H.O..  Since this is a bit like a
defrocked priest proclaiming himself Pope, it should be obvious that
Grant is not O.H.O. and his "Typhonian O.T.O." is not the real O.T.O..)
Afterwards Germer again used Frater Superior authority by issuing a
moratorium on bringing new initiates into the order.  Letting the O.T.O.
languish due to his age and his wife's hostility toward the order, Germer
died in 1962.  Not only did he fail to name a successor as O.H.O., Germer
had so severely cut his ties with the rest of the order that the better
part of a decade would pass before some order officers would learn of his
death.	Fortunately for the O.T.O., Aleister Crowley, whose various
faults included "management by personality," foresaw the possibility that
Germer would, in Crowley's words, "fail of an heir."  Crowley therefore
wrote several letters to a young American IX* initiate, U.S. Army
Lieutenant Grady McMurtry, giving McMurtry authority to act as "caliph"
(from the Arabic word for "successor") of the O.T.O. if Germer should die
without naming a successor, hence the name "Caliphate O.T.O.."	One thing
should be noted here about these letters: no one worth taking seriously
has ever questioned Crowley's authorship of these letters, and neither
did Motta.  So where does Marcelo Motta fit into all of this?  As one of
Germer's students, Motta had access to rare out-of-print Crowley books
and unpublished Crowley manuscripts.  Motta also saw that the occult
revival of the late 1960's would mean renewed interest in Aleister
Crowley.  Motta therefore became convinced he was sitting on a potential
gold mine.  What Motta didn't have, as evidenced by his personal
correspondence with Germer, was an interest in the O.T.O..  In fact, when
he was offered membership, he declined, and Motta occasionally
re-affirmed this over the years until the mid-1970's.  That was when,
through Samuel Weiser, Inc., Motta published _The Commentaries of AL_,
which, in direct violation of the Comment of _Liber AL vel Legis_,
contained Motta's personal interpretations of the Book of the Law.  It
was then that Motta learned that the O.T.O. had the copyrights to
Crowley's works.  This meant that Motta could publish none of the Crowley
manuscripts or republish the out-of-print Crowley books in his possession
without the O.T.O.'s cooperation.  It also meant he would have to share
any profits with the O.T.O., which he also learned McMurtry was trying to
revive as Crowley's letters to him had instructed.  Motta could have
chosen to recognize McMurtry and cooperate with him, but in addition to
the money from Crowley royalaties, the Crowley copyrights would give him
power.	(Motta had previously recognized Grant as O.H.O., but withdrew
his recognition when he learned Grant had been expelled. Also, the O.T.O.
had cooperated with Motta over A:. A:. matters -- many individuals are
members of both -- but this cooperation broke down due to Motta's
deteriorating mental condition.)  Not only did Motta now have an interest
in the O.T.O., he needed to be Frater Superior to realize his publishing
and power ambitions.   Motta reacted by founding the "Society Ordo Templi
Orientis."  He appointed himself as Frater Superior; the original members
came from his own group of A A	students.  He placed the word "Society"
at the beginning to avoid potential conflicts with real O.T.O. members
and other spurious claimants such as Kenneth Grant.  In 1978 S.O.T.O.
began publishing apocryphal editions of Crowley's works, all with Motta's
commentaries, under the titles "Equinox, Volume V" and "The Oriflamme." 
("Oriflamme" was the name of the pre-Crowley O.T.O. journal.)  The O.T.O.
mostly ignored Motta until Motta made his next move -- suing Samuel
Weiser, Inc., for copyright infringement for having published some of
Crowley's books.  S.O.T.O. had raised the legal fees through book sales
and charging members five percent of their monthly incomes for dues.  To
ensure that applicants were "sincere," as if the whopping dues weren't
proof enough, and subject to manipulation, they also had to supply two
full-length nude photographs of themselves.  During the proceedings
against Weiser, Motta knowingly published false and defamatory statements
against high-ranking O.T.O. members such as Grady McMurtry and other
well-known Thelemites such as Kenneth Grant.  These statements included
allegations of criminal behavior.  The O.T.O. took legal action of its
own against Motta, who countersued.  That case went to trial in 1985. 
Both Weiser and the O.T.O. won against Motta, who appealed the decisions
all the way to the Supreme Court, only to lose at every step.  Motta died
in 1987; he blamed "disloyal" followers and U.S. government agencies such
as the FBI and CIA for his failure.  S.O.T.O. had virtually died a few
years earlier; Motta had expelled all the other members, some of whom had
jumped ship to join the O.T.O., by the time the O.T.O.'s case against him
came to trial -- he even said under oath that he was the only remaining
S.O.T.O. member.       Why Motta caused all this dissension and confusion
is obvious: as he admitted under oath during the O.T.O. suit, he wanted
the royalties from Crowley's books.  He also wanted power over his
followers and other Thelemite groups, as shown by his autocratic
behaviour and his instigation of the legal battles.  Why he thought he
could succeed is more obscure, but a statement in Francis King's 1973
Weiser book, _The Secret Rituals of the O.T.O._, may shed some light.  In
the chapter on the post-Crowley history of the order, there is a
discussion of the various groups claiming to be the O.T.O..  The author
(King didn't take credit for that chapter) observed, quite mistakenly in
light of subsequent events, that none of the claimants to O.T.O.
leadership had any support that would hold up in court.  Motta, for the
record, was conspicuously absent from the list of claimants.  Motta's
claim to O.T.O. headship consisted of his interpretation of a letter from
Germer's widow, in which Mrs. Germer had supposedly quoted Germer's dying
words as "[Motta is] the one to follow." However, the entry in Mrs.
Germer's diary for the day Germer died, when produced in court,
completely contradicted this.  Motta also claimed that Germer had sent
him some study papers for the higher O.T.O. degrees, and this somehow
constituted Motta's O.T.O. "initiation."  However, during his sworn
testimony, Motta admitted he had never been a candidate in an O.T.O.
initiation ritual.  He further discredited himself by admitting he had
been caught trying to commit perjury during the Weiser suit.  McMurtry,
on the other hand, was able to prove the continued existence of the
original O.T.O. of which Crowley had been O.H.O., and that Crowley had
given him the authority to take over the order should Germer fail to
chose a successor.  The judge had no choice but to find in favor of
McMurtry and the "Caliphate" O.T.O..	So in view of all this, why would
anyone want to revive S.O.T.O.?  One reason is money.  Even without the
Crowley royalties, five percent of all members' monthly incomes can add
up -- and, unlike their O.T.O. counterparts, S.O.T.O. "lodgemasters,"
provided they are not their "lodge's" only member, get to keep forty
percent of the dues they collect, according to S.O.T.O.'s "Preliminary
Documents."  This gives them a strong financial incentive to recruit
(recent reports that S.O.T.O. has made its dues more reasonable have yet
to be documented).  Prestige is another: all S.O.T.O. bodies, despite
their size, are "lodges," contrary to the real O.T.O.'s camp, oasis, and
lodge heirarchy.  The would-be master of an S.O.T.O. "lodge" would have
an impressive title, even if he were the only member.  Nor would he have
to take the steps necessary in the O.T.O. to receive an initiation
charter or become a lodgemaster.  (These include acting as an officer in
all initiations from Minerval through III* to qualify for an initiation
charter, and attaining the V* to become an O.T.O. lodgemaster.) 
Additionally, if someone wanted to be the head of a Thelemite group in a
locality where the O.T.O. already had an established camp, oasis, or
lodge, S.O.T.O. could be appealing.  A third reason is power: in addition
to being entitled to forty percent of the dues, the ability to manipulate
one's "lodge" members through intimidation as noted above could also
sweeten the pot.  That leaves the mystery of why anyone would be foolish
enough to join S.O.T.O..  One possible answer, and I think the most
likely, is the fact that many people have come to Thelema since the
mid-80's, who, unlike myself, have no memory of the problems Motta
caused, never read any of Motta's vitriolic, paranoid attacks against
other Thelemites, and may not know anyone with any objectivity who does
remember Motta.  Unless these new Thelemites meet someone from those
days, come across an undoctored copy of the transcripts of the O.T.O. v.
S.O.T.O. case, or read the judgments of law or findings of fact in _The
Equinox Volume III Number 10_, they aren't very apt to discover the
truth, unless their critical thinking skills are sharp enough to see
through S.O.T.O.'s convoluted and self-contradictory propaganda, which
includes the following claims:

1) "Germer chose Motta to succeed him" -- proven in court to be false.
Moreover, Motta, like Germer, chose no successor, and as noted above,
expelled everyone who had ever joined S.O.T.O..  With no chance of Motta
ever winning the Crowley copyrights, there was no longer any need for
S.O.T.O. to exist.

2)  "The court cases were rigged" -- based on Motta's delusions.  Motta
lost his legal battles because he never had a case.  Today's S.O.T.O.
revivalists, like Motta before them, like to blame the FBI and CIA,
despite a gross lack of evidence that these agencies had any interest in
who was truly head of the O.T.O..

3)  "A court is not a valid forum for spiritual matters" -- the trials
were about libel and copyright infringement, neither of which are
"spiritual" matters.  This argument also overlooks the fact that it was
Motta who fired the first legal salvo, and its premise contradicts that
of the previous claim.	The "sour grapes" factor in both arguments should
be obvious to all.

Other false statements S.O.T.O. revivalists make include claims to
Crowley's "international" copyrights, although they don't.  In Motta's
native Brazil, for example, major Crowley publishers recognize the
O.T.O.'s copyrights over S.O.T.O.'s claims.  S.O.T.O. members also
believe that as "members [sic] of the O.T.O." they are "Masons," which
they wouldn't be even if they were O.T.O. members.  Crowley deliberately
separated the O.T.O. from Freemasonry to keep the order independent from
the Grand Lodge of England, freeing the order to proclaim the Law of "Do
what thou wilt" as well as to admit women.  S.O.T.O. also boasts of
having "utterly crushed" both the O.T.O. and the other groups claiming to
be the O.T.O., but they haven't.  The O.T.O., for example, has a
membership in the thousands in North America, Europe, and Asia -- not too
shabby for a group that has supposedly been "utterly crushed."	While
membership in Kenneth Grant's Typhonian group is considerably smaller,
that group is still around, and there is still great interest in Grant's
works, far more than there is in Motta's. Additionally, the Typhonians
are still publishing their journal, _Starfire_, making it highly unlikely
that they have suffered much "crushing" from S.O.T.O. either.  S.O.T.O.
members may be equally ignorant of the fact that Crowley didn't write
their initiation rituals, or that the real O.T.O. has never asked and
does not now ask applicants for nude photos or charge astronomical dues.
Below the V*, O.T.O. dues are $20 per degree per year, i.e., $20 for
Minervals and I*, $40 for II*, and so on; V* pay $104 per year, and those
above V* pay $150 or 1.5% of their taxable income above that amount,
still far less than what S.O.T.O. charges (or at least charged until
recently), showing the baselessness of S.O.T.O. revivalist charges that
the O.T.O. is only out to rip people off.  (Note: As of 1 Jan 98ev O.T.O.
dues have increased, but are still reasonable compared to 5% of one's
monthly income.)  We should also point out S.O.T.O. charges $7.18 for its
collection of "Preliminary Documents."	This is a booklet containing
_Liber 77_, a few silly essays by Motta on politics and Freemasonry, and
an outline of S.O.T.O.'s structure and dues.  S.O.T.O. applicants must
purchase this booklet before joining.  On the other hand, as an example
of the O.T.O.'s attitude toward making money from prospective members,
Whiskey Rebellion Camp's only "preliminary document" -- a list of
suggested readings and magical practices -- is free for the asking,
showing again which of the two organizations is really the "rip-off"
group.	       Former S.O.T.O. members have some interesting charges of
their own about S.O.T.O..  Reports of authoritarianism, mind-control, and
homophobia toward gay men (while "strongly encouraging" female
bisexuality) are quite common among S.O.T.O. defectors.  There are also
complaints that the leaders spend so much time dwelling on their claim to
be the "real" O.T.O. that they rarely, if ever, get around to doing any
serious magick.  S.O.T.O. also has no genuine tolerance for other
Thelemite organizations (occasional pretend tolerance being another
story, though some S.O.T.O. factions are very open about their contempt
for all other Thelemites).  On the other hand, members of the O.T.O. and
Grant's Typhonian order can be quite cordial to each other despite deep
disagreement over the succession issue.      In closing, let us recall
the words of the Book of the Law: "Success is your proof."  Marcelo Motta
failed where Grady McMurtry succeeded, and the O.T.O. McMurtry revived
continues to thrive and grow under his successor, our Frater Superior,
Hymenaeus Beta.  We have thousands of members and are bringing new
Crowley books into print and republishing previously out-of-print Crowley
books, while none of the S.O.T.O. splinter groups could, with any
honesty, make these claims.  In light of Liber AL's words and the
O.T.O.'s accomplishments, what further proof than our success could
anyone possibly need that we -- the so-called "Caliphate" O.T.O. -- truly
are the real O.T.O.?

Love is the law, love under will.

+++     +++++     +++

About the Author

Frater Baraka took his Minerval and I* in 1988 at Baphomet Lodge when he
lived in Los Angeles while serving as an information systems officer in
the Air Force.	He is the founder and Master of Whiskey Rebellion Camp
(Pittsburgh PA O.T.O), and has served the Order faithfully by sponsoring
initiates, esoteric teaching and research, publishing, defending the
Order on the Internet, and getting strange mail.  He can be reached at
P.O. Box 101722, Pittsburgh PA 15237, (412) 734-5296, and  Whiskey Rebellion Camp's web page URL is

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