Volume I, Number 2: The Tradition Issue.
What are the origins of Tarot, the mysterious deck of images so central to the Thelemic tradition? Aleister Crowley's understanding of Tarot derived initially from a document circulated within the Second Order of the original Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, called the Book T. Written by S. L. MacGregor Mathers, this text presents the Golden Dawn system of Tarot correspondences. These correspondences were presented as a restoration of the esoteric attributions intended by the creators of a supposed original tarot deck predating the 15th century, or "Ur-Tarot."
|1.||The Triumph of Love. In which the poet wanders in search of Laura, his love. He encounters a guide, and together they perceive a triumphal procession of the captives of love led by Cupid. Within the train are the heroes and rulers of the world.|
|2.||The Triumph of Chastity. Laura now appears, riding in a chariot. She explains that the poet has overcome captivity by his higher Platonic love of her.|
|3.||The Triumph of Death. The poem becomes more abstract. Laura dies, depriving the poet of her physical presence.|
|4.||The Triumph of Fame. Laura's death is overcome by her fame.|
|5.||The Triumph of Time. Then her fame is overcome by Time.|
|6.||The Triumph of Eternity. Then Time is overcome by Eternity. The poem ends with vision of the heavens and the Last Judgement.|
There are several clues that show the relationship between the Visconti Tarot and Petrarch's Trionfi. The Visconti family were patrons of Petrarch. Also, I Trionfi was the most famous poem in Italy in the early 15th century, more so than even Dante's work at that time. Within a century, the poem had lapsed into obscurity, especially outside of Italy. Today, usually only Literature majors have even heard of it, much less read it.
Development and Mystification
Tarot as We Know It
1. Moakley, Gertrude, 'The Tarot Trumps and Petrarch's Trionfi,' Bulletin of the New York Public Library, vol. 60, no. 2, February 1956.
2. Yates, Francis, The Art of Memory, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1966.
3. Iversen, Erik, The Myth of Egypt and its Hieroglyphs, Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ, 1961.
4. Gilbert, R.A., "Provenance Unknown: A Tentative Solution to the Riddle of the Cipher Manuscript of the Golden Dawn" in Küntz, Darcy (ed.), The Complete Golden Dawn Cipher Manuscript. Holmes Publishing Group, Edmonds, WA, 1996, pp. 17-26.
|John Brunie became Master of Thelema Lodge in the Fall of 1993 e.v. Ever since, he has fulfilled his post with total dedication, fierce loyalty, unparalleled integrity, and much hard work. Under his editorial hand, the Thelema Lodge Calendar achieved literary standards never before seen (and unlikely to be seen again, try as we may). His "Section II Reading Group" collaboration with Caitlin Wildermuth opened whole new realms of history and letters to many of us. Nor can we forget the many seasonal rituals, feasts, and festivities he's led; the picnics, the gatherings in the park, the poetry readings. But above it all shines John's passion for the Gnostic Mass. Whether as officer to the congregation, or as congregant to the officers, John not only expresses, but genuinely communicates, an enthusiasm for our central celebration that is truly enduring.|
If You've Received This Issue by Mail...
|...then you've gotten it fairly late in the month. Apologies! We're gradually resuming the bulk mailing program followed by The Thelema Lodge Calendar for many years, but it's taking a little while to get up to speed. Please bear with us; we hope to provide timely delivery in the very near future.|
|Paul Suliin started this train of discussion with an early draft of his essay printed below. Before long, contrasting articles were offered up on the same subject from Michael Sanborn and Gregory Peters. We decided to publish them all, in the interest of providing a wide spectrum of opinions on a controversial subject.|
Since its inception, Thelema has wrestled with the issue of becoming a well-known major religion. Aleister Crowley worked very hard to bring public attention to himself and to his new revelation. To the extent that he succeeded the results were not always positive. Modern Thelemites face many of the same questions that Crowley dealt with: How much influence, how much public awareness, is it practical and wise for Thelemites to seek? Can we realize the ideal that "The Law is for all" without gaining such influence? Is remaining obscure a form of cowardice, or perhaps of elitism? Is it even possible for Thelema, with its emphasis on personal experience, to become a religion of the masses?
Hunchbacks of Fortune
by Micheal Sanborn
Clearly, dogmatic religion has been one of the most destructive forces of human history. To become attached to a doctrine, and to be dedicated to opposing anything or anyone contrary to that doctrine, is inherently an act of hate. We have seen this in every land, at almost every time. People make claims about a higher truth; these claims get endowed with a sense of absolute importance; people fight, and ultimately kill, to uphold these claims.
A Call to Return
by Gregory Peters
While it is true that the growth of a religious movement generally signals its decay, as institutionalization takes over and real gnosis is left behind, it is my opinion that this is part of the larger plan and ties in with the idea of Aeons.
Show your pride! Call (510) 601-9393 to find out how you can help the Thelema Community.
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The Thelema Community Calendar
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W. T. Smith and the Thelemitesby Martin P. Starr
Bolingbrook: Teitan Press, 2003.
432 pp. 1st Edition, Hardcover, $49.95.
Review by Gregory Peters
Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
As Thelema celebrates the dawn of its first centennial, we are in a position to evaluate our growth to date and look into the formative years of such a young movement with modern eyes. Ironically, other than studies of the prophet Aleister Crowley, little has been available in the way of histories that cover in detail the several personalities that carried the movement forward in the early years. Happily, this trend has recently begun to change with the arrival of a few new books. First among these is Martin Starr's highly anticipated offering, The Unknown God. Starr's work gives the determined tale of Wilfred Talbot Smith and the small group of dedicated Thelemites that kept the flame of Thelema alive in California in the 1930s. After fifteen years of research, Martin Starr's study is a scholarly, and oft times brutally honest work that gives the tale of these pioneers of Thelema. It is a well written, entertaining and critical exploration of many of the key players who maintained the Thelemic current in the face of overwhelming obstacles. Focused on the previously obscure story of Wilfred T. Smith, the book also encompasses the host of personalities that were active in the O.T.O.'s formative and struggling years in America, including such notables as Jane Wolfe, C. F. Russell, Jack Parsons, Louis T. Culling, Grady McMurtry, Karl Germer, and Paul Foster Case.
|II.24 means||Enjoy yourself.|
|II.52 means||Enjoy yourself as you will.|
|I.41 means|| Let any one who wants to enjoy himself do so.|
Do not allow anyone to hold you to any compact.
|The last three paragraphs quoted above do not refer to a material house but rather to the services offered by a "consecrated priestess" or sworn whore akin to the properly trained Priestess in the Gnostic Catholic Mass of the O.T.O. Crowley warned that there was a great danger "in the tendency to cheapen and vulgarize the whole proceeding, and any blasphemy against this force of nature does lead to the most shocking degradation of character" (Crowley to Grady L. McMurtry, July 14, 1943). (p. 27)|
The letter to McMurtry referenced by Starr is worth looking at in more detail:
|[...] in the old days, when these matters were seen clearly and cleanly, when they were properly understood, she would have been a consecrated priestess. (This is implied in the Gnostic Mass, Section II, lines 3 and 4, and is secretly indicated in the Manifesto, Liber LII, Section IV last three paragraphs --- "The hidden retreat where members may conceal themselves.") These "Temples of true worship, specifically consecrated by Nature to bring out in a man all that is best in him" should have suggested something to a poet of your perspicacity. [...]
It seems reasonable that Crowley had a few levels of interpretation in mind when writing up the description for the Manifesto, and that it is likely he intended both physical buildings (compare Liber CXXIV, Of Eden and the Sacred Oak, for just one example of this dual meaning) as well as the special class of "sworn Priestess." The instruction appears applicable on both levels in these documents, and certainly gives a level of meaning to both the Gnostic Mass and the organization of the O.T.O. that is worthy of deep contemplation.
|Unlike its Theosophical counterpart, one would look in vain through the volumes of the Acta Sanctorum for the lives of the Saints of the Gnostic Catholic Church, which include Doctors Gerard Encausse and Theodor Reuss and Sir Aleister Crowley. Crowley's choice of saints was pragmatic and poetic. His professed lack of interest in history, as well as his skepticism about it as a discipline, led him to state that the denomination of "Saint" in his Mass was "a rhetorical flourish --- little more." (Crowley to William Bernard Crow, April 4, 1945) (p. 72)|
It is difficult to know what Starr had in mind when characterizing Crowley's choices as "pragmatic and poetic," and other than the small quote from a letter to W. B. Crow, there is no elucidation on this point. While it is true that the gnostic saints of Liber XV seem to be drawn from a significantly different sacerdotal tradition than those of Christianity, there is certainly much to be gained from a study of the lives of the Saints, as has been undertaken in detail by our current Patriarch. Rhetorical or no, the true motivation of Crowley's selection of Saints may remain unknown. An underlying intent was at least expressed by Crowley to his disciple Norman Mudd, and recorded by the latter in notes which stated that the "Communion of saints equals religious value of copulating with your magical partner."
|had achieved his victory and in yet another sphere ruled sole and supreme. The change marked a major shift of focus inward in the world view of himself and his followers. All the battles for occult hegemony had been won. Crowley's disciples now had no potential rivals for their attention. With the departure of Jones, there were no intermediaries or colleagues of stature even remotely on a level with The Master Therion. Henceforth Smith and the Thelemites concentrated their attention on Crowley as the fons et origo of all wisdom; if one was working with Crowley, one certainly would not have time for other teachers. The emphasis on Crowley's absolute position hastened the development of insularity among the Thelemites and fostered an uncritical reverence for his opinions. Their religion had a single, living source and those outside the Thelemite fellowship or in conflict with the leader were in error. Their desire for doctrinal purity in the context of Crowley's understanding of Thelema increased their alienation from the mass of their uninitiated contemporaries, whom they privately termed the 'troglodytes.' (p. 166)|
|I shall appoint you my successor as O.H.O. but on special terms. It is quite clear to me that a complete change in the structure of the Order, and its methods, are necessary. The Secret is the basis, and you must select the proper people... The broad base of public association is the Gnostic Mass. I hope, before I die, to get this put on en grande terme by trained screen artists, so as to have a "sealed pattern" for future reference. The other rituals will have to tail along as best they can. I feel doubtful whether the time will ever return when there is either need to use such methods or leisure to cultivate them. Of course, the minor secrets in them have their special magical value, so that they will always maintain a certain use to certain types of mind. Also the actual magical effect on the candidate may be of the greatest value to him, and the training and discipline are always useful. (Crowley to Germer, March 14, 1942).|
Crowley clearly never got around to reforming the Order along such lines, even dropping the idea of re-writing the higher rituals to take out overt Masonic references after the Detroit Working fell through. The current organization of the Order, under the leadership of Hymenaeus Beta, is working towards seeing the vision of O.T.O. as originally laid out by Crowley fully implemented along the lines of the founding documents in the Blue Equinox. While some have stressed that radical changes are necessary in order to fulfill the Prophet's vision of the O.T.O., it seems that being able to preserve the system as designed and imagined by Crowley is a priority; this is a laudable goal and one that continues on from the tradition of the early protagonists of Thelema. Crowley never had the opportunity to see his system running and implemented as such; for the most part the movement was small, scattered, and suffered repeated economic and other setbacks. It is only today, with a much larger body of initiates that spans the globe, and the building of a solid foundation, that the O.T.O. is slowly coming of age. Only time will tell what the system may produce as it continues to implement the greater plan and build itself up in the world.
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(circa 1983 e.v.)
|It has been five years this month since our brother Ebony Anpu, known to the world as Charles Lee Reese (6 September 1950 to 7 May 1999 e.v.), celebrated his greater feast. Ebony continues to be very much missed here as a ritualist, a teacher, a friend and brother, and also as a writer and publisher. By way of renewing our celebration of Ebony's life and work, we present here a prefatory note to one of the earliest private editions of The Book of the Jackal. This text was prepared during the years when Ebony held the O.T.O. charter for Stellar Visions Chapter in San Francisco (from late 1981 until the middle of 1985 e.v.).|
To you I have chosen to reveal secrets of my work and study in the Arts of Magick.
|Grant Anpu's children this:|
To howl with you, Queen Isis,
Over the scattered limbs of wronged Osiris.
What harder fate than to be a woman?
She makes and unmakes her man.
In Jackal-land it is no secret
Who tempted red-haired, ass-eared Set
To such bloody extreme; who most
Must therefore mourn and fret
To pacify the unquiet ghost.
And when Horus your son
Avenges this divulsion
Scepter in fist, sandals on feet,
We shall return across the sand
From loyal Jackal-land
To gorge five nights and days on ass's meat.
By the spring of 1966 e.v., Grady McMurtry had spent four years in Washington, D.C., working as a "management analyst" in various departments of the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, comfortably established as a mid-level bureaucrat of the Great Society. He was still a Thelemite, but hardly in touch with any of the remaining initiates of the O.T.O. in California, and still not aware that Karl Germer had been dead for over three years already. Grady had separated from his wife and son in California, and was now living as a bachelor. He became acquainted with a woman named Maxine, and with several friends of hers who were involved in an effort which they called Kerista. This group was discussing schemes for a group marriage arrangement, and hoped to gather financial supporters to sustain a "swinging" retreat in Central America where they could put their ideas into practice. Kerista was establishing a "colony" on Roatan Island in what is now Belize, where contributors could pay to take working vacations while they helped to set the place up. When his new friends departed thence, Grady volunteered to put out the next issue of their irregular typewritten newsletter, the Kerista Swinger, calling itself the "Hippest Paper in the U. S. A." He produced the April Swinger (first issue of volume 3), using as many
|of the group's buzzwords and favorite phrases as he could, and trying to establish the newsletter as "a community project in the good old American frontier tradition of the communal barn raising and the husking bee." Perhaps he didn't feel completely involved or altogether convinced, and so offered his efforts as part of a "write your own" paper where all interested contributors could share their ideas. His own article, reprinted here, gave a brief survey of the notions of millennium and utopia, and then brought in Kerista as their successor. Unfortunately his friends didn't much care for the attitude he projected, and wrote from the Kerista Colony that his "trite semblances of wit" and "major diversification of interests" made him seem like "an alienated scatter-brained person" who was not "really into Kerista on the interior." They were going to be "happy... through being mentally healthy" and Grady could take it for granted that the "way to do this is to concentrate on Kerista, the all encompassing masseur of vitality" [sic]. Whatever they meant by this, Grady soon passed on to other things, and within a few years would make his way back to California, where the O.T.O. awaited his committed efforts to effect the revival upon which its present establishment has been based.|
(April 1966 e.v.)
|The youngest part of America, the ever-reaching frontier, generated a type of social philosophy quite different from either nationalism or individualism; it might be labeled communalism... Little bands of pioneers felt "called by God or fortune" to leave the old, decaying world and to venture upon a new life, a new society in a new world... The stream of pilgrim communities, congregations, and families that left Europe for America with the vision of a promised land guiding them is a familiar theme of American history. Here must arise the kingdoms of God foretold by ancient prophets. These were the latter days, the end of man's pilgrimage on earth.|
But while Kerista participates in American communalism --- remembered historically as the husking bee, barn raising, and frontier hospitality --- it would not be American without that loose, "swinging" style of individualism that "plays it cool," hangs flexible, and always insists on the individual's right to detachment from the group.
Thursday, May 6, 8:00PM: Air Meeting.* The Air Meetings focus on planning: deciding on long-range goals, public relations, scanning for relevant trends outside the community and in the future, and analyzing whether current practices are consistent with our objectives.
Sunday, May 9, 3:00PM: The Rites of Eleusis Planning Meeting. Yes, it's that time of year already. (The next Rites cycle runs from July 17 to September 27.) Everyone interested in helping out is encouraged to attend.
Monday, May 10, 8:00PM: Double Current Enochian. An exploration of Michael Sanborn's increasingly quirky system of Double Current Enochian, based on a theory of eight Kabbalistic worlds (four descending worlds akin to those of traditional Kabbalah, attributed to Ra, plus four ascending worlds attributed to Maat). First in a series of eight. Keywords: Quest and Acceptance.
Thursday, May 13, 8:00PM: Fire and Earth Meeting.* The Fire and Earth meetings have two parts. In the first (Earth), the focus is on the day-to-day operation of Masses, classes, events, publications, the library, etc. In the second (Fire), the focus is on scheduling and synergy between areas of operation.
Saturday, May 15, 10:00AM --- 5:00PM: Interfaith Pagan Pride Parade. Not strictly a Thelema Community event, but great fun, nonetheless. Note that this year, the festivities take place in and around Berkeley's Civic Park (in front of Old City Hall), and not in People's Park as before. Visit paganparade.org for details.
Wednesday, May 19, 8:00PM: Water Meeting.* The Water meetings focus on connection: sharing, relationship, feelings, warmth, and coziness.
Friday, May 21, 8:00PM: Meditation Class. An evening of meditation practice with Michael Sanborn, to be followed by a Friday night out.
Monday, May 24, 8:00PM: Double Current Enochian. (See entry for May 10.) When an Edwardian recension of Elizabethan angel magick is no longer exotic enough... Second in a series of eight. Keywords: Projection and Forgiveness.
Friday, May 28, 8:00PM: The Great Work --- Fun and Games with Your H. G. A. The first of a series of explorations with Marium Lange regarding the nature of the Great Work, the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel --- one of the core mysteries of Thelema. The first meeting will include a short meditation, sharing of personal experiences regarding the Great Work, and an overview of future topics, including Abramelin, variants of the Bornless Ritual, and associated Crowley writings.
Saturday, May 29, 11:00AM: O.T.O. Meeting. For initiates only. Call (510) 601-9393 to attend.
* One of three monthly organizational meetings. Pick the one or two that most interest you, or come to all three.
The letters O.T.O. stand for ORDO TEMPLI ORIENTIS --the Order of Oriental Templars, or Order of the Temple of the East. The O.T.O. is dedicated to securing the Liberty of the Individual, and his or her advancement in Light, Wisdom, Understanding, Knowledge, and Power. This is accomplished through Beauty, Courage, and Wit, on the Foundation of Universal Brotherhood. The O.T.O. is in sympathy with the traditional ideals of Freemasonry, and was the first of the Old Aeon orders to accept The Book of the Law.
|5/2/04||Gnostic Mass 8:00PM in Horus Temple||(510) 652-3171||Thelema Ldg.|
|5/4/04||Full in 1:35|
|5/4/04||Beltane Ritual & Pot-luck 8PM||(510) 652-3171||Thelema Ldg.|
|5/6/04||Air Meeting -- Planning |
open to all 8:00PM
|(510) 652-3171||Thelema Ldg.|
|5/9/04||Gnostic Mass 8:00PM in Horus Temple||(510) 652-3171||Thelema Ldg.|
|5/10/04||Double Current Enochian |
with Michael 8:00PM
|(510) 652-3171||Thelema Ldg.|
|5/13/04||Fire and Earth Meeting|
Operating & Scheduling
Open to All 8:00PM
|(510) 652-3171||Thelema Ldg.|
|5/15/04||Taurus Birthday Party 8:PM||(510) 652-3171||Thelema Ldg.|
|5/16/04||Gnostic Mass 8:00PM in Horus Temple||(510) 652-3171||Thelema Ldg.|
|5/18/04||New in 9:25PM|
|5/19/04||Water Meeting -- Harmonizing|
Open to all 8:00PM
|(510) 652-3171||Thelema Ldg.|
|5/21/04||Meditation Class with Michael 9:00PM||(510) 652-3171||Thelema Ldg.|
|5/23/04||Gnostic Mass 8:00PM in Horus Temple||(510) 652-3171||Thelema Ldg.|
|5/24/04||Double Current Enochian |
with Michael 8:00PM
|(510) 652-3171||Thelema Ldg.|
|5/28/04||The Great Work with Marium 8:00PM||(510) 652-3171||Thelema Ldg.|
|5/29/04||OTO Meeting -- initiates only|
(Call to attend) 8:00PM
|(510) 652-3171||Thelema Ldg.|
|5/30/04||Gnostic Mass 8:00PM in Horus Temple||(510) 652-3171||Thelema Ldg.|
The viewpoints and opinions expressed herein are the responsibility of the contributing authors and do not necessarily reflect the position of OTO or its officers.
Ordo Templi Orientis
P.O. Box 2303
Berkeley, CA 94702 USA
Phone: (510) 652-3171 (for events info and contact to Lodge)