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Aleister Crowley
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Aleister CrowleyAleister Crowley, born Edward Alexander Crowley (12 October 1875 - 1 December 1947) was an occultist, mystic, sexual revolutionary, and drug user (especially heroin).

Other interests and accomplishments were wide-ranging (he was a chess master, mountain climber, poet, writer, painter, astrologer and social critic). He was quite notorious during his life, and was dubbed "The Wickedest Man In the World"; the term first appeared in 1928 in John Bull, a tabloid pictorial of the day.

Contents [hide]
1 Biography
2 Chess
3 Mountaineering
4 Science, magic, and sexuality
5 Women as inspiration
6 Thelema
7 Writings
8 Miscellany and Rumours
9 Crowley in popular culture
10 See also
11 References
12 External links

Edward Alexander Crowley was born in Royal Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, England, between 11:00pm and 12 midnight on 12 October 1875.

His father, Edward Crowley, once maintained a lucrative family brewery business and was retired at the time of Aleister's birth. His mother, Emily Bertha Bishop, drew roots from a Devon and Somerset family.

Aleister grew up in a staunch Plymouth Brethren household. His father, after retiring from his daily duties as a brewer, took up the practice of preaching at a fanatical pace. Daily Bible studies and private tutoring were mainstays in young Aleister's childhood; however, after his father's death, his mother's efforts at indoctrinating her son in the Christian faith only served to provoke Aleister's skepticism. As a child, young Aleister's constant rebellious behavior displeased his devout mother to such an extent she would chastize him by calling him "The Beast" (from the Book of Revelation), an epithet that Crowley would later happily adopt for himself. He objected to the labelling of what he saw as life's most worthwhile and enjoyable activities as "sinful".

In response, Crowley created his own philosophical system, Scientific Illuminism — a synthesis of various Eastern mystical systems (including Hinduism, Buddhism, Tantra, the predecessor to Western sex magick, Zoroastrianism and the many systems of Yoga) fused with the Western occult sciences of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn and the many reformed rituals of Freemasonry he later reformulated within the Ordo Templi Orientis (O.T.O). This system also appeals to scientific and philosophical skepticism. His undergraduate studies in chemistry at Trinity College, Cambridge helped forge the scientific skepticism that later culminated in the many-volumed and unparalleled occult publication, The Equinox.

Following the death of his father, the young Aleister (then "Alec" or "Alick") turned to a form of Satanism in grief. However, within a few years he abandoned this for atheism and hedonism, or in his words, "began to behave like a normal, healthy human being." During the year 1897, he slowly came to view earthly pursuits as useless and began his lifelong exploration of esoteric matters. A number of events contributed to this change. (The section on chess in this article gives one example.)

Involved as a young adult in the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, he first studied mysticism with and made enemies of William Butler Yeats and Arthur Edward Waite. Like many in occult circles of the time, Crowley voiced the view that Waite was a pretentious bore through searing critiques of Waite's writings and editorials of other authors' writings.

His friend and former Golden Dawn associate Allan Bennett introduced him to the ideas of Buddhism, while Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers, acting leader of the Golden Dawn organization, acted as his early mentor in western magick but would later become his enemy. Several decades after Crowley's participation in the Golden Dawn, Mathers claimed copyright protection over a particular ritual and sued Crowley for infringement after Crowley's public display of the ritual. In a book of fiction entitled Moonchild, Crowley portrayed Mathers as the primary villain, including him as a character named SRMD, using the abbreviation of Mathers' magical name. Arthur Edward Waite also appeared in Moonchild as a villain named Arthwaite, while Bennett appeared in Moonchild as the main character's wise mentor, Simon Iff.

While he did not officially break with Mathers until 1904, Crowley lost faith in this teacher's abilities soon after the 1900 schism in the Golden Dawn (if not before). Later that year, Crowley traveled to Mexico and continued his magical studies in isolation. AC's writings suggest that he discovered the word Abrahadabra during this time. (The article on this word explains the spelling.)

In October of 1901, after practising Raja Yoga for some time, he said he had reached a state he called dhyana — one of many states of unification in thoughts that are described in MAGICK Book IV (See Crowley on egolessness). 1902 saw him writing the essay Bera****h (the first word of Genesis), in which he gave meditation (or restraint of the mind to a single object) as the means of attaining his goal. The essay describes ceremonial magic as a means of training the will, and of constantly directing one's thoughts to a given object through ritual. In his 1903 essay, Science and Buddhism, Crowley urged an empirical approach to Buddhist teachings.

He said that a mystical experience in 1904 while on vacation in Cairo, Egypt, led to his founding of the religious philosophy known as Thelema. Aleister's wife Rose started to behave in an odd way, and this led him to think that some entity had made contact with her. At her instructions, he performed an invocation of the Egyptian god Horus on March 20 with (he wrote) "great success". According to Crowley, the god told him that a new magical Aeon had begun, and that A.C. would serve as its prophet. Rose continued to give information, telling Crowley in detailed terms to await a further revelation. On 8 April and for the following two days at exactly noon he heard a voice, dictating the words of the text, Liber AL vel Legis, or The Book of the Law, which Crowley wrote down. The voice claimed to be that of Aiwass (or Aiwaz "the minister of Hoor-paar-kraat," or Horus, the god of force and fire, child of Isis and Osiris) and self-appointed conquering lord of the New Aeon, announced through his chosen scribe "the prince-priest the Beast."

Portions of the book are in numerical cipher, which Crowley claimed the inability to decode. Thelemic dogma (to the extent that Thelema has dogma) explains this by pointing to a warning within the Book of the Law — the speaker supposedly warned that the scribe, Ankh-af-na-khonsu (Aleister Crowley), was never to attempt to decode the ciphers, for to do so would end only in folly. The later-written The Law is For All sees Crowley warning everyone not to discuss the writing amongst fellow critics, for fear that a dogmatic position would arise. While he declared a "new Equinox of the Gods" in early 1904, supposedly passing on the revelation of March 20 to the occult community, it took years for Crowley to fully accept the writing of the Book of the Law and follow its doctrine. Only after countless attempts to test its writings did he come to embrace them as the official doctrine of the New Aeon of Horus. The remainder of his professional and personal careers were spent expanding the new frontiers of scientific illuminism.

Rose and Aleister had a daughter, whom AC named Nuit Ma Ahathoor Hecate Sappho Jezebel Lilith Crowley, in July of 1904. This child died in 1906. They had another daughter, Lola Zaza, in the summer of that year, and AC devised a special ritual of thanksgiving for her birth. He performed a thanksgiving ritual before his first claimed success in the Abramelin operation, on October 9, 1906. The events of that year gave the Abramelin book a central role in Crowley's system. He described the primary goal of the "Great Work" using a term from this book: "the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel." An essay in the first number of The Equinox gives several reasons for this choice of names:

1. Because Abramelin's system is so simple and effective.
2. Because since all theories of the universe are absurd it is better to talk in the language of one which is patently absurd, so as to mortify the metaphysical man.
3. Because a child can understand it.
Crowley was notorious in his lifetime — a frequent target of attacks in the tabloid press, which labeled him "The Wickedest Man in the World" to his evident amusement. At one point, he was expelled from Italy after having established a sort of commune, the organization of which was based on his personal philosophies, the Abbey of Thelema, at Cefalu, Sicily.

In 1934 Crowley was declared bankrupt after losing a court case in which he sued the artist Nina Hamnett for calling him a black magician in her 1932 book, Laughing Torso. In addressing the jury, Mr. Justice Swift said: "I have been over forty years engaged in the administration of the law in one capacity or another. I thought that I knew of every conceivable form of wickedness. I thought that everything which was vicious and bad had been produced at one time or another before me. I have learnt in this case that we can always learn something more if we live long enough. I have never heard such dreadful, horrible, blasphemous and abominable stuff as that which has been produced by the man (Crowley) who describes himself to you as the greatest living poet."

Aleister Crowley died of a respiratory infection in a Hastings boarding house on December 1, 1947, at the age of 72. According to some accounts he died on December 5, 1947. He was penniless and addicted to heroin, which had been prescribed for his asthma and bronchitis, at the time.

Biographer Lawrence Sutin passes on various stories about AC's death and last words. Frieda Harris supposedly reported him saying, "I am perplexed," though she did not see him at the very end. According to John Symonds, a Mr. Rowe witnessed Crowley's death along with a nurse, and reported his last words as, "Sometimes I hate myself." Biographer Gerald Suster accepted the version of events he received from a "Mr. W.H." in which Crowley dies pacing in his living-room. Supposedly Mr. W.H. heard a crash while polishing furniture on the floor below, and entered Crowley's rooms to find him dead on the floor. Patricia "Deirdre" MacAlpine, the mother of his son, denied all this and reports a sudden gust of wind and peal of thunder at the (otherwise quiet) moment of his death. According to MacAlpine, Crowley remained bedridden for the last few days of his life, but was in light spirits and conversational. Readings at the cremation service in nearby Brighton included one of his own works, Hymn to Pan, and newspapers referred to the service as a black mass. Brighton council subsequently resolved to take all necessary steps to prevent such an incident occurring again.

Crowley learned to play chess at the age of six and first competed on the Eastbourne College chess team (where he was taking classes in 1892). He showed immediate competence, beating the adult champion in town and even editing a chess column for the local newspaper, the Eastbourne Gazette (Sutin, p.33), which he often used to criticize the Eastbourne team. He later joined the university chess club at Cambridge, where he beat the president in his freshman year and practiced two hours a day towards becoming a champion — "My one serious worldly ambition had been to become the champion of the world at chess" (Confessions, p.193).

However, he gave up his chess aspirations in 1897 when attending a chess conference in Berlin:

But I had hardly entered the room where the masters were playing when I was seized with what may justly be described as a mystical experience. I seemed to be looking on at the tournament from outside myself. I saw the masters— one, shabby, snuffy and blear-eyed; another, in badly fitting would-be respectable shoddy; a third, a mere parody of humanity, and so on for the rest. These were the people to whose ranks I was seeking admission. "There, but for the grace of God, goes Aleister Crowley," I exclaimed to myself with disgust, and there and then I registered a vow never to play another serious game of chess. I perceived with preternatural lucidity that I had not alighted on this planet with the object of playing chess. (Confessions, Ch.16).

In the summer of 1902, Oscar Eckenstein and Crowley undertook the first attempt to scale Chogo Ri (known in the west as K2), located in Pakistan. The Eckenstein-Crowley Expedition consisted of Eckenstein, Crowley, Guy Knowles, H. Pfannl, V. Wesseley, and Dr Jules Jacot-Guillarmod. During this trip he won a world record for his hardships on the Baltoro Glacier, sixty-eight straight days of glacial life.

In May 1905, he was approached by Dr Jules Jacot-Guillarmod (1868 - 1925) to accompany him on the first expedition to Kanchenjunga, the third largest mountain in the world which is located in Nepal. Guillarmod was left to organise the personnel while Crowley left to get things ready in Darjeeling. On July 31 Guillarmod joined Crowley in Darjeeling, bringing with him two countrymen, Charles-Adolphe Reymond and Alexis Pache. Meanwhile, Crowley had recruited a local man, Alcesti C. Rigo de Righi, to act as Transport Manager. The team left Darjeeling on August 8, 1905, and used the Singalila Ridge approach to Kangchenjunga. At Chabanjong they ran into the rear of the 135 coolies who had been sent ahead on July 24 and July 25, who were carrying food rations for the team. The trek was led by Aleister Crowley, but four members of that party were killed in an avalanche. Some claims say they reached around 21,300 feet before turning back, however Crowley's autobiography claims they reached about 25,000 feet.

Crowley was sometimes famously scathing about other climbers, in particular O. G. Jones, whom he considered a risk-taking self-publicist, and his 'two photographers' (George and Ashley Abraham).

Science, magic, and sexuality
Crowley claimed to use a scientific method to study what people at the time called "spiritual" experiences, making "The Method of Science, the Aim of Religion" the catchphrase of his magazine The Equinox. By this he meant that mystical experiences should not be taken at face value, but critiqued and experimented with in order to arrive at their underlying religious meaning. In this he may be considered to foreshadow Dr. Timothy Leary, who at one point sought to apply the same method to psychedelic drug experiences. Yet like Leary's, Crowley's method has received little "scientific" attention outside the circle of Thelema's practitioners.

Crowley's magical and initiatory system has amongst its innermost reaches a set of teachings on sex "magick." He frequently expressed views about sex that were radical for his time, and published numerous poems and tracts combining pagan religious themes with sexual imagery both heterosexual and homosexual.

Sex Magick is the use of the sex act—or the energies, passions or arousal states it evokes—as a point upon which to focus the will or magical desire for effects in the non-sexual world. In this, Crowley was inspired by Paschal Beverly Randolph, an American author writing in the 1870s who wrote (in his book Eulis!) of using the "nuptive moment" (orgasm) as the time to make a "prayer" for events to occur.

Women as inspiration
During March 1899 Crowley met, at one of the semi-public performances of MacGregor Mathers' Rites of Isis, an American soprano by the name of Susan Strong (3 August 1870 - 11 March 1946). Susan was the daughter of Dennis Strong, an American Congressman and mayor of Brooklyn. She had gone to the UK at the age of 21 and had enrolled in the Royal College of Music, London under the tutelage of the famous Hungarian musician Francis Korbay. Crowley met up with her again in London when she sang the part of Venus in Tannhäuser on 22 June 1899. A torrid romance followed during which Susan swore to divorce her American husband and devote herself to Crowley. However on her return to the US, around October 1899, she apparently cooled in ardour. Crowley followed her to New York in June of the following year, but by then she was already on her way back to the UK to appear in performances of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. During 1900, while in Mexico City, Crowley experienced an epiphany, during which he transcribed his play, titled Tannhäuser. He attributed the inspiration of this play to his romance with Susan Strong.

see also Thelema
The religious or mystical system which Crowley founded, into which most of his writings fall, he named Thelema. Thelema combines a radical form of philosophical libertarianism, akin in some ways to Nietzsche, with a mystical initiatory system derived in part from the Golden Dawn.

Chief among the precepts of Thelema is the sovereignty of the individual will: "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law." Crowley's idea of will, however, is not simply the individual's desires or wishes, but also incorporates a sense of the person's destiny or greater purpose: what he termed the "Magick Will." Much of the initiatory system of Thelema is focused on discovering one's true will, true purpose, or higher self. Much else is devoted to an Eastern-inspired dissolution of the individual ego, as a means to that end (see Choronzon).

The second precept of Thelema is "Love is the law, love under will" — and Crowley's meaning of "Love" is as complex as that of "Will". It is frequently sexual: Crowley's system, like elements of the Golden Dawn before him, sees the dichotomy and tension between the male and female as fundamental to existence, and sexual "magick" and metaphor form a significant part of Thelemic ritual.

Thelema draws on numerous older sources and, like many other new religious movements of its time, combines "Western" and "Eastern" traditions. Its chief Western influences include the Golden Dawn and elements of Freemasonry; Eastern influences include aspects of yoga, Taoism, Kabbalah and Tantra.

Within the subject of occultism Crowley wrote widely, penning commentaries on the Tarot (The Book of Thoth), yoga (Book Four), the Kabbalah (Sepher Sephiroth), astrology (The General Principles of Astrology), and numerous other subjects. He also wrote a Thelemic "translation" of the Tao Te Ching, based on earlier English translations since he knew little or no Chinese. Like the Golden Dawn mystics before him, Crowley evidently sought to comprehend the entire human religious and mystical experience in a single philosophy. He self-published many of his books, expending the majority of his inheritance to disseminate his views. Many of his fiction works, such as the "Simon Iff" detective stories and Moonchild have not received significant notice outside of occult circles. However his fictional work Diary Of A Drug Fiend has received acclaim from those involved in the field of substance abuse rehabilitation.

Crowley's most grandiose work is The Equinox, a large bi-annual periodical that served as the official organ of the Argenteum Astrum (A∴A∴), and, later, the O.T.O. It was subtitled "The Review of Scientific Illuminism" and remains one of the definitive works on occultism.

Crowley's other major works include:

The Book of Lies
The Holy Books of Thelema
Konx om Pax
He also wrote a short, highly readable introduction to yoga (Eight Lectures on Yoga) and a polemic arguing against George Bernard Shaw's interpretation of the Gospels in his preface to Androcles and the Lion. Crowley's piece was edited by Francis King and published as Crowley on Christ, and shows him at his erudite and witty best.

Crowley had a peculiar sense of humour. In his Book Four he includes a chapter purporting to illuminate the Qabalistic significance of Mother Goose nursery rhymes. In re Humpty Dumpty, for instance, he recommends the occult authority "Ludovicus Carolus" -- better known as Lewis Carroll. In a footnote to the chapter he admits that he had invented the alleged meanings, to show that one can find occult "Truth" in everything. The title to chapter 69 is given as "The Way to Succeed - and the Way to Suck Eggs!" a pun, as the chapter concerns the 69 sex position as a mystical act.

Many Crowley biographies relate the story of L. Ron Hubbard and Jack Parsons and their attempt to create a "moonchild" (from Crowley's novel of that name). In Crowley's own words, "Apparently Parsons and Hubbard or somebody is producing a moonchild. I get fairly frantic when I contemplate the idiocy of these louts." Clearly the admiration Hubbard had for Crowley was not reciprocated.

More famously still, he baited Christians by naming himself To Mega Therion, or "The Great Beast" of the Book of Revelation.

Crowley was also a published, if minor, poet. He wrote the 1929 Hymn to Pan [1], perhaps his most widely read and anthologised poem. Three pieces by Crowley, "The Quest [2]", "The Neophyte [3]", and "The Rose and the Cross [4]", appear in the 1917 collection The Oxford Book of English Mystical Verse. Crowley's unusual sense of humour is on display in White Stains [5], an 1898 collection of pornographic verse pretended to be "the literary remains of George Archibald Bishop, a neuropath of the Second Empire;" the volume is prefaced with a notice that says that " The Editor hopes that Mental Pathologists, for whose eyes alone this treatise is destined, will spare no precaution to prevent it falling into other hands."

Miscellany and Rumours
Crowley also tried to mint a number of new terms instead of the established ones he felt inadequate. For example he spelled magic "magick" and renamed theurgy "high magick" and thaumaturgy "low magick". Many of his terms are still used by some practitioners.
Crowley remains a popular icon of libertines and those interested in the theory and practice of magic.
Crowley has been attributed as selecting the "V for Victory" sign during World War II as used by Sir Winston Churchill.
"In World War I Aleister Crowley ingratiated himself with a Hermetic sect in order to reveal to the Americans that its head was a highly dangerous German agent. In World War II it was well known in British Intelligence that many leading Nazis were interested in the occult and especially in astrology. Crowley did some work for MI5, but his project for dropping occult information by leaflet on the enemy was rejected by the authorities." - Richard Deacon, Spyclopaedia
Crowley in popular culture
See Crowley in popular culture
See also
The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn
Argenteum Astrum (A∴A∴)
Ordo Templi Orientis
William Breeze
The Equinox
Thoth Tarot
Grady McMurtry
Jack Parsons
Lon Milo Duquette
Carroll, Robert Todd (2004). "Aleister Crowley (1875-1947)". The Skeptic's Dictionary. Retrieved 30 December 2004.
Crowley, Aleister(1990) "The Tao Teh King, Liber CLVII: THE EQUINOX Vol. III. No. VIII. ASCII VERSION". Retrieved 30 December 2004.
Free Encyclopedia of Thelema (2005).
The Equinox. Retreived 24 March 2005.
A biography of Crowley by Lawrence Sutin, Do What Thou Wilt (2000) ISBN 0312288972.
External links
Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to:
Aleister CrowleyWikisource has original works written by or about:
Aleister Crowley
Works by Aleister Crowley at Project Gutenberg
The most complete resource for books of Crowley in PDF format
A site dedicated to a film being made on Crowley's life
Crowley Controversy FAQ
Aleister Crowley on Thelemapedia
Aleister Crowley - The Rotten Library
Aleister Crowley Ebooks
Aleister Crowley and the Green Goddess
Retrieved from ""
Categories: English occultists | English novelists | English astrologers | Astrologers | English mountain climbers | Gay, lesbian or bisexual people | Thelema | 1875 births | 1947 deaths | Occultists | British chess players



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Thelema is the English transliteration of the Ancient Greek noun θέλημα: "will", from the verb ἐθέλω: to will, wish, purpose.

Contents [hide]
1 Aleister Crowley's Thelema
2 Doctrines of Thelema
3 Antecedents of Thelema
4 Critical study and diverse practice
5 Thelema and other systems of thought
6 Thelemic organisations
7 See also
8 References and sources
9 External links

Aleister Crowley's Thelema
Thelema is the name of a philosophical/religious system established in 1904 through Aleister Crowley and his wife, Rose Edith Kelly, with the writing of Liber AL vel Legis, or The Book of the Law. Crowley claimed to have taken this short work of about 5,000 words, comparable in length to the Tao Te Ching, as direct auditory dictation from a praeterhuman intelligence called Aiwass or Aiwaz in Cairo, Egypt on April 8, 9th, and 10th, 1904. Crowley himself did not fully accept the role set forth for him in the Book for many years.

The word "Thelemite" appears in Aleister Crowley's writings, and adherents of Thelema use it self-referentially.

Crowley was a disciple of 16th century French satirist Francois Rabelais. Rabelais referred to a place called The Abbey of "Thélème" in his epic lampoon of religion, mysticism and politics, Gargantua and Pantagruel [1]. In the story, Gargantua built the abbey in Theleme (a fictional "province" located along the Loire River). Rabelais included the Greek word in his work and this inspired Crowley to establish his own "Abbey of Thelema", a postmodern homage to the Rabelaisian fantasy, which he established in Cefalu, Sicily in the 1920s. It should also be noted however that Rabelais also incorporated hermetic allusions into his novel. Therefore, from Crowley's perspective Rabelais was not merely a fantasist, but a profound hermetic philosopher and prophetic herald of Crowley himself.

Doctrines of Thelema
The central doctrine of this system is that knowing and doing one's True Will is the ultimate purpose and destiny of every being. This is summed up in the following phrases from Liber Legis:

"Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law" (AL I:40)
"Love is the law, love under will" (AL I:57)
"The word of the Law is Thelema" (AL I:39)
"There is no Law beyond Do what thou wilt" (AL III:60)
The True Will is a magical idea that could be described in its dynamic aspect as the singular path of possible action that encounters no resistance in going because it is supported by the inertia of the whole Universe; two True Wills can never contradict each other because each one has its own absolutely unique career in its passage through Infinite Space. Hence, to follow one's True Will means to respect all True Wills, described as "Love is the law, love under will". The apparent pacifism of this doctrine is complicated, however, by the fact that the vast majority of beings do not know their True Will. Those who do are the Perfect, who are beyond good and evil, i.e., all conventional moral codes and standards.

Thelema stresses personal liberty (balanced by responsibility and discipline), the inherent perfection of every person, regardless of gender ("Every man and every woman is a star" AL I:3), and the battle against superstition and tyranny.

Living Thelema usually, but not necessarily, is intertwined with the practice of magick, spelled thus to denote the concepts and techniques explored and developed by Crowley.

Antecedents of Thelema
Although the modern idea of Thelema originates in the work of Aleister Crowley, there are important antecedents to his use of the term. The word is of some consequence in the original Greek Christian scriptures.

Crowley also acknowledged Saint Augustine's "Love, and do what thou wilt" as a premonition of the Law of Thelema, and Crowley himself stated (somewhat surprisingly, in view of his antipathy to his Christian ancestors) that his work completed that of Jesus himself.
In the Renaissance, a character named "Thelemia" represents will or desire in the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili of the Dominican monk Francesco Colonna.
In chapter 50 (or 52, depending on the edition) of Francois Rabelais' Gargantua, the titlular character builds an "Abbey of Thelème", complete with 'Thelemites' and the motto "Fais ce que voudras" ("Do what thou wilt"), which Crowley directly imitated in his own Abbey of Thelema.
William Blake may also have used the phrase "Do what thou wilt", but no reference is apparent.
Others who adopted this idea were Sir Francis Dashwood and the Monks of Medmenham (better known as The Hellfire Club) as well as Sir Walter Besant and James Rice in their novel The Monks of Thelema (1878).
Critical study and diverse practice
Different organisations and persons (predominantly from Germany) do not see Thelema as originating from Crowley. Rather they see Crowley's Thelema as only one of many forms of Thelema. Different orders who accept the Book of the Law have their own guidelines for putting it into practice. In German Thelemic thought the most widely-known skepticism against Crowley's version is found in the Fraternitas Saturni order. The role of other Thelemic writings, each with their own significance, changes greatly for each of these groups. The Law of Thelema itself eschews orthodoxy, forbids intellectual dogmatism concerning the proper interpretation of the Law, and demands that those who do so be anathematised. As a result, there is little secondary literature on the Law of Thelema of any interest, one notable exception being the controversial works of Kenneth Grant. In the United States, J. Gordon Melton and other scholars of New Religious Movements, as well as some scholars of hermeticism have begun to address Thelema in some capacity. Martin P. Starr has also published valuable scholarly work on the history of contemporary Thelema, primarily as it has manifested in the Ordo Templi Orientis. (See 'References and Sources' below)

As an example of diversity in practice, "The Thelema Society", a Thelemic community founded by Michael Dietmar Eschner, is based entirely on "Liber AL vel Legis" – under the original title "Liber L vel Legis" – and rejects all other teachings and writings of Aleister Crowley.

While Thelema has not yet attracted much attention in the field of comparative religion, a somewhat unusual attempt was made by the Mariavite Catholic bishop Federico Tolli, in his German book Thelema — Im Spannungsfeld zwischen Christentum, Logentradition und New Aeon (Leipzig, 2004.) For Tolli, Thelema is to be regarded as the dialectical consequence of Christianity. Christianity for Tolli exists as a community in Christ, whereas Tolli sees Thelema as a necessarily individualistic response to the world.

In a 1938 theological dictionary to the New Testament the concept of salvation history has a great effect on Tolli's thought. Tolli interprets from this that it is clear for Crowley that the whole Universe (ergo the Will of God) is to combine (analogous to the Alchemical formula 'coagula'). "Love", in the form of combinatory attraction ("Love is the law, love under will"), is a universal principle — therefore akin to the concept of Natural religion. The main difference (for Tolli) is that in Christianity salvation of the entire Universe ("Ganzheit") cannot be made by 'solipsistic' man. The bishop sees Crowley as a failed – however talented – artist or "Mystagogie", but not as a "Satanist". However, the merit and contribution of bishop Tolli to Thelemic studies lies in the fact that it was he who first expresses that the genuine meaning and idea of Thelema does not necessarily contradict the teachings of Jesus, as Crowley himself affirms.

However, this is very much at variance with how most Thelemites regard Christianity, which is generally seen as a manifestation of the superseded Aeon of Osiris, rather than the New Aeon of Horus (to be followed in several or twenty centuries by the future Aeon of Maàt). While only fundamentalist Christians would regard Crowley as a literal "Satanist", many would agree that he directly challenges much of the ethical and religious basis for Christianity, especially in his work "Liber OZ". Crowley himself tended to advocate the progressive study of all major world religious scriptures and mystical traditions, as well as a special focus on the Empiricist movement in Modern British philosophy, even as he strenously argued against the ultimate claims of these institutional religions. Crowley and Thelema show much philosophical influence from not only Rabalais, but also from sources as diverse as Laozi, Joachim of Fiore, and Friedrich Nietzsche. In the ritual structure of the Gnostic Mass (a major group ritual practice) , the influence of Eastern Orthodox Christianity is evident, leading to accusations of the Gnostic Mass as a "Black (Satanic) Mass".

Thelema and other systems of thought
Thelema is a mystical/magical philosophy of life based on Will. The individual Will in Thelema is identified with the Egyptian god Had or Hadit. The Pleroma of infinite potentiality through which Had wends its Way is called Nu or Nuit, the Egyptian goddess of Infinite Space.

Many adherents of Thelema are syncretic and recognise correlations between Thelemic and other systems of spiritual thought; most borrow freely from other traditions. For example, Nu and Had are thought to correspond with the Tao and Teh of Taoism, Shakti and Shiva of the Hindu Tantras, Shunyata and Bodhicitta of Buddhism, Ain Soph and Kether in the Qabalah. Followers of the philosophy of Thelema make free use of the methods and practices derived from other traditions, including alchemy, astrology, qabalah, tantra, tarot, and yoga, regarding them all as being subsumed in the Law of Thelema.

Thelemic organisations
Several organisations of various sizes claim to follow the tenets of Thelema, the Ordo Templi Orientis and the Argenteum Astrum, or A∴A∴, currently being the largest. Other groups of widely varying character exist which have drawn inspiration or methods from Thelema but which never fully accepted Crowley's complete teachings, such as the Illuminates of Thanateros and the Temple of Set. The Fraternitas Saturni and related groups are idiosyncratic in that they accept Thelema, but extend it by the phrase "Mitleidlose Liebe!" ("Compassionless Love!"). These groups generally do not accept the writings of Crowley.

See also
Holy Guardian Angel
Wiccan Rede
References and sources

Free Encyclopedia of Thelema (2005). Thelema. Retrieved March 12, 2005.
De Lupos, Rey. The Golden Topaz of Radiant Light in Silver Star, No. 1. Retrieved April 5, 2005.
Kazcynski, Richard. Perdurabo: The Life of Aleister Crowley. Tempe, AZ: New Falcon Publications. 2002.
Melton, J. Gordon. "Thelemic Magick in America." Alternatives to American Mainline Churches, ed. Joseph H. Fichter. (Barrytown, NY: Unification Theological Seminary), 1983.
Starr, Martin P. The Unknown God: W.T. Smith and the Thelemites. Bolingbrook, IL: Teitan Press. 2003.
van Egmond, Daniel. "Western Esoteric Schools in the Late Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries." in van den Broek, Roelof and Hanegraaff, Wouter J. Gnosis and Hermeticism From Antiquity To Modern Times. Albany : State University of New York Press. 1998. Pages 311-346.
Voxfire, Thomas (2004). "Something from Nothing: the Essence of Creation" in Essays for the New Aeon. Retrieved April 5, 2005.
Webster, Sam. Entering the Buddhadharma. Retrieved April 5, 2005.
External links
Thelemapedia, the original Encyclopedia of Thelema & Magick
Free Encyclopedia of Thelema—the truly free encyclopedia of Thelema
Thelema at the Internet Sacred Texts Archive—a collection of texts on the topic of Thelema
BaphoNet—texts on Thelema, Enochian Magic(k), and other topics
Thelema 101 Home Page
About Thelema—from O.T.O.
Prime Qabalah & Thelema— Information on a new system of English Gematria and its application to Thelema
The Law of Thelema, by Alexander Duncan
Thelemic Order of the Golden Dawn
Ashe Journal Special Thelema Centennial Edition Aleister Crowley, Lon Milo DuQuette and more.
Retrieved from ""
Categories: Thelema | New religious movements



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Ordo Templi Orientis
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Ordo Templi Orientis (O.T.O.) (Order of the Temple of the East, or the Order of Oriental Templars) is an international fraternal and religious organization. For its teachings and principles of organization, it has accepted the Law of Thelema, which is expressed as “Do what thou wilt is the whole of the Law.” Thelemites believe that this Law was established with the writing of the Book of the Law by Aleister Crowley in 1904 in Cairo, Egypt. Its structure is similar to that of Freemasonry, with a series of graded initiations. The O.T.O. also includes the Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica or Gnostic Catholic Church, which is the ecclesiastical arm of the Order. Its central rite, which is public, is called Liber XV, or the Gnostic Mass. O.T.O. claims over 3000 members in 58 countries; about half of these are in the United States.

Contents [hide]
1 Philosophy of O.T.O.
2 Initiation
3 Structure
3.1 International
3.2 National
3.2.1 Current Grand Lodges
3.3 The Gnostic Catholic Church
3.4 O.T.O. bodies
4 History
4.1 The beginnings
4.2 O.T.O. and Aleister Crowley
4.3 O.T.O. after Crowley
4.4 Schisms in the Thelemic community
5 Teachings
6 Opposing views
7 See also
8 References
9 External links
9.1 O.T.O.
9.2 Other organizations
9.3 Reference sites

Philosophy of O.T.O.
O.T.O. was described by Crowley as the "first of the great Old Æon orders to accept The Book of the Law". O.T.O. was originally affiliated with European masonic organisations, although Crowley eventually cut all formal ties with Freemasonry—largely because of the integration of the Law of Thelema and the Order's equal acceptance of women. Although some masonic symbolism and language is in use, their context is no longer that of Freemasonry, but of Thelema and its tenets. "The Order offers esoteric instruction through dramatic ritual, guidance in a system of illuminated ethics, and fellowship among aspirants to the Great Work of realizing the divine in the human" [1]. O.T.O. has two core areas of ritual activity: initiation into the Mysteries, and the celebration of Liber XV, the Gnostic Mass. In addition, the Order organizes lectures, classes, social events, theatrical productions and artistic exhibitions; publishes books and journals; and provides instruction in Hermetic science, yoga, and magick.

Crowley wrote in his Confessions, "the O.T.O. is in possession of one supreme secret. The whole of its system [is] directed towards communicating to its members, by progressively plain hints, this all-important instruction." Of the first set of initiations, "the main objects of the instruction [are] two. It [is] firstly necessary to explain the universe and the relations of human life therewith. Secondly, to instruct every man [and woman] how best to adapt his [or her] life to the cosmos and to develop his faculties to the utmost advantage. I accordingly constructed a series of rituals, Minerval, Man, Magician, Master-Magician, Perfect Magician and Perfect Initiate, which should illustrate the course of human life in its largest philosophical aspect." The initiation rituals after the V° are such that "the candidate is instructed in the value of discretion, loyalty, independence, truthfulness, courage, self-control, indifference to circumstance, impartiality, scepticism, and other virtues, and at the same time assisted him to discover for himself the nature of [the supreme] secret, the proper object of its employment and the best means for insuring success for its use."

Of the entire system of O.T.O., Crowley wrote in Confessions:

It offers a rational basis for universal brotherhood and for universal religion. It puts forward a scientific statement which is a summary of all that is at present known about the universe by means of a simple, yet sublime symbolism, artistically arranged. It also enables each man to discover for himself his personal destiny, indicates the moral and intellectual qualities which he requires in order to fulfil it freely, and finally puts in his hands an unimaginably powerful weapon which he may use to develop in himself every faculty which he may need in his work. (P. 703) [2]
O.T.O. uses a degree system, similar to that of Freemasonry. There are thirteen numbered degrees and twelve un-numbered. They are divided into three grades or "triads": the Hermit, the Lover, and the Man of Earth. Admittance to each degree of O.T.O. involves an initiation and the swearing of an oath similar to those used in Freemasonry. [3] The ultimate goal of initiation in O.T.O. is "to instruct the individual by allegory and symbol in the profound mysteries of Nature, and thereby to assist each to discover his or her own true Identity."[4] The entire system is as follows:

The Man of Earth Triad
I°—Man & Brother / Woman & Sister
III°—Master Magician
IV°—Perfect Magician & companion of the Holy Royal Arch of Enoch
P.I.—Perfect Initiate, or Prince of Jerusalem
Outside all Triads
Knight of the East & West
The Lover Triad
Sovereign Prince Rose-Croix, and Knight of the Pelican & Eagle
Knight of the Red Eagle, and Member of the Senate of Knight Hermetic Philosophers
Illustrious Knight (Templar) of the Order of Kadosch, and Companion of the Holy Graal
Grand Inquisitor Commander, and Member of the Grand Tribunal
Prince of the Royal Secret
Theoreticus, and Very Illustrious Sovereign Grand Inspector General
Magus of Light, and Bishop of Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica
Grandmaster of Light, and Inspector of Rites & Degrees
The Hermit Triad
Perfect Pontiff of the Illuminati
Epopt of the Illuminati
IX°—Initiate of the Sanctuary of the Gnosis
X°—Rex Summus Sanctissimus
XI°—Initiate of the Eleventh Degree (This degree is technical, and has no relation to the general plan of the Order)
XII°—Frater Superior, and Outer Head of the Order
The governing bodies of O.T.O. include:

International Headquarters
Presided over by the Outer Head of the Order XII° (OHO—also known as Frater Superior)
Supreme Council
The Sovereign Sanctuary of the Gnosis of the IX°
The Secret Areopagus of the Illuminati of the VIII°
The Grand Tribunal of the VI°
The National Grand Lodge
Presided over by the National Grand Master X°
Executive Council
The Supreme Grand Council
The Electoral College
1. International Headquarters is the body that governs O.T.O. worldwide. As a ruling body, it is known as the International Supreme Council, which consists of the Outer Head of the Order (OHO—also known as Frater Superior), the Secretary General, and the Treasurer General.

2. The Sovereign Sanctuary of the Gnosis consists of members who have reached the IX°. Their prime duty is to study and practice the theurgy and thaumaturgy of the degree, consisting of the Supreme Secret of the Order. However, as a ruling body, they have the authority to

ratify and overturn the rulings of the Areopogus
act as representatives of the OHO and National Grand Masters when need arises
fill the office of Revolutionary
vote within the Secret Areopagus
have some powers over the installation and removal of the OHO and National Grand Masters
3. The Secret Areopagus of the Illuminati is a philosophical Governing Body comprised of those who have reached the VIII°. It has the authority to reverse the decisions of the Grand Tribunal.

4. The Grand Tribunal is composed of members of the degree of Grand Inquisitor Commander (a sub-degree of the VI°). Their primary duty is to hear and arbitrate disputes and complaints not resolved at the level of Chapters and Lodges.

1. At the national level, the highest body is the Grand Lodge, which is ruled by the National Grand Master. Within the Grand Lodge is an Executive Council, which consists of the Board of Directors, who are the National Grand Master, the Grand Secretary General, and the Grand Treasurer General.

2. The Supreme Grand Council consists of members of the VII° appointed by the National Grand Master X°. They are charged with:

the government of the whole of the Lovers Grade
Hearing and deciding appeals of the decisions of the Electoral College
Hearing reports of the Sovereign Grand Inspectors General VII° as to the affairs of the Initiate members of the Lovers Grade
3. The Electoral College consists of eleven members of the V° and is the first of the governing bodies. Its primary duty is to oversee the affairs of the Man of Earth Grade.

O.T.O. has a federally recognised tax-exempt status in the USA under IRS section 501c(3). It also has California charitable corporation status.

Current Grand Lodges
The US Grand Lodge is the governing body of O.T.O. in the United States of America. The U.S. National Grand Master is Fr. Sabazius X°, who was appointed in 1996.

According to their website, the Mission Statement of U.S.G.L. is as follows:

"Ordo Templi Orientis U.S.A. is the U.S. Grand Lodge (National Section) of Ordo Templi Orientis, a hierarchical, religious membership organization. Our mission is to effect and promote the doctrines and practices of the philosophical and religious system known as Thelema, with particular emphasis on cultivating the ideals of individual liberty, self-discipline, self-knowledge, and universal brotherhood. To this end, we conduct sacramental and initiatory rites, offer guidance and instruction to our members, organize social events, and engage in educational and community service activities at locations throughout the United States." [5]
The UK Grand Lodge is the governing body of O.T.O. in the United Kingdom. The U.K. National Grand Master is Fr. Hyperion X°, who was appointed in 2005 (93 years after the last Grand Master for the UK, Aleister Crowley, was elevated to that office).

The Gnostic Catholic Church
The Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica, or Gnostic Catholic Church, is the ecclesiastical arm of O.T.O. Its central activity is the celebration of Liber XV, The Gnostic Mass. In recent years, other rites have been written and approved for use within the church. These include Baptism, Confirmation (into the Laity), and Ordination (for Deacons, Priests & Priestesses, and Bishops), and Last Rites. There are also several "unofficial" rituals that are celebrated within the context of E.G.C., including Weddings, Visitation and Administration of the Virtues to the Sick, Exorcism, and Rites for Life and Greater Feasts.

O.T.O. bodies
At the Man of Earth level, there are three levels of Local Body, which are Camps, Oases, and Lodges.

1. Camps tend to be the smallest and are not required to perform intiations. They are encouraged to celebrate the Gnostic Mass.

2. Oases are the next largest, and should be able to initiate through the III°.

3. Lodges are the largest local body within the Man of Earth Grade, and are expected to celebrate the Gnostic Mass on a regular basis, work towards establishing a permanent temple, and have the ability to initiate through IV°/P.I.

4. Chapters of Rose Croix are bodies established by members of the Lover Grade. A Chapter is headed by a Most Wise Sovereign. They are generally charged with arranging social activities, such as plays, banquets, and dances. They also work to promote harmony among the members by tact and friendliness.

5. Guilds are groups recognized by O.T.O. International designed to promote a profession, trade, science or craft. Subject to approval by the Areopogus, they make their own regulations and coordinate their own efforts. There are currently three Guilds: the Psychology Guild, the Translators' Guild, and the Information Technology Guild.

6. The term Sanctuary is sometimes used to indicate a group of initiates organized for E.G.C. activities. This designation currently reflects no formal chartering process or official standing within the Order.

The beginnings
The founding of Ordo Templi Orientis began with a wealthy paper chemist, Carl Kellner (1851-1905). A student of the occult and familiar with several modern secret organizations, he had come to believe that he had discovered a “Key” to the symbolism of Freemasonry and to the Mysteries of Nature itself. He then aspired to create an Academia Masonica that would unifiy the various systems of Masonry. Kellner, along with an associate, Theodor Reuss (1855-1923), decided to call it the Oriental Templar Order. In 1902, Reuss, along with Franz Hartmann and Henry Klein, purchased the right to perform the Scottish, Memphis and Mizraim rites of Freemasonry, the authority of which was confirmed in 1904 and again in 1905. These rites, along with the Swedenborgian Rite, formed the core of the newly established Order. When Kellner died in 1905, Reuss assumed full control, becoming the first Outer Head of the Order.

O.T.O. and Aleister Crowley
Reuss met Aleister Crowley and in 1910 admitted him to the three degrees of O.T.O. Only two years later, Crowley was placed in charge of Great Britain and Ireland, and was advanced to the X°. The appointment included the operation of the Masonic degrees of O.T.O., which were called Mysteria Mystica Maxima. Within the year Crowley had written the Manifesto of the M.'.M.'.M.'. which described the basic ten-degree system—which was still principally Masonic—with Kellner’s three degree Academia Masonica forming the VII°, VIII° and IX°.

In 1913, Crowley composed the Gnostic Mass while in Moscow, which he described as being the Order’s “central ceremony of its public and private celebration.” In 1914, soon after World War I broke out, he moved to America. It was around this time that he decided to integrate Thelema into the O.T.O. system, and in 1915 had revised rituals prepared for use in his M.'.M.'.M.'.. He revised them again in 1918, and in so doing removed the rituals' ties to Masonry.

Lawrence Sutin writes in his Aleister Crowley biography that Reuss assigned Crowley to rewrite the rituals of the order, and accepted his Thelemic revisions. P.R. Koenig, who writes on the occult, denies the second part of this. But some Thelemites, including harsh critics of the "Caliphate" O.T.O., hold that Koenig allows bias against said organization to affect his work.

Crowley wrote that Theodor Reuss suffered a stroke in the Spring of 1920. In correspondence with one of his officers, Crowley expressed doubts about Reuss's competence to remain in office. Relations between Reuss and Crowley began to deteriorate. The two exchanged angry letters in November of 1921. Crowley informed Reuss that he was availing himself of Reuss's abdication from office and proclaiming himself the Outer Head of the Order. Reuss died on October 28, 1923. Crowley claimed in later correspondence that Reuss had designated him as his successor. Lawrence Sutin, among others, casts doubt on this claim. However, no other candidate stepped forward to refute Crowley by offering proof of succession. The Grand Master for Germany seemed to accept Crowley's claim at first, and signed an oath recognizing him as Prophet before their break.

During WWII, the European branches of O.T.O. were either destroyed or driven underground. By the end of the war, the only surviving O.T.O. body was Agapé Lodge in California, although there were various initiates in different countries. Very few initiations were being performed. At this time, Karl Germer, who had been Crowley’s representative in Germany, came over to America after being released from Nazi confinement. In 1942, Crowley appointed him as his successor as OHO, the office he filled after the death of Crowley in 1947.

O.T.O. after Crowley
Under Germer, O.T.O. activity dropped to near extinction. He died in 1962 without naming a successor. It was not until 1969 that anyone stepped into the void when Grady McMurtry invoked his emergency authorization from Crowley and assumed the title of Caliph. He began performing initiations in 1970. O.T.O. was incorporated under the laws of the State of California on March 26th, 1979. The corporation attained Federal Tax exemption as a religious entity under IRS Code 501(c)3 in 1982. Grady McMurtry died in 1985, having successfully saved the O.T.O. from extinction.

McMurtry requested that members of the Sovereign Sanctuary (members of the Ninth Degree) elect the next Outer Head of the Order, which they did in 1985. William Breeze was elected to become the next OHO, taking the name Hymenaeus Beta, and he continues in that office today. In 1996, Sabazius X° was appointed as National Grand Master General for the U.S. Grand Lodge. In 2005, Fr. Hyperion X° was appointed the National GMG of the newly formed U.K. Grand Lodge.

Schisms in the Thelemic community
Several competing factions currently claim to be the legitimate heirs to Aleister Crowley. After McMurtry revived O.T.O. in California, three others came forward to claim the title of OHO. Hermann Metzger had been a member of the early Swiss O.T.O. under Reuss. However, his claims were ignored by everyone outside of his country and he never pressed the issue. He died in 1990.

The other two were Kenneth Grant and Marcelo Ramos Motta. Grant had been expelled from O.T.O. in 1955 by Germer, but claims that Germer was never the legitimate OHO, and therefore the expulsion was void. He went on to found the organization known as the Typhonian Ordo Templi Orientis, which still claims a small but devoted following. Motta was never initiated into O.T.O. at all, but claimed that Germer’s wife, Sasha, told him that Karl’s last words stated that Motta was “the follower.” He sued for ownership of Crowley’s copyrights, which were denied to him by the U.S. District Court in Maine. Motta died in 1987, although various small groups calling themselves Society O.T.O. (S.O.T.O.) continue to exist (Society OTO of David Bersson -USA- and Societas OTO of Gabriel López de Rojas -Spain-). Both of these groups are quite different in structure and teachings from McMurtry's revived Ordo Templi Orientis (sometimes referred to as the Caliphate O.T.O., which remains organized largely as it was under Crowley).

The O.T.O. as revived by McMurtry has won two court cases regarding its legitimacy as the 'real' O.T.O. of Aleister Crowley. The hallmark cases were:

1976: the Superior Court in Calaveras County, California recognizes Grady McMurtry as the authorized representative of O.T.O.
1985: in the 9th Federal District Court in San Francisco, McMurtry is found to be the legitimate head of O.T.O. within the United States, and that O.T.O. under McMurtry is the continuation of the O.T.O. of Aleister Crowley, and the exclusive owner of the names, trademarks, copyrights and other assets of O.T.O. This decision is appealed to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals and upheld. The Supreme Court declined to hear a final appeal.
The following case is also significant in the Order's history, though it does not have much bearing on the issue of legitimacy:

2002: The United Kingdom High Court, in Ordo Templi Orientis v. John Symonds, Anthony Naylor and Mandrake Press, finds that O.T.O. as revived by McMurtry is the sole owner of the copyrights for all of the works of Aleister Crowley. In its particulars of claim, OTO had pled two mutually-exclusive routes to ownership of the copyrights: (a) through Crowley's will as the named beneficiary O.T.O., a route to title that had been affirmed in U.S. Federal Court but had never been tested under English law, and (b) the "bankruptcy route," on which theory O.T.O. acquired title to the copyrights from its 1991 from the U.K. Crown Official Receiver in Bankruptcy. The Chancery Master agreed that these two routes were largely mutually exclusive; if Crowley's copyrights were not an asset in his undischarged bankruptcy, then O.T.O. bought nothing, and could only claim through the will, under which the copyrights would have to pass; but if the rights were an asset in bankruptcy, then Crowley had lacked any power to make O.T.O. a bequest of them in his will. The court examined the bankruptcy aspect first, finding that O.T.O. acquired good title. The copyrights were thus Crown property between 1935 and 1991, making dozens of books -- even many of O.T.O.'s own editions -- unauthorized. Had the "will route" been tried, it would have given O.T.O. an opportunity to gain recognition in U.K. court as the legitimate continuation of Crowley's O.T.O., since that is a precondition to being found the rightful beneficiary of his will. Thus, the issue of the organisation's legitimacy did arise at trial, since it was pled into court, but it was not ruled upon. While there is no way to know whether, had it been tested, it would have been confirmed or denied, the O.T.O. made thorough legal preparations for this aspect of their case as detailed in their "Particulars of Claim". However, even O.T.O. would agree that it would be misleading to cite this case as affirming the organisation's historical legitimacy, since that issue went untried.
The teachings of O.T.O. include:

Sex Magick
Opposing views
Aleister Crowley and O.T.O. are frequently labeled as evil. Several Christian churches consider O.T.O. to be Satanic (although the tenets of Thelema do not include Satan or his worship) despite a dearth of evidence to support the claim.

There are those, including occultists and Thelemites of other organisations, such as members of Grant's Typhonian Ordo Templi Orientis, who do not agree that O.T.O. as revived by McMurtry is the sole legitimate continuation of the Order as headed by Aleister Crowley. Those who hold such views tend to refer to the O.T.O. as revived by McMurtry as the "Caliphate" O.T.O. (based on McMurtry's title of Caliph) so as to distinguish it from other organizations that use the name "Ordo Templi Orientis". There are even members of the O.T.O. as revived by McMurtry who refer to the organization as the "Caliphate", though this is discouraged.

Other organizations that use the O.T.O. name and consider themselves to be legitimate continuations of O.T.O., are O.T.O. Foundation, Albion O.T.O., The Parzival XI° O.T.O. Foundation.

In 2002, an ex-member writing under the pseudonym Satyr published on the web 'The Black Lodge of Santa Cruz', a detailed account of events from his viewpoint in O.T.O., Inc. [6]

See also
Aleister Crowley
Lon Milo Duquette
Typhonian Ordo Templi Orientis
Homunculus: sex magick.
Crowley, Aleister (1979). The Confessions of Aleister Crowley. London; Boston : Routledge & Kegan Paul.
Free Encyclopedia of Thelema (2005). Oath. Retrieved November 17, 2005.
Satyr (2002). The Black Lodge of Santa Cruz. Retrieved April 7, 2005.
Thelemapedia (2005). Ordo Templi Orientis. Retrieved January 11, 2005. William Breeze OHO
External links
U.S. Grand Lodge of O.T.O.
U.K. Grand Lodge of O.T.O.
O.T.O. History
The Invisible Basilica of Sabazius: The personal website of Fr. Sabazius, Grand Master General of U.S. Grand Lodge, O.T.O.
The Norwegian O.T.O
Other organizations
The Typhonian OTO Societas OTO
Reference sites
Thelemapedia, the Encyclopedia of Thelema & Magick
The Ordo Templi Orientis Phenomenon, a large non-affiliated site with extensive background information about the various OTO factions.
Survey of O.T.O. History with an Emphasis on Marin County, CA
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Categories: Secret societies | Thelema



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Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn
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It has been suggested that this article or section be merged with Golden Dawn tradition. (Discuss)
Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers, in Egyptian costume, performs a ritual of Isis (not a Rite of the Golden Dawn).The "Golden Dawn," as it is commonly referred to, is a tradition of magical theurgy and spiritual development. It is probably the single greatest influence on 20th century western occultism. Concepts of magic and ritual that became core elements of many other traditions, including Wicca, Thelema and other forms of magical spirituality popular today, are drawn from the Golden Dawn traditions.

Influences on Golden Dawn concepts and work include: Christian mysticism, Kabbalah, Hermeticism, Paganism of Egypt, Theurgy, Hermeticism, Freemasonry, Alchemy, Theosophy, Eliphas Levi, Papus, Enochian Magic, and medieval grimoires.

Contents [hide]
1 Origins
2 The Cipher Manuscripts
3 The Golden Age of the Golden Dawn
4 The Breakup of the Original Order
5 The Modern Revival
6 Philosophy
7 The Secret Chiefs
8 The Structure of the Order
8.1 The Grades of the Golden Dawn
9 Light in Extension
10 See also
11 References
12 External links

The original "Order of the Golden Dawn" was a magical fraternity founded in London in 1888 by Dr. William Wynn Westcott, a London physician and municipal coroner. His partners were another physician, Dr. William R. Woodman, and Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers. All three men were Freemasons. (However, sometime after becoming a member of the Golden Dawn, S.L. Macgregor Mathers became inactive in Freemasonry.) Dr. Woodman was the head of a reputable Rosicrucian fellowship made up of well respected, high ranking Masons in London. The three founders were also members of the Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia (S.R.I.A.), an exclusive lodge founded by the noted Grand Lodge Freemason Kenneth MacKenzie, author of The Royal Masonic Encyclopedia. The S.R.I.A. was established in 1866 with Lord Bulwer-Lytton as honorary patron. Important members included Frederick Hockley, who collected esoteric writing and engaged in practical experimentation; he is reliably known to have been taught by a pupil of Francis Barrett, and was a teacher of Kenneth MacKenzie. The Christian spiritualist leader Rev. William Stainton Moses was also a member of the S.R.I.A.

Westcott, also a member of the Theosophical Society, seems to have been the initial driving force behind the establishment of the Golden Dawn. Woodman, as Supreme Magus of the S.R.I.A., was undoubtedly recruited to lend credibility to the new organization. Mathers was an antiquarian, translator, researcher and had a great talent for composing ritual works and integrating occult symbolism. In addition, Mathers insisted on women being allowed to participate in the Order in "perfect equality" with men. This was a marked change from the men-only tradition of Masonry. And unlike the S.R.I.A., which required its members to be Christian, the Golden Dawn was open to any man or woman who professed "belief in a Supreme Being or Beings".

The Cipher Manuscripts
According to its founders, the Golden Dawn was based on a charter from a supposedly ancient German Rosicrucian Lodge, which had written a coded record of their secret occult rituals into a document dubbed the Cipher Manuscripts. Westcott claimed to have acquired these mysterious manuscripts in 1886, from the effects of Reverend A. F. A. Woodford, an elderly Masonic scholar. Copies of these records were subsequently discovered by Westcott among assorted papers of the Swedenborgian Rite that MacKenzie had left to Woodford after his death in 1886, which were turned over by Woodford's widow to Westcott, in his capacity as an Officer of the S.R.I.A..

According to Westcott, the Cipher Manuscripts also contained an address of an aged adept named "Fräulein Sprengel" in Germany, to whom Westcott wrote inquiring about the contents of the papers. Fraulein Sprengel responded, and after accepting the requests of Westcott and Mathers, issued them a charter to operate a Lodge of the Order in England. Westcott's first Golden Dawn Temple was the Isis-Urania Lodge, styled "No.3". Temple No.1 would have been Fraulein Sprengel's lodge, and No. 2 was supposedly an abortive attempt at a lodge by some unnamed persons in London, (possibly a reference to MacKenzie and other S.R.I.A. members some years earlier.)

The Golden Age of the Golden Dawn
In its heyday, many cultural celebrities belonged to the Golden Dawn, such as actress Florence Farr and Irish revolutionary Maude Gonne. Some well known members included Arthur Machen, William Butler Yeats, and Aleister Crowley. (Bram Stoker is rumored to have once been a member, but it has never been proven.) But many men and women of the 19th century Fin de siècle social culture were members of the Golden Dawn.

The original Lodge founded in 1888 did not teach any magical practices per se (except for basic "banishing" rituals and meditation), but was rather a philosophical and metaphysical teaching Order. This was called "the Outer Order", and for four years the Golden Dawn existed only in "the Outer". The "Inner Order", which became active in 1892, was the circle of Adepts who had completed the entire course of study and Initiations of the Outer Order contained in the Cipher Manuscripts. This group eventually became known as the Second Order (the Outer Order being the "First" Order).

Many accounts have credited the development of the ritual outlines of the Cipher Manuscript to a workable form to Mathers. However, Dr. Westcott was probably a considerable influence as well. (Golden Dawn researcher R.A. Gilbert has found evidence which suggests that Westcott was instrumental in developing the Order's rituals from the Cipher Manuscript. See Gilbert's article, "From Cipher to Enigma: The Role of William Wynn Westcott in the Creation of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn," from Carroll Runyon's book "Secrets of the Golden Dawn Cypher Manuscripts".) Mathers, however, is generally creditied with the design of the curriculum and rituals of the Second Order, which he called the Rosae Rubae et Aureae Crucis ("Ruby Rose and Golden Cross", or the "RR et AC".) Some Golden Dawn practitioners believe that Mathers received his materials from the "Secret Chiefs" connected to his German Rosicrucian predessors, which is what he claimed to his followers. Some believe that S.L. Macgregor Mathers and his wife Moina channeled the materials, and later refined and developed them, as was done with the Cipher Manuscripts. Mathers' exegesis of the Cipher materials as practiced by the original Temples is known as the "Z-2". The Order tradition is to designate it's important "secret" instructional papers as "Z Documents".

The primary Lodges were the original Isis-Urania Temple in London, the Amen-Ra Temple in Edinburgh, and the Ahathoor Temple in Paris. It is unknown how many members the Order had in its heyday, as some lodges' records were lost or destroyed, but estimates range from three to five hundred. Only a small group, probably well under one hundred, ever became part of the Second Order. There were a few other "temples", consisting of small groups scattered in Europe and America, generally meeting in private homes. Mathers left London in 1894 to live in Paris, and his temple there became the nominal center of the organization, though it was notable chiefly for his presence. Westcott remained in London as Chief Adept in Anglica (England.)

By the end of the 19th century, Dr. Woodman had passed away, and Dr. Westcott had curtailed his participation in official activities after several occult manuscripts of the Order, in a case bearing his address, had been left in a London taxicab and came to the attention of his superiors in the city government. Not wishing any hint of scandal over "secret occult societies" that had officials of the Crown in their ranks (especially a coroner, who could conceivably cover up a suspicious cause of death), Westcott's employers insisted he disassociate himself with the Order. There are accounts of a similar incident in 1889 which caused him to stop lecturing for the Esoteric Section of the Theosophical Society. Aleister Crowley later alleged in his autobiography that Mathers deliberately planted the documents to consolidate his control of the Order by forcing Westcott's resignation, and this was rumored or suspected at the time. While there is no proof of Mather's complicity, it appears that the relationship between he and Westcott all but ended after this point. After Westcott's departure, Mathers appointed Florence Farr to be Chief Adept in Anglica. (Although Westcott publicly resigned, he must have continued in some capacity since there are Lodge documents bearing his signature dated years after his "resignation.")

However, this left Mathers as the only active founding member and in charge of the Order. Due to personality clashes with other members, and being absent from the center of Lodge activity in Great Britain, challenges to Mathers' authority as leader began to develop among the members of the Second Order.

The Breakup of the Original Order
After 13 years of operation, a majority of the high-ranking members in London fostered a schism of the British lodges from Mathers in 1900, which led to further schisms and more splinter groups. The original Golden Dawn ceased to exist under that name in 1903 but which continued under at least two spin-off organizations, the Stella Matutina (Morning Star) and the Alpha et Omega, as well as a renamed faction headed by Arthur Edward Waite.

In 1900, Mathers had entered into a disastrous relationship with a husband and wife named Mr. and Mrs. Theo Horos. This couple had carved out a living for a number of years as "confidence frauds with an occult slant." The Horos' had apparently developed some kind of relationship with one of the American temples and had either acquired or forged some Order papers and credentials. Based on these credentials and a mesmeric personality, the Horos' were able to con Mathers out of Order documents, which they used to set up spurious "temples" and operate confidence schemes. Word of their illicit operations eventually reached Mathers, who subsequently denounced them as frauds, and they were tried and convicted of fraud and sexual misconduct in 1902.

By 1903 the name "Golden Dawn" was dropped by both Mathers and by the various splinter groups to avoid the growing public scandal. The Stella Matutina closed its doors in the United Kingdom before WWII, but continued to function under the popular name Whare Ra in New Zealand until the late 1970s. Mathers' Alpha et Omega had a few members in America in the early 20th century, but no groups are known to have continued after the death of his wife Moina in 1928.

The Modern Revival
In 1914, Aleister Crowley published the texts of the Initiation rituals of the Outer Order in his serial publication, "The Equinox". Real circulation of the materials didn't happen until after World War I, when they created quite a stir in the occult community. The secrets of the Golden Dawn became available to the general public, and were a major part of the occult "revival" of the 1920's. Israel Regardie, who was once Crowley's secretary, published the complete initiation rites, along with a selection of the workings and instructional documents that were in his possession, of the Stella Matutina (essentially identical to the original Golden Dawn rituals and teachings) in the early 1930s. While this action supposedly violated the Order's oaths of secrecy, Regardie claims he believed at the time no functioning lodges remained, and feared the work of the Order would otherwise be lost forever.

In the 1920s and 30s more schisms occurred, and by the onset of World War II most of the original Lodges were gone, except for a few small groups (notably in America and New Zealand) that could claim direct descent from the original Lodges, finally dying out in the 1970s. But even as the original lodges died away, new adherents and Initiates of the old Adepts began to revive the Order, reclaiming the name of the Golden Dawn. Lodges currently exist in Europe, the Americas, South Africa and Australia. Numbers are hard to estimate, but there are likely hundreds if not thousands of people currently involved in organized Golden Dawn groups, and many solo practioners. Some can claim lineage of one kind or another to the original lodges by "apostolic succession" (i.e. Adepts having gone on to establish their own Lodges without any official charters), others simply follow the legacy of the original Order according to the wealth of published material available to the public, either in organized lodges or as solo practitioners. This being the case, there is no universally recognized central authority, though there are lodges and individuals that lay claim to it.

There are a few organized Golden Dawn groups today that lay claim to the "undiluted" lineage of the original Temples. Generally, this takes the form of issuing claims (especially on the Internet) of being chartered by an offshoot Temple of Isis-Urania Lodge No.3.. Moina Mathers, having assumed the role of Imperatrix after her husband's death in 1918, chartered a few Lodges in Europe and America after her husband died. Claims of lineage are usually by connection to one of these temples.

The publication of the Golden Dawn corpus figured prominently in the occult "revival" of the 1960s. Before his death in 1985, Regardie was involved in initiatives to reestablish the Golden Dawn tradition. Other groups founded by former Golden Dawn associates, such as the Builders of the Adytum (B.O.T.A.) of Paul Foster Case and the Society of Inner Light of Dion Fortune, continue to exist today. The historical and cultural legacy of the Golden Dawn has been more influential on modern occultism than any other esoteric organization or body of knowledge. Although the original Golden Dawn teachings showed a strong influence of esoteric Christianity, almost every expression of Western occult spirituality and neo-paganism today owes a debt to the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn.

The primary basis of the Golden Dawn philosophy is an integrated Western Hermeticism, organized into a more or less coherent structure. The Golden Dawn's Hermetic roots came together from the philosophies of the ancient Egyptians and Greeks, with Gnosticism and Neo-Platonism merging in the second and third century; with influence from the Moslem Sufis brought to Europe by Crusader orders; the Qabala—itself influenced by Neo-Platonism -- and alchemy, merging in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. The philosophy of the Inner Order, more so than that of the Outer, was also heavily influenced by mystic Christianity and Rosicrucian ideals. By the mid-1800s, the final additions to what we recognize as Western Magic Tradition are complete—the Tarot, Astrology, and Talismanic Magic. To this mix the Golden Dawn added Enochian Magic, a system developed in the late 16th century by Dr. John Dee, astrologer and cartographer to Queen Elizabeth I, and the Hindu meditation system of Tattvas, along with the Tantric principles of the Chakras.

Before the Golden Dawn, attempts to draw the mass of Western tradition together into a coherent system had been flawed, or incomplete. Barrett and Constant (Levi) had both attempted a system that unified Western tradition. But it would be the Golden Dawn which produced a balanced and harmonious system which included all the disparate elements of Western Esotericism.

At its core, the philosophy of the Golden Dawn is one of perfectible humanism; that by use of the esoteric tools and techniques passed down from antiquity, a human being can advance in spiritual knowledge and magical power, and with hard work and discipline, come to control his or her own destiny.

The Secret Chiefs
The Order is meant to be the repository of great spiritual knowledge passed down from ancient sources. Though some sources such as Imhotep, King Solomon, Hermes Trismegistus and Christian_Rosenkreutz are part of the legendary history of the Order; the original founders (in particular Mathers) expounded a doctrine of "The Secret Chiefs", who collectively represented the "Third" or highest Order of the Western Magical tradition. Mathers declared these Chiefs of the Order were living human beings, or perhaps "evolved" human beings, that possessed the secrets of immortality, omniscience, and superhuman magical powers. He claimed to be in personal contact with certain of these Chiefs, and based his authority as the indisputable leader of the Order on instructions supposedly handed down from them.

Other Golden Dawn Lodges and Adepts also claimed to be "in contact" with Secret Chiefs, and the original schisms of the Golden Dawn can almost be seen as various "Chiefs" issuing conflicting orders to their contacts. Mathers claimed that he actually met Chiefs in person and that they had physical bodies. Florence Farr believed herself to have psychically contacted a Chief, in a manner similar to what is now called "channeling", and was even authorized by Mathers in 1897 to form a working group, "The Sphere Group", to make further contact with this Chief. Aleister Crowley claimed that a spiritual entity named "Aiwass", who was a Secret Chief, dictated to him in 1904 the "Book of the Law" which was to be the basis of a new Hermetic philosophy. Another faction led by F.W. Felkin, moved their Temple to New Zealand to await the physical arrival of their Chief, who unfortunately never showed up. Generally, each faction refused to acknowledge the authority of another faction's contact with a "Secret Chief."

Many Golden Dawn practitioners today believe that the Secret Chiefs are not necessarily living humans or supernatural beings, but are the symbolic "current" of all the actual and legendary sources of spiritual esotericism. Any great leader or teacher of a spiritual path or practice that found its way into the teachings of the Order -- and that definition covers a wide range, from paganism to Buddhism to Judeo-Christianity -- can be considered as a Secret Chief of the Golden Dawn. They are "secret" not by virtue of being unknown to the outside world, but rather that their knowledge has found its way into the "secrets" of the Order. Their teachings are "secret" because they can only be fully understood by someone who embarks on the path of spiritual advancement and attains Adepthood.

The Structure of the Order
The Golden Dawn follows a "fraternal lodge" model similar to freemasonry, with titles, degrees and initiations. The Order purports to be a meritocracy, with advancement based on tests of knowledge and demonstration of skills.

In the Outer Order, both the layout of the Temple and the functions of Officers seem to closely mirror those of the Blue Lodge of Masonry. The names of the Grades, or degrees of initiation, as well as the titles bestowed upon initiates, were taken from old sources such as the German Masonic "Gold und Rosen-kreutzers", and Pianco's 1781 book, Der Rosenkreutzer in seiner Blosse. In the Inner Order, the Rosicrucian drama enacted in the initiation rituals is reminiscent of that in the "Rose Croix" degree of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, and is certainly related to the ceremonies of the S.R.I.A. The Grades in the Golden Dawn are based on the symbolism of the Qabalistic Tree of Life.

The Grades of the Golden Dawn
First Order:

Introduction—Neophyte 0=0
Zelator 1=10
Theoricus 2=9
Pracitcus 3=8
Philosophus 4=7
Second Order:

Intermediate—Portal Grade
Adeptus Minorus 5=6
Adeptus Majorus 6=5
Adeptus Exemptus 7=4
Third Order:

Magister Templi 8=3
Magus 9=2
Ipsissimus 10=1
The paired numbers attached to the Grades relate to positions on the Tree of Life. The Neophyte Grade of "0=0" indicates no position on the Tree. For the others, the first numeral is the number of steps up from the bottom (Malkuth), and the second numeral is the number of steps down from the top (Kether).

The First Order Grades are related to the four Classical Elements of Earth, Air, Water and Fire, respectively. The Aspirant to a Grade receives instruction on the metaphysical meaning of each of these Elements, and must pass a written examination and demonstrate certain skills to receive Admission to that Grade.

The Portal Grade is the initiation for admittance to the Second Order. In most Lodges, the Circle of existing Adepts must consent to allow an Aspirant to join the Second Order.

The Second Order is not, properly, part of the "Golden Dawn", but a separate Order in its own right, known as the R.R. et A.C. The Second Order directed the teachings of the First Order, and was the governing force behind the First Order.

After passing the Portal, the Aspirant begins to be instructed in the techniques of practical Magic. When another examination is passed, and the other Adepts consent, the Aspirant attains the Grade of Adeptus Minor 5=6. (In the original Order, there were four sub-Grades of instruction for the Adeptus Minor, again relating to the four Outer Order grades.)

A member of the Second Order has the power and authority to initiate aspirants to the First Order, though usually not without the permission of the Chiefs of his or her Lodge.

Light in Extension
The original Golden Dawn left behind a legacy that continues to inspire students of the esoteric arts to this day. Modern neo-pagan practices such as "circle casting", use of the pentagram, hexagram and other geometric forms as sacred symbols, "out-of-body" experiences, the Tarot cards, talismans, astrology and many others, can find their roots in the Golden Dawn. While the Order may not have originated all these forms, they synthesized them into a coherent body of work that continues to appeal to occultists and esoteric scholars more than 100 years later. The Light of the Golden Dawn continues to be extended to this day.

"Let us work, therefore, my brethren, and effect righteousness, because the Night cometh when no man shall labour... May the Light which is behind the Veil shine through you from your Throne in the East on the Fratres and Sorores of the Order and lead them to the perfect day, when the glory of this world passes and a great Light shines over the splendid sea." -- S.L. MacGregor Mathers

See also
Argentinum Astrum (A.A.)
Magic (paranormal)
Tattva vision

Colquhoun, Ithell. Sword of Wisdom: Macgregor Mathers and the Golden Dawn. (Neville Spearman, 1975) ISBN 0854350926.
Greer, Mary K. Women of the Golden Dawn. (Park Street, 1994) ISBN 0892815167.
Gilbert, Robert A. The Golden Dawn: Twilight of the Magicians. The Aquarian Press, 1983. ISBN 0850302781.
Gilbert, Robert A. The Golden Dawn Companion. Weiser Books, (1986) ISBN: 0850304369
Gilbert, Robert A. Golden Dawn Scrapbook - The Rise and Fall of a Magical Order Weiser Books (1998) ISBN 1578630371
Howe, Ellic. The Magicians of the Golden Dawn: A Documentary History of a Magical Order 1887-1923. Samuel Weiser (1978). ISBN 0877283699.
Regardie, Israel, et. al., eds., The Golden Dawn: A Complete Course in Practical Ceremonial Magic (Llewellyn, 1989) ISBN 0875426638
Runyon, Carroll Secrets of the Golden Dawn Cipher Manuscripts, (C.H.S., 1997) ISBN 0965488128
External links
Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, Inc.
Ordo Stella Matutina
The Open Source Order of the Golden Dawn
Golden Dawn Images
Builders of the Adytum (B.O.T.A.)
Servants of Light
Photocopies and the translation of the original Cipher Manuscripts (
Dawn research center
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Categories: Articles to be merged | New religious movements | Esotericism | Hermeticism | Occult



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Jack Parsons
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John Whiteside (Jack) Parsons (October 2, 1914 – June 17, 1952), born Marvel Whiteside Parsons, was a rocket propulsion researcher at the California Institute of Technology and co-founder of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and Aerojet Corporation. His research was central to the United States rocket program in the 1930s and 1940s, notably in the development of space-capable rocket fuels and the invention of JATO units for aircraft.

He is less well known than Wernher von Braun or Theodore von Kármán in the rocket program and the origins of JPL. Nonetheless, von Braun remarked that Parsons, and not he, should be regarded as the father of the American space program [1].

Parsons was also an avid practitioner of the occult arts, and a follower of Thelema. He was chosen by Aleister Crowley to lead Agape Lodge, the Thelemic Ordo Templi Orientis (O.T.O.) in California in 1941. He was also the sometime magickal partner of L. Ron Hubbard. The two participated in a ritual known as the Babalon Working which is famous in occult circles — loosely, an attempt to summon a goddess and change the course of history. This relationship lasted until 1947, when Hubbard defrauded Parsons of a sum of money (and ran off with his girlfriend). In return, Parsons failed to notify Hubbard that he had received a letter from the United States Navy informing Hubbard of his long-coveted promotion to the rank of lieutenant commander [2]. In 1946 he met the artist and poet Marjorie Cameron, with whom he decided to create a "moonchild" (in this context best described as an Thelemic messiah). The same year he resigned the O.T.O..

Jack Parsons died on June 17, 1952 in a laboratory explosion which is generally regarded as accidental. An extensive online library of his seminal writings regarding the Babalon Working has been maintained since 1997 at

A crater on the far side of the Moon has been named after him.

External links
The Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Aerojet corporation
Sex and Rockets – The Occult World of Jack Parsons by John Carter. Introduction by Robert Anton Wilson.
Strange Angel: The Otherworldly Life of Rocket Scientist John Whiteside Parsons by George Pendle bio

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Categories: Rocket stubs | Chemist stubs | American scientist stubs | Thelema | 1914 births | 1952 deaths | Autodidacts | American occultists | American chemists

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