Typhonian Ordo Templi Orientis
It's An Ill Wind That Bloweth ...

Michael Staley

Bearing in mind the old adage that a leopard can never change its spots, readers of Starfire may be interested to know of the recent actions of the leadership of the Caliphate O.T.O. in interfering with the distribution in America of Kenneth Grant's recently-published book, Hecate's Fountain. It not only fuels the growing perception that the Caliphate leadership have no conception of Thelema beyond that of a personality cult focused around their patron saint, Aleister Crowley; it also shows that they are zealous to enforce their lack of vision as the prevailing orthodoxy.

The American distribution had been proceeding apace for several weeks, when the Caliphate leadership demanded of the distributors. and through them Skoob Publishing, that a "flyer" be associated with each copy of the book. This was a disclaimer or "health warning"; it reiterated their objections to Grant and his work, and the body of the text was as follows:

Mr. Kenneth Grant was expelled from Ordo Templi Orientis in 1955 by Frater Superior Saturnus (Karl Johannes Germer), the world head of the O.T.O. at that time. The cause was Mr. Grant's unilateral creation of his "Nu-Isis Lodge", which act violated the limited authority to operate a Camp of the O.T.O. given to Mr. Grant by the O.T.O. some years ago.
At the time of Mr. Grant's expulsion, Ordo Templi Orientis did not find that the "Nu-Isis Lodge" represented the aims, ideals or philosophy of O.T.O. Our position is unchanged today.
O.T.O. believes that Mr. Grant has a fundamental right to publish his opinions and personal researches, and have not sought to oppose his exercise of this basic right. However, we feel obliged to inform readers that the magical system described in this present work bears little or no resemblance to the Ordo Templi Orientis as designed by Aleister Crowley and his predecessors, and which continues to flourish.
Further, Mr. Grant's interpretations of Liber AL vel Legis, The Book of the Law , are his own.

This is, to say the least, a highly contentious statement. It alleges not only that the Caliphate are the direct, uninuterrupted continuation of the O.T.O. as it was in Crowley's day; but also that Grant was expelled from the ranks of the righteous for some gross misdemeanour. Both claims are false; not unnaturally, therefore, Grant sought the right of reply. The body of it was as follows:

In defence to my publisher and to my readers, the following is my response (as it has been for fifty years past) to the "information" contained in the "flyer" which accompanies this book:
Mr. Karl J. Germer himself put it on record in his own letters to me that after Crowley's death there was no O.T.O. functioning in America, north or south, and that he was not the "Outer Head of the Order", but simply its Treasurer. These being the facts, Mr. Germer was not in a position to effect such expulsion from the Order as is claimed by the interpolator of the "flyer" enclosed in this book.

The inclusion of a reply to their claim was not an unreasonable request, one would have thought; not so the Caliphate leadership, who rejected it out of hand. Due to the threat of being caught up in expensive litigation, the distributors and Skoob reluctantly acceded to their demands.

Unfortunately the matter did not stop there. The Caliphate leadership also protested over the use of the lamen of the O.T.O. on the cover and spine of Grant's book. The lamen was, they maintained, their "trademark"; they are apparently oblivious of the fact that the lamen is a mystical glyph and not simply a corporate letter-heading. Again, the threat of legal action has an effect on commercial concerns, and as a result subsequent books by Kenneth Grant are appearing under his own sigil instead.

In the midst of this affair came a bizarre offer from the Caliphate leadership to "reinstate" Kenneth Grant to the IX*, and to waive the consequent backlog of fees from 1955 to the present day which would then fall due. This does not at first sight seem to be consistent with their position as outlined in the statement above; let us pause, therefore, to savour the implications. After all, the "flyer" makes plain their endorsement of Germer's supposed expulsion in 1955; furthermore, it is a complaint of the Caliphate leadership that Grant gives the O.T.O. a bad, not to say sinister, image. Odd, then, that they seek so soon to clasp the erstwhile bête noire to their bosom. The real strategy behind this offer is not exactly difficult to discern, however - once back in the fold of the righteous, Grant could be subject to corporate discipline and effectively silenced. As Machiavellian manoeuvres go it is none too subtle a strategy, and throws consistency to the winds.

At the root of this whole affair is a fundamental difference of vision. Thelema is either a continuing, developing current having antecedents going back many thousands of years and through a variety of different traditions; or it is nothing more than a cult of personality centred around Aleister Crowley, whose heirs have a duty to keep it in pristine, unsullied condition. It is of course this latter view - not a vision, but that blind dogma which typifies the absence of vision - to which the Caliphate leadership cling, and which they peddle as Thelema. However, they mistake the shadow for the substance, and they seek to cast a specific phase of the O.T.O. in aspic as a museum piece. It is their intention to build a shore on what they characterise as the blueprints laid down by the Master, and thus to make of Thelema some sort of Taj Mahal.

Thelema, though, is a quintessence - a vital current embracing a multitude of traditions. This development is continuous; it didn't start on 12th October 1875, and neither did it stop on 1st December 1947. Crowley's work has to be seen against this background of a continuing, developing tradition; it is then apparent that it constitutes one phase in the evolution of the current. To see to freeze the current in one particular development, to insist that Crowleyanity is the be-all and end-all of Thelema, is sterility. This occult necrophilia may be fine for those of such tastes; but when the Caliphate leadership seek to enforce their narrow, dreary concept of the O.T.O. by dint of legal threats, then it is clearly time for their demise. The Order as it was in Crowley's days was a transient phase, and its time was done long ago.

In the course of the development of a current, it changes and evolves. It is the responsibility of successors to develop the work of their predecessors. Avenues which once seemed promising may now appear redundant, and are sloughed off the main body of tradition. Conversely, fresh approaches may presen themselves, developments which perhaps were not apparent before. In this way the tradition is growing, vital, fresh. Thelema is alive; ossification is anathema to the current, which will bypass rigid structures, leaving the denizens of such structures to fester to their hearts' content in some stagnant backwater. The objection of the Caliphate leadership to Kenneth Grant is simply that he has not regarded Crowley's work as a holy and awesome canon, delivered from a high and set in stone, to be worshipped here and hereafter in hushed, reverential whispers. Their approach is that of fools without imagination; let the dead bury their dead. The Caliphate leadership insist that they are the exclusive repository of the O.T.O. lineage, and all others are fraudulent. It is their insistence on this point which has destroyed harmony and co-operation between the various parts of the Order. The truth about their claim is that it has no basis in fact whatever. This can be established clearly by examining certain aspects of the history of the Order.

In common with many occult Orders, the genesis of the O.T.O. in its modern guise is unclear. Around the turn of this century, Karl Kellner and Theodor Reuss - both Continental Freemasons - obtained a charter from John Yarker authorising them to formulate a German Lodge of the Egyptian Rite of Memphis and Misraim. It is as well to note that by this time, Yarker had fallen out of favour with the masonic establishment [expelled in November 1870], and supplemented his income by selling such charters to those who could afford them. Once they had their charter, Kellner and Reuss contracted the total 187 degrees of the combined rite to nine, and added a tenth degree which was administrative [note by P.R. Koenig: it is highly speculative that Kellner knew about the OTO]. The name Ordo Templi Orientis was adopted in line with their notion of a surviving transmission of initiation from the Knights Templar. Reuss took over as Grand Master in 1905 when Kellner died unexpectedly in Egypt [note by P.R. Koenig: Carl Kellner died in Vienna], and in the next few years authorised the formation of a number of dependent lodges. In 1912 Reuss appointed Crowley as the British head of the O.T.O., and later chartered his colleague Charles Stansfeld Jones (Frater Achad) as the head in North America and Canada.

In 1922 Reuss relinquished the post of Grand Master on the grounds of ill-health, and nominated Crowley as his successor [Remark by P.R. Koenig: Reuss got rid of Crowley in 1921]. However, the reins of leadership did not pass smoothly. Some of the existing lodges had harboured reservations about Crowley for years. Simply, many of them went their own ways, and thus the Order was splintered; the present-day Ordo Templi Orientis Antiqua, for instance, now aligned with Michael Bertiaux, takes its descent from a pre-Crowleyan branch. Some reorganisation of the Order was undertaken by Crowley, but he retained its masonic or quasi-masonic structure, with its trappings of fees, secret signs, passwords, ritual conferring of grades, etc. Something of a doctrinal Thelemic influence seems to have been infused into the grade rituals, and the degrees appear to have been reorganised to some extent, but the structural masonic influence is clear. A glimpse of this type of stucture can be gained from the Blue Equinox.

The masonic influence is not altogether surprising. During the closing years of the last century and the opening years of this, when the modern "occult revival" is deemed to have gathered impetus, many of the occult groups seem to have sprung from masonic or quasi-masonic organisations. Many of the founders of these groups were themselves Freemasons, and they carried over with them the preoccupations with charters, grades, secret passwords, grips and the like. Crowley was to some extent a product of the old, patriarchal Aeon, and seems to have been unable to get away from the idea of such old-Aeon structures. This is perhaps demonstrated by his limited remodelling of the Order after he took over the leadership.

Despite Crowley's ambitions throughout the years, he died in 1947 without nominating a clear magical heir or successor. During the last few years of his life, his trusted lieutenant was Karl Germer. Crowley appears to have inducted Germer straight into the IX* of the Order, and the latter had no acquaintance with the earlier grades that a more orthodox progression through the structure would have given him. Germer was the Grand Treasurer General, and the financial burden of directing the affairs of the Order seems to haven fallen largely on his shoulders. It is curious that, although Crowley came to see Germer as being his successor, he did not take the trouble to train him for the position, nor even establish whether Germer himself felt up to the task. When Crowley died, he left behind a very confused state of affairs. Although it was his wish that Germer succeed him, Germer felt that he was not equal to the task, and declined to become O.H.O. Thus he remained as Grand Treasurer General, fulfilling the role of curator of an Order that was effectively dormant. In the years following Crowley's death the Order was rudderless and in disarray. Some lodges went their own ways, and others just withered.

This picture of the Order following Crowley's death can be substantiated. Kenneth Grant was a member of the Sovereign Sanctuary of the Order, and corresponded with Germer on Order affairs. This correspondence is voluminous, and is of particular interest for the light that it sheds on these matters. In particular, it substantiates the position that Germer refused the office of O.H.O. Indeed, far from claiming the office, he took every opportunity of disavowing it.

In a letter to Grant dated 24 September 1948, Germer advises him that

... You should study all that is published about the Constitution etc of the O.T.O. and digest it. You would have known that I am not the O.H.O. I do not know whether I would accept the job if it were pressed on me.

It is clear from the above extract that the job had not been pressed upon him, and that he woule feel reluctant to be "drafted" into the position. In a subsequent letter to Grant, dated, 25 May 1951, he expands upon this:

... In the first place, do not refer to me as your superior in the Order. That is only true in an extremely limited sense. What I appear to be in the O.T.O. has been thrust upon me, against my will. I will do what I can; but I shall refuse to make claims that go against my grain. I am strictly speaking the Grand Treasurer General of the O.T.O. No more, no less! The whole situation shouts for somebody who has the will and the guts and the capacity to grow into supreme leadership. If he comes along he will have my full support. But I, personally, am not going to sail under false pretences. I have told everybody that I never learnt Rituals, never saw them performed; nor the Mass: in short, I have no feeling for Order-organisation.

Gemer went on reiterating this point - that he was not the O.H.O., did not wish to be, and felt himself inadequate for the task. More interestingly, however, he began to see Grant as a potential O.H.O. The following passages are extracted from a letter to Grant dated 18 January 1952:

... As you know, I never went through the O.T.O. grades; I don't know ritual, or the rituals. But A.C. made me Grand Treasurer General with the financial burden mostly on my personal shoulders ...
... I have never gone systematically through the grades, etc. I, therefore, cannot advise on this side of the work. I have come to the conviction that you are being trained for just this, and I am sure that you have the passion, the capacity for intensive work, and the Will to reach Mastery in this department or field.

The whole position is well summarised in the following extracts from a letter to Grant dated 18 January 1952:

... Nor am I against the O.T.O. system, or the system of Degrees. Only, paradoxically, I have very little interest in it. I wish someone could take the whole work, and the responsibility for the burden which A.C. laid on my incompetent shoulders, off me! What I hate more than anything is to sail under false pretences. I repeat what I've said before: I have never gone through an O.T.O. initiation or graduation; I've never been present at a Gnostic Mass performance ... I do not know the password, grips etc. of even the lower degrees of the O.T.O. Briefly: A.C. appointed me to the highest grade and responsability without coaching me for the job. If we want to get the O.T.O. properly going again, we need a competent leader, not only for England but for the world. It must be somebody who knows the thing inside out; who has a goal, not only for a period of his own life-span, but beyond that. I have often thought that you might well be chosen for the job ...
... You ask me: what is going on elsewhere concerning the O.T.O. There is no active Lodge, as such in the U.S.A., of the O.T.O. What is done is by old members individually.

It is clear from these extracts that Germer did not consider himself to be O.H.O., and it is surprising - given his repeated disavowals - that he has come generally to be seen as such. In his role as caretaker he worked well and devotedly, issuing several of Crowley's works posthumously - for instance, Liber Aleph and Magick Without Tears. Certainly, he administered the affairs of the Order, and fullfilled a custodial role in the years following Crowley's death. However, he was not the O.H.O.

Irrespective of Germer's wishes in the matter, Crowley's appointment of Germer as his successor is extremely dubious. As mentioned earlier, Reuss appointed Jones as X* for North America and Canada. In the years following, Crowley and Jones quarrelled over various matters, and Jones attempted to close down Agapé Lodge. Crowley responded by issuing documents which purported to expel Jones. However, he was not entitled to do this, his position as the O.H.O. notwithstanding. This is because the appointment of Jones by Reuss was ad vitam, and hence not at the behest of Crowley. It is interesting that Crowley did not appoint Germer as X* after the "expulsion" of Jones, the more so in view of his wish for the succession to fall to Germer; doubtless he realised that the "expulsion" was not valid. This may also have been a factor behind Germer's refusal to the office of O.H.O.

It is at this point that the claims of the Caliphate group break down. It is their contention that Grady McMurtry succeeded Germer as O.H.O. or Grand Master. This cannot possibly have been the case, since Germer was on his own admission not of this position himself. After all, if Germer had reiterated this point in his correspondence with Grant, he must surely have mentioned it to others as well. It is difficult to imagine that McMurtry and his colleagues were not aware of the true state of affairs and in particular of Germer's position in the Order - unless, of course, they had little or no contact with him. And yet, this group continues to base its claims upon a line of transmission of headship from Crowley to Germer to McMurtry. To illustrate this, the following is an extract from a letter from their Grand Treasurer General to an English enquirer, dated 22nd July 1984:

... From the 1920's Aleister Crowley became the Outer Head of the Order (O.H.O.); and he is responsible for the present form of the Order. Since that time, the Order has been headed in turn by Fr. Saturnus (Karl Germer) and, after the demise of Fr. Saturnus, by Fr. Hymenaeus Alpha, Caliph (Grady McMurtry). We hold papers of direct and unroken continuity in the direction of O.T.O. from the hand of Aleister Crowley to the present head of the Order ...

Although this letter is ten years old, their position has not changed. Before proceeding further, it would be profitable to shed some light on the position of McMurtry, and on the nature of the "papers of direct an unbroken continuity in the direction of O.T.O." A brief consideration of events during the last few years of Crowley's life is necessary.

During the 1940's, Crowley became increasingly disillusioned with the Agape Lodge of the O.T.O., situated in California. He regarded its leadership as being increasingly erratic and inane, and eventually came to see the whole Lodge as a lost cause. An interesting account of this episode is given in chapter 9 of Kenneth Grant's The Magical Revival, and Crowley's growing frustration with the Lodge is clear. Eventually, he came to the conclusion that a fresh start was needed. Consequently in 1946 he issued McMurtry with written authority to take charge of the work of the Order in California. Following this, he was also appointed as an official representative of the Order in the United States of America generally. McMurtry's authority, given in the form of two documents, was however quite limited, being subject to the approval of Germer, himself resident in the States. The first, dated 22 March 1946, states that

... This is to authorize Frater Hymenaeus Alpha (Capt. Grady L. McMurtry) to take charge of the whole work of the Order in California, to reform the Organisazion in pursuance of his report of Jan 25, '46 e.v. subject to the approval of Frater Saturnus (Karl J. Germer). This authorization is to be used only in emergency ...

Following this a second document was issued, dated 11 April 1946, and the body of it is as follows:

... These presents are to appoint Frater Hymenaeus Alpha - Grady Louis McMurtry IX* O.T.O. - as Our representative in the United States of America, and his authority is to be considered as Ours, subject to the approval, revision, or veto of Our Viceroy Karl Johannes Germer IX* O.T.O. ...

As can be seen from these extracts, the documents hardly constitute the "direct and unbroken authority" that has been claimed. This shortfall would not, of course, be of any importance, were it not for the fact that the Caliphate group places so much store by the documents. Interestingly, Germer has already been quoted as saying, in the course of his letter to Grant of 18th January 1952, that there was no active Lodge in the United States. This was written some six years after the authority from Crowley was issued, and thus makes it clear that McMurtry and his colleagues were not seen particularly active.

Germer had no headship to transmit; even had it been otherwise, there could be no question of a transmission to McMurtry. All the evidence makes it clear that Germer distrusted McMurtry, and viewed the "papers of authority" from Crowley with little enthusiasm. Germer died in 1962, McMurtry however, by his own admission, did not learn of this fact until many years later, from a newspaper report of a burglary at the home of Germer's widow. There was little contact between the two men, evidently. Shortly before his death, Germer seems to have nominated either Marcelo Motta or Hermann Metzger as his successor - there was no mention of McMurtry. Finally, the Caliphate leadership place great store upon fees, as evidenced by their offer of "reinstatement" to Grant quoted at the outset of this article. Fine: so to whom did McMurtry pay his IX* fees, one wonders, in the years following Germer's death? In reality, of course, McMurtry simply assumed headship of a particular group within the O.T.O. - in this case, the rump of the old Agapé Lodge in California, whose sole claim to fame is Jack Parsons. The old Lodge was relaunched when McMurtry - much to his credit - published the Thoth tarot deck in 1970. This first revival dod not get very far, and was followed by a second one later in the 1970's. This led in turn to the present-day corporate entity which, in the absence of any creativity or insight, seeks to buttress its position with legal threats. Unfortunately, its day is done - in fact, never was: a sad, pathetic, wraith-like vestige of the Crowleyan O.T.O. which, rather than vanish with the morning mist, has instead embarked on a bizarre Dance of the Seven Veils.

The lack of creativity is the void at the heart of the Caliphate leadership. With the vast resources at their disposal - in terms both of revenues from fees and the numbers of members - all that they seem capable of is the repackaging of Crowley's corpus. The recent "second edition" of Liber Aleph is a case in point. In the "Prolegomenon" there is an interesting, informative essay on the Crowley-Jones relationship. Towards the end of this essay occurs a revealing remark: " ... it is important to bear in mind that Liber Aleph is addressed to one individual at a particular stage of spiritual development". The author has nothing whatever to say that casts any light on the substance of the book, however. A central theme of Liber Aleph , for instance, is the deep affinity that Thelema has with Eastern streams of mysticism such as Taoism and the Sunyavada. This dimension seem smore worthy of comment than the relationship of two individuals; presumably, though, it escaped notice. Such a lack of insight typifies the Caliphate leadership - fixated as they are on the historical character of Aleister Crowley, and the Holy relics such as Crowley's Ankh-af-na-Khonsu ring and the holograph of The Book of the Law.

In the absence of any creativity or development, the Caliphate leadership have no alternative but to attempt to parody, by dint of legal threat, that authority which can be demonstrated only by creative work. Early in the 1980's Motta initiated legal action to establish his sole right to the name O.T.O. and therefore to the Crowley copyrights. The Caliphate leadership filed a counter-claim, and there followed court examination of the conflicting claims, with final judgement favouring the Caliphate [Remark by P.R. Koenig: not quite correct, see the decision of the Maine Court. There is no Supreme Court Decision]. Ever since, the Caliphate leadership have been fond of alleging that this decision proved their legitimacy as the direct and sole continuation of the Crowleyan O.T.O., when in fact it was nothing more than a beauty contest between McMurtry and Motta. This is the Big Stick which they wave when intimidating distributors and publishers. It works simply because commercial concerns will do all that they can to avoid being caught up in the time-consuming and extremely costly vortex of legal action. This is a pity, because the legal position of the Caliphate leadership is as shallow as their understanding of Thelema. They need only to lose the right court case for that to become apparent - which explains why, their rhetoric to the contrary, they have delayed so long in pursuing legal action against John Symonds, Crowley's sole surviving literary executor and the administrator of the Crowley copyrights. The views of Symonds about Crowley and Thelema are questionable; the fact is, however, that Symonds and Grant laboured for years to make Crowley's major magical writings internationally available via leading publishing houses, in some cases for the first time.

Interestingly, the leaders of the Caliphate O.T.O. have not always been so antagonistic towards Grant. In 1945, McMurtry and Grant met whilst the former was visiting Crowley, and mutual respect was forged. In later years, McMurtry revived the structure of the Order as it had been in Crowley's day; but he recognised and acknowledged the more creative direction which Grant was pursuing. The contrast with the niggardly attitude of the present Caliphate leadership is both striking and telling. To illustrate this earlier, more fraternal attitude, we quote from a letter to Kenneth Grant; it is undated, but originates from the mid-1970's. The letter is from an individual member of the Caliphate O.T.O. by the name of Patrick King, who describes himself as a representative [Remark by P.R. Koenig: more on P. King in my on-line book Das OTO-Phaenomen]. It is endorsed specifically with the signature, seal and title of McMurtry as Hymenaeus Alpha:

Greetings and salutations on All points of the Triangle - Peace to the Order. Received your last letter with much excitement and fraternal good will; the entire Order in California extends its best wishes for your own success with Thelema 93 and looks forward to further communication between brethren of our two Orders in the future. Only thus may the star of the New Aeon truly and fully manifest on Earth thru the open and/or secret work of the Ordo Templi Orientis.
Several of our initiates find your work to be of great value and importance in establishing the new Law of love & will throughout the world, and it [is] this that shall be the proof [of] your work rather than anything else to do with the past. I understand that the method of operation you employ differs from our own in that we formulate on the basis of the rituals of Aleister Crowley which is the re-constitution of Freemasonry and the hermetic tradition and you have created or received new rituals from an entity known as Nu-Isis. We have, rituals aside, a sure bond in Thelema, and all methods which work for the individuals employing them are valid in this era.
I enclose a copy of the manifesto of a certain distraught brother in Brazil. In as much as you as well as we are mentioned therein. He seems to be under the terrible and heavy burden of writing such things. I know not at all the validity of his claims (of course he is quite mistaken in regard to the Caliphate, Saturnus was never elected O.H.O.) to authority in O.T.O. and/or A.·. A.·. and I do not care, having my own information on the subject. May the light of the star illuminate his heart to the brotherhood of the Law! I have been asked to relate to you a request for a short answer (of approximately the same length as Mr. Motta's) to this brother's accusations - to be published in No. 5 of our Newsletter, if this is possible please send it to the Grand Lodge in Berkeley as I am no longer at the same address. Also any comments to us personally not intended for Pub. are welcome. Please do not hesitate to contact me in the future, I enjoy correspondence and look forward to the day when we can perhaps meet one another in Thelemic communion.

The tone of this letter is not an aberration, in marked contrast though it is to the combative attitude of McMurtry's successors. Other items from this period, such as a review of Nightside of Eden, are imbued with a similar spirit of fraternity and respect; it is made clear that they prefer to work with the Crowleyan structure of the O.T.O., but nevertheless the innovation and creativity of Grant's work is recognised. In retrospect, we can see two events converging: McMurtry's death; and the court decision, upon appeal, to prefer McMurtry's claim before that of Motta. The antagonistic attitude of the present Caliphate leadership towards Grant has its origins here, when the prospect of hegenomy offered attractive and profitable opportunities.

What then of Kenneth Grant? He knew Crowley during the mid-1940's, and has documented their relationship in Remembering Aleister Crowley (Skoob Publishing, 1991). In the years following Crowley's death it was increasingly obvious that the Order had fallen into limbo. [Remark by P.R. Koenig: this is historically not correct. See my English Introduction to the OTO History]. Germer viewed himself as the custodian of the Crowley heritage, and would countenace no deviation from what he saw as orthodoxy - indeed, he seemed of the opinion that Crowley had discovered all that there was to know. Extracts from the correspondence between Grant and Germer have been quoted above, and it must have become clear to Grant that he had to forge ahead in his own light. Using as an initial basis a charter from Germer to work the first three degrees of the O.T.O., Grant went further and formed New Isis Lodge as a dependent lodge of the Order. This act had, initiatlly, Germer's approval; the following is extracted from a private communication between Kennth Grant and the present author, dated 7th October 1993:

The actual reason for Germer's outburst against me, and the consequent "expulsion", was not due to any violation on my part of the authority he had given me. He expressly condoned the founding of a lodge and we even discussed names for it. It was due to my including in my Manifesto of N.I.L. (and refusing not to include) the initial of one of my associates (Eugen Grosche, head of the Fraternitas Saturni) with whom Germer had a lasting feud. This I did not know. nor did Germer enlighten me on the subject; instead, he flew into a rage and "expelled" me. [Remark by P.R. Koenig: see also the History account in the pertinent chapter on the Fraternitas Saturni and Kenneth Grant in my Das OTO-Phaenomen]

Germer reacted by issuing a document which purported to expel Grant from the Order. This course of action was something which he was not empowered to do, since he was not the O.H.O. - a point made repeatedly by Germer himself in the course of the correspondence quoted above. The Order had fallen into a vacuum, and was little more than a shrine to the memory of Crowley [Remark by P.R. Koenig: this is historically not correct. See my English Introduction to the OTO History]. In such a situation, leadership of the Order could pass only to a member of the IX* who was operating creatively the 93 Current. Grant's work is the fruit of his operational research in the days of New Isis Lodge and since, and is the basis of his claim to leadership. Some of the activites of New Isis Lodge have been outlined in Hecate's Fountain ; and there is no doubting the creative and innovative development. Grant's experiences in New Isis Lodge form the basis of his published work. It is work which is not static, but which continues to grow and develop; anyone who doubts this has only to compare Hecate's Fountain to The Magical Revival . It is for other claimants to the leadership to demonstrate their case not with bluster but with similar evidence of creativity and development, if their claims are to be taken seriously.

This is what lies at the heart of the dispute over the last forty years or so as to the course of the O.T.O. The Caliphate leadership have as much right as any other grouping to practise their particular aspect of the O.T.O. tradition. However, they go much further than this, seeking to deny the right of any other group within the tradition to use the Order name of lamen. This they cannot be permitted to do. They must learn to accept their true status as one amongst several legitimate groupings; otherwiese, the course of the current will surely and justly dissolve them as hindrances to its expression. When it comes to the leadership , enshrined in the office of Outer Head of the Order, then that is bound up with creative development. This productivity has been demonstrated amply by Kenneth Grant in the work of New Isis Lodge - work which continues to be developed in the course of his Typhonian Trilogies. This work will, in its turn, be developed by his successors, just as he developed the work of his predecessors. This is the principle of parampara , spiritual lineage, or magical succession.

With this in mind, the following is adapted from A Preliminary Statement , a document issued to those who wish to work with a living, creative current:

Ordo Templi Orientis

The Ordo Templi Orientis" (O.T.O.) is the name applied to an arcane tradition once known as the Stellar Wisdom, which had its roots in Lemuria. After the submergence of Atlantis the tradition was perpetuated in the mysteries of North, Central, and South America and in the Polynesian Sea Cults. But it attained its apotheosis in the pre-monumental period of Egypt's history, and in its decline it was carried over into the Typhonian Dynasties, ending with the XVIIth, although remnants of it are traceable in the XXVIth dynasty. In later ages the Wisdom reappeared in fragmented form in certain Far Eastern traditions.
Coming to more accessible and comparatively recent times, the Current surfaced again when Jacque de Molay (c. 1393) concentrated it into the Order of the Knights Templars in connection with the Mysteries of the Holy Graal. At this stage it assumed a Masonic cast.
In the 18th century the tradition appeared under the leadership of Adam Weishaupt (1748-1830); it was then known as the Order of the Illuminati. In the late 19th century an Austrian Adept named Carl Kellner gave to it a new impetus and the name by which it is now known: Ordo Templi Orientis. Kellner was the first Supreme Grand Master of the Order in its modern guise. In 1905 Kellner died and a German Theosophist, Theodor Reuss, became its head; the masonic element then became dominant. In 1923 the English magician, Aleister Crowley, took the leadership, becoming the third Grand Master until his death in 1947. For the ensuing eight years the Order's affair were conducted by its Treasurer, Karl Germer. In 1955, another English occultist, Kenneth Grant, assumed leadership of the Order, dissolved its masonic structure, although not its masonic affiliations, and realigned it with the Stellar Wisdom Tradition that originally infused it. He also established within the Order a dependent cell, New Isis Lodge, for the purpose of channelling extra-terrestrial transmissions. The Lodge operated between 1955 and 1962, during which period the Stellar Wisdom was fully aligned with the Current of Thelema (93'.') with which the Order had first been inspired under Crowley's leadership.
One of the Order's immediate concerns is the formulation of another specialised cell to implement methods of dealing with the massive "nightside" forces now erupting in the Earth's astral ambience. A potent means of encounter and investigation is a form of magical aesthesis, and a growing body of artist-initiates is now, in consequenc, operative within the Order. Similarly, another specialised cell has recently been formed to explore the Cult of Lam, a trans-mundane entity contacted by Aleister Crowley in the course of the Amalantrah Working. The work of this cell is to develop those magical techniques most effective in furthering contact with Lam, a significant Gateway to the core of magick, which lies in trafficking with wider and deeper ranges of consciousness.
The Ordo Templi Orientis has at all times upheld the principles of Individual Liberty, Fraternity, and Universal Benedection. Its aims and its doctrines have been expounded in the writings of successive Grand Masters, each of whom have re-defined the programme of the Order in accordance with the development of esoteric and magical techniques.

This account throws the history of the O.T.O. into perspective. Just as the Order was not the creature of Crowley, neither was it the invention of Kellner and Reuss. On the contrary, it was and is an expression of an informing current, a current which adopts one guise after another, moving on when a particular form has outlived its usefulness. This is an important point to bear in mind when it comes to the history of magical Orders. As human beings, we like to think that we are at the helm of events, causing this, that and the other to be done. Yet, the reverse is true: we are the expression of events, not the cause. Occult groups come and go; unless they are an expression of this informing current, they wither after a desultory existence. Rather than the creation of Kellner and Reuss, the O.T.O. is therefore a particular phase in the development of the current, one which will moreover move on to another incarnation sooner or later - and the more inflexible the structure of the Order, the sooner will that be. How absurd, then, to view as sacrosanct what is in effect a transient phase of a transient phase. It is a complaint against the "Typhonian O.T.O." - the epithet given to the Order as reorganised by Grant - that is has not remained true to the quasi-masonic structure of Crowley's day, but represents a change and is therefore somehow not "the" O.T.O. Yet one must ask - what was so good about that earlier structure, that we must remaon bound by it? Why should we not move on? It is interesting that, towards the end of his life, Crowley saw the need for change; the following extracted from a letter to Germer dated 14th March 1942, makes this clear:

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 is necessary. The Secret is the basis, and you must select the proper people ...

"The Secret" is a reference to sexual magick, and in particular to the Mysteries of the IX*. Crowley regarded this as the core of the O.T.O.; the Order structures around it exist to transmit this core and are of necessity transient, suited to the times and circumsances. In the last fifty years a lot of knowledge formerly occult - in the sense of hidden - has become more generally available. With this greater openness, there is plenty of material around which enables the aspirant to work out the principles of sexual magick, thus obviating the need for transmission of those principles in secrecy and under oath. Whilst the techniques are known, however, training is still necessary in order to learn to apply those techniques effectively. This training can be acquired only in the course of direct magical and mystical experience; it is the assimilation of this direct experience which constitutes initiation. It follows, therefore, that the present-day structure of the O.T.O. must be one which facilitates such experience, enabling initiates to learn the effective application of these techniques for themselves.

The "Typhonian O.T.O." is therefore an expression of this informing current which powers all genuine, creative Orders, and which has twisted this way and that for countless millenia. Members of the Order pursue initiation at first hand, drinking at the fountain of living waters which surges forth at the juncture of the inner and the outer, and which powers the terrestrial mask. Initiation is this journey of tracking the Nile to its source. That this reorientation of the O.T.O. is productive is evidenced by the work or Grant and others. Conversely, the paucity of an approach which seeks merely to perpetuate an outworn, historical phase is readily apparent; what have been the fruits, apart from subsequent editions of Crowley's works? For some, of course, such paucity is neither here nor there: they will cling like leeches to what they consider to be "orthodox". Consider the following passage from Arthur Koestler's The Act of Creation; altough the analogy is not exact, it is a close one.

"The progress of science", Schiller wrote, "takes place through a few master architects, or in any case through a number of guiding brains which constantly set all the industrious labourers at work for decades." That the industrious labourers tend to form trade unions with a closed-shop policy and restrictive practices, is an apparently unavoidable development. It is no less conspicuous in the history of arts: the uninspired versifiers ... the mediocrities ... they all hang on for dear life to the prevailing school and style which some genius initiated, and defend it with stubborness and venom against heretic innovators.

This article has sought to place the history and present manifestations of the O.T.O. in a wider context than has often been the case. The validity of Kenneth Grant's claim to the office of O.H.O. is surely clear. It is a claim that is accepted, endorsed and vidorously promulgated by the editors and publishers of Starfire - an acceptance that is shared, we suspect, by the majority of our readers.

© Michael Staley

with permission:

STARFIRE  I,5 1994
BCM Starfire
London WC1N 3XX
Starfire - Magazine of the Typhonian Order - 1-5

A lot of above mentioned documents can be found as facsimiles in Peter-Robert Koenig's   Materialien zum OTO
Tradução portuguesa: É Um Vento Ruim que Sopra ...
The History of the "Caliphate":  Song of the Whitewash: Mysteria Mystica Maxima
Spermo-Gnostics and the Ordo Templi Orientis

back to the Typhonian Ordo Templi Orientis overview

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