RED FLAME -- A Thelemic Research Journal -- Issue No.8
Liber Al Vel Legis (The Book of the Law) by Jerry CorneliusAll rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright proprietor. Published in the United States by A.·. A.·. Copyright 2000 Please do not send letters regarding A.·. A.·. or this book to the address for Red Flame. All correspondence should be sent to: The Throne of the Double-Wanded One Clerk House Frater ZLA 282 7=4 P.O. Box 20035, Oakland, CA 94620-0035 RED FLAME No.8 Limited to 156 copies. Copyright C 2000 e.v. J. Edward & Marlene Cornelius P.O. Box 11693, Berkeley, CA 94712-2693
Welcome to yet another issue of Red Flame. I'd like to begin by explaining the inspiration for this, our eighth issue. For starters, the blame has to be two-fold. First, it needs to be placed squarely at the feet of the vociferous Robert Stein who, being a dear friend, not only suggested this issue but worked heartily on the research with my wife, Marlene. Second, the blame needs to be directed toward my young son Faustus. Of the latter, it began when I was trying to catch a few treasured winks while resting on the couch. This is when Faustus would walk up and scream in my ear, "Wake up!" Most of the time I did not realize the subtly of his message while being jolted back into reality but it's from the mouth of young babes that profound Wisdom often comes. It is no secret that humanity exists in a continual state of sleep even when it believes itself awake or conscious. What I'm implying is that complacency, like all forms of restriction, is dangerous to the central tenets of Thelema. I have only to thank my son for constantly reminding me of this whenever I close my eyes. Yes, I tend to read into everything more than there really is, but I believe the Gods work in strange ways to teach us our lessons-if one only has an ear to appreciate the source of their divine guidance.
Since I feel indebted to the Gods, my intention is to repay their kindness by passing on their Wisdom, therefore I yell-"Wake up!" Hopefully I've just metaphorically rousted you off your couch and out of your slumber. In doing so, together, we can reflect upon Liber AL vel Legis commonly known as The Book of the Law. This is the most sacred book of all Thelemites or individuals who follow the philosophy behind True Will. I want to begin by reminding you that as Thelemites you should never be a slave who blindly follows a religious dogma, your own, others, or even that of the old man himself, Aleister Crowley. Question everything! I strongly feel that everyone must continually examine his or her beliefs in an attempt to understand who they are and what has drawn them to the New Aeonic teachings of Liber AL vel Legis. We can not become indifferent. The birth of New Aeon is young, still in its infant stage. The Slave- Gods of the old as well as their minions, some under the guise of calling themselves Thelemites, are constantly wanting to control us and hold us back from emerging as individual Stars. Freedom of Expression is only a phrase thrown around in some Thelemic circles and has little bearing on reality.
It was a difficult task at first to determine how we should begin this issue but it became apparent after talking with Frater AB. He once mentioned that what we're attempting to do was considered sacrilegious by Motta's A.·. A.·. lineage and Frater Hymenaeus Beta. Yes, it's no secret that the unofficial policy of Ordo Templi Orientis is that The Tunis Comment must be honored to the letter. That no one should discuss or interpret anything in Liber AL vel Legis in an open forum. Liber AL has become noticeably absent in recent years compared to Frater Hymenaeus Alpha's reign. Rarely do you find a study being published on a verse or articles appearing which discuss anything to do with the book in general. If any one disregards the OTO's policy they stand a chance of be branded a 'centre of pestilence.' Realizing the possibility of this type of intimidation being thrown around gave us a starting purpose. We decided that if this issue was going to discuss Liber AL vel Legis it is important to correctly understand the Comment which according to certain individuals, like Frater Hymenaeus Beta, proves we should be shunned for doing so. In other words, since The Tunis Comment is used by him and others as a weapon against what they believe are heresies it becomes important to begin this issue here.
Now for honesty. We must deeply apologize right up front and say that most of the information in this issue about certain beliefs held high in Bill Breeze's branch of the A.·. A.·. will probably be 100% inaccurate within a few months of the release of Red Flame No.8. To this you might say, "Dah?" I can only reply by saying that I have known him for almost twenty years and I am amazed at how often, when caught in an anomaly, his stories mutate. This is why he rarely puts anything down in writing. He knows and has laughingly joked with me on a few occasions that such, quote, "comes back to haunt you." My personal view on this is that maybe if he and others just told the truth right up front they wouldn't have dance so often and wear out their shoes. As an example of what I'm implying. In our last of Red Flame we openly discussed how the A.·. A.·. splintered into numerous branches or lineages during Karl Germer's reign and how Motta's A.·. A.·. is not the only A.·. A.·. but merely one lineage of many within our Order. It is safe to say that they were not happy puppies with the release of this information.
In the early fifties when I was a young boy out hunting with my father in the Florida swamps I remember him telling me, "Never underestimate the ability of cornered animal trying to survive." With time I realized it was a common sense lesson about life itself. The last Areopagus Meeting of the OTO was held about six months after Red Flame No.7 was released or on April 29th 2000. Frater Hymenaeus Beta waltzed in and gave a two hour history on his personal views of the A.·. A.·. and the O.T.O. and disputed the claims made on our previous issue of Red Flame. He flatly denied the existence of lineages. He explained how both of these Orders were once tightly connected or entwined in Aleister Crowley's time but the connection became broken during Karl Germer's life. The A.·. A.·. went its own way and was being run by one of Germer's students named Marcelo Motta while the OTO, on the other hand, nearly slipped into obscurity. He explained that the Orders are now coming back together under his reign. I think this new version of the story can best be summed up by someone who heard the above and replied, "Oh gag me please you blithering minstrel." What Frater Hymenaeus Beta failed to point out is that Germer and Grady were both A.·. A.·. & OTO initiates. Therefore, common sense dictates that neither of these gentleman could loose the connection between the Orders unless they had split personalities. What Frater Hymenaeus Beta was attempting to do by using the 'Broken Connection Theory Conspiracy' was to sell his new and improved belief that the A.·. A.·. never 'splintered' into lineages, it just temporarily moved away from the OTO. It got a new address and didn't write home for awhile. With this belief he desperately tried to dispute the claims made in Red Flame No.7. Of course, many people did not buy his story and agreed with the statements made in our previous issue which said that there are many branches of the A*A* worldwide. Basically what I've been leading to is to simply acknowledge that all the information in the issue regarding Motta's A.·. A.·. is completely accurate 'now' but is subject to change due to myth-makers gagging at more of their own discrepancies being pointed out in a public forum. With time their stories will undergo yet another transformation and they'll have to buy more shoes. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not saying we should despise this lineage for its personal proclivities or folly. I'm just saying that the buyer should beware and don't necessarily believe that what they're saying today reflects yesterday's views or even tomorrow's.
In my own branch of the A.·. A.·. we want our students to approach every subject as if they were a scientist. They should leave no stone unturned in their quest to understand the New Aeon. To some it might seem like this issue of Red Flame is doing little more than disputing the point-of-view of others. However, we feel the Pit of because is often an excuse imposed by others who don't want you to write, reason or think. It is important for you to understand that the whole idea behind this issue is to show humanity how you must approach every subject. In the end, each individual must make up their own mind. Be genuine to their TRUE WILL and let those be damned to the dogs who demand that you believe in only them by saying, follow me "because." If you listen to any one's reasoning and follow them blindly like a slave, then Power becomes weakness and into the pit you'll fall. This includes even what we're saying. This entire issue of Red Flame is merely offering tidbits of thought. Whether right or wrong, it is up to each of you to decide for yourself. It is important to remember that Thelemites believe in certainty, not faith. However, certainty requires study and serious study. You should pit every opposite against itself until all vanishes into Nothingness. The bottom line is that the over-all purpose of this issue is to simply make you aware that Liber AL vel Legis is a controversial manuscript filled with inconsistencies, uncertainty and innocuous quirks. What we discuss in this issue is only the tip of the iceberg. We want you to realize that there are many other interpretational problems with the original manuscript of Liber AL vel Legis which scholars seemingly ignore or have excuses why you should. To us, all these problems do not negate the book's authenticity.
Finally, I'd like to thank those who have helped make this issue possible. Especially Marlene Cornelius, Frater ZLA, Frater Maaz, Kalil, Robert Stein, Clive Harper, Keith Richmond and, of course, much thanks goes to Robert Palmer. Your help was greatly appreciated and I guess when all is said and done, if we, the authors and editors of this issue of Red Flame, are to be called 'centres of pestilence' ... then we accept this tumultuous role with glee, after all, we have all been called worse.
Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.-AL I:40
On Feb.7th of this year a question presented itself to Frater Sabazius Xth Degree and head of OTO for the United States. I will not go into all the gruesome details but it suggested that although Frater Hymenaeus Beta claims he quit or cut contact with Marcelo Motta's branch of the A.·. A.·., in truth, Motta had actually expelled him.(2) Therefore, the question to Sabazius was, "How could Frater Hymenaeus Beta be one of three individuals who is in charge of running a lineage of our Order?" The response centered around whether or not Motta had the authority to expel Frater Hymenaeus Beta. Frater Sabazius replied by stating what HB had told him, "Motta lost his authority to govern A.·. A.·. when he published his commentaries on Liber Al, in violation of the Class A Comment. This authority then passed to the next most senior initiate, even if he did not wholeheartedly accept it until some time later, after Motta's insanity had progressed even further." In other words, Motta had no authority to expel Frater Hymenaeus Beta because his authority had been taken away years 'earlier' and given to another even though the latter had not realized it yet. Basically, what they want you to believe is that Class A or The Tunis Comment granted them the authority not only to judge, but to over-throw Marcelo Motta, their own teacher, whom they claimed was head of the A.·. A.·.. They will tell you that when their teacher published his personal commentary to Liber AL vel Legis in 1975(3) he automatically lost all his authority and that another person named Frater K.N. 4=7 automatically assumed the position as head of our noble Order.
However, what does 'not wholeheartedly accept it' mean? We know that Frater K.N. remained loyal to Motta for almost five years after the latter had published his Commentaries. Then, according to Motta, difficulties arose and Frater K.N. withdrew voluntarily from the Order in writing. In other words, he resigned. However, it now seems Motta was completely wrong. Frater K.N. didn't resign, he merely left Motta when he realized Motta had become a centre of pestilence and, in leaving, he took his master's authority with him. If such is true, why was this story never made public until after Motta's death on August 28th 1987? Could it have anything to do with the fact that Motta most likely would have been rather hostile to the idea that he was no longer in charge? What rebuttal of facts might have he disclosed? Nevertheless, this branch of the Order's interpretation of how 'authority shifts' is what this essay is all about because such views are not shared by any other branch nor is such even reflected in the views of Aleister Crowley. Many of us look upon the view of this lineage as an attempt by them to justifying their quest for existence, authority and the domination of our Order as a whole. In other words, they are merely 'creatively interpreting' The Tunis Comment in order to proselytize their own personal views and to explain how individuals, like themselves, who either quit or resigned were actually still in the Order.
I'd like to start by saying, "Maybe there is a verse in their Tunis Comment which is not in mine?" Yes, I agree, The Tunis Comment says, "Those who discuss the contents of this Book are to be shunned by all, as centres of pestilence." But if they believed that their teacher had gone insane and became a centre of pestilence why didn't they simply follow the Comment's advice, walk away and shun him? Where in the Comment, or for that matter anywhere in the volumes of Crowley's A.·. A.·. literature, does it say that when you quit and walk away from your teacher you have the right to take his authority with you? How laughable is this? Do you really think Aleister Crowley would have put a 'clause' in his fraternity so that every Probationer on up could usurp future leaders simply by stating that it is their belief they had gone mad or violated a particular line from The Tunis Comment?
Furthermore, using their own interpretation to the letter, we should renounce Frater Hymenaeus Beta because it's easy to find numerous places in the introductions, footnotes and the articles where he discusses or comments upon the contents of certain verses from Liber AL vel Legis. Even Frater Sabazius is not exempt from this folly. He, too, has written pieces in which he interprets verses from Liber AL vel Legis. When confronted about this, Sabazius was quick to respond, "Some may consider my use of supportive or illustrative quotes from Liber AL to be 'pestilential' commentary on Liber AL, and according to a very strict definition of 'commentary,' they would probably be right. But then, according to a very strict definition of 'commentary,' every public reading of Liber AL would have to be considered commentary as well. Every vocal inflection, every emphasis of one word and de-emphasis of another, every facial expression and hand gesture, would convey meaning beyond that contained in the printed text itself. HB is not concerned with the very strict definition of commentary, though." He is correct on many points. It's all a 'commentary.'
So, where do we draw the line and who is to judge what is and is not a commentary? Sabazius has made it very clear that he'll accept Frater Hymenaeus Beta, in his authoritative capacity as both leader of OTO and as one of the heads of his A.·. A.·. lineage, to make those decisions for him, to either approve or to disapprove what is a 'commentary.' This may sound all well and good but if Frater Hymenaeus Beta can 'approve' his own commenting on Liber AL vel Legis, or that of others, why couldn't Marcelo Motta do the same when he published his commentaries in 1975? After all, Motta being the head of his A.·. A.·. lineage should have had the same authority. The bottom line is this. You can not state that your predecessor is guilty of a crime and exempt yourself of the same due to the position which you now hold, especially when the position is the same as he held when supposedly committing the same offense. If it's good for the goose then it's good for the gander. Is it me, or are there are too many inconsistencies which imply someone is stretching facts as they go along to justify their own authority, rather than facing phantoms they're creating and being caught at?
Yes, I've heard the argument that Motta simply commented upon too much by addressing the entirety of Liber AL vel Legis in his book while others are only casually mentioning a verse here or there. However, The Tunis Comment doesn't discriminate between discussing one verse or all, or exactly in what context. You're simply told that those who discuss or comment upon the contents of this Book are to be shunned. Cut and dry. So, verily, should we reject both these gentleman as centres of pestilence? In truth, I think not. Let's be serious. How many authorities, writers and leaders in the world would fall by the wayside if this foolishness notion was enforced? Dear readers, I'll let you judge for yourself as to how ludicrous this all sounds. There must be something more to The Tunis Comment.
However, for the record, I'm not saying that these A.·. A.·. individuals did not have the right to walk away if they honestly believed their teacher had gone mad. I'm not even saying that I'm against the over-all idea that they could not continue on their own in creating their own lineage from scratch. I honestly believe, if they make the connections, that they can and I accept them with open and honest arms in their noble quest. The only thing I find really ludicrous, or just plain hard to understand, is how Frater Hymenaeus Beta can interpret The Tunis Comment to imply that it gives him and others the power to over-throw the source of their lineage while claiming 'they' are the "traditional authority."(4) I can not fathom nor stretch my imagination far enough to comprehend their logic, unless they're implying that traditional authority is synonymous with anarchy and revolution. If so, they best keep their backs to wall, a watchful eye on all their Probationers and trust the lesson they've been taught is not passed on.
It may not seem important as to why we had to mention this controversy but it is because Frater Hymenaeus Beta and others will try to tell you that our branch of the A.·. A.·., like Motta's, has become a 'centre of pestilence' merely because we've dared to do what Aleister Crowley warned us against. We interpret and comment upon certain controversial aspects of Liber AL vel Legis in a open forum, meaning this issue of Red Flame. They're going to try to cite Crowley's Tunis Comment to you as evidence of our inappropriate behavior. They'll even try to convince you that this issue of Red Flame proves that we have all gone mad and that we no longer have any authority within the A.·. A.·.. Therefore, if this issue of Red Flame is going to discuss principles found in Liber AL vel Legis it is important to correctly understand the Comment and whether or not it says we should be shunned ... as some Thelemic scholars would lead you to believe. In other words, since The Tunis Comment is used by some Thelemic raconteurs as a weapon against what they personally believe are heresies, it becomes important to begin this issue here. Sadly, a heresy to some merely implies a contradictory view point which should be tolerated from a Thelemic standpoint, to others.
The next question we need to ask ourselves is, "What authority did Motta really have that could be taken away?"
Karl Germer published his edition of Aleister Crowley's Liber Aleph, The Book of Wisdom or Folly in September of 1961ev. On the inside A.·. A.·. title page where it lists those individuals involved in the publication, Motta's 'symbol' is there alongside 6=5 and followed by the title of Imperator. This title literally means an individual whose primary function is the responsibility of 'hands-on' management of the Order on a mundane level subject to the authority from above. Motta was obviously helping Germer with getting Liber Aleph published and there is little dispute of this fact. However, Frater Hymenaeus Beta would have you believe that Karl Germer acknowledged Motta as being an Adeptus Major, working magickally and spiritually out of the Qabalistic sphere of Geburah. But is this true? You'll note in Red Flame No.7 pg.xv, we mentioned the claim that Motta was 6=5 without openly attacking it but since the publication of our last issue there are new 'developments' which force us to clarify some facts. We didn't want to reveal this information but under the circumstances we've been left with no alternative.
Rather than taking Frater Hymenaeus Beta's word for it, lets look at what Motta wrote in regards to his own magickal accomplishments. He wrote (in the third person), saying: "After some initial correspondence, Motta visited the Germers personally and was offered the alternative of either joining the A.·. A.·. or the OTO. He chose the former at once: He had read One Star in Sight, which describes exactly the kind of organization he had been looking for since he was eleven years old. It took him seven years and much tribulation to pass from Probationer to Neophyte."(1) Motta tells us this first meeting with Germer occurred in 1953. However, if it took him seven years to make Neophyte, that would place his taking such a degree around 1960. In other words, when he was working on Liber Aleph with Karl Germer he was not a magickal 6=5 but only a Neophyte by his own admission. To further substantiate this, in the summer of 1962, the year after Liber Aleph was released and three months before Germer's death, Motta admits that he finally "passed through the Zelator Initiation."(2)
Now here is the Truth. Frater Hymenaeus Beta needs you to believe that Motta's 6=5 was a 'magickal attainment' to signify that he was indisputably the highest ranking A.·. A.·. initiate when Karl Germer died but this is nothing more than a distortion of historical facts. Consider this parallel. J.F.C.Fuller is listed in many A.·. A.·. manuscripts as N.S.F. 5=6 Cancellarius. The initials N.S.F. refer to Fuller's motto, Non Sine Fulmine. Everyone acknowledges that this 5=6 was only an 'Honorary Degree' for publishing purposes. In truth, Fuller never got the past 0=0 degree or Probationer. Should we consider Fuller's 5=6 a magickal accomplishment now that he has died? Absolutely not! The same goes for Motta. His 5=6 is merely an 'Honorary Degree' used only to signify his efforts in publishing Liber Aleph. It's NOT magickal, much less a leadership position.
There is one major reason why Frater Hymenaeus Beta wants you to believe that Marcelo Motta's 6=5 degree is magickal. Take into consideration what Karl Germer wrote to Jane Wolfe in a letter dated June 24th 1952. He tells her, "You know that I have a high regards to P's attainment. I'm sure she has gone through 5=6 some time ago. I'm sure she is under guidance." Germer is referring to one of the most dedicated, if not brilliant A.·. A.·. initiates in the history of our noble Order, Phyllis Seckler. She was initiated as a Probationer on June 3rd 1940, taking the magickal motto of Tenax Propositi. (later Meral) On July 1st 1952 Soror Meral obtained the Knowledge & Conversation of her Holy Guardian Angel. She shared this belief with Karl Germer in numerous correspondences and he acknowledged it in one letter dated, July 7th 1952, "Dear child, your questions go to the bottom of one of the deepest problems that have puzzled and tortured all initiated men and women from time immemorial ... I suppose it is the conflict with being human with a body of flesh, and the fact that you have risen to or above Tiphereth where the voice of the Secret Chiefs is gradually taking over and begins to speak to your soul." As you can see, she has a strong claim to the attainment. This implies that when Karl Germer died in 1962 she was obviously holding a degree above that of Zelator which was claimed by Marcelo Motta. This is why Frater Hymenaeus Beta needs you to believe that Motta's 6=5 degree is magickal and not honorary. This way he can tell you that Motta held one degree higher than Phyllis and it justifies his claim as to why Motta assumed head of the A.·. A.·. and not Phyllis. However, his claim is simply not true. So, we ask, what authority really "passed to their next most senior initiate" after Motta had gone insane by publishing his Commentaries?
Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.-AL I:40
At this point I'd like to confirm my status as one who enjoys going against the mainstream, if I haven't already. Yes, I believe it is no secret that Liber AL vel Legis is a remarkable little book and that Thelema today, as a whole, is bathing in an unbelievable amount of solidified dogmatic bull-shit hardened by the Sun into putrefying masses throughout the world, even more than most religions accumulate over centuries. I've said it time and time again, as it stands, the ultimate legacy of our faith will not be judged historically by the greatness of our spiritual leaders but by the apparent in-house fighting which we're constantly doing amongst ourselves in an attempt to prove who is the true authority. At times I feel like yelling, "Children! Go to your rooms!" Aleister Crowley warns us of this insanity which overtakes anyone who dares to study Liber AL vel Legis. The ego manifests to such an extent that it screams, "Not only do I know the Truth, I am the Truth and you will follow only what I say!" It is on that note that I should remind the reader and reiterate Crowley's haunting words from the Tunis Comment. "The study of this Book is forbidden. It is wise to destroy this copy after the first reading." Sadly, it does seem like sound advice but, from a Thelemic perspective, something is tragically wrong with this statement. Are we not a philosophy supposedly founded on Universal Freedom which implies many views should be allowed and tolerated? Unfortunately it seems some Thelemic leaders, past and present, want you to believe that they have cornered the market on our faith as they stand proud and high on their pile of 'smelly dogma.'
Rather than falling prey to rigid dogmatic interpretations of The Tunis Comment, I tend to agree, in part, with Grady McMurtry. I can still hear him laughing during one of his lectures, saying that this was one of those great Crowley paradoxes to test us all. He told us that Crowley believed if we 'blindly follow' him or anyone, then obviously we're not a Thelemite and so, yes, we should burn the book! I'm not quite sure that this was Crowley's intention when he wrote The Tunis Comment but it sounds noble. If nothing else it was Grady's way of patronizing the masses who were both initiates and outsiders at the lecture he was giving. A far more convincing rant came in private after a group of us had taken First Degree initiation on the following evening. He told us that if we adhere to the letter of this Comment, or "The study of this Book is forbidden", it violates our Minerval Obligation in Aleister Crowley's Ordo Templi Orientis. He reminded us that while he was acting as our initiator he said that we must study it (Liber AL) well; for it is the Charter of Universal Freedom. And now that we've continued on by taking First Degree Initiation he made a further recommendation, as in the former occasion, to study constantly The Book of the Law. He stressed the grave dangers of violating anything which we've sworn under Oath. No one can say how or when the effects of breaking an Oath may occur since no two individuals are alike. It may not be immediate, nor tomorrow, a month or a year away and maybe not even in one's present incarnation but, karmically, "we'll have Hell to pay." I won't get into the gruesome details of what happened to Karl Germer on his death bed but it was one of Grady's favorite examples of karma taking its toll on one who violated their Oaths, especially the Minerval.
Studying The Book of the Law is a well known problematic statement made within the initiation chambers of the OTO which seemingly defies the Tunis Comment. This dilemma was white-washed by Frater Sabazius who has stated, "We have contradictory injunctions from AC himself on this. 'study is forbidden' in the Comment, 'study constantly' in the Minerval. This was either an error on AC's part, or he did it for a reason. I prefer to give him the benefit of the doubt. Everyone can come to his or her own conclusions as to what that reason might have been." However, Sabazius fails to point out that all the rituals of the Ordo Templi Orientis were written long before the Tunis Comment. Which probably means, like many things which Crowley had previously written, that parts of the rituals are no longer authoritative due to his later injunction and should have either been up-dated or discarded. Sabazius' logic would rather have us believe that this contradiction between Tunis Comment and the initiation rituals was not an 'error' on Crowley's part. This is a noble aspiration but it implies that he believes there was a conscious reason on AC's part for allowing the commandment of studying The Book of the Law to remain in the OTO initiation rituals. But where is the support for this belief? There is nothing written amongst Crowley's papers to imply that this was the case. The truth of the matter is, Crowley never updated anything previous to The Tunis Comment. We can look back in hindsight and say otherwise, but it would only be personal speculation and nothing more.
However, Sabazius must take this middle-of-the-road or fence-sitting stance. If he comes out too strongly against The Tunis Comment he attacks the A.·. A.·. lineage which is presently ruling OTO. The same lineage which claims that this document gave them the right to over-throw their teacher. Furthermore, one of these individuals made Sabazius Xth Degree, Head of OTO for The United States. So how willing is he to disagree with their beliefs? On the other hand, if he follows the Tunis Comment to the letter, he probably had to ask himself a more serious question. Should he admit that the initiation Obligations & Oaths are no longer valid and should be disregarded if we're to consider ourselves true Thelemites? Obviously these archaic Obligations & Oaths were not updated by Crowley to reflect the principles found in The Tunis Comment. Therefore it can be justifiably argued that anyone who takes initiation within Ordo Templi Orientis and follows its obligations is in grave danger of being shunned as centres of pestilence according to the commandments given by our prophet, Aleister Crowley. Sabazius wisely avoids taking sides on this issue and does the infamous 'Tunis Comment shuffle' by claiming both sides are correct. He then drops this dilemma into your lap to figure out. However, it's a vile policy of leadership to tell others that they must come to their own conclusions on what Crowley's "reason" for leaving in this contradiction between the OTO rituals and The Tunis Comment. Especially as there is no such reason to be found in his writings.
More importantly, according to magickal principles, if one set of Obligations or Ordeals are not fulfilled, or disregarded, it sets into motion a foundation whereby all become totally useless. You can not pick and choose, Oaths are either all or nothing. This was the tragedy behind the fall of a fraternity known as The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. Crowley wrote their "ordeals were turned into contempt, it being impossible for anyone to fail therein ... In short, the order failed to initiate."(1) I tend to agree with Aleister Crowley and Grady McMurtry that any Ordeal, regardless of what, when it's promised to be accomplished while under Oath, must be adhered to by the letter. If the leadership of any fraternity fails to teach this magickal principle then it is in grave danger of going the same way of The Golden Dawn by becoming little more than the patronization of egos, some one's money making scheme, or both. In other words, an OTO member must study The Book of the Law.
Some OTO leaders agree with what I've said and have admitted with a deep sigh, that initiates can study this book because they gave their 'word' during their initiation but they are quick to point out, "But don't comment upon anything you discover in writing." In other words keep everything hush-hush so no one really knows you're studying The Book of the Law. This way you can not be called upon as defying The Tunis Comment and you can still fulfill your magickal obligations given under Oath. Yet this is a half-ass way of condoning part of the Comment rather than facing its apparent contradictions. The Comment clearly says the study of this book is forbidden and does not distinguish between a private or public pursuit. The next line clearly warns us, "Whosoever disregards this does so at his own risk and peril. These are most dire." There are no exceptions mentioned.
However, one final note on this subject, Grady would often point to one of the last lines in The Tunis Comment, "There is no law beyond Do what thou wilt." This, in itself, should tell an individual to reflect upon what Crowley has just written and then pursue what you must if you're a Thelemite. After all, "Man has the right to write as he will" (Liber OZ) ... a line which is not followed by, 'but don't comment upon The Book of the Law.'
Like Grady, I think The Tunis Comment is a beautiful thing. It clearly shows how to separate the nuts from the Tree and I'll leave the reader to assume what that implies amongst modern Thelemic circles.
This on line version contains only the pages i-10. Pages 11-140, also the original manuscript of Liber AL vel Legis and The Tunis Comment are not reproduced. Please refer to the paper version.
Also by Jerry Cornelius:
An Apology (Red Flame No.7) Introduction (Red Flame No.7) An Open Epistle Regarding Francis King's Book The Secret Rituals of the OTO Thoughts on Metzger The Warrior-Troubadour, The Life & Times of Grady Louis McMurtry (Red Flame No.1) Myths of the Solar Lodge Revisited (The Scribe, Vol.1 No.7 1997) Chronology of events leading up to the lawsuit filed by the Ordo Templi Orientis on Sept. 12th 1990 against Alameda County & the City of Berkeley. KALIL and the Thelema93-l Tango An Open Epistle on the Expulsion
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