'Caliphate' O.T.O. in Canada - Alan Stewart

Ordo Templi Orientis Phenomenon

O.T.O. in Canada
Alan Stewart

418 [...] was on Mackay across from Sir George just below Sherbrooke on the west side. It was an elegant little bookroom and the first of its kind in Montreal. Metamorphoses was another shop featuring occult and metaphysical literature and it was on St. Lawrence just above Sherbrooke at one time. It had a couple moves. [...] The 418 did indeed close in the mid-seventies and the group that founded that shop disbursed. They have however been in touch over the years. Many have passed on. 93 Publishing and Next Step where the creations of the 418's owners too. [18 June 2012]

[Names of the people in the photo on the right in: Introduction to the development of the Ordo Templi Orientis in Canada]

Cafe Theleme Thelema - Ordo Templi Orientis in Canada
With face uncovered: William Breeze, Grady Louis McMurtry

I was a long time personal friend of Alan Stewarts who died tragically in a fall many years ago. He lived across the street for a long time and was employed in the neighborhood. His descent into the abyss was total and complete. He lost himself to alcohol and drugs and went broke. His things were thrown into the street and he took refuge with a lady who supported him until he met his end. If he was the reason for the death of the Caliphate in Canada I am not surprised because so many of his personal friends had to break with him as well. He moved in several circles. There were times when he appeared at my home where he was welcome for many years but so drunk he had to be removed by my guardians. I had an open house Fridays for my friends and anyone they wanted to introduce. It was a select few and most all were well versed in the metaphysical and/or occult. To keep my home secure and to provide for the enjoyment of my friends and their privacy there were Sargeant at Armes who maintained the door. This was a very interesting time. [20 June 2012]

I read thru several pages and entries about Alan Stewart and I am so troubled to learn how his life went. I knew he had fallen into decrepitude, alcoholic and using drugs, and keeping company with those who enabled him and themselves to continue destroying themselves.
I just want to make sure that the history preceding his descent is covered. So I will tell you what I know for sure.

Alan Stewart was the son of an Irish immigrant mother. She came to Canada to marry at age 40 and was wed to a 70 year-old veteran of WWI. Alan was born shortly thereafter and grew up in the subsidized housing in Notre Dame De Grace district of Montreal. His father died early in his life and his mother moved to a cottage in the area behind a framing shop where Allan worked and also held an upstairs flat. He remained close to his mother as she never spoke English. She spoke Gaelic only.
Alan was a valued employee and expert framer for a very old respected company in Montreal. He was there for several years that I knew him from around 1972. Time escapes me at this point. Around that time, I met him in the company of a lady who remains very faithful to Thelema. We all knew the gang at 418. We discussed our reading on Mr. Crowley and were avidly interested but not practitioners of Magik. Our interest was purely intellectual at that point. The thing that distinguished Alan at that time was that he was a dapper, fashionably dressed, thorough gentleman. He loved to entertain and had many wonderful parties at his home where people from all walks came to celebrate just being alive.
He had a strong ability to remember what he read and could speak easily on mystical subjects. Women were fond of him and he had many girlfriends, some I knew. He was sensitive and knowledgeable and even attractive. Tall, thin and stylish with long red hair and a wicked smile he was very amusing. His taste in modern music was spotless. His home was full of artwork beautifully framed and he always made his home interesting for guests.
I think that Allan's heart died when he fell for the wife of a blues musician and band leader and carried-on an affair with her that ended badly. Allan was never the same, it is as if his soul flew out the window when the lady he absolutely adored returned to her husband. All of Allan's friends observed his difficulty and how he began to drink and drug. Still, he continued to work, went to another stylish framer, and moved into Westmount where he resided in a large flat with his two cats, Baphomet and Morpheus for a few years.

It was between 1980-81 & 84 that a drastic change took place in this gentle man whom I had great affection for. His place ran-down, he was fired from his work, he was drunk alot. He had a party where there was a mystical theme and it was held in the shrine room of his house. I seem to remember some of the people there were not impressed and left during a mock Magical ceremony. I was there only as a party-goer with a few friends. There had always been some entertaining event at Alan's and this was very elaborate and we all watched with great interest. We imagined it was a kind of theatre designed to heighten the senses and elevate the mind.

Shortly thereafter, Alan was evicted from his home down the street from mine. His furnishings were stacked outside the door on the pavement, and eventually he disappeared to the household of a woman living around Colonnial. Friends of his who went there found it unattractive and the woman whom Alan lived with another alcoholic who had a disability and was able to support the drinking. That is only hearsay and possibly incorrect, so apologies to any who are offended by that. I never saw Alan after that move as I had outlawed him from my house for some time due to his drinking and his vulgar displays of lechery. He had changed from the soft spoken, intelligent gentlemen whom we all loved into a real derelict.

Nowhere in the works of Crowley, did I or anyone I know who read extensively on the man and his works, ever perceive the use of Magik lightly, nor imagine that any of us were in a position to dabble, but rather found the message one that was bright and liberating. Never was there the impression that in connection with practice that it was required for woman to heel under to a patriarchy, but rather to shatter that old form and move away from restraints imposed upon the person of either sex. In what I read of the OTO in Montreal, I am astounded but can see that if the practice of Magik is left to degenerate drunks and drug addicts who only want to debase themselves in an unenlightened way then surely the outcome will be unfortunate. How sad.

The most difficult part of reading about the demise of an old friend whose interest in Thelema was his undoing is that real wrong-doing and harm was done to all these unfortunates. Suspicious deaths, beatings and cripplings! How far from the Sun God can one get. Truly, the abyss. Sadly, beautiful people were lost in their quest for higher knowledge. Some things, some experiences we can refrain from. We do not have to plunge into a crazed search of the Mysteries. If we do feel we are exceptionally prepared and clear minded enough, we may endeavour to take the path but it is for few select persons. Vanity, and lust and greed and other obstructions of the mind cannot rule the day when it comes to the practice of Magik. If, indeed, that is the case then surely the path will be a destructive journey. One's higher self, the Guardian Angel, does not appear where there is no light. Horus emanating from the sun is a good image about taking wisdom from above and bringing it into manifestation. Drawing down power, not to wield over innocent aspirants but to uplift and empower. Absolute lucidity is required for the practice of the occult.

It is always sad to hear a story about someone that is so contrary to one's own experience. I will always remember Alan Ian Stewart as a great friend for whom I had true affection . He was far too sensitive to be among those who would pervert The Law. Sadly, he attempted to rise above his station at the wrong time.

I make no apologies for his or any other's actions. I sincerely hope the legacy of the Montreal OTO experience fades.

I spent a sleepless and troubled night with this on my mind and hope my account is helpful to rounding-out the background of at least one of the people who were caught in the thrall of that time. Such a sad and horrible time for so many people in so many ways.

You can print this but please leave my name out of it. It is essential I remain anon.
Thanks, and keep me posted on your progress.
[Email 21 June 2012]

We shall be meeting these characters in the stories that follow.

      Introduction to the development of the Ordo Templi Orientis in Canada
      Whereabouts of the Temple
      Part I
      Part II
      Part III
      Part IV
      Part V
      Part VI
      Part VII - Reactions to the previous sections
      Alan Stewart

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