Ordo Templi Orientis – Introduction

Introduction to the Ordo Templi Orientis

by Peter-R. Koenig

The history of the Ordo Templi Orientis is extremely complicated (rival claims to "apostolic" succession, mutual recriminations, and expulsions). Overlappings and interconnections are inevitable.

[Photos on the right: the early O.T.O.group of Laban de Laban on Monte Verità in Switzerland.
Courtesy: Harald Szeemann]

Documents: Monte Vérità.
Documents concerning Theodor Reuss.
Ordo Templi Orientis Veritas Mystica Maxima Monte Verità Johann Adam Meisenbach Rudolf Jean Baptiste Attila Laban de Varalja Ascona Mary Wiegmann Elga Feldt Suzanne Perrottet Käthe Wulff Frau Lederer Imre Schreiber W. Rosenblum Sisters Beraly Coleman de Montcabrie Ruckeschell Ordo Templi Orientis Veritas Mystica Maxima Monte Verità Johann Adam Meisenbach Rudolf Jean Baptiste Attila Laban de Varalja Ascona Mary Wiegmann Elga Feldt Suzanne Perrottet Käthe Wulff Frau Lederer Imre Schreiber W. Rosenblum Sisters Beraly Coleman de Montcabrie Ruckeschell Ordo Templi Orientis Veritas Mystica Maxima Monte Verità Johann Adam Meisenbach Rudolf Jean Baptiste Attila Laban de Varalja Ascona Mary Wiegmann Elga Feldt Suzanne Perrottet Käthe Wulff Frau Lederer Imre Schreiber W. Rosenblum Sisters Beraly Coleman de Montcabrie Ruckeschell

The history of the O.T.O. and its related fraternities is the history of their protagonists, and begins with that of Carl Kellner (1851-1905) and Theodor Reuss (1855-1923). Reuss, an Anglo-German Freemason who is regarded by historians and Freemasons alike as a swindler, imported the "fringe-masonic" organization of French origin, "Alte und Primitive Ritus von Memphis und Misraim" (henceforth MM) and the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite (AASR) via England to Germany in 1902. At that time the German organization had no definite name (they altered according to Reuss' mood or growing collection of Orders), but was declared to be founded on Harry J. Seymour's Cerneau charter (a 33° rite) of 21 July 1862.

Carl Kellner, an influential Austrian chemist and industrialist, who as early as 1895 had the idea of forming a private circle which would work tantric exercises along Hatha Yoga lines.
Kellner studied in Vienna and Paris and eventually worked in a private laboratory in Vienna. At the age of 22 while working for Hektor Baron von Ritter-Zahony in Podgora/Goerz, he discovered the ‘sulphite-cellulose-method’ which was soon to become used in many paper making factories. He also invented the electrochemical bleaching method and was also busy with many other technical inventions, i.e. the production of spun yarn, lighting, photography, artificial jewels and much more. Surviving relatives describe him as a "a genius, far beyond his time, generous and above all a tender husband and father" but are puzzled that the public draws only a partial picture of this extraordinary man.

Reuss, an Anglo-German Freemason who was and still is regarded by historians and Freemasons alike as a swindler, imported the "fringe-masonic" organization of French origin, "Alte und Primitive Ritus von Memphis und Misraim" (henceforth MM) and the "Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite" (AASR) via England to Germany in 1902. At that time the German organizations had no definite name (they altered according to Reuss' mood or growing collection of Orders), but was declared to be founded on Harry J. Seymour's Cerneau charter (a 33° rite) of 21 July 1862. While Kellner focused on Hatha Yoga and MM, Theodor Reuss on the other hand was busy selling and buying masonic charters. One must ask how this was possible and why? Clearly, potential members want to associate with an "authentic" Order or Lodge. "Authenticity" means "regularity": permissions, charters, successions, constitutions and the like. In order to be called "regular" one needs the permission of a "regular" superior Mother or Grand Lodge. Up until the 1900's there were over 70 so-called high degree systems pretending to be continuations or extensions of the regular Craft Masonry. The only difference between all these systems was the 400 or more different names of the various degrees. This environment is the dwelling ground for those who abused their masonic powers by selling charters etc. (in a similar way to the current trade in minor 'artistocratic' titles).
Reuss invented several new Orders, and basically made little more than a confused mess with all of them. He was responsible for the construction of the O.T.O. between 1906 and 1912, a clone of Craft Masonry, AASR, MM and Tantra. He also invented a new "Order of the Illuminati" and several rosicrucian societies. Reuss turned his collection of Orders into a huge non-transparent and confused mess where every organisation seemed to be interweaved and linked. Its names varied according to the time of day, some members were co-members of several of Reuss-Orders, while others weren't. Neither Reuss nor his self-styled heirs have ever appeared to be interested in clarifying the confusion. It however at the time became widely accepted at the time (and still is today by some) that membership in one of Reuss' Orders equates to membership in all the others as well. Regular freemasonry rejects all of Reuss' activities, especially the O.T.O. which accepts women into its lodges: impossible in regular masonry.

Kellner had no Order, only some friends who worked Hatha Yoga, and most certainly hadn't heard of, let alone used, the term "O.T.O." until Theodor Reuss came on the scene. Together, Reuss and Kellner decided to envelop the Hatha Yoga circle of Kellner with an outer Order so that they could select from its masonic members potential Yoga practitioners*1. The "knowledge" (that is about Yoga), and it was always stressed, did not come from Memphis-Misraim and had never been taught within Memphis-Misraim but as a parallel to Memphis-Misraim. There were only a few such Yoga practitioners and even important high degree MM/AASR members did not know what was going on.
Carl Kellner became terminally ill in 1904 and it is probably around this time that Reuss' decided to recruit from several AASR (33 degrees) and MM (90 and 97 degrees) members as a 'chosen few' for his new emerging Order, the later O.T.O. (of 11 degrees). There was no proper name for the group at the time – sometimes he spoke of the "Oriental Freemasons" or "Order of Old Templar Freemasons" (expressions also used in the AASR context). The Memphis-Rite alone was sometimes called "Antient and Primitive Rite of Masonry", or even "Oriental Order of Memphis". When Reuss founded the "Order of Oriental Templars" after Kellner's death there was further confusion just around the corner – who was in which of Reuss' Orders? And wasn't the Memphis-Rite alone called "Oriental Templars"? How were they linked? Was an O.T.O.-member automatically an MM-member? Between 1906 and 1913 [following the death of John Yarker, world-wide head of the MM, in 1913 the position was confused] the O.T.O. unequivocablly was distinct from all of Reuss' other Orders. When Reuss spoke of "Our Order" it remained completely unclear which Order he meant. But it is historically senseless to assume the O.T.O., which at this time, was a sort of collective Order which siphoned its members from AASR, MM, Order of the Illuminati, regular Masonry, the Gnostic Catholic Church, the Rosicrucians, the Golden Dawn, etc.. It was not until 1917, when Reuss and his self-proclaimed heir, Aleister Crowley (1875-1947) considered the O.T.O., MM and the AASR as linked, for example 33°, 90°-95°, which were equal to the IX° O.T.O. [this is substantiated with Crowley's "Synopsis of Degrees" in his handwritten version of his IV°O.T.O.-Initiationritual, facsimile in: "How to make your own McO.T.O."].
See also the Questions and Answers regarding the O.T.O.: Theodor Reuss, Rudolf Steiner, sexmagick and Aleister Crowley.

Today, all this masonic background is mirrored in the O.T.O.'s rituals: in its language, passwords and grips.

The following orders and churches were associated with the O.T.O. phenomenon before World War II:

"Fraternitas Saturni" (FS), established by the bookseller Eugen Grosche (1888-1964) in 1926 in Germany. This was the second order to be founded on Crowley's philosophical religion of Thelema (the "Law of the New Aeon") [The first being Crowley's own version of the O.T.O.]

"Fraternitas Rosicruciana Antiqua" (F.R.A.), established by the German adventurer Arnoldo Krumm-Heller (1879-1949) in 1927 in South America.

The "Order of the Illuminati" (OI); whose affinity with the O.T.O. was established only at the turn of the century by its re-founders Theodor Reuss and the actor Leopold Engel (1858-1931).

A mysterious Gnostic Catholic Church, the "Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica" (EGC), whose contact with the O.T.O. through one of its many branches is only noticeable from 1908-1920.

Furthermore there is mention of Heinrich Traenker's "Pansophia", but omitted Crowley's own order "Astrum Argenteum" (A.·. A.·. = Silver Star). The bookseller Traenker (1880-1956) was very active in the development of German Theosophy before he started his own enterprise. He was furnished by Reuss with a X° charter in 1921 and later (1930) collaborated with Spencer Lewis (A.M.O.R.C.) on a German branch of A.M.O.R.C. with Pansophia and O.T.O. - After Reuss expelled Crowley in 1921 he (Reuss) planned a collaboration with Lewis: the T.A.W.U.C. (The A.M.O.R.C. World Union Council) which was based upon Reuss' sexmagical writings "Lingam-Yoni" (1906) and "Parsifal" (1914).

Introduction to the History of the Ordo Templi Orientis

Under Reuss's authority, the concept of the O.T.O. was definitely structured within ten degrees, of which the VIII° and IX°, diverging from Masonic lines, practiced sexual magic. The X° represented the administrative leader of the country.
The controversial appearance of Aleister Crowley in 1910-12 (in the latter year he was given a charter for is own O.T.O. lodge limited to England and Ireland) incurred at least one distinctive feature, according to which the different O.T.O. groupings can be classified; the acceptance of the "Law of Thelema" in the rituals. One of the main issues under dispute in the O.T.O. phenomenon is the question of which of the many current O.T.O.s are genuine. The O.T.O. initiation rituals rewritten by Crowley between 1917 and 1942 were NEVER used by Theodor Reuss. All other Reuss lodges at that time developed their own rituals.

Because Spencer Lewis (1883–1939) (leader of the A.M.O.R.C.) threatened Theodor Reuss (1855–1923) (founder of the O.T.O., in 1906) that A.M.O.R.C. would stop paying its O.T.O. subscriptions if Aleister Crowley remained a member of the O.T.O.; and because Crowley was upset at Reuss granting (on 13th June, 1921 Charles S. Jones the highest U.S. degree (the X°), in the autumn of 1921, Reuss distanced himself from Crowley, turning towards the A.M.O.R.C. and to Arnoldo Krumm-Heller’s Rosicrucian organisation, the Fraternitas Rosicruciana Antiqua (F.R.A.). After receiving his honorary diploma from Reuss, Lewis sent a telegram, dated 24th August, 1921, asking “What connection has Crowley with your organization.” To which Reuss replied “Dissolved.” In October, 1921, Reuss informed Lewis that he had cut the O.T.O. connection between Reuss and Crowley, adding that whatever Crowley might happen to do about it in the U.S.A. was now his own business and no longer any concern of the O.T.O. On 9th November, 1921, Reuss wrote to Crowley: “the ‘O.T.O.’ is not in any way an annex or even in any way connected with the ‘AA’ [Crowley’s Argenteum Astrum, A.·. A.·.] and [...] the Teachings of these Two independent Bodies must rigorously be kept separate and distinct.” To which Crowley replied (on 23rd November, 1921) that it was his “will to be O.H.O. and Frater Superior of the Order and avail myself of your abdication — to proclaim myself as such.” Several days later, on 27th November, 1921, Crowley noted in his diary: “I have proclaimed myself O.H.O. [Outer Head of the Order] Frater Superior of the Order of Oriental Templars.”

[see also "Ein Leben fuer die Rose" and Der O.T.O. Phaenomen RELOAD].

In Germany, in 1922, Heinrich Traenker and his secretary Karl Germer established the "Pansophia", who already published and began its life in 1921 by Traenker and his wife but now financially supported by the businessman Germer.

Reuss died 1923 without naming a successor. Most probably, he intended has his heir the Swiss businessman Hans Rudolf Hilfiker (1882-1955), who was Grand Master of the lodge "Libertas et Fraternitas", founded in 1917 in Zuerich. But this serious freemason held it incomunicado in view of Reuss' and Crowley's bad reputation. As Crowley admitted in a letter of 1924 to Heinrich Traenker, Reuss never chose him as his successor. Reuss got rid of Crowley in 1921 and tied in with Spencer Lewis' A.M.O.R.C. and Arnoldo Krumm-Heller's F.R.A.. (Allegedly Lewis played a role in 1921 in pressuring Reuss to expel Crowley).
It would appear that historically an O.T.O. lives and dies with its leader and is subject to constant schisms, i.e. Carl Kellner had no O.T.O.; when Reuss died, his O.T.O. died with him; and Crowley's O.T.O., a split from Reuss' Order, had little in common apart from the use of the same name i.e. "O.T.O.". This emerging pattern of events would be the blue-print for the many O.T.O. groups yet to be formed.

In 1926, after Crowley had visited Traenker and Germer, the secretary of the Pansophia, Eugen Grosche, broke away from the inner circle of the Pansophia and founded the Fraternitas Saturni allegedly with sixty ex-O.T.O. members. The FS became the second order founded upon the Law of Thelema. Traenker's remaining O.T.O., which makes only coy references to Thelema, almost became inactive.(2*)

Thus, at that time Reuss' remaining O.T.O. of Monte Verità and the related branch in Zuerich were the only active O.T.O. in Europe, if not worldwide if one excepts Crowley's attempts to use his new O.T.O. in America for easy income and a means to publish his own writings.

The Swiss baker and ex-communist Hermann Joseph Metzger (1919-1990) was initiated in 1943 in Davos (Switzerland) by Alice Sprengel (1871-1947) of Monte Verità, and his actions deserve close attention.
We must not forget that after Crowley's death in 1947, his then known successor in the US, Karl Germer (1885-1962) repeatedly denied in his correspondence that he was OHO, did not recruit any members in the USA, collect subscriptions or perform initiations. Later, although his authority to do so was dubious, Germer did manage to expel Kenneth Grant (the head of the only remaining active Crowley-O.T.O. lodge in England), formally closed the last Crowley-lodge in the USA and then claimed the US to be a "spiritual desert". So, by this time, the Swiss O.T.O. may have even been regarded as the only O.T.O. then active in the world. Furthermore, H.J. Metzger was able to produce reasons to believe that his O.T.O. was of Reussian origin, a fact that gave him authority over every offshoot of Crowley's O.T.O..

Comparisons: What happened with the O.T.O. groups after WWII?

O.T.O. and Fraternitas Saturni

During his exile in the 1930s, Eugen Grosche stayed several times with Reuss' remaining group in the Ticino (Italian-speaking Switzerland). Metzger got in touch with him for the first time in 1950, and Grosche consequently and immediately ceded all authority for the FS outside Germany to Metzger, who traveled much in Europe. As he possessed a visa for the German territories under Allied occupation, Metzger served as a convenient messenger for several organizations. He traveled for the Order of the Illuminati, took care of FS business in between, and visited the various Thelemites of Europe, for example Frederic/Friedrich Mellinger (1890-1970). The latter, once an active director of the German Expressionist theatre, a spiritualist, and secretary to Crowley in England, acted after World War II on behalf of Germer, examining and possibly initiating likely candidates for the Crowley O.T.O. in Europe.

Thus in 1951, Reuss' O.T.O. under the leadership of Metzger merged with Crowley's O.T.O. ruled by Germer. This is substantiated by Germer's and Mellinger's signatures on Metzger's document of acceptance. (3*) Mellinger would soon abandon contact with any O.T.O. in order to work with German Theosophists, which he did from 1960 up to his death in 1970.

Soon disillusioned with Metzger, Grosche associated as early as the 1950s with Kenneth Grant's Crowley-O.T.O. lodge in England. Grant seemingly was appointed Head of the Ordo Templi Orientis by Crowley in 1947. Grant's contacts with Grosche infuriated Germer (the US-head of Crowley's O.T.O.) so much that [the OHO] Kenneth Grant was expelled [?!] in 1955 from the masonic Crowley O.T.O.. (4*) Nevertheless, Grant in his "Typhonian" O.T.O. henceforth conferred O.T.O. grades withouth using initiation rituals.
When Grosche died in 1964, Metzger tried in vain to take over the FS, seeing himself as the "mother lodge" of all organizations oriented to the Law of Thelema.

The O.T.O. and the Fraternitas Rosicruciana Antiqua (F.R.A.)

Arnoldo Krumm-Heller received a charter from Reuss in 1908 and founded his F.R.A. in 1927. The F.R.A. was mainly active in Latin America but also had branches in Spain, Germany, and Austria. When Krumm-Heller met Crowley and Germer in Germany in 1930, some of the rituals were given Thelemic references. (5*) Krumm-Heller also became a ("real") Gnostic bishop in 1939, but after his death in 1949 his F.R.A. split into countless groups. In 1963, Metzger tried in vain through his contacts in Venezuela to bring all of these organisations under his authority.
Today many F.R.A. groups are connected either with Metzger or with the O.T.O.A [see later].

On-line Articles on the Fraternitas Rosicruciana Antiqua

  1. Baphomet and Rosycross.
  2. Eduard Munninger: Roses in Austria. The successor to Arnoldo Krumm-Heller, early history of A.M.O.R.C. and A.A.O.R.R.A.C. in the German speaking countries.
  3. Dance the Adolf Hitler. Krumm-Heller and his Hitlerianismo.
  4. Conqueror of the Grail — Arnoldo Krumm-Heller.
  5. Correct Gnosticism.
  6. Das Milieu des Templer Reichs — Die Sklaven Sollen Dienen. Hanns Heinz Ewers — Lanz von Liebenfels — Karl Germer — Arnoldo Krumm–Heller — Martha Kuentzel — Friedrich Lekve — Hermann Joseph Metzger — Christian Bouchet — Paolo Fogagnolo — James Wasserman. Unbequeme Aspekte in der Geschichte des O.T.O. und Thelema.
  7. A correspondence with David Scriven / Sabazius , who in 1994 interviewed one of the many sons of Arnoldo Krumm-Heller (who then did nothing more than simply repeat the same conclusions that I had drawn in the above articles that I had previously sent him in print: "Rosenkreuz und Baphomet", in AHA # 5, Bergen, 1991, ISSN 0936-8841).
  8. Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica: Faksimile-Material zur Gnostisch Katholischen Kirche Krumm-Hellers.
  9. Arnoldo Krumm-Heller's Gnostic Mass for the Fraternitas Rosicruciana Antiqua.
  • Regarding Mexico read also this correspondence.

    The O.T.O. and the Order of the Illuminati (OI)

    Around the turn of the century, Reuss and Leopold Engel tried rather unsuccessfully to revive the OI, as founded by Adam Weishaupt in the eighteenth century. Even so, several groups of Engel's survived both World Wars and came under Metzger's presidency in 1963. Metzger then regarded the OI as a framework for his compilation of orders (O.T.O., F.R.A.), and quickly integrated the Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica, also into the higher grades of his OI.

    The O.T.O. and the Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica (EGC)

    The French Gnostic Churches, which also suffered from countless splits, were established in 1890 and attempted to run along the usual ecclesiastical line of apostolic succession. But neither Reuss nor Crowley ever received a valid apostolic succession. Reuss tried to make Crowley's "Gnostic Mass" the "official religion for Freemasons" in 1920; Crowley only once used his assumed headship of the O.T.O. to make the English Theosophist William Bernard Crow head of his (Crowley's) Gnostic Church and Memphis-Misraim in 1944. But nowhere in the constitution of the O.T.O. was the office of leader of the O.T.O., the "Outer Head of the Order" (OHO) connected with leadership of any church.

    Metzger received a valid consecration because he stood in succession of Krumm-Heller's line, which held French apostolic succession.

    Crowley's student, Grady McMurtry (1918-1985), received a few letters from his master in England in 1946, while McMurtry was staying in California. In these letters Crowley addressed McMurtry as "Caliph", a term never used in any O.T.O. context, nor in Reuss' or Crowley's writings: it was merely based on "Calif", the then postal abbreviation for California. More than twenty years after Crowley's death, McMurtry interpreted Crowley's calling him "Caliph" as making him OHO and Patriarch of Crowley's church. The EGC of his resulting "Caliphate" never received any kind of valid succession, either ecclesiastical or O.T.O. Obviously this O.T.O. group rewrote its constitution in 1987 after the death of McMurtry. Since then, the "Caliphate" calls itself "O.T.O. International". Subsequently, under the present leader William Breeze, the "Caliphate" has slowly moved to become part of the establishment. It has registered and incorporated both the US Grand Lodge and O.T.O. International in order to receive special tax exempt status in the United States as a non-profit religious body.

  • The Fight for Leadership

    [Scan at the right taken from: O.T.O. Rituals and Sexmagick — Birth and Development of the O.T.O., Amazing Maze, Structure and Practises of the O.T.O. Groups, A note to the Constitutions, the Rituals and the Instructions. (out of print)]
    O.T.O. Heads

    After Germer's death in 1962, there were four main contestants for sole leadership of Germer's Crowley-O.T.O. According to Germer's Will, the final decision was up to his widow and Mellinger. Sascha Germer's first choice was the Brazilian Marcelo Ramos Motta (1931-1987), of the F.R.A., but soon she decided that in fact Metzger had been her husband's favourite. Thus in 1963 Metzger proclaimed himself OHO, and was accepted by some American Crowley-O.T.O. members.

    It was not until 1969 that McMurtry started making efforts to get to the head if the O.T.O. and claim the Crowley-Tarot writings and copyrights. This aroused especially the indignation of Motta, who felt excluded. Kenneth Grant, just like Metzger, Motta, and McMurtry, was able to claim the authority of a letter (or entry in Crowley's diary) from a deceased leader of an O.T.O., implying that he might be chosen for high office. Grant managed to rise to the OHO position in 1970 with the support of Crowley's literary executor, John Symonds.
    In 1969 there was a rupture within Metzger's group, and thus another, independent O.T.O. emerged in Germany with its own OHO.

    Kenneth Grant declared himself OHO of "the O.T.O." in England in 1966 and then later as the head of the Typhonian O.T.O. in 1970. Grant has distanced himself from the "Caliphate" despite at least one attempt by them to tempt him to join their order (to use his friendship with John Symonds, Crowley's Literary Executor, to gain control of the copyrights).
    At the end of March 1998 a document came to the light that shows that Crowley seemingly appointed Grant the OHO of his O.T.O.

    Descriptions of the Groups

    Fraternitas Saturni

    Within this German fraternity, the opinion prevailed that the magic influence of the New Aeon demanded the permanent adaptation of Crowley's teachings to the latest developments. As a consequence, the rituals of Saturn turned into a peculiar mixture of medieval magic, astrology, and a small admixture of Thelema. In the course of time, and especially after Grosche's death in 1964, this caused several ruptures, and from 1980 a splinter-group, the Ordo Saturni, felt more and more drawn to Crowley's ways. Sexual magic was once talked of freely within the FS, but not as the main theme. The FS was supposed to have its own Egregor, now lending his powers to the affiliated organization, the Ordo Saturni. Some members of the German branch of the "Caliphate" are co-members of this Ordo Saturni, also lending their own sexual magic energies to that Egregor. (6*)


    In 1921, the German Grand Master of Reuss' O.T.O., Heinrich Traenker, founded an organization called Pansophia, which published important rosicrucian books as well as early writings of Crowley. Krumm-Heller and Reuss used the term "Pansophia" in their letterhead and stamps. When Reuss died in 1923 without naming a successor, the constitution of the O.T.O. demanded that the remaining Tenth Degree members should elect the next OHO. There were only about eight of them. Two of these, Traenker and the American Grand Master, C.R.J. Stansfeld Jones (Frater Achad, 1886-1950, who also had a Reuss charter), elected X° Crowley "A World Saviour" (rather than OHO) over their own O.T.O. branches (?) in 1925. Both withdrew their votes very quickly.
    The sexual mysteries of the Pansophia were communicated only by word of mouth by Traenker himself. (7*) Thelemic references were to be found only in the more advanced inner teachings of the group. (8*) Pansophia ended with Traenker's death in 1956.

    Metzger's O.T.O.

    Some old and very masonic rituals of Reuss have been in use in Switzerland to this day, even though the Swiss never had any Reussian rituals higher than the Third Degree; other initations jumped directly to the IX° (9*) After Germer's death in 1962, which meant the disappearance of the person in Thelemic control, Metzger blended his Order of the Illuminati with Crowley's O.T.O., now active again on Reuss' lines. In Switzerland, so far as is known, no rituals are performed apart from Crowley's Gnostic Mass which they have performed regularly since the early 1950’s.
    Metzger only propagated Thelema in order to ingratiate himself with Germer. Thus Germer considered Metzger as his sole successor, as he wrote in a letter and as was confirmed by Germer's widow. (10*)
    Metzger totally renounced any kind of sexual magic. He died in 1990 and the criteria for entry into his O.T.O. are very strict (in contrast to those of the "Caliphate"), this O.T.O. is generally known as the Order of the Illuminati, and is very prosperous.

    Motta's Society O.T.O. in the USA and Brazil

    Motta chose his members according to the criteria of the Astrum Argenteum (some selected students having to learn by heart some Crowley material), rather than according to the precept "The Law is for All", as used in the masonic Crowley O.T.O. Thus this S.O.T.O. has never had more than a handful of members. (11*) After the publication of the Crowley-O.T.O. initiation rituals in 1973 by Francis King, Motta began to create his own, for he believed in the danger of their desecration. The group that from 1977 on was called "Caliphate", on the other hand, only then came into possession of them.

    The "Caliphate"

    Referring to two peculiar letters of Crowley's, McMurtry, from 1977 on, started promoting a new founded Agape Lodge into a Grand Lodge. As in all O.T.O.s close to Freemasonry, the grades were at first conferred rather haphazardly. McMurtry was favored for a time by Crowley, who in fact also appointed Mellinger, after McMurtry, as another possible successor. After being disgraced by Germer and many other ex-members of the 2nd American Agape Lodge (dissolved in 1953), McMurtry got rid of Motta , Metzger and Kenneth Grant:
    The rival claims by McMurty and Motta for leadership of the Caliphate - O.T.O. ended in a court case and as a result McMurtry rid himself of Motta and his claims to be OHO. Based on the evidence presented before him, the trial Judge made various rulings upon which he was totally unaware that he had no legal power or jurisdiction. The Judge, faced with two squabbling factions both claiming rights and property reached a decision purely on their respective claims. Both sides failed to mention to the Judge that their particular 'O.T.O.' had no direct lineage to the long-defunct Crowley - O.T.O. and that the Crowley copyrights (at the center of the dispute) were still vested with John Symonds the Literary Executor in England.
    In an earlier case against Samuel Weiser Inc. Motta made himself look ridiculous with paranoid court proceedings in which he claimed that 'the O.T.O. owned the Crowley copyrights – he lost his case.

    Generally, the sexual mysteries are supposed to have sunk into obscurity again. Nevertheless, this O.T.O. group is the one which regards all of Crowley's words as the crux of its organization, and which has "substantiated" its position by legal proceedings although they admit that "it's impossible to reform the post-Grady [McMurtry] version of the Order", to imitate the Reuss- or Crowley-O.T.O.
    McMurtry was succeeded on his death in 1985 by William Breeze (a IV° at the time of his election), a student of Grant's and Michael P. Bertiaux' teachings. There is reason to believe that the election of Breeze would not have met McMurtry's approval. (12*) Breeze has adopted the X°-title "His Most Sacred Majesty".

    Regarding Crowley's antidemocratic, racist and misanthropic writings, followers point out: "The reason [...] aspects of Thelema are omitted [in public discussion] indicates the actual problem with presenting Thelema as a religion and attempting to get Thelema sanctioned by the government or approved by the public: Thelema is ultimately in contrast to and transgressive of normative society. Thelema rejects the morals and values of normative society and acts to transgress and violate these norms. From the inclusion of intoxicants in ritual, to the positive view of sexuality, which frequently is seen as promoting promiscuity, to the pro–authoritarian and Nietzschian aspects of Thelema, normative society has much to reject in Thelema and conversely, Thelema encourages its adherents to reject most aspects of normative society.". See The Templar's Reich.

    Typhonian O.T.O.

    Kenneth Grant (b. 1923), Crowley's secretary, has dispensed with the masonic structure of the Crowley-O.T.O. Crowley called him "a definite gift from the Gods" and wrote in his diary in March 1946: "Value of Grant: if I die or go to U.S.A., there must be a trained man to take care of the English O.T.O.".
    Around 1945, Gerald Gardner, was allegedly chartered "to constitute a camp of the Ordo Templi Orientis, in the degree of Minerval," and the relevant document was apparently signed by Crowley. (There is reason to believe that Gardner faked this Charter, as a comparison of Gardner's and Crowley's handwriting shows). Gardner, however, never found the time to run the camp, and it is said that this alone led to Germer's decision to allow Grant to work the first three degrees.
    In July 1951, Karl Germer wrote to Frederic Mellinger, saying, "If Metzger would have had access to all of A.C.'s works in the way Grant has had I'd be inclined to see him [as] a parallel case. However, like Grant, there seems to be a lack of money." On January 18, 1952, Germer wrote to Grant, "If we want to get the O.T.O. properly going again, we need a competent leader, not only for England but for the whole world. It must be somebody who knows the thing inside out ... I have often thought that you might be chosen for the job."

    Karl Germer (Saturnus), Kenneth Grant (Aossic), Ordo Templi Orientis, O.T.O. system

    On 3rd May, 1952 Karl Germer (Saturnus) wrote to Kenneth Grant (Aossic), saying: “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! [...]. 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. [...]. I have often thought that you might well be chosen for the job.”
    [From: 'Noch Mehr Materialien Zum O.T.O.']

    In the early 'Fifties, Grant established contact with the Fraternitas Saturni. In 1955, he announced in a manifesto his discovery of a Sirius/Set "current," and founded the New Isis Lodge in London. In his manifesto, he named Eugen Grosche, an old adversary of Germer's, as an associate. This infuriated Germer, who took "violent exception" to the reference. Grosche exacerbated the situation by publishing, in his own German magazine, a short version of Grant's manifesto. This so angered Germer that, on 20 July, 1955, he penned a "Notification of Expulsion" that excommunicated Grant and forbade Grosche from publishing any Crowley writings. In England, a certain Noel Fitzgerald was appointed as Germer's "personal representative" in matters of the O.T.O. for Great Britain.

    Karl Germer Kenneth Grant Notification of Expulsion 1955 Ordo Templi Orientis

    Karl Germer Kenneth Grant Note of Expulsion 1955 Ordo Templi Orientis

    [From "Materialien Zum O.T.O."]

    One of Crowley's two literary executors, John Symonds, wrote to Gerald Yorke in September of 1970 that he fully supported Grant's claim to be be OHO. (This was hardly surprising: the two men had collaborated in the editing and annotation of several Crowley works, including an edition of the Autohagiography and Magick. Motta, in October of the same year, ignorant of Germer's letter of expulsion, expressed a willingness to acknowledge Grant as OHO.
    Grant's insights derive largely from Jones/Achad's proclamation of the "Aeon of Maat" (which caused Crowley to "expel" Jones who collaborated with Heinrich Traenker, since Crowley was himself the prophet of the "Aeon of Horus"), from Grosche's teachings on Saturn/Set and from Michael Paul Bertiaux' teachings about sex and Voodoo. Sexual magic is discussed very openly. The Typhonian O.T.O. is concerned with effective transmissions and communications from 'outerspace' for the purpose of opening Gateways. The Typhonian 'deities' denote specific operations of psycho-physical alchemy which involve essences or elixirs secreted (thrown out and/or considered unclean) by the human organism. Its formula is that of the XI° involving kalas that are entirely absent from the masculine organism.

    There is no comparison to other O.T.O. versions, essentially because there are no group rituals or ceremonies of initiation at any stage of the degree structure. The basis of initiation is the assimilation of direct magical and mystical working. It follows that all initiation is in effect self-initiation.
    There is a small amount of set gradework in the Typhonian O.T.O. However, the emphasis is on the initiate charting his or her own course. There is of course the experience of others to draw upon.

    Ordo Templi Orientis Antiqua

    In 1921, the O.T.O.A, an alleged breakaway branch from the French O.T.O. line (of Reussian origin), was extended to sixteen grades. In the course of time, the O.T.O.A absorbed several different Gnostic successions, a Memphis-Misraim line, episcopal consecrations, and the Eleventh Degree of homosexual magic. Its most important current exponent and a powerful point of convergence is the American Michael Paul Bertiaux (born 1935), a former Theosophist associated with the spiritualistically oriented Henry Smith. Bertiaux' system works exclusively on a magical, not a masonic level, and sexual magic is regarded as an important focus of this Voodoo-oriented organization. Once, Bertiaux worked closely with Kenneth Grant's O.T.O.

      The Threepenny Gnostic Opera with charters of e.g. Manuel Cabrera Lamparter, William W. Webb et. al.
      History of the Gnostic Churches related to the O.T.O. and O.T.O.A.
      Ken Ward
      The Italian O.T.O. never hade more than 12 members
      Technicians of the Sacred
      Der O.T.O.A.-Reader contains a lot of further picture material
      The Gnostic Lineages of the O.T.O.A. and related organisations and Churches
      "Ljuben je zakon" or "ljubav pod voljom"? O.T.O. and O.T.O.A. in former "Yugoslavia"
      Anti 'Caliphate' hunt in Serbian Papers
      O.T.O. groups and O.T.O.A. in Italy
      The History of the XI° and the Choronzon Club A letter of Michael P. Bertiaux to Gary M. Kelly / Martin
      My O.T.O.A. 1987-1991
      How William Breeze lost an Apostolic Succession
      The Typhonian O.T.O., with material from Maggie Ingalls on the Ma'at-Continuum

      Photos of Hector-François Jean-Maine, Michael Paul Bertiaux, Marc Lully and two Gnostic Masses


    1. While it was certain that Kellner worked tantric yoga, it is not certain whether he actually received any of these high degrees of MM. The only evidence of such appears in the magazine "Oriflamme" of which an almost complete set is in the library of the freemasonic Grand Lodge in London. Reuss reports that Kellner was member of the Lodge Humanitas in Neuheusl. This lodge was founded on 9 March 1871 under the constitution of the Grand Lodge of Hungary. It was the first and most respected of the so-called "Grenz-Logen" established after 1870 in Austria. The lodge is now in Vienna under the Austrian constitution.
      A lot of the "Oriflamme" is reproduced as facsimile in P.R. Koenig "Der Grosse Theodor Reuss Reader
    2. See P.R. Koenig: "Das Beste von Heinrich Traenker" (Muenchen 1996)
    3. Facsimile in my "Materialien zum O.T.O.", Muenchen 1994
    4. This is, incidentally, the reason which Grant gives in a letter dated 11 August 1987. It seems that neither Germer nor Grant have been aware that Grant was maybe the only OHO appointed as successor by Crowley
    5. Fascimiles in: "Materialien zum O.T.O.", "Ein Leben fuer die Rose"
    6. More about the FS in "Das O.T.O. Phaenomen", "Ein Leben fuer die Rose" and in "In Nomine Demiurgi Saturni"
    7. Some of them in: "Ein Leben fuer die Rose"
    8. Some of them in: "Das Beste von Heinrich Traenker" Muenchen 1996), see footnote 2
    9. It is doubtful whether any of the Crowley-O.T.O.-groups had any initiation rituals higher than the III° as of 1973, when they were published by Francis King in his "The Secret Rituals of the O.T.O." (London 1973)
    10. Facsimile in "Materialien zum O.T.O." Muenchen 1994, p.141, 142
    11. The actual number of selected American students may have been around six, but the number is uncertain. The Brazilian S.O.T.O. Lodge allegedly had thirty members according to the court transcript, "McMurtry et alii versus Motta", California 16 May 1985, p. 741
    12. In a "official" letter, McMurtry ordered that neither Phyllis McMurtry/Seckler, Helen Parsons Smith, K.G.D. nor Lon Milo DuQuette were empowered to elect a successor to the office of "Caliph"

    © Peter-Robert Koenig, March 2000

    Translated and adapted from a chapter on the O.T.O. Protagonists in "Das O.T.O.-Phänomen" (1994) by Mark Parry-Maddocks.
    German original online.

  • English version: O.T.O. — Early Years and Development.
  • Deutsche Version: Zur Geschichte des Ordo Templi Orientis.
  • Versione italiano: Ordo Templi Orientis — I primi anni e la sua evoluzione.
  • Traduction française: L’ancien O.T.O. et son évolution.
  • Traduccion castellano: O.T.O. — Original y su Desarrollo.

    Theodor Reuss, Rudolf Steiner, Aleister Crowley
  • Reuss O.T.O. Lamen

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    Content Carl Kellner Spermo-Gnostics The Early Years O.T.O. Rituals Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica Fraternitas Rosicruciana Antiqua Fraternitas Saturni Typhonian O.T.O. 'Caliphate' Pictures RealAudio and MP3 David Bowie Self Portrait Books on O.T.O. Deutsche Beiträge Charles Manson Illuminati