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.
Also: Proto–Fascist Elements in the O.T.O.
Online discussion with David Scriven.
Anonymous 2021: Burning Down The House. 'Caliphate', Argenteum Astrum, James Wasserman, Donald Trump.
Regarding the Mass of the Phoenix, Liber Nu, Liber Had, Liber Astarte, Liber Thisharb, Liber VII, X, LVX, XC, CCXXXI: the O.T.O.'s "Journal of Thelemic Studies", 1;2, 2008, http://thelemicstudies.com/JoTS1–2.pdf, page 40: "The reason these aspects of Thelema are omitted 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."
P.R. Koenig (PRK), Jeroen Hoogeweij (JH), KALIL and Bryony Murds.
JH is an ex-member of the 'Caliphate' OTO; while KALIL still belongs to the the 'Caliphate'. After these two 'dialogues' the reader will find a comment by Bryony Murds who edited the text.
Time: the year 2000.
PRK: My understanding of the term 'proto-fascist' is made up of several interlinked definitions and points of view. So what I mean by proto-fascist is a compound of several things.
The short explanation that follows contains no specific sources, but is based on my knowledge of 'Liber AL vel Legis'; all the OTO constitutions produced by Reuss, Crowley, and the 'Caliphate'; the various adjuncts to these constitutions, such as Libri CI, LII, CLXI, and CXCIV; OTO rituals, including Liber OZ; and my contact with people involved in the OTO, including recent correspondence. The explanation also relies upon what I know of the lives of Theodor Reuss, Crowley (such as his diary-entry for May 29th 1923), E.T.H. Kurtzahn, H.J. Metzger, and a number of people who were both OTO protagonists and Theosophists such as Heinrich Tränker, Eugen Grosche, Arnoldo Krumm-Heller, and Friedrich Mellinger (although the latter was Jewish, the TS did teach a form of racism with its idea of 'Root Races', and therefore can be seen as implicitly anti-Semitic).
My definition of what makes someone a 'Thelemite' appears to be narrower, however — such as the Thelemites associated with the 'Caliphate', for instance. Likewise, those in the 'Typhonian' OTO would consider themselves to be Thelemites, yet not hesitate to contaminate Thelemic doctrine with things from Kenneth Grant.
JH: A very interesting set of observations, which contains much truth. I'm not sure, however, if the interpretational framework you placed it in is sufficient. First of all, you defined the term 'fascistoid' as consisting of the sum total of your observations, which nobody will accept as a workable definition. It is impossible to obtain an operational understanding of the term 'fascistoid' out of these loosely connected observations. It's an easy target for any self-respecting nitpicker!
Not a big problem though, because you can easily apply some theoretical frameworks to nest your observations in. I am thinking of two specifically: 'The open society and its enemies' (from Popper methinks), and Adornos's tool the 'F(ascist)-scale'. In the seventies it was very popular, and on the basis of a checklist one could calculate the F-rating of an individual or institution. The 'Caliphate' would definitely fit this, and you have collected enough observations and material to make a valid start on me asuring your 'Phenomenon' on the F-scale basis, and can easily prove why the phenomenon is an enemy of any sort of 'Open society'.
The term 'fascistoid' turned out to be untenable in practice, so use the term 'totalitarian' instead. Accusations of fascism were over-used in the 1970's (whether on the basis of the F-scale or not) and became a cliché. Nowadays historians would mostly see such accusations as subjective value-judgements.
Another thing; you seem to have confused 'fascism' and 'racism', though these two things don't necessarily intersect. I would start with the hypothesis that the ontological field you recognise is essentially both totalitarian and racist. Then you define those terms and use them in relation to the ontological field you defined. That would make it waterproof, in my opinion.
OK. So your ontological field is the above, plus group dynamics in Orders — applying those documents in various settings, like attitudes their members have towards outsiders, defence mechanisms they apply, or contrasts they recognise (fundamentalist vs. thelemite etc), so as to create an essentially false sense of identity.
PRK: These Thelemites consider themselves as 'subjects' — while non-Thelemites are 'objects' — as in Crowley's "the slaves shall serve" or Grosche's "things, objects, material". In occult terms the Thelemite is a dichotomist, seeing themself as a superior being or a 'chosen one', while everyone else is as nothing. This sort of Thelemite lives in a world ruled by good and evil; of course, there are Thelemites might reach a level that is beyond that — but nevertheless the world below the abyss is only black and white, for them. Thelemites are trapped in such relationships; all are victims and culprits, masters and slaves, Gods and sub-humans, and this is mirrored in their language when they describe their critics. On the one side the Thelemite, on the other the (Christian, fundamentalist) Church; one one side Crowley's 'orthodox' Liber XV, on the other Reuss's translation of it (even though they only differ in irrelevant details). Because they have to keep Thelemic doctrine pure (no Kenneth Grant, please!) they distort reality.
JH: This is very true for the great majority of people involved in thelemic 'occulture', and certainly the 'newbies'... they get the 'Übermensch' attitude for at least a couple of years, because they believe they have obtained an ideal form of being only through having proclaimed themselves Thelemites. Also, the injunction to be joyful all the time is taken quite literally, which leads to a rather unnatural kind of person. What Crowley means is deprogramming in my personal analysis, but contemporary Thelemic orders are into the reprogramming business, just like Hubbard and all the rest of them freaks!
I think this is a warped style of self-assertion which doesn't really arise from true feelings of superiority at all, but from a sense of inferiority. A common way of acting out an inferiority complex is putting other people down. Incidentally, there is a Dutch author worth reading in this connection, called Menno ter Braak; he committed suicide when the Germans invaded the Netherlands. He wrote an essay on Nazism and Communism identifying them as 'resentment ideologies', not based on a constructive ideal, but a common focus of resentment. Such resentment seems to be the unifying force behind any kind of totalitarian system, far more so than actual physical oppression.
PRK: Some current writers on OTO history, practices and beliefs try to hide the flaws in their arguments by dogmatic assertions (like David Scriven or William Heidrick) or by verbal exhibitionism (Heidrick again). If they can't counter their critics on the same level, they try to transfer the argument to details and irrelevancies — such as an excessive use of German and Hebrew words (often spelt wrongly) to try and exhibit their supposedly immense erudition. Or else they resort to _ad hominem_ sniping, such as "he 's not a member", "not a member of the real OTO", "once a peripheral insider, now an outsider", "Peter Pill Popping" "He's kicked out", "below the anthropodiea" and so forth; they are trying to stop people thinking by making as much noise as they can, blocking a true exchange of ideas, and using emotive language to defame critics. It gives a good insight into the psychology of those who use such tricks (Heidrick starts to sound like Reinhard Heydrich, perhaps?) and the use of such language by some OTO 'chiefs' merely reflect badly on their own groups.
If someone in a corporation was dictating company views and policies in writing, through private emails, throughout the company and the company did nothing to stop them, then the company is condoning their actions and they could be held liable if that individual said something slanderous. When such a problem surfaces most companies immediately 'fire' the person in order to distance themselves from that person's actions and to show zero-tolerance of such behavior. This sends a strong message to other employees, who value their jobs, not to be stupid. Plus, in a Court of Law, it shows that the company is trying to resolve such issues and is acting on "good-faith." The same should go with the OTO. Now, you can argue that these individuals are not speaking on behalf of the Order but legally if the OTO "lets them speak about anything OTO in an authoritative capacity" without saying, "Stop, you have no authority to discuss OTO publicly" then it is, in a round-about-way, condoning their actions. And a Court of Law would have to determine the fine-line whether or not the Order is liable.
JH: Oh yes, Heidrick's treife [impure] kabalah. For a while I was a bucher [student] in yeshivah Aish Hatorah (rabbinic education in Jerusalem) and actually read Hebrew; I think he doesn't deserve to be called a Hebrew scholar at all, on examination of his publications. Oh yes, there are lots of silly stupidities in the Thelemic system that are just based on faulty Hebrew (Dr. — duhhh — Rudd). They think for example that the letter Ayin represents an 'O' sound and base the most exotic interpretations of ON on it. Of course Vau represents the O-sound. You know; bye-bye solar-phallic falsity!
When other people get analytical with the 'Caliphate', they're annoyed and immediately get _ad hominem_, like with you and many, many others. I tried out their medicine on t93, and I must say it was really successful. Are people that stupid? Wow... An OTO high booboo once explained to me — when I told him was planning to write an analysis of Liber AL showing its hypertextual function in relation to the rest of his _corpus_ — that there was a difference between 'Thelemic scholarship' and being a literary scientist with thelemic texts. This sounded really weird to me. They're actually scared of impartial scholarship and will always identify 'impartial' as 'hostile'. This is an expression of fear and reveals a sense of theoretical inferiority. Quite justified, btw.
PRK: This sort of Thelema seeks historical legitimation; it wants to supplant Christianity, with its litany of saints in the Gnostic Mass, and its lines of apostolic succession. Sources that go against its own version of history are ignored, facts are conveniently forgotten, and anyone who dares criticise them is denounced. And sometimes, without even mentioning critics, these critics' findings are sedulously plagiarised as the official Thelemic line. I doubt, for example, that 'Caliphate' would publicly admit that I have discovered many valuable new 'landmarks' for Thelemites. There is an endless repetition of their own version of history — just like the Nazis. For example, the 'Caliphate' claim that they had the OTO degree-rituals in 1971 (although the 'Caliphate' was non-existent before 1977).
JH: This is what the present Caliphate made of it indeed. The way the KEW ritual was constructed shows that pretty well, or the way they go about 'becoming a soldier of Thelema' — and the crucifixion of a frog is very funny! They just impose their own reality; historic falsification is their middle name... but on the other hand... true authenticity is an illusion. Where should you draw the line? Sometimes the 'Caliphate' seems like a self-therapy group for people who had a problematic Christian background, unlike me. I could never relate to that.
PRK: The concept of Thelema attracts people with a positive self-image and tendencies towards self-delusion and conceit ('homo est deus'). Human beings are not equal, and life is according to Darwin — "life is hard, only the strong survive" (Liber OZ). This self-aggrandisement is often nourished (or acts as a compensation for) a devaluation of the outside world. Some Thelemites are obsessed with Crowley (who can hardly be described as an integrated or coherent personality) and change their own lives to mimic his — which reflects their own previous instability, since they all seem to have had ego, sex, or drug problems before.
JH: Nope... I definitely don't think they have a positive self-image, though I do agree with the delusional notion. They're trying to compensate for inherent inferiority complexes, and this is one of the reasons why those people end up in a club like the 'Caliphate' — it's about re-inforcement. Crowley mentioned people who, before joining an Order, were experiencing what he called the 'trance of sorrow'; people joining his club have a recognition of this trance — and once you're in, you're supposed to have transcended it - "remember all ye that existence is pure joy". Obviously one's life is just as shitty or even shittier, but you have to conceal that because you're supposed to have been 'transformed' now, and be joyful all the time. In the minds of nearly all 'Caliphate' members, the fact of their dramatic initiation already presupposes illumination. Very insecure people indeed. And with such a resemblance to the methodology of their supposed enemies, the 'charismatic' Christians. Awful... people who lived bad lives, and then saw the light one day — which enslaved them — and now they walk around with that dreadful _smile_... yuk!
PRK: Organised Thelema like the OTO tends to attract juvenile personalities who often suffer from troubled relationships; once in the organisation, they find themselves at the centre of attention in things like rituals, and thereafter become 'superior beings'. The idea of an 'order' of Thelemites which exists to serve the ideal of a 'secretive and chosen' society lightens the burdensome need for subtlety in thought; inside the Order are friends, but outsiders are enemies against whom the Order offers protection. It all seems very exciting; instead of being a mere talking-shop it offers 'action' in the form of initiation.
JH: I fully concur. Observing the population inhabiting the 'Caliphate', it must be stated that the average OTO member can be called a juvenile society misfit. I saw a lot of a 'Trainspotting' kind of youngster (if you saw that movie)... Not eccentric, but simply uneducated or half-educated and/or impoverished — jobless teens and tweens. I witnessed many different 'Caliphate' groups in various countries, and the whole bunch without exception resembled some sort of trailer-park population. I may go as far as connecting certain social groups as the target groups of the OTO - juvenile lower-middle-class people. It's just like it was in Nazism: look at the way the SA was 'marketed' in the thirties, and you'll find 'Caliphate' resonances.
To a large extent, it's a wish to escape a _petit-bourgeois_ life, concieved within a _petit-bourgeois_ frame of mind, and born of a large portion of resentment projected on whatever comes to hand.
PRK: The language of Thelema is an attempt to render rational thought superfluous, and for this purpose it uses craftily manipulative tricks to camouflage its real meaning: "The method of Science, the aim of Religion", and so on. Thelema has to disguise itself to hide its true nature; if Thelema equals Crowley, it also equals spermo-Gnosticism. It uses euphemism, irrelevance, and perversion of meaning to achieve its ends: if it speaks about "family", "duties", "privilegies", or a desire to "make the world a nobler place", why then is Thelema so very preoccupied with things like evoking demons to destroy enemies? Nuit, Hadit, and the rest of Egyptian mythology are revised to suit Thelemic tastes, and reduced to the level of a soap-opera. This revisionism calls for Thelemic research, so that the elements of all myths may be reduced to a table of correspondences. And of course, there is only one person who knows the 'correct' interpretation...
JH: Yes... in this context, it's interesting to see how Hubbard adopted OTO principles to his Scientology structure, how he made rational thinking superfluous by making someone 'clear'. The definition of a clear is quite identical to someone doing his 'true will'; the whole setup is a trapping process. Comparison with Scientology makes that more evident.
And regarding your camouflage remark, taking their abuse of the term 'science' as an example: I'd like to envision myself as a scientific illuminist, and am very willing to test all kinds of yogas, rituals, pujas, self-change things and whatever, to see if it works out in my existential analysis (in the Heideggerian sense of 'Dasein'). An important factor in science is experiment (I think the true name of the science would be 'Soteriology', not 'Scientific Illuminism'). When I started to work as a probationer, I worked a yoga discipline in a Mahayana context, and had completed the Crowleyan basic yoga curriculum. I believe the Tibetans obtained a proficiency in yoga not to be found in Thelemic circles, and that Thelemic work might develop by studying other disciplines. It is perfectly scientific to test previous theories by trying to find faults in them — but it is not at all scientific to proclaim Crowley's system the be-all and end-all of spiritual development. Trying to find faults in a theory is not a hostile act, as the 'Calipornians' presuppose, but the very way science develops. This attitude reveals them as dishonest.
So as a probationer of Breeze's A.·. A.·., you take an oath to perform all practices of scientific illuminism, as you deem yourself fit (I forget the exact wording of the oath). I told them that I was investigating the Tibetan Tantric realms, but I was actually forbidden to do so, and instead ordered to start all over again with basic excercises from Crowley's 'Class B' publications. This implies that the A.·. A.·., at least as represented by this lineage, only admits Crowley's instructions as being scientific. That makes them a restrictive sect based on faith.
PRK: As a doctrine, Thelema (be it disguised as "the new Aeon", "the new religion", the "new magick" or whatever) will generally "pretend" and "claim", but rarely try to prove a thing objectively on the basis of evidence; therefore it could validly be claimed that Thelema is as much a prejudice as a belief-system. As the inventor of the doctrine, Crowley is seen as unfallible, and the only standard; discussion of 'Liber AL' is forbidden, and only AC's three written Comments are permitted. Adherence to the Crowley-cult (a strict following of his "teachings", "orders", "ideas" etc.) produces, step-by-step, a state of divorce from reality. A trend has started among Crowley cultists of differentiating between the "man Crowley" and Crowley the "Thelemic prophet". This limits the ability to think objectively or critically, and substitutes activism, beliefs, cultishness, ritualism and myth.
JH: Yup... they manipulate with terms, applying them to label things otherwise than their conventional meaning. They attempt to attract people with 'radiant' language, which refers to other things on closer examination.
PRK: Thelema wants to communicate its ideas to the world. It evangelises with the ultimate aim of destroying society's standards. It frequently claims that it is performing an educational task, with its 'Colleges' of Thelema, its 'Schools of Hermetic Science' its 'Seminars on Gnosticism', and through the OTO order structure as well. But what does a 'school' that teaches ideology remind you of?
JH: Hmm... though I believe that notion was already in place at the very root of the OTO (the 'Academia Masonica'), and obviously the A.·. A.·. teaches as well. However, the teachings are not based on science, but have been frozen as dogma; exactly the kind of thing the 'Cloud upon the Sanctuary' warned against.
PRK: Thelema has to be ready for criticism, and therefore uses a tactic of 'restricted rationality' where its representatives learn set arguments that have the twin advantages of supporting their doctrines and excluding criticism. This tactic, augmented by the dissemination of disinformation and suppression of facts, only serves to reinforce false self-images, and raise up imaginary bogeymen — as may be seen in the 'Caliphate' lawsuits against the Haenssler Verlag, and against Symonds/Naylor/Mandrake Press.
JH: Yes... the famous spin-doctoring.
PRK: The concept of an 'Order' reinforces its members' experience as 'we/us' (rather than 'I/me'), and helps to repress and depersonalise inviduality of thought and deed — these reinforcements and repressions are also found in many of Crowley's instructional Libri, and in the A.·. A.·.'s exercises. The people in the Order must be of one mind, for example in their attitude to external 'claimants' and critics, and must accept their position and/or grade in the Order. Dynamic group processes create pressures to conform in uniform reactions, verbal stereotypes in passwords and stock phrases ("the fundamentalists hate us"), standardised symbolism (729 = Baphomet, the Order's 'lamen', Nuit, Hadit, and son on). All these serve as substitute for rational analysis and experience, and encourage the prejudging of issues and intolerance of external criticism.
JH: I don't entirely agree... depersonalisation is part of the trajectory in most mystical systems I'm aware of. Vide the 'Tongleng' (exchanging self for others) excercises in Tibetan Buddhism, and Meister Eckhart, for example. Deprogramming is one thing, but the actual bite is in the reprogramming.
PRK: And then there is nationalism: what makes a nation? What are 'they' X° of? Is there a X° of the English-speaking territories? Or is it defined by geographical or political rules? Or do you assume that as nation is defined by "those belong to a nation are those who WANT to belong to a nation"?
JH: This could be taken in a magickal sense, and refer to the status of the Priest-king in the 'Golden Bough' (someone in for a killing?) In my personal view, the concept of the nation state is a nineteenth century antiquity, ready to be thrown out as junk together with some other concepts in the OTO structure which smell of old mothballs.
PRK: Keeping all the topics above in mind, would you now find it easier to answer my question about the psychological mechanisms which allow people to differentiate between Crowley and Thelema? And also, would you agree that people who have joined the Order or converted from another religion find in it a stabilisation for their ego — or even a new identity?
JH: As you're probably aware, Kundalini work doesn't exactly induce a stable personality, and mystical experience isn't identified as stable either. One of the more important people in the field of the cultural history of mystical experience, J.B. Hollenback (in _Mysticism... Experience, Response and Empowerment_), describes mystical experience as the other side of the coin of schizophrenia. The essentials of the Order are in their own view the Kundalini thing (or so Markus Jungkurth told me), so I don't feel the 'Caliphate' actually claims to give you a new identity, or a more stable personality.
PRK: So what about an increase in their power within society?
JH: There are old OTO constitutions which claim all sorts of business co-operation, but it doesn't work like that in practice.
PRK: Do they get enhanced social abilities?
JH: Nope, actually being socially outcast, and trapped in a self-referential and isolated system.
PRK: Have they changed their landmarks?
JH: What — Masonic landmarks? Bwahaha!
PRK: Have they become more open?
JH: I do not think the OTO formally connects spiritual development with the advancement in degrees, though contradictory statements can be found.
PRK: So how about them becoming less depressed, not feeling so inferior, and generally cheering up, then?
JH: I have witnessed quite the opposite... strangely enough, people very often work themselves into some sort of spiritual crisis when working through the initiation system, and there is certainly a higher percentage of depressed people inside the 'Caliphate' than outside it (this counts for 'occulture' in general, though).
PRK: How often would they have 'trance' experiences?
JH: Well, I did! But then again, I also had them before I joined the OTO. The order wasn't quite the vehicle for inducing that sort of thing...
PRK: Would you say that members accept things more easily than before they joined — things like out-of-the-body experiences, or enlarged consciousness?
JH: I have always been quite accepting, so I wouldn't know. Nope... no measureable influence from the 'Caliphate'; actually, my magickal activity _lessened_ when I joined OTO.
PRK: Do they experience unusual mental or physical states, and then get an understanding of them?
JH: Not at all. The teachings given after the initiations are very superficial, merely scratching the surface of what is suggested in the rituals, in my opinion. I published the initiation papers on my website, because they're useless anyway — if one would actually _want_ to attach one's spiritual reference-system to the symbolism of the 'Caliphate'.
PRK: Would you agree in general that many people who had fears, no goal in life, a sense of futility, or a feeling of hopelessness _before_ they joined the OTO, now have a method of dealing with these things?
JH: They imply it, but when asked straightforwardly, they will evade it by stating 'Do what thou Wilt' or something useless like that.
PRK: In that context, I'd like to ask why Heidrick so often expresses satisfaction at the high proportion of Jewish recruits to Thelema and the OTO?
KALIL is Marlene Cornelius, wife of Jerry Cornelius
KALIL: Before proceeding, I must state right up front that I am very, very sorry that your experience with Thelemites has led you to these conclusions. I do not doubt that you have encountered many who fit this description but then there are equally many who do not. I can vouch for this fact...not all of us are Scrivens or Heidricks or Breezes. Unfortunately for Thelema, they are the more vocal and visible. Many of us simply live our lives and practice our Magick without such glamour or fanfare. Even the people on the world-wide-web are not very indicative of the majority of serious people I've met. I would like to take this opportunity to counter-balance your statements with my impressions. Take them for what they are: mine. I am sure you understand that no offense is meant to your own ideas.
PRK: ...these Thelemites consider themselves as 'subjects' — while non-Thelemites are 'objects' — as in Crowley's "the slaves shall serve" or Grosche's "things, objects, material".
KALIL: However this is not the case, for in Thelema "every man and every woman is a star." True, I am the subject of my own reality and others are not as major a part in my Universe, but this is due to my subjective viewpoint. Thelema requires one to also allow that Others have their own Universes which are equally important and central to their own star. If my actions impose upon another star's course, then who am I to determine that they are out of orbit? Perhaps it is my own star out of orbit. Thelema demands self-knowledge and reflection. Have you read the wonderful essay by Jack Parsons on 'Freedom is a Two-Edged Sword'?
PRK: In occult terms the Thelemite is a dichotomist, seeing themself as a superior being or a 'chosen one', while everyone else is as nothing. This sort of Thelemite lives in a world ruled by good and evil; of course, as a superior being these Thelemites might reach a level that is above that — but nevertheless the world below the abyss is only black and white.
KALIL: Again, this is not implicit in Thelema, although many who call themselves Thelemites may like to think it is. I am a firm Elitist... but that does not mean that I must negate others to prove it. In fact, one who stands upon the heads of others to feel themselves tall is usually only an emotional cripple who has no firm Knowledge of his own Godhood. I revel in my brothers and sisters... the beautiful stars in their shining glory! I have met many Satanists who deny existence and live in a hate-filled a nd dark world, but this is not Thelema. "Beauty and strength, leaping laughter and delicious languor these are of us!" Perhaps one could claim it Hedonistic, but this world is indeed our plaything... for our experience thereof.
I also see that you have no understanding of "the Abyss". It is not of this plane at all... rather it relates to the inner, spiritual places of the psyche itself. Thelema is very much into the Raja/Gnana yogas... going inside Self. Finding the balance.
Thinking of things in "black and white" can only ever be a Lie. Dichotomy is only one part of the formula, it is 2. The entire formula reflects that it cannot exist apart, 0=2. The Thelemite does not revel in the 2 but strives for the 0. That it cannot exist inside of incarnation is the wonderful play of this thing we call Life. The eternal play of light and dark. Black and white are but reflections of this and each is equally beautiful and also a Lie.
PRK: Thelemites are trapped in such relationships; all are victims and culprits, masters and slaves, Gods and sub-humans, and this is mirrored in their language when they describe their critics. On the one side the Thelemite, on the other the (Christian, fundamentalist) Church; one one side Crowley's 'orthodox' Liber XV, on the other Reuss's translation of it (even though they only differ in irrelevant details). Because they have to keep Thelemic doctrine pure (no Grant, please!) they distort reality.
KALIL: Oh my God! How utterly tragic is this picture! No wonder you don't like Thelemites. However, I see the Thelemite as struggling to be free from such limitations. "Let no difference be made among you between any one thing and any other, for thereby there cometh hurt." I adamantly refuse to be anyone's Master... in fact I only try and struggle to be master of my own Self (this is difficult enough!). True, I feel some are indeed subhumans — but that is not a negative appellation, but a statement of fact. These poor creatures must be helped; but not at the cost of my Self. Rather as a service to my Self. The curse of the Avatar... the aim of the Great White Brotherhood... is that the entire human race must evolve together... each individual can only progress so far as the species is capable and then we must reach a gestalt. Let me help you see the big picture, so I can eventually turn the page! Anyone who claims to be or keep the "pure doctrine of Thelema" should be treated as the misguided mental case that they are. So, how do I reconcile this with my own beliefs as set out in my discussion above? Simple. This is my Understanding, my Universe. I do not expect another to accept it nor will I allow another's impressions to carry more weight within it than my own. I believe that a Star is an aggregate of experience and that all events are attracted to it by its own force. These experiences are the necessary building blocks of my Universe and no other can perceive them as I do. Thus I am I and other is other. And yet the interaction of the 1+1 can aid both. My experience of reading Crowley and the Bible are not contradictory, but rather a synthesis by my very experience of them. Well. I have so far responded just to your first paragraph... and I find myself left with even more questions than when I started. Is this of any use to you? I hope you do not mind my refusal to accept your view of Thelema. It is no matter to me in any case, but I wanted to express that it is not ALL like you have seen, or wish others to believe.
Comments by Bryony Murds who edited above text
JH's comment "...consisting of the sum total of your observations, which nobody will accept as a workable definition" has some relevance. You frequently make reference to such 'keywords' (by which I assume you mean 'definitions') and yet they can be hard to pin down, either because they are defined in another piece of yours, or else you are assuming the reader has prior knowledge of them. I'm not suggesting that you start each essay with a dictionary definition like some lumpen-Rotarian giving a lunchtime talk — but I think it might be helpful if you provided a list of these definitions as a separate item on the website, or else descended to the expedient of a 'F[requently] A[sked] Q[uestions]' section like everybody else (I know an FAQ sounds horrible, but grit your teeth, dear chap!) Although you reject the 1970's fashion for accusations of fascism (with some justice — it became a kind of intellectual totalitarianism in itself) JH's point about the 'F-scale' is a valid one, at least in helping in providing a clear definition of totalitarian tendencies in the OTO. I suspect the 'F-scale' has now been superseded; I know that Amnesty International has devised a checklist for detecting totalitarian tendencies, and there is also a list for evaluating cults that I saw used very effectively on an anti-Scientology website. I think both of these would be useful in helping to tighten up your admittedly 'loose' initial thoughts.
I have altered your original comment about the TS teaching anti-Semitism, as (to the best of my knowledge) there is no evidence that they were any more or less anti-Semitic than anyone else at the time. The 'Root Race' business — which wasn't really HPB's idea, but a later accretion from the Leadbeater/Besant era — was certainly _implicitly_ racist, and was abused and distorted later in things like the Thule Gesellschaft &c., but it was a reflection of attitudes _then_, and should not really be adduced as evidence, except as a _precursor_ to current — and different — OTO bigotries.
Then there is the point about Thelemites as 'subjects', and non-Thelemites as 'objects'. Although I'm sure that JH's comments about ontological fields are right, you both seem to have missed out on an obvious source for such ideas in Nietzsche (even though JH later uses the word 'Übermensch'). I'm sure this could be developed in terms of comparisons with later misunderstandings and distortions of Nietzsche into mean-spirited stuff like Thatcherism or Reaganomics. It leads me to speculate why so many OTOites are ageing hippies (e.g. McMurtry, Breeze, Heidrick) who, having found peace and love a defective philosophy, did a _volte-face_ at some stage in the 1970's, and evolved into snaggle-toothed proponents of social Darwinism? They do seem to bear a generic resemblance to people like Abby Hoffman, don't they? How many of them voted Reagan into power? How many of them have read — not Darwin or Nietzsche, as they probably haven't got the brains for that — but things like Ayn Rand's crypto-fascist drivel? Perhaps this spirit also accounts for the increased interest in sado-masochism generally, and all these blood-and-sperm-soaked rituals among the Thelemites specifically? JH casts doubt on "Heidrick's treife kabalah". This is a trifle unjust, as any Qabalah to do with occultism is _ipso facto_ going to be 'treyf' (literally 'impure' or non-Kosher) to a presumably Jewish ex-yeshiva-bucher like JH. In GD terms, Heidrick did do some original and accurate work years ago, as in his 'Magical Correspondences'. It needs to be emphasised that there are two broad schools in Qabalah: historical Jewish mysticism as expounded by Gershom Scholem, and the Golden-Dawn inspired occult one as found in Dion Fortune - and almost never shall the twain meet, it appears.
The historical Jewish variety is very definitely a tradition, and has changed very little since the mid-19th century (hardly surprising, considering the havoc wrought on Judaism in Europe by pogroms and the Diaspora); presumably it was a version of this which JH found in his yeshiva when he was studying Torah — the Qabalah of 'gematria', 'temurah' and 'notariqon' used to interpret the odder bits of Hebrew in the Torah in some Jewish seminaries — which is what yeshivas are. On this side of the Qabalistic divide you _could_ include such aberrations as 'Ze'ev ben Shimon Halevi' (aka Warren Kenton, previously famous for his books on amateur dramatics) and his dreary plagiarised Gurdjieff masquerading as 'the way of kabbalah'; or the modish Hollywood cult of watered-down Baal Shem Tov that has attracted such great thinkers as Madonna, Jerry Hall and Roseanne - because they both nominally originate from Jews — but they are firmly in the occult camp, from what I can see.
On the occult side, Qabalah has blossomed in all sorts of un-Jewish ways, with much more emphasis on the Tree of Life, and still more on the Tree's paths, than is found in the Jewish tradition. Scholarship (of a sort) and accuracy are occasionally to be found, but mostly the occult Qabalah is — to be charitable — a creative, poetic exercise, where æsthetics matter as much as scholarship. Otherwise, why is there such emphasis on correspondances in occult Qabalah, where the Tree is populated with rainbows of colour, all manner of myths, deities, angels, spirits, and devils, perfumes, plants, minerals, astrology, and a welter of symbols — except as an essentially artistic form?
Enough of this excursus; JH mentions Dr. Rudd and faulty Hebrew, which is quite true — he was an 18th-century vicar who tried to transliterate the names of the spirits in the 'Goetia' grimoire into Hebrew, and made a complete hash of it, as the 'Goetia' is not of Hebrew origin. But even Mathers (in his MS. of the 'Goetia' which Crowley pinched and published) as a _fons et origo_ of occult Qabalah, said that Rudd was wrong; and Heidrick didn't use Rudd. As for 'Ayin' not sounding like 'O' — well, how 'Ayin' sounds (it's often called 'rough breath' and is classified as a 'vowel carrier' in Hebrew grammars) depends on which vowel-sign you put with it, or what other letters precede or follow, as is the case with any Hebrew written out in full. And of course, while written Hebrew is consistant, the same cannot be said of spoken Hebrew — even within the Sefardi and Ashkenazi dialects there are variations. The interpretations of 'ON' do not originate with either Thelema or the OTO, but come from Freemasonry, where the name of Solomon is expounded as SOL-OM-ON (SOL Latin for 'Sun', OM the Sanskrit 'Aum', and ON various obscure Near Eastern stuff). Therefore the 'Caliphate' are no better or worse than United Grand Lodge in perpetuating an 18th-century ætiological myth.
JH then proceeds to the 'Caliphate's' _ad hominem_ attempts at character-assassination; part of the problem is that they probably ARE as stupid as he seems to think. Intelligence has never been a real advantage in rising to the top of a cultic dung-heap, so the Kremlin-mouthpiece style of their public insults comes as no surprise, if one assumes that their spokesmen have an apparatchik's mentality. To look at this from another viewpoint, one should remember that bullies are usually compensating for being dimwitted - and what else is the 'Caliphate' doing both internally and externally, but trying to bully people?
Another reason they tend to offend us as Europeans could simply be the cultural differences; the UK and US are said to be 'divided by a common language', and I suspect the UK and Helvetia have far more in common with each other than they do with the USA — in terms of population-density and length of history if nothing else. The USA had as many German-speakers as English-speakers around the time of the War of Independence, and this Germanic quality still shows in some parts of the American character. It used to be said of Germans before WWI that they were 'either at your feet or at your throat'; an unfair generalisation about a whole nation, but one which certainly has some applicability to the 'Caliphate' — or Heidrick (how many other 'Caliphate' members are of German descent, I wonder?) JH's anecdote about "Thelemic scholarship" shows that the 'Caliphate' ignores both scientific methodology AND literary criticism.
Presumably by Thelemic scholarship the "high booboo" meant a kind of uncritical elaboration of symbolic connections in the Thelemic texts, which, while it might be æsthetically pleasing, is merely adding to an already overloaded body of supposed 'correspondences' which are largely self-referential and only internally consistent; rationally, this is as much use in the real world as Hubbard's Scientology texts, and is on the same exegetical level as the Jehovah's Witness interpretation of the Bible. Once again, they fear real creativity, because a proper analysis (scientific and literary) of Crowley and his writings would yield results that would upset their tightly-constrained _Weltanschauung_.
So of course they will try to stamp out any signs of empirical reasoning (I think empirical reasoning what what JH really meant); the 'Caliphate's' ideas are perforce fixed in stone because they are just as much a cult as the Branch Davidians, and reality must not interfere in their microcosm. If the 'Caliphate' ever do reject their Sisyphean ideology, and admit that Thelema is NOT a science, but a subjective religious philosophy with a limited application to essentially immature people, they might make th emselves look a little less foolish. They refuse to admit that 'the man Crowley' did indeed have a very strong effect on 'Crowley the prophet', for if they applied even that tiny bit of common-sense, they would see that as a sociopathic and megalomaniac personality Crowley was bound to inflate his fundamentalist background and Reuss's obscure pseudo-Masonic sex club (to list just two factors) into apocalyptic prophecies of worldwide Thelemic social and sexual revolution. As one of Crowley's contemporaries said, 'thank Heavens he was never drawn to politics!'. But being part of an 'elect' who are in on the ground-floor of the revolution is always going to appeal more to the inadequates ripe for Thelema, than being an eccentric artistic fan-club...
I think that JH fails to make a sufficient distinction between art and science, but if he wants to be a "scientific illuminist", then good luck to him; I hope he realises that he's attempting something that's left the greatest minds since Goethe stumped! For myself, I doubt if the division between the 'two cultures' of science and art can ever be bridged satisfactorily. This shouldn't stop us trying to bridge it, but ultimately I fear it is destined to remain one of the great enigmas in human nature and culture.
Again, where JH refers to Thelemic "manipulation" of "terms", there is a valid comparison to be made with George Orwell's _Nineteen Eighty-Four_; specifically 'Newspeak' and 'doublethink'. (I've actually slipped a reference in to that, as it fits so well). Orwell's Ingsoc Party was of course supposed to be a political party, but as a totalitarian oligarchy it certainly displays characteristics found in modern exponents of Thelema — the deliberate alteration of the meaning of words, before those words are used in a restricted vocabulary that maintains internal consistency, but limits external applications. When JH talks of "'radiant' language, which refers to other things on closer examination", it makes me wonder what proportion of Thelemites have had any sort of higher education, and if they _have_ had higher education, what proportion of them studied an arts subject, where the critical faculties are trained? Not many, I'll bet. People who think they are scientists, or using scientific reasoning always make better fanatics.
Perhaps the dull-witted average 'Caliphate' member is why Heidrick rubs his hands together gleefully at thought of the the number of new Jewish 'Caliphate' recruits; in the USA, Jews tend to be better educated than average — so to Heidrick they might represent a compensatory factor in ameliorating the 'Caliphate's' tendency to blunt its member's intellects. And of course, Jewish Americans tend to be better off on average as well, so Heidrick is doubtless also thinking of keeping the 'Caliphate' coffers well-stuffed. Or perhaps with his slight experience of it in the Qabalah, he sees Judaism as a dangerous (because intellectual) opposing force to Thelema; as a legalistic religion Judaism usually creates a _modus vivendi_ between logic and instinct, and is therefore to be feared by the proponents of 'force and fire' — and once Heidrick's converted all the Jews to Thelema, he can start on the Moslems, too!
As to 'Kalil', what on earth is he (or she) doing in the 'Caliphate'? I assume he's in the English branch, to judge by the spelling and phraseology, so perhaps those strictures on the "Scrivens or Heidricks or Breezes" can be expressed more freely here than in 'Caliphornia'. If this is so, then it shows that Clive Harper is running a less proto-fascist affair in the UK, and pursuing a British policy of compromise and 'the middle way'. I exclude from this such people as the Riettis, or Fernee — they would have been expelled from any half-way decently-run group of any sort.
There's a telling phrase in Kalil's "Many of us simply live our lives and practice our Magick without such glamour or fanfare" — precisely the opposite of the attitude on the other side of the Atlantic; and his comment on the Internet betrays what a heavy presence the 'Caliphornians' and all their immoderation and immodesty have there. With "every man and every woman is a star" Kalil evinces the usual Thelemite trait of not having thought their chosen belief-system through properly — or else of still being young. The logical result of this misreading of Nietzsche (who can be seen as actually dealing with creative art) would be anarchy, which despite some of its useful by-products is unworkable as a practical political philosophy. (Anarchist meeting; Chairperson: "Disorder, disorder PLEASE, ladies and gentlemen!") Kalil's deadly vagueness about "If my actions impose upon another star's course, then who am I to determine that they are out of orbit?" would lead to some very nasty dilemmas in a truly Thelemic world — 'Oh well, it must have been my True Will operating, and that young mother's Will being out of orbit that meant I accidentally nudged her baby under the wheels of that oncoming train. But hang on: what about the train-driver's True Will? What about the True Will of the train company? Oh, it's all VERY difficult being a Thelemite where everyone else is one too..." Kali hasn't realised that the sort of ultimate selfishness proposed in Thelema is a denial of instinctive human altruism — as _vice-versa_ the sort of ultimate altruism proposed by Communism is a denial of instinctive human selfishness. We are complicated beings, and Thelema does not begin to recognise that complexity — just as Crowley failed to recognise it. Or does Kalil really think that Crowley's High Tory, distinctly proto-Fascist views _didn't_ affect 'The Book of the Law' with "the slaves shall serve"?
Sorry, but "I am a firm Elitist... but that does not mean that I must negate others to prove it" just isn't true. Never mind the slight hint of underlying insecurity in the capital 'E' in 'Elitist' (_pace_ the Crowleyan/occult penchant for adding redundant capitals); if you are a firm élitist, _ergo_ you are part of or will form an élite; and _ergo_ again, an élite by its very nature negates, or excludes, or looks down on others to prove it IS an élite. I have received Thelemic responses to that last point myself; usually some mystical cantrip about resolving opposites with the 0=2 formula — but that is merely ducking the issue by refusing to _think_. If Kalil wants "Beauty and strength, leaping laughter and delicious languor..." fine; but he'd better be ready to earn the means and time for this hedonism without affecting the True Wills of others — or does he wish to emulate Crowley in sponging off these others, while hoping that a Rich Man from the West will come and save him from having to lift a finger to be productive or remotely useful?
I also see that Kalil has no understanding of "the Abyss"; it is not inside us, or anything to do with Yoga, but a rather fearsome stage in the ascent of the Qabalistic Tree of Life, akin to the 'Dark Night of the Soul'. The 'hidden' Sefirah Da'ath resides in the Abyss, and is not an integral part of the Tree, despite the Thelemic insistance that it is — but they've only adopted it to make the Sefiroth add up to a Thelemically significant eleven.
"I adamantly refuse to be anyone's Master... I feel some are indeed subhumans — but that is not a negative appellation, but a statement of fact... the entire human race must evolve together..." A nice triple contradiction in terms, there.
If Kalil's "experience of reading Crowley and the Bible are not contradictory" then I can only assume he has either not looked into either of them very closely, or he's thinking of the fairly crude similiarities between the more sadistic bits of the Pentateuch and Liber AL. Possibly Kalil is talking about a mystical interpretation of both Liber AL and the Bible — but mysticism can read anything into any text, and is not capable of rational analysis, which rather lets his attempt to be rational down. I suspect that as someone with an essentially artistic temparament, Kalil has actually been affected by the subliminal similarities between the language of the King James Bible, and that of the 'Holy Books'. But as Crowley absorbed King James with his mother's milk, so to speak, this should come as no great surprise. (Incidentally, the Plymouth Brethren believed that the King James translators were every bit as inspired as the original Hebrew and Greek text).
Oh well, Kalil seems like a nice boy (or girl) with some poetry in his soul. If he has left himself "with even more questions than when I started" after dealing with just your first paragraph, it shows that he does read _some_ things carefully, and that there is still a chance he won't easily fall prey to the artistic and Thelemic vice of not thinking clearly. He strikes me as someone who would be far better off in terms of artistic inspiration if he were to follow the Golden Dawn and its version of the Qabalah, rather than thinking the 'Caliphate's' version of Thelema is anything original or worthwhile. But he should certainly try to grow out of trying to swallow Crowley, Thelema, and the OTO whole.
Crowley is of some value to occultists, but he is like the proverbial curate's egg — good in parts, and needs to be treated selectively and critically — one should never accept him at face-value. Take his poetry as an example: apart from some clever pastiches of Browning and Swinburne, and a rare poem elsewhere that is reasonably good, the whole vast corpus of his verse, which he promoted as a deathless masterwork, is almost entirely worthless. Yet true (if unconscious) poetry may be found in his 'inspired ' writings; it may not be to everybody's taste, but it is there nonetheless — not that Crowley would have realised it, since for him poems _had_ to rhyme and/or scan — to that extent he was thoroughly Victorian. He never realised that he was much better at writing prose than poetry. In that connection, his analyses of Buddhism are not without literary and esoteric value, and the language and form of some of his rituals has its own appeal; he was a competent pornographer, for those who take such things seriously enough to treat it as literature. But accept Thelema as a guiding philosophy of life — except in the most theoretical and rarefied sense — and you will inevitably be taking on Crowley the man, who is inseparable from Crowley the prophet, writer, and magician — whatever Messrs. Breeze, Heidrick or Grant might think. And Crowley the man was really far more 'mad, bad, and dangerous to know' than Byron ever was; to those who knew him in real life, he was someone who constantly cadged money, would try to seduce your wife or husband, rarely stayed in one place for more than a fortnight without starting a blazing row, was suspicious to the point of paranoia, was full of grandiloquent and impossible schemes, and was filthy in his personal habits — such as the famous incident where he shat in the corner of a friend's dining room, rather than ask where the lavatory was.
(There, is that enough to be going on with?)
This has set me to thinking why so many fringe (not just OTO) characters are so overwhelmingly obsessed with 'genuine' lines of succession — it can't just be to keep the Logos Spermatikos going, as there are so many other non-Gnostic groups with the same lust for 'authenticity' at any price, like the promoters of degree-mills, pseudo-aristocracies like the Carlists, or any one of the rogue schismatic offshoots of Mormonisn, the Seventh-Day Adventists, the Jehovah's Witnesses, the Worldwide Church of God (of 'Plain Truth/Echte Wahrheit' fame), Scientology, Theosophy, and so forth. I think that the likeliest explanation is probably the simplest one for this; it's a compensatory psychological prop for insecurity and a poor self-image. That surely accounts for part of the attraction of even 'regular' Masonry, with its long-winded titles and secrecy; bored businessmen get a kick out being called a Master, or the likes of a 'Prince of the Pregnant Puffin' in the higher degrees, I'm sure. And this sort of apostolic succession sometimes provides an excuse to dress up in fancy robes and play-act — again, an indication of a basic insecurity, as that could well be a comforting form of retrogression to childhood 'let's pretend' or 'dressing up' games. It's because they disguise this compensation and reversion by taking it so deadly seriously that it verges on a pathological or obsessive state. I'm not saying that it IS a pathological condition; as a benign form of exhibit ionism I think that most use this ability to pretend temporarily as a bit of fun, and admit it. I suspect more integrated people with such desires express it by becoming actors, or playing exotic games in the bedroom, rather than claiming copyright royalties that aren't theirs, eh?
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