XI°: Experiences by Runar Karlsen in Oslo

XI° in the 'Caliphate'

A Recollection by Runar Karlsen

I am Runar Karlsen and was born 2. May 1963 in Norway and am an educated painter by diverse Fine Art academies.

I got interested in occultism during the eighties and found the OTO to be a fit place as I was appealed by Magick, Thelema, the social environment and since I am gay and just that, the XIth degree. I met the OTO people in 89 and then watched the former Oasis in Oslo "Yggdrasil" collapse as I came in the door.
In May 1990 I got initiated to Minerval and 1st, by Arild Stromsvåg. Late in 91 I received my charter to run Balt camp in Oslo and Stromsvag became then my main contact and link to the higher degrees. That I started so early with my own project in the OTO was due to that the other camp proved dissatisfactory. We were upgraded to Oasis in `94 and I then also received what should be the last degree for me; The KEW in that early autumn, together with ordination to Priest in the EGC. I finally returned my charters to run the Oasis in July 97, when I saw that it was absolutely impossible to do my will in the OTO.
During these years the OTO changed a lot. In the beginning things was I believe much as McMurtry left it, as Stromsvag had contact with him and followed his instructions untill new ones came from Hymenaus Beta. We had no contact with the caliphate and were happily unaware of them as Stromsvag represented them and provided our material.
After my 1st degree in `90, I asked if there was any catches that theoretically would hinder me in reaching the summit in OTO, considering the fact that I was only gay. No - was the clear answer from Stromsvag. But he was then only Vth. I was happy and regarded OTO as the only organisation that could satisfy my needs - even if those people I met wasnt exactly what I considered Ideal. I thought that could change as the movement caught on.
In 92 or 93, Stromsvåg told us that the Orders regulation had changed and that from now on, one have to be initiated into the IX before one can have XI. I didnt like that so much, but kept on as before.
In 93 or 94, the idea was born of registering EGC to an Official church that could get license to do Weddings from the state. The response from Stromsvag was lacking, he didnt seem to be fond of the idea, and said he thought the bureacrazy was too much. I didnt really think that was his real point, but I wasnt aware of anything else. Anyway the idea caught many fans, as we were thelemites and we lived high within the current of Thelema so we all believed that official thelemic weddings and funerals would be come reality within years, even if we had to create another church to reach our ambition. So - the rituals of the church became interesting anyway, and I thought that I could at least look at the opportunities to create a wed-rite for use for non-hetero couples. In 95 Stromsvag told me to speak with HB about this as there was coming an opportunity to meet him. And it happened, but he seemed just politely interested, which was however enough as I wouldnt expect any real interest from some het.person. But the meeting was mostly disturbing as I also got some strong impressions of his magickal identy. (And funnily - the Oasis master of Yggdrasil that left town after closing told me it was because of the meet with him that she closed - because she distrusted him.) However, life in the Oasis was fun and intense and I didnt care about this and several other signals about his illmanagement before I got the new by-laws early autumn 96. I was left to a very painful winter where I had to reconsider things anew. I had become very attached to the OTO and I couldnt simply march out on a single day, I had planned to stay within for the rest of my life !
But the day finally came, my energy just ceased to work for me and I had started to become careless about maintaining things within - I had to face what I knew was true; The cOTO had no real place for me anymore. So I wrote the following letter and left.
Balt Oasis, July 22nd 1997 e.v. Q in E, R in L Anno IVv e.n.

Most Holy,
Most Illuminated and Worshipful Father.
Dear Frater Superior

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law

Since my motivation and enthusiasm for the OTO has become blunt and powerless, I have decided to terminate my Oasis and also return my Initiator charter.
This is not easy for me, as the Oasis has become a very good place to be, and I have become very attached to the OTO, but I can not find any other way to do my will.

The problem is mainly the OTO's relation to, and relevance for Homosexuality.

The central rite in the OTO is the EGC Mass. It contains the symbolism of all the OTO, even the IX° secret, but not the XI°. The EGC Mass is not only the central rite of OTO, but the sole Mass, and the only ritual as I know where an ideal lovestory is exposed. From the level of Oasis, the duty is to perform Masses regularly.
The new EGC by-laws came last autumn with the prohibition of female priests and male priestesses, also, the prohibition of the ordination of the same. I didn't like this at all - in fact I hated it. After communicating with my Bishop Tau Mavros, I at least understood that something else will spoil the symbolism of the OTO degrees.

My point is, since I regard the EGC-Mass as the most powerful spell in the creating of OTO culture, and life within OTO, I have felt that the new EGC by-laws together with the mentioned OTO by-laws are unfair and is a way to limit culture and sexual codes to something as restrictive as xtianity. And I feel forced to leave the culture to find relevance other places. You have simply exchanged xtianitys whip of "thou shalt not" with that of OTO/EGC by-laws' "You Shall!". I must also say that I do not demand a culture especially made for me.

The conflict between the culture of OTO and the central position of the Mass as a display of OTO symbolism is also visible in the question of female Saints. The lack of female ideals is lamentable and I think all sensible people agree upon this point. I do agree at last that female Saints have no place in this Mass as it is now, but - what about the woman as Magus and Logos? Does the Mass insinuate that females can not reach a such position? Here I say Chokmah is for all those that can attain it, regardless of gender. And thus, female Saints is an actuality of nature. And in this light the Mass is just a limiting display of religious truth, though a very good part.

That I also understand and hear, that leadership and active participating is vital to gaining access to the higher degrees, will also be a strong factor leading to peoples adaptation of the cultural codes within the used rituals.
Nowadays the OTO high degree Initiates counts one percent, I think. - I wouldn't mind staying in the same degree as I have now, as master of Balt Oasis and so on, if only OTO culture weren't so formally restricted. It has also become impossible to write a wedding ritual for males to the EGC Mass now. To let two males marry in the light of a monotheistic god which consist of a male-female duality, will only spoil the "as above, so below" theme.

All this could have been solved easily by mainly exchanging the IX° symbolism with the XI°, and labelled it accordingly. But as my gullibility has been killed, I no longer have any idea of what is the OTO's relation to homosexuality. I can only read the few things which have been written anew, and interpret anew. As I understood in the beginning, when I first met OTO, were that the XI° were invented and instituted by A. C. as an adaptation of the IX° for homosexual use. I first noticed that the admittance to the XI° became changed from formally nothing to the necessity of having IX°. Then I heard the XI° was revised, and now I hear that there maybe wasn't anything homosexual about the contents at all.

In Equinox III. 10. It is said "the XI° is inscrutable and dwells in own palaces". Shall I also interpret this as OTO's official attitude towards homosexuality? In Liber Agape is the XI° not counted as one of the OTO's treasures that is to be guarded. Why is it necessary then to have IX° to get this, when it seems a bit irrelevant and offside of the mainstream OTO?

I find OTO's relation towards homosexuality blurred and cloaked, and increasingly cloaking. I find the information of the higher degrees important, because I do actually fix my will to reach the summit, (which to me is of course the XI°) without being concerned about whether I reach it or not. I care about the theoretical possibility of achieving it. I am sure very many others think in similar ways.

I hope that this point of view may be understood, and further, I hope that these unpleasant side effects from the EGC by-laws is not willed from its author. I must also say that I have no intention to cancel my membership in the OTO, since I still consider my oaths as valuable, righteous and healthy. So I still hope that I can receive an answer on this letter, since it has importance to me as an OTO member.

Love is the law, love under will.

Yours fraternally

             Zoel Dana
Frater Kaim
K.E.W. Runar Karlsen
Former Master of Balt Oasis
Priest of EGC

Copy sent Bishop Tau Mavros and Ratatosk

I had lengthy discussions with Stromsvag prior to the closure, and the same with Heidrick afterwards. These did contribute a lot developed and mature rhetorics - especially Heidrick. It were all just roundabouts that couldnt touch the real question: What did HB mean with all this ? His silence is the answer I have got and nothing that Heidrick & Stromsvag said could oppose that silent answer. Also; they were not in power to change anything, so keeping on a lengthy discussion to provide tons of argumentation to get them confirm the obvious was just some Kafka work.
Today there is just some fragments of OTO left in Oslo. The spirit has left and few believes in any thelemic society. Also the mother Lodge in Bergen has shrinked noticeable the last 3 years and there are nil activity there now.
It is evident that HBs actions and non actions have severely hurt the Thelemic movement. I think his supporters should realize. My support to Peter-R. Koenig`s site is therefore a statement, and I wish more people took the time to study it, as this is the best source ever on the OTO. Nevermind his taste for embarrassing details, the picture and the lines that he draws are true and the places where he has got undocumented details on the actions of the cOTO, I had often received confirming rumours or facts inside the cOTO.

Runar Karlsen


To the c(oy)OTO.

So - due to the situation and the so many constitutional ills* of the cOTO that makes the cOTO so UNFIT for its task that it has pretended to uphold the last 15 - 20 years; That of being the Lighthouse for the Thelemic movement and Society, I just had to write another letter to the cOTO.
    *(I may write more on this, but this essay writes about many of those other points that I agree strongly too and also recommend reading: www.xs4all.nl/~jeroen93/rituals_index.html / "Most Mysterious Masons" by Ta-Nech ) [defunct now]


30 Oct 2001

To the c(oy)OTO.

Hi there.

I returned my charters in 97 and there said that I stay as a member. Well - There are many repectable people in the high degrees in the OTO, but you have failed completely in getting rid of His Holyness, The Superior incapacity Hyenaus Beta. That you are able to cope with this worm is beyond my vilest daydreams. The fantastic constitution of the OTO was not so well made that such a scavenger would automatically be removed. I do not want to be associated with the Order that now seems to be founded to create the monument of "The manifold bound and loathing".

The outer Order ?
Hah !
Captured by a SOTO member. Expelled or not - Thats what he is.
Your guidance and protection from The Great White Brotherhood and the Secret Chiefs is duly banished.


Former Frater
Zoel Dana

Aka Runar Karlsen.


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