Tuesday, August 4, 2015

What's RO doing in a Thelemic Order or Two?


After nearly thirty years of studying the occult, and at LEAST seven years of doing real magic, I finally got around to joining the A.'.A.'. and the OTO in ... 2012? 2013?

Definitely one of those.**

At the time, I had just completed the Philosopher's Stone using ancient Hermetic technologies, and I was consequently thoroughly blissed out by the energies released at its formation. I was seeing goddesses and tasting the nectar of the Holy One on a weekly basis. I was deep in the throes of "Insufferable Prickitis," a malady I first saw described by Aleister Crowley in his notes on Liber Samekh*.

I got better, mostly.

A looooooooong time before that, my good friend BJ Swain invited me to see him perform as Priest in the Gnostic Mass at the OTO. For years we had been unable to interact personally in the flesh because he had been friends with my first ex-wife, and my second ex-wife was afraid I'd ... I don't know, talk to him and all of a sudden leave her to be with a woman I didn't like who'd left me for another magician? It didn't make a lot of sense to me, but to keep her happy ("Happy wife, happy life," right?) I never hung out with BJ.

It probably didn't help that he was a somewhat prominent member in the local solar-phallic sex cult that did public performances of the Gnostic Mass with polyamorous beautiful nekkid Priestesses on the regular. She was insecure about that stuff too.

So when we finally divorced, one of the first things I did was go to a mass... of course. 

Now understand, I'd read the mass. It's online for everyone to see. I knew it was sex magick, and knowing BJ as the lusty fellow he is, I went into the rite with certain ... expectations. 

Sexy expectations. 

When it said, "The Priest Adores," I was like, aww hell yea, the Priest is totally gonna get it on! 

I saw the obvious magick going on throughout the script. I saw the Opening of the Mouth ceremony, the anointing and empowerment of the man-god, the anointing and obeisance of the woman-god, the necromantic conjurations of the dead, the creation of what Wiccans would turn into the Great Rite, and the ultimate ecstatic culmination of the transubstantiation of the host and the wine, and ... 

It was totally THANATEROS turned up to fucking 11, man!  

I couldn't wait.

And so I went to the mass. 

And of course, it was a disaster

The deacon didn't have the priest's robe, cap, and crown. When the part of the ceremony came where they were required, slapstick hilarity ensued. The deacon ran up to the altar, and there were no robes. He ran into the back room where the mass gear and childrens' robes are stored, and we heard lots of rustling, the banging of boxes, and muffled cursing. He returned to the temple, the whites of his eyes showing completely around the irises, carrying no robes. He left the temple and went to the common area, where again the sounds of cabinets opening and closing came to us, and he again came back to the temple, bearing no robes.

Through all these shenanigans, the Priestess remained kneeling before the Priest in a pose that was absolutely beatific. BJ, dressed in his white togs, held the lance stoically. If he felt like murdering his past self for not making sure all was ready, I sure couldn't tell. They breathed in, they breathed out, and held the sacred space as the deacon scurried frantically in his search.

At last, he returned to the storage room, and did the unthinkable: he turned on the light. Today I remember hearing "Ah HA!" shouted jubilantly from the room, but I might be making shit up. It happens. However, I will never forget seeing the lights in the little back room shut off and the deacon emerging, shining very much like the Sun with a smile from ear to ear, the robes, cap, and crown held triumphantly above his head in one hand.

Proudly he strode to the Priestess, handing her the clothes, and she robed BJ right up. 

Everything was going great at that point, if a little stilted, and it was time for the Priestess to be shut up behind the veil. My palms were a little sweaty, I admit. The Priestess was lovely, and the idea of her being all nekkid and, ahem, you know, "adored" (nudge nudge wink wink, knowhatImean?) had me as worried about a public hard-on as a 14 year old at the pool. I understood after the sex magick we got to approach her and take communion. I didn't want to be sporting a tent.

And then he opened the veil, and ... 

I couldn't see hardly anything. She was naked, sure, but with the smoke and the candles, I could sort of make out where a nipple might have been, and it was of course beautiful, and tasteful, but it wasn't quite what I'd expected. When BJ finally got to the adoration, he kissed her knees, respectfully. Calmly. Sedately. 

He was obviously in another place and I could feel him doing some magickal something, but this was NOT THE CUNNILINGUS I HAD EXPECTED.

I was like, ok, I sort of maybe don't get it.

Then he said some stuff in Greek, and did a mass. Like, a real mass. With bread, and wine, and showing the congregation the stuff and holding it up, and at one point the Deacon rang a bell, and at another point they breathed on it and said Hriliu, and then he did his thing, and then it was our turn and I was like, ok, let's do this.

And I approached the Dais.

And I didn't have an embarrassing hard on.

And I was handed a Cake of Light.

And I took a (the LARGEST) glass of wine (I'D EVER HAD IN MY LIFE).

And I put the bread (cakes of light) in my mouth, and I chewed it up.

And I chewed it.

And I chewed. And chewed. And chewed.

I don't understand exactly how it happened, but apparently all the saliva glands in my mouth chose this particular moment to go on strike, or on vacation, or at the very least to begin their very own private reproduction of "The Gobi Desert, as Seen in a Mouth." It might have been some psychological response to the Mystery of Ingredient X, or it might have been stage fright because I hadn't done a public mass ever and I was sure everyone was watching me chew, slowly, and judging, or it might have been just one of those things that just happens. 

Whatever, it was the driest moment of my life.

My Mouth on Cakes of Light
At last I remembered I had a glass of wine in my left hand, and I SUDDENLY KNEW why it was so big! I drank, and drank, and drank, and at last the crusty paste in my mouth went down, and I could even begin to consider the formation of words with parched tongue and teeth, as soon as I finished the wine, because yeah, I'd been drinking a while, and there was STILL A LOT LEFT.
Betty White visited William Blake Lodge

At last I finished swallowing the bread, and the wine, and I got rid of the glass, and I assumed the position, facing the priestess with my arms crossed, right over left in the form of Osiris Risen, and I knew I could say it, and I took a breath, looked up at her in her splendour, ready to say the words...

And then time stopped. It was like I was frozen. I could feel the particles of cakes in my mouth, here and there, taste the red wine remnants on my tongue. I saw 22 candles whose flames had stopped flickering, smelled the perfume of a dozen roses, and to this day I remember her ankles were crossed as I moved my awareness up to look at her... and then she disappeared.

I could see the altar, and the outline of my Priestess. But where she had sat, there was only a deep darkness, a black silhouette, and in a moment I realized that it was full of stars. 

And for a time, I communed with infinity, open and receptive, receiving and responding. There was a transfer between us, a current that flowed, and information was exchanged. I don't know what She got from me, but sometimes as I am falling asleep, I can sense a part of me processing what She gave me, prising it apart, teasing out the details.

The moment passed, and I recovered myself a bit, and at last was able to both know and to say:


In that moment, I was shown an aspect of divinity that changed my life completely. No joke or symbol set were Nuit or Hadit, but actual deities whose reality and influence and intent upon the Earth would not be denied. I became a convert in that moment, and the seeds of my zealousy were planted, by the hands of a blue lidded daughter of night.

Within a month, I met a woman with red hair and a sparkle in her eyes that changed everything I knew about life and relationships. It was a wonderful time, and she just happened to be going through the Man of Earth initiations, and had also just happened to have submitted her application to the A.'.A.'., and she suggested I might consider doing so myself.

It was a merry adventure, and I'll go into some more details in other posts. Suffice it to say, I found the A.'.A.'. and the OTO to my liking.

The people are AMAZING. I've never had fellowship like this. I met a couple I trust to be the godparents of my kids, which is saying something. I don't even LIKE other people. I hang out with people I disagree with utterly, and we make fun of each other. I get to pick the brains of the heirs of the Hawk and Jackal system of magick. I get to learn Hebrew calligraphy, and do kundalini yoga exercises, and study traditional astrology, and teach Hermetics, and play pinball, and drink tequila, and talk magick with the best besotted minds of our generation.

The gods are INTENSE. I've dealt with Pan, Hadit, Nuit, Babalon, and some Egyptian scrubs who will get their own posts eventually. The Crowley-based methods of interacting with them produce a set of results that are not like conjurations of spirits, nor like the manifestations of the gods you get in the Orphic Hymns. It's something else, and it's something cool, and it's something useful, but it will take a lot more words.

The wine is NOT BAD. Leaping Laughter Lodge is the base camp of the Dionysian Chapter, so we get really fuckin' great wine a lot of the time, and boxed not bad wine for the rest of the time. Having the local Bishops be the hosts of the biennial wine tasting at NOTOCON has its privileges. We get to taste the good stuff before everyone else. Suck it, you jealous bitches.

And the parties...

So I get to hang out with Frater Barabbas at his country estate every couple of months, and he has the most AWESOME PARTIES guys! He and his lovely wife Joni are great hosts. Imagine hanging out in a great library, wandering over to the Temple all fully charged, and there's cats, while talking to Barabbas about Enochian and Goetic conjurations over a glass of iced home-made bourbon, while actively struggling with Maya in a way that doesn't even interrupt the conversation. It's basically heaven and earth in one place.

Scott Stenwick and Michele Montserat have also made us feel so welcome here. Michele is a fellow Taurus, and is like the sister I never knew I wanted. I feel a lot like we're the same person in different bodies all the time. Scott and I have a habit of getting drunk and playing the crowd at events that is just so much fun, verbal tag-teaming and magickal exposition for the win. We went out for dinner the other night, and it just felt so comfortable. They and their families are so sweet to hang out with.

And there's an active cell of the A.'.A.'. that can get together and talk shit about Crowley over beers without it being a formal thing, keeping our heads low at the OTO events because you can't cross the streams, and sharing the woes of the test, and Probationing, and Neophyting, and so forth and so on. I get that you don't NEED anyone more than your superior, but it's so nice to be able to be like, "OMG, lightning bolt asana, wt actual f?" and have people get it.

And the Mass! I pass out cookies as the Positive Child, or pass out wine as the Negative Child fairly regularly. I am on rotation for Deaconing, and I get to be the Sun and conjure the Dead into the Priest (that's not theologically accurate or whatever, but it's fun). I haven't forgotten the robe, cap, and crown yet, but after publishing this I'm sure it will happen soon. I'm memorizing lines for the Priest role, and gathering accoutrement, but there are things that have to happen first.

I'm eventually working my way up to Priestess, but I've got a ways to go, and there's no official OTO or EGC Gnostic Masses with a male Priestess yet, but one of these days I want to be the one who disappears for someone, just for a second. So they can see that I, too, am full of stars.

So that's my story, for folks interested in such things. How I ended up a Thelemite, dues current in the OTO and continuing my work in the A.'.A.'.. I love to tell that story, especially my first mass. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.

Now I'll be moving on to the things that are more important to me. The story of Soror Estai, for example, and the things she did, and the impact she had through Agape lodge, and the continuing impact she has on us all. And I'll be talking about Soror Meral, the mother of the modern OTO, and some interesting things she never bothered to mention over the years. And I'll be talking about A.'.A.'. topics, and the relationship between the Orders Crowley founded, and I'll be running my mouth about things beyond my Grade, as one is wont to do when you're dues current.

Stay tuned!


* "In the same way the Adept almost always begins by torrential lyrics painting out mystical extravagances about "ineffable love", "unimaginable bliss", "inexpressible infinities of illimitable utterness". 7 He usually loses his sense of proportion, of humour, of reality, and of sound judgment. His ego is often inflated to the bursting point, till he would be abjectly ridiculous if he were not so pitifully dangerous to himself and others. He also tends to take his new-found "truths of illumination" for the entire body of truth, and insists that they must be as valid an vital for all men as they happen to be for himself.

It is wise to keep silence about those things "unlawful to utter" which one may have heard "in the seventh heaven". This may not apply to the sixth.

The Adept must keep himself in hand, however tempted to make a new heaven and a new earth in the next few days by trumpeting his triumphs. He must give time a chance to redress his balance, sore shaken by the impact of the Infinite."

** Edit: It was definitely 2012. A friend and student of mine reminded me he joined in 2011, and I was all, "you're going through a phase," and he still makes fun of me for that. :D

1 comment:

  1. To clarify, an official Mass can be performed in which a male serves in the Office of Priestess but it has to be a private (initiates only) Mass. I recently saw a female Bishop in the role of Priest at a closed initiates only Mass. We used to call them "Mass Like Rituals" and you had to get your bishop's approval to participate and it had to be closed. But I have heard since that Sabazius has clarified that those Masses so long as they follow all other elements of the Mass are still Masses, they are just not allowed for the public because we want the general nature of the office to be easily interpretted for people in casual attendance.


The authors of Horns of Cerastes are happy to share their insights, opinions, and interests in all matters Thelema. Anything uncited is probably an informed opinion, but there are times when we have been known to just have fun. Do be careful, it might get on you. Also, all comments are moderated.