Common Questions

What is Thelema?

Thelema is the central philosophy of the OTO.

The word “thelema” is Greek and means “will.” A good analogy for will in this sense is the motion of a star as it follows its orbit through space. In this way, Thelema is about finding and aligning to one's own unique path. This may lead from fulfilments in mundane spheres through to expansions into spiritual states.

The philosophy may be summarised, perhaps, with a few key clauses found in our foremost Holy Book, Liber AL vel Legis (The Book of the Law):

Every man and every woman is a star.

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.

thou hast no right but to do thy will.

Love is the law, love under will.

Thelema may be described as the Law of Liberty, its ultimate aim being the absolute and perfect freedom of every individual. In practice, people are seldom encouraged to be truly free, with family, friends, institutions and naysayers often working to limit one's experience, either consciously or unconsciously.

In the OTO, you will find a group of people who accept and encourage your own personal way of being, and who celebrate your freedom to find your own way. This can be a powerful and life-changing experience for many.

With such an ethos, OTO members tend to be a cool bunch of people – authentic, down-to-earth, straight-talking and welcoming – with a great sense of humour!

What are initiations?

OTO membership consists of a series of degrees. In each degree the candidate experiences an initiation, the effects of which are life-long. They deepen one's personal understanding of the mysteries of existence, and hence empower each initiate to do their will.

Is the OTO a secret society?

Membership in OTO is confidential.    The initiation rites are also kept secret until such time as a candidate passes through them, to ensure their proper psycho-dramatic impact.  Other than that, it is an outward-facing organisation.

What is the Gnostic Mass?

The Gnostic Mass is a sacramental ceremony with a Priest and Priestess as its key officers. The Mass functions to remind us of our place in the universe, and to keep our hearts and minds open to love and will.

.. If you would like to attend a Gnostic Mass, or any other public event, please email your local body as listed on the Contact page.  Members of the public most welcome.

Where did the OTO originate?

The formation of the OTO is attributed to an Austrian paper chemist, Carl Kellner (1851–1905). Formed in the early 20th century, the OTO can be said to draw on a divergent stream of esoteric knowledge, including the traditions of Freemasonry, Rosicrucianism, Illuminism, Gnosticism, the Knights Templar, and pre-Christian mystery schools.

In New Zealand, the OTO was incorporated as a Charitable Trust in 1986 and is currently listed as charitable body no. CC33051 with the Charities Commission.

Who was Aleister Crowley?

Aleister Crowley (1875-1947) was the third head of the OTO. He was a mystic and magician of note, as well as a prolific writer, poet, mountaineer and chess-player. A gifted and sincere spiritual seeker, Crowley was the receiver of the Holy Books of Thelema. He composed the Gnostic Mass in 1913, and in 1915 incorporated Thelema into the initiation rites of OTO.

Crowley’s spiritual teachings were generally misunderstood, and during his lifetime he was maligned in the popular press with such epithets as "the wickedest man in the world." Many of the false allegations and misconceptions that surrounded him still persist to this day.

Beyond the Holy Books, some of his more important spiritual works include The Vision and the Voice, Magick, The Book of Lies and The Book of Thoth.

Can I be a member of other organisations as well?

Yes.

How do I become a member?

The first step is to contact your local body and arrange a meeting with a representative, with a view to attending some local body events. To become an initiate, you must be at least 18 years old and obtain the sponsorship of two other members.

Do I have to be into Hermetic stuff?

No, although some background in Hermetic symbolism will deepen one's understanding of our rites and Holy Books.

What is the New Aeon?

The New Aeon is humanity's present stage of spiritual development, known also as the Aeon of Horus or the Aeon of the Child. It began on the March Equinox of 1904. It succeeded the Aeon of Osiris (the Aeon of the Dying God), which was characterised by patriarchal systems.

Is the OTO a Christian organisation?

No, though this does not preclude Christians from joining. We revere many Christian values but actively oppose oppression and intolerance where we see, whether from Christian institutions or otherwise.

Do you follow Satan/are you evil?

We do not share the Christian concept of an all-evil Satan. The only “sin” in Thelema is restriction, i.e., to prevent oneself or another from doing their will.

What's with the number 93?

In the qabalistic practice of Gematria, the Greek word Thelema – “will” – has the numeric value 93, as does the Greek word Agape – “love”. Hence the number 93 symbolises the unity of love and will.

How do I find out about news and events?

If you would like to be added to our mailing list, please email info@otonewzealand.org.nz with your full name, city and country.