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Promulgation and Initiation

Updated: Dec 31, 2022

As part of a recent lecture on “The Direction of O.T.O. in New Zealand”, I explained how promulgation and initiation are key elements in the work of O.T.O. The following is adapted from that part of the talk.  In The Heart of the Master, Crowley writes: Do what thou wilt is the first Law ever given to man which is a true Law for all men in every place and time. All earlier Laws have been partial, according to the faith of the hearer, or the customs of a people, or the philosophy of their sages. Nor is there need, with this Law of Thelema, of threats or promises: for the Law fulfilleth itself, so that the one reward is Freedom for him who doeth his will, and the one punishment is Restriction for him that goeth astray. Teach thou therefore this Law to all men: for in so far as they follow it, they cease to hinder thee by their false random motion … By promulgating the Law of Thelema, therefore, we are not only doing a great service to our fellow human beings (by showing them the path of true liberty), we are also doing a great service to ourselves; for as much as others are following the Law they cease to hinder us by their “false random motion”. Promulgation is therefore a key element of the work of O.T.O. The need for promulgation is extremely apparent. In 1938, Crowley wrote the following words, which are still very relevant today: [Horus] rules the present period of 2,000 years, beginning in 1904. Everywhere his government is taking root. Observe for yourselves the decay of the sense of sin, the growth of innocence and irresponsibility, the strange modifications of the reproductive instinct with a tendency to become bisexual or epicene, the childlike confidence in progress combined with nightmare fear of catastrophe, against which we are yet half unwilling to take precautions. Consider the outcrop of dictatorships, only possible when moral growth is in its earliest stages, and the prevalence of infantile cults like Communism, Fascism, Pacifism, Health Crazes, Occultism in nearly all its forms, religions sentimentalised to the point of practical extinction. Consider the popularity of the cinema, the wireless,  the football pools and guessing competitions, all devices for soothing fractious infants, no seed of purpose in them. Consider sport, the babyish enthusiasms and rages which it excites, whole nations disturbed by disputes between boys. Consider war, the atrocities which occur daily and leave us unmoved and hardly worried. We are children. … Above us today hangs a danger never yet paralleled in history. We suppress the individual in more and more ways. We think in terms of the herd. War no longer kills soldiers; it kills all indiscriminately. … The establishment of the Law of Thelema is the only way to preserve individual liberty and to assure the future of the race. In the words of the famous paradox of the Comte de Fénix—The absolute rule of the state shall be a function of the absolute liberty of each individual will.1 Now the Law of Thelema is, at first, an intellectual quantity only; that is, until a person accepts it and integrates it into their being. Then Thelema becomes a wellspring of Light, Life, Love and Liberty; it becomes a single path that integrates and transcends all other paths. There is thus not only a genuine need to spread the Law, but also to educate people so they may understand and use it. The O.T.O. does this by way of initiation. Initiation causes profound changes in a person’s life, internally and externally; the process of experiencing and integrating such changes is what truly educates. (The word “educate” comes from the Latin educere, which means “to draw out that which is within”.) O.T.O. initiates both publicly and privately. Our public initiation is the Gnostic Mass; our private initiation is the degree system. Our public initiation, the Gnostic Mass, initiates much more subtly than the degrees, but by virtue of the energies invoked, and the Eucharist consumed,  the Mass gently leads each of us ever closer to the understanding of our own truth. The Mass symbolises the ultimate secret of practical magick; in experiencing this truth ceremonially everyone present has the opportunity to experience their own gnosis. It is a gnosis that gets ever more potent the more familiar one becomes with the Mass, both intellectually and magically. There are also greater insights to be had the further one has gone through the degrees – the magical secret depicted by the Mass is the same secret that pulses at the heart of all O.T.O. initiation. And this magick is mirrored in the consummation of the Eucharist. As Crowley writes, The magician becomes filled with God, fed upon God, intoxicated with God. Little by little his body will become purified by the internal lustration of God; day by day his mortal frame, shedding its earthly elements, will become in very truth the Temple of the Holy Ghost. Day by day matter is replaced by Spirit, the human by the divine; ultimately the change will be complete; God manifest in flesh will be his name. This is the most important of all magical secrets that ever were or are or can be. To a Magician thus renewed the attainment of the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel becomes an inevitable task; every force of his nature, unhindered, tends to that aim and goal of whose  nature neither man nor god may speak, for that it is infinitely beyond speech or thought or ecstasy or silence. Samadhi and Nibbana are but its shadows cast upon the universe.2 The Gnostic Mass also initiates magical communities. As the Mass is repeatedly performed, fraternal bonds within an O.T.O. body are continually strengthened, and the diverse energies of its individual stars constellate into an ever more vibrant and dynamic unit. Most especially, the Gnostic Mass initiates those who choose to serve as officers. It offers a potent means of magical training. As for the private side of O.T.O. initiation – the degree ceremonies – the effects of these are beyond what I could possibly describe, even were I not bound by oaths of secrecy. Suffice to say they are among the most extraordinarily life-changing experiences a person can have. They are an inheritance from the Saints. 1 Introduction to The Book of the Law, 1938 e.v. 2 Magick in Theory and Practice, Ch 20

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