To appeal to consumers, the “Caliphate” has produced a range of products that resemble a McDonaldized “illumination through sex-magic,” a McGnosis transported through the iconic figure of Crowley as Ronald McDonald. It is hidden behind a confusing veil of euphemisms, and is preferably practiced on Sundays by means of consuming a “host” made of sexual secretions and/or blood obtained from the butcher shop (i.e. animal blood) for the public masses and those looking for titillation and codified rebellion.
The “Caliphate” O.T.O. shows itself to be a post-modern esoteric supermarket with the equivalent and equal importance it vests in a whole range of different things: qabala, T-shirts, yoga, invocations of demons and angels, sex-magic, calendars, exorcism, drugs, religion, Gnosis, videos, scandal, gossip, postcards, philosophy and pseudo-science. Egyptian mythology is revised to suit Thelemic tastes and all is reduced to the level of a soap-opera. To the uninformed observer the O.T.O. looks rather like a tiny group of people, similar to a Harry Potter reading circle, rejects from a renaissance fair or heavy metal fans in search of a naked high priestess.
The development of (oc)culture is hindered by occult organizations such as the O.T.O. with their modus operandi often consisting solely of “repetitions” of rituals, signs, etc., with little original thought or practice. The individual is expected to “find themselves” in this cultural repetition, which hinders, rather than encourages, creativity.
The supreme visionary, founder of meaning, maker of images, and source of actual occult streams is Crowley. He showed his followers how the needs of lust and the wishes of the body are to be controlled. Particularly strongly, their mastering of body and consciousness is shown in their control of the euphoria of imaging through dogmatically fixed tables of values (e.g. the Qabala), and through bringing sexuality as sex magick in a form of ecstatic limitation (“fuck and make a wish”).
The “Caliphate” professes to provide a user-friendly method of handling occult material, abilities, knowledge, rules, and procedures. This O.T.O. has become a sort of perpetuum mobile which never permits its members a true apotheosis; they have to patiently endure a long series of initiations, which are claimed to produce illumination bit by bit. This costs long years of paying membership dues and long delays waiting for the next initiation (although most members never get further than the Third Degree). By only gradually revealing its promised secrets and adventures, this Order (firm) plays with its members’ (clients) spiritual yearnings. The organization works as a dealer of the yearning itself and it is careful to rule by decree which occult methods are allowed and which are forbidden. With its efficiently organized supply of formulae (yoga, sex-magick, “no drugs,” etc.) the “Caliphate” appears to offer a permanent flow of instant mini-illuminations which run to an exactly-
prescribed timetable—in other words, its hierarchical system of degrees or grades. Each initiatory degree comprises a predictable speciality within the limits of specific symbolisms and techniques. Each stage means conforming to new rules and regulations to enable or “execute” illumination. Events are interpreted according to the degree of initiation, that is: higher degrees dominate lower degrees. All Thelemites are equal, but some are more equal than others, to paraphrase Orwell.
To the uninformed observer the O.T.O. looks rather like a tiny group of people, similar to a Harry Potter reading circle, rejects from a renaissance fair or heavy metal fans in search of a naked high priestess.
This hierarchy allows precise control over members, and means they are under constant observation so that standardized results are produced. No experimentation is encouraged. The best way to progress has already been discovered and must therefore be followed. These restrictions have turned the “Caliphate” into an institutionalized group whose ordinary members must follow strict criteria, and pass set examinations. Huge piles of forms have to be filled out; there are tests about occult knowledge, passwords, grips and signs. Individual Illumination happens in a schoolroom.
To appeal to consumers, the “Caliphate” has produced a range of products that resemble a McDonaldized “illumination through sex-magic”; a McGnosis transported through the iconic figure of Crowley as Ronald McDonald.
Of course, it is out of the question for the rank and file to discuss the fees for membership and initiations, the group’s interpretation of doctrine, or how the organization is run; the “Caliphate” is not a democratic body, and its leaders (the “Caliph” and his inner circle of friends) are not elected democratically.
The greater the membership the more likely members will “behave” (as opposed to “act” or “think”) and the less likely the group mind will tolerate “bad” behavior—behavior meaning adjustment to the Order’s rules. Integration itself proves to be an ideology for disintegration into power groups which exterminate each other. He who integrates is lost. In the equating of quality with quantity, only those who introduce the most new
members will rise higher in the Order. A person ceases to be with other people and is completely oriented towards satisfying the higher institutional level. By doing so, this person experiences him/herself as a part of this higher level (management), at the same time, however, relinquishing his or her own individuality.
The striking frequency of the “we”-form (“we think, we want”) levels different points of view and perspectives, mixing them together into an indifferent groupthink. The people in the Order must be of one mind (e.g. that of the management) 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 (“Love is the Law,” “the fundamentalists hate us”), and standardized symbolism. Everything has to be consistent—all members of the “Caliphate’s” Fifth Degree are supposed to have a rose tattooed on their upper chest and numerologically 729 aluvays signifies the Crowleyan version of Baphomet—a McBaphomet, in other words. Creativity and original thought are eliminated, because they are “inefficient”—and not controllable.
Making any change to their strictly limited repertoire of cliches is not a favored activity among many O.T.O. groups. For them, the status quo must be preserved at all costs: unquestioning acceptance of Crowley’s omniscience as a prophet, the value of their rituals (such as the daily “Adoration of the Sun”), the routine of initiation-ceremonies and performing the Gnostic Mass every Sunday, keeping to their codes of behavior, and submitting to the restrictions concerning what is forbidden and permitted. And, of course, the near-mantric repetition of the Thelemic greeting “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.” (Their version of “Hey, how’s it going?”) They retreat to the old values of power and consummation in a universe that has been delivered to cults of objects, religious artifacts and meaningless jargon.
All these serve as substitute for rational analysis and experience, encouraging the prejudging of issues and intolerance of external criticism.
The pseudo-masonic nature of the Ordo Templi Orientis has engendered a complex grade structure, which usually takes many years to complete and
pay for. It blends simple methods of “technical psychology” with religious practices, often together with an excessive emphasis on the life and character of its charismatic leader.
Unfraternal behavior between members, inflated egos, lying, game-playing, subterfuge and hysteria; all these have happened and continue to happen— causing endless in-fighting, divisions and secessions, and even court proceedings. This merely serves to reinforce the dominance of the organizational framework. Belonging to other groups is not permitted—so membership of the “Caliphate” O.T.O. is not considered compatible with membership of, say, the “Typhonian O.T.O.” or “Temple of Set.” This monopolizes the marketplace in a manner very similar to the dominance of Microsoft’s operating system in computers. This tendency often results in the expulsion of members who try to abandon (even slightly) Crowleyan dogmas, or legal threats to other groups which dare to use the O.T.O. name.
Flame wars and name calling abound, but even this sort of juvenile activity serves to reinforce the “Caliphate” dominance.
Unfaithful members not only face censorship but also a kangaroo court that shows plain similarity to the Spanish Inquisition: Anonymous informers, no witnesses, and no counsel for the defense. The Inquisitor is investigator, prosecutor and judge in one person. The defendants publicly have to apologize or risk expulsion.
“Caliphate” members live in a deliberate vagueness about the organization’s labyrinthine hierarchy; just who is responsible for what—and does the left hand even know what the right one’s doing? In this hierarchy’s pyramid structure, it is obvious (or should be) that all members can never reach the highest degree. The highest degree exercises omni-potency and omni- competency over the group.
While officials, dignitaries and the famous enjoy only limited rights to privacy and anonymity in a democracy, it is the exact opposite in organized occult niches like the O.T.O.; the higher the O.T.O. official, the less his real name will be known, and the more pseudonymously and ritually will he exercise his power in the group. The “mundane” names of the leader or his
representatives are often kept secret. They cease to be persons to meet in the real world for they lack all the many superfluous detailed characteristics, which make up a real individual. They seem to become “jobholders” in a bureaucratic club, acting on an assumption of omni-competence.
This facelessness and shapelessness has the effect that people also become faceless and shapeless. They live in a Kafkaesque world where the human being only is identified according to his or her function in the Order. As they never know all the rules of their order, they are trapped in an inner world of moods, feelings, and imaginations. This private world gets overemphasized and results in a lack of identity. Nothing remains but a dwindling whimper for attention. Certain conditions of being are defined as biased analysis, moods as programs, self-perception as cultural attainment, and pure imagination as relevation. These are the new determinations. Dogmatization infantilizes and diminishes the contents, those seeking for directness become enmeshed in a sacredized repertoire of rituals of self-dissolution, without ever effectively overcoming the ego. Coupled with sexuality and aggressivity, this repetitive theme of destructiveness is displayed on the Internet in egroups, newsgroups and chatrooms. Flame wars and name calling abound, but even this sort of juvenile activity serves to reinforce the “Caliphate” dominance.
Fixation on Crowley, necessarily, equals stagnation. The O.T.O. functions like a piece of demo shareware with all the interesting key features disabled. It runs on a 14 day trial period which just repeats over and over again, even if you pay for the full version. “Do what thou wilt” in Crowley’s O.T.O. mirrors this in anti-creativity and in the dogma of mystification; nobody must know of the central Spermo-Gnostic secret—and explicit censorship is enshrined in the statutes. There is an oligarchy (the chief and his inner circle of friends) who “owns” this knowledge, and seeks to monopolize its interpretation and transmission. Of course, anyone wishing to manipulate the market in this way must be selling the best secrets money can buy. Hence the bizarre spin- doctoring attempts to treat the “secret” of Spermo-Gnosis in the same way that Coca-Cola jealously guards its “secret recipe” It is a “trade secret” to which any reference must be denied (even when such denials look absurd) because “commercial confidentiality” must be preserved at all costs.
After all, the “central secret” was never really a secret anyway; everyone
with an interest in the O.T.O. already knows it means Spermo-Gnosis. So why should anyone want to join the O.T.O., if the only ambition of those already in the Order is to reach the next degree, and what would happen if there were no more steps to achieve, if the Order was no longer a dealer of the sacred? What would be the point??
Occulture has become a half-baked reflection of the sort that confines itself to monstrous platitudes which multiply in a void of speculation and vagueness. Silly rumors and snobbery also serve to ornament the gossip and corruption of people who would cloak themselves as arbiters of religious wisdom. Thelemic occulture itself is now bred “in vitro” as product for the publisher’s supermarket, or disembowelled at so-called “International congresses,” where it’s given a first-class burial. The cadaver shivers until people are sure that it’ll dance again.
When Thelema faces criticism it uses a tactic of “restricted rationality” where its representatives (the “Caliph” and his friends) utilize 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 manufacture imaginary bogeymen.
Critics have proved dangerous to these occultists by destroying their aura: the very thing that makes them untouchable in their own eyes. Eventually, the factoids sent into orbit by occultists create a maelstrom of censorship on the Internet where spin doctors turn into pilots who surf their passengers. While they behave as if their ancestors hadn’t so much crawled out of the primordial swamp, as taken a cab—they face facts that threaten their regimented happiness and carefully fenced-off security. And so they consciously choose ignorance as their weapon of survival. They promote benightedness, prejudice, superstition and censorship to protect their “clan” from “the world,” and get stuck in the if-loop of their own labyrinth of “reality.”
They behave as if their ancestors hadn’t so much crawled out of the primordial swamp, as taken a cab.
Thanks to the Internet, factual concerns shrink to the level of e-mail missives and second-hand opinions; knowledge becomes data hoarding, the linear becomes interactive, and proper friendship disappears in interchangeable cyber-interaction. Occulture turns into a passive audience riven by factions, which fish their pre-digested half-truths out of the limitless digital pool. This kind of McDonaldized occulture is an arena where anything goes, a breeding- ground for conspiracy theories now classified as scholarly work. Selective attention decides whether information is worthwhile or not; it doesn’t matter if that information is right or wrong, or even true or false—only whether it attracts attention and as much as possible.
Never mind that when you bought the book, the “Caliphate” was not in existence: this Corporation now retroactively controls your Crowleyana.
The O.T.O.’s feuilleton mainly consists of hymnic reviews of their ideologically kindred press, of the endless celebration of Crowley and his disciples and, of course, character assasinations of Thelema’s critics. Pseudo- discourse happens in complete sterility on the Internet in its vicious circle of censorship, spin-doctoring, propaganda and blatant lies. They produce an imitation of real thought-processes and new arrangements of old fantasies. Veteran spin doctors lean out of their virtual cave windows, rotating in the ruins of lust and driven by particles of supposed enlightenment in the terrain of petty bourgeoise in-fighting. It’s all revealed to be so pointless!
The reduction of facts to hallucinatory speculations leaves no room for the influence of truth (whatever that may be), and results in an endless fragmented labyrinth of unlimited choices where “truth” becomes a matter of prejudice and moods. Any “true” information faces a continuing elasticity in a process of transformation and interactive reconfiguration. In the vast catacombs of hypertext it is all too easy to lose a feeling for the whole; in the nebulous atmosphere left by an absence of such an overview, connections and continuity can disappear. Where there is hypertext, there is no context.
All the concepts mentioned in the foregoing paragraphs are merely instruments serving to distract from and suppress but one vital fact: that the American version of the O.T.O., called the “Caliphate,” exists for the purpose