The Thelemic Order is a non-profit organization and Church, incorporated in the State of Delaware. US EIN 84-3433327. Below you can find more information on the Church, and on the philosophy and religion of Thelema.
Magic and The Esoteric
In the early 20th century Aleister Crowley wanted to differentiate his practice of magic from what stage magicians did. He began to use an older spelling which is used in English through the 17th century. He also felt that the "k" made the word more numerologically significant.
Some modern practitioners reject the "k" as pretentious, or as some Thelemite leaders have gone out of their way to give Thelema a white supremacist rep, reject it because they associate it with Thelema. Others have taken to using magik, which is also an older variant spelling...English only standardized spellings fairly recently...for reasons of their own.
As an organization we don't have an opinion...it's just not that important.
These days the occult section at Barnes and Noble is a lot bigger than the stage magic section, so we aren't all that worried about confusion.
Traditional Thelemites like to use the "k" because of Crowley, but we're more about building a bridge to modern traditions than worrying about doing things precisely the way Crowley did them. Typically we use "magic" when speaking generically and "magick" when quoting other sources that use it. But really, whatever works...
"1) Every intentional act is a Magickal act."- Liber ABA, Book 4, Magic in Theory and Practice
In the same text, Crowley wrote that every person "should make Magick the keystone of his life...should learn its laws and live by them."
We can say that it is important to Thelema because it is a key to being able to act with the full resources of the universe available to you and to discover and enact your Will. Magic is both the ability to understand your own relationship with the universe and the ability to apply it.
We don't have anything against people who choose a primarily "spiritual path," limiting their interaction and study of magic to ceremonies led by others, or focused spiritual devotions concerned with deity.
That said, we feel that few people really achieve their full potential purely through participating in group ritual. Certainly there may be exceptions. But we also observe that many people use sprituality to build a fence around magical practice, forbidding those things which fall outside of the "allowed" celebration or ritual.
The core of TTO, the Order General, exists to further social interaction and individual magical practice, not only in group ritual but on a personal, daily, and active basis, not only a "spritual" sense but as a part of everyday worldview and life.
The first Universities, universitas magistrorum et scholarium, were in translation, “an association of teachers and scholars.” Elements such as hierarchical leadership, and examinations evolved later. We seek to create a University in the truest since...a community of teachers and scholars.
There are no appointed masters or designated students.
In keeping with our flat structure and general respect and regard for the intelligence of our members, the Order General does not designate teachers or scholars, but rather assumes its members are, by turns, both. “Success is your proof.”
No but members of TTO will, and we will provide a place to meet them, learn from them, and make it easier for you to find them.
“Fear not at all; fear neither men nor Fates, nor gods, nor anything. Money fear not, nor laughter of the folk folly, nor any other power in heaven”
There is no magic or art which is forbidden.
We do not avoid subjects such as goetia, necromancy, or spirit possession because they are too “scary” to normal people. We do not avoid subjects such as yoga or herblore because they are too “commonplace.”
Really, nothing forbidden?
Not forbidding the study or practice of magic doesn't mean condoning every act that might accompany it. Remember, we hold consent to be paramount, and our policies generally prohibit violating the law at Local Body events.
The Thelemic Order
The Thelemic Order, Inc., is a Church. Incorporated in the US State of Delaware, it serves a worldwide mission to promulgate the Law of Thelema. If you need to know more about Thelema, there is information in the left hand column. As a Thelemic Church TTO is Progressive and Heterodox.
TTO is explicitly progressive in that we reject any interpretation of Thelema which fuels intolerance, including racism, white nationalism, misogyny and classism, while practicing tolerance by enthusiastically embracing modern models of gender, sexual identity, and consent.
Heterodox is the opposite of orthodox. Where orthodox means doing things one way, heterodox means doing things many ways. Thelema is syncretic by nature, and what is interesting, healthy, and respectful for one person's practice may not fit another. Nor is doing things "like Crowley did them," practical or meaningful to everyone. We empower our Clergy and Members to experiment and do those things which have personal meaning to them, rather than adhering to a strict formula.
Parts of TTO
TTO is divided into three Elements
The Order General is the secular or lay-leadership of TTO. The Order General is headed by a Secretary-General who will be elected from among the dues-paying membership, and focuses on creating a safe space and good resources for personal exploration of the relgion and philosophy of Thelema, particularly in providing a positive space for the exploration of magic and ritual alone and in cooperation with others.
The Heterodox Gnostic Church or Ecclesia Gnostica Heterodoxa (EGH) is the branch of TTO which conducts training of Clergy, Ordination, holds Mass, offers the Sacrements and organizes the Canon of TTO.
The Initiatory Arm is the branch of TTO which conducts the Thelemic Initiations, which are designed to be a modern system of powerful initiatory experiences for Thelemites.
Many denominations have "Articles of Faith," which state shared beliefs. TTO has its "Understandings," which are, to quote a famous pirate "more like guidelines." The understandings allow us to share general beliefs without forcing adherence to a strict or rigid set of absolutes. Members are expected to be "principally in sympathy with" the understandings, which is to say they mostly agree with them. No one will ever agree on every detail, and as long as we have a common direction, we don't need to.
The Understandings present a socially progressive model of Thelema which sees:
- Gender as personal, with a strong acceptance of queer individuals and acknowledgement of the Queer roots of Thelema.
- Fascism and other forms of rule by the ignorant, or rule through bullying, as intolerable.
- Poverty and other social problems as things Thelemites must tackle. We are not political and do not present political solutions, but we do not need to have a solution to all the world's ills to categorically reject the vision of Thelema as empowering a Libertarian dystopia in which the privileged and classist dispossess subjugate, or maintain oppression of others for their own benefit in the name of "freedom."
We will never all agree on everything.
What does it mean to be:
“In Principal Sympathy with the Understandings?”
It is a paradox of intellect that the more completely and coherently a set of beliefs or understandings is expressed the less likely it is to gain adherence, as there will always be some small thing which rankles and keeps each individual from completely accepting it.
At no point do we ask for that anyone embrace the understandings as a matter of blind faith, or be completely in agreement with every word of them.
After all, the Understandings themselves may be changed by Members through a variety of mechanisms.
- By “principal” we mean “first” or “of the highest order.”
- By “sympathy” we mean “understanding between people” or “commonality of feeling.”
So by “Principal Sympathy” we mean “Primarily having a feeling of support for and comprehension of the ideas behind the understandings and for the greatest or most part.”
Are the Understandings definitions of Thelema?
No, they are understandings of our shared Thelemic Community, a basis for establishing a shared space for us to learn together.
TTO recognizes that Thelema has come to face the issue which confronts most millenarian movements. Sometime before 1948 Aleister Crowley wrote about his vision of where the body of Thelema, epitomized by him by the O.T.O. organization which he had created, was going:
And in what time seemeth Him good shall the O.H.O. (Outer Head of the Order, -ed.), gathering his forces, declare this Truth privily unto the Kings and Princes of the Earth, that they may take counsel together and rule all men in peace and love by virtue of this Secret under the Shadow of the Wings of the One ineffable Lord.
Much like early Christians who believed that Christ would come within their lifetime, there was, for a long time, a feeling within Thelema that a new Aeon was nearly upon us, in which all things would be changed. With the consciousness revolution of the 1960s, Grady McMurtry and other former supporters of Crowley believed that the cusp of a massive change was just around the corner.
In reality as all other Aquarians would learn as the hope and promise of the 1960s became the disappointment and greed of the 1970s the Aeon of Horus looks very much like the Aeon of Osiris. The events above, if they are not entirely metaphorical, are not going to happen anytime soon, and certainly not to any of the current representatives of now organized Thelemic bodies.
The reaction to this has been a sort of quiescence. Current Thelemic organizations rigidly maintain rituals that were never meant to be unchanged. A fixated study of Crowley and only Crowley led to an echelon of Thelemites who resent and fear anything outside their narrow field of focus.
For all practical purposes Gerald Gardner’s legacy, Wicca, has become the dominant paradigm, with Thelema only known to the curious few. Many who respected Crowley's work, but did not intend to immerse their lives in that and nothing else, were well warned away from Thelema.
That's changed somewhat in recent years. Crowley's queerness, which those who came after him desperately tried to erase in the late 20th century, colors him as a cultural icon as significant as Alan Turing or Oscar Wilde. Jack Parsons has risen to rival Nikola Tesla as a favorite figure of cult science.
It is our understanding that Aleister Crowley never intended Thelema to become an introverted study of his work but rather conceived of his work as a perfected descendant of the flawed Golden Dawn, a gateway to all esoteric tradition, laying a groundwork and foundation for further comprehension and individual achievement.
Crowley never recommended anyone study only his work, instead providing many different reading lists to encourage broad study.
The Modern Thelemic community is faced with a choice. The unfortunate direction would be to remain a hidebound remnant of the Old Aeon, choking the last dying breaths out of Thelema.
While there are good and dynamic leaders within most Thelemic groups, not all leaders have been either.
We have seen focus on Crowley's initiations as a form of "leveling up," to form an layered aristocracy that is jealous of its prerogatives, and as prone to driving out, as welcoming, dynamic new leadership, particularly authors and people who have achieved any prominence in the wider magical community.
The real "dark side"
There are darker edges. A few well known Thelemic leaders, emboldened by the election of Donald Trump as US President, have lent their name and voice to recidivist politics of the most unsavory sort, expressing approval of white supremacists in the wake of the protests in Charlottesville and the murder of Heather Heyer, and continuing to support populist ignorance, racial hatred, and trans and homophobic policies. This is not the stuff of a Thelemic awakening, but of 1930s reactionary Catholicism. What is worse, more tolerant and reasonable leaders are bound by legal structure and tradition, not to speak against them. Crowley spoke well when he said "We are infinitely tolerant, save of intolerance."
The fortunate choice we embrace for the Thelemic community would be to move ahead by the same means through which other communities do. By networking socially, by being open to the wider world rather than closed. By leveraging its strengths rather than hiding in mediocrity.
We can embrace and explore magic. Crowley did not intend Thelemites to merely study magic, but to practice it.
We can explore the way in which numerous powerful modern esoteric currents: Hekate worship, the PGM, Ordeal rituals, a renewed interest in Luciferianism, and ADR interact with and inform Thelema, exchanging opinions and ideas in an environment where there are no “arbiters” to determine right and wrong, where success is our proof.
We can accept that Crowley was unambiguously queer, and fully embrace that element of his identity, recognizing how it is hardwired into Thelema and Thelemic ideas, regardless of our own sexuality.
In short, we can be out, and proud, and in touch.
Some Organizing Principles
TTO aims to build a grass roots network of Thelemites. It embodies principles of empowerment at the individual and local level, with sharp limitations on the authority of the International Organization. TTO does embody socially progressive principles and is a freewill association of progressive Thelemites.
TTO will not discriminate and will take affirmative measures to ensure against discrimination and allow equal and complete participation in all aspects of the Order on the bases of ethnicity, ancestry, appearance, gender, gender identity, gender expression, sexuality, sexual identity, sexual expression, International origin, age or disability.
Discrimination on the basis of Faith:
TTO will not discriminate on the basis of previous faith, familial faith, or religious beliefs which are not directly relevant to or do not contradict the Understandings of the Thelemic Order.
As TTO is a religious organization, and as such is entitled to limit its membership to those which share in its beliefs, the organization reserves the right to deny membership to individuals who are not in principal harmony with the Understandings of the Thelemic Order.
We presume that members of the TTO are, in their own right, powerful and formidable magicians or aspiring magicians. To seek, understand, and affiliate with, the TTO shows a considerable quality of comprehension.
TTO is a network of individuals, sharing a similar if not identical vision, who wish to work together to share resources and identity.
TTO members are not children and should not be treated as if they are. TTO willl not call members “siblings” while supervising them as five year olds. Likewise, as adults we are all expected to be responsible for their own actions, and prepared to answer for our acts.
TTO members will not chafe at restrictions while other magicians around them do things that they would like to, if only it were not against the rules. Ephemeral threats of lawsuit are not sufficient to hobble innovation. Many groups, across the US and around the world, do exciting and innovative work without being sued. The corporate entity is a shield against suit. Whenever possible our group response to “can I do that?” should be “let’s figure out how,” rather than “no you can’t.”
Our leadership will be chosen based on merit and experience, or by the will of the people.
If it seems remarkable that we allow our General Assembly the highest voice within the Order, consider this. Our Lord and Master may be the Sun, but the sun is, itself, only one Star in the Company of Stars. Those stars, when they come together, are more powerful than any single sun. There is no part of us which is not of the Gods, and our Assembly, together, is the convocation of the Gods, more powerful than any Heirarch.
In terms pragmatic, rather than poetic, those denominations which have prospered in the last five hundred years are organized along modern, generally democratic, lines. Certainly the Orthodox and Roman Catholic communions remain large, but worldwide growth is stalemated and in developed nations it is shrinking. For denominations which do not enjoy the advantage of two thousand years of history, top-down organization schemes have worked poorly if at all.
The Order places a value on writing, arts, presentation, and scholarship. Internally it aims to provide opportunities for writers and presenters to share their information with others. Externally TTO will devote reasonable and equitable resources, when available, to promoting its member presenters, artists, and authors as an object of pride.
TTO will not, as has happened so often in the history of esoteric learning and orders, hide its new authors and talent, or exile them for fear they may detract from the fading glory of long time leadership. New talent is by intent the glory and strength of TTO.
The General Secretary will provide a public resource for presenters and authors who present to post listings of their classes, workshops, intensives, etc. in order to facilitate bodies in finding presentations that fit their budget and interests.
Speaking and Leadership
TTO will work to provide classes, and network opportunities for outside classes, to facilitate leadership training as well as training in speaking and presentation. We will also encourage professional skill shares to enable those individuals who already have a professional ability to share their skills with others.
The number of redundant groups providing management and oversight is minimal.
We will move between the present and 2023 to a system of representation by the membership. While democracy has its weaknesses, the lack of it has produced fairly dismal results.
That said, newly formed groups can be vulnerable to manipulation in the form of “swarming,” where individuals may join under a false flag in order to wreck or derail the object of the group. TTO has rules to protect against this sort of manipulation, while still ensuring that over the long haul the group is answerable to its membership.
TTO has roots in the leadership and cultural ferment of William Blake Lodge, O.T.O., Baltimore. WBL became, in the late teens, a “lodge of leaders.” Several attendees ran other groups, including Regla de Ocha households, Wiccan Covens, Druid Groves, Dionysian Initiatory groups and so on.
If Thelema is to be an intellectual center of the Magical world, then its adherents must be active in many communities. TTO promotes such activism, and aims to provide a solid basis on which leaders can build skills. Other organizations are not “rivals” of TTO, rather they are part of a complex ecology of freewill associations that represent the New Aeon concept of religion: powerful, personal, and decentralized.
Public Decision Making - There are only a few matters in the Order in which secrecy is appropriate. In particular the mechanisms for decision making must be public. The records of meetings, including their final votes and decisions are final. All rules within the organization are public.
Public Finances - The finances of TTO are public and open to inspection, published annually. There are no hidden beneficiaries or questions about "where the money goes." TTO is also not a moneymaking organization and sets out only to make what it needs to cover its work.
Public Mechanisms and Accountability in Disciplinary Proceedings - In terms of discipline, particularly involving consent violations, we weigh openness in terms of how decisions are made...when and by whom...with respect for the privacy of individuals, especially and primarily victims. Accountability is paramount, and the process for decisions and appeal of those decisions should be crystal clear.
Consent in Initiations - In terms of initiations we value suspense and secrecy, however those cannot come at the cost of asking individuals to enter into an initiation without informed consent. Initiators are trained on how to obtain meaningful consent, while still preserving elements of surprise.
A few simple, easy to understand, straightforward rules are easy to follow. When rules mount up and become complex, it is easy to lose track of them, and important rules are lost in the noise. We focus on consent and safety, as concepts. We don't care what position people hold their hands in during a ritual.
Obviously some areas of the organization are more complicated. Group leaders and Clergy must deal, to some extent, with local state/provincial, and federal laws. We try to streamline where possible, but these things will be a little more complex.
Old Aeon organizations tend to prevent counterproductive behavior and actions largely through prescription, that is to say making rules against undesirable behaviors. So, for example, concern about drunken behavior might lead to banning alcohol, while concern about the quality of services is addressed through increasingly strict rules on precisely how they can be performed.
This problem is compounded in old aeon esoteric and occult organizations. Many have systems of rules carried forward from the early 20th century, when rapid communication at a distance was not an expectation of every day life.
An additional layer of obfuscation exists when volunteers, usually non-professionals with no formal legal or investigatory training, are used to "inform" or "spy" on other members within a group. TTO is not about policing its members. While it responds to member complaints, it does not employ its members to observe, report on, or supervise each other’s behaviors.
TTO believes that less regulation is better regulation.
Increasingly dense rules seldom solve behavioral issues, becoming instead a nuisance for those who are not doing any harm. As they become more ponderous and labyrinthine they are only sporadically enforced, leading to the appearance of favoritism, while they cease to do their job of protecting.
The same is doubly true when rules are passed off as "safety rules" or "to protect you," but exist primarily to protect an organization against lawsuits, or to protect the positions and prerogatives of leaders, but are couched as safety rules. They breed resentment, fall into disregard, and fail to do any minimal protecting they were set in place to. There are things TTO must do in order to protect the group from lawsuits and we don't like all of them. We try not to lie about them.
While it is impossible to operate an organization without any rules, whenever possible we focus away from rulesmaking (prescription) and more on these Intent and Consent.
Those who choose to associate themselves with TTO are expected to be at principal harmony with the understandings and with the general disposition and direction of the order, and to conduct themselves as responsible, decent, individuals, regarding their siblings within TTO as family.
While it is impossible to prove anyone’s real intentions, it is not necessary to be blind to their manifest intent, especially behavior or declarations harmonious or inharmonious with the basic Constitutions of the Order. In any issue of judgment or discipline, manifest intent should be a principal guide as to disposition.
We hope disciplinary cases don't arise. But we know from experience they do in any organization which grows to a certain size. When they do, we have a system in place that is human, compassionate, but does not blind itself to intent.
Informed Consent should be a guide for all of our actions. Consent is not a prescription against doing things, rather it makes possible things which would have been unethical in a prior era.
When there was no way to negotiate consent, ethics dictated that magical, spiritual, and initiatory practices should cater to a lowest common denominator, as there was no practical means to communicate levels of comfort, or adjust activities on an individual basis. Provided consent is present nearly any course of action becomes acceptable. Consent enables us to incorporate reasonable risk.
Informed Consent means not only that activities and actions are agreed, but that the person agreeing understands as fully as is possible what they are consenting to. Appropriate ways to obtain consent without spoiling in advance the secrets of initiations are discussed in Initiator Training.
In ritual and activities of the Order General, a high level of consensuality is expected, however this also does not preclude surprise in ritual space. We take as a model communities which deal with profound issues of consent daily, including those which focus on sacred sexuality or ordeal initiation which may involve pain or emotional duress, all while still maintaining practical and robust consent.
Consent is not a matter of political correctness. We do not seek to embrace extremes of behavior which have been suggested in some rare but much advertised circumstances such as a few bad exemplars among colleges and universities in which consent practices may become a bizarre ritual divorced from normal human social behavior.
TTO is not about policing its members. It does not employ its members to observe, report on, or supervise each other’s behaviors.
“We are infinitely tolerant, save of intolerance.”—Aleister Crowley, New Comment on II 57, Liber AL
In the Understandings of the Thelemic Order we put forward our core values.
We do not claim that those who do not generally agree with them are not Thelemites, however they are not Thelemites that it is gainful or healthy for us to maintain a close and unlimited association with, or to admit into our midst. We do not need to, and will not, accord endless tolerance to intolerance
Details about TTO
We've felt for a long time that Thelema was badly represented in the larger magical, alternative-religion and spiritual world. These days Wicca and Satanism both seem to have a better, cooler, reputation than Thelema. A few extreme adherents of Thelema have spoken in defense of white supremacist rallies and ideals, and have adopted social stands we feel are inconsistent with Thelema, giving us all a bad name.
We've also watched as people of immense talent, including some very notable magical writers whose names you'd probably recognized, collided with the "top down" structure of other Thelemic Organizations and fell out of Thelema altogether.
Additionally, in a group which was organized by a queer person, we've seen difficulty in moving ahead for all queer people. Organized Thelema has at times seemed riddled with "gotchas" aimed at making sure that talented persons expend their energy "fighting the system," instead of "changing the world."
We're out to change the world. The original adherents of Thelema had to guard themselves carefully because their group involved "sex magick," which was considered indecent in most of the Western world. Those days are over and it's the 21st century. Most adults, even legal authorities are perfectly capable of understanding that a group which promotes healthy human sexuality is not inherently perverse, nor do esoteric beliefs about the nature of human sexuality make it in any way likely that anyone will expose minors to inappropriate sexual content. To the extent there are places that people do not understand those things, its up to us to set a healthy example and teach them.
Thelema does not profit from hiding in the shadows, but should be out and proud.
We are serious. That does not mean we spend most of our time wearing black robes, chanting and trying to act as sober and dark as possible, engaging in solemn candlelit rituals while avoiding laughter.
We're fun, carnal, and passionate about what we do. We try to keep a sense of proportion and humor. We take safety and consent seriously without being buzzkills or downers.
In tone, most of our groups are more Dionysian than Apollonian.
TTO is designed to be a membership driven organization. The Bylaws contain provisions to move the organization from its original founding Board of Directors to an elected administration from 2021-2022.
You'll want to check out The Government of the Order for a quick and easy explanation of exactly how TTO is run.
The General Assembly is made up of all Supporting Members who have been members in good standing for at least two years.
The Order General is run by the Secretary General, elected directly by the membership biennially, assisted by their appointed Deputies, and by the Executive Committee elected in part by the membership.
The College of Prelates elects a Pontifex biennially, who serves as its chair and executive. Decisions to Ordain individuals who petition for Ordination, and to designate new Prelates, lays with the College.
The Consul of the Initiatory Arm is chosen from among the body of initiates. The Cancellarius is appointed by the Secretary General.
That's easy. Go to Join TTO
A lot of our founding members are queer. Some of them are not. While we're not an explicitly queer group, if the idea of hanging out with queer people, or socializing in an atmosphere where people may not presume heterosexuality as a precondition of interaction, makes you uncomfortable, this may not be the group for you. If you think anyone is going to try to make you be queer, that's really not how any of this works.
In general we believe in most of our presentation of gender as a social construct and reject interpretations of Crowley's writing, including the IX degree secrets, which are preconditioned on gender. That means respecting everyone's gender and sexual identification.
We feel the historical record shows that Aleister Crowley was unambiguously queer, an outspoken advocate for the rights of queer people, and was persecuted heavily for his advocacy.
In order to have an organization which is run by the members, rather than the fiat of the leaders, everything needs to be spelled out. And if you write all the procedures out, they tend to be long. "Go Fish" is a simple game, but if you write out the rules, they take up a page.
The organization is simple and linear without a lot of dark, mysterious, "upper echelons." But doing business in the open means putting all the rules in plain sight., not just the ones that concern members.
We've also chosen to try to place almost all our rules in one place, rather than in three or four different, confusing booklets or rules sets. This is to ensure they are easily available and everyone can know what they are.
You can keep track of our commitments under the timeline.
While there have been some delays due to the global pandemic, we've generally adhered, and expect to continue to adhere, to our commitments.
We're not a fetish or kink group, and we don't require or expect participation in ordeal rituals. We do however support all lifestyles and as might be expected in a group organized around principles of sex magick, many of our members are involved in aspects of kink, fetish. Many also aren't.
TTO and Thelema are not "kink" activities. They are however sacred sexuality activities, and sacred sexuality falls under the "big tent" of alternative sexuality.
People active in Thelema in the 1970s and into the 90s will talk about the "bad old days," a wild west time when all the things people worry about in sex cults actually occured. Sex could be a precondition of initiation. Drugs could be a precondition of initiation.
The same issues of coercion and irresponsibility were confronted by kink communities in the 1990s and later. "Straight" groups handle issues of coercion by repressing sexual expression. In an environment where no-one is allowed to be sexually expressive, inappropriate behavior is theoretically impossible.
Unfortunately in some Thelemic groups this became the default. In order not to "return to the bad old days," the default was to forbid any sort of sexual expression. In practice that strategy fails and may actually empower bad actors, creating an atmosphere of taboo and secrecy which can be exploited by abusers and promotes malicious rumor mongering.
It is clearly not a viable strategy for any sex-magick group, particularly one based in Thelema. Thelema requires a transparent environment that allows for sexual expression, without shame, while preventing coercion or other violations of consent.
The alternative-sexuality and sacred sexuality world, which includes kink, gives us models for consent that have been developed through trial and error, in hundreds of thousands of real-world situations over three decades. In particular the National Coaliation for Sexual Freedom, NCSF, has done work in bringing together consent resources to enable people in complex social situations to navigate the realities of consent.
We feel that by "baking in," modern principles of consent from the alternative sexuality and sacred sexuality communities, we can create a cultural ethos where the influence and presence of bad actors is heavily circumscribed.
There are two attitudes towards consent and safety. The most common one in many organizations is to depend on "common sense," and never mention subjects which may be scary. That avoids mentioning any topics which might scare off prospective new members.
It also creates an environment which is ripe for exploitation by "missing stairs" or other malefactors who take advantage of the uncertainty to frame their non-consensual behavior as acceptable and expected.
If your group deals with adult situations it is easy to become seized with a mortal terror of litigation or persecution that keeps you from mentioning minors except somewhere in a footnote, in hopes nobody will notice.
It is easy to not want to get into the morass of consent issues, and so just tiptoe around the situation and hope if violations happen they will go away on their own. No matter the personal cost to our members.
That's not our approach. We put firm strong rules right up front. Yes they're scary. We take issues like consent, zero tolerance for the abuse of minors and drag them out into the light. We're not afraid to discuss them, in order to train our Masters in how to combat consent violations and ensure a safe environment for minors.
In terms of safety we want you to know how to deal with first aid, to create a safe location, to avoid fires and create safer party spaces. We're about the nuts and bolts of real life.
If you are going to run a Group of TTO, we presume you already study and understand a fair amount about Magic. We don't need to train you in that to lead a group We need you to pick up those skills that make it possible for you to ensure that no accidents ever happen.
Consent violations and most other abuses happen when everyone relies on "common sense," and no one trains pro-actively to have a dialog about, and create, safe spaces.
We hope that most of the situations we provide resources to face never come up. But if they do, we want Masters in TTO to face them fearlessly, and be able to take strong, ethical, action, without confusion or hesitation.
Real life is scary. But we intend to insure our Leaders are prepared.
We cannot specifically advise you on your status in a different organization.
In general TTO expects its members to emerge as leaders and strong supporters in many other communities. TTO is a center for networking and resources, not a jealous partner worrying about losing attention or membership. We feel an organization should receive attention, time, and support because it is useful and serves needs, not because it discourages contact with those outside the organization.
We can state categorically that membership, ordination, leadership, or promotion of any other organization (excepting hate groups) is not a barrier to full participation in TTO from our perspective. It is our objective to be a resource for leaders throughout the alternative religious, magical, and related communities.
One does not have to participate in Rituals of the EGH, or undertake ordination as Clergy to be active in the Order General, or the Initiatory Arm.
Because the history of Thelema is entwined with that of the Ordo Templi Orientis, and because it is a well known Thelemic organization, specific notes regarding O.T.O. have been requested often enough to be a “frequently asked question.” There is no barrier on the part of TTO to members of O.T.O. joining or taking part in TTO.
- The Ordo Templi Orientis is a Thelemic organization headed internationally by Hymenaeus Beta, PO Box 7666, New York, NY 10116-7666, USA, and in the United States by U.S. Grand Lodge National Grand Master Sabazius X, P.O. Box 32, Riverside, CA 92502.
- The Thelemic Order is not associated with, nor does it claim in any way to be, assert the authority of, represent, or be descended from the O.T.O. The names Ordo Templi Orientis, O.T.O., and the O.T.O. Lamen design are registered trademarks of Ordo Templi Orientis as determined by a UK court case in 2008. The O.T.O. is the sole owner of the copyrights of Aleister Crowley, for his works still under copyright, as determined by court cases in 1985 in the US and 2002 in the UK. The Thelemic Order recognizes that under U.S. Law, the above corporation was found to be the legitimate successor to the O.T.O. under Aleister Crowley in US 9th Federal District Court in 1985.
- The Thelemic Order is neither a concordant or appendant order to the O.T.O. The Thelemic Order does not exclude current and active members of the O.T.O. from its membership.
The Thelemic Order is a 501(c)(3) Religious organization. While the EGH is specifically called a "church" all of the TTO is a church in the broader sense of that word, meaning an organized spiritual group, dedicated to Thelema, which, whatever one's hair splitting regarding religion v. philosophy, meets and exceeds the legal qualifications to be considered a "faith."
While all 501(c)(3) organizations are tax-exempt charities, only those with IRS Letters confirming their exemption are safe to consider tax-deductible donations.
The Thelemic Order has submitted an application to the IRS and will update this section as soon as we have obtained appropriate IRS documentation.
Deduction of Contributions
Direct contributions to a 501(c)(3) organization are theoretically tax deductible, though until the organization has appropriate IRS documentation it may be impossible to claim that deduction. Bear in mind however that if actual services or goods are received, only the portion which are a donation are deductible. For example if you purchase a shirt for $16 from TTO, and the shirt cost $10, only $6 is deductible.
"Under the Internal Revenue Code, all section 501(c)(3) organizations are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office." TTO does not, as an organization, participate in, promote, or act on behalf of any candidate for elective public office. Note that no part of the IRS guidelines requires that TTO refrain from advocacy on social issues.
For More information:
Revenue Ruling 2007-41 (PDF) an IRS publication outlining "how churches, and all 501(c)(3) organizations, can stay within the law regarding the ban on political activity. Also, the ban by Congress is on political campaign activity regarding a candidate; churches and other 501(c)(3) organizations can engage in a limited amount of lobbying (including ballot measures) and advocate for or against issues that are in the political arena." The IRS also has provided guidance regarding the difference between advocating for a candidate and advocating for legislation.
Easier to read:
Affiliate Groups acting under the TTO affiliation, explicitly at events advertised using the TTO affiliation. must adhere to the IRS guidelines. The members of TTO Affiliate Groups, when acting individually or under other sponsorship, are private individuals.
TTO is legally a church. There are philosophical debates as to whether or not Thelema is a religion, however there is no question that it meets the bar to be a "Church" as legally defined in the United States by the Internal Revenue Service:
Distinct legal existence - Delaware incorporation
Recognized creed and form of worship - Thelema, Mass, Magical Ritual
Definite and distinct ecclesiastical government - EGH
Formal code of doctrine and discipline - The Law of Thelema
Distinct religious history - Thelema has a rich history, and we also share a history with other nonconformist religious movements.
Organization of ordained ministers - EGH
Ordained ministers selected after completing prescribed courses of study - EGH
Literature of its own - The Canon
Established places of worship - EGH has an extensive system for establishing local groups.
Regular congregations - EGH has an extensive system for establishing local groups.
Regular religious services - EGH Temples perform regular public services
Sunday schools for the religious instruction of the young - TTO promotes youth activities and growth, and encourages the organization of children's educational activities and camps.
Membership not associated with any other church or denomination - as a matter of our beliefs we do not prohibit our members from associating with any other denomination.
Schools for the preparation of its members - like many other, smaller, denominations, TTO does not yet run its own schools, it does however provide its own educational materials.
- Rituals or Ceremonies of the EGH
- Rituals or Ceremonies of the Order General. Like many Religious groups, these are spiritual services led by lay-persons, and constitute the development of an important area of spiritual development.
- Initiations. Like many Religious groups, these are spiritual services led by lay-persons, and constitute the development of an important area of spiritual development.
We hold emphatically that as our doctrine is Thelema, and our study of magic is an element of Thelema considered necessary for spiritual perfection, the performance of magical ritual, and education about magic are religious activities in regards to the law.
The Handbook of TTO lays out a structure which is complete, carefully thought out, and has great long term viability, being modeled on the best examples of functional organizations. It is notably democratic, but has enough focused and appointed leadership that it should not fall prey to the worst weaknesses of democratic groups. Staggered systems of election moderate shifts in the organization's direction. Elected positions on the Executive Committee give a voice to those with a strong desire to create change, but who lack the time or administrative skill to act as a Chief Executive
Prior to the creation of the Executive Committee in late 2020 or 2021, in June 2020 an Advisory Committee will be appointed from among the membership in order to act as an advisory and steering body to guide the organization. While actions of the Advisory Committee are non-binding on the Officers of the Organization, the actions of the Committee are important, and represent a transitional step towards full Membership participation.
Some individuals would advise to simply start a group and create new rules as it grows. This approach may seem organic, but in fact constitutes a state of government by permanent emergency, in which momentary expedience and sudden demand are the principal architects of process. The result is, nearly always, a constitutional crisis (similar to that of the American Republic in 1789) from which the organization often fails to recover, or a permanent muddle and patchwork, which is largely underwritten by autocracy, and tends to collapse when the autocrat retires.
Supporting Members who Join Before
Will become Observing Members at
Will become Members of the Assembly on
Jan 1, 2021
Annual Meeting 2021*
Annual Meeting 2022
Jan 1, 2022
Annual meeting 2022
Annual Meeting 2023
After Jan 1 2023
First day of 13th month of membership (end of first year)
First day of 25th month of membership (end of second year)
Elections will be announced in 2022, to be held in May of 2023 at the First Regular Annual Meeting. As there will be no Members of the Assembly before that time, there would ordinarily be no Proposals, however Special Rules of Order will be published clarifying the procedures in fall of 2022.
2023 will be the first “regular” Annual Meeting.
Jan 1, 2024 marks the end of the “grace period” during which individuals may become Members of the Assembly in less than 24 months.
The Secretary General will directly delegate the principal roles in the organization between Dec 21, 2019 and the Annual Meeting Date 2023. Priority will be given to major roles, most especially the role of Treasurer. An election for Secretary General will be held no later than the Annual Meeting of 2023.
The organization is Operated under the provisions of the TTO Handbook, which supplements the Bylaws as a day to day guide for organizational procedures.
From December 2019, the Secretary General will act in all positions which are currently vacant, until they are filled.
Given his experience with certain trial-like proceedings and systems, the Secretary General has indicated an intention to develop the Disciplinary Committee and the Office of Inspector General before appointing a permanent Inspector General. The size of the organization in the next two years should not make it unworkably difficult to consolidate both offices in the short term, however there is a commitment to a full time Inspector General by the Annual Meeting of 2023.
TTO is committed to a member-led disciplinary process which works to combine and balance transparency with protection for the identity and personal lives of victims of consent violations.
The Disciplinary committee will come to full strength between 2020 and 2022, and function under provisional arrangements through Fall 2022.
- Prior to fall 2020 - disciplinary hearings held directly by the Secretary General and Advisory Committee Members.
- Fall 2020 - three member committee, Secretary General and appointees from Executive and College
- Fall 2021 five member committee, five member committee adds appointments by the College and by the Consul
- Fall 2022 - Full committee. Secretary General no longer serves, addition of appointments by Executive, Consul, Inspector General.
From Dec 21, 2019 - April 2021 , Stephanie Olmstead-Dean served as Pontifex Maximus and Chief Prelate of the Clerical Arm. On the Third Day of the Writing of the Book of the Law, April 20, 2021, an initial group of Prelates were appointed to form the College of Prelates. Moving forward this body will Ordain Clergy, elect new individuals to the role of Pontifex Maximus, and elevate Clergy to the Prelacy.
It has never been the case that performing the Gnostic Mass required Ordination. In organizations which require an Ordained Clergy member to be present, there is no doctrine that this causes the Mass to be more or less efficacious, rather it is a temporal provision designed to insure safety and adherence to the rubric.
The formal Consecration of the Pontifex Maximus was scheduled for June 2020, in Columbia Maryland, which was also be the first major TTO event. Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, this has been postponed to May 2022.
By an executive order of the Chief Prelate, all Certified Clergy were moved to Ordained status in August 2020, due to exigencies of the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Elevation of additional Prelates, and Ordination of additional Clergy will occur at the discretion of the College of Prelates.
Elections of the Pontifex Maximus will begin prior to Fall 2023. The current Pontifex has stated a preference for holding elections as soon as a reasonably robust College of Prelates can be built.
- Supporting Members become Observers, who may observe and place proposals before, the General Assembly at the end of their first year.
- Supporting Members become Members of the Assembly, with full voting rights at the end of their second year of membership.
Why doesn't everyone get to vote right away?
Small organizations, especially those offering month-to-month payment plans, are vulnerable to "dilution," where a small group of outsiders who have no interest in or sympathy with the core mission or values of the organization join in order to derail it.
Bearing in mind that some other Thelemic Organizations require years of membership before allowing even marginal participation in government, we think that a two year introductory period is enough to assure a sincere and mature interest in the Order and Understandings, while allowing for a fairly rapid path to full involvement.
Some initial members may vote before their second full year of membership, based on the provisional arrangements.
What if I lapse?
The Handbook has detailed information about exact terms for membership. In general lapses of up to six months are acceptable if you pay back dues.
What if I don't care about Government?
Corresponding Members of TTO are not required to pay the annual rates, and are not accorded voting privileges, but are otherwise full members.
Who can run for Office?
To accept nomination for Secretary General
- After Jan 1, 2023, must be at least an Observing Member of the Assembly
- After Jan 1, 2024, must be a Member of the Assembly
- Prior to 2023, must be a Supporting Member at time of nomination
- After Jan 1, 2023, must be at least an Observing Member of the Assembly
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