Beginning June 5-7 2020, the Initiatory Branch will present a new series of Thelemic Initiations which will summarize over two hundred years of initiatory material in a set of original and never-before-seen rituals.
In every century there are new initiations. Over time, what was once mysterious becomes dated and humdrum, and initiations that once opened eyes repeat truths that are broadly communicated in the media. At the same time, new challenges face us, and we look to initiations to tie our approach to those challenges to humankind’s most ancient spiritual roots.
Beginning in 2020, the Initiatory Branch will present a new series of Thelemic Initiations which will summarize over two hundred years of initiatory material in a set of original and never-before-seen rituals.
In regards to their value it is our intent to let success be our proof, however we are fully confident that the new Thelemic Initiations incorporate the central spirit, secrets, and ideals, though not the exact presentation or details of Craft Degree Masonry, The Hermetic Brotherhood of Luxor, Memphis and Mizraim, The Royal Arch, Rosicrucianism, the Golden Dawn, and various subsequent initiations in a powerful set of rituals relevant to the modern era.
The Thelemic Initiations do not use any material currently under copyright by any organization. They are not intended as duplicates or substitutes for any other specific system of initiation.
They do extract from public domain materials and the rich syncretic tradition of Western Esotericism, drawing on materials as diverse as Mithraism, Orphic Tradition, and dozens of other 17th – 20th century systems.
Because most of the existing initiations that are still practiced in Western Tradition share common roots, they will, of course, contain broadly recognizable elements.
The Thelemic Initiations will first be presented to members at a Location near BWI Airport in June of 2020.
Additional offerings will be announced as soon as possible as we line up initiators. Initiators who attend the full June event, Saturday and Sunday, will leave able to initiate up to the degrees offered.
TTO does not include extravagant oaths in its core rituals. Initiates are asked to swear on their personal honor.
We are particularly sensitive to the tendency in some 19th and 20th century initiatory groups to blur magical oaths and fraternal oaths without adequate distinction, which creates confusion and may induce a false sense of ‘bound obligation’ in perpetuity which is not appropriate to a fraternal oath.
The specifics of any actual oath may be made available in advance as part of the consent negotiation process which is managed by the Initiator.
There are numerous situations in which people consent to a general type of activity without knowing what, precisely, is going to happen. Consent negotiations do not need to be a buzzkill in regards to anticipation. Initiators are trained, specifically, on how to handle the negotiations for the Degrees to which they initiate.
It is not incumbent on the Initiator to tell you precisely what is going to happen. Some mystery and uncertainty is the heart of initiation. The initiator must characterize any issues in a way that allow you to make informed decisions for your physical and emotional safety. The goal of consent is to focus anticipation and tension on the actual focus of the mystery at hand, rather than the concern that some irrelevant trigger may be activated.
Negotiations serve not only to insure consent, but also to alert the Initiator to any safety issues that might represent an unforeseen danger, e.g. bad knee, gluten intolerance, etc.
Consent is a two-way street. Any individual initiator, based on negotiation, may feel uncomfortable initiating you. A person who is uncomfortable with, or triggered by, many aspects of a given initiation may be a poor candidate for initiation. That said, initiators are trained to work diligently to accommodate psychological and physical limits.
Part of initiator training is how to learn about any limitations while respecting the privacy of the initiation candidate, and make any possible accommodations. We are committed to accommodation for physical disabilities, however we may not be able to accommodate every disability at every location. Initiators will work with candidates and with the Cancellarius of the Initiatory Arm to find a suitable location to support individuals with disabilities.
In general we are able to accommodate most personal limits in regards to emotional or psychological issues. In these cases the accommodation or remediation is a matter of negotiation between the initiate and the initiator, who must both be satisfied with the proposed accommodation.
Why do you allow accommodations? Shouldn’t everyone just have to “tough it out.”
As an example, someone who has been attacked and bound in the past may be triggered by being bound by rope. The act of ceremonially binding their wrists, or blindfolding, common in many Masonic and post-Masonic traditions and intended as a fairly trivial element which most people would not react strongly to may invoke PTSD flashbacks completely unrelated to the point of the initiation. These flashbulb memories and resulting flood of cortisol and other stress hormones may be entirely disproportionate to the intent of the initiation and render it valueless with the initiate barely able to focus or appreciate the remainder of the content. This is not desirable, complicates the job of the initiator and subverts the intent of initiation. What was intended as a sublime transformative experience becomes an unrelated ordeal.
While we support ordeal-based initiation, we believe it should be voluntary and consensual with the ordeals intentional and focused not a matter of random happenstance.
It is also worth noting that the frequency of PTSD inducing experiences, particularly military service and sexual abuse are not uniformly distributed through society, nor is access to mental health treatment which might ameliorate some non-PTSD stress or phobic issues. Some groups have a much greater chance of exposure to these experiences than others. Thus “screening out,” individuals who are likely to have negative experiences during initiation can represent a discreet and invisible form of gender, ethnic, and class based discrimination. In order to insure that these transformative experiences of the Law of Thelema are available for all, we attempt to make accommodation to the greatest extent possible.
On one hand we respect that many persons who come to us after having already experienced one of the 19th or 20th century initiatory tracks may be prepared at once to move several degrees ahead. It may also seem daunting “gruntwork” to start fresh at the bottom of a new initiatory system. At the same time we feel that the experience of these initiations is unique. We hope they’re exciting experiences, not boxes to check off. We understand however that there may be frustration at coming to a point “on the path” of the Thelemic initiations that one has already reached through some other system, though we trust there will be different understandings along the way.
For that reason we will offer an accelerated path to individuals who have already experienced a comparable initiatory system, allowing them to quickly and efficiently reach a grade comparable to their current grade in another system while absorbing the value of this new material and approach.
The central TTO charges a flat administrative fee for each initiation of any grade. Currently $10.
Additional costs are assessed by the location and initiation team. The fee should cover site rental, materials, food for volunteer staff and could involve compensation for travel, but should not result in a profit to any individual, or significant profit to the presenting group. Initiations are a service, not a fundraising endeavor.
Initiators as part of their training agree to file expense reports, and may be asked by the Cancellarius of the Initiatory Arm at any time to justify their charges based on travel, actual costs of materials, etc.
Clearly, the cost of an initiation which requires a Sovereign initiator to fly to Alaska, transport equipment, and rent a venue is not the same as one which is performed with existing equipment in a site already owned by the Initiator. The focus is on “actual costs” not on a specific amount. Likewise some Groups may choose to offer a more lavish setting or site. Initiators agree to periodic audits and abuse of the initiatory system for personal gain will not be tolerated. Hospitality related to the initiation, including provision of food at the site, food for volunteers, etc., is considered a part of “actual costs”
The cost of initiation may vary somewhat by grade, based on the equipment and consumables required, however there is no tiered structure.
TTO charges a standard flat fee for each initiation processed. This fee does not change by grade. This is intended to defray the costs of database, IT security, training materials, etc. The use of these funds is disclosed in financial reporting under transparency rules.
Providing that initiations are performed locally within existing bodies, in reasonably priced space, we expect the price to resemble most other single-day or weekend experiences, with individual initiations costing between $30-150 depending on venue costs.
Events which roll several initiations together, or also present initiator training may of course be somewhat pricier.
Fräulein Sprengel, S.D.A; Master Kuthumi; The Egyptian Adept, Saint-Germain and George Archibald Bishop. And of course some work is being handled by contractor staff.
First of all, any magical ritual, including initiatory rituals, may be presented under the auspices of the Order General, provided you work with a Local Master to insure that consent and safety are respected. Your ritual is your own, and you retain all rights to it.
If you have a few interesting initiations worked up you may wish to present on a regular basis, the next step would be to formally present a “side degree.” The side degree would be reviewed by the Consuls and Cancellarius of the Initiatory Arm, and if accepted become a standard side degree of TTO. In general this requires having not only a well documented ritual but supporting documents indicating what props are needed, what consent questions need to be addressed, etc. You would need to assign a license for unlimited use and limited publication, as TTO must be able to allow other initiators to perform your side degree, and be able to publish it. You do not need to assign your copyrights to TTO.
If you have worked up an entirely new and original system of initiation, you may present it to the Consul and Cancellarius of the Initiatory Arm, and if accepted it may become a standard degree set of TTO. Obviously a new series of initiations, rather than side degrees, is a huge undertaking and we recommend that you work closely with the Consul and Cancellarius well in advance if you are considering such an undertaking. You would need to assign a license for unlimited use and limited publication, as TTO must be able to allow other initiators to perform your side degree, and be able to publish it. You do not need to assign your copyrights to TTO.
The Initiatory Arm does not present material copyrighted by others which it does not have a specific license to use.