• thiebes

How to be the Perfect Host in the 21st Century

One of the most interesting and fun aspects of being a member of O.T.O. is our hospitality. Many of us thoroughly enjoy both offering and availing ourselves of hospitality while traveling.

If you are one of the many brethren who regularly play host to visitors, you might enjoy the below article entitled, "How to be the Perfect Host in the 21st Century." This includes tips and tools, including a template "welcome packet" that has all the important details -- contact info, emergency numbers, nearby restaurants, etc. -- for your guests. Nice!

  • iao131

Promulgation: Creating a Virtual Presence for the Local Body

Promulgation of the Law of Thelema comes in many forms, from the general to the particular, global to the local. It is certainly most effective to focus on both global (e.g. a general website about Thelema) and local promulgation, but this list focuses on local promulgation. This means what is effective at promulgating Thelema in your local community.

The center of promulgation of Thelema in your local community is your local OTO body. Everything should emanate outwards from this operation. The OTO naturally promulgates the Law through initiation, ritual, classes, etc. and so promuglation at the local level is essentially making as many people as possible aware of your local body. The body must have some kind of presence for people to even be aware that it exists. This presence can be effectively split into virtual and physical presence. Since maintaing a physical presence - a physical space being acquired, events being hosted, masses & initiations being performed, reading/promulgation materials being distributed, etc. - is a common practice and subject of discussion, I will focus on how one creates a virtual presence to help promote the local body.

Virtual presence

In this technological age, a virtual presence for the local body is virtually a necessity (sorry, bad pun!), yet in spite of the obvious benefit of maintaining this virtual presence, as of writing this (June 3, 2010) one in every five local bodies (18% to be exact) listed on the USGL website do not have a functioning website. This is simply the basic website that every body should have to allow people searching on the internet to find their local body (e.g. if someone types in "chicago ordo templi orientis," it would be a failure of one's virtual presence if there were no website for them to find, and one would potentially lose a new member).

Here is a basic list of things the local body can do to maintain a virtual presence:
  • WebsiteOTO Promulgation
  • Social networking
  • Internet outreach/postings
  • Internet media
a) Website

With a website, we have a central hub for people searching the internet for OTO in their local area. The website should include, at the very least, clear contact information (i.e. the Master or Secretary's e-mail) and a calendar of events. In this way, someone searching the internet would be able to find their local body, contact them, and even make plans to attend the next event. As of writing this (6/3/2010), about 16% of local bodies do not have contact information readily available and 36% - over 1 in 3 - either do not have a calendar or their calendar is not updated to include current events.

b) Social networking

In this time, even major corporations like car companies are directing people to their Facebook page and not their website. Anyone who has paid any attention the last few years knows the ubiquity of social networking. Whether people have grasped its potential power for promulgation is another question.

Currently, only around half of local bodies (52%) maintain a Facebook page of some sort (a fan page or group). Of these, only a few regularly post their events schedule. The immense utility of Facebook for promulgation is hard to express: one can easily link hundreds and even thousands of people to one's page and instantaneously let them know about your upcoming events & RSVP easily, spread Thelemic quotes, allow interaction & an internet community to grow, and more. Setting up a Facebook page and feeding the normal information through this page (events schedule, contact information, announcements, etc.) is an easy way to step up promulgation, and it takes little effort to create.

I've only mentioned Facebook since it is the largest social networking site at the moment, but there are other options. MySpace still has a relatively large user base, and many bodies still maintain their MySpace profiles. There are also websites like Meetup.com where one can sign up to have meetups posted, invite people, and has easy RSVPing. All of these can be utilized, though one should pick & choose one's battles since it is very easy to spread oneself thin over too many mediums. In general the idea is to create a closed loop: someone who finds the website should easily be able to get to the Facebook page from there, and vice versa.

c) Internet outreach/postings

There are many ways to have a virtual presence other than a website or social networking profile. One way is to use a blog site (like Blogspot or Wordpress) or microblogging (Twitter) to put out relevant messages. People searching for certain phrases will potentially come upon your posts and, if that page links back to the website or Facebook profile, will help drive internet traffic to your body.

Another option is to find websites and lists that will  carry event announcements. There are various pagan/occult/metaphysical lists online(e.g. 'witchvox') along with more general sites such as Craigslist which will let you post public announcements. In general, the more ways for someone to find your body online, the better, but again it is possible to over-stretch your efforts and, for example, forget to update the calendar of events or Facebook profile for a while.

d) Internet media

The website of the local body can also get traffic if it hosts some kind of material that is unique. This can come in the form of an online newsletter, an online library, audio material, or more. Certain local bodies like Sekhet-Maat Lodge host rare Aleister Crowley documents so if people search for these documents, they will find Sekhet-Maat Lodge. Other bodies have newsletters or journals they produce which could potentially be put online to drive traffic to their website. There are also possibilities with audio and video content such as recorded lectures which could also drive traffic to websites.

By combining all of these efforts, a local body would maintain a main website with calendar, contact, & different types of media, maintain a Facebook profile (and other social networking sites where applicable), and post events on various lists. In this way, the local body creates a virtual presence that lets people know "we exist." The very fact of having a website with up-to-date information also gives the image of being professional, savvy, and active. Aside from this, it allows for people around the world to potentially share your website with others, interact with posts on Facebook (through comments, Likes, sharing, etc.), and generally create a virtual community to help funnel interest & attention to the local body.

Promulgating to the Optometrists

One of the points that I talk about in my 5-hour workshop on promulgation (see a 60-minute synopsis here) is the concept of giving the Law to social connections. Rodney Stark et al. have found that small religious movements tend to spread through social contacts that people have in their everyday lives. Such social connections can include health-care providers (or your patients), the merchants we frequent (and/or your customers), friends and relatives, and the people in our immediate neighborhood communities.

Today, Kaosangre and I went to look for eyeglass frames. After picking out the frames and everything, while she was signing forms and whatnot, the clerk asked what our plans were for the day. I indicated that we came out to enjoy the sunshine, do a little window shopping, and find some eyeglass frames. He then asked if we had any evening plans.

Indeed, we do have plans for this evening, and we're heading out soon to attend First Degree initiations at the Lodge. How to explain? I paused long enough, thinking about how to answer, that it was probably clear that I wasn't sure what to say at first. I eventually blurted out: "Oh, yes, we're going to a ritual tonight."

"Oh, cool. What sort of ritual?" he continued.

Perhaps it was his continued show of interest which made it easier to open up, but for whatever reason, this was an easier question to answer. "It's an initiatory ritual for a magickal fraternity."

The clerk's eyes lit up. "REALLY? That sounds VERY interesting."

"Oh? I have a card here... and a booklet if you are interested in learning more. Tonight's ritual is private, but we have events all the time..."

"Yes I would LOVE to learn more!" He looked at the card that I handed to him and reading from it exclaimed, "Gnostic Masses! I was raised strict Nazarene. Ever since moving to Portland, getting away from the parents, my horizons have really broadened. I'm familiar with Satanism."

From there we exchanged names and a bit more small talk, and I gave him the Great Beast 666 booklet before leaving. We will be going back to the store in coming days to pick up the glasses, and hopefully will get a chance to talk with him more.

16,000 OZ

I'm still working on the next post in the Promulgation series, which will discuss pamphlet and card distribution in great depth, but wanted to share some big news and also offer some suggestions about what to do about it.

First the news: The first batch of 8000 postcards featuring Liber Oz will soon be in the hands of local O.T.O. bodies around the U.S. (and a couple of other friendly Thelemic groups who also contributed to the project). These cards will be split into 20 packets of 400 each. There will be another batch after this as well. See below for images showing the cards. If your local body is listed on Batch 1, you can expect to see these cards very soon!

Additionally, two letters will arrive in the mail about the cards -- one from Fr. Oz and one from Fr. Sabazius X°. I'll hasten to clarify that this is not an official O.T.O. project; rather, it has been done thanks to the combined individual efforts of many people, with permission from O.T.O. to reproduce Liber Oz in an effort to spread the Law, and with the blessing and encouragement of Fr. Sabazius.

In Portland, we have for some time been printing pamphlets & cards of different sizes and distributing them. Here are a few quick tips you can use when you receive the Oz cards; tips that might help to save you the trouble of learning the hard way:

1. Keep cards on hand at all times.
You know the saying that money is burning a hole in your pocket? The same thing happens with postcards. When you have a stack, your eyes naturally seek out places to put them. Find a permanent home for postcards in your purse or satchel, and keep it stocked.

2. Look in the places you go.
Cards can be placed in any locations that have free reading material on hand. Restaurants, coffee shops, barber shops, import stores, college campuses, and other locations will have a rack for free reading material.

3. Ask permission.
Don't worry, they will say yes. The person behind the counter doesn't usually want the confrontation of saying 'no,' unless they have specific store policies. In almost all cases, you will be granted permission to place cards where people can find them. The real purpose of getting permission is to short-circuit the possibility of the cards being thrown away by the persons responsible for the location. If they gave you permission, they will be less likely to throw it away even if they are offended on reading it after you've left.

4. Less than a dozen.
In case they do get thrown away, you'll want to waste as few as possible. Moreover, the scarcity may signal some people to take more notice.

5. Take photos and video of your efforts!
Encourage others by setting an example.

Here are the card images of this batch. The next batch will be the same on the front, with different contact info on the back:

Promulgation Report

Yesterday I went out to promulgate on the PSU campus, and as I was getting ready, locking my bike, taking booklets out of my bag and such, a christian preacher approached me. I greeted him with the Law, "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law," as I took off my sunglasses and looked him in the eyes.

He said, "We all should do that, but so many of us don't go through with it. That is why we need Jesus."

I just said "hmm," as he walked away.

I continued getting my stuff in order and he came back, moments later, and said, "Wait a second. I don't remember that from scripture."

I said, "That's right. It is the word of the Great Beast 666 who fulfilled the prophecy of John."

He stammered something about "do unto others," and walked away, so I went back to getting ready. After I put on my devil horns and had booklets and cards ready in hand, I went over and stood next to him, smiling at passers by. Occasionally one would ignore the preacher and walk straight to me and ask what I was doing, whereupon I would again greet with the Law, and offer a booklet, which was usually accepted.

The preacher asked me for a copy of my booklet, and I gave him one. Then he started saying something to me about the consequences of worshiping the devil and I said, I'm not here to argue with you. He left me alone after that.

There were not many people around so after a half hour or so I rode up to the Hawthorne district and dropped off my remaining booklets and cards in shops along the boulevard. I always ask permission to put out cards or copies of my zine, and I don't think anyone has ever said no. This helps to ensure that they don't later get thrown away. I also only leave 3-5 copies in any one place, because there's no sense in wasting them.

At one location, a tattoo parlor, the person behind the counter said I could go ahead and put copies on their table full of reading materials, but they looked a bit askance at the cover. I got the sense he might wonder if it was some kind of Chick tract. I offered the ironic caveat, "It's satanic. Is that ok?" He visibly relaxed and said "I don't think that will be a problem."

Confronting sexism

Some people elsewhere are making the important observation that Crowley was sexist; they ask what we in O.T.O. are doing to confront this issue. I can only speak to what I have personally experienced, and the policies and programs that were developed and implemented while I was an officer of Sekhet-Maat Lodge. Please comment to note what you have been doing or experiencing in this respect. Comments are screened, and discussion will be strictly moderated to prevent personal attacks and insults, as this subject can turn quite ugly.
  • U.S.G.L. provides education in sexual ethics and related matters through its Kaaba Colloquia, Pastoral Counseling Workshops, National O.T.O. Conferences, and Women's Symposia.
  • At Sekhet-Maat, we have held regular frank & public discussions on gender, sexuality, and feminism; and how these subjects are addressed in Thelema. Class and discussion titles have included "Sex Magick and the Feminine," "Gender roles in the Gnostic Mass," and "The Magickal Woman's Guide to Her Cunt."
  • Sisters of Babalon is a quarterly meeting in Portland, open to members and the public who identify as women. This helps to provide a place for women to discuss issues of gender and sexuality in Thelema and the Order, and any other matters that are of interest, from a woman's perspective.
  • Thelemic Symposium is an annual panel of three long-time Thelemites who share their perspectives on Thelema. Every Symposium has had at least one woman on the panel. There have been at least three women panelists who I would consider to be leading feminist voices in the Order at the time of their inclusion, and who were chosen with this aspect of their work specifically in mind.
  • As Lodge Master of Sekhet-Maat, I took a very strong and controversial stand to help ensure that women are given plenty of opportunity to pursue advancement through service in the Gnostic Mass, and to help mitigate the not uncommon perception of the Gnostic Mass as a sexist ritual, by all but requiring that every Mass should have at least two women participating as ritualists. I was prepared to cancel performances of the Mass if it did not happen. This stand did not make me popular but it did help to ensure that we do not have performances of the Gnostic Mass where the only female is the Priestess, except in extenuating circumstances.
  • I have helped to facilitate a series of monthly readings and discussions of Crowley's work at Sekhet-Maat, with the purpose of confronting and analyzing Crowley's writings. This has helped many people to understand that while Crowley said many sexist things, he also strenuously asserted the equality of women, and he made it clear that sexism, racism, and any class prejudice is antithetical to Thelema. It has also helped people to understand that not everything Crowley said that sounds sexist is sexist, but that sometimes he was writing about metaphysical concepts. The format of these readings & discussions has been replicated elsewhere and is spreading as an easy way to facilitate learning about Crowley's writings.
  • At Sekhet-Maat we have always welcomed original ritual and routinely published the writings of members; in this respect we have historically gone out of our way to encourage rituals and essays that break traditional molds of gender and sexuality. See for example the "Feast for Fire or Water," or Fr. Arun's "Contemplation of Shiva" in Lion & Serpent. We have also encouraged anyone who wants to perform initiate-only gender-bending Gnostic Masses.
  • The library at Sekhet-Maat contains numerous titles pertaining to feminism, sexuality, and gender politics.
  • Not directly about sexism but related: In the wake of a tragic incident of domestic violence against one of our sisters in Seattle, we at Sekhet-Maat held two weeks of focus on domestic violence. This manifested in online discussion, a class facilitated by two sisters with years of experience in helping victims of domestic violence, and a round table discussion on the topic.
  • I have personally worked for years to educate people on Thelemic metaphysics, through essays, classes, and audio recordings, rejecting Old Aeon confusion of the planes and teaching that "Every man and every woman is a star."
  • I have personally striven to promulgate the non-sexist doctrines of Thelema, which is particularly well-expressed in the following quotations from Aleister Crowley:

    • "The soul is beyond male and female as it is beyond Life and Death.

      "Even as the Lingam and the Yoni are but diverse developments of One Organ, so also are Life and Death but two phases of One State. So also the Absolute and the Conditioned are but forms of THAT."

      -The Book of Lies, ch. 35

    • "This constitutes a profound Riddle of Holiness… Those only understand it who combine in themselves the extremes of Moral idea, identifying them through transcendental overcoming of the antinomy. They must have gone further yet, beyond the fundamental opposition of the sexes. The male must have completed himself and become androgyne; the female, and become gynander. This incompleteness imprisons the soul. To think 'I am not woman, but man' or vice versa, is to limit one's self, to set a bar to one's motion. It is the root of the 'shutting-up' which culminates in become 'Mary inviolate' or a 'Black Brother.'"

      -Commentary on Liber LXV, V:44

    • "The essence of a Man and Woman—each being a Star or sovereign God poised in Space by its own act—is clothed in thoughts and deeds as is its Nature, hidden by them."

      -Djeridensis Comment
What have you been doing in your valley, and what would you like to see done more?

Facebook readers: Be sure to click through to "View Original Post" to see the other comments that have been added by Livejournal readers.
  • thiebes

Promulgation: Medium Strictness

This is part 2 of the Promulgation series. Click here to read part 1.

The bulk of the remaining posts will describe strategies devised by looking at Crowley's writings on promulgation in comparison to some of the traits of successful religious movements as observed by Rodney Stark and his colleagues. We will explore the ways in which we are already exhibiting some of these traits, and discuss some ways that improvement might be possible.

These strategies are not specific activities or tactics, but are rather approaches which could have any number of specific applications. For any one of the strategies, there are an infinite number of possible specific tactics that could be applied. The idea here is to stimulate your creativity in finding new ways to promulgate in your locale by looking at a variety of successful strategic approaches.

At this time I would like to thank Kjetil Fjell and Angel Lorenz for first bringing my attention to the work of Rodney Stark et al. and how this material is relevant to us.

Medium Strictness

The first strategy that I will bring up is called "medium strictness." Sometimes people chafe a little bit at the way this is phrased, thinking that it somehow refers to controlling or manipulating people. What it really means, however, is providing a program of training which many people are actually looking for.

"To the extent people seek religion ... the demand is the highest for religions that offer close relations with the supernatural and distinctive demands for membership, without isolating individuals from the culture around them." —"The New Holy Clubs: Testing Church-to-Sect Propositions" by Roger Finke and Rodney Stark.

As Crowley said, "The world needs religion," but what kind of religious traditions are the bulk of people looking for? In a number of studies, Stark and company have repeatedly shown that the largest demand is for religious traditions which offer "distinctive demands," as well as "close relations with the supernatural." These two features are inherent to Thelema as well as our Holy Order.

Close relations with the supernatural: While some may argue that there is nothing "supernatural" in our system, at the same time it should be obvious that a sociologist like Rodney Stark would consider "praeter-human intelligence" to be in that category, as well as likely any ideas of "esotericism" or even possibly "metaphysics." Many of our practices and studies therefore offer what Stark would consider "close relations with the supernatural." This can be improved through increasing the studies and practices which lead to these "close relations," or one might say "knowledge and conversation."

Distinctive demands: The "distinctive demands" of Thelema are clearly indicated by Aleister Crowley in a number of places and we will later examine ways that O.T.O. currently offers these distinctive demands and some possible avenues for improvement. Strictness is about the level of the demands that our movement places on people. Use of Thelemic greetings, and various other customs including our rituals and our aims as Thelemites, are included in this idea. "Distinctive" means that they are particular to our movement—particular to Thelemites.

Medium? What makes the strictness "medium" and not too strict is that the demands do not isolate individuals from the culture around them. Requiring people to renounce their families, blocking access to outside opinions, and blocking communication with outsiders are good examples of being too strict. I would add that of course, any degree of strictness employed in our communities must not be in actual violation of the Law of Thelema. At either end of the spectrum of strictness, the number of people interested is very small. It is in the middle of this spectrum where interest is greatest.

Let's look at a couple more statements from Stark et al. about this concept of medium strictness.

"The ultra-strict sects, communes and religious orders, and the ultra-liberal New Age and Unitarian Universalists are each appealing to a very limited segment of the total market. As groups appeal to the center of the continuum, however, the size of the potential market rises. Thus, most Americans are members of a congregation that falls somewhere between these two extremes." &mdash"The New Holy Clubs: Testing Church-to-Sect Propositions" by Roger Finke and Rodney Stark.
"New religious movements are likely to succeed to the extent that they maintain a medium level of tension with their surrounding environment—are strict, but not too strict." —"Why the Jehovah’s Witnesses Grow so Rapidly," Rodney Stark and Laurence Iannaccone.

I will resist the impulse to include a simple diagram of a bell curve here! Please picture a bell curve.

On the spectrum that Stark and his colleagues are examining, O.T.O. lands squarely in the small end of the liberal (or "loose" as opposed to strict) side of this curve. We're not as liberal as, say, the UUA, but we're a lot closer to them than we are to the middle of the spectrum, occupied by e.g. the rapidly growing Mormon and Jehovah's Witness congregations.

Thelemites tend to be naturally concerned about strictness because its abuse is such a hallmark of the Old Aeon. I would suggest that because of this natural disinclination in Thelemites, the danger of becoming too strict is not nearly as great as that of being too loose.

"Remember that unbalanced force is evil; that unbalanced severity is but cruelty and oppression; but that also unbalanced mercy is but weakness which would allow and abet Evil. Act passionately; think rationally; be Thyself." &mdashLiber Librae

Not all strictness is restriction, and many forms of discipline lead to greater freedom. This may seem paradoxical, but of course it should be an idea familiar to all of us, just as we understand that disciplined exercise routines lead to greater freedom of movement, disciplined thinking leads to greater freedom of thought, etc. Many Thelemites take up membership in Orders so that they may undergo a program of training to become more skilled to accomplish their Will. In fact, the findings of Stark et al. indicate that a moderate level of discipline is what the bulk of people are after. We would do well to increase the distinctive demands that we offer to our congregations; while this may alienate a few, it will appeal to far more, and thereby spread the knowledge of Thelema to a larger number of people.

Distinctive demands naturally create a tension with the surrounding culture. Stark et al. repeatedly find that a lack of tension with society results in a loss of organizational vitality. Moreover, that increasing the strictness of a loose organization has the result of increasing organizational vitality; and growth appears to be directly related to their ability to maintain medium strictness.

"Religious movements will continue to grow only to the extent that they maintain sufficient tension with their environment—remain sufficiently strict." —"Why the Jehovah’s Witnesses Grow so Rapidly" by Rodney Stark and Laurence Iannaccone
"Our initial results show that when pastors of liberal denominations attempt to increase their congregations' tension with society, they experience an increase in organizational vitality. Conversely, when pastors of liberal denominations attempt to further reduce their congregations' tension with society, they continue to lose organizational vitality." —"The New Holy Clubs: Testing Church-to-Sect Propositions" by Roger Finke and Rodney Stark.

Given that O.T.O. tends to be on the extreme liberal end of the scale of strictness, we can expect that an increase of strictness will result in an increase in organizational vitality, and an increase in the appeal we have to the bulk of people, thereby increasing our reach to spread the Law of Thelema. Simultaneously, increasing the distinctive demands of our movement will result in greater attainment by initiates, which is reflected in the idea of "closeness to the supernatural," above.

Strictness in Thelema

There are a number of distinctive demands for Thelemites as given to us by the Prophet. We can begin developing greater strictness by cultivating stronger expectations that these demands be met by Thelemites in our communities. Techniques of actually establishing and encouraging higher standards is a matter for leadership which is a side topic too large to enter here. Nevertheless, a few examples of areas where standards could be raised might be in order.

First and foremost in importance is to study constantly in Liber AL. Read it, read Crowley's commentary, and continually study the various class E tracts and other explanatory material. Begin engaging others in reading and discussion as part of your own study.

"There is no law beyond Do what thou wilt. Yet it is well for Brethren to study daily in the Volume of the Sacred Law, Liber Legis, for therein is much counsel concerning this, how best they may carry out this will. [...] The Brethren shall be diligent in preaching the Law of Thelema. In all writings they shall be careful to use the prescribed greetings; likewise in speech, even with strangers. [...] The first and greatest of all privileges of a Brother is to be a Brother; to have accepted the Law, to have become free and independent, to have destroyed all fear, whether of custom, or of faith, or of other men, or of death itself. In other papers the joy and glory of those who have accepted The Book of the Law as the sole rule of life is largely, though never fully, explained;" —666, Liber CI

In Liber Aleph, Crowley offers a regimen of practices:

De Cultu

Now, o my Son, that thou mayst be well guarded against thy ghostly Enemies, do thou work constantly by the Means prescribed in our Holy Books.

Neglect never the fourfold Adorations of the Sun in his four Stations, for thereby thou dost affirm thy Place in Nature and her Harmonies.

Neglect not the Performance of the Ritual of the Pentagram, and of the Assumption of the Form of Hoor-pa-Kraat.

Neglect not the daily Miracle of the Mass, either by the Rite of the Gnostic Catholic Church, or that of the Phoenix. Neglect not the Performance of the Mass of the Holy Ghost, as Nature herself prompteth thee.

Travel also much in the Empyrean in the Body of Light, seeking ever Abodes more fiery and lucid.

Finally, exercise constantly the Eight Limbs of Yoga. And so shalt thou come to the End.

Another area where our standards could be raised is in volunteerism and attendance. To lead by example, volunteer as often as possible to participate in rituals hosted by your local body of O.T.O., and cultivate the expectation for this among your brethren. The Gnostic Mass and initiations especially should be worked on a regular basis, with or without congregations or even initiation candidates. This is of great benefit to the local body, as the more people volunteer, the more the bar can be raised on performance quality and the more ideas for joyful and beautiful performance will be generated. It also has direct benefit to yourself, as immersion in these rituals and memorization of their rubric will greatly improve your understanding of the core teachings of the Order (and your subsequent ability to teach others), yielding a field of indirect benefits to yourself and the local body, which then feeds into all your promulgation efforts).

Contribution of time and money is another important way that we are all expected to maintain strictness. Requiring contribution, and not allowing participation or initiation without it, is indispensable. If everyone knows that everyone is contributing, everyone can stop worrying about income so much because income is then a known quantity which can be counted upon for basic operating expenses of the local body. Focus can then be directed to the work of practice and promulgation. Additionally, as it is said in other Orders, Laborare est orare - Labor is prayer. The time and money we put towards our movement is used to create Thelemic culture, through our works. This inherently promulgates, as these works have a ripple effect through time and across continents.

I invite anyone to offer further suggestions of areas where we can increase our strictness, and to share your experiences, opinions, and ideas about this subject.

In the next installment I will examine Aleister Crowley's Liber CCC: Khabs Am Pekht, which contains his advice on promulgating the Law of Thelema, and I will evaluate it against the findings of Stark et al., as well as describing a specific application of Crowley's advice which is being increasingly adopted by O.T.O. bodies around the world.

  • thiebes

Promulgation: What is it? Why do it?

Here begins a series of posts on the subject of promulgation. It will probably be about 8 to 10 parts, wherein I will discuss some of the ideas set forth in my promulgation lecture available on YouTube (Link to Part 1 of 6). I begin today with the question of what promulgation is, and why we as Thelemites promulgate the Law.

What is Promulgation?

Before I talk about what promulgation is, I'll tell you a couple things that it is not.

Promulgation is not about waiting for what Crowley called "drifting occultists" to grace our doorstep, with their many varied solutions to AL II:76. It is not about finding people who dress like us, look like us, have similar socioeconomic backgrounds, or who come from the same niche subcultures, or who have similar religious upbringings and aesthetic values. It isn't about waiting for people who have already read Crowley's books to finally get around to coming to meet us.

Promulgation is not coercion, and it is not 'enticement'. It is not conversion, and it is not argument.

As it is written in the Book of the Law: "Success is thy proof: argue not; convert not; talk not overmuch!" and, "to each man and woman that thou meetest, were it but to dine or to drink at them, it is the Law to give. Then they shall chance to abide in this bliss or no; it is no odds."

Giving the Law is simply that. No more and no less. We do not pressure people or argue with them to try to convert them. We do not convert by the sword, of course. We do not put booklets in people's hands unless they reach out to take one. We do not try to "sell" people on the idea of Thelema. We do not dilute Thelemic doctrines, nor do we paper over Crowley's failings in order to make his legacy palatable for the masses. We do not seek to recruit, but we clear avenues and make ourselves visible to those who become interested after hearing the Law. Promulgation is simply about spreading the information, and letting people do with it what they will.

What the recipients do with the Law is their business. 90% will refuse it. Of the remainder, 90% will throw it away or forget about it. Of the remainder, 90% will have a merely passing interest and maybe develop a book collecting habit. Of the remainder who become involved with O.T.O. or E.G.C., many will continue for only about two years. It is no odds. Almost everyone you talk to will, eventually, never be heard from again. But at all these levels, we continue to promulgate simply by giving the Law.

We must spread the Law by preaching, just as as Crowley wrote to his Magical Son in 1915 e.v.:

"I have got my A∴A∴ grade ... and that too, exactly at the time prophesied. ... I must do my duty ... and that is to preach my Law. Therefore this is the Word of Baphomet to all the members of the O.T.O. [THELEMA] ... One must take some very simple, very deep word which cuts at the heart of things. ... I say [THELEMA]. Go on, therefore, preaching this and nothing else in season and out of season. You won’t have to wait long for results."

Sabazius offers us a definition along with a bit of commentary in Agapé 10, No. 4:

"The word 'promulgate' is a term used primarily in in the legal profession and means to publicly declare or announce a decree, rule, law, code, or constitution, thereby putting it into effect.
"The etymology of the word is interesting:
1530, from L. promulgatus, pp. of promulgare 'make publicly known,' perhaps from provulgare, from pro- 'forth' + vulgare 'make public, publish.' Or the second element may be from mulgere 'to milk,' used metaphorically for 'cause to emerge.'
    —Online Etymology Dictionary, Douglas Harper

"The use of the term 'promulgation,' then, carries the meaning of putting the Law into effect simply through the act of proclaiming it, of 'putting it out there,' of disseminating it."

I like this idea of "milking forth" the Law, as a metaphor for causing it to emerge. As it is written, "Now ye shall know that the chosen priest & apostle of infinite space is the prince-priest the Beast; and in his woman called the Scarlet Woman is all power given. They shall gather my children into their fold: they shall bring the glory of the stars into the hearts of men." (AL I:15) They have done this, and now it becomes our duty to help the glory of these stars to emerge from the veils that hide them.

At this time you might enjoy taking a moment to watch this thought-provoking video by Penn Jillette (someone well known for being harshly critical of superstitious religion) about an experience he had with a Christian who was proselytizing.

Why Promulgate?

On a personal level, the only reason Thelemites do anything is because in some way it is in support of accomplishing our individual True Wills. In all cases, promulgation of the Law helps this because it causes our society to become more free. In a more free society, we become more free to do our will. It's as simple as that.

Our sole Duty to Mankind according to Aleister Crowley in Duty is to Establish the Law of Thelema as the sole basis of conduct. He explains, "You may regard the establishment of the Law of Thelema as an essential element of your True Will, since, whatever the ultimate nature of that Will, the evident condition of putting it into execution is freedom from external interference." Karl Germer reiterated this admonition in a letter to Reea Leffingwell, March 7th, 1951 e.v., when he wrote, "Then there is the Greater Great Work to which we are all pledged, which is the establishment of the Law of Thelema. We can help it only if we devote ourselves exclusively to this one job. If you divide it with such phantasms as 'redeeming another' and similar things, you only sink into qliphotic obsessions. If, on the other hand, you lose yourself fully in your work, with the living thought and responsibility back of it to make your work subservient to the Great Work, then you will forget all nonsense. The Book of the Law is very emphatic on many of these aspects."

For we who are members of O.T.O., there is the additional reason of the fact that promulgation and establishment of the Law is the primary purpose of the organization, as indicated by leaders throughout the history of our Holy Order's acceptance of the Law of Thelema all the way up to today. For example, the first stated purpose of the Order in the bylaws of O.T.O. International is "the high purpose of securing the Liberty of the Individual." Additionally, U.S. Grand Lodge has made promulgation and establishment of the Law a core part of its Mission, Program, Vision, and Values Statements. Furthermore, Aleister Crowley made it more than abundantly clear that he felt O.T.O. should focus its efforts in this direction. Here are some quotations from Aleister Crowley's letters and our founding documents which explain the importance of promulgation to our Holy Order.

Modern research by social scientists and economists such as Rodney Stark, Laurence Iannaccone, Roger Finke, and others, suggests that dissemination of core teachings is necessary for the survival of any new religious movement, especially such movements which are in a state of tension with their surrounding culture, as are we. In fact, in terms of numerical strength, we are minuscule and some would question whether our current existence is even significant. Fenway Park has a capacity of about 36,000. that's about ten times the size of O.T.O. If you took all the O.T.O. members and all the A∴A∴ members and all the self-identified Thelemites that have ever lived and put them in Fenway Park, you might come close to filling this one stadium in Boston. Not quite what is necessary to establish the Law of Thelema.

Through the course of this series, I will look at what strategies work well in promulgating the Law. We'll look at techniques Crowley recommends for us and how well these match up to the findings of modern research. We'll also look at a number of findings by Stark et al. which might give us some indication about possible directions to take things as time goes on.

I hope you'll join me in reading along, but I hope most of all that you will share the perspectives that you have won through your experiences, and discuss your opinions and ideas for where we all can go from here.

Click here to read part 2.
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Progradior Promulgation

I've been reading carefully through the Progradior Correspondence and noting where promulgation efforts are discussed. Here's what I have found so far.

"It is very fine of you to work so hard, and make so many sacrifices; but wrong not to allow others to do as much. What are silly women made for, my poor friend? They must have been made for some good end; and if they gave us freedom to preach the Law as it should be preached, it would help both us and them." —666 to Progradior, December 24-26, 1916 e.v.

"... I have had thousands of all the paper pamphlets printed and paid for them myself, also had the expense of rent for room and advertising." —Progradior to 666, c. January, 1917 e.v.

"I hold meetings every Sunday night and there is now a growing interest in the O.T.O. ... We are getting more people every Sunday, and will soon be a big thing. I expect now to get candidates as fast as we can initiate them..." —Progradior to 666, c. January, 1917 e.v.

"In haste. I want every member of the Lodge to rewrite The Law of Liberty in such language as should appeal to his own friends and class. Present pamphlet is over the heads of many. Let me have all essays, and I'll pick the best for publication." —666 to Progradior, c. 1917 e.v.

"Please use every endeavor to make things a success." —777 to Progradior, Sol in Leo 1918 e.v.

"... the great point is for us to get you over here [to the Abbey of Thelema in Cefalu, Italy] and confer as to what is to be done for the Establishment of the Law." —666 to Progradior, April 12, 1921

Following a schism of the Sydney Lodge of Theosophy, in the hope that he might find people ripe for conversion to Thelema: "Hope you catch all the Theosophists!" —Alostrael to Progradior, Aug 13, 1922 e.v.
  • thiebes

Promulgation lecture with slideshow

"A lecture concerning Promulgation Strategies as described by Sir Saint + Aleister Crowley for our Holy Order in the light of modern research."

First delivered at NOTOCON VIII, this has been available only as an audio mp3 download until now. Check out the video version, which has the slide show used in the actual presentation.

Watch on YouTube here: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6

The videos are also embedded, below.

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