Thelema Lodge Calendar for April 2000 e.v.

Thelema Lodge Calendar

for April 2000 e.v.

   The viewpoints and opinions expressed herein are the responsibility of the contributing authors and do not necessarily reflect the position of OTO or itsofficers.

Copyright © O.T.O. and the Individual Authors, 2000 e.v.

Thelema Lodge
Ordo Templi Orientis
P.O.Box 2303
Berkeley, CA 94702 USA

April 2000 e.v. at Thelema Lodge

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.

Announcements from
Lodge Members and Officers

Ecstasy in Writing

    The whole text of Liber AL vel Legis, the Book of the Law, will be proclaimed in Horus Temple at Thelema Lodge on the Holy Days of Thelema in commemoration of the reception of its three chapters on the 8th, 9th, and 10th of April. The first and third chapters will begin in the evening at 7:30, while the second will be read at 6:00 on Sunday 9th April, two hours before the gnostic mass.
    Liber AL expounds Thelema as a new Law for mankind, summarized in the formula of Love under Will, where the dynamic between attraction and identity serves to define both the essential self and the universe in which it functions. By this law man lays claim to new rights, new powers, and new responsibilities, which may be freely shared among all who are willing to look ahead to the new possibilities of the aeon of Horus as outlined in the text.
    The Book of the Law was received in a manner which seemed unquestionably praeternatural to its scribe and his assistant -- the quite pregnant Rose Crowley -- ninety--six years ago in their fancy Cairo apartment. At the climax of several intense weeks of magical work together, Rose delivered a summons to her husband to be ready to take dictation from the disembodied voice of his own familiar spirit. In his personal circumstances Crowley went within a very few years from the vigorous but wasteful luxury of his lifestyle as an international sportsman to a determined lifelong struggle as the quickly impoverished prophet of the new aeon, all as a direct result of having spent three hours writing as fast as he could in Egypt on three spring afternoons in 1904. Today this text endures as the cornerstone of our Thelemic culture, its characteristic voice underlying the language of our principal rituals. The challenges of its special claims to direct divine inspiration gradually fade in the light of our continuing engagement with the meaning which we take from its language. We have Crowley's own accounts of what the experience of recording the text felt like from the point of view of its scribe -- with unfortunately no independent report of the operation from Rose the Seer -- but as these events recede in time it is the text itself with which we are left, rather than the unverifiable marvels of its origin. Perhaps Perdurabo had it easy; he received the summons, he heard the voice, and he transcribed its message. For us the work of finding, sharing, and maintaining the full range of meanings in the book is no single crisis of accomplishment, but a continual cultural commitment which begins when we invest out own voices in the language of Aiwass. This we do especially every April on our Holy Days, the "feast for the three days of the writing of the Book of the Law." Here is the Prophet's account of how it sounded the first time:

    The Voice of Aiwass came apparently from over my left shoulder, from the furthest corner of the room. It seemed to echo itself in my physical heart in a very strange manner, hard to describe. . . . The voice was passionately poured, as if Aiwass were alert about the time--limit. . . . I was pushed hard to keep the pace; the MS. shows it clearly enough. The voice was of deep timbre, musical and expressive, its tones solemn, voluptuous, tender, fierce or aught else as suited the moods of the message. Not bass -- perhaps a rich tenor or baritone. The English was free of either native or foreign accent, perfectly pure of local or caste mannerisms, thus startling and even uncanny at first hearing. The effect was thus as if the language were "English--in-- itself," without any background. . . . I had a strong impression that the speaker was actually in the corner where he seemed to be, in a body of "fine matter," transparent as a veil of gauze, or a cloud of incense--smoke. He seemed to be a tall, dark man in his thirties, well--knit, active and strong, with the face of a savage king, and eyes veiled lest their gaze should destroy what they saw.

    ---- abridged from a passage in "Genesis Libri AL" (Book Four, Part Four)

Hidden and Glorious

    Initiation in Ordo Templi Orientis is offered at the lodge by application, and candidates may request pledge forms at most lodge events to sign with their sponsors. Aspirants are not permitted to rush through the initiatory process, and the lodge will enforce the Order's minimum thirty--day period of candidacy, as well as strongly encouraging the utmost patience with the traditional periods of "time in grade" before advancement. Active initiates of each degree are encouraged to attend initiations within their grade, and those anticipating future advancement would benefit greatly by training to serve as auxiliary officers in the ritual through which they have passed before they declare themselves candidates to go farther on. Initiation events at Thelema Lodge are announced only by date -- the next being Saturday 29nd April -- and all who are interested in attending are asked to contact the lodge officers ahead of time for scheduling details, so that we may know whom to expect.

    We celebrate the gnostic mass in Horus Temple every Sunday evening, where all present participate in the eucharist of cakes and wine as part of the circle of communicants at the consummation. Arrive by 8:00 to attend, and call well ahead for directions if you aren't familiar with the lodge. Gnostic bishops, priestesses, and priests at this temple are glad to instruct interested participants in the finer points of our celebration, and all members and friends are encouraged to learn the ritual and experiment with its performance. In order to serve the lodge as officers of Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica a new mass team should work together in private until they know the rubric of Liber XV very well, and are practiced in its delivery as well as in the techniques of its operation. Consult the lodgemaster when your team is ready for a date on the temple calendar.

The Grand Principles of Working

    Our recently organized Book Four study group continues through Aleister Crowley's Magick, Liber ABA, meeting twice monthly on Tuesday evenings. We are using the magnificent Weiser edition of the text, where for the first time the design and proportions of this great work are readily apparent. Meeting in the lodge library on 11th April we will be concluding our discussion of Part Two, the "Preliminary Remarks" upon magical weapons, from the mid--way "Interlude" to the magical fire in the final chapter. We'll be encountering Perdurabo's marvelous little expositions by the way upon the sword, the lamen, the lamp, the crown, and just about everything else in his closet. Then a fortnight later on the evening of the 25th we set forth on our long course through Magick in Theory and Practice, with an overview of the work and a detailed critical investigation of its "Introduction." The group meets in the library at Thelema Lodge, with discussion getting underway by 7:30, to conclude at 9:00; it's best to arrive a few minutes early (bringing along your own copy of the book if possible) so we can make efficient use of the time. Liesl, our lodge Abbess, is the facilitator for this series, and is the one to ask for any further information. If you want to make her happy you will read ahead through the session's material -- study it thoroughly and review the explanatory notes if possible -- before each meeting, in order to promote precise and informed participation.

Indecency Abounds

    The Section Two reading group will meet quite early this busy month, on Monday evening 3rd April. Join us in the lodge library with Caitlin, for a complete reading of the classical Greek sex--comedy Lysistrata, with copies available for participants. Written by Aristophanes in 412 B.C.E. for the Athenian winter festival of Dionysus, it is one of the funniest, most indecent, and most cleverly constructed of the dozen ancient Greek comedies which have survived as complete scripts. Most of the plays which Aristophanes (c. 450 to c. 385 B.C.E.) wrote were variations upon the established "old comic" style, where clever ritual scripts in literary verse were produced in an annual contest celebrating the raunchy fertility festival known as the Lenaia. During his forty year career, writing one play each year, Aristophanes took the first prize only twice, although he was frequently awarded second place. In his play Clouds he brags that his dramas were usually the best, but lost out to the vulgar appeal of obscene slapstick skits. Aristophanes seems to have been an innovator in the increasingly dramatic presentation of his later comic plays, of which two that survive provide our examples of the "middle comic" style, with a move away from the formal hymns delivered collectively by a chorus to a greater narrative focus upon characters being presented in the action.
    Lysistrata is typical of Aristophanes in being a social and political satire calling for peace, with ridicule of the disastrous military adventures which were nearly ruining his city. The idea is that a panhellenic feminist revolt and general sex strike by women could bring the forces on all sides to their knees in a few weeks, thus forcing a negotiated treaty with the opposing Spartans. The persuasive young Athenian matron Lysistrata (whose name means "breaker of armies") gets her friends and some representative foreign women together to swear off all consentual erotic contact with the male combatants for the duration of hostilities. At the same time, a fearsome gang of older women move to occupy the principal temple, having barricaded themselves into the Acropolis -- and barred the doors, / The subversive whores. It all works out the women's way, with peace established and everyone in a hurry to rip the costumes off and claim their reward.

Previous Section Two                   Next Section Two

The Rites Already

    A second organizational meeting for this summer's cycle of the Rites of Eleusis will be held in the lodge library at 8:00 on Monday evening 24th April. Those presenting the "god forms" in the Rites will all be present, and everyone volunteering for subsidiary roles should take this opportunity to contact the right production team to offer their services. It already looks to be an outstanding cycle, with the involvement of some exceptional talent and negotiations for some marvelous new venues. Caitlin is representing the lodge this year as managing director for the Rites cycle, and all scheduling questions should be discussed with her at the meeting, or call her at (510) 652--9986.

Crowley Classics

   This installment of Crowley's account of his second Himalayan expedition, the failed ascent of Kangchenjunga in June 1905 e.v., was published in Vanity Fair (London: 13 October 1909), on page 469. Although the title of the series has changed, we continue directly here from the article presented last month in these pages. Following this we have four more consecutive installments under this same general title of "On the Kinchin Lay" before the original series was suspended (or abandoned) incomplete.

On the Kinchin Lay:

The March

by Aleister Crowley

    We left Talut after a welcome day of rest; the weather itself seemed to have got tired, or perhaps mountain--sick, and it merely drizzled as I went down to Chabanjong, on Mr White's coolies, amusing himself by watching an Italian flag which he had brought and hoisted. If I had known, I would have brought him a clockwork toy. The coolies had, however, left, and it was with a few words of gentle admonition that I persuaded our men to follow me up the steep path to the ridge. The coolie if he sees a place fit to sleep in, thinks it is a shame not to do so. However, my kind words, which I have every reason to believe will never die, prevailed. The ridge beyond Chabanjong is heavily forested, and I spent a good deal of time blazing the trees. In the words of a great American poet and gentleman,
    "His sinuous path, by blazes, wound
    Among trunks grouped in myriads round."
    As Poe justly remarks: "'By blazes' is not intended for an oath."
    The weather, all the fresher for its repose, came down heavier than ever, and it was a miserably soaked Crowley that squatted, in spite of the arthritis in his left knee, under a rock, and prayed for the tents. I don't know where this camp was, they called it Chuaktanko. The road is everywhere an unexpectedly excellent mountain track, right from Chabanjong to the end of this article.

Leading the Guide

    On Monday, the 14th, we went miserably on, though it cleared for a short time at midday, and on the 15th we reached what I believe to have been the Neglo Cave. I refrain from harrowing my readers by vivid descriptions of the beastly condition of body and mind in which one remained. The 16th was too wet to make a start; it came down in sheets; and there wasn't a dry blanket in the party, so the sheets had to do. We were somewhat cheered in the afternoon though, for what we at first supposed to be a drowned marmot turned out to be a Head Constable from Darjeeling with a letter from the Deputy Commissioner informing us that the Nepal authorities consented to our invasion, and would send a responsible guide to conduct us to Klunza and other places to which we did not want to go. However, we will guide him instead.
    On the 17th the weather was again mountain--sick, the symptoms being those described by Sir Martin Conway, perhaps the finest stylist of his age, as "an extreme disinclination for any form of exertion." Anyhow, it did not rain till eight o'clock. I took advantage of this to climb a viewpoint in the neighbourhood, but it availed me little. I got down into the valley of Gamotanj at a quarter to five after nine hours' walking and three hours' sitting in the rain arguing with Mr White's coolies, over whose proceedings I will draw a veil. As to the scenery, it was exactly like average Welsh mountain scenery, in every detail but the flora and the fauna. The Valley of Gamotanja is, however, worth seeing; I recommend everybody to go there. Closely skirted on all sides, one gets the whole sweep of the richly forested vale up to the bare grey rocks, and behind one may catch a glimpse of the snows. If one could only see crooked one could see much more. Things are badly arranged after all, as Buddah pointed out, though the fact of his having been a voluptuary for twenty--two years and an ascetic for six may to some minds detract from the value of his opinion.

Travellers' Comfort!

    From Gamotanj the road mounts to a lovely scene. Of lakes in these journies one soon becomes blasé, and passes with scarce a glance dozens of places, the most commonplace of which would make the fortune of any European resort, and thence goes steeply to the Chumbab by a steep yet excellent track. On the far Nepalese side one slogs along over the stony track for a long way, until a great block of quartz stuck up squarely in a valley with a very inadequate space of level grass around it bade us halt for the night. The doctor, who was rearguard, did not arrive until long after dark; we set up lamps to light him to his happy home. Several of the coolies did not arrive at all, preferring to curl themselves up under rocks and sit out the night, but the next morning all turned up as brisk and lively as ever. I decided to go on with the doctor to Tseram, an outlying village -- if three huts make a village in Nepal -- to save the messenger of the Maharaja the trouble of ascending to the Kang La to meet us, and ourselves a similar misery. We consequently started at about half--past ten, and crossed a pass -- perhaps the Semo La -- which took us into the Tseram valley. We crossed the stream by a native bridge, at least I did; the doctor, sailing along an hour behind everybody, preferred to wade up to his waist. It is related by Sir Martin Conway, perhaps the finest mountaineer that the world has ever seen, that his balance is so perfect that he never crossed one of these native bridges without first attaching to himself by a stout rope two other men, preferably Alpine guides, one on each side of him, thus securing their safety on the dangerous passage. I can make no claim to rival this exploit, and walked over tamely, allowing my men to take their own chance. We camped just below Tseram in the wettest weather we had yet experienced, and, hearing that there was a Customs House at Tseram, I sent to bid the man to my presence, so as to get in touch at once with Nepalese authority. But I was fated to do a "Mariana in the Moated Grange" stunt, and when, in the morning, I went off up the Yalung Valley, I found nobody but an aged and very goitrous couple, and higher still a solitary shepherd.

An Interval for Dreams

    I left a man at Tesram to explain matters to the Maharaja's "guide" and went on up the valley, which now took on the truly mountainous character, by a delightful path. I was rewarded by a fine day; and the tremendous ridge of Kabru, with its splendid masses of ice, made a magnificent background to the glacier with its morains of quartz glistening silver--grey in the sunlight. Before eleven o'clock I reached what in Norway would be called a Saeter -- an upland farm with nobody in it. The height, as nearly as I could judge, was from fourteen to fifteen thousand feet -- until calculations are properly worked out, we do not care to specify more closely. I was immensely struck by the imagination shown by Mr Garwood in his charming effort to depict the physical features of this glacier, which neither he nor any other European had seen. Surely of him it was written: "Blessed are they who have not seen, and yet have believed." I can hardly bless him though, for his trifling omission to mark as a summit the great rounded peak, second or third in length to Kinchinjanga, caused me at first considerable trouble. A boy at school who made a similar blunder would probably have remarked in his next day's "Essay on Pleasure" that of all pleasures sung by poets, those of sitting down were the most overrated.
    Never mind, I may see the mountain itself tomorrow, and in the meantime here I am lying lazily on the grass in the sunshine -- the march ended and the glacier to begin -- feeling exactly like the famous spadger at the superb moment in his career when he sat on the grass, and gave the thunderstorm to understand that he felt nothing but contempt for it. So I muse on Kubla Khan and the Ancient Mariner, most appropriate fragments from which come floating into my consciousness every other minute, until the night falls, and I slide into delicious dreams, while Venus, Jupiter, and the moon watch over me. In the morning I wake from dreaming that Government have employed me to survey the entire continent (probably suggested by my struggles with the map), and that, having successfully completed my task, I am about to be invested with three and perhaps four letters to my name, to the far gladder feelings that today I may walk into sight of my long--wished for goal.

Previous Crowley Classic (part I)                   (to be continued ---Part III)

from the Grady Project:

This passage has been selected from Grady's 1954 thesis The Millennial Glow: Myth and Magic in the Marxist Ethic.

A Third Extract from the section on "Magic"
in "The Universe of the New Tribalism" by Grady Louis McMurtry

. . . inner contradictions cause activity in the monad or, as Lenin says, there is a "struggle" of opposites. But there cannot be a "struggle" of any kind unless one or more wills, no matter how rudimentary or elementary or unconscious, are involved. Perhaps Catlin is right here when he says:

    It may be that Hegel is a profounder interpreter of
Hegelianism than Lenin. Will is assigned by Hegel a new and
consistent role in relation to Environment, such as eliminates
the Marxist contradiction between the all--importance of
Economic or Material Environment (Marx--Kautsky) and
the all--importance of Creative Will (Marx--Lenin).1

    Lenin would certainly have contested the suggestion that his view of dialects differs from that of Hegel.

   The division of the One and the Knowledge of its
contradictory parts is the essence (one of the "essential"
aspects of being, its fundamental, if not the fundamental
characteristic) of dialectics. This is exactly how Hegel
puts the question.2
But of course Hegel and Lenin are not the only ones who have so treated the subject. For example, in the Tabula Smaragdina we read

    This is without doubt, certain and very sure:
What is Below is like that which is Above.
And which is Above is like that which is Below.
Thereby can the mysterious activity of everything be explained.
And just as all things have been created by One
according to the plan of One, thus all things are derived
from this One by way of adoption.
    Its Father is the Sun, its Mother the Moon.
The Wind carried it in its belly, its nurse is the Earth.
It is the origin of all perfectness in the entire World;
its power is complete, if it has become Earth.
    Divide the Earth from the Fire, the fine from the coarse,
without tenseness and with mighty reason.
It ascends from Earth, and gains the strength
from the Above as well as of the Below.
In this way you will possess the splendor of all the world;
therefore all darkness will flee from you.
That is the strong power of all powers, that triumphs over all
subtle things and penetrates all firmness.
In this way the world has been created and
those are the miraculous affinities,
whose ways have herewith been shown.

    Therefore I am called Hermes Trismegistos,
the threefold Great one, who possesses the
threefold wisdom of all the world. This finishes what I
have said about the work of the Sun. . .

Therefore he is also called Anaximander of Miletus, Heraclitus of Ephesus, Lao--tse the Paradoxical, and Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel. But to continue with Lenin . . .

1. George Catlin, The Story of the Political Philosophers (New York: Tudor, 1947), p. 621.
2. V.I.Lenin, Materialism and Empirio--Criticism (New York: International Publishers, 1927), p. 321.
3. Frederic Spiegelberg, Alchemy (San Mateo, California: Greenwood Press, 1945), pp. 1--2.

Previous Grady Project        (to be continued)

One Member's Opinion

    Ebony Anpu and the Hawk and
Jackal System: a personal interpretation

part nine:

The Moon Coven Ritual

by Nathan W. Bjorge

   The title of the Tarot Atu that relates to the Moon is "The Priestess of the Silver Star." And as "Argentum Astrum" is the Latin for Silver Star, I feel that there is a clear relation between the observance of the lunar rites and that Order.
    -- Ebony Anpu, from the Books of the Hawk and Jackal, page 6

    The primary godforms assumed by Priest and Priestess during the moon rites of the Hawk and Jackal system are Therion and Babalon, respectively. Parallel to the assumption of these two deities, the Priest and Priestess also simultaneously take on the roles of another secondary set of gods. One way of looking at this dual attribution might be to understand Therion and Babalon as the God and Goddess in their basic Thelemic form, while the secondary set of godforms are emanations, as it were, of those central forms. In this reading, the secondary deities are the outer guise of the underlying manifestation of Therion and Babalon.
    These secondary deities are Quersut and Khonsu for the New Moon, and Sesheta and Tahuti for the Full Moon. Khonsu is himself a moon god, the son of Amoun and Mut. Together with his parents he forms the main triad venerated at Thebes in the New Kingdom. In Ebony's usage, Khonsu's consort Quersut is a form of Nuit. The Hellenic Greeks equated Thoth or Tahuti with their Hermes or Mercury. Prior to this, however, Tahuti was a lunar deity in his original Egyptian milieu. One of his consorts was named Sesheta, which means "secret."
    The moon rite itself admits of variation. At the risk of being pedantic, let me again say that there is no one single necessary ritual format. Intelligent personal innovation is considered normative in this system. There are two very good simple rituals given in Ebony's Books of the Hawk and Jackal, and still available online at the time of this article going to press. While they are some of his best work, Ebony's approach in these two texts is much less tightly structured along Qabbalistic lines than in some of his other writings. Rather, his approach is largely Egyptian, involving use of quotations from the Book of the Dead and other material.
    The Full and New Moon rituals are identical in terms of their general structure. There is an organization into nine steps, which in the ritual are called:
    1. The Call
    2. Ceremony of the Door
    3. Purification
    4. Sanctification
    5. Exorcisms
    6. Invocation
    7. Priest calls the Sons of Horus
    8. Priestess calls the Four Goddesses
    9. Call for Blessing

    The Call is a general invocation of Therion and Babalon, as well as a description of their functions via a creation of AL I:15--16. Priest and Priestess alternate speaking each sentence, so that each has an equal part in the ritual.
    Next, the Ceremony of the Door acts to seal the coven's circle. A door is described by a sort of call and response between the Priest and Priestess. Various parts of the door are equated with different gods. The door is declared open, acting as an entryway to the realm of the gods.
    During the Purification, the Priestess mixes together salt and water and sprinkles the coven members while pacing the circle widdershins. The Priest then performs the Sanctification, by walking around the circle deosil, censing the chamber with incense. This completed, the Priest further performs the Exorcisms, which involves again circumambulating the room, now deosil, with the dagger. While doing this the priest recites "The Knife divides the World of Men from the World of the Gods. Be banished in the name of Thelema, all that would oppose our Will." For balance, the Priestess now takes the Cup, circles the room for the fourth and final time deosil, and declares "We invoke Thee, Lady of the Cup. Bring the spirit in our wine. Be involved in the name of Agape, all those who would compose our Love." This comprises step six above, the Invocation.
    Following this is the calling of the Sons of Horus. These are the ape--headed Hapi, protector of the heart and lungs, the hawk--headed Kebekhsenuf, guardian of the liver and gall bladder, human--headed Imset, ruling over the stomach and intestines, and finally Duamutef of the jackal--head, presiding also over the lungs and heart. The Priest calls the four Sons to the four quarters.
    The Priestess now calls the four Daughters of Nuit. Each of the four is a protector of one of the four Sons. Nebt--het guards Hapi. Selket watches over Duamutef. Aset is the protector of Imset. Finally, Neith is the guardian of Duametef. The four goddesses are set at the quarters with their corresponding Son of Horus.
    Ebony's inspiration for this interesting and original quarter-- calling was the tomb of Tutenkamen. In one of the chambers, the Sons of Horus and the Daughters of Nuit are placed on the walls in an analogous fashion to the moon ritual.
    The moon rite proper concludes with the Call for Blessing. The various godforms and deities summoned in the ritual are asked to bless and assist the coven. Bread is broken and wine poured, then both passed around the circle. This communion circulates the energy raised by the Priest and Priestess. More food is then brought out, and the coven relaxes and parties till dawn. Typically, Ebony preferred not to do a banishing at the end of the night, instead allowing the gods to depart as they might will, and the astral egregore of the ritual to dissolve gradually with the morning light.
    Next month will begin a discussion of the Tesseract.

Previous article -- part eight     (to be continued)

From the Library Shelf

Belarion's Miraculous Illumination:
a review of the recent
biography of Jack Parsons

by John Brunie

   John Carter (pseudonym), Sex and Rockets: The Occult World of Jack Parsons, with an introduction by Robert Anton Wilson (Los Angeles: Feral House, November 1999), xxvi + 229 pp., including 45 photographs, diagrams, drawings, and facsimile documents; with bibliography and index; $24.95.

    John Whiteside Parsons, Frater 210, who after leaving the O.T.O. had himself christened Belarion Armiluss Al Dajjal with the title of Antichrist, was probably the most impressive personality involved with the first O.T.O. lodge in California. He was an explosives expert conducting rocket fuel experiments in a Cal Tech project around 1939 e.v. when he read Crowley's Konx Om Pax and secured an introduction (by an unidentified scientific friend) to Wilfred Smith of Agape Lodge in Hollywood. For a year Jack and his first wife Helen attended the gnostic mass there as guests, sometimes bringing their own friends, while also entertaining lodge members at their home in Pasadena. The officers of the lodge in those days were each corresponding with Aleister Crowley in London, and after a few glowing reports to the master, Parsons too was describing magical projects to Therion, his "Most Beloved Father," in personal letters which eventually numbered several hundred back and forth. Jack and Helen were initiated into O.T.O. together early in 1941 e.v., and became increasingly involved with the lodge. Within a couple of years they were performing as officers in the mass, and Jack eventually served for a short period as lodgemaster. They moved the temple into a mansion Jack first leased and later purchased, the legendary "Parsonage" in the wealthy section of Pasadena, of which so many wild stories are told.
    One of the disappointments of the wonderful little biography of Parsons which appeared last season is that even after a concerted and well organized journalistic effort to assemble the evidence of his life, we still are able to form no clear or definite impression of his personality. The dates and contacts and addresses do not cohere into a character which we can reconstruct or comprehend. The achievements of his short life (he was 37 when he was blown up), however significant to the progress of rocketry, apparently did not suffice to establish a record of the texture of his will, although some of the technical details (both magically and scientifically) were recorded by Parsons himself with consummate accuracy and concision.
    Jack Parsons grew up between two great wars. His mother Ruth Whiteside, aged 23 when he was born in 1914 e.v., had left a comfortable and cosmopolitan family in Ohio to set herself up in southern California while still a teenager. She was hardly on her own at all before she found herself married to another California new--comer just slightly older, Marvel H. Parsons (we never find out what the "H." stood for). He passed almost nothing else but his name to their only surviving offspring, who was legally known at birth (and again at his death) neither as "John" nor as "Jack" but as Marvel Whiteside Parsons.
    Jack's parents were together for a couple of years, but it turned out a lousy marriage, and when some adultery or other on the part of Marvel senior became apparent, Ruth broke it off completely. Her disgust was so complete that her son was informally divested of the Marvel moniker and was taught to be John (or Jack) instead. And all this by the time he was not yet three years old. Fortunately his mother's parents came out to California and set up housekeeping with their daughter and grandson. They seem to have been a good loving family with plenty of money, giving Jack the best possible education and taking him traveling in Europe with them as a child. After a bitter beginning, his prospects soon did not seem so bad.
    But having been born into a family which was just about blowing up at the point he emerged, Jack seems never to have escaped a fascination with explosions. He may be said to have spent both his magical and his scientific careers in a series of precisely -- but not altogether reliably -- controlled explosions, which ended in the last terrific blast which killed him. His first rockets were backyard black powder skyrockets, built when he was barely a teenager, and he quickly set about training himself for bigger and better bangs. He studied chemistry, and while still in high school took a job with the Hercules Powder Company. After two years at USC without a degree he volunteered to assist a project organized by the Guggenheim Aeronautical Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology, and was soon directing "test burns" of new rocket fuels in the Arroyo Seco northwest of Pasadena. It was this testing ground which eventually developed into the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and Parsons as much as anyone was responsible for the early successes upon which JPL was built.
    Parsons was never a "closet" occultist, and never led a "double life," despite one of the chapter titles in this biography. He made no secret of his paganism, and loved to shout out Crowley's "Hymn to Pan" while stamping his feet before a rocket test, even in front of senior CalTech scientists. All of his associates seem to have known of his occult enthusiasms, and to have respected his scientific progress nevertheless. After the war this did become a problem, but until Parsons left the O.T.O. in 1946 he never seems to have had any real trouble with the issue. Wartime funding for military applications assisted Parsons' research greatly, and his dramatic success with the "JATO" (jet assisted take--off) engines which he invented led to the founding of the Aerojet Corporation in 1942 e.v. by Parsons and four of his research associates.
    Through science fiction contacts in 1940 e.v. Parsons met Grady McMurtry, four years his junior, who may well have been guided by Parsons' example in selecting his military specialty as an ordnance and explosives expert. Parsons loved enthusiastic speculative conversation, and had many friends in all walks of life. He was devoted to twentieth century classical music (especially Prokofiev and Stravinsky), and sometimes incorporated the use of 78 r.p.m. records into his rituals. He enjoyed reading poetry and trading pulp magazines of science fiction stories with his friends. He was apparently quite a ladies' man, although we hear only the hints of this in the biography. What we miss, however, is any impression of what it was like to be around him, what sorts of things he said and how others reacted to them, how he lived and what he thought.
    In October 1951 e.v. on his final birthday Parsons had completed 444 months, with just eight and a half to go. Since the dramatic Babalon Working five years earlier his professional career seems to have dried up. He had his security clearances withdrawn, so that at one point he even got into some trouble for keeping file copies of his own research notes for projects subsequently classified as secret. He had been reduced to manufacturing dynamite and other ordinary high explosives to make a living, and was probably about to leave the United States for a chance to take up his scientific research in some less hostile country, perhaps Mexico or Israel. All through his life he had been rather casual about the handling of explosive materials, and had sometimes stored dangerous explosives at home for short periods. Indeed it seems more a wonder that he had not gotten into trouble on this score sooner, than that it did eventually do him in. After the great explosion on Tuesday afternoon 17th June 1952 e.v. which blew him apart and killed him, the police concluded that he must have dropped a bottle of the unstable high explosive mercury fulminate while moving out of his garage before a trip to Mexico. Various theories of conspiratorial murder which have been put forth since then seem to have little to support them, though of course one of them may be just possibly true, and they are dealt with rather sensibly at the conclusion to the book.
    For O.T.O. members, one of the attractions of this biography will certainly be the glimpses it gives us into the ritual and social life of Agape Lodge, both in the late '30s e.v. under Wilfred Smith and in the '40s under Parsons himself. The biography's pseudonymous author (the name comes from the Martian adventure stories of Edgar Rice Burroughs) writes as if he (or she, or they) might have been associated with the Order at some point, but there is a rather sad tendency at times to wink at the reader about the wild and crazy goings on in Parsons' backyard or among his occult partners, which perhaps was part of the reason for concealing the author's identity. But these are not easy subjects to write about at all -- witness the failures of most biographers of Crowley -- and the little lapses will not spoil this very enjoyable book for most readers. The real pity is that this seems to be about all we will be able to know of Parsons, unless the correspondence with Crowley becomes available. We may have to settle for a catalogue of contacts and addresses, and a pile of magazine and newspaper clippings, as our best portrait of this great Thelemite and important rocket scientist. For now we are glad to have the present volume as an exterior account of a significant career, a startling illumination, and a tragic explosion that summed up Jack Parsons.

From the Outbasket

    Here are the annual demographics of the O.T.O. from International Headquarters. These membership totals have been obtained from central accounts at the end of February 2000 e.v.: 3,430 all, 2,727 of which are initiates. The International O.T.O. financial statement for fiscal year 1999--2000 e.v. will be available later in May. For a copy, enclose an SASE and write to: O.T.O. Annual Financial Statement, Ordo Templi Orientis, P.O.Box 430, Fairfax, CA 94978 USA

ADV 122
Associates 581
Minervals 873
Ist Degrees 685
IInd Degrees 427
IIIrd Degrees 328
IVth Degrees 224
Vth Degrees 116
Higher Degrees 74


    In the list which follows, all data is drawn from the International mailing list. Accordingly, the membership counts here are less than the actual total count, owing to changing and lost addresses.

    Known OTO member addresses by regions at end February 2000 e.v.
(Associates and initiates both) Total: 3,180 in 51 countries.


Alabama 15 Mississippi 6
Alaska 1 Missouri 17
Arkansas 9 Nebraska 17
California 364 Nevada 42
(North Cal: 161) New Hampshire 5
(South Cal: 203) New Jersey 35
Colorado 32 New Mexico 13
Connecticut 10 New York 114
Delaware 2 North Carolina 13
Dist. of Columbia 3 Ohio 34
Florida 62 Oklahoma 24
Georgia 75 Oregon 116
Guam 1 Pennsylvania 95
Hawaii 5 Puerto Rico 1
Idaho 15 Rhode Island 1
Illinois 49 South Carolina 6
Indiana 66 South Dakota 2
Iowa 1 Tennessee 24
Kansas 34 Texas 192
Kentucky 17 Utah 26
Louisiana 21 Virginia 27
Maine 3 Washington 87
Maryland 32 West Virginia 11
Massachusetts 38 Wisconsin 24
Michigan 45 Wyoming 2
Minnesota 36 Military AOP 8




Alberta 17 Ontario 50
British Columbia 51 Quebec 8
Manitoba 1 Saskatchewan 1







Previous years:


Detail of February 1999 e.v. Demographics (last year)

    ---- International OTO Treasurer General (Bill Heidrick)

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Events Calendar for April 2000 e.v.

4/2/00Gnostic Mass 8:00PM Horus Temple(510) 652-3171Thelema Ldg.
4/3/00Section II reading group with
Caitlin: Aristophanes: Lysistrata
Lodge library 8PM
(510) 652-3171Thelema Ldg.
4/5/00College of Hard NOX 8 PM
with Mordecai in the library
(510) 652-3171Thelema Ldg.
4/8/00Feast of Liber AL, Chapter I
in Horus Temple 7:30 PM
(510) 652-3171Thelema Ldg.
4/9/00Feast of Liber AL, Chapter II
in Horus Temple 6 PM
(510) 652-3171Thelema Ldg.
4/9/00Gnostic Mass 8:00PM Horus Temple(510) 652-3171Thelema Ldg.
4/10/00Feast of Liber AL, Chapter III
in Horus Temple 7:30 PM
(510) 652-3171Thelema Ldg.
4/11/00Book Four Study Group with Liesl
7:30PM in the library
(510) 652-3171Thelema Ldg.
4/16/00Gnostic Mass 8:00PM Horus Temple(510) 652-3171Thelema Ldg.
4/23/00Gnostic Mass 8:00PM Horus Temple(510) 652-3171Thelema Ldg.
4/24/00Rites of Eleusis planning meeting
8 PM in the library
(510) 652-3171Thelema Ldg.
4/25/00Book Four Study Group with Liesl
7:30PM in the library
(510) 652-3171Thelema Ldg.
4/26/00College of Hard NOX 8 PM
with Mordecai in the library
(510) 652-3171Thelema Ldg.
4/29/00OTO Initiations. Call to attend(510) 652-3171Thelema Ldg.
4/30/00Gnostic Mass 8:00PM Horus Temple(510) 652-3171Thelema Ldg.

    The viewpoints and opinions expressed herein are the responsibility of the contributing authors and do not necessarily reflect the position of OTO or its officers.

Thelema Lodge
Ordo Templi Orientis
P.O. Box 2303
Berkeley, CA 94702 USA

Phone: (510) 652-3171 (for events info and contact to Lodge)

Production and Circulation:
P.O.Box 430
Fairfax, CA 94978 USA

Internet: (Submissions and circulation only)

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