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O.T.O., Crowley, get fair coverage in this week's Gazette

Andrew W. Griffin / Red Dirt Report
Sekhet Bast Ra is the local OKC chapter of the Ordo Templi Orientis religious order.
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OKLAHOMA CITY - Leafing through the latest issue of the Oklahoma Gazette this morning, I nearly spit out my coffee as I saw this sometimes adventurous little publication actually featured an article on the Sekhet Bast Ra Oasis, the Oklahoma City chapter of the Ordo Templi Orientis.

Ordo Templi Orientis is Latin for "Order of the Eastern Temple" and it was begun in the 19th century by an Austrian Freemason named Karl Kellner, who had studied "techniques" under the guidance of several spiritual gurus.

Naturally, the article discusses the O.T.O.'s most notorious member, the English iconoclast and seeker of spiritual enlightenment Aleister Crowley.

Kellner and friend Theodore Reuss were colleagues of Crowley's and in 1912 - just over 100 years ago - Crowley was made Grand Master of the O.T.O. and later 'Outer Head of the Order.'

But back to the Gazette article … reporter Louis Fowler does a very fair piece on this OKC "oasis" and its "body master," a man who only goes by the name David.

Writes Fowler: "Although (Crowley) was widely demonized, his work and rituals transformed the order into what it is today, with the Law of Thelema - 'Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law' - the O.T.O.'s guiding principle.

While some have interpreted that to do whatever one wants and damn the consequences, Thelema, as Crowley explained while with the O.T.O., is to become the best, most effective person you can be.

Indeed, Crowley, who died in 1947, has been misunderstood by many, particularly those in the press which, as noted: "has chosen to put their lot in with the type of YouTube-addicted teenage conspiracy theorists who claim that anyone from Jay-Z and Beyonce to Barack Obama re member of the Order, that the O.T.O. is somehow responsible for the 'occult symbolism' found in the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2012 Olympics, and all the while being secretly involved in the the highest levels of politics, entertainment and international business. The reliance on paranoid teenage fantasy in order to sell newspapers is telling. What it exposes is that the press is not in the least bit interested in fact …"

Scandal-plagued Crowley and other spiritual seekers, thinkers and philosophers (note our reviews of books about early 20th century pioneers like American yoga master Pierre "The Great Oom" Bernard) were often derided because they went against the grain of what was considered acceptable in proper, Edwardian society. And naturally, the ink-stained wretches of his day couldn't resist highlighting the doings of the "wickedest man in the world."

After all, Crowley's rituals, "sexploits" and reports of "non-human communication" have been said to prove he was a madman. Perhaps he was. But noting in Gary Lachman's book Jung the Mystic, famed psychoanalyst and founder of "synchronicity" (something we discuss here rather often), in his The Red Book (the one on the manager's desk in The Shining) Jung spoke of an "inner guru" he called Philemon, whom he "depicted as a bald, white-bearded old man with bull's horns and the wings of a kingfisher." Was this due to Jung's interest in the mythic "Fisher King'?

Recognizing the prominence of Christianity in Oklahoma's culture, David says that there are people in this community seeking a different path.

"We're one little oasis right here, so we're available for those people who would like to commune with others of their kind, or close to their kind. We're just one of many ways for people to find their true will, but the ultimate goal is to come in contact with the divine and become better human beings," David told the Gazette.

Essentially, as the O.T.O. Grand Lodge website notes, the Order is "dedicated to the high purpose of securing the Liberty of the Individual and his or her advancement in Light, Wisdom, Understanding, Knowledge, and Power through Beauty, Courage, and Wit, on the Foundation of Universal Brotherhood."

David notes that "There is so much more to us here than we perceive, and this is a way to help us become the greatest we can be in this lifetime. We try to bring that out in ourselves and each other."

And that O.T.O. "oasis" is right here in Oklahoma City, between a Domino's Pizza and a Progressive insurance office. Wow!

Read the full article in this week's Oklahoma Gazette here.

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Andrew W. Griffin

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Andrew W. Griffin received his Bachelor of Science in Journalism from...

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Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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