(from the Gnostic Gnews)
In the last issue of the Gnostic Gnews we read some comments written by Bishop Bill Heidrick on the history of the Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica. Since this sort of article is exactly what I would like to see more of in the pages of the Gnostic Gnews I decided to pipe up with some results of my own researches and, as is my notorious wont, a few controversial comments on history and organizational management. These are all the personal opinions of one Bishop.
I challenge you to reject my dogmas just as fiercely as I reject the dogmas of others!
Bill has already described the development of the Gnostic Catholic Church out of the Old Catholic "Wandering" Episcopate; more details of which may be found in Peter F. Anson's Bishops at Large. He has also effectively described the organization of the now-moribund non-profit corporation Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica. So I shall concentrate on two other areas: firstly, the historical connection between the O.T.O. and the Gnostic Catholic Church; secondly, the current state of their organal integration.
In Crowley's 1912 c.e. Manifesto for his Mysteria
Mystica Maxima Lodge of O.T.O. there is an explicit claim
ÿ20ÿ20to possess within the Order "the wisdom and
the knowledge of" the Gnostic Catholic Church.
Around this same time Crowley wrote his own version of
the Gnostic Mass. Clearly, he believed
himself possessed of episcopal authority. Theodor Reuss, the actual founder of the Ordo Templi Orientis proper, claimed in 1918 c.e. the title "Sovereign Patriarch and Primate of the Gnostic Churche the article "Theodor Reuss; Irregular Freemasonry in Germany, 1900-23" by Howe and Moller in Transactions of Quatuor Coronati Lodge, Feb. 16, 1978). Unfortunately, to my knowledge, no documentation of either Crowley's or Reuss' consecrations has ever been published, so I can offer no certain idea of the transmission of the Gnostic Catholic lineage to the O.T.O. through Reuss and Crowley. Both men were in correspondence with Gerard Encausse (Papus) and may have receive d episcopal recognition from him before his death in 1916 c.e.; in addition, Reuss was in touch with an associate of Encausse's, Jean Bricaud, who may have served as an avenue of consecration.
Should this perhaps dubious route of transmission raise any worries among Order members over the legitimacy of our present claims to Gnostic Catholic episcopacy, we can reassure them, since the current acting-Outer Head of the Order claims a documented apostolic succession on his own account and is able if it were necessary, by his own recognition, to regularize all the consecrations of his predecessors.
The ecclesiatical situation created by the current O.T.O. Bylaws (see the first issue of Gnostic Gnews) is very open to and respectful of the diversity that is a hallmark of the Wandering Episcopate. Article IX recognizes the independent nature of different lines of apostolic succession while rightfully asserting the Order's claim to a valid lineage of such succession; it also provides a framework for cooperation between the Order's Bishops while carefully avoiding the imposition of any dogmatic r on them. By setting up such an open relationship between the Church and the Order the bylaws provide a great many opportunities for the Bishops themselves to control the development of their own working relationships, with the members of their own local church and with the rest of the episcopate. Conditions vary greatly for Bishops, from the places where one lone apostle administers the only church within 500 miles to the areas where one sanctuary can call on a ny of half-a-dozen Bishops to officia In either situation I suggest that Bishops consider taking advantage of the provisions of Article IX's Section 9.04C to legally register their local churches. The possible advantages of registration are the ability to perform recognized marriages, to coordinate banking and fundraising, to sign leases or buy property, just to name a few. The disavantages are possible registration fees, some obligatory record-keeping, and those fearsome twin djinni, al-Daghmuh & al Burakrat. These latter two may be hed by the frequent application of Tolerance & Humor. If you decide to put the time and effort into getting legal recognition for your church you will then be faced with all sorts of procedural questions. Fortunately the requirement that your local registrations be reviewed by the National Supreme Council means that you will receive the benefit of the Order's experience to help you avoid technical pitfalls, but for the most part the Bishop (s) who form(s) a local church must make the decisions abou will be administered. Some Bishops may do best by running their own organizations, while other Bishops (especially in areas of high concentration) may do best by forming a local "synod" to manage church affairs. Whatever best fits your situation should be achievable under the liberal statutes of the O.T.O.'s Bylaws. In any event such local organizations must be in accord with the Church's spirit of religious freedom; no Bishop or group of Bishops can ever claim "jurisdiction" over all the Gnostic ics within their "territory".
It seems clear to me that our current Patriarch is
adopting an ecclesiastical role of 'primus inter pares'
rather than that of "infallible" pope, which
means that the day-to-day growth and continuation of the
Order's branch of Gnostic Catholicism is more than ever
the responsibility of each Bishop who is a living
transmitter of this particular lineage. In the Gnostic
Gnews we have a new opportunity to share the fruits of
our experiences with each other. I encourage all Bishops
and official O.T.O.
who have ideas or tips about any aspect of the Church to submit them to this publication, either by mail or in electronic form on ThelemaNet (if it is more convenient for you to use BaphoNet or TahutiNet be sure to let the sysop know that you want your file echoed to ThelemaNet). (Please also leave a note to RUSTY SPORER telling him the name and nature of your "fruits of experience" - or any other article - and a really brief summary of the file. Use AREA 93! - Ed.)
(The Holy Father, Hymenaeus Beta, has furnished the following lines of
succession which apply to his own line. There are two distinct lines
which stream from his hands. These lines find a parallel in the line
which flowed through the first Caliph, Grady McMurtry, Hymenaeus Alpha
and to our current Caliph, Hymenaeus Beta. Most EGC Bishops are
included in one or both of these lines.)
APOSTOLIC SUCCESSION -
1909 - Bishop Gerard Encausse (Papus) consecrated Msgr. Theodor Reuss.
1912 - Bishop Reuss consecrated Msgr. Aleister Crowley.
1944 - Bishop Crowley consecrated Msgr. Grady McMurtry.
1983 - Bishop McMurtry consecrated Msgr. Tav Silenus (Hymenaeus Beta.)
HISTORICAL NOTE : Bishop Encausse only held the Doinel Succession when he consecrated Reuss in 1909. Encausse received the Vilatte Succession some years later. There is speculation that Crowley received separate consecration from Encausse after Encausse received the Vilatte Succession from Bishop Jean Bricaud around 1913 (The succession line goes: Bishop Vilatte to Msgr. Poell Margali-Gulatti, Bishop Margali-Gulatti to Msgr. Jules Sassaye, Bishop Sassaye to Msgr. Louis Marie Francois Giraud, Bishop Giraud to Msgr. Jean Bricaud, Bishop Bricaud to Msgr. Gerard Encausse), which would have brought the Vilatte Succession into the O.T.O. at an earlier date than 1986 EV. This is highly speculative and disputed by most EGC historians, and one account has the event taking place some five years after Encausse's death.
APOSTOLIC SUCCESSION -
May 29, 1882 Bishop Julius Alvarez consecrated Msgr. Joseph Rene Vilatte.
December 19, 1915 Bishop Vilatte consecrated Msgr. Samuel Gregory Lines.
December 21, 1927 Bishop Lines consecrated Msgr.
Joseph A. Justin Boyle.
Bishop Boyle consecrated Msgr. Paul Wadle.
April 1, 1960 Bishop Wadle consecrated Msgr. W. W.
November 4, 1967 Bishop Webb consecrated Msgr. Marc A. Lully.
December 25, 1967 Bishop Lully consecrated Msgr. Michael P. Bertiaux.
1971 Bishop Bertiaux consecrated Msgr. Jack B. Hogg, Jr.
August 12, 1974 Bishop Hogg, Jr. consecrated Msgr. Tav Silenus (Hymenaeus Beta).
THE GNOSTIC CATHOLIC CHURCH
(This is an article which first appeared in Sword of the Gnosis, published by Bishop Tau Sir Hasrim, Bishop, E.G.C. He has kindly permitted us to edit and include it here.)
In this essay I will attempt to address some of the questions that have been brought to my attention regarding the history and nature of the Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica (or E.G.C., or Gnostic Catholic Church) by members of the OTO and EGC. The Gnostic Mass, being the ultimate public and private ritual of the OTO, is important - even to aspirants at the lowest level of commitment - to learn about EGC matters. For EGC Officers, Official OTO Body Officers (Camp, Oasis, or Lodge Masters) se seeking to Manifest the Law of the New Aeon, it would seem to be as important as learning ceremonial magick, yoga, the Tree of Life, etc.
In the year 543 of common reckoning, the Eastern Roman Empress, Theodora, arranged secretly that one Iakab Bar Adai be consecrated a bishop and ecumenical metropolitan in the lawful line of apostolic succession. From this event may be dated the birth of the mildly schismatic Orthodox Church.
Our attention is now drawn to the activities, some nearly fourteen hundred years later, which involved Bishop Iakab's nineteenth century successor, Peter the Humble, who was the Jacobite Patriarch of Antioch. It was from Peter the Humble, along with the Syrian Orthodox church (and its more obscure cousin, the Church of Malabar in India and Sri Lanka), that a series of events began to unfold which intertwined the orthodox apostolic succession with the sublime world of magick occult. So that today we find the Caliph of the Ordo Templi Orientis, Hymenaeus Beta, is the Holy Father and a bishop of the Gnostic Catholic Church. And today hundreds of people attend regular performances of the Eucharistic Gnostic Mass presided over by Bishops, Priests, Priestesses and Deacons - the majority of which are fully accredited in one or several lines of apostolic succession.
We need to address the question of what Gnosticism itself is, and - more importantly - how this spiritual tradition relates to the occultism of the present time. Special emphasis should be placed on this manifestation in the OTO.
We can turn to Liber LII, the Manifesto of the OTO. Here we find that, in the hands of this Order are said to be concentrated the Wisdom and Knowledge of the Gnostic Church along with that of various Freemasonic bodies.
The significance of this relationship can be seen clearly, not only in the claims of Liber LII, but also in one of the most significant religious documents in the present century, Liber XV, known to us and practiced in our Order as the Gnostic Mass. This was written in the early part of this century, inspired by the somewhat outre synthesis of the Russian Orthodox Mass and the Thelemic conception of the New Aeon. This ritual has become the centeral public and pr itual of the OTO.
It can be argued that the function of the EGC is to give the OTO an interface with the public, both revealing and concealing its most mysterious and sacred secrets simultaneously. Or it may be countered that it is a utility which provides an environment where devoted members may undergo their various Life Passages - Baptism, Confirmation, Communion, Marriage, etc. - within the OTO framework. Or could it be that the EGC is the nucleus of the solar-phallic religion of the New Aeon, only now begin manifest?
Some questions have been raised in critical circles as to whether the Grand Master, Baphomet, took seriously (or was even aware of) his position in Gnostic history. But we may take it as evidence of a sort that the Gnostic Mass was written expressly for the Gnostic Catholic Church. (It is titled "O.T.O. Ecclesiae Gnosticae Catholicae Canon Missae".)
We might well ask ourselves how this particular turn of events came to be. As the occult explosion of the late 19th century began to unfold, a strong link was forged between the denizens of the metaphysical universe and the then burgeoning Gnostic Catholicism that experienced a new birth in the West among those disaffected by the heavy-handed centralist tendencies emanating from Rome in the wake of the first Vatican Council. Unlike its successor council in the 1960's which was presided over by taratively liberal Pope John XXIII, the First Vatican Council inaugurated an era of Roman Catholic Conservatism - the doctrine of Papal Infallibility, etc., was presented. Apostolic dissent created a generation of what came to be scurrilously called "Wandering Bishops". Many of these bishops were cast afloat by various schools of apostolic succession, including Bishop Villatte (of the aforementioned Syrian Orthodox line), the occultist Bishop Doinel, and the national Catholic Archbishop, Bishop Matthews.
The occultists, for their part, were then engaged in what became the codification of the magical spiritual path along freemasonic lines. This came to be the seminal Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, principally in England; the OTO in Germany; and various Rosicrucian bodies in America and elsewhere. The magicians - rightly so in my understanding - perceived episcopal offices and church sacraments as being ESSENTIALLY IDENTICAL to the high ceremonial magical rit t with its own special source of power and unique ambiance.
So-called "cross-ordination" became a very common practice, with episcopal titles and prerogatives interchanged with freemasonic dignitaries, among disaffected church prelates and occult-minded masons and rosicrucians. Out of the interchange in that period of occult ferment came that great modern manifestation of Gnostic occultism, the Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica, or E.G.C. - the Gnostic Catholic Church.
In time the particular Gnostic Mass, Liber XV, was written in the early years of the present century and modeled somewhat on predecessor ceremonies. It came to be the predominant ritual among occultists-Gnostics, and its principal organizational repository came to be the OTO. This is so, even though others have experimented with the Mass, and autonomous, acknowledged Gnostic Catholic bodies exist outside of the OTO.
Dr. Reuss and Crowley, successive Outer Heads of the
Order, were both gnostic bishops. With Reuss, and to a
greater extent with the consecration of the most
controversial of all modern magi, Crowley, the Thelemic
current began to fuse with the primordial Gnostic
spiritual philosophy. This is a matter of no small
import; the fusion of Gnosticism (always a fusionist path, in any case) - the spiritual path of Gnosis or Knowledge, with the Law of the New Aeon, the Law of Thele rue Will - is arguably the most significant spiritual occurrence of the contemporary era.
"Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law" is the essence of the Law of Thelema as proclaimed in Liber CCXX, The Book of the Law, dating from 1904. But what is "True Will"?
"Know Thy Self" says the perennial philosophy of Gnosticism. The discovery, and the realization of, the True Will, then, is at the core of the modern manifestation of Gnosticism that has based itself in the World of Occultism. That it attempts to do so through the graded, progressive initiatory system of freemasonry and the episcopal structure of the "High Church" makes this all the more remarkable and potentially potent.
The curriculum set out by the OTO (Liber MCLI - Ed.)
involves progressive exercises leading to the deeper
states of self-realization, utilizing the sublimation of
raw sexual energy into a vehicle for the expansion of
consciousness. While in the West this could be considered
unusual, the "sacred fire" has been long
understood in the East. All of the sacramental functions
I personally have participated in, within the modern EGC,
have contained a strong sexual element, always done, of
coith good taste and sensitivity.
The Gnostic Mass as such contains within its poetic structure a goodly portion of sexual symbolism, the Eucharist being consecrated in a stylized erotic ritual act. It is said that a variant of the Gnostic Mass - comparable to the alchemical "Mass of the Holy Ghost", with its purely sexual Eucharist - exists in practice as well. The Gnostic Mass, certainly NOT coincidentally, is said to embody within its symbolism "the ultimate secret of freemasonry."
In addition to this occultist/gnostic version of the
Eucharist, rites of Baptism, Confirmation, and Ordination
may include erotic aspects, communicating the secrets of
Tantric Yoga as transmitted to the West by the Templars,
Dr. Kellner, and others.
(We wish to thank our contributors for their generousity.)
LIBER XV - THE GNOSTIC MASS
(By Father John. Continued from last issue.)
OF THE CEREMONY OF THE INTROIT
Webster defines introit as "the first part of the traditional "proper" of the Mass consisting of an antiphon, verse from a psalm, and the Gloria Patri" or "a piece of music sung or played at the beginning of a worship service." (From Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary, Merriam Webster, Inc. Springfield, MA, 1984.)
"The DEACON, opening the door of the Temple, admits the congregation and takes his place between the small altar and the font. (There should be a doorkeeper to attend to admission.) The DEACON advances and bows before the open shrine where the Graal is exalted. He kisses the Book of the Law three times, opens it. and places it upon the super-altar. He turns WEST and says,
Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law. I proclaim the Law of Light, Life, Love, and Liberty in the name of IAO"
"The CONGREGATION replies with Love is the law, love under will."
What better music, what could be more "proper" than to hear the essence of Thelemic Law proclaimed and its further explanation echoed back?
The "doorkeeper" could be the Black Guard, properly trained, either as or by, a Knight of Baphomet.
Chapter V of Magick in Theory and Practice contains very valuable information concerning the formula of IAO. Its study is recommended for not only DEACONS, but also PRIESTS who will also vibrate this formula later in the Mass.
Notice the three kisses on the Book of the Law by the DEACON. Again we have another 3. Some DEACONS will read a passage from Liber AL before setting it down on the super altar.
After placing the Sacred Scroll down, the DEACON then turns around to face the people and makes his opening speech. Notice the sequence: Light, Life, Love and Liberty. Light is pure vibration, and there are those who view Life as "shaking", too. Life proceeds out of Light. From Life we learn to Love. This Love, then, permits us to to our True Will. Doing your True Will frees you from the Sin of Restriction - it provides the Liberty we all seek.
"The DEACON goes to his place between the altar of incense and the font, faces EAST, gives the Step and Sign of a Man and a Brother. All imitate him."
This Step and Sign might be one of the secrets given to a Priest on his ordination. He then, passes it on to the DEACON so he can do it. But traditionally, it is omitted when there are non-initiates of the OTO in the congregation. For further details, consult your local bishop or OTO initiator. It should be obvious that the Mass was intended to be performed and witnessed by OTO initiates of high degrees.
"The DEACON and all the PEOPLE say:
I believe in one secret and ineffable Lord; and in one Star in the Company of Stars of whose fire we are created and to which we shall return; and in one Father of Life, Mystery of Mystery, in His name
the sole viceregent of the Sun upon the Earth; and in one Air, the nourisher of all that breaths."
Ineffable = "too great to be described; to holy to be spoken"
Viceregent = vice = substitute + regent "a person chosen while a king or queen is sick, absent, or too young" or "a member of a governing board, as of a university".
CHAOS = secret, ineffable, Star, Father, substitute for a stand-in for the Sun upon the Earth, Air, nourisher. Chaos has been associated with the Dyad (Sephiroth of Chokmah whose number is 2) as well as the Father of Thought. Other associations with CHAOS include WORD and WISDOM.
It is taught in some metaphysical circles that the air we breath contains something which is used by our physical bodies to sustain life. It might just be oxygen. But there are those who say that there something special, Prana, which sustains our spiritual life as well in the Air. LORD is another name for Hadit. "And I believe in one Earth, the Mother of us all, and in one Womb wherein all men are begotten and wherein they shall rest, Mystery of Mysteries, in Her name
BABALON is the Sphere of Binah, Number 3, the Mother - and yet, after another fashion, also in Malkuth, the Earth. Notice the associatiion between CHAOS and BABALON where CHAOS was called the sole (only) viceregent of the SUN UPON THE EARTH.
"And I believe in the Serpent and the Lion,
Mysteries, in His name
The Serpent and the Lion is shown in Atu 11 - Lust. This Atu corresponds to the Hebrew letter Teth, whose value is 9. There is a total of 9 squares in the magical square of Binah and Saturn. This associates BAPHOMET with BABALON - if we didn't already have BABALON riding the BEAST in the Thoth Deck.
Leo is also associated with Atu 11 and the Sun rules Leo. Therefore the association of BAPHOMET back to CHAOS is made.
BAPHOMET is the combination of the Spheres of Chokmah and Binah and is Heru-Ra-Ha, the twins Ra-Hoor-Khuit and Hoor-Paar-Kraat.
Notice that there are 8 letters in BAPHOMET and 7 letters in BABALON. The sum of these two letters is 15. Behold, a picture of BAPHOMET is found on Atu 15. "And I believe in one Gnostic and Catholic Church of Light, Life, Love, and Liberty, the Word of whose Law is:
Gnostic = esoteric knowledge of spiritual matters. Gnosis is the Greek word for Knowledge.
Catholic = True and Universal in extent, of interest to all. (The Law is for All.)
Light, Life, Love, and Liberty are also related to the four powers of the Sphinx. See Liber Aleph, chapters 151 to 154 for more information on this.
THELEMA should be a rather familiar word to us. But it is strongly suggested that we don't accept the pat answers we found in the past. Discover new meanings and associations for this Greek word meaning WILL. It seems that this would be the first step in discovering your True Will - to discover what WILL really is.
"And I believe in the communion of Saints."
Later on the Priest will say, "Hear ye all, Saints of the true church of old time now essentially present, that of ye we claim heirship, with ye we claim communion, and from ye we claim benediction in the name of IAO".
"for as much as meat and drink are transmuted in us daily into spiritual substance, I believe in the Miracle of the Mass."
The whole purpose of attending Mass is not to see the PRIESTESS, but to partake of spiritual food, the sacraments. There are some mystic circles teaching that the food and drink we consume is combined with the prana of the air we breath and forms something called "Chine". This chine then fortifies our spiritual bodies in the same manner which the physical body is fortified by the food and drink. This is one of the main reasons for watching our diet. This process is more efficient when the food a k are of higher quality than what is found in junk food. And this is why we can say at the end of the Mass, with all honesty, "There is no part of me that is not of the gods." This is the proof of the statement "Deus est Homo".
"And I confess one Baptism of Wisdom whereby we accomplish the Miracle of Reincarnation."
This point, reincarnation, is one of the major divisions between the Gnostics and the Orthodox Christians. But another difference is contained within this statement - the idea of a "Baptism of Wisdom".
The Orthodox Christian Church also teaches that one is born into something called "Original Sin". This is the result of the "Sins of Adam and Eve" when they made an apple pie in the Garden of Eden. Since they goofed, we must pay for it. It makes as much less sense than someone being punished for the crimes of their parents.
With the Gnostics, baptism is an act which prepares a person to become more enlightened - it does not remove "sin" in the traditional sense. Yet it does remove restriction, the "word of sin" (See Liber AL, I:41). So, the Orthodox Christians are correct in thinking that taking a Christian Spitz-Bath will remove Sin. And it is the "Sin of Adam" which we are born into - it is the "restriction" which we have initially when we are not aware of our True Will. "All words are sacred and all prophets true, save only that they understand a little" (Liber AL, I:56). The difference, then, lies in how we interp.
Your attention is drawn to the choice of the word "WISDOM". Is that not another name for CHAOS?
The Creed should be studied by all, but especially
those who are or wish to be confirmed in the Church.
We will continue with this part of the Mass in the next issue.