Mysteries, Secrets and Spoilers

Even before the Internet, mysteries have found their way into print. For example, in the 19th century, the mysteries of Freemasonry were divulged and published in Exposition of Freemasonry by Capt. William Morgan; and the Freemasons were not at all happy about that. In the 20th century, the mysteries of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn were published in the pages of the Equinox by Aleister Crowley, and again in the later more available volume by Israel Regardie, Aleister Crowley's one time secretary; and the members of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn were certainly not happy about that. In the 21st century, although the nascent non-commercial Internet did actually exist at the time, just as Ordo Templi Orientis was being reformed in California, the mysteries of that order were published in a volume called The Secret Rituals of O.T.O. by Francis X King and Weiser Books, who thought they were doing as great a service to the memory of Ordo Templi Orientis as Regardie had done in service to the impact and development of modern day Golden Dawn with his volume.

Also, Crowley revealed the rites of LIL. Though presumably not an active order, it still was the framework out of which liber 418 arose, and was developed by both crowley and X, who I don't know if they were but suspect was never asked.

Crowley also quite explicitly included Masonic initiatory signs within the rubric for the Gnostic Mass, Liber XV, which was intended for public performance.

Crowley's expressed attitude toward secrets was not particular strict, as evidenced by his own discussion in Magick Without Tears, where he both explains his own lack of care, but for personal promise made (not due to sworn oath), and that he was prepared to present the initiation scripts for the OTO rituals to a non-initiate so she could decide whether to undergo that initiation.

Also, the revelation of the Book of Shadows.

But, what is the fate of organizations that have had their secrets revealed?

The historical revelation of the secret rituals of Freemasonry might occasionally be blamed for its fall from grace in Western public life, my reading suggests that would be entirely post hoc ergo propter hoc. The truth is more complex, but I'd simply say that public spaces and the commons in Western culture have been under steady attack for centuries. Specifically in the United States, I think the works Revolutionary Brothers and Bowling Alone make a great collective case for how both fraternity and community have been dismantled. Frankly, I personally suspect that the revelation of the mysteries of Freemasonry are part of, not its downfall, but rather, quite the opposite, its longevity. It is in the way that the curious are exposed to the expose that they learn to become interested in the activity of Freemasonry as it currently exists. As fm changed itself to meet them times in the United States, it continues to try to change to meet the needs of the post modern aspirant.

In spite of the historical revelation of the mysteries of both the Golden Dawn and those of Freemasonry, both continue to exist. So too has AA and OTO continued to exist. The Golden Dawn continues to grow and change both in the face of the changing culture but also in response to the development of Golden Dawn itself. Modern Thelemic redactions of Golden Dawn, such as OSOGD and Temple of the Silver Star, are examples of this growth and change, and these developments would not have been possible without the availability of the Golden Dawn materials.

But even more than that, there is a huge debt owed to by the entire corpus and practice of western esoteric practice to the development that was possible due to the revelation of the golden dawn materials.

In contrast, what has happened when these secrets are not revealed?

Historically, there is almost nothing meaningful available except for a desperate jigsaw of understanding around the practices of the mystery religions, such as the Rites of Eleusis and the religion of Mithras, that failed to survive. Especially for the ancient mystery religions like the Rites of Eleusis, where the penalty for revealing anything was death, the ultimate result was its own death in everything but a sketchy and superficial form in the historical record.

the loss of these mysteries is a bit like the loss of a living language, and without native speakers to continue the language the only hope is whatever records of the language are available. if no such records exist that language becomes extinct. i personally have a hypothesis that part of the pain in the modern world is due to the loss of a connection with the constant history of mystery that has existed, and this has become a kind of disconnect in the modern mind and culture, that has seen much effort to revive, but the loss of connection to the culture of creative and hermetic opposition to the mosaic has been a deep wound in the psyche of the modern mind.

So, yes, the secrets of all the groups who have had them revealed are available free online as well as in print. But, the groups like those of the Rites of Eleusis and of the Mithras cult that don't have their secrets online and in print? They aren't because they are forgotten to history. They died and are extinct.

As inconvenient as it may seem, and as uncomfortable as it may feel; I'm going to suggest this hypothesis: secrets which aren't revealed, and potentially available to those that seek them out independent of their oath-bound custodians, eventually become extinct.

In recent years, O.T.O. itself has followed Aleister Crowley's model when he published the mysteries of the Golden Dawn, and both distributed and made available A∴A∴ initiation documents, specifically books ThROA and Pyramidos, and there are certainly some in A∴A∴ that are not at all happy about that. Further, the modern O.T.O. has also not only made available and widely distributed some of <em>its own mysteries</em>, such as the book De Arte Magica which it also authorized for publication, before changing its mind and attempting to reign in the availability of that document; but the vilified publication of its mysteries in the Secret Rituals was in fact helpful to the Order in enacting its own rituals while it was attempting to reconstitute itself.

Of course, the attempt to have that document removed from the Internet did not really go so well, all in all, and that crackdown has been the source of some bad feelings about the modern O.T.O.; but, it represents a serious change in direction from the course of how the modern O.T.O. operated for quite a while. In fact, I've come to realize that many members of O.T.O. don't know their own history, whether actual or willful ignorance doesn't matter, in regard to efforts that existed to make available works by Aleister Crowley to the public, and that almost all current archives of the technical libri and other works of Aleister Crowley owe their existence to the work of O.T.O. itself in creating and widely distributing these works under a rather permissive license so that they would be available to students and scholars.

To say that the Internet is responsible for either the trials and tribulations of secret societies or for the revelation and availability of secrets is rather completely a-historical, and is rather blaming the equipment for the loss instead of the performance of the athlete. Of course, all of these three expos&eacute;s are available on the Internet. But, the Internet is not the only place these are available. In fact, the first two are still available in print, though the third mentioned was only published in that one edition, there have been other publications of that material. In other words, even without the ease of access allowed by use of the Internet, all three of these expos&eacute;s were published and remain available in print.

One response to the existence of an expos&eacute; of the mysteries would be to simply be in denial. One could refuse to talk about such things and punish anyone, either through direct sanction or through various indirect social and peer pressure mechanisms, who dared to mention that expose. I'd argue that this is like a dysfunctional family refusing to address issues of abuse by ignoring them, and letting the abuse of family members continue.

I have argued in the past that the only reason necessary and sufficient for maintaining these secrets is to avoid spoiling the effect of experiencing them in a living tradition by prior exposure to the essential elements and details. I think I might even go farther now and say that I think this is the only valid reason to do so. I suspect that any other reason involves an ulterior motive that is not in service to the mysteries themselves, but rather to someone's agenda.

But, I will restate my previous opinion that I very much avoid spoilers my own self wherever and whenever possible. I also strongly advocate that course of action, that one should avoid spoilers, to others whenever asked.

For example, before taking degrees in OTO I actually also avoided reading materials about the masonic mysteries, even material with which I had already been familiar from prior reading. I wanted to help maximize my own experience during the initiation process.

Also, there is material I have in my own library that I have intentionally not read. For example, I also have a physical copy of Secret Rituals of the O.T.O. in the collection, but have been very diligent about only reading material I have already experienced in an actual initiation within the living practice of OTO. I also have even avoided reading the materials about Liber ThROA and Pyramidos because I've flirted off and on with undertaking work within the A∴A∴ and wanted to be sure to avoid spoiling that experience as well.

AIT; okay to own secret rituals, just don't pencil in any corrections. many members have both secret rituals and the still in print Sex magic and OTO in addition to whatever other volumes they may have.

So, I do have Secret Rituals, which I purchased for the physical collection of the library. I don't make it available for people to read, and I myself have not read beyond my own degree within, but I do not feel that this is counter to the work of OTO. Quite the opposite: I see having this volume as part of the necessary work of sustaining and preserving the mysteries for the world and the future, whatever might come.

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