Wicca and O.T.O.

Wicca and O.T.O.
by Bill Heidrick

To: alt.magick
From: [email protected] (Bill Heidrick)
Subject: Wicca and OTO
Date: 24 Nov 1994 01:24:26 GMT
Quoting: |Tim Maroney ([email protected])

So far as I know (and I have been investigating the issue for years),
there is absolutely no evidence to support the story in common
circulation that Crowley was directly involved with the writing of the
Gardnerian Book of Shadows. It does contain Crowley quotes, together
with quotes from Leland and others, but the evidence indicates that
these were taken from published works.

There is an unconfirmed story that Wilkinson asserted Gardner paid Crowley to write the Book of Shadows. If so, Wilkinson is relatively reliable in such matters, having his own reputation as “Louis Marlow” to look after and not being a particularly obsequious sort of fellow. Frankly, having read early versions of the Book of Shadows, I don't see Crowley's direct hand in all writing. The usage of imitative “Olde English” is too buggy for Crowley. The only texts that could pass for direct Crowley writing are “The Craft Laws”, and a few other things like “Eightfold Path or Ways to the Centre” — the style is Crowley's, including use of upper case letters for emphasis of some nouns outside of proper names. Similar writing will be found in _Magick Without Tears_ and _The Gospel According to St. Bernard Shaw_. Aside from text, most of the early versions of ritual are directly in the style of Crowley's OTO initiation rituals — down to the format of stage directions and the names of the officers in some instances. “The Old Laws” have some of the characteristics of Crowley's style and penchant for long digression; but almost certainly were re-written, if not completely from another hand — “Ardane” and some of the flow of the text would argue against direct Crowley origin. “But the Priestess should ever mind that all power comes from him.” — this is characteristic of Crowley.

Most of the inclusions of directly known Crowley material do come from Crowley's published works, but that is perhaps unimportant. Such inclusions are easiest to track, hence others are commonly over-looked.

The style is not that of Crowley overall;

True, but but some parts are in Crowley's style to a “T”, v.s. Also, note that some of the documents use “brothers” and “brotherhood” for the collective almost exclusively, a Crowley trait when writing such things, most unlikely to be found in an ancestral text of a primarily feminine origin.

the rumored ms. in his handwriting has never come to light;


and the borrowings are from a very narrow range of sources (to
wit, the Book of the Law and the Gnostic Mass).

Not true. The range is quite wide. The substance of the rituals, including scourge and such, is an echo of Crowley's _Book 4_, part 2. The poem: “Hail Aradia, from the Amalthean Horn…” is nothing more than a lift of the entire text of Crowley's “La Fortuna” with “Tish” replaced by “Aradia” — taken from “Rodin in Rime”, _The Works of Aleister Crowley_ Vol. III, 1907 e.v.. The three degree rituals use massive direct quotes and paraphrases from O.T.O. initiation rituals, derived in part but not verbatim from AASR initiations. Some O.T.O. robe and apron devices are also used, mostly with minor modification. Portions of the Gnostic Mass used in the old Book of Shadows are, of course, quite direct. For reference to the O.T.O. initiation rituals used, please don't expect me to violate my own O.T.O. oaths, but look to the inaccurate versions pirate published by Francis King in his _Secret Rituals of the O.T.O._ — they are close enough for this purpose. A number of other things are also taken from _Magick in Theory and Practice_ in the pre-Valiente versions of the Book of Shadows, including Crowley's “Mass of the Phoenix”.

My source for the Book of Shadows material in the above is Aidan Kelly's typescript: “The Rebirth of Witchcraft: Tradition and Creativity in the Gardnerian Reform”, submitted “…to satisfy one of the requirements for my comprehensive examinations at the Graduate Theological Union” — by Kelly, dated 2/15/77. This hefty TS has been widely circulated in the SF Bay Area since that date. It is not to be confused with the much later and greatly inferior _Crafting the Art of Magic: 1939-1964. A History of Modern Witchcraft_, Book I, by Aidan out of Llewellyn, 1991 , ISBN 0-87542-370-1 — for a critical review of the latter, see _Thelema Lodge Calendar_, Jan. 1992 e.v., book review by Kathy Fleck.

Page 202 of Aidan's 1977 e.v. TS has the following text, identified as “Document U: Initiation Rituals”:

“Magus: 'O Secret of secrets that art hidden in the being of all that lives, not Thee do we adore, for that which adoreth is also thou. Thou art that and That am I (kiss). I am the flame that burns in every man and in the core of every star (kiss). I am life and the giver of life, yet therefore is the knowledge of me the Knowledge of Death (kiss). I am alone, the Lord within ourselves whose name is Mystery of Mysteries (kiss). Make open the path of intelligence between us, for these truly are the five points of Fellowship: feet to feet, Knee to knee, groin to groin, breast to breast, AAROSNDB, lips to lips. By the Great and Holy Name V, V, V, V, V, __” — given the Crowley in that, it's no wonder that Valiente took a labris to the text~! Using Crowley's VVVVV magical name as a word of power is even hard for me to swallow in the context. The use of “Theban” for the odd word is also characteristic of Crowley — see _Equinox_ drawing of “Adonai”.

To my mind, the principal objections to the theory of Crowley writing the original Gardnarian _Book of Shadows_ are these:

1. Absence of independent evidence in the form of correspondence or MSS identifying the authorship as Crowley's. 2. The cut-and-paste quality of the text. 3. The changes in style found in portions of the text. 4. Crowley's advanced age and disability at the time of Gardner's later O.T.O. initiations,

What I've seen of the text of the _Book of Shadows_, early form, appears to be over 80% Crowley in direct quote or credible style. Of that, about 50% is a determination based only on style.

On the point of age and disability, it is possible that much of the material was written before Gardner's '47 e.v. O.T.O. initiation; but that was quite late, in Crowley's last year. The following is from the last diary of Aleister Crowley, 1947 e.v.:

“May “Thur 1 Miss Eva Collins. Dr. G.B.Gardner Ph.D Singapore. Arnold Crowther prof. G. a Magician to tea. Dr. G.R.Arch”] … “Wed 7 Dr. Gardner about 12. Tell him phone Wel 6709.” (Gerald Yorke's phone number)

“Tues27 Gardner here”

— the 1947 e.v. diary is very curtailed, with the 1946 diary occupying multiple pages for each month, the last page of the 1947 has most of May and all of June-November on a single page. Crowley did maintain a considerable correspondence in '47, but had breaks of weeks due to illness. Crowley could not have written the Book of Shadows with the strength he had left in 1947 e.v., in my opinion. The May 1st entry is abbreviated, but can be taken with considerable confidence as a note of initiation up to IVth degree for Gardner, apparently from IInd degree O.T.O. The May 7th entry would indicate passing Gardner on to Gerald Yorke for further work, Crowley's practice in those days. O.T.O. initiations in England were by reading-in at the date of the diary entry, not formal ritual. The initiation rituals were read to the candidate, owing to lack of temple and officers. Gardner does acknowledge his O.T.O. membership in 1948 e.v., notably in a letter written in the USA while traveling. That letter by Gardner is in the Humanities Research Center at Austin, U of T, and asserts a claim to being the head of O.T.O. in Europe after Crowley's death.

93 93/93 Bill Heidrick, IXth Degree O.T.O.

For Crafting the Art of Magic, see also the newer Inventing Witchcraft by Aiden Kelly

This article published here with permission from Bill Heidrick.


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