Ignorance is not Bliss:
Magick and the Man of Earth Initiations of the OTO
by Michael Osiris Snuffin (2003)
Note: No oaths have been harmed in the writing of this essay.
Many OTO bodies have put a great deal of emphasis on the material aspect of the Man of Earth (MoE) initiations, but few have acknowledged the magical aspect of the system. While the MoE initiations are designed in such a manner that they can be performed without any magical knowledge, ignorance of their magical function is the root cause of many unnecessary problems for the initiate.
The main magical function of the MoE initiations is not an Order secret–it is simply explained in an essay by Frater Ad Veritatem IX˚:
“The Order Degrees, as described in several Order documents included in this issue, are conveyed in a ceremonial manner. The Degree structure corresponds with the Hindu Chakra system as diagrammed elsewhere in this issue. Thus, the Man of Earth series of degrees fully activates the psychic body of the Initiate.”
These correspondences are as follows:
Crown (Sahasrara): Perfect Initiate
Third Eye (Ajna): Minerval & IV˚
Throat (Vishuddha): I˚
Heart (Anahata): II˚
Plexus (Manipura): IV˚
Navel (Svadisthana): III˚
Root (Muladhara): Minerval
There is a logical pattern in the progression of the degrees through the chakras. The Minerval degree establishes the primary circuit, activating the Root and Third Eye chakras. The next three degrees (I-III˚) descend down down the spine, activating the Throat, Heart, and Navel chakras. The Fourth degree activates the Plexus chakra, completing the circuit set up in the Minerval, and then re-activates the Third Eye to affirm and strengthen the circuit. The Crown chakra is opened only after all of the lower chakras are activated.
The MoE degrees are open to all worthy candidates because the series activates all seven chakras. To activate only part of the psychic body of the initiate would be a travesty and a crime.
The MoE initiations are formulaic in nature, much like the Gnostic Mass (the other main ritual function the OTO). Like the Priest and Priestess in the Gnostic Mass, who can perform the IX˚ operation without knowing the secret of the degree, the MoE initiator need not understand the mechanics of the ritual in order to perform it successfully. No magical training is received with the Charter to initiate and no great secrets are imparted. The recipe nature of the MoE initiations is one of the main reasons why the OTO strives so hard keep their scripts out of public hands—anyone can perform them and get results.
If the magick of the MoE initiations is so simple and formulaic, why do the results of these ceremonies differ so greatly from candidate to candidate? Why is one initiate deeply affected by a particular initiation while another initiate escapes unscathed? The answer lies in how the chakra system works.
Ideally, the seven chakras are equally balanced and work in synergy, allowing the individual to live and experience life to the fullest of his or her potential. Realistically, by the time the individual has reached the “full age” of 18 and is eligible for initiation into the OTO, he or she has had several negative life experiences resulting in one or more blocked chakras. What is a blocked chakra? Anodea Judith gives us a comprehensive explanation in Eastern Body, Western Mind:
“We have all experienced times when the free flow of our energy or intention seems blocked. Habitual blocks may fall into categories that relate to chakra function. For instance, if communication is difficult for us, we have a block in the fifth chakra. If we live in fear and submission, we could say our power chakra is blocked. If our physical health or personal finances are in constant crisis, then we have a block in the first chakra.
What blocks a chakra? Childhood trauma, cultural conditioning, limited belief systems, restrictive or exhausting habits, physical and emotional injuries, or even just a lack of attention all contribute to chakra blockage. Difficulties abound in life, and for each one, we develop a coping strategy. When difficulties persist, these coping strategies become chronic patterns, anchored in the body and psyche as defense structures.
Eventually these defenses create holding patterns in our musculature that restrict the free flow of energy, even when real threats cease to exist. This chronic tension is known as body armor. It affects our posture, breathing, metabolism, and our emotional states, as well as our perceptions, interpretations, and belief systems. Obviously, since the body-mind system is so affected, we see manifestations in our relationships, work, creativity, and belief systems–all of which tend to perpetuate the pattern.
As the life experiences of each individual are unique, he or she will have a unique relationship of healthy and blocked chakras. The general theme of the each chakra is the same, but the relationship and expression will always be different. For instance, the throat chakra governs communication, but a blockage in one individual may manifest as aggressive and constant conversation, while another may simply stop talking anytime there is any form of conflict. Therefore each individual will be affected by the MoE intitations in a unique and personal manner.
Initiation is not a universal panacea. A three-hour ceremony by itself cannot undo years of negative programming. Activation of a blocked chakra may open it to the process of change and healing, but the energy may not be strong enough to overcome the blockage.
Allow me give you a personal example. I was diagnosed with Leukemia at age 7, and within a few weeks the aggresive chemotherapy and radiation treatments turned an energetic little boy into an extremely weak and fragile child. I coped with this trauma by withdrawing from my body, effectively distancing myself from the constant pain and suffering.
When I went into a full remission eight years later, this defense structure was completely integrated into my psyche. Thus, when I took my Minerval initiation at age 25 I was relatively unaffected by the experience, as my root chakra had been blocked for over half my life. It was only many years later that I recognized this blockage and started to work through it.
The process of initiation is like planting a seed. If the seed is buried in fertile ground and given the proper amount of water and sunlight, it will grow into a beautiful flower and bear much fruit. On the other hand, if the seed is cast amidst the rocks and parched by the harsh sun of the desert, it will quickly wither and die.
There is a fundamental magical principle at work here: magick is much more effective when you work with it rather than against it. If you perform a magical ritual to get laid, you are more likely to see results if you go out and socialize in public than if you stay at home. If you do magick to help you pass a test in school, you will be much more likely to succeed if you study for the test instead of sitting on the couch watching TV. Likewise, if you work with the current of initiation rather than just letting it happen, you are much more likely to receive the full benefit of that initiation.
In conclusion, knowledge of the magical function of the MoE initations and their foundation in the chakra system is the key to understanding any problems that may occur as a result of those initiations. By working with the current of initiation to overcome blockages in the chakra system, the initiate may truly take advantage of all that the MoE degrees have to offer.
Copyright © 2010 Michael Osiris Snuffin
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