Address delivered by National Grand Master General Sabazius X°

to the Ninth National Conference of the U.S. O.T.O. Grand Lodge

Neither East nor West

Saturday evening, August 10, 2013 e.v.
Sacramento, California


Brothers and Sisters,

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.


Neither East nor West. Neither the house of dawn, nor the house of dusk, neither the realm of beginnings nor the realm of endings; neither here nor there, neither black nor white, neither the past nor the future, neither the old nor the new. We find ourselves in transit; in the interstices, the in-between places, partaking of partialities, gradients, nuances, and transients. Familiar things pass away, and strange, new things confront us, leaving us excited, but also perhaps somewhat unsure, insecure, and anxious. We feel well rid of some of the old, and we welcome some of the new--but not all, necessarily.

In the face of the insecurity of the impermanence that confronts us, comfort and courage can often be found in belonging to, and identifying with, an institution that is anchored, to some extent, in history and tradition, and which exhibits the size and strength to endure into the future. We want to be a part of something larger than ourselves. It is a natural human impulse, one not lightly to be dismissed. I daresay this is why many of us are here tonight. It is, in fact, I think, one of the very foundations of human culture, and we see this tendency everywhere, manifesting in mysticism as well as in a propensity to gather together in tribes of various sorts.

A “tribe,” as I'm using the term here, can be any defined association of people, whether they are united by real ties--such as genetics, economic interdependence, physical proximity, religious belief, political ideology, or actual friendship; or completely imaginary ties--such as one's preferred football team or brand of merchandise, or what kind of food one likes or toys one collects; or even the particular disposition of one's first name and facial hair.

I'm not here to denounce this very human trait. It's here to stay, and it's really not all bad. In fact, I doubt life would be very pleasant without it--I've talked about the need for community several times before. However, like all good things, it can be taken too far. You can usually tell when this has happened when it starts making people stupid. And this seems to happen fairly regularly with various tribalistic associations, because it's so easy for us to lose ourselves in them, as we self-define ourselves less and less on the basis of introspection and personal insight, and more and more on the basis of the reflected norms and expectations and paradigms and needs and standards and examples of the tribe--especially when the tribe finds itself faced with its own challenges such as change or stagnation.

The journey from East to West is made by all things, not just us as individuals, but by mountains, oceans, stars, and galaxies; and even associations and institutions such as cultures, religions, magical orders, corporations, and model airplane clubs. And this can be disturbing to us when we use these things as anchors for our identity against the currents of impermanence. And as our various tribes rise and fall in relative prominence and vitality, such disturbance can result in competition and conflict.

Conflict can be very energizing and focusing to the tribal consciousness. Real or perceived threats to the tribe's prestige and status among the other tribes can be a matter of great concern; still more so real or perceived threats to the tribe's collective identity as it defines itself.

When tribes, or sub-tribes, go beyond friendly competition into the realm of hostility, such factors as logic and enlightened self-interest tend to become buried under layers of jingoism and rhetorical smoke. This is where ideas are evaluated on the basis of who has proposed them, rather than on their actual merits. This is where snarl-words and fearful labels and images are evoked and programmed to attack. This is where association becomes proof of guilt, and where assumptions and doubts are deemed equivalent to evidence. This is where suspicion and prejudice and paranoia begin to build angular momentum, creating a vicious, spiraling cycle that can ultimately whip its own irrational fears into a froth of terrible reality.

And you can be sure that there are those who know all this well enough, and are perfectly willing to exploit these tendencies as tools of control to advance their own agendas.

So, what to do? (I happen to have a few thoughts.)

Love is the law, love under will.