CULTS OF NEW YORK CITY: OTO (ORDO TEMPLI ORIENTIS)
Contributed to Superchief anonymously
These days it seems like everyone and their mother thinks it’s really cool to include the “All-seeing eye” as a motif in their art. Whether it’s pictures of Aleister Crowley on their coffee mugs or ironic tattoos of upside down crosses, it’s becoming common to hear your friends speculate about the occult, and about whether or not Jay-Z belongs to a secret society. With all our collective dread of the “2012 Mayan Prophecy,” there’s a feeling that the occult seems to permeate the air and our culture.
In a place like NYC, with 8 million people swarming around on a ten-mile island that resembles a futuristic graveyard, what better place could there be for clandestine occult happenings? In New York I always feel amazed at how many parallel realities and uses of the city as an “arena” are simultaneously happening at once. The guy biking past you might be a weed messenger, the guy sitting on a bench might be an undercover cop, the dude standing right next to you on the train could be on his way to a nudist convention, and the guy at the coffee shop could be a member of a cult or secret society.
Which leads me to the theme of this column- there are tons of cults and secret societies hiding in plain view in NYC, and I’m going to profile some of them. And of course, I’ll provide information on how to join these sketchy groups, cuz why not…
OTO (ORDO TEMPLI ORIENTIS)
The Order Temple Orients are a secret society with a series of Masonic-style initiatory degrees from 0°—Minerval (the lowest grade) XI°—Initiate of the Eleventh Degree (which of course involves magic rites involving anal sex) all the way to XII°—Frater Superior, and Outer Head of the Order (at which point you will be a Master Wizard). It was started in England and then revamped by various people over time, including Aleister Crowley.
The practices of the OTO could be described as a mixture of gnosticism, tantric sexual mysticism and their main ethos “thelema.”
The prophetic book that the followers of Thelema follow is called “Liber AL vel Legis, sub figura CCXX, as delivered by XCIII=418 to DCLXVI” but in short is called “The Book of the Law.” The book was written in 1904 over the course of 3 hours while Aliester Crowley was on his honeymoon with his wife in Egypt. After a ritual and the invocation of Thoth (the god of knowledge) a strange voice who he identified as Aiwass entered his head and told him to go to a temple and transcribe the cosmic message given to him. It turned out as a short book of cryptic prose. The main credo in the book is the deceptively simple declaration “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law” and “Love is the law, love under will.”
Here’s a link to the whole text:
At the top of the cryptic hierarchy are “The Secret Chiefs,” a group of interdimensional enlightened ones who secretly control the world through occult practices. These secret chiefs make up the “outer order” of the OTO, and are also important figures in other cults like The Golden Dawn, Theosophy, and another strange and elusive Thalamic group, the a.:.a.:. (Argentanium Astrum)
Some Highlights of OTO Belief and Practices:
A ritual that includes the consuming of the eucharist. Unlike the Catholic eucharist (consuming the body of christ as blood and wine) the OTO has bread (with sperm baked into it) and wine (with menstrual blood) as its sacrament.
“The Babylon Working”
A legendary series of rituals conducted by Jack Parsons, rocket scientist, and one of the founders of space travel who laid the foundations for groups like NASA. L. Ron Hubbard, who you might know as the founder of “Scientology.” “The Babylon Working” involved Jack Parsons ritually impregnating “the scarlet whore of Bablyon” in order to birth the anti-christ. These rituals included invocations of Ishtar and various “lunar female goddesses” and enchain magic. This ritual operation is the basis of Aleister Crowley’s “fictional” book, Moonchild. Oh and did I mention the exact location where these rituals were conducted is where Area 51 now stands? (Yes, I am a paranoid stoner.)
“The Cabalistic Tree of Life”
A really cool looking symbol that describes the aspects of the universe as “the ten emanations of god.” Each point is called a sepheroth. Think of it as the stepping stones toward absolute divinity, from “malkuth,” which symbolizes the material world to “kether” the “Infinite Light of Godhead.” It is a very complicated system of symbols all with cabalistic numerological correspondences. Within the OTO, initiates practice “astral projection through the interconnecting paths of the sepheroth.” (far out) Anyways the Kabbala and The Tree of Life are very complicated subjects that have had volumes upon volumes written about them. (Just know that shit’s crazy.)
“The Unicursal Hexagram”
The symbol of Thelema. It looks really cool. Recently discovered by hipsters.
Fun Facts on the OTO:
-When you get high up enough in rank, you’re required to get a tattoo of a rose on your chest. (Yes, like the one your weird Puerto Rican uncle has.)
-There are two branches of the OTO, the Typhonian and Caliphate.
– The OTO’s journal, called “The Equinox” which contains many secrets of the OTO, was curated and later published by Aleister Crowley. It includes lengthy amounts of poetry (containing coded magical formulas for sexual alchemical practices) and a long article basically about how awesome hash is.
-There is probably an OTO lodge in your town! There are several in NYC, and many secret lodges around the country.
The OTO are equally sketchy and awesome. If ritual orgies, invocations of gods, archangels, demons and astral projection through the emanations of god sound like your cup of tea, check them out.
In NYC you can join via “The Tahuti Lodge”
and their Facebook page
The OTO’s main site with more information and a listing of lodges:
Thanks for reading. I’ll be writing an ongoing column for Superchief on the occult, conspiracies, weird stuff and generally whatever I want. Keep an eye out for more.