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Minerval FAQ

Common Questions and Answers Regarding the Minerval Degree Within
Ordo Templi Orientis and On Becoming a Member of the Order

The Minerval Degree (0°) is the introductory Initiate degree into Ordo Templi Orientis. It is said to symbolize the first step in the journey of the Self in Eternity, where the Ego, a wandering God, is attracted to the Solar System. The following questions and answers were written to help guide someone considering joining the Order by taking the Minerval Degree. Some questions are specific to Scarlet Woman Lodge. Any questions not answered here may be directed to the Lodge Master.

Q. First off, what is an initiation?

A. Generally, an initiation implies a beginning or an introduction. In O.T.O. it is a physical ceremony that usually serves several purposes. In the Minerval degree, it introduces the candidates, using dramatic allegory and symbol, to the Mysteries of Thelema.

Q. Why would I want to be initiated?

A. Everyone has their own reason for taking an initiation...there is no single or right answer to this question. However, here are some common reasons:
1) to sample what the Mysteries of Thelema might be in a non-binding way (since a Minerval does not establish any permanent bonds with the Order)
2) to become a member of the Order and the Lodge
3) to become eligible to participate in the Gnostic Mass as a child or ritual officer
4) to seek a deeper level of fellowship with members of the community
5) to become an initiate of our Mysteries

Q. Are there any requirements?

A. Yes, there are several requirements for eligibility to the Minerval degree:
• at least 18 years of age
• not incarcerated
• capable of taking & keeping a binding oath to the Order
• never previously initiated in O.T.O.
• vouched for by two members holding the I° or higher

Q. How do I go about getting initiated?

A. It begins by filling out and turning in a Minerval application. You can request one from the Lodge Master or from a local chartered initiator. Remember that one of the requirements is the signature of two sponsors that are at least I°.

Q. Okay, how do I get two sponsors?

A. Before you can be initiated, you will need to develop a level of personal familiarity with at least two members. The Lodge conducts many activities that are open to non-member guests at which you can meet such people and introduce yourself. You can contact a Lodge officer or look at our calendar for information on upcoming events that are open to the public. The members of the Lodge are actually quite friendly and welcoming of guests.

Q. Will they be at my initiation?

A. While your sponsors are strongly encouraged to be there, it is not strictly required. It is important to note that it is your responsibility to inform your sponsors of the date of your initiation.

Q. Should I wait for a Minerval to be scheduled before I turn in my application?

A. No. We schedule initiations based upon the applications that we receive. If we do not have applications, we do not schedule initiations. So turn in those apps! You can give your application to the Lodge Master or Secretary. You can also drop your application in the temple dropbox (by the front door).

Q. Do I have to pay the fees when I turn in my application?

A. No. You can pay them at any time up to the day of the ceremony (although the sooner the better). You can pay your fees online.

Q. Once I turn in the Minerval application, what can I expect?

A. You will receive a letter in the mail telling you the date and time of the ceremony and where to go. It might be a few months before an initiation is scheduled. Be patient.

Q. What if I can't do it, or I change my mind after I turn one in?

A. No problem, simply let the Lodge Master know. If you need, you can ask to skip the current ceremony and be put into the next. Keep in mind that if a year passes, then you will have to fill out a new application.

Q. What should I plan to bring to my Minerval?

A. You do not need to bring anything except for your fees if you have not yet paid them.

Q. How should I prepare for my Minerval?

A. There is no one correct answer for this. Practically speaking, you do not need to do anything to prepare. Looking over the U.S.G.L. website might be a good idea to educate yourself about the organization you are joining, and reading Liber AL, The Book of the Law, is strongly encouraged.

Q. After I take my Minerval, how long do I have to wait until I take my First Degree?

A. The waiting period between Minerval and First Degree is one month in the USA. However, the Minerval degree is a self-contained initiation and should be experienced for a while on its own. A common waiting period is about nine months.

Q. So, am I joining a cult, or what?

A. Although we like to joke sometimes about being a cult, in reality we are not. Even though the strict definition of a “cult” is a group of people who share similar beliefs and religious practices (which makes every religion a cult), we know what you mean. There are several common practices that go into making a “noxious” cult (quotes from Liber OZ):

  1. Brainwashing—Although O.T.O. does purport to instruct cadidates in the Mysteries of Thelema, we do not use “mind-control” methods, such as love bombing, sleep deprivation, dietary limitations, or any other methods of coercive physical or psychological manipulation to trick people into our belief system. Such techniques are anathema to Thelema.
  2. Blocking exit—In no way do we prevent members from leaving the Order. “Man has the right to move as he will on the face of the earth.”
  3. Isolation—We do not cut off anyone (directly or indirectly) from their family, friends, work, or society in general.
  4. Financial manipulation—Although there is language in our constitution about upper members giving up their property, in reality and practice, no member is expected to give over all their possessions or wealth to the Order.
  5. Charismatic leaders—While O.T.O. certainly has leaders, they are not “charismatic” or “infallible,” meaning that the Order is not a “cult of personality.” Rather, it is an enduring institution—it does not exist based on any individual.
  6. Control of Behavior—No one in the Order will ever tell you how to live your life or what you can and can’t do or enjoy. No one in the Order polices members. “Man has the right to live by his own law.”
  7. Disallowing questions—We promote critical thinking and do not disuade questions or criticisms about the Order. “Man has the right to think what he will.”

Q. What is 667Forum and how do I join?

A. This is an online bulletin board that is open to the public and hosted by Yahoo!. 667Forum is used for open discussion and dialogue on any topic of interest to the forum members. Group membership is open to everyone and includes members of various Magickal organizations and Thelemites from around the Internet. No affiliation with any organization is claimed. Posting is unmoderated, and no initiate standing in any organization is required in order to join.

Although officers and members of the Lodge may occasionally use it to deliver news and event reminders about Lodge events, it is not an exclusive or official channel of O.T.O. or S.W.L. communication.

Many members of the Lodge also belong to a site called LiveJournal. It is not affiliated with the Lodge or O.T.O. in any way. However, it is a good place to read interesting ideas from brothers and sisters all over the country. Do an interest search for O.T.O. or Thelema, and you will soon find them.

To become our fan on Facebook click below

Q. If I take my Minerval at Scarlet Woman Lodge, does that automatically make me a member of the Lodge?

A. No. By taking a Minerval, you automatically become a member of U. S. Grand Lodge (as are all members within America), but not the local body where you were initiated. Every local body (a camp, oasis, or lodge) has its own rules of membership. To become a member of Scarlet Woman Lodge, you must be an initiate member of O.T.O. (ie. at least Minerval) and agree to pay local dues. Please read our membership page for more information on lodge membership.

Q. As a Minerval, what can I do in the Lodge?

  1. Attend future Minervals as a guest (at any O.T.O. body in the world). This is highly recommended.
  2. If you are also baptized in the E.G.C., you may participate as an officer in the Gnostic Mass (as a “Child”).
  3. You can begin novitiate training for the Diaconate and/or Priesthood.
  4. You can volunteer for many events and non-initiation rituals.
  5. You can produce events like classes, workshops, study groups, or original rituals. If you wish to do something along these lines, contact the Lodge Master.
  6. You will also receive Agapé (the U.S.G.L. newsletter) and the Oriflamme (books of interest to Order members). If you affiliate with Scarlet Woman Lodge, you will also get The Scarlet Letter, our own journal.

Q. As a Minerval, what dues do I have to pay?

A. There are two sets of dues:
1) U.S. Grand Lodge dues. These are paid yearly, and the amount depends on degree. At your Minerval initiation, you will pay $84: $42 for U.S.G.L. annual dues, and $42 to the lodge to cover expenses associated with your initiation ritual. All O.T.O. members in the U.S. are expected to pay U.S.G.L. dues. When you pay your $84 for your Minerval initiation, you are then paid up with U.S.G.L. for one year from the date of your Minerval initiation.
2) Local Body dues. All members of O.T.O. are expected to belong to a local body; however, you are not obligated to choose Scarlet Woman Lodge as that body. If you decide to become a member of SWL, please remember that all Lodge members are expected to pay dues to help defray expenses. At Scarlet Woman Lodge, dues are $31/month, or $372/year.

Q. Paying $31 a month seems like a lot. Why are local dues so much?

A. We have a lot to pay for. Local dues help pay the rent on the temple, purchase all the supplies we need, keep the electricity and water running, and provide services like a website and The Scarlet Letter. When you add it all up, $31 a month seems like a bargain! Remember, we get the money for all this from YOU, the local membership—we do not get financial aid from U.S.G.L. or any other source.

Q. But isn’t that why we have fundraisers?

A. We do have fundraisers, and they do help pay the rent. However, we want fundraisers to bring in money that we can put aside for future projects, not just pay the bills. One day we want a permanent temple that we own, for example. But this will not happen unless we can save money, and that depends on you!

Q. Sounds reasonable…so how do I pay my dues?

A. When you pay your dues and fees for your Minerval initiation, they do not include local Lodge dues. However, you do not have to begin paying local dues for one month after the ceremony.

Annual dues to U.S.G.L. can be paid in two ways:
1) you can mail your dues to the Grand Treasurer General: Br. Hank Hadeed, O.T.O. U.S.A., 4110 SE Hawthorne Blvd. #444, Portland, OR, 97214-5246,
2) you can pay online with a credit card at the U.S.G.L. website. When you get your dues reminder in the mail next year, you will be given the exact URL.

Dues to Scarlet Woman Lodge can be paid by:
1) online via PayPal
2) mailing a check to: P.O. Box 81873, Austin, TX 78708,
3) putting a check or cash in an envelope with your name and “dues” on it, and depositing it in the temple dropbox (by the front door), or
4) handing your dues to the Treasurer in person during a Lodge business meeting.

Remember that checks must have the notation “LOCAL DUES: Month/Year” in the memo area. If you are giving cash, there must be some way to identify the same info, or you might not get proper credit.

Q. What if I can’t pay local dues for a month or two?

A. We know that everyone can experience tough times. If you can’t pay dues for a short time, just let the Lodge Treasurer know your situation. At the same time, as you would not just forget to pay your own electric bill for several months, so should you strive to remember to pay your Lodge dues. Find ways to remind yourself, such as paying it at the same time as your other bills. The Lodge has to pay bills on time, just like you do.

Q. What does “Minerval” mean, anyway?

A. In general, a Minerval is a Seeker of Wisdom, Truth or Light (or all three). The word is likely derived from the Roman goddess Minerva, the equivalent of Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom. Minerva was also considered to be the goddess of warriors, poetry, medicine, commerce, crafts, and the inventor of music. You may draw your own conclusions over the time you spend in the Order.

Q. What is the M.M.M.?

A. The initials M.M.M. stands for Mysteria Mystica Maxima. Originally, it was the name of the O.T.O. degree system in Great Britian, then headed by Aleister Crowley (the head of the O.T.O. was Theodor Reuss at the time). Eventually, his M.M.M. was absorbed into the regular system of the Order. It now includes the degrees from O° to VII°.

Q. Do I get to know who my initiator will be?

A. Nope. You’ll just have to wait and see.

Q. After I take my Minerval, will I be expected to take the First Degree initiation?

A. No. Taking the First Degree is a serious decision, and no Minerval should feel pushed into it. Some take their First right away, some after many years, and it is equally honorable to spend your entire life as a Minerval initiate. The choice is entirely yours.

Q. After my initiation, who will have access to my legal name?

A. We take confidentiality very seriously—this is a secret Order, after all. Full civil names are given out to Order members on a need-to-know basis. Within the Lodge, that means the Lodge Master, Secretary, and Treasurer will need to have your full civil name on record. Grand Lodge also keeps records according to civil names. However, under no circumstances will the Lodge or the Order voluntarily give out your civil name to a third party without your permission.

Q. I’ve heard that as a Minerval, I will be a “guest” of the Order. Does that mean I’m not a full member?

A. (From the Grand Lodge Website) The Minerval Degree (0°) is an introductory Initiate degree in which the aspirant is considered an "honored guest" of O.T.O. rather than a full member. The Minerval degree is designed to allow the aspirant to decide whether or not to pursue full membership, and to allow potential sponsors the opportunity to decide whether to support the aspirant's application for full membership. Minervals may begin preliminary novitiate training under an E.G.C. Bishop towards ultimate ordination to the Diaconate and/or Priesthood in Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica, but they are not eligible for ordination or for service as an officer of a Local Body.

Q. If I join O.T.O. does that also make me a Mason?

A. O.T.O. membership does not, of itself, confer any status in Freemasonry. At one time the Order was allied with European Freemasonry, but those ties were cut by Aleister Crowley in 1918. Although there are many similarities, the O.T.O. system is independent and designed to reflect the teachings of Thelema.

Q. If I take the Minerval initiation, will I have to kill a goat or do anything else I don't want to?

A. First, it is important to explain that during our initations, at no time will you ever be forced to do something against your will. We can also say that none of the initiation rituals of O.T.O. involve animal sacrifice in any way (although we do not necessarily condemn this religious practice). Finally, it should be said that for some candidates, the Minerval initiation can be a fairly intense experience. The Minerval ceremony is designed to be challenging, but never degrading or painful. Rather, the aim is to instruct, illuminate, welcome, and enhance the lives of initiates.

But...but...I have more questions!

See also on this site:
About O.T.O. (includes the O.T.O. degree system)
For more info on taking O.T.O. initations, see our Rites of Initiation
About our Church, the Gnostic Mass, and Circle of Stars Sanctuary
About Thelema
About Scarlet Woman Lodge (including our timeline of major events)
About Local Membership

U.S. Grand Lodge also has an excellent FAQ that covers relevant subjects, including OTO, Aleister Crowley, the Church, and Thelema. You can also direct your questions to any U.S.G.L. chartered initiator.