The System of the O.T.O.
This letter originally appeared in Magick Without Tears, by Aleister Crowley.
Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
You inform me that the Earnest Inquirer of your ambit has been asking you to explain the difference of the A.'.A.'. and the O.T.O.; and that although your own mind is perfectly clear about it, you find it impossible to to induce a similar lucidity in his. You add that he is not (as one might first suppose) a moron. And will I please do what I can about it?
Well, here's the essential difference ab ovo usque ad mala: the A.'.A.'. concerns the individual, his development, his initiation, his passage from "Student" to "Ipsissimus"; he has no contact of any kind with any other person except the Neophyte who introduces him, and any Student or Students whom he may, after becoming a Neophyte, introduce.
The details of this "Pilgrim's Progress" are very fully set forth in One Star in Sight; and I should indeed be stupid and presumptuous to try to do better than that. But it is true that with regard to the O.T.O. there is no similar manual of instruction. In the Manifesto, and other Official Pronunciamenti, there are, it is true, what ought to be adequate data; but I quite understand that they are not as ordered and classified as one would wish; there is certainly room for a simple elementary account of the origins of the Order, of it's principles, of it's methods, of it's design, of the Virtue of it's successive Grades. This I will now try to supply, at least in a brief outline.
Let us being at the beginning. What is Dramatic Ritual? It is a celebration of the Adventures of the God whom it is intended to invoke. (the Bacchae of Euripides is a perfect example of this.) Now, in the O.T.O., the object of the ceremonies being the initiation of the Candidate, it is he whose Path in Eternity is displayed in dramatic form.
What is the Path?
In the O.T.O. these successive stages are represented as follows:
1. 0° (Minerval)
Of these Events or Stations upon the Path all but three (II°) are single critical experiences. We, however, are concerned with the very varied experiences of Life.
All subsequent Degrees of the O.T.O. are accordingly elaborations of the II°, since in a single ceremony it is hardly possible to sketch, even in the briefest outline, the Teaching of Initiates with regard to Life. The Rituals V°–IX° are then instructions to the Candidate how he should conduct himself; and they confer upon him, gradually, the Magical Secrets which make him a Master of Life.
To return for a moment to that question of Secrecy: there is no rule to prevent you from quoting against me such of my brighter remarks as "Mystery is the enemy of Truth"; but for one thing, I am, and always have been, the leader of the Extreme Left in the Council-Chamber of the City of the Pyramids, so that if I acquiesce at all in the system of the O.T.O. so far as the "secret of secrets" of the IX° is concerned, it is really on a point of personal honour. My pledge given to the late Frater Superior and O.H.O., Dr. Theodor Reuss. For all that, in this particular instance it is beyond a question of common prudence, both because the abuse of the Secret is, at least on the surface, so easy and so tempting, and because, if it became a matter of general knowledge the Order itself might be in danger of calumny and persecution; for the secret is even easier to misinterpret than to profane.
Lege! Juduca! Tace!
Love is the law, love under will.