The Scarlet Letter
Volume IV, Number 3 | September 1997
From the Camel’s Back
By N. V. Continuity P., Lodgemaster

CamelIn the end, about 156 people attended the first O.T.O. National Conference, give a few, take a few. This represented very close to the 10% of initiate members in the USA that the Electoral College and the promoters had optimistically hoped/predicted would come. For anyone who doesn’t know, the O.T.O. NatCon was held in Akron, Ohio, sponsored by Black Sun Lodge, on Aug 15 - 17, 1997 e.v. It took place in a Hilton Hotel tucked into a sea of shopping malls. The Hilton and its little buddy, the Days Inn next door, became our island for the weekend, which we proceeded to make a village. Initiates came from around the country to be there; predictably, attendance percentages were proportionately higher for bodies located closer to Ohio. Nonetheless, it felt like a good representative sampling. The people who came made a significant material effort to do so. They really wanted to be there, and it showed.

A convocation of Thelemites is an interesting thing. There isn’t really a look (although perusing the jewelry will often provide the first clue), but there is an unmistakable vibe, especially as we start to spot each other. Friday afternoon began with some furtive 93’s in the parking lot, which grew more enthusiastic as folks realized the trick worked. The first scheduled event was the Gnostic Mass, which took place at a community center a few blocks away. That was, I think, when people got the idea of what we were in for over the weekend. Everybody brought such a big charge of energy. For many, this was the first opportunity to put faces on the names that they’d been hearing forever or the folks they’d been corresponding with for years. And so, the introductions began. By the time we got to The Banquet of Jupiter, uh, the formal banquet, people were primed. And Gods, did we look beautiful. It was such a rush to walk into that ballroom and scan across the lovely mass of energy form in fine apparel. The ritual was good, the food was excellent, and the company sublime —which pretty much set the tone for the rest of the weekend. The most astounding thing about the Con for me was the social aspect. It was kind of a revelation to see who our sisters and brothers actually are.

Like most Cons, the schedule was tight. There wasn’t a lot of breathing space. That was fine, as it kept things intense. Personally, I like to meet people while in the midst of participating in some shared activity, as opposed to a purely social matrix. I was not disappointed. There were presentations, rituals, and lectures of the complex and detailed variety. An intellectual jamarama. It was impossible to fully tackle any subject in the hour allotted, simply because there were so many people with so many ideas. It was psychicly exhausting, and exhilarating as well. The only break in the scheduled activities was on Saturday night - and by then almost everyone had a full dance card. The Hilton took on an unearthly glow.

There were Thelemites singing karaoke in the hotel bar, (a really scary vision, I know, but I’m just reporting the facts here) and Thelemites swimming in the pool, and Thelemites sitting in hotel rooms debating kabala, and drinking fine wine, and Thelemites reading poetry, and reportedly there were Thelemites bouncing on their beds exchanging kundalini shots with their new favorite sex toy, the vibrating Mr. Potato Head. There were secret rituals and exchanged confidences. Plots were hatched and plans were made, late into the night. A great amount of coffee was consumed. People decided that there would be plenty of time for sleep later. In short, the mindmeld was successful.

Sunday included a 5 hour slot set aside for the discussion of the Minerval through III° initiation ceremonies. It turned out to be enough time to discuss 1 & 1/2 rituals, only because we hurried. It became clear that the 100 initiators in the room had strong, varying opinions on every point of every ritual. We needed an additional day, and we didn’t have it. Less than 48 hours after we convened, it was over. It seems like an eye blink; a long dream that took place in a couple seconds of snatched dozing. I was driving east feeling like I left something behind. I wanted to go camping for a week at the seashore —with the whole tribe. I went to the NatCon without much of a sense of expectation —don’t like the conference motif, in general. I knew it would be interesting, but it turned out to be a moving and vital experience, providing a welcome infusion of enthusiasm and energy. It was entirely worth it to travel to Akron in the middle of the summer. I’d do it again in a heartbeat, because of the perspective lent. If you missed it, I strongly suggest you save up for next time.

The big question now is when will the next one be? The folks from Cleveland, Bloomington and Chicago worked their collective butts off to make this one a success. Who will take the next bite? Maybe some nice unsuspecting conference center on the ocean would be nice... some place where we could make a bit more noise, and enjoy the outdoors, and make love and music under the stars... Maybe at the O.T.O. 100 year anniversary (in ’02) we can have an International Conference...

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