Membership in Ordo Templi Orientis
For most people, "joining O.T.O." means "becoming an initiate member of O.T.O." Initiate membership is available to every man and woman who is free, at least 18 years old, and of good report (see below). O.T.O. initiations are conferred through a physical ceremony conducted by a chartered initiator. Initiations are almost always held at O.T.O. local bodies, most commonly Oases and Lodges. The introductory initiation into O.T.O. is known as the "Minerval" or 0°.
Therefore, the path to becoming an initiate member of O.T.O. involves contacting a nearby or otherwise convenient local body which conducts Minerval initiations, obtaining an application for initiation from that body, and submitting it along with the appropriate dues and fees.
In order to establish "good report," your application must be signed by two sponsors who are already I° initiates of O.T.O. Prospective sponsors will generally want to get to know you before signing your application, which may involve your attendance with them at several local body events, or time spent with them privately.
The structure of O.T.O., like that of Freemasonry and the ancient mystery schools, is based on a staged series of initiations or degrees. In the rituals of these degrees, O.T.O. seeks to instruct the individual by allegory and symbol in the profound mysteries of nature, and thereby to assist each initiate in discovering his or her own true identity.
Initiate membership is subdivided by degree. There are a total of 21 initiate degrees in O.T.O., including thirteen numbered degrees and eight un-numbered, intermediate degrees or sub-degrees. The degrees of O.T.O. are divided into three Grades or "Triads:" the Hermit, the Lover, and the Man of Earth, as follows:
|The Third, or Man of Earth, Triad||0°||Minerval|
|I°||Man and Brother|
Woman and Sister
|IV°||Perfect Magician and companion of the Holy Royal Arch of Enoch|
|Perfect Initiate, or Prince of Jerusalem|
|Outside all Triads
||Knight of the East and West|
|The Second, or Lover, Triad||V°||Sovereign Prince Rose-Croix, and Knight of the Pelican and Eagle|
|Knight of the Red Eagle, and Member of the Senate of Knight Hermetic Philosophers|
|VI°||Illustrious Knight (Templar) of the Order of Kadosch, and Companion of the Holy Graal|
|Grand Inquisitor Commander, and Member of the Grand Tribunal|
|Prince of the Royal Secret|
|VII°||Theoreticus, and Very Illustrious Sovereign Grand Inspector General|
|Magus of Light, and Bishop of Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica|
|Grandmaster of Light, and Inspector of Rites and Degrees|
|The First, or Hermit, Triad
||VIII°||Perfect Pontiff of the Illuminati|
|Epopt of the Illuminati|
|IX°||Initiate of the Sanctuary of the Gnosis|
|X°||Rex Summus Sanctissimus|
|XI°||Initiate of the Eleventh Degree (This degree is technical, and has no relation to the general plan of the Order)|
|XII°||Frater Superior, and Outer Head of the Order|
The Minerval Degree (0°) is an introductory Initiate degree, designed to allow the aspirant to decide whether or not to become a full member. Members of the Minerval Degree may begin novitiate training for the Diaconate and/or Priesthood in Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica. The First Degree (I°) bestows full membership upon the initiate. A First Degree initiate may retire from active participation in O.T.O., but the spiritual link forged between the initiate and the Order during the ceremony of the First Degree will remain throughout the initiate's life. An initiate of the Second Degree is eligible for ordination as a deacon of Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica.
Beyond the degree of Perfect Initiate (P.I.), advancement is by invitation only. Initiates of the intermediate degree of Knight of the East and West (K.E.W.) are eligible for formal ordination to the Priesthood in Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica. Episcopal consecration in Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica is conferred as part of the Seventh Degree. The Tenth Degree (X°) is held by the National Grand Master General of O.T.O. in a particular country.
The Man of Earth degrees follow a pattern based on the symbolism of the Chakras and the stages of Kundalini Yoga; and represent, in dramatic form, the Individual's Path in Eternity. In the 0°, the Ego, a wandering God, is attracted to the Solar System. In the I°, the Child experiences Birth. In the II°, the Man or Woman experiences Life. The III° represents the Death of the individual, and the IV° represents the world beyond Death, the glorified state of the Initiate. In the P.I. Degree, the Initiate symbolically achieves ultimate Perfection (Completion), and the entire cycle is withdrawn into Annihilation.
Of these Events or Stations upon the Path, all but the II° represent single critical experiences. We, however, are concerned mostly with the varied experiences of Life. All subsequent degrees are therefore elaborations of the II°, a progressive instruction in how to live, 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 V° - IX° rituals and teachings are therefore instructions to the Initiate in the Mastery of Life; there is instruction in Hermetic Philosophy, Qabalah, Magick and Yoga, all aimed at preparing the Initiate for the revelation and application of one Supreme Secret.
Every man and woman of full age (18 or more years old), free, and of good report, has an indefeasible right to the first three degrees of O.T.O. (but not according to any particular time schedule). These "first three degrees" actually include all the degrees in the Man of Earth Triad (the Minerval is considered a prologue to the First Degree, and the Fourth and P.I. Degrees are considered pendants to the Third Degree).
Progress of the O.T.O. initiate toward the Fourth and P.I. Degrees is usually a matter of years. A certain amount of time is usually required to allow full maturation of the effects of the O.T.O. initiations, although under some circumstances the Minerval and First Degrees may be taken on the same occasion.
In addition to the above dues and fees, the individual local bodies may charge their own dues or initiation fees, to help cover their own operating costs.
Dues are payable upon applying for a new initiation, or after one year, whichever comes first. Fees are payable upon applying for a new initiation.
In addition to dues and fees, members (and non-members) are welcome to make contributions from time to time. Contributions may be applied toward an income tax deduction, subject to any limitations and restrictions set forth in current State and U.S.A. Federal income tax laws. Dues may or may not be tax deductible, depending on local state law.
Membership in Swirling Star Lodge
It is strongly suggested that any member of O.T.O. also maintain membership in their local O.T.O. body. Swirling Star Lodge hosts regular classes and events open to the public, as well as closed events for initiates of O.T.O. only. Membership in Swirling Star Lodge is available to all free men and women, ages 18 and older, who wish to participate in and contribute positively toward the activities of our body, and assist us in our aim of promulgating the Law of Thelema to society.
To be considered an active member of Swirling Star Lodge, an individual must be willing to participate financially in the operations of the local body. As an O.T.O. body we incur numerous expenses such as rental of Temple space, purchase and maintenance of temple and initiation equipment, utility costs, perishable costs (food, wine, incense, candles, etc), ritual supplies and regalia, montly website costs, and more. We feel that our dues system is reasonable and affordable, and we urge each member to pay their dues in a timely manner so that Body Officers can focus on the important Work at hand, rather than wasting time hassling members over non-payment of dues.
Local body dues are $20 per month.
Please e-mail us for more information.