Please allow me to say up front, before drawing my sword, that I highly recommend this book to anyone who has a strong interest in the Ordo Templi Orientis or a desire to have a complete collection of Crowleyana in his or her library. Most of it may be dull and dreary for anyone who is not interested in the O.T.O. or that aspect of Aleister Crowley's life, but if your interest is keen you might consider your money well spent if you decide to purchase this volume. Now I shall unsheathe my sword.
The cover of this trade paperback book is quiet and dignified, simple and scholarly in design. Throughout the book you will find numerous photographs, illustrations and reproduced documents. A few of the documents are printed too small, making them difficult to read, and the black and white photographs as well could have been larger and more clear. Of course, if this had been done, especially if the photographs would have been reproduced on glossy paper, even more so if they had been in colour, the cost of publication and therefore the overall cost of the book for readers would have shot through the roof. One photo in particular, naturally, caught my attention. There he is, on page 23, standing in front of his home, the so-called "International Headquarters" of the Caliphate pseudo-o.t.o., the second Caliph himself, Hymenaeus Beta, William Breeze. He looks rather like an accountant, but then, I suppose he would. His house, however, looks magnificent, and I wonder just how many tax breaks he receives by calling it the order's "International Headquarters" and just how often it is used for anything but his personal use? I also wonder what percentage of the fees and dues paid by members of the Caliphate is used for the upkeep and bills? Just some random thoughts I entertained when first looking at the photograph. I am certainly not suggesting any legal or ethical impropieties here!
Another minor complaint I have about the book, which is overall rather well printed, is the small size of the print. At 48, nearly 49, and needing reading glasses to begin with, this has become an issue I am now more sensitive to. Of course, again, had the print been larger the number of pages would have had to have been increased and the cost would have again had to have gone up as a result. On the other hand, there were a few things printed so small I was tempted to take the book to one of the local universities so that I might borrow an electron microscope! Okay. It wasn't that bad.
Pages 13 through 58 are the work of Mr. Peter-R. Koenig. In Birth and Development of the Ordo Templi Orientis, Amazing Maze, Structure and Practises of the O.T.O. Groups, and A note to the Constitutions, the Rituals and the Instructions, Koenig lays everything out quite nicely and in fine order. The subject is a difficult one, well likened to a maze, but the author probably does the best job possible of unwinding the twists and turns to make everything as clear as he can for the reader. However, the author is P.R.Koenig. I think one of the reasons Koenig was attracted to the matter of the O.T.O. in the first place was because like attracts like. Koenig, a rather twisted and confused individual, was attracted to the twisted and confused history of this occult order, and he has been lost in its maze ever since.
For more about Mr. Koenig you may wish to read the new Sword of Horus article about him here on the Castle of the Silver Star by clicking on the link at the bottom of this page.
I am quite sure you will hear from the Caliphate gang and others regarding the issues they have with this part of the book. Everyone, I am sure, will eagerly point out errors in Koenig's dubious scholarship. Some of these people may be right, as Koenig has his own unique way of interpreting and presenting the facts, but in some cases it will be Koenig who is right. An "Amazing Maze" indeed. Here I will only make mention of a few things that I did not consider accurate or fair.
On page 15 Koenig refers to Aleister Crowley as a "self-proclaimed heir" in regards to the O.T.O., but his arguments, such as they are, that give him cause to doubt Crowley's right to the title of O.H.O. [Outer Head of the Order] leave a lot to be desired. Likewise on this page Koenig simply drops "After Reuss expelled Crowley in 1921" without any explanation of this remark or proof of it's accuracy. In fact, on page 17, employing a brief quotation we are told is an extract from Crowley's diary, Koenig wrote:
... it was not too long before Reuss and Crowley clashed over "The Law of Thelema" and shortly after the dispute with Reuss, Crowley wrote in his diary on 27 November 1921, "I have proclaimed myself OHO" (Outer Head of the Order = world leading O.T.O. authority, either named by the predecessor or unanimously voted by all X° members). There is strong evidence to suggest that Crowley was expelled by Reuss towards the end of 1921.
However, that "strong evidence", which others might call circumstantial, is not produced and we are left to simply except Koenig's word for it. It is a thing that would please him, if it were so, for while he feigns the objectivity a true historical researcher should possess [and probably seldom does], it has always been obvious that Koenig is in fact extremely subject, with a special hatred for William Breeze and the Caliphate pseudo-o.t.o. I can't say that I blame Koenig for this, although his hatred is personal and ego-motivated, while my disapproval of Breeze and the Caliphate is impersonal and professionally motivated because of my love for the memory and work of Crowley as well as for Thelema and the future of humankind, but it unfortunately interferes with his researches and perverts his findings. I truly wish that this were not so. Be that as it may, it is possible that Reuss and Crowley clashed. The whole thing is possible, but without the rest of the diary entry and the specifics in regards to Reuss supposedly expelling Crowley, we cannot put much stock in Koenig's allegations. For instance, perhaps Reuss did expell Crowley, but then the question arises: Did he have the right or power to do so at that time?
Page 18 Koenig again wrote "Crowley, having been expelled by Reuss", and elsewhere I believe, and I began to think that he kept repeating this in an effort to make the reader believe it via subliminal suggestion. He often states it as a fact, while admitting in one place only that there is "strong evidence" that this is so - and of course it is, so far as we can tell, only "strong", i.e. convincing from his less than objective point of view.
On page 55 Koenig wrote that "Crowley saw no use in the vaginal fluids nor did he think that women are divine ... therefore, he could not imagine lesbian sexmagick..." and as is usually the case with Koenig when he is writing of Crowley, it is untrue and highly misleading. He is being presumptious when he says that Crowley "could not imagine lesbian sexmagick" for how can he know this? Apparently he is making the deduction based upon the fact that so far no one has turned up a paper written by A.C. on so-called "sex magick" practiced by women practitioners. It may have well been that he imagined that lesbian magicians would employ the rituals and practices of the "homosexual" degree, just taking that as a matter of course. After all, due to the restrictions of our patriarchal language, wherein "mankind" refers to both men and women, leading Crowley to call Liber OZ "The Rights of Man", which does not exclude women, he may very well have just assumed that the "homosexual" rites would be performed by both gay men and lesbians. As for the rest, well, Crowley voiced a lot of opinions about women in his lifetime, sometimes complimentary, sometimes not, and very often when not complimentary he was only speaking in jest. His opinion of women, magically or spiritually speaking, was often uncertain. After all, he had to deal with the British Victorian fundamentalist Christian old (patriarchally restrictive) aeon programming of his youth all his life. However, it should be noted that he struggled all his life to understand fully the 220 verses of The Book of the Law wherein it is stated, Chapter I, Verses 15 and 16, the italics mine:
Now ye shall know that the chosen priest & apostle of infinite space is the prince-priest the Beast; and in his woman called the Scarlet Woman is all power given. They shall gather my children into their fold: they shall bring the glory of the stars into the hearts of men.
For he is ever a sun, and she a moon. But to him is the winged secret flame, and to her the stooping starlight.
The Book of the Law makes it clear in many verses that woman is just as "divine" and important as man, although in some cases in different ways, and surely this is a thing Crowley recognized, perhaps while struggling with some of his childhood programming and expressing points of view that pertained to his Buddhist phase or some other.
Clearly Koenig misstated the facts when he wrote that "Crowley saw no use in the vaginal fluids", for it is the mixture of the male and female essence which, combined, creates the proverbial "Elixir of Life", and A.C. went to great pains to explain this in a manner some find surprisingly delicate for "the great wild Beast".
Again, also on page 55, Koenig goes out of his way to slander and misrepresent Crowley by saying that "Crowley wanted to be God-like and command earthly beings through divine powers", and yet this is just a statement that he flings forth, throwing it in the reader's face, expecting the reader to accept it without careful consideration or thought. It is clear, however, in Crowley's writings, that he wanted you, me and everyone to realize our own individual "godhood", to find the Silver Star, the very Core or Centre of our being and exercise our own powers to their full potential. Surely Crowley wanted this for himself as well, but Koenig, following John Symonds' lead, is misstating the facts to make it seem as if A.C. had tried to set himself up as a god, above all, to command all of humankind like some kind of a mad tyrannical dictator, a virtual Old Testament Jehovah, when in fact his whole life, his entire being revolved around the teachings of The Book of the Law and the Law of Thelema. He lived to bring that Law to humankind, to teach that "Do what thou wilt" means to discover one's True Will, one's purpose for existing, one's proper orbit or course in the universe of being, as opposed to the false will, the petty desires of ego which lead one astray and away from the True Path. Thelema teaches self-governance, and this is what Crowley taught. To "command earthly beings through divine powers" would be, basically, unthelemic, interfering with the Will of others, and this was not of genuine interest to Crowley, being contrary to all that he lived for.
Whenever he could, as is usual for him, Koenig has tried to misrepresent Aleister Crowley, not only in this book but in everything he has ever written throughout his life, and it tends to say more about him than it does his subject. I often think that Koenig projects his own failings, his own intellectual and sexual perversions onto Crowley where he can safely expose and speak out against him. His obvious hatred of Crowley may be a combination of envious admiration for the man's intellect and accomplishments mixed with an even greater portion of self-loathing that he simply cannot face in himself.
There are many other things I could say in defense of Crowley regarding remarks made in this section of the book, but let this suffice here.
It should be noted that both P.R.Koenig and Anthony Naylor have "issues" with Bill Breeze and the Caliphate, and their enmity is not without good reason. Naylor, a devout Christian, has admitted to me that he has "issues" he needs to work through, while Koenig pretends to be completely uneffected emotionally and absolutely the objective researcher. Of course he betrays himself throughout with unnecessary although accurate remarks thrown in, such as that on page 23. He is writing of Metzger's version of the O.T.O. and says that "the criteria for entry are very strict (in contrast to those of the 'Caliphate'), this O.T.O., generally known as the Order of the Illuminati, is very prosperous." As I said, while this does indeed seem to be true, an individual only needing the green to buy his or her way into the Caliphate and rise in the ranks by that means or by otherwise pleasing those of the higher degrees, it was an unnecessary remark to make in this place that betrays Koenig's less than objective viewpoint. Oh. Okay. I see. And now you are going to say that I don't sound very objective on the subject of the Caliphate! Well, I am, but I also take every opportunity presented to me to criticize anyone or anything I determine to be pseudo- or anti-thelemic and thus harmful to Thelema and thus the future of humankind. This, "I believe", is true of the Caliphate pseudo-o.t.o.
In a footnote at the bottom of page 25 Koenig wrote:
Under English law copyrights can only be transferred in writing. William Heidrick, acting-head of the 'Caliphate' (between McMurtry and Breeze), wrote to Kenneth Grant "all we want out of Symonds is his signature on a document accepting our claim to being O.T.O. ... so long as we can come in for the royalties" and this was only a few months after the Courts decision.
Continuing the digression, for I just can't pass up the opportunity, I was told the following in letters received these past few months from what I must refer to as a very reliable source:
... let me tell you a few things about Breeze and the people in Switzerland ... [this individual went on to explain how his extremely reliable contact felt about me] I had referred him to your website a couple of months ago shortly after I discovered it, but he had been very busy so I had brought with me copies of your 'REGARDING THELEMA' and 'THAT AWFUL BEAST, ALEISTER CROWLEY!'. ... [he] was strongly impressed with both pieces. One evening he asked me, in regards to yourself, 'where does this guy come from? From whom?' I started to say something about self-initiation in the Aeon of Horus, thinking something about no known houses, then stopped to ask what he meant and why he asked. He pointed out the last sentence in the first paragraph of TAB,AC!: 'Eventually his second in command, Karl Johannes Germer, perhaps the last loyal, sincere and intelligent member of the O.T.O., obviously distanced himself from the order gone bad, and his refusal to initiate new members indicates that he had hoped that it would die out and be forgotten so that Thelema, the religious philosophy A.C. lived to establish in the world, might have a fair chance." [He] went on to tell me that Metzger had indicated in conversation with him that that was indeed the case. Metzger implied to him that he had functioned as Germer's amanuensis, serving as emissary to numbers of other groups, primarily in order to spread Thelema. The O.T.O. itself was a secondary, philosophical consideration at best. ...
... [He] told me about a letter Breeze had sent to Annemarie Aeschbach (who sort of runs the Swiss group, I believe) to sign, acknowledging him [Breeze] as O.H.O. I indicated that I thought that was rather rude and impertinent of him....that was A.A.'s reaction exactly, and she had no intention of signing such a thing. Then a month or so after that ... she had rewritten the letter, taking out all mention of O.H.O., but agreeing not to pursue copyright if the Warburg Crowley collection were made available on microfiche, and sent it signed for Breeze to sign. I indulged myself in a brief rant about Caliphate skullduggery and bookkeeping and how I would love to see an end to the fakery. A couple of weeks later [he] told me that (unfortunately, as he had somewhat been hoping otherwise) Breeze had signed it as well. I believe the letter also emphasized the independence of the Swiss as a 'research group of the O.T.O.' (O.T.O. Forschungsgruppe) ...
... Annemarie. They had just received a copy of the Koenig/Naylor OTO book from Koenig with an inscription to them. She had also just recently been informed by Breeze that due to a coming court battle over copyright with Koenig/Naylor he has been temporarily locked out of the Warburg files (confirming what you told me you had heard) and thus there can be no microfiche of the Crowley materials for a while. A copyright battle - in the UK courts, I assume - might go a good ways to straightening things out. I don't see that the Caliphate has a legal leg to stand on. Not that I think it matters too much, but I do wish the ... Swiss ... would withdraw whatever support that letter offers him. My hope is that it all be declared public domain, which I think a likely outcome, and the Caliphate declared a fraud, a possible outcome ...
And now back to our regularly scheduled programming. There's a lot going on behind the scenes, and it's not all good for Thelema.
By the way, there are a few instances in O.T.O. Rituals and Sex Magick where Koenig seems to be implying that Kenneth Grant is of Thelemic worth and the legitimate O.H.O. of the O.T.O. He even included on page 47 a copy of the letter supposedly written by A.C. appointing Grant to this office. Or course handwriting analysis is not entirely conclusive here as it may have been written by Crowley in his last moments, ill and soon to die, or it may be a rough but adequate forgery. Furthermore, Crowley was desperate to find a successor in his last years and who knows what other documents like this may eventually turn up. And of course it's a moot point since Grant, having perverted Thelema by polluting it with Lovecraftian fiction and nonsense, wrapped up in his qliphothic fantasies, has proven himself unfit to be O.H.O. Be that as it may, the main reason Koenig seems to be gently promoting Grant is that (a) Grant has probably not angered him as much as Breeze and Heidrick have, and (b) to promote Grant is to anger the Caliphate. Again, so much for his pretended objectivity.
There are somewhat interesting papers by Theodor Reuss included in O.T.O. Rituals and Sex Magick, although if you are not terribly interested in the subject then these probably won't be of much interest to you either. Koenig seems to wish to foster the idea that Reuss was a Nazi in at least one place in the book, and for all I know and care this may be true, but Reuss' writings seem to me to be those of a more simple type of Socialist, although he did have ideas a little too much like Hitler's eugenics to suit my sensibilities. And on page 34 Koenig tries to tie Crowley in with the Nazi party by stating that "Crowley wanted to use the Hakenkreuz [Swastika] as the future 'sign of the German Thelema'", to which he added the footnote, "At this time, the Nazis built a manufactury on the Wewelsburg where they put the Swastika on porcelain. Crowley had used the Swastika himself in 1910 when it appeared on the cover of the booklet to accompany his production of The Rites of Eleusis." This is the worst kind of petty slander, the innuendo creating incorrect associations in the minds of most readers. There is no mention here of the fact that the Swastika has been a worldwide holy symbol since time began and can be found, with no associations to the Nazi Party whatsoever, on temples in China and Tibet and even in Native American religious art, long predating Hitler who perverted it as modern day satanists pervert the cross and the pentagram by inverting them. Crowley had nothing to do with Hitler and the Nazi Party and certainly did not approve of them.
O.T.O. Rituals and Sex Magick is indeed a nice collection of writings pertaining to the Ordo Templi Orientis, but to assume that this collection is the product of great scholarship is to presume a lot. A competent secretary with little or no knowledge of the order, magick, et al could have accomplished the same task. The bulk of the work is made up of previously published material, simply collect here under one cover for the first time. There is plenty of internal evidence to support that but for a few small papers and the Reuss material, the Crowleyana herein published was copied from previously published books.
Liber II, Liber CLXI, Liber CI, and Liber CXCIV can be found in the "Blue" Equinox, Volume III, Number 1. System of the O.T.O. [acknowledged], Letter #13, can be found in Magick Without Tears. What is Freemasonry? [acknowledged] can be found in The Confessions of Aleister Crowley. "The Rituals", without acknowledgement, seem to be taken straight from Francis King's book, The Secret Rituals of the O.T.O., although Koenig has given passwords, "Words of the Degrees", that were easy to discern from the whole text, and making a few minor changes here and there to apparently make it appear as if he had been working from a separate document, such as spelling out "Candidate" instead of just abbreviating it with "C." or changing the footnote numbers, absurdly, to Roman Numerals. However, he made mistakes, some of which indicate that he had indeed simply copied the rituals out of King's book.
Some of the errors in King's book corrected by Koenig: Page 189, "Fellow soldiers, assist me." King had "Follow..." Page 196, "Have you anything to communicate?" whereas King had "Having", and above that "E." before "Worthy Wazir, I present..." where King had "W." Page 204, the word "bolometer" is correctly spelled by Koenig, but incorrectly by King as "boulometer". Page 215, "As of true brother...", the error in the King book being "As a brue brother", and perhaps I should note that we all make mistakes and such typos as this should be blamed more upon the proofreader for appearing in the book then King. Page 217, "This sentence is Nunc Benedictio Adest Mortis, [italics mine; N, B, A and M underscored in the book] which means: Now is the blessing of Death at hand." King skipped the above which I put in italics. Page 232, "Qabalah", properly spelled by Koenig was originally misspelled by King as "Qubalah". Page 242, knocks, represented by a series of Vaus, given above "RECEPTION OF POSTULANT", weren't given in the King book. Page 243 and elsewhere King spelled "music" with a K, i.e. "musick", and Koenig corrected this, however, it seems obviously later on that this apparent misspelling was intentional. Page 245, "Do What Thou Wilt shall be..." in King's book was corrected to "Do what thou wilt shall be..." in Koenig's version. Page 246, given in Koenig's but not King's book are a plus sign after "The Sign of Orus", a deosil Swastika after "The Sign of the Dance of Asi", a Y with the vertical line reaching into the V, resembling a woman standing with legs together, follows "... the Joy of Iacchus" and a 5-pointed star, not a pentagram, follows "... the Blazing Star." Page 248, "... or Chamber of Death is Golgotha, and in this place the meaning of I.N.R.I. is Jesus Nazareus Rex Judaeorum. The Royal Omnific Password is Logos". Thus is it written in Koenig's book, but these words which I have here italicized do not appear in King's book on page 150. Et cetera.
Some errors in King's book that Koenig thought to correct, making his own errors in the process: Page 194, "Strive as best your way to discover the significance of this weapon..." Koenig wrote to correct King who had, "Strive as best you way to...", while obviously it should have been "Srive as best you may". Page 195, Koenig had it, as King usually did throughout his version, "This Word is..., which means The Lord." Yet in King's book the space was filled with "ADonaI", and yet this does not correspond with the words Koenig gives and which seem to be indicated by the rituals themselves, although "Adonai" does mean "the lord". In the latter degrees Koenig inserts the words whereas King left the spaces blank, or filled with "..." Page 249 Koenig has "(Thelema and music.)", which seems to make no sense in relation to the rest of the material on this page, whereas King, making more sense, has on page 152: "(... and musick)" with the following footnote:
"The three dots before 'musick' may indicate some hallucinogenic beverage of the sort referred to in Crowley's essay Energized Enthusiasm."
And this would also seem to indicate that it was Crowley and not King who had spelled music with a K, "musick". By the way, Koenig forgot the "B = Elect. Heater" under the drawing of the square on page 254 that can be found in King's book. Et cetera.
Errors of Koenig's which are damning, indicating that he simply copied the rituals out of King's book: Page 220, Koenig, who had otherwise deleted the footnote numbers in these places, accidentally left it in here, as it was in King's book, behind "FOURTH DEGREE". Page 249, "Koenig has "Do What Thou Wilt is the whole of the Law" just as King has it in his book, "is" instead of "shall be", with an uppercase T and W's, whereas Koenig corrected this latter error earlier. Et cetera. This is getting tedious!
Of The Nature of the Gods seems to also be copied from King's book, although he may have had another version to consult as he gives latin titles to the sections not to be found in King's volume, to wit: I De Solo Deo, II De Deis Subalternis, III De Natura Dei Soli, IV De Deis Phantasticis, V De Aliuno Dei Sultu, VI De Dei Cultu: alter modus, finishing with a little "SUMMARY" in which he adds "interaction with excrement (one of Crowley's preferred ingredients)", which is rather more than misleading and probably reflects more the interests of Koenig than of Crowley. In this paper, section III, while Koenig corrects the misspelling in King's book, "Minveral", he repeats two of King's errors. Last paragraph, "the Shadows of Earth, but it also a convenient veil...", omitting the word "is", and in the second paragraph he thought to correct King who had "Light, Light, Love and Liberty" by deleting the extra "Light", instead of replacing one with the word "Life", which is probably how it should be.
Of the Secret Marriages of Gods with Men I am sure was also copied from King's book, but here it is almost certain that he did have another version of the paper to work with as he gives alternate Latin titles to the sections, adding a date and place in the first paragraph, but repeating some of King's errors, such as "Pontiffis" misspelled in this opening paragraph and in quoting "(Hosea III,1-3)" there is "Go yet, love a woman" when "ye" should obviously be the word, indicating that he was working from King's book. There are some other changes in this paper as well, differences between King's version and Koenig's, although mostly minor. Amusingly, in section XIII, Koenig sought to correct King by writing "and the Minister of God, most cloak (sic) themselves" whereas King had "most cloke (sic)" thinking that King was indicating that the word "cloke" was incorrect when obviously the error was in the word "most" which should have been "must". The word "cloke" is correct, being the archaic form of "cloak".
Energized Enthusiasm can be found in The Equinox, Volume I, Number 9. The Ship, "A Mystery Play", has been published in a couple of places, but may be difficult for many to find. The Supreme Ritual is in The Equinox, I.10 as well as Francis King's book Sexuality, Magic and Perversion. A Ritual to Invoke HICE can also be found in these two volumes. Agape vel Liber C vel Azoth in Secret Rituals. De Arte Magica has been published in booklet form by Level Press, for one, and can also be found in Crowley on Christ, edited by Francis King. Liber CCCXLIII, Amrita was also published by Thelema Publications, edited by Martin P. Starr, which seems to be a bit more complete. One of the papers most restricted and suppressed by the Caliphate pseudo-o.t.o., Emblems and Mode of Use can be found in O.T.O. Rituals and Sex Magick, and this alone will be enough to make Breeze and his cronies go after Koenig and Naylor.
Grimorium Sanctissimum can be found in the Symonds and Grant edited version of Magick in Theory and Practice, where it is also translated by them but not by Koenig. You can find in the Koenig/Naylor book The Star Sapphire, i.e. Liber XXXVI also to be found in The Book of Lies and elsewhere. Of the Eucharist from Magick, the source acknowledged, as it is in some but not all instances in Koenig's book. Et cetera.
Suffice it to say, as this is getting most tedious, O.T.O. Rituals and Sex Magick is worth the price if you are really interested in the Ordo Templi Orientis and/or that part of Crowley's life, but you may otherwise consider it overpriced, especially if you already have the bulk of it in previously published books. On the other hand, there are a few rare tid bits of Crowleyana. The accuracy of the opening by Koenig, while making matters as clear as possible, is dubious at best. And further regarding Koenig's "scholarship", as I have said, a competent secretary could have constructed this book as long as she had the materials at her disposal and I found nothing whatsoever in the book to prove Peter-R. Koenig to be the serious scholar he pretends to be, certainly not an objective researcher.
However, the collection of documents alone makes the book worthwhile, at least to some students and aspirants, especially as the Caliphate has been successfully supressing and restricting The Secret Rituals of the O.T.O., Emblems and Modes of Use and a few other papers for years now. And my guess is that if you want a copy you may be wise to obtain one as quickly as possible, for if it is not suppressed it will most certainly become rare.