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Membership

The Ordo Templi Orientis System of Initiation

The structure of Order Templi Orientis ("O.T.O.") is based on a staged series of initiations or degrees which are conferred ceremonially. 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 their own true identity.   U.S. Grand Lodge website of O.T.O. further explains intitiation. O.T.O. degrees are divided into three Triads; and the first of these Triads is the Man of Earth (MoE) triad, and the first of these degrees is the Minerval (O°).

Man of Earth Degrees

  • 0° – Minerval

  • I° – Man & Brother/Woman & Sister

  • II° – Magician

  • III° – Master Magician

  • IV°/PI – Perfect Magician & Companion of the Holy Royal Arch of Enoch/Perfect Initiate or Prince of Jerusalem

The Minerval Degree

The Minerval Degree (0°) is an introductory initiate degree, designed to allow the aspirant to decide whether or not to become a full member of O.T.O. (and symbolic of the first step in the journey of the Self in Eternity, where the Ego, a wandering God, is attracted to the Solar System).

Undergoing initiation into the Minerval Degree allows one to participate in the Mysteries of our Order in a non-binding way. Unlike initiation into the First Degree of the Order, the Minerval initiation does not establish any permanent bonds between the individual and the Order. The Minerval Degree does bestow a sense of what it is like to undergo initiation into the Order. It also frequently helps strengthen bonds with other members of the Order.  See here for Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) regarding the Minerval Degree.

Requirements

  1. At least 18 years of age;

  2. Not incarcerated or otherwise unable to make decisions for one’s self;

  3. Capable of taking and keeping a binding oath to the Order;

  4. Never previously initiated into O.T.O.; and

  5. Vouched for by two O.T.O. members holding the I° or higher.

Process

If you are interested in taking the Minerval Degree, begin by filling out and turning in the application. You can request one by contacting the Master and/or the Initiation Coordinator of Mithras Oasis (at: master@mithras-oto.org or initiation@mithras-oto.org). Your application must include the signatures of two sponsors of I° or higher. Payment of $93 for the initiation will be required before you take your initiation (check or cash; if using PayPal or other app an additional sur charge may be added). You will be contacted by the Initiation Coordinator with the date of the ceremony, time to arrive, as well as the location.

Getting Sponsors

Before you can apply for initiation, you will need to develop a level of personal familiarity with at least two members. The Oasis conducts many activities that are open to non-member guests at which you can meet such people and introduce yourself, e.g., public performances of the Gnostic Mass in Brooklyn, CT and our classes and other rituals in Watertown, CT (See our Calendar for upcoming events.)

Preparing for Initiation

Practically speaking, you do not need to do anything to prepare for your Minerval initiation. We recommend looking over the US Grand Lodge O.T.O. websiteReading Liber AL vel Legis (The Book of the Law) is strongly encouraged.

Minerval Privileges

The Minerval Degree is an introductory initiate degree in which the aspirant is considered an “honored guest” of OTO rather than a full member. It is designed to allow the aspirant to decide whether to pursue full membership in the Order. It also allows a period of time for potential sponsors to decide whether to support an aspirant’s application for full membership. However, as a Minerval, you have the following privileges:

  1. Seek Oasis membership which will enable you to attend member only events, get discounted entrance to lectures and other events sponsored by the Oasis, and be able to attend the annual/biannual Oasis member meetings;

  2. Attend future Minerval initiations; and

  3. Receive the U.S. Grand Lodge newsletter “Agape” and other occasional publications of the Order.

Minerval Dues

There are annual dues payable to the U.S. Grand Lodge in the amount of $42; in addition to these, if you decide to become a member of Mithras Oasis, we request that you select either an annual or monthly a donation that is appropriate to you & your finances (we encourage a monthly donation between $11 and $25 either through PayPal, or cash/check made monthly or annually).  If at the time after you affiliate, should you experience financial hardship, exceptions to this donation requirement can be arranged at the discretion of the local oasis Master of Mithras Oasis.

There are two primary types of membership, initiate and ecclesiastical, corresponding to the two constituent rites of Ordo Templi Orientis, Mysteria Mystica Maxima (M∴M∴M∴) and Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica (E.G.C.). The two are initially independent, but become connected as one progresses through either rite.

Minerval Degree F.A.Q.

The following questions and answers were written to help you decide if taking the Minerval Degree is right for you.

First off, what is an initiation?
The word initiation implies a beginning or an introduction. In O.T.O., it refers to one of a series of physical ceremonies, also called Mysteries, in which a candidate is admitted into a particular level of participation, or Degree, in our Order. Our initiations take the form of ritual drama, which is similar to a play in which the initiatory candidate is the central actor. These dramas make use of symbolism, narrative (i.e. story-telling), and discourse to introduce various philosophical principles, to establish fraternal bonds, and to provide a sacred environment wherein the candidate can choose to undergo spiritual transformation.

What does “Minerval” mean?
The word is derived from the name of the Roman goddess Minerva, the equivalent of Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom. A Minerval, then, may be considered a seeker of wisdom. In our system, the Minerval initiation is the first of our Mysteries, and is given the number zero in our numbered system of Degrees. It is an introductory, probationary Degree, which does not establish any permanent fraternal bonds with our Order.

Why would one want to be initiated?
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:

  • To become a member of the Order and one of its local bodies.

  • To gain greater insight into the system of Thelema.

  • To gain greater insight into the symbolism of the Gnostic Mass.

  • To seek a deeper level of fellowship with members of the community.

  • To help further your journey along a Thelemic spiritual path.

 

As a Minerval, do I have to obey a guru or spiritual leader?
No. O.T.O. does not have gurus of any kind, and members are responsible for their own spiritual development. The Order does have many people who are qualified to offer guidance and education in spiritual matters, but such interaction is solely at the discretion of each member.

 

Are O.T.O. initiations anything like those at college fraternities? 
From what this author knows of college fraternity initiations, probably not. We are a serious spiritual organization and our initiation ceremonies are intended to be transformative, instructive, and inspiring.

 

Are there any requirements for taking Minerval?
Yes, there are several requirements for eligibility:

  • You must be at least 18 years of age

  • You may not be incarcerated, or under probation which limits your ability to travel

  • You must be capable of taking & keeping a binding oath to the Order

  • You must never have been previously initiated in O.T.O.

  • You must be vouched for by two members holding the I° or higher (your sponsors)

 

How do I go about getting initiated?
It begins by filling out and turning in a Minerval application. You can request one from the local oasis master. Remember that one of the requirements is the signature of two sponsors in good standing that are at least I°. (See top of this page under "Getting Sponsors")

Should I wait for a Minerval to be scheduled before I turn in my application?
No. Often initiations are scheduled based on the number of applications, so go ahead and turn in your application as soon as you have completed it. You can give your completed application to a local body officer.

Once I turn in the Minerval application, what can I expect?
You will be contacted telling you the date and time of the ceremony and where to go. It might be a several months before an initiation is scheduled. Patience is appreciated.

What if I can’t do it, or I change my mind after I turn one in? 
No problem, simply let the local oasis master know. If necessary, 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.

What should I plan to bring to my Minerval? 
You do not need to bring anything other than yourself. If you have not yet paid the initiation fee, then please bring that with you.

After I take my Minerval, how long do I have to wait until I take my First Degree?
There is no minimum waiting period—you could actually take your First Degree on the same occasion (with special dispensation). However, we don’t normally recommend this. The Minerval Degree is a self-contained initiation and is best experienced for a while on its own. A common waiting period is about nine months.

Will I be expected to take the First Degree initiation?
Absolutely not! 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.

So, am I joining a cult, or what?
Although some members like to joke about us being a cult, in reality we are not. The following are common elements one might find in a “noxious” cult (e.g. Heaven’s Gate or The People’s Temple):

  1. Brainwashing— Although O.T.O. does purport to instruct candidates in certain secret teachings, we do not use “mind-control” methods, such as “love bombing,” sleep deprivation, dietary limitations, or any other methods of coercive manipulation.

  2. Blocking exit— In no way do we ever prevent members from leaving the Order.

  3. Renunciation— At no time do we ask any member to renounce their current or past beliefs, associations, activities, or lifestyle. Neither do members confess “wrongdoing.”

  4. Isolation— We do not cut off anyone (directly or indirectly) from their family, friends, work, or society in general.

  5. 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. Further, we are a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, and Order income does not go towards enriching its leaders.

  6. Charismatic leaders— While O.T.O. certainly has leaders, they typically maintain a relatively low profile and are not considered “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.

  7. Control of Behavior— No one in the Order will ever tell you how to live your private life or what you can and can’t do or enjoy. We do take oaths regarding certain behaviors, but it is up to each individual to interpret and fulfill them—no one in the Order polices members regarding their initiatory oaths. However, we do have rules regarding the fraternal and public conduct of our members in general, and these rules are enforced. These rules are generally set forth in the Minerval Guide, which you will receive after your initiation.

  8. Disallowing questions— We promote critical thinking and do not prohibit questions or criticisms about the Order.

 

After my initiation, who will have access to my legal name?
We take confidentiality very seriously—this is a secret Order, after all. Full civil names are given out to Order members solely on a need-to-know basis. Within the local body, that means the Oasis Master, Secretary, Treasurer, and Initiation Coordinator will need to have your full civil name on record. U.S. Grand Lodge also keeps records according to civil names. However, under no circumstances will the Order voluntarily identify you as a member of O.T.O. by your civil name to a third party, without first obtaining your permission.

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 Minerval is considered a guest because you can, at any time as a Minerval, back out of the Order completely—whereas in the First Degree a lifelong Bond with the Order is established, which cannot be severed (even though you may resign at any time from the organization). At the same time, Minerval initiates are eligible for all the general benefits of O.T.O. membership.

If I join O.T.O. does that also make me a Mason?
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 from Freemasonry and is specifically designed to reflect the teachings of Thelema.

What is the M.M.M. ?
The initials M.M.M. stand for Mysteria Mystica Maxima. Originally, it was the name of the O.T.O. National Section in Great Britain, then headed by Aleister Crowley (the international head of the O.T.O. was Theodor Reuss at the time). When Crowley became the international head of O.T.O., his M.M.M. degree system, comprising the degrees from 0° (Minerval) through VII° (Seventh), became the international standard for the entire Order, and the name M.M.M. now refers to those degrees within the O.T.O. system.

Do I have to believe in some particular dogma to join?
If you decide to pursue full membership, as a I°, you will be stating that you accept The Book of the Law as written, without wishing to change it. Even in the Minerval degree, you will be expected to make a commitment to uphold the ideals of freedom set forth in The Book of the Law. Of course, how you interpret The Book of the Law and its significance is largely up to you.

Is Ordo Templi Orientis Satanic or anti-Christian?
O.T.O. makes no claims or representations to be either Satanic or anti-Christian. We find that these characterizations serve no real purpose in describing what we are about, or our vision for humanity. Rather than being anti-Christian, we are in fact pro-Thelema: we support the Thelemic ideals of freedom of religious and personal self-expression; emancipation from superstition and social oppression; and the development of a world view which supports and encourages the age-old vision of the Universal Brotherhood of mankind.

If I take the Minerval initiation, will I have to kill a goat or do anything else I don’t want to?
First, it is important to explain that during our initiations, at no time will you ever be forced to do something against your will. You may, in fact, withdraw from an initiation ritual at any time during its performance (although you will not receive a refund). Finally, it should be said that for some candidates, the Minerval ceremony can be a fairly intense experience—it is designed to be challenging, but not degrading or painful. Rather, the aim is to instruct, illuminate, welcome, and enhance the lives of initiates.

What if I have more questions?
You are strongly encouraged to ask questions of active O.T.O. members. There are also many online resources, such as the U.S.G.L. website as well as many local body sites. You may also contact the local oasis master at Mithras Oasis.

 

Ecclesiastical Membership

Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica (E.G.C.) is the ecclesiastical arm of O.T.O. Apart from Initiation into the Order, the E.G.C. offers lay membership conferred through the sacraments of baptism and confirmation and is further explained at U.S. Grand Lodge website further explains the E.G.C. Lay membership confers no special privileges. Confirmed members of E.G.C. who are also Minerval initiates may enter the Novitiate and work toward ordination to the Diaconate or the Priesthood. There are further M∴M∴M∴ degree requirements for these ordinations.

Membership Policies

Privacy: Membership in O.T.O. is private. Names and addresses of members are kept confidential from the general public and from the bulk of O.T.O. members. O.T.O. officers (including local body officers) are provided with information about members on a need-to-know basis. For example, a member wishing to attend an initiates-only event at a local body may have her membership status confirmed by Grand Lodge in response to a query by the local body master; similarly, Grand Lodge officers in the Treasury and newsletter offices will have access to the member information required to do their jobs.

Non-discrimination

There shall be no consideration of race, ethnicity, sex, gender identity, or sexual orientation when considering the fitness of candidates for admission, advancement, or appointment to office within Ordo Templi Orientis U.S.A.

Corresponding Association

Those who live far from any O.T.O. body, or who are not prepared to become O.T.O. members for whatever reason, may support the work of the Order by becoming Corresponding Associates. Corresponding Associates may attend some O.T.O. activities, and receive occasional discounts from book sellers. Corresponding Associates also have the opportunity to correspond with O.T.O. members in the U.S.A. and other countries, by mail or electronically. Corresponding Association fees are $10.00 per year. Send a check or international payment coupon in US Dollars to:

 

Ordo Templi Orientis
Corresponding Association
P.O. Box 20565
Seattle, WA 98102
USA

Please include your full name, mailing address, age and gender. Questions about Corresponding Association may be directed to correspondence@oto.org.

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