As of May 2006 EV, O.T.O. has over 3000 members and corresponding associates worldwide. Of these, roughly half are in the United States. O.T.O. is active to varying extents in about 30 countries.
Membership in O.T.O. is private in the sense that names and addresses are not released to anyone, including O.T.O. officers lacking need to know, without prior express or implied consent of the individual members concerned. We may understand implied consent to include a claim or denial of membership made deliberately to a non-member; and officers of the Order, aside from purely initiating officers, necessarily are open to some limited public identity by virtue of their duties.
Categories of Affiliation and Membership
Affiliation with O.T.O. is divided into three primary categories: corresponding associates, ecclesiastical lay membership and initiate membership. To be a corresponding associate requires no physical attendance. For a $10.00 annual contribution, corresponding associates have the opportunity to correspond with other O.T.O. members in the U.S.A. and other countries, by mail or via the internet.
Ecclesiastical lay membership in the Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica (E.G.C.) is conferred by the ceremony of confirmation, which must be preceded by the ceremony of baptism. Lay membership conveys no authority or special privileges within E.G.C. or O.T.O. and may be conferred upon initiates and non-initiates alike.
Initiate membership can be conferred only in a physical ceremony by a properly chartered initiator.
Initiate membership is subdivided by degree. There are a total of 21 Initiate degrees in O.T.O., including thirteen numbered degrees and eight unnumbered, intermediate degrees or sub-degrees.
The Minerval Degree (0°) is an introductory Initiate Degree, designed to allow the aspirant to determine whether or not to become a full member. Initiates of the Minerval Degree may also 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 (II°) is eligible for ordination as a deacon of Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica.
The E.G.C. is a Thelemic religious environment, dedicated to the advancement of Light, Life, Love, and Liberty through alignment with the Law of Thelema. The central activity of the E.G.C. is the celebration of the Gnostic Mass, as set forth in Liber XV. Membership in E.G.C. is available through baptism, confirmation, and (after a period of training) orders. Many O.T.O. local bodies celebrate the Gnostic Mass on a regular basis, and in most locations, no formal affiliation is required to attend the Mass.
Beyond the degree of P∴I∴ (Perfect Initiate), 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.
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 the Minerval and First Degrees may be taken on the same occasion if the candidate so wills, at the discretion and policy of the initiating body. Knights Templar Oasis does not perform both degree initiations on the same occasion, though initiation into the First Degree is usually available within two weeks to a few months after taking Minerval.
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. 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).
In addition to the official O.T.O. instruction provided by the ceremonial initiations, many of the local O.T.O. Lodges, Oases and Camps offer supplementary instruction to their members; and to a lesser extent, to the general public. The particular form of this supplementary instruction depends on the character and capabilities of the particular local body; it may be provided in the form of classes, seminars, study programs, or publications.
It should be clearly stated that O.T.O. membership does not, of itself, confer any status in Freemasonry. Nearly one hundred years ago, when O.T.O. was established in Europe, it was closely allied to several rites of European Freemasonry. However, in October of 1918, owing to the unique religious teachings of O.T.O., Aleister Crowley determined it appropriate for O.T.O. to sever all Masonic ties and formally renounce any claim to “make Masons.” At that time, while retaining the use of certain convenient customs and terminology used in early Freemasonry, Crowley revised the O.T.O. rituals, insignia and modes of recognition to avoid infringing upon the legitimate privileges of the established and recognized authorities of modern Freemasonry. Further revisions along similar lines have been implemented in more recent years.
Despite some similarities between names and titles used within O.T.O. and the names and titles used in Masonry, various churches, and other organizations, conferral of any degree, rank, office, or status within O.T.O. does not constitute conferral of any degree, rank, office, or status in any other active organization, Masonic, religious, or otherwise; any more than status as the captain of a ship equates to status as the captain of a football team.
How to Become an O.T.O. Member or Affiliate
If you would like to apply for Minerval Initiation into the O.T.O. through the Knights Templar Oasis, you must be of full age (over 18), free, and of good report across the Order. You must then meet with us to receive an application. In order for us to accept your application and schedule you for initiation, you are required to be sponsored by two O.T.O. initiates of the First Degree of higher. Sponsorship is not take lightly, so you must meet and get to know at least a few members of the Oasis. Watch our calendar, or contact the Oasis Secretary if you are interested in attending a public meeting.
Prior to becoming a Minerval you are welcome to attend our public events and workshops, to get to know the character of the organization and its people. While Minerval is a “guest” degree, all earnest Thelemites in accord with O.T.O. are accepted by the Knights Templar as friends.
If you would like to apply to become a Corresponding Associate with O.T.O, please send a check or money order for $10.00 U.S. for your first year’s Corresponding Associate’s contribution to:
Ordo Templi Orientis
3801 N. Capital of Texas Hwy #E240-56
Austin, TX 78746 USA
Please include a brief letter of introduction and a request for corresponding associate status including your full name, mailing address, age and gender. A corresponding associate application form can be provided at the request of interested parties.
As mentioned above, initiate membership involves a physical ceremony, and thus must typically be arranged with a convenient local O.T.O. body. A listing of O.T.O. bodies is provided on the internet at the U.S. Grand Lodge Homepage which may be useful in this regard. It can be accessed via OTO USA Local Bodies.
Initiation and Instruction
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, most of 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 to discover his or her own true Identity. 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 Lovers, 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 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.
Dues and Fees
National dues – In 1919 e.v., dues and fees were published in The Equinox, Volume III, Number 1. When modern figures were set in the early 1970s, they were established at three times the 1919 value (far below the inflation rate). In 1988, approximately 15 years later, dues were reset at four times the 1919 schedule – a one-third increase. As of Jan 1st, 1998, dues have been revised under the jurisdiction of U.S. Grand Lodge to essentially equal $3 per month (or $36 per year) multiplied by the number of the degree possessed by each specific initiate.
O.T.O. operates primarily on dues and fees collected from the membership. Annual dues are established by the Order as a minimum contribution. Fees (one time only) are set for each initiation to defer the costs of the initiation itself. The annual dues are sent, in their entirety, to Grand Lodge for the general operating fund of the Order. Fees remain with the local bodies; but, especially in the case of Minerval and I°, these often do not meet actual expenses, let alone leave anything for general local operations.
Payments are made as follows:
- Associate dues are sent directly to International Headquarters.
- Initiate dues renewals are sent directly to Grand Lodge (or
to International Headquarters, for members outside the jurisdiction
of a Grand Lodge).
- All other payments are made at the time of initiation to the
The current schedule of O.T.O. national dues and our local initiation fees for the
Man of Earth Initiate degrees is listed here:
|Membership category||Annual dues||Initiation fee||TOTAL|
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. (See the Local Members page for more information on local dues.)
National 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 whatever contributions they may wish 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. All funds received are applied scrupulously to O.T.O. activities and any member is welcome to examine the financial statement of the Order upon request.
Excerpted from O.T.O. Grand Lodge material, ©1996-2006 by Ordo Templi Orientis