dimanche 12 janvier 2014

Deux ressources sur l'Ordo Templi Orientis

Pour ceux et celles qui veulent avoir des informations plus crédibles sur l'Ordo Templi Orientis (O.T.O.) que les conneries des zozotériques soraliens et autres islamo-catho intégristes, la Jérusalem des Terres Froides vous offre ici deux ressources. La première est la capsule Youtube d'une conférence donnée en décembre 2012 par James Wasserman, états-unien qui a été profondément impliqué dans le mouvement depuis 1976 et qui est considéré comme un « founding father of the modern O.T.O. ». Wasserman raconte son expérience dans son livre In the Center of the Fire : A Memoir of the Occult 1966-1989 (Ibis Press 2012) et la conférence est à propos de cette dernière parution. Malheureusement, l'auteur de ces lignes ne connaît aucun lien-ouèbe pour ce livre mais vous pouvez télécharger cet autre titre du même auteur, Aleister Crowley and the practice of the magical diary (Sekmet Books 2003), gracieuseté de Mir Knig.

Le responsable de la JTF apprécie beaucoup l'ensemble du travail de M.Wasserman, qui connaît bien son sujet. La seule réserve de votre serviteur est l'ouvrage dit « politique » de notre homme, And the slaves shall serve : Meditations on Liberty (Sekmet Books 2004), qui semble effectivement être un brûlot de droite républicaine états-unienne comme le décrit le commentateur Amazon « kill the elvis ». Pour le reste, M.Wasserman dispose de son propre site, qui donne accès à son oeuvre littéraire ainsi qu'à sa présence sur Youtube et autres hébergeurs de vidéos.

La seconde ressource sur l'O.T.O. est un nouveau passage du livre de Frater U.: D.: qui a déjà été cité ici à plusieurs reprises, Where do demons lives ? Everything you want to know about magic (Llewellyn 2010). L'O.T.O. a la réputation chez les ignares comme les zozotériques soraliens d'avoir été l'organisation qui a « inventée » la magie sexuelle. Dans le texte suivant, l'auteur, sous son pseudonyme humoristique de « Aunt Klara », répond à un lecteur qui l'interroge à ce sujet. Ce qui suit est la reproduction des pages 149 à 157, la question en caratères gras et la réponse qui suit.

---Did the O.T.O. "invent" sex magic ?---

My dearest Aunt Klara, Everyone knows that it is difficult to imagine the history of modern magic without mentioning the O.T.O. This brotherhood is often is often described as one the "inventors" of sex magic, and I have heard rumors that it has integrated not only Eastern but also American (!) influences into its system. Can you tell me more about that ? I would be pleased for any detailed information that you can divulge.

Franz L. from N.

Dear Franz,

You are certainly grasping a hot iron there, and even if you would like a detailed answer from me - which flatters me, of course - I can only tell you what I have heard from hearsay myself, albeit from fairly reliable sources. You are correct in the fact that most litterature on the subjct generally assumes that the O.T.O. bases its sex magic entirely on the inspiration Karl Kellner got on his journeys to the Middle East and Central Asia.

At the point, I do not want to get into the fairly controversial issue of when the order was actually founded; after all, it has had quite a turbulent past and legends surrounding it either. Theodor Reuss, a close confidant of Kellner's, and theosophist Franz Hartmann, who was employed as a doctor in Kellner's sanatorium, surely contributed much more to the O.T.O. than their mentor. But of course it is no secret than the order surely would never have become what it is (or means) today without Aleister Crowley having taken over.

Karl Kellner was a stinking-rich inventor and manufacturer who held over a hundred patents - a truly rare personality among the usual flock of occultist have-nots ! Among other things, he advanced the procedure of making paper from wood as well as the corresponding electrolytic whitening process. Together with British industrialist Edward Partington, he founded the Kellner-Partington Paper Pulp Company, with its headquarters in Manchester and branch offices in both Norway and the Austrian city of Hallein. In Hallein, located in the Salzkammergut region, the company established its main production site - a factory that is still partially preserved today. Kellner was also buried in this ancient Celtic stronghold, and it is one of the ironies of the magical world that he lies in a Catholic grave decorated with a concealed symbol of Rosicrucianism. It is said that he received his training in yoga from a guru in Lahore, where he supposedly also acquired his knowledge of Tantrism.

Right next to the factory in Hallein, an inhalatorium was built that produced the cellulose waste product lignosulfite, which was then used to treat tuberculosis patients. There is hardly a more practical form of recycling ! Franz Hartmann, who was having financial difficulties following the decline of theosophy, was hired by Kellner to work there as a doctor. Thus, little by little, such illustrious personalities as Lou Andreas-Salomé, Gustav Meyrink, and Theodor Reuss, as already mentioned, began to meet and assemble. Kellner owned a villa in Vienna with an "alchemistic observatory" (laboratory ?) and a tantric devotion room. A few photographs have survived from this time, since Kellner was also a pioneer in the field of color photography.

Sex magic is naturally not a modern-day invention. Just look at the temple prostitution of Babylonia and India, the pre-Aryan Tantrism of the Dravidians, the countless fertility rites in all world cultures, the ophitish sperm gnosis, the Ortlibians and the Brethren of the Free Spirit of medieval times, certain Jewish and Islamic (in particular Sufi) practices, and maybe even the alleged (and speculative) sexual rites of the Knights Templar - sex magic flourished just about everywhere. The O.T.O., however, is an exception, in that it is an obliged brotherhood with structures and symbols similar to that of Freemasonry.

It might also be interesting to note that Kellner throught himself to be the reincarnation of a Babylonian fire priest. An "occult club" then came into being in Vienna, which was the forerunner of the O.T.O. and only accessible to high-ranking Masons from the Rite of Memphis-Misraim. They also maintained contact with the Vienna branch of the Brotherhood of Luxor, which practiced sex magic as well. That makes an interesting link to Aleister Crowley, who was still a member of the Golden Dawn at the time. Within this British order, another inner circle had formed around Crowley's good friend Frank Harris, who also maintained contact with the Brotherhood of Luxor. This brotherhood is an order founded by Paschal Beverly Randolph, a mixed-race American from New York who was also the author of Magia sexualis, a book on the subject of sex magic that was quite revolutionary for its time, yet is, in my opinion, also highly overrated. Viennese artist and satanologist Josef Dvorak had read Czech translations of Randolph's work, as he once personally told me. These volumes, which were printed in Prague, were repeatedly put on the index of disapproved books by the police in the region around the Austrian border. Nonetheless, at least one state-censored edition was published in Vienna as well.

Francis King pointed out the highly underrated role that Edward Sellon played in Victorian England through the propagation of Tantrism and Arabic-influenced sex magic. Another significant orientalist was Sir Richard Francis Burton, who was greatly admired by Crowley. He was an expert in the field of erotic literature of the East as well as a talented translator, among other things. Unfortunately, very little practical material remains of Burton's works because his widow destroyed all of his "risqué" manuscripts after his death, an act that made Crowley absolutely furious.

The sex-magic and mystical currents in America have apparently been criminally neglected as well. In their biography of Reuss, Helmut Möller and Ellic Howe refer to the lesser known Reverend Kenneth Sylvan Launfal Guthrie (such names happen to be allowed in the land of unlimited opportunities). This man seems to have rediscovered for himself the Indian and Chinese practices of tantra and inner alchemy without any knowledge of their Eastern origins. His book Regeneration : The Gate of Heaven was published in 1897. He also founded the "Brotherhood of the Eternal Covenant", which advertised to help seekers "find the right path to sexualistic vitalism", as Möller and Howe put it. Of course, there were other libertine currents that prevailed in the United States, at least for a while, despite - or maybe because of - the general puritan mood of society at the time, the most significant of these being the quasi-anarchistic Oneida Community, as well as numerous other religiously disguised splinter groups.

Now Freemasonry, of course, was often accused by its opponents of implementing unspeakable sexual practices - ancient persecution tactics that have prevailed well before the witch-hunts and the wiping out of the Order of the Knights Templar. Still, even today there is no absolute certainty (although it is quite likely) that the libertinistic gnosis really did exist during the age of early Christianity. The accounts of gnostic orgies and other sexual excesses in a ritualistic context stem for the most part from the Christian enemies of the gnostics.

But it is not my intention to go into that here. I think it is much more important to note that the O.T.O. was a quasi-Masonic association that had close ties to the Rite of Memphis-Misraim, which Crowley regarded quite highly. Also, the O.T.O. adopted sex magic in a ritually formalized way that led to the development of its own unique style; and of course it was the O.T.O. that publicly propagated this discipline as well. So in Crowley's autobiography, when he pretends he was entirely inexperienced in the field of sex magic until he had met Reuss and through him first learned of the great significance of sexuality in magic, then that is either a downright lie or at least a bit twisted in truth. As has been pointed out a few times before, it's also a bit strange that he did not mention Arthur Avalon in any of his books. After all, Avalon - whose real name was Sir John Woodroffe - was a justice of the peace in India in his day as well as a highly respected researcher of Tantrism. It seems next to impossible that Crowley was not aware of Woodroffe's works (e.g., on kundalini yoga, chakra letter magic, and modern Bengali Tantrism) that were published around the turn of the twentieth century. After all, if there ever were a truly sharp-eyed observer on the scene who also had the necessary leisure time to pursue every aspect of his discipline, then it was surely Aleister Crowley. On the other hand, it is difficult to understand why he would have concealed such an influence, or at least the acknowledgment thereof. Because Crowley was not at all the type to conceal his sources.

In any case, dear Franz, you are entirely correct in pursuing this matter. We have seen that there is still a lot of roadwork to be done here. So if you would like to combine instinct with scholarship (and a leaden butt for studying the vast amount of literature !), then those of us historically interested in the magic scene would certainly be quite grateful. In any case, I can safely say already that the early O.T.O. must have had strong American influences, in particular in the field of sex magic. One thing that strikes me as strange, through, is the fact that Crowley never mentions Randolph (who was an American) at all, at least to my knowledge.

I am truly sorry if I have made the whole matter more complicated for you, but you really cannot hold me responsible for the lack of available resources. Maybe it is just time for me to put in a few semesters of research again, which I certainly plan to do just as soon as my money demons finally procure enough mammon for me so that I can live entirely off the interest.

In hopeful expectation

Your Aunt Klara

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