Gerald Gardner & Ordo Templi Orientis: A New And Greater Pagan Cult
by Thelemic Union - July 5, 2017
This article is written by Rodney Orpheus and is reproduced with permission.
Gerald Gardner Ordo Templi Orientis
Ordo Templi Orientis was founded at the beginning of the twentieth century in Germany under the leadership of Theodor Reuss, who recruited Aleister Crowley to the Order around 1912. Both men had been heavily involved in spiritual pursuits for many years previously, Reuss within the Theosophical Society and various esoteric Freemasonic groups, and Crowley within the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, Yoga, and Buddhism. Their vision was to form a new magical Order that would synthesise the Eastern mystical current informing Theosophy with the Western mystical current derived from Rosicrucian and other European sources, and thus O. T. O., or Order of the Temple of the East, was born.
The original rituals of the Order were derived from Freemasonry, but Crowley expanded and rewrote much of O. T. O. ’s teachings; in particular writing the Gnostic Mass, which became the main public ritual of the Order, and which is still practiced regularly all over the world. After Reuss’ death in 1921 Crowley became the international head of O. T. O., a position he held until his own death in 1947.
Crowley had been quite the bon vivant during his lifetime. He travelled the world, dining with the cream (and sometimes the dregs) of literary society. He was frequently in demand as an after-dinner speaker, but by the mid-1940s he was becoming increasingly frail (he was in his seventies by then after all) and he wasn’t getting about much. However he still loved to entertain, and his diaries from this late period of his life are filled with notes on an almost daily basis about people who were coming to have tea with him. Notable figures who visited him included Captain Grady McMurtry, a young American O. T. O. member based in England during World War II, who would later become head of the Order in the 1960s; and Dion Fortune, already a well-known occult author, who was a great admirer of Crowley – she had given his Magick in Theory & Practice a glowing review, and acknowledged his influence in the introduction to her own work The Mystical Qabalah.
A third notable visitor was Gerald Gardner, later to be celebrated as the founder of the modern witchcraft movement. Gardner had made the acquaintance of a friend of Crowley’s, the well-known stage magician Arnold Crowther (later to be husband of leading witch Patricia Crowther), and Crowther brought him to visit Crowley on Mayday in 1947. Crowley’s diary records:
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