Ordo Templi Orientis (Grant)
Aleister Crowley served as outer head of the Order of the
Ordo Templi Orientis (OTO), until his death in 1947, when he
was succeeded by Karl Germer. Germer died in 1962 without
naming a clear successor, and among the people who emerged
to succeed him was Kenneth Grant. Germer had given Grant
a charter to begin a lodge in London to work the first three of
the nine degrees of the OTO system, and in 1955 he founded
New Isis Lodge. However, when Grant began working the
higher degrees using his own material, Germer expelled him
from the order. After Germer died in 1962, there was no one
in England to challenge Grant’s authority, and for a decade he
operated unchallenged. In 1969 Grant co-edited The Confessions
of Aleister Crowley, and in 1973 he published Aleister Crowley
and the Hidden God, the first of a series of books on the thelemic
magical tradition. As these books appeared, they described his
work with the Kabala (the Hebrew system of magic that became
very popular in western magic in the twentieth century). He described
his experiences exploring the Qliphoth, the negative
side of the kabalistic work. While some accused Grant of flirting
with black magic, other magical students were drawn to his
work. Grant also brought out new editions of the work of the
eccentric artist and magician Austin O. Spare.
Grant’s OTO practiced a program similar to other OTO
groups. Its goal was the establishment of the Law of Thelema
(Will) in the world. New members had to have been practicing
magic for at least nine months prior to being accepted in the
order and had to agree to disseminate Liber LXXVII, the brief
statement of thelemic principles written by Crowley. Grant also
dropped the masonic initiatory degree system found in most
magical groups, including the American OTO. Members are
expected to seek their own true will (destiny) by their magical
work.
Under Grant, the OTO dominated the British ritual magic
scene into the 1970s. Over the last two decades a number of
other thelemic magical groups have arisen in Great Britain and
Grant’s OTO has come to the United States, though it has remained
small.

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