Ordo Templi Orientis

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The Ordo Templi Orientis ('Oriental Templar Order'), OTO for short, is an occult organization founded at the beginning of the 20th century that has been teaching esoteric ideas and practices as an initiatory order up to the present day . One of the most important practices is the practice of sex magic , which is the central teaching content of the OTO. The origins of the OTO can be traced back to the German-speaking occultists Carl Kellner , Heinrich Klein , Franz Hartmann and Theodor Reuss . The OTO was later largely shaped by Aleister Crowley . Two organizations, the Caliphat-OTO and OTOA, claimed the legal successor to the OTO.

Organization of the OTO by Max Kully



The OTO was founded in secret on September 1st, 1901 by the Viennese industrialist Carl Kellner , the German theosophist and Freemason Franz Hartmann and by Heinrich Klein. The order was conceived as a secret society , largely financed by Kellner and probably also led. The intention was to expand the Memphis-Misraïm rite taken over by Reuss and Hartmann as an "outer" order , which is why Kellner joined in September 1902 in the highest degree 90 and 95 respectively. After Kellner's death in 1905 Reuss took over the management and made the OTO public from 1906. The OTO is considered to be an important source of esoteric ideas and practices to this day. The core of the OTO doctrine is the exercise of sexual magic , which is the key to unlocking all masonry and hermetic secrets. Possession of the knowledge of sex magic puts the OTO in a position to “completely explain all riddles of nature, all Masonic symbolism and all religious systems”.

Until 1905 the order was not referred to as OTO, but was simply called the Memphis Misraïm Rite (MMR) after its Masonic teaching. According to this rite, the order was originally intended as an extension to blue freemasonry and it was hoped that it would be recognized by the United Grand Lodge of England . MMR was a syncretistic type of teaching which, in addition to Masonic and Rosicrucian elements, also included Templar and Gnostic ideas. In addition, Reuss' unsuccessful attempt to restore the Adam Weishaupt Order of Illuminati in Munich came up again in 1880 . Reuss' content-wise absurd idea of ​​the proximity of this order of all places with the tradition of the Enlightenment Bavarian Illuminati Order, which at the time had long been history, prevailed. The representation of an Illuminati revival in the OTO has since been officially represented by the OTO. Franz Hartmann intended to establish a new Masonic umbrella organization, which was to be called Academia Masonica , as a link in this type of teaching - even including the United Grand Lodge of England . Theodor Reuss suggested that Hartmann's teachings be transferred to the inner circle of the order. The order only became known as OTO in 1906 with the English OTO constitution by Theodor Reuss . Kellner had already died at this point and Hartmann had given up all ties in 1904. Reuss thus became the sole head of the new order until his death and gave himself the name of the order Peregrinus.

Further development

At the behest of AMORC founder Harvey Spencer Lewis , Crowley was expelled from the OTO in 1921.
Aleister Crowley took over the management of the OTO in 1925 without a decree of appointment.

Theodor Reuss restructured the OTO. He developed a system of ten degrees. The rituals of the OTO were originally Masonic with an emphasis on hermetics (" irregular " teaching method Memphis-Misraim ). These were completely revised by Aleister Crowley in 1915 and have since included Crowley's Book of the Law . Crowley added an eleventh grade, whose sex-magical work includes anal intercourse between the male order members. The United Grand Lodge of England did not recognize it as a regular Masonic organization in the following years either. The OTO gained scandalous popularity through Crowley's membership. After sexual scandals surrounding Crowley's Thelema Abbey , Reuss initially excluded him from the OTO on October 25, 1921. Well-known esotericists were at times members or were in connection with the OTO ( L. Ron Hubbard , John Whiteside Parsons and Gerald B. Gardner ).

Rudolf Steiner

Whether Rudolf Steiner , the founder of anthroposophy , was also a member is controversial. According to Karl RH Frick , he joined the OTO led by Reuss in 1905, quickly attained the IX ° and was quickly raised to the highest grades of the Memphis Misraim rite. Around 1906 he was appointed X ° by Reuss (a purely administrative degree that enables the election of the OHO) for the purpose of managing the OTO in Germany. According to the compact encyclopedia of religions , the German section of the OTO was headed from 1906 to 1914 by Steiner, who had achieved the highest degree (" Summus Rex "). Frick states that from around 1906 to 1914 he headed the “inner” circle of the OTO, which in Germany called itself “Mysteria Mystica Aeterna” (MMA), as Grand Master and Supremus Magus, which has long remained a secret. He did not understand the transformation of the OTO into a pantheistic-gnostic-magical secret society initiated by Reuss in Germany (and later continued by Crowley in England) , but instead expanded the German OTO branch he headed in the sense of Christian-Western Rosicrucianism . Based on a Reuss patent from 1906 for the establishment of an OTO lodge, Steiner is said to have headed an inner Rosicrucian community of the OTO in Berlin. Against his will, a Danish-American student under the pseudonym Max Heindel published parts of his secret Rosicrucian teachings and on this basis founded the Rosicrucian Fellowship in 1909 . According to the French religious scholar Antoine Faivre , Rudolf Steiner, the founder of anthroposophy, joined the OTO around 1905 (left in 1913) and became chairman of the German branch. Even today, many OTO leaders claim that Steiner was a member of the OTO. The journalist and OTO researcher Peter-Robert König , on the other hand, denies that Steiner was ever a member of the order, as he did not have any written primary sources for it. He only knew of one letter from Crowley in which he commented on the nonsense, "leaving out Steiner who is 'in relation with the OTO'." The Dutch philosophy historian Cees Leijenhorst also does not believe in Steiner's membership: The contacts with Reuss were of a purely formal nature.

In 1920, the OTO was definitely declared irregular at the Zurich International Masonic Congress .

In July 1921, Harvey Spencer Lewis , the founder of the AMORC , was appointed VII ° ("Honory Member ... for Swizerland, Germany and Austria") by Reuss. Lewis, who lives in the USA, asked Reuss, who lives in Munich, to expel Crowley from the OTO. Otherwise, he will distance himself from a jointly planned project. Crowley was then expelled from the OTO on October 25, 1921. By return of post, Crowley appointed himself head of the OTO, while Reuss planned new Rosicrucian organizations in cooperation with the AMORC and Krumm-Hellers Rosicrucian Order Fraternitas Rosicruciana Antiqua (FRA). As a result, the OTO fell into innumerable branches. In 1922 Reuss resigned his OTO offices for health reasons. Reuss died in 1923 without having appointed a successor.


In 1925, the Pansophische Gesellschaft , or “Pansophia”, led by Heinrich Tränker (who partly derived his authority from Reuss) aroused Crowley's interest. Eugen Grosche , who was initiated by Tränker into the Pansophic Society , acted as general secretary and is considered the actual founder of the Pansophic Lodge, from which the Fraternitas Saturni, which Grosche later built, emerged. Arnold Krumm-Heller founded the Rosicrucian order Fraternitas Rosicruciana Antiqua, which still exists in South America . In addition to these new foundations, the Haitian Ordo Templi Orientis Antiqua (OTOA) was founded by Lucien-Francois Jean-Maine as early as 1921 .

The Caliphat-OTO sees itself as the legal representative of the teachings of the Crowley-OTO. The Caliphat-OTO is financed less through membership fees and more through the royalties of the Crowley Tarot . In 1998, for example, the Swiss playing card company Mueller AG in Schaffhausen signed a contract with Caliphat managing director William Breeze. " Caliph " of this OTO has been William Breeze since 1985 under the religious name of Frater Hymenaeus Beta. In 2014, the Caliphat-OTO had around 3,000 initiated members worldwide .

The local bodies are divided into camps, oases and lodges. Camps are the smallest groups and do not initiate new members. Oases have more members than camps and initiate up to III °. Lodges outnumber oases in membership and initiate up to IV ° / P∴I∴ degree. There are exceptions to this rule. In general, these are the guidelines of the Caliphat-OTO, which the German Caliphat-OTO took over from the US Grand Lodge.

In Germany, the association registered in Aachen has around 100 members.

Degree structure

The degree system of today's Caliphat-OTO consists of twelve degrees. According to the OTO, the seventh degree should be equivalent to the 32 ° of the Old and Accepted Scottish Rite . Sex magic secrets are taught in the eighth and ninth degrees. The eleventh degree is a variant of the ninth degree in which sex magic energies are reversed, as illustrated by the twisting of the letters from IX ° to XI °. The degree system of the Caliphat-OTO is divided into three levels (triads): the hermit , the lover and the people of the earth according to verse I / 40 of the Liber AL vel Legis . The grades are intended to support the test person in finding their true identity. In the first degree (Minerval 0 °) the aspirant decides whether he wants to become a full member. Such is always in spiritual connection with the order, even if it had resigned from active membership.

Tabular overview

Caliphhat OTO Degree System
Degree formula designation
1. Triad of man on earth
0 ° Minerval (M) (the ego, a wandering god, is attracted to the solar system)
I ° Husband and brother (or wife and sister) (M.) (birth is experienced as a child)
II ° Magician (M ..) (the man or the woman experience life)
III ° Master Magician (M∴) (the death of the individual)
IV ° Perfect Magician (P∴M∴) and Companion of the Holy Royal Vault of Enoch
Perfect Initiate or Prince of Jerusalem (P∴I∴)
(The world beyond death is represented, a glorified state of the initiate)
Knight of the East and West (K∴E∴W∴) (outside of all triads)
2. Triad of Lovers
V ° Sovereign Prince Rose-Croix and Knight of the Pelican and Eagle
Knight of the Red Eagle and member of the Senate of the Knights of Hermetic Philosophy
VI ° Sublime Knight (Templar) of the Order of Kadosch and Companion of the Holy Grail
Grand Inquisitor Commander and member of the Grand Tribunal
Prince of the Royal Secret
VII ° Very Exalted Sovereign General Grand Inspector
Member of the Supreme Grand Council
3. Triad of the Hermit
VIII ° Perfect
high priest of the Illuminati Epopt of the Illuminati
IX ° Initiate of the Gnostic Sanctuary
X ° Rex Summus Sanctissimus (Supreme and Holy King)
XI ° Eleventh degree initiate (technical degree)
XII ° Brother Superior and Outer Head of the Order

OTO offshoot

In addition to the "Caliphat-OTO" there are a few other OTO groups that have often contested the Crowley copyright and the claim as an official OTO:

  • The Abbey of Thelema , founded by Hermann Metzger in Switzerland, however, almost no longer exists.
  • The OTO Antiqua (OTOA) , which was founded by Lucien-Francois Jean Maine and has also integrated voodoo influences into its system.
  • The Society OTO (SOTO) , which after the death of its leader, the Brazilian MR Motta, also barely exists.
  • The Typhonian OTO (TOTO) by the Englishman Kenneth Grant with his mixture of UFO beliefs , Thelema and HP Lovecraft . This “expressly has no structure”. There are “no religious titles, no hierarchies, no fixed rituals, no personality cult.” There can be no question of members, the followers meet “rarely or never”, but only correspond with each other and occasionally attend meetings with Grant's deputy Michael Staley.

The various side lines of the OTO, such as the Fraternitas Saturni, the Ordo Saturni and the Thelema Order, do not see themselves as satanic. Only a few irregular OTO lines in the USA understand or see themselves as satanist orders.

Gnostic Catholic Church

The Gnostic-Catholic Church (Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica, EGC, EGC) is a sister organization of the OTO and has been an integral part of the OTO under Reuss since 1908. The group occasionally uses the name "Brothers of Light of the seven churches in Asia" or "Order of the Templars of the Orient". The Gnostic Catholic Church formally recognizes the Liber AL vel Legis 1920 and is responsible for the ritual of the Gnostic Mass and related Ecclesian rituals, which unites the teachings of all initiation rituals of the OTO.

It was founded in 1890 by Jules Doinel, an archivist and Freemason from the Loiret department . Jules Doinel called himself Valentin II and received an apostolic filiation from a bishop of the Catholic Church of the Union of Utrecht . Thereupon he consecrated Papus as bishop of the EGC. Valentin II's successor was Leonce Fabre des Essarts, who continued his office in 1902. 4 years later the EGC split, whereupon Fabre des Essarts became patriarch of the Gnostic Catholic Church in France and Jean Bricaud became the patriarch of the EGC. Theodor Reuss met Papus in 1908 and authorized him to introduce the OTO and the Memphis Misraïm rite in France. For this Reuss was awarded the episcopal dignity of the EGC by Papus. In 1918 Reuss was named Carolus Albertus Theodorus Peregrinus "Sovereign Patriarch" and primacy of the Gnostic Catholic Church, Vicarius Solomonis and Caput Ordinis OTO. In the same year Reuss published the German translation of Aleister Crowley's "Gnostic Mass" . In 1920 Reuss completed the “Development Program and the Principles of the Gnostic Neo-Christians OTO” and proclaimed the abolition of private property and cash in addition to the Thelema law. Other goals named include: the introduction of compulsory work, the safeguarding of free tuition, health services and cultural offerings as well as the creation of a sexually pleasurable society without awareness of sin.


The teaching of the Gnostic Catholic Church, based on Aleister Crowley's ideas, is a conglomerate of neo-Nazi secret knowledge, ancient Egyptian traditional elements and Indian intellectual property. The goal of the Gnostic Catholic Church is to restore pure primitive Christianity in a form adapted to the present. According to its own statements, the group wants to reveal the secret miracles of salvation of the sacrament of the Eucharist and proclaim the message of salvation of the true Christ, the anointed. FW Haack points out the difference between the "Christ" of the Bible and the "Christos" of the GCC and explains that Crowley viewed faith in Jesus Christ as a life-negating and worldly hostile religion and instead the so-called "Mithras Christos" as a counterpart. propagated, which he also called "Victorious Horus". In the “Liber OZ: sub figura LXXVII” it says on the understanding of God: “There is no God but man.” The Christian doctrine of original sin and its justification by the central Christian key concept of grace is frowned upon in the GCC, since it is man's determination was to direct one's fate on the basis of the law of cause and effect during one's lifetime in order to become godlike. Man's resemblance to God comes about on the basis of the conscious experience of unity with God by maintaining the control of will during the act of procreation, because this leads to the realization that the act of love that has been performed can be understood as a parallel act of the act of procreation.

Renaming to "Gnostic Church"

Because of the reputation-damaging “Gnostic Catholic Church Scandal”, the new church statutes of April 23, 1994/2. June 1994 a change in personal name was introduced. From now on, the “Gnostic Catholic Church” of the “Caliphats” will only be called “Gnostic Church”. Furthermore, it was decided that in future the “exclusion from the order” would automatically be accompanied by the “loss of church affiliation”. In this regard, Peter-Robert König points out that the Gnostic ordinations are obviously linked to the pseudo-Masonic Crowley OTO initiation rituals through these resolutions. According to König, the renaming was apparently carried out in historical ignorance of the “Caliphats” by an organization already existing under the name “Gnostic Church”, with which König alludes to Joanny Bricaud's “Eglise Gnostique” (= Gnostic Church).


  • Aleister Crowley : The Book of the Law . ISBN 0-87728-334-6 , (English).
  • Aleister Crowley: Liber Agape / De Arte Magica. (edited by Ray Sherwin) Kadath Press, East Morton 1986.
  • Francis King: The Secret Rituals of the OTO Samuel Weiser, New York 1973. ISBN 0-85207-111-6 .
  • Peter-Robert König : The Oto-Phenomenon. Munich 1994. ( online version )
  • Peter-Robert König: The OTO Phenomenon Remix. Munich 2001.
  • Hugh B. Urban: The Yoga Of Sex: Tantra, Orientalism, and Sex Magic in the OTO from p. 400 In: Wouter Hanegraaff, Jeffery J. Kripal and Jeffrey J. Kripal: Hidden Intercourse: Eros and Sexuality in the History of Western Esotericism. Brill Academic Pub, 2008, ISBN 978-90-04-16873-2 .

Web links


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  3. ^ Marco Pasi: Ordo Templi Orientis. In: Wouter J. Hanegraaff (Ed.): Dictionary of Gnosis & Western Esotericism. Brill, Leiden / Boston 2006, p. 898.
  4. Thomas Höfer: Wash me, but don't get me wet! In: Flensburger Hefte No. 33 (6/91). Pp. 167-168.
  5. Lawrence Sutin: Do What Thou Wilt. A Life of Aleister Crowley. St Martin's Press, New York 2000, p. 228.
  6. ^ A b Karl RH Frick: Light and Darkness. Gnostic-theosophical and Masonic-occult secret societies up to the turn of the 20th century. Volume II. Marix Verlag, Wiesbaden 2005, ISBN 3-86539-044-7 , pp. 524-526.
  7. Rüdiger Hauth (Ed.): Compact Lexicon Religions. Brockhaus Verlag, Wuppertal 1998, ISBN 3-417-24677-6 . P. 255.
  8. Stephen Flowers : Fire and Ice. The magical secret teachings of the German secret order Fraternitas Saturni. Translated into German by Michael DeWitt . Edition Ananael, Vienna 1993, ISBN 3-901134-03-4 . P. 28.
  9. Gerd-Klaus Kaltenbrunner (ed.): Secret societies and the myth of the world conspiracy. Herder, Freiburg (Breisgau) et al. 1987, ISBN 3-451-09569-6 , ( Herderbücherei 9569), ( Initiative 69), pp. 126–127.
  10. Antoine Faivre : Esoteric Overview. Herder, 2001. p. 117.
  11. Peter R. König: The OTO phenomenon RELOAD. Volume 1. Working group for religious and ideological issues, Munich 2011. p. 119.
  12. Peter-Robert König: Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925): never a member of any OTO on parareligion.ch, accessed on January 1, 2014.
  13. Peter R. König: The OTO phenomenon RELOAD. Volume 1. Working group for religious and ideological issues, Munich 2011. p. 119.
  14. Cees Leijenhorst: Steiner, Rudolf. In: Wouter J. Hanegraaff (Ed.): Dictionary of Gnosis & Western Esotericism . Brill, Leiden / Boston 2005, Vol. 2, p. 1089.
  15. a b c Peter R. König: The OTO phenomenon RELOAD. Volume 1. Working group for questions of religion and belief, Munich 2011. pp. 99-100.
  16. Stephen Flowers: Fire and Ice. The magical secret teachings of the German secret order Fraternitas Saturni . Translated into German by Michael DeWitt . Edition Ananael, Vienna 1993, pp. 26 and 31
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  19. Gerald Willms : The Wonderful World of Sects: From Paul to Scientology. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht; Edition: 1st edition 2012, p. 260.
  20. Degree structure of the US Grand Lodge of the OTO (last accessed on November 6, 2012)
  21. ^ Richard Kaczynski: Perdurabo North Atlantic Books, 2nd edition, Berkeley 2010, p. 274.
  22. Andreas Huettl, Peter-Robert König: SATAN - Jünger, Jäger and Justice . Kreuzfeuer Verlag, Augsburg 2006, ISBN 3-937611-01-0 , p. 272 .
  23. Andreas Huettl, Peter-Robert König: SATAN - Jünger, Jäger and Justice . Kreuzfeuer Verlag, Augsburg 2006, ISBN 3-937611-01-0 , p. 286 .
  24. Andreas Huettl, Peter-Robert König: SATAN - Jünger, Jäger and Justice . Kreuzfeuer Verlag, Augsburg 2006, ISBN 3-937611-01-0 , p. 261 .
  25. Joachim Schmidt: Satanism - Myth and Reality. Marburg 2002; P. 130 f.
  26. a b Horst E. Miers : Lexicon of secret knowledge. Goldmann Verlag, Munich 1993, ISBN 3-442-12179-5 . P. 252.
  27. Rudolf Passian: Light and shadow of esotericism. Droemersche Verlagsanstalt Th. Knaur Nachf. Munich 1991, p. 167.
  28. ^ Friedrich-Wilhelm Haack: Secret religion of the knowing. Neo-Nostic Movements Working Group for Religious and Weltanschauung issues , 7th edition, Munich 1989, p. 31.
  29. ^ Friedrich-Wilhelm Haack: Secret religion of the knowing. Neo-nostic movements. Working group for religious and ideological issues, 7th edition, Munich 1989, pp. 30–32.
  30. Peter-Robert König : A life for the rose (Arnoldo Krumm-Heller). Munich 1995, ISBN 3-927890-21-9 , p. 45.