ALEISTER CROWLEY - the Ordo Templi Orientis


According to Crowley, Theodor Reuss called on him in 1912 to accuse him of publishing O.T.O. secrets, which Crowley dismissed on the grounds of having never attained the grade in which these secrets were given (IXth Degree).

And this, of course, takes us to the German connection.

Theodor Reuss
Theodor Reuss (June 28, 1855 – October 28, 1923) (see left) was an Anglo-German tantric occultist, anarchist, police spy, journalist, singer, and promoter of Women's Liberation; and head of Ordo Templi Orientis.

Reuss - Early Years

Ludwig II
König von Bayern
Reuss was the son of an innkeeper at Augsburg. He was a professional singer in his youth, and was introduced to Ludwig II of Bavaria, in 1873.
He took part in the first performance of Wagner's 'Parsifal' at Bayreuth in 1882.

Reuss later became a newspaper correspondent, and travelled frequently as such to England, where he became a Mason in 1876.
He also spent some time there as a journalist and as a music-hall singer under the stage name "Charles Theodore."
In 1876 Reuss married Delphina Garbois from Dublin, and moved to München in 1878. Their marriage was annulled, due to bigamy (Hergemöller, 1998).
They had a son, Albert Franz Theodor Reuss (1879–1958), a self-educated zoologist who lived in Berlin (Krecsák and Bohle 2008).
In 1885, in England, Reuss joined the Socialist League as an anarchist.
He had been quite involved as a librarian and labour secretary.
Wappen des
Königreichs Preußen
On May 7, 1886 he was expelled as a police spy in the pay of the Prussian Secret Police.
This took place in a sectarian atmosphere, with tensions between anarcho-communist Josef Peukert and the Bakuninist Victor Dave where such accusations were often made without substance, however, this accusation came from the Belgian Social Democrats, and was raised here by Henry Charles.
Peukert and the Gruppe Autonomie published a rebuttal of these allegations which appeared in the Anarchist, which also accused Dave of being a spy, however, in February 1887 Reuss used the unwitting Peukert to track down Johann Neve in Belgium, who was then arrested by the German police.
This was major coup for the police as Neve had been smuggling arms and propaganda into Germany.
He died shortly after in a prison in Munich, perhaps murdered.

The Ordo Templi Orientis
Bavarian Order of Illuminati

In 1880, in Munich, Reuss participated in an attempt to revive Adam Weishaupt's Bavarian Order of Illuminati.
While in England, he became friends with William Wynn Westcott, the Supreme Magus of the Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia and one of the founders of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn.
Westcott provided Reuss with a charter dated July 26, 1901 for the Swedenborgian Rite of Masonry and a letter of authorization dated February 24, 1902 to found a High Council in Germania of the Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia.
Gérard Encausse provided him with a charter dated June 24, 1901 designating him Special Inspector for the Martinist Order in Germany.
Carl Kellner
Ordo Templi Orientis
In 1895, he began to discuss the formation of Ordo Templi Orientis (see left) with Carl Kellner and in June 1902 the two agreed to proceed with the establishment of the Oriental Templar Order by seeking authorizations to work the various rites of high-grade Masonry.
When Carl Kellner died in 1905, the leadership of the Academia Masonica of O.T.O. fell upon Reuss's shoulders, and he incorporated all his other organizations under its banner, developing the three degrees of the Academia Masonica, available to Masons only, into a coherent, self-contained initiatory system, open to both men and women.

 'The Book of Lies' 
Rudolf Steiner
He promulgated a constitution for this new, enlarged O.T.O. on June 21, 1906 in London (his place of residence since January 1906) and the next month proclaimed himself Outer Head of the Order (O.H.O.).
That same year he published Lingham-Yoni, which was a German translation of Hargrave Jennings's work Phallism, and issued a warrant to Rudolf Steiner (1861–1925, who was at the time the Secretary General of the German branch of the Theosophical Society), making him Deputy Grand Master of a subordinate O.T.O./Memphis/Mizraim Chapter and Grand Council called "Mystica Aeterna" in Berlin. Steiner went on to found the Anthroposophical Society in 1912, and ended his association with Reuss in 1914.
Returning to Crowley, Reuss opened up Crowley's latest book, 'The Book of Lies' (see right), and showed Crowley the passage.

Reuss and Crowley

While living in London, Reuss became acquainted with Aleister Crowley.
In 1910, he made Crowley a VII° of O.T.O. (based on Crowley's previously held 33° in the Scottish Rite), and in 1912, he conferred upon him the IX° and appointed him National Grand Master General X° for the O.T.O. in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland by charter dated June 1, 1912.
Crowley's appointment included authority over an English language rite of the lower (Masonic) degrees of O.T.O. which was given the name Mysteria Mystica Maxima, or M∴M∴M∴. In 1913, Crowley issued a Constitution for the M∴M∴M∴ and the Manifesto of the M∴M∴M∴, which he subsequently redrafted and issued as Liber LII (52), the Manifesto of the O.T.O. In 1913, Crowley wrote Liber XV, the Gnostic Mass for Reuss's Gnostic Catholic Church.
Crowley also dedicated his Mystery Play 'The Ship' (1913) and a collection of poetry, 'The Giant's Thumb' (1915) to Reuss.
In 1913 he became Grand Master of the Rite of Memphis-Misraïm, a masonic group which previously included the revolutionaries Louis Blanc and Giuseppe Garibaldi amongst its ranks.
In 1914, at the outset of World War I, Reuss left England and returned to Germany.
He worked briefly for the Red Cross in Berlin, then, in 1916, moved to Basle, Switzerland. While there, he established an "Anational Grand Lodge and Mystic Temple" of O.T.O. and the 'Hermetic Brotherhood of Light' at Monte Verità, a utopian commune near Ascona founded in 1900 by Henri Oedenkoven and Ida Hofmann, which functioned as a center for the Progressive Underground.
On January 22, 1917, Reuss published a manifesto for this 'Anational Grand Lodge', which was called "Verità Mystica."
On the same date, he published a Revised O.T.O. Constitution of 1917 (based in a large part on Crowley's 1913 Constitution of the M∴M∴M∴), with a "Synopsis of Degrees" and an abridgment of "The Message of the Master Therion" appended. Reuss held an "Anational Congress for Organising the Reconstruction of Society on Practical Cooperative Lines" at Monte Verità August 15–25, 1917.
This Congress included readings of Crowley's poetry (on August 22) and a recitation of Crowley's 'Gnostic Mass' (on August 24).
On October 24, 1917, Reuss Chartered an O.T.O. Lodge, "Libertas et Fraternitas" in Zürich. This Lodge later placed itself under the Masonic jurisdiction of the 'Swiss Grand Lodge Alpina'.
In 1918, Reuss published his German translation of Crowley's 'Gnostic Mass'.
In a note at the end of his translation of 'Liber XV', he referred to himself as, simultaneously, the Sovereign Patriarch and Primate of the Gnostic Catholic Church, and Gnostic Legate to Switzerland of the Église Gnostique Universelle, acknowledging Jean Bricaud (1881–1934) as Sovereign Patriarch of that church.
The issuance of this document can be viewed as the birth of the 'Thelemic E.G.C'. as an independent organization under the umbrella of O.T.O., with Reuss as its first Patriarch.
Reuss was clearly impressed with Thelema.
Crowley's 'Gnostic Mass', which Reuss translated into German and had recited at his Anational Congress at Monte Verità, is an explicitly Thelemic ritual.
In an undated letter to Crowley (received in 1917), Reuss reported excitedly that he had read 'The Message of the Master Therion' to a gathering at Monte Verità, and that he was translating 'The Book of the Law' into German.
This sparked a long conversation, which led to Crowley assuming the Xth Degree of O.T.O. and becoming Grand Master of the English-speaking section of O.T.O. called 'Mysteria Mystica Maxima.'
Crowley would eventually introduce the practice of male homosexual sex magick into O.T.O. as one of the highest degrees of the Order for he believed it to be the most powerful formula.
Crowley placed the new degree above the Tenth Degree – not to be confused with any title in his own Order – and numbered it the Eleventh Degree.There was a protest from some members of O.T.O. in Germany and the rest of continental Europe that occasioned a persistent rift with Crowley.Reuss, however, was clearly impressed with Thelema.
Crowley's 'Gnostic Mass', which Reuss translated into German and had recited at his Anational Congress at Monte Verità, is an explicitly Thelemic ritual.
In an undated letter to Crowley (received in 1917), Reuss reported exitedly that he had read 'The Message of the Master Therion' to a gathering at Monte Verità, and that he was translating 'The Book of the Law' into German.
He added, "Let this news encourage you ! - We live in your Work !"
Crowley's influence over German occultism subsequently waned, however, and there was an inevitable secessionist movement by many German occultists, resulting in the establishment of a new group, the Fraternitas Saturni.
The Fraternitas Saturni was founded in the wake of the so-called "Weida Conference" in the year 1925.
It suceeded the "Collegium Pansophicum, Orient Berlin" (Pansophia Lodge), a Rosicrucian magical order founded by Heinrich Traenker, a notable German occultist of the time.
The Weida Conference was meant to consolidate Aleister Crowley's claims to be the Outer Head of Ordo Templi Orientis and the expected World Teacher.
The conference consisted of Crowley's entourage of Leah Hirsig, Dorothy Olsen, and Norman Mudd and the members of Heinrich Traenker's "Pansophia Lodge".
Traenker had served as a X° National Grand Master of the German O.T.O. under Theodor Reuss up until Reuss's death.
Also attending the conference were the notable film pioneer Albin Grau and Gregor A. Gregorius.
The conference was not a smooth event and Traenker withdrew his support of Crowley.
The differences between Traenker and Crowley led to a schism in the Pansophical Lodge between the brothers who disagreed with Crowley and those who accepted Crowley's Law of Thelema, including Gregorius and Grau.
Following these differences the Pansophical Lodge would be officially closed in 1926.
Those brothers of the Pansophia Lodge who accepted the teachings of Crowley would join Grosche in founding the Fraternitas Saturni - but without Albin Grau.

Death of Reuss and the Succession

There is some reason to believe that Reuss suffered a stroke in the spring of 1920, but this is not entirely certain.
Crowley wrote to W.T. Smith in March 1943: "the late O.H.O., after his first stroke of paralysis, got into a panic about the work being carried on... He hastily issued honorary diplomas of the Seventh Degree to various people, some of whom had no right to anything at all and some of whom were only cheap crooks."
Shortly after appointing him his Viceroy for Australia, Crowley appears to have corresponded with his friend Frank (Allan) Bennett and discussed with him his doubts about Reuss's continuing ability to effectively govern the Order.
It would appear that Reuss discovered the correspondence; he wrote Crowley an angry, defensive response on November 9, 1921, in which he appeared to distance himself and O.T.O. from Thelema, which, as shown above, he had previously embraced. Crowley replied to Reuss's letter on November 23, 1921, and stated in his letter, "It is my will to be O.H.O. and Frater Superior of the Order and avail myself of your abdication—to proclaim myself as such." He signed the letter "Baphomet O.H.O."
Reuss's response is not extant, but Crowley recounts in his 'Confessions' that Reuss "resigned the office [of O.H.O.] in 1922 in my favour."
However, it does not appear that Crowley waited for Reuss's response to assume his duties.
In a diary entry for November 27, 1921, Crowley wrote: "I have proclaimed myself O.H.O. Frater Superior of the Order of Oriental Templars."
Reuss died on October 28, 1923.
In a letter to Heinrich Tränker dated February 14, 1925, Crowley stated the following: "Reuss was very uncertain in temper, and in many ways unreliable. In his last years he seems to have completely lost his grip, even accusing The Book of the Law of communistic tendencies, than which no statement could be more absurd. Yet it seems that he must have been to some extent correctly led, on account of his having made the appointments of yourself and Frater Achad (Charles Stansfeld Jones), and designating me in his last letter as his successor.
In a letter to Charles Stansfeld Jones dated Sun in Capricorn, Anno XX (Dec. 1924 - Jan. 1925), Crowley said, "in the O.H.O.'s last letter to me he invited me to become his successor as O.H.O. and Frater Superior."
Reuss's letter designating Crowley his successor as O.H.O. has not been found, but no credible documentation has surfaced which would indicate that Reuss ever designated any alternative successor.
After his death, Crowley added Reuss to the list of Gnostic Saints listed in the Gnostic Mass.

1 comment:

  1. For what it's worth Crowley included Reuss in the 1918 edition of the Gnostic Mass, some 5 years before Reuss' death.