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Aleister Crowley

O.T.O. Synopsis of Degrees

1912. ev.

O.T.O. Lamen

Introduction

This historical document was written by Aleister Crowley in 1912 preceeding the Manifesto and Constitution of the O.T.O.

The 1913 and 1919 Manifestos of M.M.M. and O.T.O. issued by Crowley give a lengthy list of organisations whose “wisdom and knowledge” were said to be concentrated in the hands of the initiates of O.T.O., prominent among which are:

  • The Antient and Primitive Rite of Masonry (33 degrees).
  • The Rite of Memphis (97 degrees).
  • The Rite of Mizraim (90 degrees).
  • The Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Masonry (33 degrees).

The founders of O.T.O. had obtained from the English Masonic enthusiast John Yarker charters for the combined rite of Memphis and Mizraim, the Antient and Primitive Rite (henceforth A & P) or Reduced Rite of Memphis, which compressed the first 95 degrees of Memphis into a more manageable 33, and finally the 33 degrees of the Rite of Cerneau, generally regarded by Masonic historians as a spurious imitation of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite (AASR).

In one of Crowley's manuscript notebooks (MS Notebook 30 in the Yorke collection, preserved in the Warburg Institute) is found the following “Synopsis of Grades” which develops the correspondences between these rites and the revised O.T.O. degree system.

In the original MS this table has been hatched out. It is possible that it was never made official.

[annotated by Frater T.S.]

OTO Synopsis of Degrees (1912)

(click on image for enlargement)

Synopsis of Grades
MMM Freemasonry
and AASR
Memphis (A & P) Misraim
Minerval —— —— ——
Man Entered Apprentice E.A. E.A.
II° Magician Fellow-Craft F.M. F.C. F.C.
III° Master Magician Master Mason M.M. M.M.
IV°
L of P
Perfect Magician Royal Arch Mason
4°—14°

4°—7°

4°—[33°]
C.P.I. Perfect Initiate 15°—16° 8°—9° [34°—38°, 45°]
L. of K.E.W. Knight of the East and West 17° 10° 1
Sov. Prince of Rose Croix 18° 11° 44° [qy 46° 2]
[Senate 3] [Knight of Red Eagle] 19°—29° [12°—17°] [?39°] [47°—64°]
VI° Knight Kadosch, Comp of Holy Grail 30° [18°] 65°
Holy Inquis. Grand Inquisitor Commander 31°   66°
[Consistory] Knight [Prince] of Royal Secret 32° [19°]  
VII° [Sovereign Grand Inspector General] 33° 20° [77°]
VIII° [Epopt / Pontiff of the Illuminati] ——    
IX° Perfect Illuminate —— 33° (95°) 90°
Sovereign Grand Master General —— (96°) ——
XI°   ——   ——
XII° Outer Head of the Order —— (97°) ——

 

All additions in square brackets to this table are by the Frater T.S., based on correlating (a) various published documents of O.T.O. and (b) degree lists of the Antient & Primitive Rite and the Rites of Memphis and Mizraim.

In the table, the degrees from 4° to 33° of Memphis refer to the Reduced Rite (Antient and Primitive) of 33 degrees; the 95° to 97° to the full rite of 97 degrees, the top two of which are administrative for the ruling council and chief of the rite. In the 97 degree rite, the first 33 parallel AASR and the rest are frankly a mess and have varied wildly between different juridictions and over the history of the rite (one modern Memphis working has 99 degrees, with the 96° being national heads, the 99° the world Chief of the rite and the 97° and 98° some kind of intermediate trans-national chiefs).

Minerval is a probationary degree with no real Masonic equivalent.

XI° O.T.O. is a “technical” degree outside the general scheme of the Order and has no connection or correspondence with any degree of any known Masonic rite, unless one is willing to credit the wilder flights of fancy of anti-Masonic propaganda.

It should be noted that while this table lists an XII° for the O.H.O., it does not appear that Crowley himself ever used this number when signing as Outer Head from 1923 on, and it may have been dropped in a later revision of the degree scheme.

In 1917 Reuss issued » his own elaboration of the O.T.O. degree system « which ignored all of Crowley's innovations including the 0°, XI° and a separate XII° for the Outer Head, instead describing a system of nine operative degrees I° to IX°, with the III° identified with Craft Masonry and the IV° to VI° with 4° to 33° AASR.  The VII° and VIII° were subdivided into 3 and 4 respectively. Current practice in the O.T.O. as manifested under the Caliphacy adopts Reuss' threefold division of the VII°, but only has two sub-degrees to VIII°.

 


Footnotes:

[1] There is no degree with this title in the Mizraim degree list I consulted.

[2] The version of the Mizraim degree list I consulted has 46° as Rose-Croix; 44° is “Architecture of the Sovereign Commanders of the Temple.” However there was wide variation between workings of the precise arrangement of degrees in the full rites of Memphis and Mizraim, so 44° may be correct here.

[3] In Crowley's Liber LII (1919), and the earlier “Manifesto of MMM” (1912), “Knight of the Red Eagle” is identified with membership of the “Senate of Knight Hermetic Philosophers,” an intermediate degree between V° and VI° from which, according to Liber CXCIV, the Electoral College of the Order is drawn. In the Antient & Primitive Rite, the degrees from 12° to 20° are collectively known as the Senate of Hermetic Philosophers (this series is further subdivided into two; the “Hermetic” degrees from 12° to 17° form the Senate proper, the 18° to 20° are Templar degrees and collectively known as the Consistory). In English workings – and it was from John Yarker's English Memphis-Mizraim body that Reuss and colleagues obtained their A & P charter – the 12° is called “Knight of the Red Eagle” and the 17° is “Hermetic Philosopher.” In How's Freemason's Manual, a 19th-century work whose author appears very positive towards the Antient and Primitive Rite (far less so towards the full 90+ degrees of Memphis-Mizraim) it is said that this degree is concerned with further explanation of the Hermetic cipher I.N.R.I., previously expounded in the Rose-Croix degree. The 18° of A&P is called “Knight Kadosch” , the 19° “Royal Master” and the 20° “Grand Intendant.”   The 39th degree of Mizraim is called Knight of the Red Eagle; however O.T.O. Senate may also be identified with the 47° to 64° of Mizraim as the degrees between Rose-Croix and Knight Kadosch.

 


Text © Ordo Templi Orientis.

Proof read and edited by Frater D.M.T - Bahlasti Ompehda Camp, Budapest. (Anno Viii)

[ » Primary Source: O.T.O. Synopsis of Degrees « ]

[ » SEE ALSO: Revised O.T.O. Constitution of 1917 {by Fr. Merlin, Theodor Reuss} ]

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