Wow, this thread has been a ton of fun. Heh.
The OTO is very hands-off in its approach. You're only a member if you choose to be--they don't recruit (it took one ex-member's devolution into
founding Scientology to accomplish that, haha!)--and at least until more advanced degrees, you either teach yourself, hang with local lodge friends
and learn from those who've been studying, or you can just rot happily in ignorance for all they care, it's your life, your choice.
Friends in the Golden Dawn (and of course, studying any books such as Regardie's concerning it) tell me that they are extremely hands-on in an
educational sense. I think what a person prefers is up to them. I loved the 'Golden Dawn wannabe's' quip -- now that's funny. My observation
has been that people simply bond to what draws them. The groups allegedly have similar spectrums of info and process but a quite different feel.
I dreamed of the OTO, a dozen years ago. For three nights, intensely. In the dreams I understood a hazy outline of what it was, and why I was dreaming
about it, just no clue why. When I awoke I would find myself thinking it must be something akin to the Rosicrucians, as that was the only thing I'd
heard about along those lines at the time. I asked about it in an online forum I belonged to, not really having much hope anybody there would have
heard of something so obscure. Actually several members were in the Order. It all seemed so utterly amazing.
I'd studied theology, hypnosis and cult psychology when younger, so I tried to think of my exposure to it as a sort of exploratory case study. The
problem was, my seeking it out had nothing whatever to do with conscious ideas or interests. It was very much just "a given" that it was time for me
to do that at that time, as if it were already a long-done-deal, it was just time to carry it out 'here' like on the physical. I found all the
religious, magickal stuff basically just strange. Ceremonial magick to me seemed like some grandiose hypnotic group mental+physical yoga with fashion
and drama attached. (The drama queen in me always drawn to catholic imagery loved that part.)
I found the people a little strange, but in a way I related to. The older and longer-term members tended to be intellectuals, which really astonished
me. You know, they had degrees in sciences and spoke and wrote all kinds of languages (some dead!) and how common is that in occult orders, I
wondered? It wasn't what I expected. Those I met, I liked extremely well, and felt a great deal of kinship with. The newer and younger members I
liked well enough but didn't much relate to, given I'm a goody-two-shoes; I was older, a responsible workaholic, and they were definitely in a
younger and less... ah, less structured period of life, shall we say. As it turns out, I've moved all over but never really lived in any place or
situation that put me in close contact with many other members of the Order anyway.
When I finally got around to reading something by Crowley, I felt like I understood my introduction to it all. Talk about a weirdo, and the most
desperately unattractive older man I'd ever seen in photo in my life, yet I felt as if part of me was him--as if on death he'd fractured into pieces
and one of them was part of me. I had intense astralish dreams over the years about him and occasional Regardie (oddly enough), and I still have
occasional dream about some dream-Order that seems analogous to OTO but has a slightly different degree structure (degrees 2-8 are the match there,
for example). I think it's probably just my subconscious going on with things despite that physically I am not currently involved with any of it.
(A small number of seemingly Crowley/Order/Magick-related anomalous experiences are in Bewilderness
When I read Liber al for the first time, I think my Christian background ran screaming into the night. And yet I felt like there was an energy and
meaning behind a lot of it that justified it in ways the words on the surface alone didn't. I used to wake up with lines from it running through my
mind, and felt such heart-chakra response to it, it was just odd, but very powerful, and very cool.
Eventually I had some really ... unusual experiences that seemed to bridge into the psychic and UFOlogy realms. As I wrote in a case study back in
'95, I really have no idea why so many different things seem to come through the same doorway or framework. I don't know how to differentiate
between something that is an alien, entity, etc. except by feel or by matching some cultural description. I had many bizarre experiences prior to this
time that, when I got to know (online) a few people from the group, they at least had a "standard textbook occult" idea of what I might be talking
about. The Abyss, the Angelic Language, things I had no words or framework for. Visions that were so bizarre as to be hilarious, when looked at in the
light of occult lore, actually were almost textbook-archetypal. I found that intriguing.
I think for many people the OTO functions very much as family. Friends are the family you get to choose, as the saying goes. I haven't really had
that due to circumstance, and don't really feel I need that, but I respect that most people benefit from that kind of support network of friendship
and mentorship, and as far as religion goes, well, to each their own I guess.
I might add that of the maybe, oh I dunno, 60 people I've met in the Order (which isn't many I admit, but it's not that big), most of them were
more likely to fall into the "vaguely-buddhist" category than any kind of demonic category (if some bizarre obsession with The Dark Side is required
for membership, they have failed to specify this to me all this time). A couple of the wild young thangs were very much into exploring anything that
they felt was "forbidden," but frankly if society had made green apples forbidden, they'd have been just as much into that I think.
Over the years I had done many little head-games with myself just for the hell of it that turned out to be practical disciplines I'd find in related
writings. It was interesting to think that maybe there was more going on with me under the conscious level than I had realized. After my first degree
initiation, I half-woke up and a group I call my 'elementals of soul' were there, and they put this egyptian-like circlet on my head. I explained to
them politely, not wanting to hurt their feelings, that I appreciated their formal recognition of whatever with me, but I really didn't think the OTO
was into Egyptian stuff aside from that funky tablet. Later it turned out, well maybe it is. LOL. I didn't know, at the time.
Most of the talk I'd had with people had been about Enochian workings, which even inside the Order finds people with very different perspectives. I
found it interesting, yet every time I've focused on it the cat-eyed lizard dudes show up. They have these cohesive-light glowing red-orange orbs
(although, in OBE state at-rest, they just look like giant mutant beetles of some unknown dull metal), and I just don't trust them. All told they
seem to have been decent to me, but since they don't let you remember jack and they're profoundly TP, who knows. I've seen and 'felt them there
for me' when completely conscious outside swimming or walking, or doing programming and look up and there they are, through the ceiling--as if one
can see through the ceiling??--there's obviously some psychological or psychical overlay going on there. Anyway so I kind of avoid Enochian now,
partly due to that, but primarily because I'm a huge Archangel Michael devotee, so he is my dominant focus instead.
Aside from an honor-bond of sorts, and some of the "deeper" stuff that occasionally comes in dreams and visions and seems to tie me to it through my
middle somehow, my only real connection to the Order is my bishop. Though for all I know he has some other title or rank by now. He was 9th degree
when I met him but that was a dozen years ago. It was his warmth and maturity and serious down-to-earth-ness that made it possible for me to ever
consciously consider following the impelling and joining the order. I've noticed that most the best examples in the group, the people I mean, don't
do much public correspondence though, which is really too bad.
Some of the more charming posts on this thread probably example why.