On The Priesthood

Tau Hermes
October 2013

The structure of our Order is governmental. Through its initiations we progressively learn to better govern ourselves in accordance with the Law of Liberty. Thus we are readied to serve in the governance of the Order itself. As it is written, .
 
in True Things, all are but images one of another; man is but a map of the universe, and Society is but the same on a larger scale.1
 
Just as the initiations prepare us for governmental duty, so too do they prepare us for sacerdotal duty. As we unearth our own inner light we become better able to understand and administer the rites and sacraments of our Church, and serve the varied needs of its community. Woven into our initiatory system, then, is ordination as a priest or priestess. This occurs at the degree of Knight of the East and West.
 
Initiation to K.E.W. is a major step in our system. It comes immediately after the Man of Earth triad, a series symbolising the Path in Eternity. In completing this triad, the initiate has gone beyond the earthly cycle of birth, life and death, and experienced even greater mysteries. As Crowley explains, . . .
 
the individual, released by death from the obsession of personality, resumes relations with the truth of the universe. Reality bursts upon him in a blaze of adorable light; he is able to appreciate its splendour as he could not previously do . . . .
 
Finally, the cycle is closed by the reabsorption of all individuality into infinity.2
 
Thus the candidate is annihilated, and they become a Perfect Initiate.3 They have undergone the full gamut of the human experience, and can begin to understand their present incarnation in its proper context.
 
More than this, with annihilation comes the opportunity to understand the universe from a completely egoless perspective, to glimpse the truth that makes one chief of all: that there is no difference between any one thing and any other thing. All is Nuit. Every man and every woman is a full and perfect expression of Her. On such a plane all is love, all is joy, all is beauty.
 
A Perfect Initiate can comprehend the philosophy of Thelema more deeply than they did before, for it is ego that blinds us to its deeper wisdom. The Perfect Initiate can also better discuss and promulgate Thelema in the community — the dire warnings of the Comment, what are these to one without ego? Indeed,  the Comment to the Book of the Law reminds us all to try and act from a place of non-ego whenever we approach it, individually or collectively, and we can be much better at this after experiencing annihilation.
 
Being a priest or priestess will also, on occasion, require one to give counsel. Members or guests of the Church may approach the priesthood for help with understanding Thelema, or doing ritual, or any other spiritual matter. It is desirable that any assistance given is done so without one’s egoistic perspectives intruding. The universe of each individual is unique, therefore assisting another in their magical relationship with it is a delicate matter. The degree of Perfect Initiate goes some way in preparing aspirants to the priesthood for this.
 
K.E.W. is the first of the invitational degrees. To be raised into its mysteries is an honour that should not be taken lightly, and invitation to it requires more than a simple willingness to advance. In the first instance, it requires some form of service to O.T.O., service being an important component of the higher degrees.4  K.E.W. also requires some knowledge and experience of the theories and practices of magick, particularly around the Gnostic Mass, for this ritual reveals and conceals the highest magical secrets of the Order.
 
A K.E.W. should also have some understanding of the import of Thelema in the evolution of humanity. For, “a new pledge-form must be signed, and the new Knight vowed to devote his life to the Establishment of the Law of Thelema.”2 This vow is no small deal. It is life-changing. It makes one a true servant of Our Lady; and the discipline and devotion of one’s service will become a source of Light, both for oneself and the Church.
 
Ordination to the priesthood is performed by a bishop, who receives the spiritual authority to do so by way of succession. The one truly important line of succession in our Church comes from Therion, the Magus of Thelema, whose authority came directly from the Secret Chiefs. There are, however, many other lines of succession within our Episcopate. In the words of Tau Apiryon:
 
Just as the Christian apostolic succession, which nominally begins with Jesus, actually conveys the spiritual heritage of many earlier traditions, so does our Thelemic/Gnostic succession from the Master Therion convey all the various lineal successions of the “constituent originating assemblies of the O.T.O.” listed in Book 52, which were conferred upon Crowley by Theodor Reuss . . . . Thus, our Thelemic Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica has united virtually all of the various spiritual successions of the Western religious tradition in service to the Law of Thelema.5
 
In E.G.C. then, we have a history of succession that traces right back to Ancient Egypt. This is a point of note, I think — especially given the Egyptian deities in our Book of Law, and the Egyptian origins of our Stele of Revealing.
 
Our Church is an important hub for the magical community, and a source of sustenance, inspiration, and light to many. It is essential, therefore, that every priest and priestess strives always to more, continually strengthening and balancing the four powers of their Sphinx, to remain worthy of this sacred duty. To this end the bishops are always at the loyal service of the priesthood, to guide and assist them wherever they can. I implore all priests and priestesses, and novitiates of these roles, to actively seek input and advice from the bishops. Engage with us, question with us, learn with us. By us all constantly developing our theory and practice, our Church will continue to be a relevant and potent repository of the Holy Spirit, and a lamp by which all men and women can behold and celebrate their true will.
 
1 Liber CXCIV: An Intimation with Reference to the Constitution of the Order
2 The Confessions of Aleister Crowley, Ch 72
3 “Perfect” because they are not, just as God is Not. (AL = LA.)
4 Service is necessary not just for the successful functioning of the Order, but for the spiritual development of the individual. It is love under will.
5 The Role and Function of Thelemic Clergy in Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica, by Tau Apiryon