What is Ordo Templi Orientis?

The main objective of O.T.O. is to protect the personal freedom of an individual and to help to develop it in Light, Wisdom, Understanding, Knowledge via Beauty, Courage and Knowledge on the base of Universal Fraternity. The Order’s holy mission is to help everyone to create the Great Magisterium Spirit in the philosophers' egg of a soul, in the Athanor of a human body.


Ordo Templi Orientis was founded in 1895 (although nothing is known of the Order until 1904). By its historical origins the Order is related to Freemasonry, or rather to some of its branches: Ancient and Primitive Rite of Memphis 97, Ancient Oriental Rite of Misraim 90 and Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite 33. Ordo Templi Orientis’s founders Carl Kellner, Franz Hartmann and Theodor Reuss expected O.T.O. to become a Masonic Academy that would act as a quintessence of the Masonic degrees, but their dream has never come true. O.T.O. has never been a part of the regular Freemasonry, halfway because of its adherence to the principles of equality of men and women and thus having both among its members. Moreover, faith in God (or gods) was considered strictly personal matter, so mono-, poly- and even atheists could enter the Order. The relations between O.T.O and Freemasonry finally broke off in 1920, when the “World Federation of Universal Freemasonry" Congress in Zürich declined the Head of our Order of that time, Reuss, to establish Thelema as the principal law of Freemasonry.


Not to entrench on a right of modern Freemasonry, in 1923 under the approval from the Head of O.T.O., Aleister Crowley modified initiatory rituals of the Order. Therefore, nowadays membership in O.T.O. doesn’t correspond to any degree of Freemasonry. Current O.T.O. is an absolutely autonomous Order that welcomes Christians, Buddhists, Wiccans, Freemasons, Satanists, etc., that is the representatives of any religious denomination or esoteric communities.


What is O.T.O. nowadays?


At the times of Crowley's death the largest and the most active body of O.T.O. was Agape Lodge in California. Crowley has named both Grady McMurtry and Karl Germer who had been working in that Lodge as his successors. Since McMurtry’s death in 1985, Hymenaeus Beta has been acting as Outer Head of the Order after being chosen by Sovereign Sanctuary (the ruling body) of O.T.O. By 2003, there were 3711 Order members and with local representatives in 47 countries. It is important to point out that O.T.O. is not a wealthy Order. It possesses neither luxurious temples nor office buildings, and there are no monarchs or presidents among its members. There is no tradition to present diamonds to masters or to invite millioners to join the Order. O.T.O. does not have a goal either to please the local officials or to organise paid schools for “magicians”.


The annual Minerval membership payment is $6.30. It is sent to the International Headquarters of the Order. These funds are used to organise initiators’ trips to those countries where the local O.T.O. bodies don’t have enough money to invite the initiators themselves. The money is also spent on helping new bodies of the Order and its overall functioning. The sum of the initiation fee is set to compensate costs for preparations of the Temple and other initiation materials, including fraternal meal, or Agape, as an essential part of the initiation ritual. In Ukraine, its sum is not much larger than the membership payment.


The structure of O.T.O. as well as that of Freemasonry and ancient mystic schools is based on the staged series of initiations or degrees. In the rituals of these degrees, the O.T.O. instructs the individual by allegory and symbols on the principal mysteries of the nature and thus to assist each initiate in the discovering of his or her own true identity and true Will.


Membership in the Order


To become a member of the Order a person must be initiated physically in the ceremony conducted by an initiator who has a charter to inititate granted by the Supreme Council of O.T.O.


O.T.O. local bodies: Camp, Oasis and Lodge.

There are three levels of official initiative local bodies: Camps, Oases and Lodges.




A camp as a basic O.T.O. body may be either simple as a study group or as complex as Lodges in miniature. Camps may or may not be entitled to perform initiations, but even those with a permission are allowed to perform only the initiations under III° inclusively. The camp can be founded by a single initiated O.T.O. member with at least I°. Its objective is the regional representation of the Order on the indicated territory. It may perform initiation rituals, publish materials, develop and update its website, etc. Camps must make appropriate financial records and have a reliable postal address.




The next level of O.T.O. body is an Oasis. In many ways, an Oasis resembles a mini Lodge. An Oasis is expected to fulfil the basic functions of a Lodge: to train its members and candidates in the format of classes or by distributing printed materials, perform the Gnostic Mass and initiations from 0° to III°. An Oasis may be founded by a minimum of three initiated O.T.O. members with one of them possessing at least III°. Oases are usually established on the base of existing Camps. As long as Oases are initiative bodies, they should provide all the resources for performing initiations under III° incl. Oases hold the same financial and reporting responsibility as Camps.




The highest level of O.T.O. local body is a Lodge which is under the jurisdiction of The Electoral College. The Master of the Lodge must be an initiated member of at least V° and have a right to perform initiations to at least III°. A Lodge is obliged to independently perform initiations of its members into degrees up to III° and have all necessary resources to hold initiations into IV° и P.I. even if its Head is not entitled to perform them. The common minimum distance between two Lodges is 50 miles, except of densely populated cities. Lodges and Oases share the same responsibilities. In addition, a Lodge may be required to assist the Order on legal issues. Lodges must keep a complete set of documents which is more complicated than the one that is normally required from the bodies of lower levels, as well as to engage in the issue of books, periodicals and other publications or other works that contribute to the propagation of the Knowledge of Thelema. It is assumed that all the lodges are trying to celebrate the Gnostic Mass as often as possible. The two main functions of the Lodge are: to serve its members and to retain the Order’s life in case of an accident which may befall the Grand Lodge.


According to the requirements set by the Constitution of the Order in 1917 noone can be a member of more than one Lodge at the same time. However, the current O.T.O. policy doesn’t limit membership in the local authorities.


O.T.O. in Ukraine


First Ukrainian Thelemites were initiated into O.T.O. in 2004. On May 1, 2007, based on the charter issued by the Supreme Council of Ordo Templi Orientis the first local body, Parsifal Camp, was founded. Since 2016, it received the status of the Lodge. Ukrainian members of O.T.O. are practicing in several cities of Ukraine. Any person who is more than 18 and who accepts the Book of the Law according to the level of his or her own understanding, may express a desire to become a member of our Order. However, candidates need to provide recommendations of two members of the Order who guarantee for them. To do so, the candidates must prove their deep interest in magic, their will to learn and participate in the group rituals.The membership in our Order opens the door to knowledge, but does not provide any material privileges. In fact, each new member of our Order must be ready for the hard work. Still, the members can expect assistance from brothers and sisters of the O.T.O.