Frater Lamogue, also known as Adrian, is a Thelemite who associates with Shemesh Lodge in the Valley of Hastings, UK as well as being a founding member of Shemyaza Camp in Brighton and a member of AMeTH Lodge in London. [images used with permission of http://mr-naz.com]
How did you hear about Thelema and what drew you to it?
It’s a long story, but my initial interest in magic, as opposed to Thelema, was born of a childhood growing up in 1970’s Britain. Even when I was a kid I had a mystical take on existence, which inevitably pushed me in the direction I took in life. The influence of the paranormal and the occult was very prevalent in popular culture back then, so growing up watching TV shows and reading books about ghosts and UFOs rather set the scene. In my late teens I was introduced to the works of Carlos Castaneda, which blew my mind. I guess off the back of that I started casting around for more indigenous forms of sorcery and natural religion. I began reading about Wicca and first heard about Crowley through that – the usual ‘black magician’ stuff, y’know. What really got me thinking differently about Crowley was a chance Tarot reading given me by the then girlfriend of a friend of mine, who oddly enough isn’t your average ‘magicky’ type, since she’s a Jamaican-born rasta. I was struck by the beauty of the cards – the Thoth deck, obviously – and my interest grew from there. Sometime later I procured a copy of Magick in Theory and Practice and read it from cover to cover. I didn’t understand much of it, but I was intrigued primarily by Crowley’s wit, and his insistence on the importance of Qabalah, of which I knew nothing at the time. From that point on it became clear that Magick wasn’t just a romantic idea, but held the potential to be a living art and science. Reading Liber AL sometime later sealed it for me forever.
What is Magick to you?
I hold with Crowley’s definition – the Science and Art of causing change in conformity with will.
Why do you think Thelema is different from other philosophies? What makes it stand out to you?
It is hard to pin down. My understanding of Thelema changes over time. Ultimately, Thelema is very simple – accept the Law, commit to discovering your true purpose, and strive to actively live it, through thick and thin. Really, everything else, however profound it may be, is just window dressing.
However, that said, we must understand that by accepting that each individual has a specific purpose, we are taking a definite philosophical stance – one that has been argued for and against for thousands of years. A Thelemite is here by choice, not by accident. This isn’t an argument for intelligent design, or anything like that – far from it, but a Thelemite has to be of the opinion that their life has some kind of inherent meaning, or the concept of the Will is largely meaningless. So, however non-dogmatic we like to think Thelema might be, it has its own precepts just like any other religion or philosophical system.
What do you love about OTO? What drew you to it? What makes you stay?
Well, to answer that I have to first make it clear that, that like every other member who has yet to enter the Hermit grade, I’m not actually a member of O.T.O. – I’m a member of M.M.M. [Mysteria Mystica Maxima] who aspires to be admitted to O.T.O., so I can only speak about O.T.O. from my current level of understanding. That said, I’ve been a member for nearly eleven years now and I can honestly say that deciding to take Minerval was the most important thing I have ever done. I was drawn to O.T.O. because I’d worked with a ‘freelance’ group of Thelemic magicians prior to joining, but after getting my fingers burnt somewhat, I felt that I needed a structure and access to people who had trodden the path before me who could provide a bit of guidance when necessary. I’m happy to say I found both and more.
O.T.O. is a social experiment predicated on the Law of Thelema. That combination is never going to be a straightforward thing to hope to work with. Most Thelemites are terribly anti-authority, yet here we all are submitting to a rigid hierarchy. Much can be learned from this process – it’s paradoxical and that is what makes it dynamic.
On a wider scale, humans are tribal creatures, we respond to cultural influence and ritualised integration with others of our species. Secular culture gives plenty of opportunity to bond together with others, but outside the confines of the major religions or the workplace, such methods tend to revolve around leisure and entertainment. There’s nothing wrong with that per se, but it is my feeling that in turning away from religion, as many of us have, we may have successfully released ourselves from the tyranny of petty gods, but the freedom we have gained in return is largely superficial, in fact many so-called ‘freedoms’ afforded us by secular society are nothing of the sort. For those who feel that the religious impulse is still important and that it simply needs an upgrade in accord with relatively recent developments in human culture and science, then O.T.O. and E.G.C. can work very well. Thelema makes more sense to me than anything else, but I fully accept that I have a specific way of looking at the world that isn’t shared by everyone.
Aside from that, it is clear that initiation brings many opportunities for self-reflection and development, not all of which are pleasant. I have seen the O.T.O. initiatory process have huge impacts, not only on myself, but also on those around me. It’s a process I can’t imagine having not had, and one that I feel greatly privileged to have been able to experience. Being in a position now to assist in facilitating that undertaking for others has taught me the importance of giving back. That is why I stay. And, it goes without saying, I’ve met the best people I could ever hope to share my life with.
What do you think are most important Magick and meditation practices?
Well, let’s just say it took me a long time to fully realise the importance of daily practice and keeping a magickal diary.
What do you think is the thing that most people misunderstand about Thelema?
It’s like that Zen Buddhist story about the finger and the moon. Thelema isn’t the finger, it’s the moon.
I also think it’s vital to point out that O.T.O. is not Thelema, it is simply the first of the Old Aeon orders to have accepted the Law of Thelema. Being in the O.T.O. is not synonymous with being a Thelemite. A lot of people seem to have trouble grasping that one.
Why do you think OTO is important to Thelema?
I think O.T.O. is vital to a very specific understanding of Thelema, and as custodian of the tradition which brought Thelema into the world, it is without parallel. Thelema would still be a force without it, but I am proud to nail myself to the O.T.O.’s mast, as is my Will.
What do you think are the most important aspects of Thelema?
It’s really very simple – you are only here for a nanosecond of time. Embrace your life, and your inevitable death, with joy. Those of us living in the west are fortunate enough to have the opportunity be able to break with the moral and religious strictures that still benight the lives of those living in other, less tolerant cultures. We would be wise not to squander that gift. Accepting the Law of the current Aeon brings divine pleasure and a good degree of pain, too, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Do you have any stories from any experiences with Magick?
Oh I’ve had many adventures and hope to have many more. If you’re looking for stories of lightning bolts flying from wands, or giant bat-winged owls materialising to visible appearance, I’m afraid you’re out of luck. But does this stuff work? Yep – no doubt about that.
Where do you see OTO going in the next 10 years?
We have clear instructions on where we are going, as laid down in the Blue Equinox. In the years that I have been a member I have seen many strides taken in that direction, but we still have mountains to climb. Time will tell whether we as a group are able to live up to the challenge ahead of us. Many by-products of the New Aeon, that Crowley couldn’t even have dreamt of, are acting both for and against us. Success will be our proof, the work is ongoing.
How do you see the world differently as a Thelemite?
Differently to what or whom? I have to admit that I struggled with the label ‘Thelemite’ for a long time, and now accept it grudgingly, not because I have any problem with identifying Thelema as my guiding philosophy, as it has been that for over two decades now, but I dislike any kind of restrictive label. On a personal level I strive to be the best person I can be, by working to free myself from the fetters of slavery to outmoded moralities or social norms. I can only speak for myself. I don’t know how different I am from anyone else. As the Priest says in the Gnostic Mass, “I am a man among men”. I am certainly more unapologetically myself as a result of my engagement with Thelema. It’s taken over twenty years to get to that point, and there is still much work to do.
What is your favorite part about the Gnostic Mass?
I love the Mass, and have done since the moment I first experienced it as a congregant. I am an ordained Priest of E.G.C. and have taken all roles in the Mass (bar Priestess) and it continues to unfold in so many beautiful and unexpectedly rich ways. To me, our religion is the joyful celebration of conception, birth, life and death. That is quite enough for anyone to be getting on with. As Crowley said – what happens after death will look after itself. Right now, I’m in awe of being incarnate and the Gnostic Mass encapsulates that, for me, perfectly. It is a most elegant heresy.
How do you see Thelema evolving in its 2nd Century of existing (i.e. after 100 years)? How is it different or how is it going to be different? What has grown or changed?
The more I think about it, the more I come to realise that we, i.e. the O.T.O., genuinely are carrying on the tradition in a very real sense, albeit with all its many faults and foibles. We do real stuff in the real world. We have a system of government, we hire venues, we put on real events, we produce publications and celebrate real-life rituals that take time and effort to pull off rightly with joy and beauty. That inevitably involves human interaction and all the politics that go with running any organisation. As a growing international order with several thousand members, we’re dealing with issues that our original forebears never had to cope with. We aren’t occult pipe-dreamers, we don’t hide behind smoke and mirrors pretending to be something that we are not. We’re a grass-roots movement and that is what I love about O.T.O. Each member has the opportunity to get involved, roll their sleeves up and make the O.T.O. what it could be.
So, in short, I have no idea where it will go. I know where I want it to go, but we will all have to pull together to make the Blue Equinox vision a reality in all respects. Critical mass is still some way off. Certainly we could be doing more in terms of outreach, but it’s far more important for us to get things in place so that if and when a major influx of members happens, we’re ready for them.
Is there anything else you would like to talk about related to Thelema, OTO, and/or Magick?
Well one thing I’ve been saying for years, and I still think it is very true, is that occultism and Magick can be extremely seductive for all the wrong reasons, especially to people in their youth. I am sure this why most esoteric schools of old wouldn’t take anyone on who hadn’t got the basics of life sorted first. One of the hurdles that anyone getting involved with this sort of thing has to overcome, is the temptation to allow it to become another limiting label, or some kind of fashion accessory. That is not the point of the exercise.
The esoteric arts can be incredibly useful tools at the disposal of the individual who is looking to gain mastery over the self, but it has to be understood that they are the means and not the end. Personally, I’ve no desire to be known as ‘an occultist’, or to make a name for myself in whatever passes for an occult ‘scene’, but I strive everyday to become a better magician, because as far as I’m concerned, Magick is the art of living one’s life fully.
After all, there’s little point in doing a ritual to get the perfect job if you don’t have the requisite skills, or at the very least the potential skills, to do it well once you get it. The study of Magick in the temple or circle must be balanced by action and study in the mundane world. The one without the other is pointless. This is why I very much go with the idea that any consciously willed act is an act of Magick. The spirit hasn’t descended into matter, it is matter.