Rufus Opus is a Thelemite who associates with Leaping Laughter Lodge, in the Valley of Minneapolis, Minnesota.
In high school, a friend introduced me to Donald Michael Kraig’s Modern Magick and I read about Crowley there. I went after the source material shortly thereafter, and tracked down a copy of Liber ABA. It took a few years, but I slogged my way through it. It took a few more decades before I was ready to actually seek out and join the OTO.
What is Magick to you?
It is the Art and Science of causing change in accordance with Will, of course! Within Thelema, I see Magick as the process of understanding your personal Will, and the ways we project that Will into the world at large. Within the broader context of Hermetics in general, I see Magick as the means we use to reclaim personal knowledge of our divine race and eternal value. It prepares a person to be able to know what they really want, while equipping them to be able to consciously change their world to make it resemble their desires.
Oh, and also spirits: Magick is about conjuring spirits.
Why do you think Thelema is different from other philosophies? What makes it stand out to you?
I find in Thelema the themes of many different philosophies. “Do what thou wilt” is the natural conclusion of all the philosophers I’ve found meaningful in my personal studies, from Voltaire to Nietzsche to Camus. Thelema just makes it easier and clearer, after a while.
What do you love about OTO? What drew you to it? What makes you stay?
I love the camaraderie of the OTO. I enjoy the fraternal environment, right down to the petty bickering that erupts when you put this many intelligent, strong-minded magicians together in one space for prolonged periods of time. We are a unique organization of the weird and the wonderful, and we are all dedicated to at least try to see each other as individual stars.
I was drawn to the OTO by a religious experience during my first mass. Early on, the deacon couldn’t find the crown and robe, and for about 5 minutes he was frantically searching the lodge for the vestments. He found them eventually, and the mass continued, and I was totally not expecting it to be the way it was. I expected public indecent sex acts, at the least, and instead it was a sedate and respectful Eucharistic rite that took me right back to my catholic youth, only with a naked priestess for part of it. When I communicated with the priestess, I nearly choked on the cake of light, and had to gulp it down with the biggest (full chalice) of wine I’d ever drank in public all at once before. When I turned to look at the priestess and say what everyone else said, she just disappeared, and there was a silhouette of the woman sitting in for Her at the time, but I stared into a field of stars and had an actual moment of communion with Nuit. Things were said between she and I, and I knew I’d continue to be a part of the OTO as long as they’d stand it.
I stay because (yeah, I know how this is gonna sound) we are the salvation of the world; we are accomplishing the Summum Bonum, and we are projecting the panacea into the world. The OTO is almost entirely a volunteer organization, and the volunteers are all humans at various stages of their own Great Work, and it’s not perfect every time, but we are united in the pursuit of the highest aims of all humanity, and that makes up for a lot. I stay because I get to participate in something really huge, and really beneficial. And we have good wine.
What do you think are most important Magick and meditation practices?
I think the training of the A:.A:. curriculum is the equivalent of the training program Olympic athletes go through in preparation for the actual competition. The exercises of Libers E and O are amazing, and the meditations of HHH have proven to be extremely powerful transformation tools. That said, I think the most important Magick practice is the conjuration of the Intelligences/Archangels of the celestial spheres. Being in their presence seems to transform the magicians who do that kind of Work, raising the tincture of their spheres, and reminding them of their potential and power to change the world as they see fit.
What do you think is the thing that most people misunderstand about Thelema?
I think people most misunderstand Aleister Crowley. I do not separate him from Thelema, as is currently the en vogue thing to do among some Thelemites, I embrace him and enjoy his insight, his wit, and his attainment in the aethyrs. I accept he isn’t perfect. He doesn’t have to live up to the standards of our modern understanding of social justice. He was a fighter for women’s rights while being what we’d call a sexist, a supporter of the equality of minorities while saying what we recognize today as totally racist things, and advocating political systems of rule that are abhorrent to the sensibilities of modern progressives, mainly because for them to be righteous the Law would have to be adopted by all.
Why do you think OTO is important to Thelema?
The OTO is the place where I go to recharge and rejuvenate. It provides a place where we can relax and sharpen our minds at the same time. The OTO provides a venue for the EGC to perform the Gnostic Mass, which provides the best possible method of outreach for Thelema to the mundane world at large. The Law gets promulgated through the Mass by the members of the OTO. Thelema needs that to happen.
What do you think are the most important aspects of Thelema?
The understanding of the doing of one’s Will, and how that brings a sense of harmony and peace, of at-oneness with the Universe at large. Through the tenets of Thelema, we cease to be at odds with the universe we live in, we begin to understand our roles as both the creators and the experiencers of our lives.
Where do you see OTO going in the next 10 years? Where would you like to see it go?
I think we will keep expanding and growing, gathering new members and improving our status and standing. I’d like to see the OTO membership triple in the US.
How do you see the world differently as a Thelemite?
Thelema confirms what I’ve spent the last decade learning from the practices of traditional (1st through 3rd centuries) Hermetic Magic and the accomplishment of the Alchemical Great Work: That we create our experiences so that we can experience them. We each provide a lens through which the divine can project its creative essence, and we are also the sense matrix that experiences the created reality and transfers it back to the divine as pure joy.
What is your favorite part about the Gnostic Mass?
The Mass sums up the Great Work perfectly, the taking of the prima materia, the consecration of it, breathing divinity into it, and then consuming it. The ability of the congregants to participate in this ritual is awesome. My favorite part is performing as Deacon at this point.
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?
I think we’re definitely in the time of the Bishops of the Christian Churches in their second century, and I see us continuing in parallel with the development of Christianity. I do not think the Thelema of the 3rd century will look much like what we do today, in the same way the Catholic Mass looks little like the communes described in the book of Acts in the New Testament.