Running an occult group is actually pretty hard. Boy, we haven’t had a rambling E/N sort of post around here in awhile, so let me waste some time.
Let me tell you a few stories.
The first problem is everyone is strapped for cash. Do you have a lot of cash laying around? Are you willing to spend it on magic? Are you willing to spend it on someone else to do magic? That last one is really the rub. Folks, like myself, with two kids, a wife in school, a completely beat car, etc – we don’t have the money. And since the Rosicrucians didn’t leave me the secrets of making gold, well, we’re just working off nickle-and-dime stuff I can spare from my day job without pissing anyone off about spending over the holiday. Folks that do have cash I don’t particularly blame them for feeling like they don’t have cash given the current situation with OPEC trying really hard to crash the US economy. And, we’re due for the 7 year slump in the markets, so it’s completely a write off. I am actually quickly getting better at woodworking, but I still can’t paint for shit.
The second problem is time. I find myself trying to co-ordinate magical events at my day job which is probably a no-no for the use of my time. Fortunately one of our folks has offered to help me paint (just in time for the single-digit temps, so no painting) and one of our folks was really quite nice and got the altar built. The person she had build it flipped all the colors around 180 degrees, so we’re back to having to re-paint it. Basically, the axiom here is “anything that can go wrong, will”. While we’re talking about temple kit, the first seasonal rite went great, and then the robe I got shipped was in the wrong color (without enough time to fix it) and we fell way short on props. It also happens to be one of the rites which involves fire. Not a little bit of fire, but big, giant goblets of fire. How much of the kit available online is fire-rated? Virtually none. Getting the props put together is a real mess. To add insult to injury, I bought a bunch of little mini-lite sticks from China to simulate “charging up lightning” for the performance and they sent me… A used $30 gift card to a women’s clothing store. Wouldn’t have been bad if I could buy the robe there, but the card was exhausted.
That being said, the people I’m working with are quite nice, it’s just getting everything nailed down is hard. Getting it all nailed down in an impressive fashion is harder yet, because I think folks are familiar with the OTA and they expect high end Rivendell type stuff. I didn’t buy a log cabin or hobbit house, so we’re starting out at a disadvantage. I don’t have a purple room. Winters here are brutal, so the henge has to be portable to be indoor/outdoor. Finally, the initiations are hard because travel is expensive. Might have been smarter to pick an order to join which had some east coast presence, but we’re going for the gold here.
Is it perfect? No. I actually strongly object to the spirit wheel being counted as an alchemical element, but generally I think the OTA system is the best one I’ve run across so far*. The “culture” is right also. The OTO, shortly after I just said to hell with it, started to have the discussion group thing going on but immediately capped it with “will there be grade specific things discussed?” So right there, the discussion group died. If folks are worried about what they’re saying, they aren’t going to talk. And unless the group is big enough that is has enough IIº members or similar, it’s just not interesting to higher grade members. While I realize magic is personal to the practitioner, there’s absolutely no reason for a social order like the OTO if the magic is so personal no-one can discuss it. Wicca goes through this also, as does Masonry, but Masonry is over that critical hump, and Wicca can’t even have two covens agree on whats historical or not or who’s line and initiation is valid. The OTA bylaw discussion recently agreed that the person’s spouse is the rank of the OTA member, which is an elegant and inclusive solution to that problem. Additionally, the whole crew is less interested about tripping on their grade-penis and much more interested in having a frank discussion about how the system works and why it is the way it is. That’s a good way to be. More on that point, everyone has read Crowley. Everyone has read Pike. Everyone has read Gardner. The OTA publishes everything (there’s some blinds but I’m not convinced it’s not illustration errors and such – especially after the altar coloring oops) and… Everything is out there to read. This is immensely practical. People are going to do the work, and produce stuff, or not. Is there grade-stuff? Sure. But it’s mostly geared towards “have you built the tools you need to do magic” rather than time spent in the meetings. Why join? For the people, of course.
If you’re in the northeast of the US, shoot me a mail at Fr.Phergoph@gmail.com and we’ll try to setup the next seasonal or join the OTA Philadelphia facebook group. It’s way punk rock (read: low budget) at the moment, but anyone who wants to hang out is certainly welcome. Also worth mentioning as a goodie has been the associate member geared Seeds of Astarte. It’s a once a month google hangout to discuss the OTA associate member program.
Also on that note, I’ve been asked to do three topics for the Coronzon Coffee Club, but I thought it might be fun to let folks pick…
*The spirit wheel makes the fourth element, but I’ve always wondered why the altar doesn’t have a triangle collar on it or why the three elements weren’t placed around the triangle of the art which contains the black mirror. Moving the elements together to allow them to mix would obviously be a motion of creation (coagulation) focused on the mirror in the center of the triangle (the mirror being the spirit wheel), while moving the elements apart to make the triangle would be a force of dissolution (solvency). This is a minor nitpick and I realize this would be a divergence from the actual historical document. I posted about it on ning.