Connecting as a Non-Initiate
Before we enter into more detail on the subject of initiation in the OTO, we want to make clear that initiation or membership are not necessary for connecting with Daughter of Sunset Lodge.
Daughter of Sunset Lodge has an open orientation. It is not only those who are on or are considering the initiatory path who are welcome. In practice, this means that we welcome the long-term connection with, attendance and/or friendship of non-initiates. It is, of course, fine to be involved in other traditions and paths as well. Traditional and alternative religious paths have been discouraged in our society, and we believe that the benefits of religious and philosophical community should be available to all.
To connect with the Lodge for the first time, or to re-engage after some time away, a good way to do it is to choose a public event you would like to attend, and write to the Lodgemaster asking for the event access information.
Lay Membership in EGC
For those who wish it, The Gnostic Catholic Church (the ecclesiastic arm of the OTO, which celebrates the Gnostic Mass) offers baptism to formalize one's role as a lay member of the Gnostic Catholic Church. This is for both non-initiates and initiates alike.
If you are considering taking initiation with Daughter of Sunset Lodge, take some time to get to know the Lodge and the OTO. Start by attending one of our events, and if you would like to read about the OTO, a short introductory book we recommend is The Weiser Concise Guide to Aleister Crowley.
Keep in mind that the OTO does not formally teach magick outside of the Gnostic Mass and the initiations themselves, nor do we offer formal spiritual training. For spiritual training in the Thelemic tradition there is the A.˙.A.˙. Like most OTO local bodies we offer classes as a way to connect and get oriented and inspired. Primarily we are meant to teach each other organically, as a fraternal network. And building a community can take the form of a magical work.
For initiates and non-initiates alike, it is of course fine to be involved in another tradition concurrent with involvement with the OTO.
Brief Overview of Initiations
The structure of the OTO is based on a series of initiations. The introductory degrees are symbolically based on the cycle of Birth, Life, Death, and Beyond. These initiations, or dramatic rituals, are essentially plays for one person, who also acts within them. They are secret for the primary purpose that the initiate can experience them fully--to know in advance what the rituals contain would impede their impact. These initiations are the primary means, aside from the Gnostic Mass, of transmitting the Order's occult and Thelemic teachings.
Why take initiation?
To become a member of the OTO. To have esoteric community, local and international; people you can know and, in many cases, grow old with. To experience ritual performed solely for you. To experience teachings enacted dramatically and with others. To later observe initiation and take in its teachings in a different way. To be intellectually, spiritually, magically engaged and stimulated for the rest of your life. To regularly meet people you have this stuff in common with, and be able to accomplish things together. To take part in and help to promulgate Thelema.
How the Degrees Relate to One's Personal Path
"Firstly, then, I would have thee to know that Spiritual Experience and Perfection have no necessary connection with Advancement in our Holy Order." Crowley wrote this in Liber Aleph, a series of letters to Frater Achad (Charles Stansfeld Jones). This is particularly applicable to the introductory, or Man of Earth degrees, 0 to 4th and PI. As said above, these degrees are symbolically based on the cycle of Birth, Life, Death, and Beyond, experiences that everyone undergoes. For this and other respects, they do relate to one's personal path. However, there is no assumption that every member of a particular degree is necessarily at a particular spiritual or magical stage. The people who take initiation vary a great deal in age, study, practice, and life experience. Of course, it will relate somewhat to their experience in the OTO. Even that only goes so far, since some people may wait long periods in between initiations and yet continue to be highly involved in the OTO, others may go through the Degrees more quickly, for whatever reason, and then be less involved; and then you have a wide spectrum in between.
When it comes to higher invitational degrees, KEW and 5th Degree and above, spiritual and magical progress is one among many considerations. "In selecting members for advancement, attention is paid to their devotion to the Order, to their intelligence in apprehending the nature of its teaching, to their zeal in spreading the principles of the Order so far as they themselves understand them, though always with the discretion inseparable from the due guarding of the secrets, and to all those qualities of courage, honour, and virtue without which man is not worthy of that name," as Crowley wrote in the Manifesto of the OTO.
Minerval and First Degrees
The first initiation is that of Minerval degree. The Minerval is simultaneously a member of the Order, and a guest, a probationer. This degree is also symbolically associated with conception. The idea is that the initiate has been conceived; she or he is a visitor who is deciding whether or not to stay. One may remain a Minerval for as long as one wishes.
In taking First degree, which is symbolically associated with birth, the initiate becomes a full member of the Order. They are understood as having familial bonds with the Order. (That said, initiates are of course free to set aside or cut off their membership, just as one may set aside or cut off involvement with a family.) They can now take on an officer role, sponsor candidates for Minerval, and start a Camp, the most basic OTO body.
The requirements for initiation are that one is free, of full age, and of good report. In other words that one is not incarcerated, has passed the age of adulthood (19 in BC), and possesses a good reputation (which is not the same as having no reputation).
After that, an applicant must obtain two sponsors. While the Lodge will assist in connecting the applicant with potential sponsors, they will be looking for the suitability of the applicant, and sponsorship is not guaranteed. Our priorities in this area are that someone is well suited to participating in a social order, and a structured organization, since these are what we are.
Dues & Fees
There are initiation fees and annual membership dues, which all vary based on one's degree. Minerval and First Degree initiation fees are both $42 USD each; their annual dues are $42 USD each as well. This means that to take Minerval Degree one pays the equivalent of $84 USD, which covers both the initiation and the dues for a year. Members (especially those living in the Greater Vancouver Area) also pay local dues to Daughter of Sunset Lodge, as we prepare to rent a location for a Temple. We have a page for paying dues here. Members individually determine what dues amount, within their budget, makes the most sense. The minimum dues would be $5 a month.
Suggested dues are:
Minervals: $10, $20, or $30
I° and above: $20, $30, or $40
V° and above: $30, $40, or $50
Taking Initiation at Daughter of Sunset Lodge
If you are interested in taking initiation at Daughter of Sunset Lodge, email the Lodgemaster for more information, and to ask any questions you may have. If you would like to proceed, the next steps would be to fill out a form, and to find two sponsors, the process of which will be explained.
For those who live far from Daughter of Sunset Lodge, usually initiation with us is only possible if you are able to travel to Vancouver.
Re-Activating Your Membership
For a First or higher Degree, reactivating a membership is simple. Contact the Treasurer, who will help you determine what you would need to do to become dues current. For someone who previously took Minerval and then went inactive, your membership is re-activated when you take First Degree. If you are interested in taking First Degree, send us a message for more information. In the meantime, you are very welcome at our public events, and we will be glad to see you.
For Members: Taking Further Degrees
There is no required time interval between Minerval and I°, although it is preferable for there to be a suitable amount of time between the two, and it is necessary for you to be well known to your sponsors, to obtain sponsorship for I°. There must be an interval of at least 9 months between I° and II°, and a year between II° and III°, and also between III° and IV°. After IV°, Degrees are invitational.
You may apply for a Degree (up to IV°) at any time, as long as the necessary interval has passed. An application, once successfully filed, remains active for one year.
We have primarily addressed only Minerval and First degrees here. For more information about OTO's degree structure as a whole, as well as its system of international dues, see the page on Membership on the OTO Canada's site, or contact the Lodge with your questions.