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Any province of the O.T.O. is governed by the Grand Master and those to whom he delegates his authority, until such time as the Order is established, which is the case when it possesses eleven or more Profess-Houses in the province. Then the regular constitution is automatically promulgated. The quotation is slightly adapted from an address in one of the rituals.
1. This is the Constitution and Government of our Holy Order; by the study of its Balance you may yourself come to apprehension of how to rule your own life. For, in True Things, all are but images one of another; man is but a map of the universe, and Society is but the same on a larger scale.
2. Learn then that our Holy Order has but Three True Grades; as it is written in The Book of the Law: The Hermit, The Lover, and the Man of Earth.
3. It is but for convenience that these grades have been separated into Three Triads.
4. The Third Triad consists of the degrees from Minerval to Prince of Jerusalem. The Minerval degree is a Prologue to the First; the degrees subsequent to the Third but pendants to it. In this, the Man of Earth series, there are then but Three Degrees; and these Three are One.
5. The Man of Earth takes no share in the Government of the Order; for he is not yet called upon to give his life to it in service; and with us Government is Service, and nothing else. The Man of Earth is therefore in much the position of the Plebian in Rome in the time of Menenius Agrippa. But there is this marked difference; that every Man of Earth is encouraged and expected to push on to the next stage. In order that the feelings of the general body may be represented, the Men of Earth choose four persons, two men and two women, from among themselves, to stand continually before the face of the Supreme and Holy King, serving him day and night. These persons must not be of higher rank than the Second Degree; they must volunteer for this service at the conclusion of that ceremony; and therefore they give up their own prospect of advancement in the Order for one year, that they may serve their fellows. This is then the first lesson in our great principle, the attainment of honour through renunciation.
6. The degree of Knights of the East and West is but a bridge between the first and second series; but it is important, for in that grade a new pledge-form must be signed, and the new Knight vowed to devote his life to the Establishment of the Law of Thelema.
7. The members of the Fifth Degree are responsible for all that concerns the Social welfare of the Order. This grade is symbolically that of beauty and harmony; it is the natural stopping-place of the majority of men and women; for to proceed farther, as will appear, involves renunciation of the sternest kind. Here then is all joy, peace, well-being on all planes; the Sovereign Prince Rose Croix is attached equally to the higher and the lower, and forms a natural link between them. Yet let him look to it that his eyes are set on high!
8. In this degree the Most Wise Sovereign of each chapter will appoint a committee of four persons, two men and two women, to arrange for all social gatherings, banquets, dances, the performance of plays, and similar pleasures. They will also endeavour to promote harmony among the Brethren in all possible ways, and to compose any disputes by tact and friendliness without formal appeal being made to any more authoritative tribunal.
9. The next grade, that which lies between the Fifth and Sixth Degrees, is called the Senate. This is the first of the governing bodies, properly speaking, and here we begin to insist upon Renunciation. For within this body is the Electoral College of the O.T.O.
10. The principle of popular election is a fatal folly; its results are visible in every so-called democracy. The elected man is always the mediocrity; he is the safe man, the sound man, the man who displeases the majority less than any other; and therefore never the genius, the man of progress and illumination.
11. This Electoral College consists of Eleven Persons in each country. It has full control of the affairs of the Men of Earth, appointing Lodge Masters at will. It has however no authority over the Chapters of Rose Croix.
12. Persons who wish to be appointed to this College by the Supreme and Holy King must volunteer for the office. The appointment is for Eleven Years. Volunteers must renounce for that period all further progress in the Order. They must give evidence of first-rate ability in
13. They must also possess a profound general knowledge of history and of the art of government, with some attention to philosophy in general.
14. They must each live in solitude, without more than the necessary speech even to casual neighbours, serving themselves in all respects, for three months continuously, once at least in every two years. The President will summon them at the four seasons of the year, and if necessary at other times, when they will deliberate upon the affairs placed in their charge. All applications to pass to the Fifth Degree must receive their sanction. Appeal from their decisions may however be made to the Supreme Council.
15. The Sixth Degree is an executive or military body, and represents the temporal power of the Supreme and Holy King. Each member is amenable to military discipline. Singly or in concert with his comrades, each Knight is vowed to enforce the decisions of authority.
16. The Grade of Grand Inquisitor Commander follows. Here every member has the right to a seat on the Grand Tribunal, which body decides all disputes and complaints which have not been composed by the Chapters of Rose Croix or the Lodge Masters. Its verdicts are without appeal, unless a member of the Electoral College give sanction to take the case to the Areopagus of the Eighth Degree. All members of the Order, even of higher grades, are subject to the Grand Tribunal.
17. The next grade is that of Prince of the Royal Secret. Every member of this degree is devoted to the Propagation of the Law in a very special manner; for this grade is the first in which the Beginning of the Inmost Secret is declared openly. He will therefore, by his personal exertions, induce one hundred and eleven persons to join the Order, before he may proceed to the Seventh Degree, except by special order from the Supreme and Holy King.
18. The Seventh Degree is, in military language, the Great General Staff of the Army of the Sixth Degree. From its members the Supreme and Holy King appoints a Supreme Grand Council.
19. This Council is charged with the government of the whole of the Second Triad, or Lovers. All members of the Seventh Degree travel as Sovereign Grand Inspectors General of the Order, and report, on their own initiative, to the Supreme and Most Holy King, as to the condition of all Lodges, and Chapters; to the Supreme Council, on all affairs of the Second Triad; and to the Electoral College, on those of the Third.
20. The Eighth Degree is a Philosophical Body. Its members being fully instructed in the Principles of the Order, save in one point only, devote themselves to the understanding of what they have learned in their initiation. They have power to reverse the decisions of the Grand Tribunal, and to compose all conflicts between any of the governing bodies. And this they do upon the great principles of philosophy. For it will often occur that there is contention between two parties, both of whom are right from their own point of view. This is so important that an illustration is desirable. A man is smitten with leprosy; is it right that men should circumscribe his liberty by isolating him from his fellows? Another holds back land or some other necessity from the common use; is he to be compelled to surrender it? Such cases of difficulty involve deep philosophical principles; and the Areopagus of the Eighth Degree is charged with the duty of resolving them in accordance with the great principles of the Order.
21. Before the face of the Areopagus stands an independent Parliament of the Guilds. Within the Order, irrespective of grade, the members of each craft, trade, science, or profession form themselves into a Guild, make their own laws, and prosecute their own good, in all matters pertaining to their labour and means of livelihood. Each Guild chooses the man most eminent in it to represent it before the Areopagus of the Eighth Degree; and all disputes between the various Guilds are argued before that Body, which will decide according to the grand principles of the Order. Its decisions pass for ratification to the Sanctuary of the Gnosis, and thence to the Throne.
22. Epopts and Pontiffs of this exalted grade are bound to live in isolation for four consecutive months in every year, meditating the mysteries revealed to them.
23. The Ninth Degree— the Sanctuary of the Gnosis— is synthetic. The prime duty of its members is to study and practise the theurgy and thaumaturgy of the grade; but in addition they must be prepared to act as direct representatives of the Supreme and Most Holy King, radiating his light upon the whole world. Yet, from the nature of their initiation, they must veil their glory in a cloud of darkness. They move unseen and unrecognized among the youngest of us, subtly and loftily leading us into the holy ineffable mysteries of the True Light.
24. The Supreme and Most Holy King is appointed by the O.H.O. His is the ultimate responsibility for all within his holy kingdom. The succession to the high office of O.H.O. is decided in a manner not here to be declared; but this you may learn, O Brother Magician, that he may be chosen even from the grade of a Minerval. And herein lieth a most sacred Mystery.
25. The Electoral College possesses one most singular power. Every eleven years, or in the case of a vacancy occurring, they choose two persons from the Ninth Degree, who are charged with the duty of Revolution.
26. It is the business of these persons constantly to criticise and oppose the acts of the Supreme and Most Holy King, whether or no they personally approve of them. Should he exhibit weakness, bodily, mental, or moral, they are empowered to appeal to the O.H.O. to depose him; but they, alone of all the members of the Order, are not eligible to the Succession.
27. The O.H.O., as the supreme authority in the Order, will act, in such an emergency, as he may see fit. He may himself be removed from office, but only by the unanimous vote of all the members of the Tenth Degree.
28. Of the Eleventh Degree, its powers, privileges, and qualifications, nothing whatever is said in any grade. It has no relation to the general plan of the Order, is inscrutable, and dwells in its own Palaces.
29. There are certain important financial obligations in various grades.
30. The Electoral College of the Senate is vowed to poverty. All property, earnings, or salaries are vested in or paid over to the Grand Treasurer General. The members subsist on the charity of the Order, which is extended to them in accordance with their original rank in life.
31. These remarks apply equally to the Supreme Grand Council, and all higher degrees.
32. In the Seventh Degree it is a qualification to vest some real property in the Order; and no one is admitted to this grade without this preliminary.
33. Those members of the Order who have given all to it must obtain the money for their initiation fees and subscriptions from the Third Triad, whose honour is thus concerned in the unselfish support of those who have abandoned all for their sakes.
34. The Grand Treasurer General is appointed by the Supreme and Most Holy King; he may be a member of any grade whatever; but he must, on accepting office, take the vow of poverty. His authority is absolute in all financial matters; but he is responsible to, and may be removed at will by, the Supreme and Most Holy King. He will appoint a committee to assist him and advise him in his work; and he will usually select one person from each of the governing bodies of the Order.
Such is a brief outline of the government of the O.T.O. It combines monarchy with democracy; it includes aristocracy, and conceals even the seeds of revolution, by which alone progress can be effected. Thus we balance the Triads, uniting the Three in One; thus we gather up all the threads of human passion and interest, and weave them into an harmonious tapestry, subtly and diligently with great art, that our Order may seem an ornament even to the Stars that are in the Heavens at Night. In our rainbow-coloured texture we set forth the glory of the whole Universe— See thou to it, brother Magician, that thine own thread be strong, and pure, and of a colour brilliant in itself, yet ready to mingle in all beauty with those of thy brethren!
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