J. Edward Cornelius
Privately Printed, Berkeley, California, USA 2020. Hardcover. Limited Edition, limited to 200 signed hardcover copies, each signed by the J. Edward Cornelius. His of being in Ordo Templi Orientis between 1993 and 1996. The views expressed therein are those of the author. Bound in red cloth with gold foil, 392 pages. As New/Fine.
“With Tell Me Why I’m Still in the OTO, J. Edward Cornelius continues his much-needed memoir series about being a member of Aleister Crowley’s Ordo Templi Orientis (OTO). Rather than leaving Thelemic history to be told by propagandists who obfuscate facts and mutate their stories as needed, Cornelius writes as one of the few movers-and-shakers in OTO who also kept good records! These Memoirs covers the period from 1993 to 1996, the years directly following the period of 1989 to 1993 which are detailed in his previous volume, The Changing of the Guard.
The volume discloses that the Bay Area problems are not rooted in the man of Earth degrees as it seemed during the time period covered in the previous volume. Rather, it is coming from within the Fifth Degree ranks, most of whom Bill Breeze has appointed. In so many ways, Breeze gutted Grady’s OTO after he took over and he rapidly appointed Fifths to make up the newly formed Electoral College.
Breeze handed out Rose Croix charters regardless whether the recipients had demonstrated that they understood the secrets of the degree. Notably, Breeze himself was only a Fourth Degree when he took over as Xth Degree; hence the problem. As a result of Breeze’s rush, many of the newly appointed Bay-Area Fifths were unenlightened as to the true mystery of their grade nor were they guided where to do research to learn. In a word, the mystery is Agape—a true Love for all humanity.
In this volume, Cornelius discusses the deeper cause of the police raid in 1989 and, disgusted, he steps down as head of the local Nebt Het Chapter of the Rose Croix (Fifth Degree). In order to give people a higher-class alternative to the dregs of Thelema Lodge, Cornelius’ new wife Marlene asks for and was granted a charter to begin Pangenetor Lodge. Pangenetor Lodge soon becomes a showpiece for the OTO’s new policies. These memoirs go rather in-depth into Marlene’s many visits to the local Fifth Degree Chapter in an attempt to unite the Bay Area. Out of disgust upon what he was hearing, J. Edward released “An Epistle on the Black Room Fifths,” which discusses in-depth the reason behind the Fifth Degree failure in the OTO. He also released “The Opposition: A Lengthy Philosophical Rant from an Eighth Degree.” Both were for Upper Degree viewing only but are now quoted in-depth here. This was a period of chaos, when David Scriven simply assumed X° and then rapidly became a Hidden Master. In addition to the OTO’s refusal to take responsibility for the consequences of its new policies, it details Scriven’s refusal to defend Marlene’s new Lodge from the continual problems caused by Bill Breeze’s Fifth Degrees in the Bay Area.
This was also a period when Breeze and J. Daniel Gunther attempted to whitewash their A.’.A.’.’s history. In particular, Cornelius recounts how Breeze attempted to block distribution of Marcelo Motta’s book which published his account of how he expelled Breeze from the A.’.A.’. and how Gunther quit the Order. It was a period when Bill Breeze changed the Order into a cult of personality, how he illegitimately claimed the titled of O.H.O. (Outer Head of the Order) at the March ‘96 Supreme Council Meeting in Texas, informing all OTO Lodges and bodies worldwide that they were now under his dominion. J. Edward also discusses how Scriven and Breeze slightly altered the wording to OTO initiation rituals and how they included The Tunis Comment into the rituals in an attempt to control and silence people, enabling Breeze to push his A.’.A.’. over all others. The Restrictionist movement in Thelema was born in 1994, and as such Breeze began claiming that everybody in the world were frauds unless they acknowledge that there is only one valid A.’.A.’.—his.
All in all, Tell Me Why I’m Still in the OTO is J. Edward remembering a time in the Order’s history in which the new leadership was working hard to project a squeaky-clean, Masonic image and to establish worldwide domination of Thelema (both OTO and A.’.A.’.). The bulk of the Order’s efforts were spent on the façade, little on the quality of the interactions, rituals, and relationships of its members. It was a time when, if you didn’t conform, you were expelled or pushed out of the Order. Finally, J. Edward also learned that Bill Breeze and others did not know the truth behind the Caliphate and why Aleister Crowley created it, nor did they know that Grady Louis McMurtry had signed the original OTO Charter as a Magus 9=2 and so they discarded the title of Caliph from the OTO. At this point J. Edward began examining Scriven’s leadership under microscope, and the image wasn’t good. This volume ends with Marlene and J. Edward buying a house, and with Marlene closing Pangenetor Lodge due to a conflict over OTO policies. Cornelius also released Red Flame, A Thelemic Research Journal No.1-2 to rave reviews. The joyous moment in these memoirs is the birth of J. Edward’s son, Faustus.”
JS from Iowa, USA says, “I haven’t laughed out loud reading a book in a long time.. This is very entertaining as well as a fantastic historical memoir of events that took place. So far I am loving this read!!!”
MW from England says, ““It is really great to have the true story all set out in black and white (in Jerry’s own unique style) and to have an antidote to the rubbish that is being churned out by the OTO in an attempt to justify themselves. I find it hard to understand why so many people seem to be taken in by the transparently obvious deception.
I am very much looking forward to A Line in the Sand [i.e. the next installment]. More juicy – great!
What appeals to me is that Jerry is not sensationalising things, he is stating the facts. It is the facts which are sensational. I really don’t think you could make them up! Those of us who are old enough to remember know a good deal of the story. One would have had to have been living on another planet with no internet not to have realised something was seriously amiss. However, it is great to hear it all straight from someone who experienced it firsthand.
I am sure there are an awful lot of people who are very grateful to Jerry. There is bound to be opposition from people wanting to protect their own interests, or who do not want to acknowledge that they have been duped! However, whilst I think it is a real shame the OTO has developed in this way, I tend to take the line ‘each to their own.’ What I strongly disapprove of is where people are being misled and deceived, and I reckon it might be that things are legal, but morally it is way off beam! The Present OTO only really bears the name, and it’s operation is a million miles away from Crowley’s vision of the organisation.
I find it very interesting that the hierarchy of the OTO have remained publicly very quiet. To me that speaks volumes. If a single iota of Jerry’s book was not factual they would almost certainly bring it to everybody’s attention, waving overpaid lawyers around, and baying loudly. Some attempt is made to try to ignore Jerry, or to try to discredit him, but again that says everything to me.
… I love the footnotes, which are almost a book in their own right. Certainly, a fabulous source of reference.”