About Minerval Initiation
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The Minerval Degree (0°) is the introductory Initiate degree in Ordo Templi Orientis. It is said to symbolize the first step in the journey of the Self in Eternity, where the Ego, a wandering God, is attracted to the Solar System. The questions and answers contained in this document were written to help guide someone considering joining the Order by taking the Minerval Degree initiation. Some questions are specific to Sekhet-Maat Lodge. Any questions not answered here may be directed to the Lodge Secretary. Or, if you still have more questions after reading through this document and would like to meet with someone face to face, feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org and set up a time to do so!
Frequently Asked Questions
What is an initiation?
Generally, an initiation implies a beginning or an introduction, a rite of passage and a welcoming into community. In O.T.O. it is a ceremony that usually serves several purposes. In the Minerval degree, it introduces the candidates, using dramatic allegory and symbolism, to the Mysteries of Thelema.
Why would I want to be initiated?
Everyone has their own reason for taking an initiation. There is no single right answer to this question. However, here are some common reasons.
- To learn more about what the Mysteries of Thelema might be in a non-binding way (since a Minerval does not establish any permanent bonds with the Order)
- To become an affiliate of the Order and the Lodge
- To seek a deeper level of fellowship with members of the community
- To become an initiate of our Mysteries
- To begin your inward journey to self-knowledge. Aleister Crowley wrote, "initiation is, by etymology, the journeying inwards; it is the Voyage of Discovery ... of one's own Soul."
- To explore the philosophical enigmas that naturally arise in a group that is dedicated to the liberty of the individual
- To attend NOTOCON (Yes, this is a real reason and not a bad one! The National Conference is a wonderful event where any member can exult in the hospitality of the Order.)
Are there any requirements?
Yes, there are several eligibility requirements for the Minerval degree. Candidates must:
- be at least 18 years of age
- not be incarcerated, on probation, or otherwise bound to the Department of Corrections
- be capable of taking & keeping a binding oath to the Order
- never been previously initiated in O.T.O.
- obtain sponsorship from two members in good standing who are initiates of the I° or higher
- have attended at least two O.T.O. events, one of them preferably a Gnostic Mass
How do I go about getting initiated?
Start by filling in and returning a Minerval application and indemnity form, and $119.00 (which includes $42 fee for initiation, $42 for the first year of national dues, and $45 for the first month of local dues—you may also consider paying more months of your local dues in advance if you wish). You can request the paperwork from the Lodge Secretary. Remember that one of the requirements is the signature of two sponsors that are at least I°. Also see: As a Minerval, what dues do I have to pay?
Okay, how do I get two sponsors?
Before you can be initiated, you will need to develop a level of personal familiarity and trust with at least two members. The Lodge conducts many activities that are open to non-initiate guests at which you can meet such people and introduce yourself. You can take a look at our calendar for information on upcoming events that are open to the public. Sekhet-Maat Lodge celebrates Liber XV: The Gnostic Mass every Sunday at 3pm.
Will my sponsors be at my initiation?
While your sponsors are strongly encouraged to be there, it is not strictly required. Once informed by the Lodge Secretary, it is your responsibility to tell your sponsors the date of your initiation so that they can make arrangements to attend.
When will my initiation happen?
We schedule initiations on a quarterly basis. If we have candidates for Minerval, even one, we will hold the initiation that quarter. There will be announcements at Mass, and on the sml_announce e-mail list regarding the application deadline.
Do I have to pay the fees when I turn in my application?
Once I turn in the Minerval application, what can I expect?
You will receive an email from the Lodge Secretary telling you the date and time of the ceremony and where to go.
What if I can’t do it, or I change my mind after I turn one in?
Simply let the Lodge Secretary know. If necessary, you can ask to skip the current ceremony and be put into the next. Keep in mind that if a year passes, then you will have to fill out a new application.
What should I plan to bring to my Minerval?
You do not need to bring anything other than yourself.
How should I prepare for my Minerval?
There is no one correct answer for this. It depends on you. Practically speaking, you do not need to do anything to prepare. Looking over the U.S. Grand Lodge website might be a good idea to educate yourself about the organization you are joining.
After I take my Minerval, how long do I have to wait until I take my First Degree?
The minimum time within the degree at Sekhet-Maat Lodge is three months. We schedule initiations quarterly, so you can sign up for the next round of initiations and take your First Degree in the quarter following your Minerval if you like. We encourage all Minerval initiates to carefully consider their readiness to continue to the First Degree, since the I° establishes a permanent magickal bond between the initiate and the order.
So, am I joining a cult, or what?
Although we like to joke sometimes about being a cult, in reality we are not. Even though the strict definition of a "cult" is a group of people who share similar beliefs and religious practices (which makes every religion a cult), we know what you mean. There are several common practices that go into making a "noxious" cult:
- Brainwashing—Although O.T.O. does purport to instruct candidates in the Mysteries of Thelema, we do not use "mind-control" methods, such as love bombing, sleep deprivation, dietary limitations, or any other methods of coercive physical or psychological manipulation to trick people into our belief system. Such techniques are anathema to Thelema.
- Blocking exit—In no way do we prevent members from leaving the Order. "Man has the right to move as he will on the face of the earth."
- Renunciation—At no time do we ask any member to renounce their current beliefs, associations, activities, or lifestyle. Neither do members confess "wrongdoing."
- Isolation—We do not cut off anyone (directly or indirectly) from their family, friends, work, or society in general.
- Financial manipulation—Although there is language in our historical constitution about upper degree members giving up their property, in reality no member is expected to give over all their possessions or wealth to the Order.
- Charismatic leaders—While O.T.O. certainly has leaders like any organization, they are not "charismatic" or "infallible," and the Order is not a "cult of personality." Rather, it is an enduring institution—it does not exist based on any individual.
- Control of behavior—No one in the Order will ever tell you how to live your life or what you can and can’t do or enjoy. We do take oaths, but it is up to each individual to interpret and fulfill them—no one in the Order polices members. "Man has the right to live by his own law."
- Disallowing questions—We promote critical thinking and do not dissuade questions or criticisms about the Order. "Man has the right to think what he will."
Are you on Myspace / Facebook / Twitter / RSS / etc.?
Yes! All of the above and more. Check out our Community Portal for a current list of links to our various social networking profiles and feeds.
As a Minerval, what benefits can I take advantage of within U.S. Grand Lodge and Sekhet-Maat Lodge?
Members of Sekhet-Maat Lodge enjoy the following benefits:
- As a Minerval initiate, you may attend future Minerval initiations as a guest (at any O.T.O. body in the world) which gives you the opportunity for further study of the degree through attendance and participation.
- If you are also baptized in the Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica (E.G.C.), you may participate as an officer in the Gnostic Mass in the "Child" role.
- If you are also confirmed in the E.G.C., you may undergo novitiate training under the supervision of a Bishop to prepare for eventual ordination as Priest, Priestess, or Deacon.
- You can volunteer for many events and non-initiation rituals.
- You can attend initiate-only events like Lodge Meetings, Minerval initiations, the National O.T.O Conference (NOTOCON), and other special workshops and classes offered by the Lodge.
- You can produce your own events like classes, workshops, study groups, or original rituals. If you wish to do something along these lines, you can contact the Lodge Master and he or she will assist you.
- You will receive Agapé (the U.S. Grand Lodge quarterly newsletter).
If I take my Minerval initiation at Sekhet-Maat Lodge, does that automatically make me a member of the Lodge?
No. By taking Minerval initiation, you automatically become a member of U.S. Grand Lodge (as are all O.T.O. members within the United States), but this does not make you a member of the local body where you were initiated. To become a member of Sekhet-Maat Lodge, you must be an initiate member of O.T.O of at least First Degree and agree to pay local dues. Minerval initiates may become affiliates of the Lodge; affiliation does not confer the full benefits of membership, but it is very similar. Benefits are outlined on our membership page and in our Standing Rules. Please feel free to speak to the Lodge Treasurer, [email@example.com Deputy Master], or [firstname.lastname@example.org Master] regarding membership.
As a Minerval, what dues do I have to pay?
There are two sets of dues:
- U.S. Grand Lodge dues. These are paid yearly, and the amount depends on degree. At Minerval, annual dues are currently $42 a year. All O.T.O. members in the U.S. are expected to pay U.S.G.L. dues. When you pay your $119 for your Minerval initiation, part of that goes to pay your first year of national dues.
- Local dues. At Sekhet-Maat Lodge, the minimum dues are $540/year or $45/month. All members of the Lodge are expected to pay dues.
What do my contributions to the Lodge pay for, and can I contribute more to help the Lodge achieve its goals?
Local dues pay the rent and maintenance on the Temple and keep the electricity and heat running. When you add it all up, $45 a month is a bargain, and we'd be very happy to accept any additional contribution you'd like to give us. Our financial goals and accomplishments are published on a monthly basis and we maintain a Wish list so that you can directly see the effect your contribution has.
Sounds reasonable—so how do I pay my dues?
To become a member, you will need to read our Bylaws and Standing Rules, and agree to them by signing our Membership Roll. You may pay your first months dues with your Minerval Dues and Fees if you wish and sign the membership roll after the Minerval ceremony.
Annual dues to U.S. Grand Lodge can be paid in one of several ways:
- You can mail your dues payable to: O.T.O. U.S.A., 4110 SE Hawthorne Blvd. #444, Portland, OR 97214-5246
- You can pay online with a credit card at the U.S. Grand Lodge website. When you get your dues reminder in the mail next year, you will be given the web address to do this.
- You can give them to the [email@example.com Lodge Treasurer] in any of the ways listed below, who will submit them to U.S. Grand Lodge for you.
Dues to Sekhet-Maat Lodge can be paid by:
- Online via PayPal (See Sekhet-Maat Lodge Membership page)
- Mailing a check to payable to: Sekhet-Maat Lodge, 1409 SE Stark St., Portland, OR 97214
- Putting a check or cash in an envelope with your name and "dues" on it, and depositing it in the temple drop box (in the office), or
- Handing your dues to the Lodge Treasurer in person.
What if I can’t pay local dues for a month or two?
We know that everyone can experience tough times. If you can’t pay dues because of financial hardship, please speak to the Lodge Master, who will make arrangements with you. Please consider, however, that as you would not just forget to pay your own electric bill for several months, so should you strive to remember to pay your Lodge dues in a timely fashion. Find ways to remind yourself, such as paying it at the same time as your other bills. The Lodge has to pay bills on time, just like you do.
What does "Minerval" mean, anyway?
In general, a Minerval is a Seeker of Wisdom. The word is derived from the Roman goddess Minerva, the equivalent of Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom. Minerva was also considered to be the goddess of warriors, poetry, medicine, commerce, crafts, and the inventor of music. You may draw your own conclusions over the time you spend in the Order.
What is the M∴M∴M∴?
The initials M∴M∴M∴ stand for Mysteria Mystica Maxima. Originally, it was the name of the O.T.O. degree system in Great Britain, then headed by Aleister Crowley. Eventually, his M∴M∴M∴ was absorbed into the regular system of the Order. It now includes the degrees to VII°.
Do I get to know who will be performing the initiation ceremony?
Nope. You’ll just have to wait and see.
After I take my Minerval, will I be expected to take the First Degree initiation?
No. Taking the First Degree is a serious decision, and no Minerval should feel pushed into it. Some take their First Degree right away, some after many years, and it is equally honorable to spend your entire life as a Minerval initiate. The choice is entirely yours.
After my initiation, who will have access to my legal name?
We take confidentiality very seriously—this is a secret Order, after all. Full civil names are given out to Order members on a need-to-know basis only. Within the Lodge, that means the Lodge Master, Deputy Lodge Master, Secretary, and Treasurer will need to have your full civil name on record. U.S. Grand Lodge also keeps records according to civil names. However, under no circumstances will the Lodge or the Order voluntarily give out your civil name to a third party, including other Order members, without your permission.
I’ve heard that as a Minerval, I will be a "Guest" of the Order. Does that mean I’m not a full member?
As a Minerval, you are both a guest and a member of O.T.O. You are considered a guest because you can, at any time as a Minerval, back out of the Order completely—whereas, although there is nothing stopping anyone from leaving the Order, it is impossible to sever the magical bond that is formed at First Degree. Minerval initiates are, however, eligible for all the general benefits of O.T.O. membership.
If I take the Minerval initiation, will I have to kill a goat or do anything else I don’t want to?
First, it is important to explain that during our initiations, at no time will you ever be forced to do something against your will. We can also say that none of the initiation rituals of O.T.O. involve animal sacrifice. Finally, it should be said that for some candidates, the Minerval initiation can be a fairly intense experience. The Minerval ceremony is designed to be challenging, but not degrading or painful. Rather, the aim is to instruct, illuminate, welcome, and enhance the lives of initiates.
But...but...I have more questions!
You can find more here:
- U.S. Grand Lodge, O.T.O. (includes the O.T.O. degree system)
- Sekhet-Maat Lodge Membership page
- Sekhet-Maat Lodge Special Events page
- U.S. Grand Lodge also has an excellent FAQ that covers relevant subjects, including O.T.O, Aleister Crowley, the Church, and Thelema.
Any questions not answered here may be directed to the Lodge Secretary. If you still have more questions and would like to meet with someone face to face, feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org and set up a time to do so!