The Gnostic Mass (Before)

Posted: March 30, 2011 in Uncategorized

So continuing on my O.T.O. kick, I am studying up for what will be my first attendance of a gnostic mass at Bubastis Oasis this weekend.

I have yet to see the mass performed, much less experience it, much less see how this experience will affect me. But to get the most out of it that I can, and to truly give it its day in court I feel I should try to attend relatively well prepared.

Now, the O.T.O. gnostic mass should not be confused with other forms of gnosticism, which can be crudely described as new agey adaptations of christianity. From what I have learned from my limited research most modern gnosticism (not the O.T.O. variety) is primarily a more loose interpretation of Christianity as being more rich in symbolism, Christ is seen as more of an energy, continuity is seen with eastern traditions and Kabbalah, and my favorite part: no cumming!

Thats right, from what I can tell the most central point of modern gnosticism seems to be for men not to cum. Not to ejaculate. Not to shoot a load. Not to bust a nut.

I think its pretty fair to say the O.T.O. is relatively pro-orgasm, so that is one key difference for sure.

Other definitions of the word gnosticism have also been attributed to early sects of Christianity who say Jesus as a benevolent demigod who challenged a malevolent creator god. Though my attempts to try to learn about this from hardcore biblical scholars leave my head spinning, and cause me to believe that this distinction may be largely invented by the modern church. Early christianity was apparently a plethora of different theologies and some quite colorful in their interpretations.

The O.T.O. gnostic mass is very different from these.

My primary source which I am studying is the essay DISCOURSE ON THE ARTICLES OF THE CREED OF THE GNOSTIC CATHOLIC CHURCH

As far as I can tell The Gnostic Catholic Church is just the O.T.O. when they are doing the Gnostic Mass, and there is no difference between them. If I am wrong I welcome the correction, but until that happens I will just continue to refer to the Gnostic Catholic Church as the O.T.O.

The Gnostic Mass is full of symbolism and if you read the essay by T. Polyphilus you are sure to find stuff that you find interesting in there. I am just going to focus on the stuff that I am jazzed about for now.

The first thing that I want to talk about is my religious methadone theory of the Gnostic Mass. I have a suspicion that Crowley was using the mass as something that was christian-like enough in appearance that his followers would be able to achieve a spiritual psychology like they had experienced in church. Crowley wrote all this stuff in the late 19th and early 20th century where atheism and non-christianity was even rarer in the industrialized world than it is now.

It seems clear to me that Crowley definitely wanted Thelema to catch on, and eventually grow to be a major religion, if not THE major religion. The similarities between the mass and traditional Christian language and ceremony were probably intensely familiar to early Thelemites, comfortable, and allowed them to ease in to the weirder and weirder stuff that Crowley was trying to teach them. It was brilliant memecraft if I am right.

If am wrong about Crowley’s intention, then it is still brilliant memecraft on the part of the meme which is the Gnostic Mass, which is still replicating today approximately a century after it was born and using me, this blog, and you reading it to replicate itself.

The next part of the mass which I am fired up about is Crowley’s language which seems to make Chaos the equivalent of God.

I will quote here:

“I believe in one secret and ineffable LORD;
and in one Star in the Company of Stars
of whose fire we are created,
and to which we shall return;
and in one Father of Life,
Mystery of Mystery, in His name CHAOS,”

For me this jives very strongly with both my atheism and my nihilism. Chaos is nature, as far as I am concerned. The laws of thermodynamics doing their dance, full of cruelty and indifference, yet still giving rise to you and everything you hold dear. This part of the mass is probably going to give me chills down my spine, and I think that upon reading this I can finally say for all my curmodgeonly comments on Crowley and his misadventures I am definitely an admirer of the Great Beast.

I believe most people who worship God are trying to square their experience with nature, to try to connect with it, to have some kind of dialogue with it, but they anthropomorhize it and usually make it lame.

To pray to Chaos, to have a ritual that invokes Chaos is closer to the truth, nature is intensely chaotic and the sooner people make a deep peace with that the sooner they are going to be able to maximize their interface with existing.

  1. […] The Gnostic Mass (Before) […]

  2. ac2012 says:

    Thoroughly enjoying your posts here.

    The first article of the Creed which you have quoted here identifies a three-in-one naturalistic God. This is not a contradiction of what you are saying at all but perhaps you will find that the following delves a bit deeper.

    The Secret and ineffable LORD is in one sense (after all it is ineffable) the phallos, i.e. the symbol of the creative force or urge in all living things.

    The Star in the Company of Stars is our nearest star, Sol, in the company of all the other stars, which collectively are Nuit.

    These two are one in their creation of all life, and as the Father of Life they are as one whose name is CHAOS.

    Also note the final invocation by the Priest as he ascends the dais, invoking these three-in-one in reverse order:

    “Thou that art One,
    our Lord in the Universe the Sun,
    our Lord in ourselves whose name is Mystery of Mystery…”

    Check out the discussion on the solar phallus in the first or second ep of Speech in the Silence for more along the lines of the above.

    • mindcore says:

      I have listened to every episode of Speech in the Silence, I am happy to say. But this stuff is levels upon levels. I have no doubt I will listen to them all again in time. (I should also add that I am a subscriber and will keep listening as they come out).

      I appreciate your comment, especially for readers who want to go deeper. I am just latching on to certain aspects of it at this phase in my study.

  3. IAO131 says:


    Nice post. The E.G.C. or Gnostic Catholic Church is essentially part of the O.T.O. There is somewhat of a complicated interplay but the ‘OTO is the EGC when its doing Mass’ is essentially correct, although there are other rites and there is an interplay between the Mass and the initiatory degrees of the OTO.

    Also, Crowley was, I think, trying to create a sense of cultural continuity with Christianity but another point is that he saw vestiges of rites that predate Christianity in Christianity. The consuming of the body of God, the baptism by water, etc. are all essentially ‘pagan’ ideas that were appropriated by Christianity in the first place. When describing the Gnostic Mass in one book, he calls it “THE CANON OF THE MASS, according to the Gnostic Catholic Church, which represents the original and true pre-Christian Christianity.”

    Also there are several naturalistic interpretations of the Creed, including the one above by AC2012. My general idea is the secret & ineffable lord represents the ineffable generative powers of the Universe as represented externally by the Sun (“one Star in the company of stars”) and in oneself (“…and in ourselves, whose name is Mystery of Mystery”). Chaos represents the Father-principle in things as well as the heavens/stars, Babalon represents the Mother-principle in things as well as the Earth, Baphomet is the child created by Father & Mother, etc.

    Also, on Chaos: “Chaos (Greek: χάος ) in Greek mythology and cosmology referred to a gap or abyss at the beginning of the world, or more generally the initial, formless state of the universe (the antithetical, or possibly complementary, concept was cosmos).” It does not necessarily refer to disorder/unpredictability.

    You’ll find that ‘God’ does not have a very normal meaning of dude-in-the-sky with Thelemites. For example, “There is no god but man” and the ‘characters’ Gnostic Mass can be seen as parts of the Priest – that is, they represent aspects of oneself and their interplay.

    93 93/93

    • mindcore says:


      Between ac2012 and IAO131 I find myself quickly out of my league on my own blog.

      I appreciate you clarifying the difference between the O.T.O. and the Gnostic Catholic Church. I also appreciate you pointing out that this stuff is pre-christian.

      After actually going to the mass I think my original impressions about its overt links to Christianity were highly exaggerated. I got a totally different vibe from it, and having participated in mainstream Catholic Mass many times I feel like I had a good grasp on the control condition.

      I think when I was reading the literature and listening to descriptions on Speech in the Silence my imagination was too colored by stuff I was learning about other types of gnostics (the new agers who don’t cum) and my own experiences with mainstream catholicism.

      I am proud to say the wonderful Thelemites at Bubastis Oasis blew all this out of the water and gave me what will forever be one of the most memorable experiences of my life, and definitely something which I was able to tap into as a source of personal power.

      • IAO131 says:

        93 mindcore,

        I wouldn’t worry about, we’re all fellow students.

        In regards to pre-Christianity/Christianity, etc. I recommend you check out the posts on

        I’m glad you had such a great experience, and that you experienced it firsthand since its different than reading about it, even in depth such as in mediums like Speech in the Silence.

        Also, the Samael Weor-following type gnostics tend to be off their rocker a bit (in my experience) and also still super-moralistic (omg! you came, you are inviting demons into your soul and are not pure!) which bothers me. There is no law beyond Do what thou wilt.

        93 93/93

      • ac2012 says:

        I agree with IAO131, we are all students. I’m commenting because I like your observations and thoughts, and find myself compelled to contribute in whatever small way I can and also to listen to your fresh perspectives, because you seem intelligent, thoughtful, and curious.

        I’m usually logged into WP as ac2012 so I didn’t bother switching to my civil name account, but fyi this is Joseph T.

  4. mindcore says:

    I am honored, since I am a huge fan of your podcast.

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