Gnostic Mass (After)

Posted: April 3, 2011 in Uncategorized

It has now been a week since my witness and participation of the O.T.O. Gnostic Mass at Bubastis Oasis in Dallas, Texas.

I studied up before hand, and tried to be ready for the coordinated and choreographed ceremony.

Ultimately I was still expecting this to be mostly a pseudo-catholic ritual, with a lot of confusing motions and that there would be some cool theatre to it, but mostly no big deal.

I totally had the wrong idea. The video footage I found was also not a good primer for what I saw, partially thanks to the fact that the Thelemites of Bubastis Oasis pulled off great theatre. The lighting in the ceremonial chamber, the decor of the ceremonial chamber, the music, all created a truly mystical vibe for me.

Bubastis makes generous use of black in its ritual space, there is a bunch of egyptian decorum, the altar has a Star of David on it, and there is some writing that looks like Greek on some obelisks next to the altar. There is a set up in the middle of the room on a pillar with some ritual gear on it. I was following a Thelemite who has been kind and patient with me for these last two visits and did the best to follow his example.

I have to confess that I have two left feet, and am generally uncoordinated, so I was very nervous about screwing up the ritual. The missal (manual for the mass) made me feel like I was reading directions for the Time Warp from Rocky Horror Picture Show.

The theatre of the mass helped me forget these anxieties pretty quick. The priest is dressed like an Egyptian Pharoah, there are two women in the mass. One ends up naked on the altar, which makes the whole thing way more intense, and makes me think that most religions would benefit from this sort of thing. There is also generous use of swords and spears in the liturgy, and it is totally not reminiscent of any Christian ritual I have observed.

I actually enjoyed the choreographed mannerisms, especially the times when we hit ourselves in the chest. It made me feel like it was a secret ritual of warriors.

In fact now that its been a week or so and I have had time to reflect, the whole experience reminded me of the film Satyricon by Fellini. Our friend the minotaur on this picture is from that movie. The movie has a lot of sexuality and pagan ritual in it, which is quite mysterious and deeply psychological stimulating. The Gnostic mass made me feel like I got to be in something like a scene in that movie. Something dark, sexual, primordial, and powerful.

Satyricon is the best thing I could think of for a parallel.

  1. D. Bush says:

    So how does one go about finding one of these?

  2. mindcore says:

    It depends what city you live in, not all cities have a O.T.O. body in it. But a google search for your city and O.T.O. should get you some kind of website and on that site will be a calendar. Find an event that looks interesting and if the address is not posted (Bubastis Oasis does not post its address, probably because of conservative religious weirdos being potentially dangerous) and say you would like to go to a public event. The Gnostic Mass, from my understanding, is usually public. They should then send you the address. For me my favorite part of all this stuff is the Thelemites themselves, I think O.T.O. attracts a great caliber of people.

    If this doesn’t work email me at and I will try to help you out.

  3. ac2012 says:

    Great post. You might also enjoy checking out this script, which has hyperlinks all over the place leading to annotations by two extremely well-qualified Bishops:

    BTW the Greek on the obelisks was “AGAPE” and “THELEMA” 🙂

  4. IAO131 says:


    Glad you appeared to have enjoyed yourself. You can find a Mass missal here which may be different from the one you used and which, in my mind, is farily clear:

    Seeing the Mass multiple times helps to catch things you missed before, show the ways people celebrate slightly different, and helps imprint the symbolism into the unconscious. As you probably saw from different essays online, there is a lot of symbolism and information to uncover in this relatively short ritual.

    Hope you choose to attend another and perhaps some classes about Thelema.

    93 93/93

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