In the Name of the Beast Volume Two: 1962-1985, A Biography of Grady Louis McMurtry, a Disciple of Aleister Edward Crowley
Of all Aleister Crowley’s disciples, the single individual who has effectively shaped the destiny of the modern occult revival, especially in the name of the Beast himself, was Grady McMurtry. Yet his life has remained relatively unknown even amongst his own followers. Although there are many biographies written about the life of Aleister Crowley, there are none which have explained what took place in his Thelemic cult after his death. To understand the modern history of the occult revival in the late sixties in northern California we must examine the life of Grady Louis McMurtry. They are inseparable. However, Grady is unquestionably one of the most remarkable and controversial figures in the entire history of the OTO. Whether right or wrong, he infected the Order with his own foolish proclivities which would have rattled the likes of even Aleister Crowley were he alive today. Grady’s long hair, hippie lifestyle, poetry, sex, booze and drugs, equally bathed in unusual magickal rituals and philosophical thought, while living in San Francisco and Berkeley, has become so legendary that it has gained him lasting notoriety long after his death, similar to Aleister Crowley. Grady McMurtry died in Berkeley in the summer of 1985.
This volume begins with Karl Germer dying of prostate cancer in October 1962. His Will is discussed, who should be the next world leader of the OTO, the in-house fighting regarding such and how, in the end, no leader was elected. The OTO begins a dark period of years without leadership. Sacsha Germer wants nothing to do with anyone. She goes into hiding and keeps Crowley’s archives. In the mean-time, Grady’s activities in Washington D.C. are discussed and how no one bothered to tell him of Germer’s death. He drops out of the military. He joins the Shakespeare Society, becomes a delegate to the Washington Theater Alliance, a member of the DC Chapter of the American Political Science Association and a member of the Executive Committees of both the 39th Annual DC 1 Act Play Tournament (1966-67) as well as the 1st Annual Eastern State Theater Festival (1967). Then his health starts failing. He’s drinking too much. He’s diagnoses with narcolepsy. He and his second wife, Foxie, split. Grady has a new live in girlfriend, a fellow actor from the Shakespeare Society. By 1967 the OTO is non-existent.
Then the library thefts begin. Sascha Germer’s house is looted and parts of Crowley’s private archive is stolen by people unknown. The old secretary to Crowley, Israel Regardie, his house is also looted. Someone has decided to re-activate the OTO on their own and is looking for information. Sascha accuses the daughter of another old Agape Lodge member, Phyllis Seckler, of the thefts. To clear her daughter’s name Phyllis begins her own investigation. She notifies, if not accuses, Grady of the thefts. Grady proves that he is innocent. Due to this correspondence he learns of Germer’s death.
Phyllis and Grady begin a lengthy campaign of letter writing back and forth. Two, three and even four times a week. Many are four or five pages long. They basically renew their friendship, discuss their poetry and the OTO’s past. Grady also discusses his plans about starting something based on Crowley’s teachings in Washington DC. In these letters Phyllis learns of the authority granted by Crowley which would allow Grady to “take charge” in case of an OTO emergency. She also discovers that Grady is the only Grand Lodge officer still alive. She suggests that he moves to California to take charge of the OTO’s affairs. There is love affair blooming through the mail between Grady and Phyllis. Although Grady is separated from his second wife, he is still living with his girlfriend.
There are numerous letters between Grady, Phyllis and other OTO members, like Mildred Burligame. Mostly these letters are renewing old friendships, discussing plans for the future of the OTO and talk about Grady’s moving to California. Grady and Phyllis have fallen madly in love. Phyllis learns that Mildred’s house was also burglarized around the same time as Israel Regardie’s and Sascha’s. However, Mildred knew who was responsible for looting her library. It was one of her ex-students, Jean Brayton. Grady tells his girlfriend its over and that he’s moving to California.
Phyllis and Mildred discover that Jean Brayton is running a “secret group” in LA. In April of 1969 Grady flies to California and moves in with Phyllis Seckler. They meet with many surviving OTO members, again trying to re-unite the Order. Only Mildred Burlingame is interested. Grady and Phyllis start investigating the library thefts together and Jean Brayton’s group. Grady and Phyllis get married in Mexico. Their marriage is rocky right from the start. Grady drinks too much, bordering on alcoholism, which Phyllis hates. Also, Grady starts hanging around with many young kids who were interested in Crowley. They are mostly SF hippies, long hair and into drugs. Phyllis and Grady fight over the ‘type’ of people suitable in becoming an OTO initiate. Phyllis, an old school teacher, is very straight and didn’t appreciate Grady’s new hippie friends, like Chuck Apel and Llee Heflin. The first OTO initiations in almost twenty years take place. Phyllis disapproves and does not participate. Then, the ‘Boy in the Box’ scandal erupts in southern California. Newspapers carry the story worldwide. The incident occurred within a group calling itself The Solar Lodge which has a tenuous Charles Manson connection. The group is run by Jean Brayton. One of the members is Jerry Kay, the art director of the recently released movie Easy Rider.
The Kaaba Clerk House Days of 1970. This is when Grady, ignoring Phyllis, tried to get the OTO established amongst the newly initiated hippies in SF by opening a store front. There are many problems; the drugs, there are blow-ups and fights which the Clerk House caused between Grady and Phyllis. Grady tries to release Crowley’s Thoth Deck through Jerry Kay. Behind the scenes Grady’s investigation of The Solar Lodge. Grady and Heflin have a major falling out.
Grady has numerous printing projects. He begins using LSD and other drugs. The LSD effect on his magick and poetry is brought out along with its effect on his sanity. Grady join’s Crowley’s AA organization. Grady takes the Oath of the Abyss. The majority of all ceremonial magicians have failed at this ordeal. Most, in fact, went insane. The last person to do this ritual was Jack Parsons and many believe it was responsible for his death. As for Grady, the effect is almost immediate, he too begins to lose his mind. Phyllis and Grady’s are constantly fighting. Grady and Chuck have a falling out. Grady has a drug over-dose and is rushed to the hospital.
Grady is still trying to get the OTO established but having little luck. He prints books and signs a contract with Llewellyn to publish Crowley’s Thoth Deck after Jerry Kay fails to come through. Grady has a great meeting with the Satanist Anton LaVey. The book titled The Family is released about the Manson murders. The Chapter on The Solar Lodge is in-directly due to Grady’s research. More of the truth behind the Solar Lodge and Jean Brayton is discussed. Grady visits Regardie. Grady also visits another weird southern Californian occult group calling itself OTA.
Grady’s poetry in relationship to his magick is discussed regarding his Holy Guardian Angel and his ‘demon.’ Crowley’s beliefs, regarding the Oath of the Abyss, and what occurs to ones psyche and mind are discussed. Why it’s such a dangerous ritual. Also, Grady and Phyllis are still having major problems in their marriage. Grady’s sanity becomes a major issue. In December of 1972 the ‘voices’ in Grady’s head drive him to commit suicide. He was not successful. After his hospital stay he seemed better but, within a short time, he returned to booze, drugs and his old friend. January 1973 it is a quite period for Grady simply publishing, researching and getting his head together. His marriage is effectively on hold. More theory about the Oath of the Abyss is discussed using Grady’s life as an example of the process. In 1974 Grady joins the Sikh organization known as Healthy, Happy Holy Organization or 3HO. He starts letting his hair grow long and he grows his long beard, for which he is famous. Studying Yoga has a quieting effect on Grady mind. A lot is discussed about trying to get the OTO off the ground, his friendship with Israel Regardie, the gatherings and the parties of this period. Grady meets such notables as Robert Anton Wilson and the noted author Dr. Jacques Vallee. Due to Grady’s involvement with 3HO he begins teaching yoga. He and Phyllis finally split, their marriage is over. He moves to Berkeley and she stays in Dublin. She is very bitter.
The final secrets of the Oath of the Abyss, as Grady has come to learn them, are revealed. Grady realizes, once away from Phyllis, that he has actually achieved all the obligation. He becomes a full Magister Templi in Crowley’s AA system.
An old OTO initiate from Brazil, Marcelo Motta, re-surfaces to cause grief. Everyone also discovers that Sascha Germer has been dead for almost a year. The remainder of the OTO property has been put into storage by the State of California. Grady begins the process of proving through the California Court system that he is the head of the OTO and that he should get the property. The Courts agree and everything which the Brayton’s hadn’t stolen is turned over to him. Phyllis, bitter over a failed marriage, begins endless character attacks behind Grady’s back. Each trying to prove that he is neither a true OTO leader or that he successfully accomplished the ordeals of the Abyss. Grady has a new girlfriend, Sharon Morton. He releases the first OTO Newsletter. And he assumes the next magickal step after the Oath of the Abyss and takes the Oath of a Magus. Uttering his ‘WORD’ which is discussed in-depth magickally, as to what this ordeal implies.
Grady’s magickal affirmation allows him to create the first Grand Lodge of the OTO on Crowley’s birthday of Oct.12th 1977. He calls it Thelema Lodge. It is the first US OTO body created since Agape Lodge closed. He also charters others OTO bodies throughout the US. The OTO is finally getting off the ground. However, many problems arise because the Order is growing too fast to effectively manage itself. The remainder of the OTO Archive, previously awarded by the Court and, put into storage under Phyllis’ care, is mysteriously stolen. Phyllis and Grady have issues over the thefts. Now that Grand Lodge has been established it tries to clean up the Order’s bad name, Grady sues the author Peter Straub for slander which he makes in his novel Ghost Story. The OTO wins the lawsuit. Then, tragically, the OTO Newsletter stops due to a controversy. The Order begins publishing The Magickal Link. Positive steps are taken by Grady to establish the Order on solid ground. An OTO Lodge is chartered in Canada and the OTO begins to go international. Motta surfaces again, claiming to be the true head of the OTO and he files lawsuits against a major book publisher, Samuel Weiser Inc, for copyright infringement. Grady and the OTO help Weiser fight Motta. Gerald Yorke, a close friend of Crowley and Grady, and the world’s greatest Crowley collector, dies in England. Many OTO initiations occur and the membership is starting to completely fill out the ranks between 0-IVth. These degrees are called the ‘man of Earth.’ Grady then decides to establishment the second, or inner grades known as ‘the Lover.’ This begins with V and the Rose Croix Chapter. It creates a multitude of major problems. Major obstacle arise within the OTO as some members try to over-throw Grady through the mis-use of the Lover grades. A major incident and blow-up occurs over this in Syracuse, New York. Grady’s health starts to seriously decline. He goes in & out of the hospital.
This volume ends by telling tells the story about how Aleister Crowley’s original manuscript of The Book of The Law is mysteriously found amongst garbage in a basement in Oakland, California. Also, Motta loses his lawsuit. The OTO files a counter lawsuit against him and wins. Israel Regardie dies. Grady’s own health is failing. He finally dies on July 12th 1985. His funeral is discussed, the poetry readings and where his ashes were scattered.
Dec. 2005, 230 pages