Our A.’.A.’. branch has an undisputed direct link going back from student to student to Aleister Crowley
Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law. – AL I:40
(March 21, 1875 – March 29, 1958)
Joined A.’. A.’. on June 11, 1921 – Soror Estai
(June 18, 1917 – May 31, 2004)
Joined A.’.A.’. on June 3rd, 1940 — Soror Meral
GRADY LOUIS McMURTRY
(October 18, 1918 – July 12th, 1985)
Joined A.’.A.’. on March 22nd, 1970
— Frater Hymenaeus Alpha 777
Frater Hymenaeus Alpha 777
(October 18, 1918 – July 12th 1985)
J. EDWARD CORNELIUS (July 14th, 1951 – )
Joined A.’.A.’. on July 25th, 1979
— Frater Verite Sans Puer 697 (aka Achad Osher 583)
Frater Hymenaeus Gamma 267
(July 14th, 1951 – )
LOVE’S SAKE CLERK HOUSE
Chartered : March 22nd, 1990
The History Behind Grady McMurtry’s lineage
Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law. – AL I:40
It is rather shameful how some lineages within the A.’.A.’. enjoy hiding in shadows while creating a mythic historical perspective of themselves in order to prove some fictitious tie to our noble Order rather than simply proving that they have made the connections by merit. Grady McMurtry’s A.’.A.’. lineage, on the other hand, has absolutely nothing to conceal or hide. We strongly believe that Mystery is the enemy of Truth. With that in mind, quite recently I was requested to elucidate upon our history in a brief genealogical manner.
First, our A.’.A.’. lineage traces itself in an unbroken chain back to Aleister Crowley through Jane Wolfe; a member of the original Agape Lodge OTO in Los Angeles. She was born on March 21, 1875 in Petersburg, Pennsylvania. She was a silent film star who had appeared in well over fifty Hollywood movies but is probably most famous for playing Mary Picford’s mother in Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm (1917). In June of 1920 she left New York destined for Cefalu to join Aleister Crowley’s commune known as the Abbey of Thelema. She arrived there the following month. On June 11, 1921 She was admitted as an A.’.A.’. Probationer. Her admitting Superior was Aleister Crowley. She became known as Soror Estai. On September 7, 1953 Karl Germer officially closed Agape Lodge in southern California and the O.T.O. for all practical purposes, no longer had an officially Chartered meeting place in the United States; the last Lodge Master was Jane Wolfe. On March 29, 1958 at 12:20pm Jane Wolfe died in Southern California “from sheer exhaustion.”
Jane Wolfe’s immediate student was Phyllis Seckler. She was born on June 18, 1917 in Edmonton, Canada. She took Minerval Degree into Ordo Templi Orientis at Agape Lodge on August 26th in 1939. On June 3, 1940 she took the A.’.A.’. degree of Probationer 0=0, assuming the magical motto Tenax Propositi, she later took the name Meral. On the morning of July 1, 1952 she attained to the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel, that attainment, or consequence, which marks the Adeptus Minor Grade, 5=6, of the A.’.A.’., the full initiate of the Sephirah Tiphereth. She shared her results with Karl Germer who acknowledged the attainment in a letter to her dated July of 1952. He wrote, Phyllis you have “risen to or above Tiphereth where the voice of the Secret Chiefs is gradually taking over and begins to speak to your soul.” Phyllis Seckler celebrated her Greater Feast on May 31, 2004.
Phyllis Seckler’s first A.’.A.’. Probationer was Grady Louis McMurtry, or Frater Hymenaeus Alpha 777. He took the Oath of March 22nd 1970. Grady was born on October 18, 1918 in Big Cabin, Oklahoma, which is a little town located in the northeast corner of the state about fifty miles outside of Tulsa. He was a close friend of Jack Parsons, who introduced Grady to the writings of Aleister Crowley. He, along with his wife Claire “Tommie” Halleck Palmer took Minerval and First Degree Initiation into Aleister Crowley’s Ordo Templi Orientis at Agape Lodge on June 13th, 1941. Grady served in World War II and while stationed in England prior to D-Day he met Aleister Crowley who not only made him a IXth degree initiate but also gave to him his magickal motto: ‘Hymenaeus Alpha.’ In August of 1944 Aleister Crowley sent Grady the first of the infamous Caliphate letters. Crowley felt that if he was the prophet of the New Aeon, of Thelema, as Mohammed was to Islam, then the title ‘Caliph’ fits quite nicely to designate the spiritual aspect of descent while the position of OHO represented the material. Whether or not these two positions could be held by one person was something which Crowley had yet to theoretically work out but he honestly believed that they could.
Yet the full implications of Grady’s magickal motto has rarely been understood, or even told to the public. In a letter to Phyllis Seckler, dated January 28th, 1969, Grady states that Crowley gave him the number 777 to signify his belief that he was his magickal if not “adopted son.” In the same letter, Grady typed a question, asking; “why didn’t he publicly say so?” He answers this himself saying that he believes the answer to that is found in Crowley’s November 21st, 1943 letter in which the Beast laments, “It has been hell; so many have come up with amazing promise, only to go on the rocks.” The reference is to the failure of such promising students as Frater Achad (C. S. Jones) and Norman Mudd. Grady admits that Crowley knew that in “the ordinary course of events, finding a student, training, schooling him, had not produced the heir.” Grady adds, that in the past, Crowley’s proclaiming the son, “may have even have prevented it by letting loose Goetic forces that destroyed the ‘crown prince’.” Grady uses the ancient Chinese parable of the Grandmother who, “when confronted with some idiot complimenting her on the beauty of her latest grandchild, immediately throws the demons off the scent by proclaiming loudly how ugly it is, how deformed, how poor in appearance, etc., for she knows, from ancient wisdom, that the maleficent forces only attack the rare, the good, and the beautiful, for why should they attack that which is already ugly, deformed and of no value?”
How did Crowley learn to circumvent this problem? Grady claims, that in his “opinion, he [Crowley] adopted the role of indirection.” Further adding that this explains why Crowley told him, “he could not establish the order of the Caliphate.” In his November 21st letter Aleister Crowley has a ‘note’ at the very end where he acknowledges the “Caliphate is not mine” followed by the quote of John Bunyan’s, “My Sword to him that can get it” and then adding, that “everyone can make him – or herself – of Presidential Timber.” … In other words, as Grady would put it, Crowley “simply left it open ended. I had certain advantages. If I could establish myself in the order of succession, fine and good.” … But Grady felt that Crowley did not want “to blast my chances, and possibly me, by holding forth his hand [to acknowledge Grady as his son, 777] because he knew by then, from very sad experience, what frightening, and unknown, forces could be set in motion simply by the holding forth his hand.” In other words, “He could help an individual create certain possibilities, but he could not complete those possibilities. That was up to the individual involved.” He merely wanted to plant the ‘magickal seed’ of 777 in order to let it grow. … Grady would acknowledge this belief by writing that Crowley had “actually, accepted me as his magical son, but felt that, for various reasons, it would be best not to say so at the time …. I think that he did, on pronouncing my number to be 777, accepted me as the magical son he had been talking to when he wrote LIBER ALEPH.” Crowley originally wrote this book for Frater Achad in 1918. Unfortunately, Achad failed him as his magickal heir, or son. Throughout his life, Grady would be torn between trying to live up to Crowley’s view of placing no importance on 777 while, at the same time, grooming his tree to stand tall in order to fulfill a prophecy.
Approximately one month after taking the Oath of a Probationer, or on April 24th 1970, Grady swore the Oath of the Abyss and would inevitably become a Magister Templi 8=3. However, by May of 1979, partially due to a bitter separation and divorce, Phyllis Seckler and Grady Louis McMurtry went their own separate ways on all planes and, in effect, creating two distinct lineages of the A.’.A.’..
Two months later, on July 25th, 1979, I took the Oath of a Probationer 0=0 and became part of Grady Louis McMurtry’s lineage in the AA. In April of 1980 Grady sent me a copy of a pamphlet of Crowley’s 777 that he had just released. In this he inscribed the following words – “Jerry, Here’s to a Bear for Work!” The bear was his favorite animal archetypal motif; it would also become my Neophyte motto, or Frater Ursus. When he was visiting me in Connecticut, although the copy had been sent out to many individuals, he told me never to take mine lightly. He told me “there was a secret that someday I’d discover about.” … I’d spend years trying to figure out where inside this pamphlet was my ‘special’ personal message, I never would, until one day I realized the obvious but this is another story. … I rose up within the Order and inevitably swore the Oath of an Adeptus Minor of 5=6 on July 29th, 1982. … Less than two years later, on April 22nd, 1984, I would swear the Oath of the Abyss while in the presence of Grady Louis McMurtry in Syracuse, New York and I too would become a Magister Templi 8=3. When I was leaving Syracuse, heading back to Connecticut, Grady excused himself, while asking me to wait a second. He disappeared into the bedroom and returned with his personal copy of The Book of Thoth, the 1969 Shambhala Press edition. Upon handing it to me he said, “Someday, that’ll mean something to you.” It was like a Chinese parable. On the ride home Luis Alvarado and I noticed that this particular book was a numbered edition and this copy was No.777. It was reminiscent of Grady sending me a copy of a pamphlet of Crowley’s 777. Inevitably I would realized that the pamphlet itself was not as important as the ‘title.’ Grady was trying telling me something all along, or dare I say he was planting a seed and like Crowley, he had “adopted the role of indirection.” – he had handed me a sword, hoping someday that I might grab it.
Sadly, on July 12th of 1985, Grady Louis McMurtry died in his hospital bed at Brookside Hospital in San Pablo, California. He was sixty-six years old. Although there were others, the most notable and vocal in Grady’s A.’.A.’. lineage were J. Edward Cornelius, James T. Graeb and William E. Heidrick … a Magister Templi 8=3, a Neophyte 1=10 and a Probationer 0=0.
Further tragedy struck in the fall of 1985. Shortly after his election to become the next leader of the Ordo Templi Orientis, Frater Hymenaeus Beta removed the office of the Caliphate from the Order. It was openly proclaimed at the time that the title of ‘Caliph’ was something that Aleister Crowley created for Grady McMurtry himself, and for no one else. By the spring of 1986 it had become apparent to everyone that the Caliphate was no more.
As promised to Grady McMurtry, I would seek to complete the tasks of Adeptus Major 6=5 and Adeptus Exemptus 7=4 before outwardly proclaiming anything regarding my A.’.A.’. degree of Magister Templi. Beginning in 1984 my entire energy had become focused in this direction. I finally fulfilled the first task on May 10th, 1987 and the second on January 26th, 1988. I then completed his Magickal Thesis on February 16th, 1988. Sadly, by this point in time, Grady McMurtry’s lineage was all but scattered due to neglect.
On April 22nd, 1990 I established the first A.’.A.’. Clerk House in Oakland California and I called it Love’s Sake [after Liber AL vel Legis I:29].
After working the original structure for almost fifteen years, Grady McMurtry’s lineage of the A.’.A.’. began restructuring itself around 1993 in order to conform more around ‘Clerk Houses’ as an outer extension of the Inner Order. We felt that it was ludicrous for anyone to think that what Aleister Crowley attempted to establish around 1909 must be adhered to by the letter for the rest of this Aeon. Change, we believed, implied stability. However, at this point, we still adhered strongly to the curriculum of Magickal Degrees on the Qabalistic Tree of Life.
The next important event in Grady McMurtry’s lineage occurred on July 14th, 1993. After years of seeing no one “grab the sword,” as Crowley once put it to Grady McMurtry in regards to ‘obtaining’ the Caliphate, I officially took the mantel upon myself. Back in April of 1984 Grady McMurtry had indirectly informed me that this might someday be my fortune and I now believed the time was at hand. I also took on the magickal motto — Frater Hymenaeus Gamma. With that in mind, I have successfully run the Caliphate within Grady McMurtry’s A.’.A.’. lineage for almost fourteen ten years.
By the mid-nineties it was becoming obvious that branches of the A.’.A.’. throughout the world, as structured by Aleister Crowley, were in total turmoil. Many were fighting, stamping their feet like little children and claiming that they and they alone, were the only true A.’.A.’.. Pettiness vomited from the spiritual elite. This is when I had many a marathon discussions with other members of Grady McMurtry’s lineage throughout the world as they looked for a viable solution to the growing fraternal problems of the Order. We looked within Liber AL vel Legis for a resolution rather than within A.’.A.’. literature written over ninety years earlier. They came to realize that what Aleister Crowley founded was an Old Aeonic fraternity. No where in Liber AL vel Legis does it mention that they must adhere to Crowley’s ten degree structure of the A.’.A.’.. In fact, quite to the contrary, Liber AL vel Legis informed them: “Abrogate are all rituals, all ordeals, all words and signs.” (AL I:49) It also clearly stated:
AL I:40 – Who call us Thelemites will do no wrong, if he look but close into the word.
For there are therein Three Grades, the Hermit, and the Lover, and the man of Earth
We realized that this line was not followed by – “and you must correlate these three grades of a Thelemite to the ten degree system used in the Old Aeon.” … However, we never advocated the total abandonment of the Tree of the Life structure, we simply said that we were no longer to be adhered to the letter as a means of interpreting an individual’s spirituality or growth in their branch. We would use only Liber AL vel Legis. By the Spring of 1998 Grady McMurtry’s A.’.A.’. had totally restructured itself to conform with the principles found in Liber AL vel Legis. By November the Lineage had issued a series of Four Epistles which laid out who we were and how and why we decided to change. These Epistles were called Of Causes Why.
On Monday December 20th, 1998, Sun in Sagittarius, Moon in Capricorn. Frater ZLA 282 established the second ‘macrocosmic’ Clerk House, this being in Oakland, California. He named it The Throne of the Double Wanded-One Clerk House [after Liber AL vel Legis III:34].
Throughout 1989, 1999 and into the next year, J. Edward Cornelius wrote many open letters, or Epistles, to explain the changes in Grady McMurtry’s lineage more clearly to its membership. The most notable series being ‘The Magickal Essence of Aleister Crowley’, ‘Understanding Our Branch of the Tree.’ The latter contained such writings as: An Open Epistle on the Birth of the AA, An Open Epistle on Lineages of the AA and An Open Epistle on Changes Within our Branch of the AA and An Open Epistle on Our Hierophantic Tasks. Then, in October of 1999, ‘The Magickal Essence of Aleister Crowley’ series of lessons was released to the public as Red Flame No.7. … As for J. Edward Cornelius, he wrote many other Epistles during this period. Over the next few years Grady McMurtry’s A.’.A.’. lineage grew and grew, being constantly willing to examine itself and change; believing nothing was carved in stone.
On January 20th, 2000 J. Edward Cornelius assumed the Grade of Magus 9=2.
Love is the law, love under will. – AL I:57