Flying saucer mythology took hold in a big way in the 1950s, wrapped in gaudy pulp covers and flashed on movie screens. Jack Parsons, the CalTech rocket pioneer and high priest of the OTO's Agape Lodge in Pasadena - and one of the first Americans to report a UFO sighting - was addicted to science fiction. He regularly attended meetings of the L.A. Fantasy and Science Fiction Society, where in 1945 the black adept (he took "the Oath of the Anti-Christ" in 1949) met Lt. Commander L. Ron Hubbard, who made "alien" visitations an integral part of a religious doctrine he called Scientology.
OTO was founded between 1895 and 1900 by a pair of powerful Freemasons, Karl
Kellner and Theodor Reuss. Politically, the order was right-wing in the extreme,
proposing the creation of a pan-German world based on pagan spiritual beliefs.
Kellner died in 1905, and Reuss, a former spy for the Prussian Secret Service,
assumed the office of high caliph. While living in London, Reuss spied on German
socialist expatriates. In 1912 he made the acquaintance of Aleister Crowley
[pictured], and appointed him head of the OTO's British chapter. But The Beast's
political loyalties have always been an open question.
While living in the States, he wrote pro-German diatribes for two fascist publications, The Fatherland and The Internationalist. After WW II, there were calls for his head. But Crowley offered that his pro-German stance was a ruse of MI6, the military intelligence division in the UK. In 1912 he had informed the secret service of his correspondence with Reuss, the German spy. Throughout the '20s and '30s, Crowley gathered intelligence on European Communists, the Nazi movement and Germany's occult lodges. Crowley died in 1944, willing the copyright for his books and unpublished manuscripts to the OTO, and leadership of the order to Karl Germer, otherwise known as Frater Saturnus X., formerly Crowley's Legate in the U.S. Germer was born in Germany, served in WW I and was reportedly tossed in the prison by the Nazis for his involvement in Freemasonry. (Crowley believed Germer to be a Nazi spy, but admitted him to the OTO anyway. Typical.)
He settled after the war in Dublin, California and died on October 25, 1962 "under horrifying circumstances," according to his wife in a letter to Marcelo Matta, an OTO official in Brazil. She informed him that Germer, on his death bed, had insisted that Matta succeed him as the Outer Head of the occult order. But the mantle was not passed on to Karl Germer's chosen successor because the CIA orchestrated a coup. But not as an OTO spokesman tells it: "Recently the United States government has legalized our opinion.... [McMurty's] leadership of the Ordo Templi Orientis rests on several rather clear letters of authorization from Crowley himself. They met while McMurty was a young First Lieutenant during World War II. He had been admitted to the OTO in 1941 [by] Jack Parsons."
In fact, the choice of McMurty
was not entirely "clear." Matta's advocates insist the court decision
was based on the perjured testimony of McMurty and attorneys with CIA paymasters.
The cult's position on a successor is moot since, according to charters signed
on March 22, 1946 and April 11, 1946, The Beast of the Apocalypse had left it
to Germer to veto or amend his designation of a successor. As Matta saw it,
no one had a legitimate claim to the title but he. Unfortunately, Herr Germer
died during the period the CIA had chosen to move mind control experimentation
from academic and military labs into the community. An inner circle of Heironymous
scientists experimented on cult devotees, and sometimes collaborated in mass
murder to silence the subjects (Jonestown, SLA, Solar Temple). It was a sweet
arrangement. Occult societies are secretive and often highly irrational. They
follow a leader. They exist on the edge of a society that ignores them because
weird religious rhetoric is obnoxious.
A number of intelligence agents with occult interests already had their hooks into the OTO. One of them was Gerald Yorke, a veteran British intelligence agent working, an advocate of Matta argues, "with American intelligence in an attempt to absorb the OTO into the ideological warfare network of the political right." Before the horns of Thelemite succession were bestowed upon Grady McMurty, Yorke the prelate spy "misinterpreted" Germer's will and named Joseph Metzger, a ranking Thelemite (and the son of a former Swiss intelligence chief), to the office of high caliph. One order adept, Oskar Schlag, was an alleged "psychological warfare" specialist from Israel. Even McMurty (with his degree in political science) was a State Department bureaucrat the day Herr Germer died. The coup was sealed while Marcelo Matta, a writer for Brazilian television, fended off operatives of the CIA bent on destroying his sanity and leaving him financially crippled. It was a ritual that subjects of mind control conditioning would come to know well. Strangers approached his friends and filled their ears with lurid stories of debauchery. He was suddenly unable to find work. His mail was opened. Matta took a job teaching English, studied self-defense. "He had begun to doubt his sanity," the advocate says. "He constantly suspected people who approached him. He saw in himself all the clinical symptoms of paranoia."
The Wicked King Wicker
A letter from "Son of Sam" David Berkowitz to the
New York Daily News. Herein, several allusions are made to pan-German pagant;Son of Sam" David Berkowitz to the
New York Daily News. Herein, several allusions are made to pan-German pagan spiritual beliefs. The Wicked King Wicker alludes to the Druid Wicker man set aflame during the celebration of Samhain, the Celtic Lord of the Dead. The Wicker man was a hollow effigy filled with sacrificial victims and then set aflame. The "Son of Sam" alludes to Samhain.
After a few years of harassment
and squabbling over the leadership of the OTO, Motta came to the realization
that the McMurty junta and "the American 'intelligence' network behind
them had a worry, and a pressing one; Motta's proposed 'New Manifesto' [did]
not mention ... Grady at all. Since their purpose was to create an American
'intelligence' tool at the expense of a religious organization, it was necessary
to either bring Motta to concede Grady further authority or to discredit Motta
completely." They did what they wilt. In 1967 Germer's entire occult library
and manuscripts were stolen from the home of his widow. Without the royalties
these brought in, Mrs. Germer was destitute and literally starved to death.
Matta was cast out of the OTO. Trouble brewed in the cult's cauldron. At least
one Cotton Club killer passed through. The OTO's Solar Lodge in San Bernardino
was founded by Maury McCauley, a mortician, on his own property. McCauley was
married to Barbara Newman, a former model and the daughter of a retired Air
Force colonel from Vandenberg. The group subscribed to a grim, apocalyptic view
of the world precipitated by race wars, and the prophecy made a lasting impression
on Charles Manson, who passed through the lodge.
In the L.A. underworld, the OTO spin-off was known for indulgence in sadomasochism, drug dealing, blood drinking, child molestation and murder. The Riverside OTO, like the Manson Family, used drugs, sex, psycho-drama and fear to tear down the mind of the initiate and rebuild it according to the desires of the cult's inner-circle.
On the East Coast, a series of murders created an atmosphere of fear in New York City. Before the world had ever heard of Son of Sam, an obscure Vietnam vet named David Berkowitz moved into an apartment on Pine Street, a rotting gantlet of hovels in Yonkers. Like much of the bloodshed for which he is known, Berkowitz did not make the decision to live on Pine Street. Key decisions in his life were made by the leaders of a religious group based in Westchester, a hybrid of OTO members and acolytes from the Process Church of the Final Judgment. Members of the cult mingled with others in Manhattan and Brooklyn, and had contact with similar groups across the country. The leader of the Westchester "family" was a real estate attorney with a practice in White Plains. He was active in local politics. Balding, lean with years, he directed Berkowitz and his "brothers" to kill in the name of an old cause. The group's meeting place was an abandoned church, a decrepit hulk on the grounds of the abandoned Warburg-Rothschild estate. The church, partially eaten by fire, was the group's "eastern Headquarters." Most of the pews had been removed from the church long ago. On one wall was hung a large silver pentagram, festooned with silver insets in the shape of Waffen SS lightning bolts.