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One take on the OTO UK trademark case

By Psyche | July 2, 2008 | Print This Post | E-mail This Post | 4 Comments

Mogg Morgan, of the occult publishing house Mandrake of Oxford, has generously allowed me to reprint his take on this case which originally appeared in issue no. 214 of the publisher’s online newsletter, Mandrake Speaks.

For those of you who missed it then you may be interested to know that the various incarnations of the O[rdo] T[empli] O[rientis] have been again skirmishing in the UK courts, one (the Caliphate) having just succeeded in establishing a OTO religious symbol (The Rose Cross Lamen) as a UK trademark; as well as the initials OTO. The other, (the Typhonian) had un-successfully opposed this. I’ve not seen the actual court ruling, just various press releases, which naturally enough tend to spin in favour of this or that organisation. For the record, let me say, that IMO, there are indeed several OTO organisations and neither of them is spurious, although some, such as the Caliphate, seem to be newer, more brash players on the scene. Aleister Crowley died in 1947 leaving his particular dispensation to Karl Germer, who on his death bed and knowing all of the candidates – plumped for Marcello Motta’s (Societas) OTO. Again naturally enough – this is disputed by some – who point out that the only witness to Germer’s last will and testament, was his wife, and she was after all “just a woman and not even a member”.

I should say that I was a sometime member of Kenneth Grant’s OTO, and was expelled for reasons not too relevant here, although I still regard myself as a Typhonian. So I have some sympathy for their refusal to lay down and die. I suspect that justice is never blind, but takes into account the relative size of competing organisations and that as the Caliphate was the bigger, richer organisation, it might have had more clout with the legal officers. But there again, when has the law ever been the friend of secret societies? Caliphate types are already swaggering that they are now the only one, but few reasonable people will agree. I read their press release on what appears to be a Caliphate friendly site, and a comment appended by a “Rodney”, reveals part of their motivation is to “lessen the confusion many new people feel when they enter the world of Thelema…” Which I interpret as meaning that the world needs just one view of Thelema. As a pagan, I’m very nervous of attempts to block and negate other approaches to magick and enlightenment. So “Rodney” (whoever he might be)1 now thinks its safe to “assume . . . that there will only be one Order calling itself O.T.O. in future.” Well that would truly be a shame but there again, I really doubt it somehow.

The Caliphate press release ends with the very encouraging remarks that they will “continue — now with fewer distractions — [their] publications program.” Which includes the completely restored “Confessions” . Which is to say – the Caliphate is currently engaged in a programme of re-editing various Crowley works and at the same time suppressing what it sees as aberrant approaches to the “master”. Bit of a shame I think. For me, Symonds and Grant’s edition of “Liber ABA” is a handy little volume and the Caliphate’s new “unabridged” version, the so-called “blue brick”, is no great improvement. But there again, I’d say there is room for both. But in the interests of “avoiding confusion” – that cannot be allowed. After all, one person’s “diversity ” is another’s “confusion”. Adding deleted scenes, and “footnote fodder” has it place, but is it really that important? Roll on the expiration of the Crowley copyright – just a few more years “my people”. [Mogg]

The official press release from the OTO is available on the website in their News section and on’s front page, and the decision is available here.

I’m not a member of the OTO, and I’m not familiar with the full background of the case, but it seems unlikely this will deter splinter groups from forming or from using variations on the name (it hasn’t worked very well for the Golden Dawn, for example).

Overall it seems sort of petty and besides the point.  Limiting the availability of text and material tends to hinder more than it helps.  (See Siva Vaidhyanathan’s The Anarchist in the Library: How the Clash Between Freedom and Control Is Hacking the Real World and Crashing the System for a lucid perspective on anarchistic information systems versus oligarchic.)

For more on this, also see coverage by The Wild Hunt, a Pagan blog.


  1. Editor’s note: “Rodney” is Rodney Orpheus, author of Abrahadabra: Understanding Aleister Crowley’s Thelemic Magick. [back]

Psyche is the editor of and the curator for the occult resource, Psyche also operates a tarot consultation business, Psyche Tarot. She has been published in The Cauldron, Konton, Tarot World Magazine, among other magazines, and her essay “Strategic Magick” appeared in Manifesting Prosperity (Megalithica, 2008).

Psyche's website is


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  3. [...] « News: One take on the OTO UK trademark case redesigned [...]

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  4. [...] posted2 Mogg Morgan’s take on the British OTO trademark case in July.3 Read more in the post titled “OTO Matters” which reprints the original [...]

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