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Keeping order



This is the home of the Sekhet Bast Ra Oasis, the local chapter of the Ordo Templi Orientis religious fraternal order.

Not familiar with the OTO? You’re not alone. While its heyday was the 1910s, the order’s Oklahoma City chapter—called an “Oasis”—has been around since 1984. The chapter’s administrator — or “body master” — said he began it to provide an outlet for people seeking a different kind of spiritual enlightenment.

“I had always been interested in the occult and alternate religious traditions, even though I started off as a ‘good little Christian boy,’” said the body master, David, who asked that his last name not be used. “In the back of my mind, I knew I needed something else.”

David looked into Buddhism, Wicca and New Age beliefs. But then he began to read about the OTO’s most famous leader, Aleister Crowley.

“Ever since I heard that name, he always had a grip on me,” said David.

“I decided I need to go experience a Gnostic Mass, and I found Sekhet Bast Ra. At first, I thought it was the strangest thing I’d ever seen in my life, but I wanted to go back.”

Founded in Germany by Karl Kellner and Theodor Reuss, the secret society gained most of its prominence early in the 20th century, when Crowley, dubbed by the press as the “wickedest man in the world,” took the order to newfound worldwide fame. Although he was widely demonized, his work and rituals transformed the order into what it is today, with the Law of Thelema — “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law” — the OTO’s guiding principle.

According to David, however, this isn’t an excuse to go wild. Quite the opposite, actually.

“It never implies, at least to me, ‘Do whatever you want.’ The true will — some people might say is destiny, some might say fate, but I think it’s more than that — is what you are here to do. There are people who are following their true will without even knowing about Thelema. It’s a guideline that anyone can follow to [become] a better person.”

And while one might think an occult organization in the Bible Belt would have difficulty thriving, local OTO members believe that “Oasis” is more than just a title.

“In this area of the state, the big majority of people are conservative Christian, and people who aren’t into that, they might see this area as a desert,” David said. “But we’re one little oasis right here, so we’re available for those people who would like to commune with others of their kind, or close to their kind. We’re just one of many ways for people to find their true will, but the ultimate goal is to come in contact with the divine and become better human beings.”

Membership is open to the public.

David suggested that people who are interested first attend a Gnostic Mass to see what it’s all about. But if a person does join, he warns, he or she had better be prepared to put in the “work.”

“There’s something in occult terms called ‘the Great Work,’which is to make the most out of their potential, not just mentally and emotionally, but spiritually,” David said. “There is so much more to us here than we perceive, and this is a way to help us become the greatest we can be in this lifetime. We try to bring that out in ourselves and each other. We’re attempting to help human beings become the best they can be on a spiritual level, and that takes work, but it’s worth it.”

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