The Typhonian Order, previously known as the Typhonian Ordo Templi Orientis (TOTO), is a degree-based self-initiatory magical order based in the United Kingdom that focuses on magickal and typhonian concepts. It was originally led by British occultist Kenneth Grant and his partner Steffi Grant, and is now believed to be led by their deputy Michael Staley.
In 1920, Reuss suffered a stroke, leading Aleister Crowley to question his competence to continue as Outer Head of the Order. By 1921, Crowley and Reuss were exchanging angry letters, culminating in Reuss' expulsion of Crowley from O.T.O. Crowley then informed Reuss that he was proclaiming himself Outer Head of the Order. Reuss died in 1923 without naming a successor, and Crowley was subsequently elected and ratified as Outer Head of the Order in a Conference of Grand Masters in 1925.
World War II then intervened, destroying the European branches of O.T.O. and driving its members underground. Karl Germer was incarcerated by the Nazis. By the end of the war, the sole surviving O.T.O. organization was Agapé Lodge in California, where Germer moved after he was released from internment in 1941.
After Crowley's death, Germer was his unchallenged successor for some time, and recognized and endorsed Grant's status as a IX° (Ninth Degree) adept in 1948. However Grant later claimed that his assumption of the XI° (Eleventh Degree) was confirmed in 1946, presumably by Crowley, the same year that he was initiated into the A∴A∴, an associated Thelemic magical order created by Crowley in 1907 after leaving the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn.
In 1954, Grant began the work of founding the New Isis Lodge, which became operational in 1955 when Grant announced his discovery of a "Sirius/Set current" in a new manifesto upon which the lodge would be based. Karl Germer disliked this new manifesto so much that he expelled Grant from the O.T.O. Grant responded by declaring himself the Outer Head of the Order, assuming the XII° degree, and taking his supporters into schism against those still following Germer. Grant's group henceforth became informally known as the "Typhonian Ordo Templi Orientis," absorbing the New Isis Lodge in 1962, around the same time that Germer died without formally naming a successor as Head of O.T.O.
In Starfire II:3 (March 2009 but published "Winter Solstice MMVIII An 105") Michael Staley stated that the Typhonian O.T.O. had ceased to operate as an Order and that its functions and objectives had been taken over by the newly established Typhonian Order. Starfire itself, once self-described as "The Official Organ of the Typhonian O.T.O.", now declares itself to be "The Official Journal of the Typhonian Order".
Kenneth Grant's Typhonian Order
The Typhonian Order is among the most well-known Thelemic magical orders, primarily due to the publications of Kenneth Grant. In particular, it has influenced Dragon Rouge and was instrumental in the creation of Nema's Maat Magick movement.
While the group is known to still promote the Crowleyan Law of Thelema, it is said to also focus on exploration of foreign intelligence such as extraterrestrial life and daemons, and on the darker aspects of occult existence, like the Cthulhu Mythos of H.P. Lovecraft.
For example, Simon Hinton writes in The Typhonian Tradition:
"Some of you may have heard of the term praeter-human entity, and in the context of this discussion this phrase should be recognized as that which is beyond the human. In occult tradition it is accepted that there are spiritual beings in existence out of the general reaches of human manifestation, and therefore not subject to the same laws of space and time which operate on our dimension. History is replete with accounts of contact between such beings and humans. Examples which spring to mind are, Moses receiving the Ten commandments, the conversion of Saul on the road to Damascus, the seances of Dr John Dee and Sir Edward Kelly and Aleister Crowley's contact with Aiwass, Amalantrah and Abuldiz. Contact with such higher forces is usually considered to be beneficial, resulting in the communication of new knowledge and understanding."
"There is one particular praeter-human intelligence of note, which has come to be associated with the Typhonian Tradition in recent years, and that is the entity known as Lam. A portrait of Lam was drawn by Aleister Crowley around 1917 in New York...The drawing was given to Kenneth Grant in 1945, and its hypnotic image bears an uncannily strong resemblance to the E.T. representation we see in modern films, although it was painted years before this archetype was stylised."
It must be emphasized that the Typhonian Order does not appear to interpret its alleged contacts with praeter-human intelligences in an overly literal fashion. Rather, Lam and entities from the Cthulhu Mythos are conventions of a sort which enable humans to interact with "something non-human, from a human perspective." As Hinton says, "categorisations tend to collapse on examination," noting that "Nuclear physicists face a similar dilemma on the sub-atomic level, being unsure of whether quantum material should be defined as a particle or an energy wave."
In Concerning the Cult of Lam: The Dikpala of the Way of Silence, Grant himself writes:
"The Cult has been founded because very strong intimations have been received by Aossic Aiwass 718'.' (a reference to Grant using his magical name) to the effect that the portrait of Lam...(which was given to Grant by Crowley)...is the present focus of an extra-terrestrial--and perhaps--trans-plutonic--Energy which the O.T.O. is required to communicate at this critical period, for we have now entered the Eighties mentioned in The Book of the Law. It is Our aim to obtain some insight not only into the nature of Lam, but also into the possibilities of using the Egg as an astral space-capsule for traveling to Lam's domain, or for exploring the Tunnels of Set in intra-cosmic and chthonian capsules."
In summary, Hinton states, "The Typhonian Tradition should be seen then as the transforming effect of contact, with those forces that lie beyond human awareness. The purpose of this is to transform human consciousness by widening, deepening and enriching it."
Organizationally, it is believed that the Typhonian Order has shifted from a formal hierarchy to a less hierarchical structure. It is worth quoting Koenig at length to illustrate the organizational distinctions between Grant's Order and O.T.O.:
"The Typhonian O.T.O. functions as a cosmic network which does not operate through terrestrially based lodges, because its members are not - in a magical sense - centred on earth. Their zones of occult activity are located in spaces which both include and transcend astral levels of consciousness. The Typhonian O.T.O. is not, therefore, a corporate body in a mundane sense - it is controlled by inner-plane contacts focused today through a handful of individuals channelling currents outside the circles of time and space. Regarding Thelema, the Typhonian O.T.O. is considered to be the Machine, the A\A\ as the Operator.
There is no comparison to other O.T.O. versions, essentially because there are no group rituals or ceremonies of initiation at any stage of the degree structure. The basis of initiation is the assimilation of direct magical and mystical working. It follows that all initiation is in effect self-initiation. There is a small amount of set gradework in the Typhonian O.T.O. However, the emphasis is on the initiate charting his or her own course. There is of course the experience of others to draw upon."
- Koenig, "Ordo Templi Orientis--Introduction"
- Kaczynski, Richard. (2002). "Perdurabo, The Life of Aleister Crowley," pg. 332. New Falcon Publications ISBN 1-56184-170-6
- James R. Lewis Witchcraft Today, p. 217, ABC-CLIO, 1999 ISBN 978-1-57607-134-2
- Evans (2007), p. 66
- Koenig (Retrieved 2-15-2009)
- Koenig, "Kenneth Grant and the O.T.O."
- Simon Hinton, The Typhonian Tradition, pg.10.
- Simon Hinton, The Typhonian Tradition, pg. 9.
- Hinton, pg. 9.
- Koenig, "Typhonian Ordo Templi Orientis--Kenneth Grant--LAM."
- Hinton, pg. 10.
- Koenig, "Kenneth Grant, Concerning the Cult of Lam: The Dikpala of the Way of Silence, (London and Miami), Spring Equinox 1987."
- Hinton, pg 10.
- Evans, Dave (2007). Aleister Crowley and the 20th Century Synthesis of Magick. Hidden Press, Second Revised Edition. ISBN 978-0-9555237-2-4
- Koenig, P.R. (1991). Kenneth Grant and the Typhonian Ordo Templi Orientis.
- Koenig, P.R. (Retrieved 2-11-2009). Kenneth Grant: Outer Head of the Ordo Templi Orientis?.
- Meta Religion article
- P.R. Koenig, Kenneth Grant and the Typhonian O.T.O. The view of a skeptical outsider