Ecclesia Gnostica Heterodoxa
The following information is from the website of The Thelemic Order. Please visit TTO’s website for more information on the TTO membership in general.
The concept of a modern Gnostic Church dates to 19th century France, most specifically to Jules Doinel and the Martinist Order. The Latinization dates either to Bricaud about 1906 or Crowley in 1913. We have maintained it because we feel it communicates tradition and origin better than an Anglicization; however, both terms may be used.
We chose to use the term “Heterodox” meaning the opposite of “Orthodox” in order to emphasize the eclectic and living nature of the EGH. Heterodox has no perfect equivalent in English, as “unorthodox” has a different connotation, and “nonconformist” relates to a specific group of English, Protestant, and Christian churches. Throughout the classical era and the middle ages many Greek and other terms were Latinized, and there is ample precedent for “heterodoxa” as a Latinization of Ετερoδοξή.
The Function of EGH
As The Thelemic Order exists to provide a community in order that its members may pursue a path of personal development, the EGH focuses specifically on offering guidance in finding a personal spiritual path. The EGH recognizes that a shared environment, guidance, and mentorship may be useful for personal exploration.
The EGH makes no claim to be the One Gnostic and Catholic Church of Light, Life, Love and Liberty, nor the sole heir to the true church of old time. The EGH is a focused Spiritual Path within the Thelemic Order. From an administrative perspective participation in the EGH is not necessary to grow and learn within the Thelemic Order. Various individuals and authorities within the organization may have different opinions on the centrality or importance of the Thelemic Mass, and the EGH, however there is no official stance within the Order General. Advancement within the Initiatory Branch is not tied to advancement within the EGH.
The EGH makes no claim to be the One Gnostic and Catholic Church of Light, Life, Love and Liberty; nor the sole heir to the true church of old time.
Articles of Understanding
In most religious organizations these would be considered “articles of faith,” or “articles of belief.” We view these as shared understandings. It is possible to be a member of the Clergy and not agree with all of the understandings. We expect that, at core, you have a shared appreciation for the fundamental principles and are generally in harmony with the Articles.
We do not deny that it is possible to be a Thelemite and fail to accept many or all of our Articles of Understanding. These are guidelines for us to form a Thelemic Community.
Seven Sacraments of the EGH
Superstition & Fear
It is a sad reality that to this day parents, guardians, and family members still adhere to the archaic Old Aeon practice of Baptizing infants, children, and others who have not yet reached an age of reason where they are free to exercise their own cognitive functions and decide for themselves if they are prepared to take on the responsibilities and bonds of Baptism in the religion of their families or the society into which they were born. This practice stems from centuries of superstition and a fear instilled into new parents by hierarchical power structures that if they do not swiftly join their newly born child to the bonds of their Church that the innocent life will be bound to eternal suffering if the worst should occur and the veil of life fall from the eyes of the little one.
Spiritual & Physical Consent
The Ecclesia Gnostica Heterodoxa firmly rejects the belief that any free individual should be bound to that which they do not fully accept nor fully understand, and therefore it brings us great Joy to offer those individuals who wish to unjoin themselves from and renounce beliefs, spiritual, or magickal claims which may have been imposed upon them unjustly in the past. Baptism should be a celebration of the acceptance of a new path in life. It should not be a symbol of a burden placed upon an individual against their will or without them possessing full understanding of to what they are joining themselves. Consent ought to be placed at the forefront of spiritual, magickal, and religious practices; and by so doing the fruits of such endeavors shall be made sweeter than honey.
A Sacrament for All
The Sacrament of Unbaptism is not reserved just for those who, as children, found themselves bound to that which they themselves did not – or grew to not – accept as true for their spiritual path. Adults often face social pressure, manipulation, or pervious ignorance which leads one to accepting a spiritual or magickal system that they later determine was not the direction they are to follow in this incarnation. Therefore, we wholeheartedly affirm that an adult may benefit from this Sacrament for spiritual, magickal, and religious decisions they made themselves as well as for those forced upon them before they attained the age of reason.
A Thelemic Spiritual Rebirth
Baptism in the Ecclesia Gnostica Heterodoxa represents symbolic birth into the Church and Thelemic Community. As Thelemites we believe that “Every man and every woman is a star”. This affirms the free, self-governing, and divine spark which is within all incarnated beings. The Sacrament of Baptism offers the opportunity to claim this birthright in a sacred context. Through the Sacrament you are symbolically taking your place alongside others who have also heeded the call of Our Lady Nuit: “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.”
All are Welcome
The celebration of the Sacrament of Baptism of Wisdom may be administered at any time by the request of the individual to receive the Sacrament. In fact, unlike some Churches, the Sacrament may be administered more than once as a response to the inner life of the individual as they further come to experience the light of Gnosis within as they walk the Path. The Sacrament of Baptism may be bestowed on any and all who wish it, and shall be administered freely regardless of any status as a Communicant within the EGH or the acceptance of the Understandings.
Regarding Baptism of Minors
From the Handbook of the Thelemic Order
Baptism of any persons under 18 years of age or the local age of majority in the US, or under the local age of majority in other jurisdictions, requires prior or contemporaneous written permission of the custodial parent(s) or legal guardian(s).
We do not support Baptism or Confirmation of individuals who are not able to share the Understandings of the Order. The age for this is subjective and may vary on a case by case basis. As it cannot be accomplished without the permission of the custodial parent(s) or legal guardian(s), we recommend a sincere three-way conversation between the minor, custodial parent(s) or legal guardian(s), and Ordained Clergy, in order to determine to the satisfaction of the Ordained Clergy member that the minor shares in our Understandings.
No member of the Ordained Clergy is ever obliged to Baptize or Confirm a minor.
Acknowledging the Bond
The Sacrament of Confirmation is freely and enthusiastically offered by our Ordained Clergy to any individual who finds themselves in Principle Harmony with the Understandings of the Thelemic Order and the Ecclessia Gnostica Heterodoxa. This is a personal Sacrament which recognizes and affirms a spiritual and intellectual kinship with other members of the Church. It is an outward expression of an inward decision by the individual to be Confirmed that they wish to join themselves with the EGH.
Accepting Membership in EGH
The Sacrament of Confirmation confers Lay Membership in the Ecclessia Gnostica Heterodoxa to the individual receiving the Sacrament. The Sacrament of Confirmation is seen as the central informed act of profession of acceptance of the Law of Thelema. Acceptance of the Law carries a duty and responsibility to both live by and promulgate – each in their own fashion – the Law of Thelema foremost and principally by example in their own lives. The Sacrament of Confirmation is an expression of being in harmony with Siblings within the EGH and an intention to be a co-communicant with them.
Robed and Ready
As a sign of your acceptance of membership in the Body of the Ecclesia Gnostica Heterodoxa we at Valley of Wada Lodge ask that you present yourself at the Rite of Confirmation with a plain white robe, the style of which you are free to choose based on your own personal choice of expression. When you attend Mass in the future you will wear this robe as a sign and reminder of your being in Principle Harmony with the Understandings and to draw forth the memory of why you chose to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation. It will be a further expression of the bond you now share with your Siblings in the one body of the Ecclessia Gnostica Heterodoxa.
If you require assistance making, purchasing, or otherwise acquiring your Confirmation garment please do not hesitate to reach out to an Ordained member of the Clergy or a Lodge Officer and they will be more than happy to work with you to find a good fit for your Confirmation. We would never want the lack of a symbolic garment to keep an individual from receiving this most momentous Sacrament.
A Universal Communion
Communion is a powerful opportunity to spiritually unite oneself with their siblings and the Universe. We readily and warmly invite any and all individuals who feel it is their Will to Communicate with us through the Eucharist of the Mass to attend any of our daily or weekend Masses. The Sacrament of Communion is not reserved just for Baptized or Confirmed members of the Church either. All are welcome to Commune if they feel called to do so.
It is the nature of the Ecclesia Gnostica Heterodoxa that the range of what can be used as a host is wide provided that the nature of the host is fully disclosed and subject to informed consent. As might be expected in a heterodox Church there is more concern with making everyone aware than with regulating any specific process. You will never be expected to participate in the Mass if you do not feel comfortable partaking in the Host offered in that particular Mass.
There are any number of reasons that an individual may be unable to partake in the Host as it is being offered at a Mass, and we work to be as accommodating as possible so that these individuals may Communicate with their siblings as often as they feel called to do so. You are in no way expected to disclose your reason for requesting any of the following alternatives to the Host scheduled to be offered that day at Mass.
To ensure that nobody is left out because they are, for some reason, unable to partake in the Host offered we will have available for request at all of our Eucharistic Masses the following substitutions:
* Gluten Free Alternatives and a method of ensuring no cross-contamination.
* Non-Alcoholic alternatives to wine for those under legal drinking age, those who are pregnant, or who otherwise choose not to drink wine. We will offer the following two alternatives: Grape Juice or Water
* A non-charged communion wafer similar to that which is used by other Churches.
A Private Sacrament
The Sacrament of Attainment is not one that is to be administered by another but is instead experienced deep within the self. It is profoundly personal experience and can never be bestowed by an external individual. It could be referred to as the “unspeakable” sacrament as even the words which are used for this Sacrament are an approximation. It might be, by some, equated to the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel, discovery of one’s True Will, etc. The Sacrament embraces also many similar and universal concepts, in whatever terms or cultural paradigm they are to be expressed.
A Personal Celebration
Because this Sacrament is experienced by an individual alone it is not celebrated in an Official Capacity; however, an individual may freely ask for the participation of the Clergy in arranging for a Feasting or other celebration of the individual’s experience of this Sacrament as they will – be that to share the occasion with Siblings, family, the Church community, or any other manifestation of this momentous spiritual occasion.
Because it is entirely possible that this Sacrament may not be a single act or incident it is perfectly permissible and possible for an individual to arrange more than one celebration of this type. If you are interested in working with our Ordained Clergy to celebration your Sacrament of Attainment please reach out to our Clergy or a Lodge Officer and we will work with you to develop a fitting expression of your Attainment that reflects the profoundly personal nature of this Sacrament.
A Union of Individuals
The Sacrament of Union, Matrimony, or Marriage is a shared ceremony between two or more individuals. The Ecclesia Gnostica Heterodoxa makes no assumption to the number of individuals who may choose to enter into Union with one another, and therefore couples and partnerships of all sizes, sex and gender composition, and sexual orientation are welcome to receive this Sacrament from an Ordained Clergy member of the EGH.
There is also no assumption or requirement of membership within the EGH, status as a Baptized or Confirmed member of the Church, or other arbitrary restriction placed upon who may receive this Sacrament. The Sacrament of Union may be bestowed on any who wish it, freely, whether or not that are a Communicant within the EGH. There shall be no limitation on which individuals, or in which patterns, they may be conjoined; nor shall there be any restriction upon what shall constitute an individual. All are truly welcome here.
Devising a Personal Ceremony
While our Ordained Clergy are more than prepared to present potential couples or partnerships with a few ceremonies to choose from by which they can celebrate their Union we also readily welcome personally constructed rituals or ceremonies designed by the couple or partnership as well as those from any various tradition, origin, etc. We will make no discrimination upon the nature of this Sacrament as long as the ceremonies are not in violation of our policies on Consent and Safety and our Ordained Clergy are comfortable performing the Ceremony.
You are also free to contact our Ordained Clergy to arrange a meeting to have them devise a ritual or ceremony uniquely crafted for your Sacrament of Union. We recognize that the union between individuals is a deeply personal and meaningful step on life’s path, and wish nothing more than to ensure your day remains a special memory for you and your partner or partners for the rest of your incarnation.
Support for Living and Dead
The Sacrament of Consolation is handed down to us from the ancient Gnostics, but is practiced somewhat differently among Thelemites. The Sacrament is the recognition of the imminent or recent passing of life. The Ecclesia Gnostica Heterodoxa seeks to provide any needed support or consolation for both dying and those surviving family members of one for whom the Veil of Life has already been lifted so that they may be granted the accomplishment of their true Wills; where they will the absorption in the Infinite, or to be united with their chosen and preferred, or to be in contemplation, or to be at peace, or to achieve the labor and heroism of incarnation on this planet or another, or in any Star, or aught else.
A Helping Hand
The Ecclesia Gnostica Heterodoxa provides a liturgical service for the Sacrament of Consolation; however, the Sacrament is by its very nature is deeply personal and therefore must be conformed to the Will of the individual receiving it or if they have already departed conformed to the Will of those nearest to them. Our Ordained Clergy are here to work with you in ensuring this Sacrament is administered in a way that fits your personal needs.
No matter if you require help developing a ritual or service for you or your loved ones departure or you require resources for centers or individuals whom you can contact for end-of-life or grief counseling our Ordained Clergy are here to assist you. Contact any Lodge Officer or Clergy member to arrange a meeting to discuss the proper way to administer this Sacrament to you or on behalf of a departed loved one.
Ordeals are often, though not always, things we’d rather not do, but undertake in order to in some way prove or test ourselves, or to provoke a mental or spiritual transformation. Ordeals are one of the most ancient components of human spirituality and can be reliably traced back to the earliest human records.
The definition of an ordeal varies from person to person. For one person an ordeal may be the simple act of being blindfolded, or being stripped of street clothing in preparation for being robed in front of a group, both common elements of some Masonic or post-Masonic initiations.
For others an Ordeal might be long isolation, or a suspension from hooks.
Because of the attachments of our culture to sex, sexual activity in ritual may constitute an ordeal for some people.
It really depends on the individual.
There is no special designation for “ordeals,” though there is an attempt to provide robust education on consent and safety to empower those rituals which would be considered “ordeals” to be successful, as well as creating an awareness among Local Masters when activities should be viewed from an ordeal perspective.
The Initiatory Arm works together with the Deputy Secretary for Education of the Order General to promote safer procedures and consent practices for Ordeals inside and outside of TTO.
At the same time we work to create an awareness of the legitimacy of Ordeal based ritual within the wider Thelemic and Magical communities.