Ordo Templi Orientis Schisms In The Thelemic Community

Ordo Templi Orientis Schisms In The Thelemic Community Cover Several competing factions currently claim to be the legitimate heirs to Aleister Crowley. After McMurtry revived O.T.O. in California, three others came forward to claim the title of OHO. Hermann Metzger had been a member of the early Swiss O.T.O. under Reuss. However, his claims were ignored by everyone outside of his country and he never pressed the issue. He died in 1990.

The other two were Kenneth Grant and Marcelo Ramos Motta. Grant had been expelled from O.T.O. in 1955 by Germer, but claims that Germer was never the legitimate OHO, and therefore the expulsion was void. He went on to found the organization known as the Typhonian Ordo Templi Orientis, which still claims a small but devoted following. Motta was never initiated into O.T.O. at all, but claimed that Germera€™s wife, Sasha, told him that Karla€™s last words stated that Motta was a€?the follower.a€? He sued for ownership of Crowleya€™s copyrights, which were denied to him by the U.S. District Court in Maine. Motta died in 1987, although various small groups calling themselves Society O.T.O. (S.O.T.O.) continue to exist (Society OTO of David Bersson -USA- and Societas OTO of Gabriel LA?pez de Rojas -Spain-). Both of these groups are quite different in structure and teachings from McMurtry's revived Ordo Templi Orientis (sometimes referred to as the Caliphate O.T.O., which remains organized largely as it was under Crowley).

The O.T.O. as revived by McMurtry has won two court cases regarding its legitimacy as the 'real' O.T.O. of Aleister Crowley. The hallmark cases were:

1. 1976: the Superior Court in Calaveras County, California recognizes Grady McMurtry as the authorized representative of O.T.O.
2. 1985: in the 9th Federal District Court in San Francisco, McMurtry is found to be the legitimate head of O.T.O. within the United States, and that O.T.O. under McMurtry is the continuation of the O.T.O. of Aleister Crowley, and the exclusive owner of the names, trademarks, copyrights and other assets of O.T.O. This decision is appealed to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals and upheld. The Supreme Court declined to hear a final appeal.

The following case is also significant in the Order's history, though it does not have much bearing on the issue of legitimacy:

1. 2002: The United Kingdom High Court, in Ordo Templi Orientis v. John Symonds, Anthony Naylor and Mandrake Press, finds that O.T.O. as revived by McMurtry is the sole owner of the copyrights for all of the works of Aleister Crowley. In its particulars of claim, OTO had pled two mutually-exclusive routes to ownership of the copyrights: (a) through Crowley's will as the named beneficiary O.T.O., a route to title that had been affirmed in U.S. Federal Court but had never been tested under English law, and (b) the "bankruptcy route," on which theory O.T.O. acquired title to the copyrights from its 1991 from the U.K. Crown Official Receiver in Bankruptcy. The Chancery Master agreed that these two routes were largely mutually exclusive; if Crowley's copyrights were not an asset in his undischarged bankruptcy, then O.T.O. bought nothing, and could only claim through the will, under which the copyrights would have to pass; but if the rights were an asset in bankruptcy, then Crowley had lacked any power to make O.T.O. a bequest of them in his will. The court examined the bankruptcy aspect first, finding that O.T.O. acquired good title. The copyrights were thus Crown property between 1935 and 1991, making dozens of books -- even many of O.T.O.'s own editions -- unauthorized. Had the "will route" been tried, it would have given O.T.O. an opportunity to gain recognition in U.K. court as the legitimate continuation of Crowley's O.T.O., since that is a precondition to being found the rightful beneficiary of his will. Thus, the issue of the organisation's legitimacy did arise at trial, since it was pled into court, but it was not ruled upon. While there is no way to know whether, had it been tested, it would have been confirmed or denied, the O.T.O. made thorough legal preparations for this aspect of their case as detailed in their "Particulars of Claim". However, even O.T.O. would agree that it would be misleading to cite this case as affirming the organisation's historical legitimacy, since that issue went untried.

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