Aleister Crowley “The Initiation Ritual of the First Degree O.T.O.”




Prefatory Note

Once again there is a variation in the nature of the signs, grips, etc., used at the present time. Nevertheless, details survive of those used in the O.T.O. in its early years and these have therefore been included in the text of the ritual.

First Degree


The Oasis is a space, preferably circular. In the West is a Well, with a coping-stone; that is, a cubical altar with a removable top. It is made so as to hold water; and on this water floats an ark, preferably proportioned as is given in the Canon, containing a Dagger, a Disk, and the Book of the Law. In the East is an Altar, cylindrical, where burns a Candle. This is overshadowed by a conical Tent, where is a throne composed of four cubes, arranged as an inverted Tau, for the three officers. These are Saladin, his Wazir, and an Emir. The Wazir sits on the right hand.


Saladin crosses his hands, left over right; Wazir and Emir take them between theirs.

Saladin: A …

Wazir: U …

Emir: M …

(Hereafter abbreviated to S. (Saladin), W. (Wazir), and E. (Emir))

All together: AUM.

S.: (Rises) Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.

W.: (Rises) Love is the Law.

E.: (Rises) Love under Will.

S.: Fellow soldiers, assist me. What is the first duty of a True Man?

W.: Most mysterious Master, to guard the Camp.

S.: Let the Camp be guarded.

(Done by locking doors, and setting sentinel, if there be one.)

W.: Most Mysterious Master, the Camp is duly guarded.

S.: The next duty?

E.: To see that all present are True Men.

S.: To order, fellow-soldiers.

(All take the pose, and give sign.)

S.: How many officers has the Camp?

W.: Three visible.

E.: And eight invisible.

S.: What is the Weapon of the Master?

W.: (Gives candle.) LIGHT.

S.: How shall he use it?

E.: To find TRUTH.

S.: Where shall he seek it?

W.: In the Well.

(They go together, S. bearing Candle, W. and E. with arms crossed over his back, to the Well.)

S.: A Spring shut up, a Fountain sealed! Brethren, let the Well be opened!

(W. and E. remove the Ark, and bear it to the Altar walking in front of S. S. places the candle upon it. They form a triangle about the altar. S. takes the Dagger, and gives it to W., the Disk, and gives it to E., and takes the Book himself. E. lays Disk on Altar, to West of Candle; S. places Book open, upon Disk; W. places Dagger upon Book.)

S.: Fellow-soldiers, we have drawn the Living Water of Truth from the Well of the Oasis.

(O.T.O. applause. All resume seats.)


First point: the Oath.

Second point: the Bringing-forth.

Third point: the Nourishment.


The Candidate is in waiting without. S. directs W. and E. to admit him. They go out, and ask if he is willing to be hoodwinked. They do this, on his consenting, and lead him to the door. W. knocks once.

S.: Whom have you there?

W.: A poor stranger, who has been drawn to our Oasis, and received the hospitality of our Camp.

S.: Halt! Sir I demand of you: are you free and of full age?

C.: I am.

S.: Do you understand that by entering this Camp you have incurred the penalty of Death?

C.: I do.

(W. puts his dagger to C.’s throat.)

S.: Do you consider the honour of enrolling yourself among us full compensation for this doom?

C.: I do.

S.: Advance, O free man, without fear!

(They leave him, and he advances to the centre of the Camp. He is gently guided if necessary. Arrived, they stop him.)

S.: Whom have you there?

W.: A poor, etc., as before.

S.: Who answers for him?

W.: I, the Father.

S.: Pass, seeker of Life!

(He is taken to the West of the Well.)

S.: Whom have you there?

W.: A poor, etc., as before.

S.: Who answers for him?

E.: I, the Mother.

S.: Pass, seeker of Life.

(They take him to the Altar.)

W.: Most Mysterious Master, I present Mr. … a poor, etc., as before.

S.: Is he well and worthily vouched for?

E.: He is.

S.: Is he controlled?

W.: He is.

(E. catches his wrists from behind; W. applies Dagger.)

S.: Sir! Are you prepared to obey and to uphold our laws and regulations?

C.: I am.

S.: To conform with our ceremonies and customs?

C.: I am.

S.: And to persevere through this ceremony of Lustration?

C.: I am.

S.: In all cases of difficulty and danger, in whom do you put your trust?

C.: In myself.

S.: Right glad am I to find your faith so well founded. We are willing to admit you, because two worthy persons have agreed to make this possible; but I am bound to explain to you that it would have been better had you never approached us should you imagine that we can teach you the secrets of the Mysteries. The real Secrets are incommunicable. The Secret of the Royal Art grows like a flower within the heart of man. All that we can do is to aid this flower by supplying it with food, air, water, and sunlight. Candidate! will the assurance of such aid satisfy you?

C.: Yes.

S.: Man is blind from his birth to his death. Deep in his heart is rooted the ardent desire to see the Light, and to attain its source. So short is life that few succeed. For most of us, during our travels in this valley of death, the utmost to be hoped is to catch a few glimpses of that light which comes from beyond, to fortify and encourage us in our travels towards its source.

However, in spite of all the assistance given to mankind, many never do find the Light. Nor do we know whether, even with the help that we can give you, you will succeed.

Therefore, I pause, and declare; up to now, nothing has been done which would make it impossible for you to withdraw. But if you still persist, then nothing will ever enable you to sever the ties which you are now about to form with us and our Order.

Therefore, once more, for the third and last time, Candidate, I ask you, do you still desire to become a member of Our Order? Please answer aloud.

C.: Yes.

S.: (Hard knock on altar with dagger, which W. gives him.) Then your will be done! Brethren, do your duty!

(W. places C.’s left hand on the Open Book, and S. fixes it there with the Dagger, which he keeps there during the Oath. E. grasps C. firmly by the throat.)

S.: Are you willing to take a solemn obligation to keep inviolate the secrets and mysteries of Our Order?

C.: I am.

S.: Repeat you name at length, and say after me: I, … (name in full) in the presence of the Powers of Birth, visible and invisible, and of this Camp of Free Men, do hereby and hereon most solemnly promise and swear:

Never to reveal

What I learn beneath the Seal

Within the guarded border

Of this most holy Order

Unless it be to a True Brother

And not to another

Using a perfect portion

Of proper caution

That he may be duly

Tested truly

By right divine

Of grip and sign

And of each word

That ye have heard

In full possession

Or else in session

Of such a camp as this within whose border

I stand, aspiring to the Holy Order

Which I do know

By the letters O.T.O.

S.: Besides the Oath of Secrecy, there are certain Obligations designed to make you more efficient in your Way as in Ours. Are you willing to take these?

C.: I am.

S.: I most solemnly promise and swear / that I will not submit myself / to hypnotism, / mesmerism, / or any similar practice / whereby my full consciousness / and free will / might be impaired. /

I most solemnly promise and swear / that I will not indulge unduly / in any drug / such as alcohol, / ether, / opium, / hashish, / or cocaine, / whereby my full consciousness / and free will / might be impaired. /

I do most solemnly promise and swear / that I will not allow myself / to fall unduly under the influence / of any person / whereby my free will / might be impaired. /

Finally / I do solemnly and sincerely promise and swear / to obey the Laws of the Order in general, / and in particular the rulings of the Superior of the Order / or his duly appointed substitute, / as conveyed to me / by the Most Mysterious Master of this Oasis / under the hand and seal of Baphomet. /

These several points / I solemnly swear to observe / declaring them / each and every one / to be in accord / with my own free will, / under no less a penalty, / on the violation / of any one of them / that of having my throat pierced with a Dagger /

(S. applies same.)

and my carcass / thrown to the monsters of the Sea / that they may devour it.

S.W., and E. pronounce AUM as in the opening.

S.: You will seal this solemn Oath with your lips on the Book of the law.


S.: You will now retire from my presence, and undergo the due preparation for the Ordeal which awaits you.

(They take him out.)


The Candidate is stripped completely by W. and E. S. conceals in the closed tent his candle, so that the Camp is in absolute darkness. C. brought to W. of Well. They leave him.

(A pause)

S.: O thou! Lady of the East! I hereby invoke upon this Candidate the Powers of Birth. May he be brought safely from Darkness into Light. AUMN!

All: AUMN!

S.: Send the Candidate on his travels with the Moon.

(3 circles. Music. This is the beating of the tom-tom unless some highly skilled musician be a member of the Oasis.)

This is the Pathway to the Knowledge of Thyself. Be true toward thyself.

(3 circles. Music.)

This is the Pathway to the Perfection of Thyself. Conquer thyself.

(3 circles. Music.)

This is the Pathway to the Truth. Seek Beauty. In Beauty is eternal Truth revealed.

(Candidate is now brought to the centre of the Oasis.)

W.: Most Mysterious Master. The Candidate has fulfilled the Nine Moons.


S.: ‘Before the beginning of years, etc.’ to ‘Between a sleep and a sleep’ (Chorus from Swinburne’s Atlanta in Calydon).

(A pause.)

(W. and E. advance silent, throw a noose around his neck, and carry him to the Well, where he sits crouched, immersed to the neck. They put the coping-stone in place. S. removes his candle, and descends to the Well. He knocks thrice with the Dagger on the coping-stone, and returns.)

S.: And the Earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Powers of Nature said: ‘Let there be light! and there was light.’

(W. and E. raise the stone, pull out C., and wrap him in the flag of his country. They lead him to the Altar.)

S.: In the name of the Secret Master!

(Puts the Book to his Brow.)

S.: In the name of the O.T.O.

(Puts dagger to throat.)

S.: By the authority of the Grand Master Baphomet.

(Puts Disk to heart.)

I Declare you a Man and a Brother.

(Triple handshake, a chain being formed by the three officers and Candidate. The noose is now cut, not untied.)

(O.T.O. applause.)


S.: You will now be clothed in the characteristic robe of Our Order. See well to it that you soil it not.


I will now communicate to you the first secrets of our Order. Firstly, let me renew the recommendation made to you on the former occasion; to study constantly the Book of the Law.

(Indicates it.)

Secondly, let me call your attention to this Dagger, which has played so large a part in this ceremony. Strive as best you may to discover the significance of this weapon; your labour will be well repaid.

Thirdly, let me counsel you to take note of this Disk.

You have little acquaintance with it, but it has been, there upon the Altar, even as the Sun, our Father, is always in the Heaven, even when we perceive Him not.

Now, the Dagger is in the form of a cross. And the Disk in that of a circle; crosses and circles are therefore the true sign of Our Order. You will therefore stand perfectly erect, the feet together. Now link the thumbs of your hands; and placing the Left Foot behind and cross the right, swing it outward with a circular motion until it comes to rest in front of and across the right.

It is in this position that the Secrets of the Lustration are communicated; they consist of a Sign, a Grip, and a Word. The Sign is given by clenching the fingers of the right hand, and making a motion as if to stab the throat with the thumb.

The Grip is given by seizing the thumb of the brother in your fingers, and pressing it nine times. You then elevate your own thumb.

This Grip demands a Word.

This Word is ADonaI, which means The Lord. As in the Minerval Degree, it is an universal name or title of the Most High.


Send the Candidate on his travels with the Sun.

(Three periods of Seven Years.)

S.: (gives grip.) What is this?

(E. for Candidate who repeats throughout. C. must be taught this dialogue thoroughly during these travels.)

E.: (For C.) The Grip or Token of a Man and a Brother.

S.: What does it demand?

E.: (For C.) A Word.

S.: Give me that Word.

E.: (For C.) At my initiation I was taught to be cautious; I will letter it with you.

S.: I agree. Begin.


What is its import?

E.: (For C.) The Lord.

(Leaves C. to W.)

S.: Pass.

W.: Noble Emir, I present to you a Man and a Brother on his initiation.

E.: I will thank him to advance to me as a Man and a Brother.


Have you anything to communicate?

W.: (For C. who repeats.) I have.

E.: (Rising with Grip.) What is this?

W.: (For C.) The Grip or Token of a Man and a Brother.

E.: What does it demand?

W.: (For C.) A word.

E.: Give me that Word.

W.: (For C.) At my initiation I was taught to be cautious. I will letter it with you.

E.: I agree; begin.


Its import?

W.: (For C.) The Lord.

(W. leaves C.)

E.: Pass.

(He rises and conducts candidate round and to W.)

E.: Worthy Wazir, I present to you a Man and a Brother on his initiation.

W.: I will thank him to advance to me as a Man and a Brother.


What is that?

E.: (For C.) The first regular step.

W.: Do you bring anything else?

E.: (For C.) I do.

(Gives sign.)

W.: What is that?

E.: (For C.) The Sign of a Man and a Brother.

W.: To what does it allude?

E.: (For C.) To the penalty of my Obligation.

W.: Have you anything to communicate?

E.: (For C.) I have.

(Gives grip.)

W.: What is that?

E.: (For C.) The Grip or Token of a Man and a Brother.

W.: What does it demand?

E.: (For C.) A word.

W.: Give me that Word.

E.: (For C.) At my initiation I was taught to be cautious. I will letter it with you.

S.: I agree; begin.


Its import?

E.: (For C.) The Lord.

(E. leaves C.)

W.: Pass.

(Takes C. round and to S.)

W.: Most Mysterious Master, I present to you a Man and a Brother on his initiation that he may receive a mark of your favour at the beginning of his travels with the Sun.

S.: My brother, I have it notable in mind to counsel you concerning your Way among us.

During the whole ceremony, you have been exposed to many dangers and discomforts, and you were wholly helpless to defend yourself against malice and neglect. I pray you, bear it ever in your heart, should you at any time encounter any brother in nakedness, poverty, danger, or affliction, and be instant to relieve or succour him. For this reason it is appropriate that I bestow upon you this Disk, the symbol of that Light of Life without which you were nothing, and which you should therefore be equally ready to radiate from yourself when there is need. May your conduct among us be free and glorious as is Our Father the Sun, and your progress rapid toward the apprehension of that further Light of which you have now beheld the earliest Ray.

Be seated, Brother.

It is an immemorial custom among us, so that the memory of man runneth not to the contrary, for the Officers of the Camp to offer a banquet to the newly-made Man and Brother. You have signified your intention to conform with this custom, and, the business of the evening being completed, we may pass from labour to refreshment.


Repeat ‘opening’ down to ‘Eight Invisible’.

S.: Fellow-soldiers, how shall we guard Truth?

W.: By silence.

(They take the Book, etc., reversing their actions in Opening, until the Well is again closed. S. extinguishes his Candle. O.T.O. applause.)

E.: ‘Let every man depart unto his tent!’

(The door is opened.)