The Scarlet Letter
Volume III, Number 2 | December 1995
Column: Heretics for Tea & Crumpets
Overview of the Circle of Stars Altar Guild
By Br. Dionysos Soter
The presence of a Steward to attend to the setting and cleanup of the temple for Mass is a considerable boon to the Deacon and the other officers of the Mass. They can afford to focus more on other elements of the ceremony if they do not have to devote extra attention to the work of organizing the physical temple.
The Sanctuary also benefits from a broader dissemination of information about the ritual of the Mass and its production that takes place through the Guild. Stewards have an additional incentive to keep informed about Sanctuary events and procedures, and the Guild thus stands as a reinforcement of communications within the Sanctuary.
Stewards receive education in the central ritual of the Church (and O.T.O. as a whole) through training and active involvement in the production of the Mass itself. They can learn about magical technique and symbolism as employed in that ceremony.
Guild participation is, of course, excellent preliminary training for novice Deacons. At Circle of Stars Sanctuary it is indispensable. Traditionally, the Deacon is responsible for the greater part of the work performed by the Altar Guild. The Guild furnishes the Deacon with a Steward to ease the work of temple organization, and it furnishes the Steward with the direction of a Deacon in the management of temple properties.
The most rewarding aspect of Guild membership is, plainly and simply, participation in the ritual. The Mass is (as we love to reiterate) a participatory ritual. If we just wanted to watch sexy people doing something compelling, we might be better off going to the movies. But it is our individual engagement in the action of the ritual that brings it to life with such palpability and consistency at Circle of Stars. That life of the Mass is the reason that we attend as congregants, serve as officers, and work as stewards. We bring it to the temple when we set up before Mass, just as we take it with us after we communicate.
I have enjoyed my own work as a Steward immensely. Setting temple is a magical operation in its own right, and the results of a job well done are enjoyed by everyone who attends the Mass.
Those interested in this work should contact any ordained Deacon of the Sanctuary for training. A manual is available for study as well. The Gnostic Mass has been performed for over three generations, and forms the principle celebratory rite of the largest and most visible theleniic institutions. The propagation of the Law of Thelerna through the Mass can only increase through involvement of Church members in projects such as the Altar Guild.
Disclaimer: The "Altar Guild" is a local project of the Circle of Stars E.G.C. Sanctuary and has no relation to the system of professional guilds under the purview of the Areopagus of O.T.O.