Common Questions and Answers Regarding the Minerval Degree Within
The Minerval Degree (0°) is the introductory Initiate degree into Ordo Templi Orientis. It is said to symbolize the first step in the journey of the Self in Eternity, where the Ego, a wandering God, is attracted to the Solar System. The following questions and answers were written to help guide someone considering joining the Order by taking the Minerval Degree. Some questions are specific to Scarlet Woman Lodge. Any questions not answered here may be directed to the Lodge Master.
A. Generally, an initiation implies a beginning or an introduction. In O.T.O. it is a physical ceremony that usually serves several purposes. In the Minerval degree, it introduces the candidates, using dramatic allegory and symbol, to the Mysteries of Thelema.
Q. Why would I want to be initiated?
A. Everyone has their own reason for taking an
initiation...there is no single or right answer to this question.
However, here are some common reasons:
Q. Are there any requirements?
A. Yes, there are several requirements for eligibility
to the Minerval degree:
Q. How do I go about getting initiated?
A. It begins by filling out and turning in a Minerval application. You can request one from the Lodge Master or from a local chartered initiator. Remember that one of the requirements is the signature of two sponsors that are at least I°.
Q. Okay, how do I get two sponsors?
A. Before you can be initiated, you will need to develop a level of personal familiarity with at least two members. The Lodge conducts many activities that are open to non-member guests at which you can meet such people and introduce yourself. You can contact a Lodge officer or look at our calendar for information on upcoming events that are open to the public. The members of the Lodge are actually quite friendly and welcoming of guests.
Q. Will they be at my initiation?
A. While your sponsors are strongly encouraged to be there, it is not strictly required. It is important to note that it is your responsibility to inform your sponsors of the date of your initiation.
Q. Should I wait for a Minerval to be scheduled before I turn in my application?
A. No. We schedule initiations based upon the applications that we receive. If we do not have applications, we do not scheduleinitiations. So turn in those apps! You can give your application to the Lodge Master or Secretary. You can also drop your application in the temple dropbox (by the front door).
Q. Do I have to pay the fees when I turn in my application?
A. No. You can pay them at any time up to the day of the ceremony (although the sooner the better). You can pay your fees online.
Q. Once I turn in the Minerval application, what can I expect?
A. You will receive a letter in the mail telling you the date and time of the ceremony and where to go. It might be a few months before an initiation is scheduled. Be patient.
Q. What if I can’t do it, or I change my mind after I turn one in?
A. No problem, simply let the Lodge Master know. If you need, you can ask to skip the current ceremony and be put into the next. Keep in mind that if a year passes, then you will have to fill out a new application.
Q. What should I plan to bring to my Minerval?
A. You do not need to bring anything except for your fees if you have not yet paid them.
Q. How should I prepare for my Minerval?
A. There is no one correct answer for this. Practically speaking, you do not need to do anything to prepare. Looking over the U.S.G.L. website might be a good idea to educate yourself about the organization you are joining, and reading Liber AL, The Book of the Law, is strongly encouraged.
Q. After I take my Minerval, how long do I have to wait until I take my First Degree?
A. The waiting period between Minerval and First Degree is one month in the USA. However, the Minerval degree is a self-contained initiation and should be experienced for a while on its own. A common waiting period is about nine months.
Q. So, am I joining a cult, or what?
A. Although we like to joke sometimes about being a cult, in reality we are not. Even though the strict definition of a “cult” is a group of people who share similar beliefs and religious practices (which makes every religion a cult), we know what you mean. There are several common practices that go into making a “noxious” cult (quotes from Liber OZ):
Q. What is 667Announce and how do I join?
A. This is an online bulletin board hosted by Yahoo!. 667Announce is for the officers of the Lodge to deliver news and event reminders for all Lodge members. It is highly recommended that local initiates join this group.
Many members of the Lodge also belong to a site called LiveJournal. It is not affiliated with the Lodge or O.T.O. in any way. However, it is a good place to read interesting ideas from brothers and sisters all over the country. Do an interest search for O.T.O. or Thelema, and you will soon find them.
Q. If I take my Minerval at Scarlet Woman Lodge, does that automatically make me a member of the Lodge?
A. No. By taking a Minerval, you automatically become a member of U. S. Grand Lodge (as are all members within America), but not the local body where you were initiated. Every local body (a camp, oasis, or lodge) has its own rules of membership. To become a member of Scarlet Woman Lodge, you must be an initiate member of O.T.O. (ie. at least Minerval) and agree to pay local dues. Please read our membership page for more information on lodge membership.
Q. As a Minerval, what can I do in the Lodge?
Q. As a Minerval, what dues do I have to pay?
A. There are two sets of dues:
Q. Paying $20 a month seems like a lot. Why are local dues so much?
A. We have a lot to pay for. Local dues help pay the rent on the temple, purchase all the supplies we need, keep the electricity and water running, and provide services like a website and The Scarlet Letter. When you add it all up, $20 a month seems like a bargain! Remember, we get the money for all this from YOU, the local membership—we do not get financial aid from U.S.G.L. or any other source.
Q. But isn’t that why we have fundraisers?
A. We do have fundraisers, and they do help pay the rent. However, we want fundraisers to bring in money that we can put aside for future projects, not just pay the bills. One day we want a permanent temple that we own, for example. But this will not happen unless we can save money, and that depends on you!
Q. Sounds reasonable…so how do I pay my dues?
A. When you pay your dues and fees for your Minerval initiation, they do not include local Lodge dues. However, you do not have to begin paying local dues for one month after the ceremony.
Annual dues to U.S.G.L. can be paid in two ways:
Dues to Scarlet Woman Lodge can be paid by:
Remember that checks must have the notation “LOCAL DUES: Month/Year” in the memo area. If you are giving cash, there must be some way to identify the same info, or you might not get proper credit.
Q. What if I can’t pay local dues for a month or two? And what are Baphomet Bucks?
A. We know that everyone can experience tough times. If you can’t pay dues for a short time, just let the Lodge Treasurer know your situation. At the same time, as you would not just forget to pay your own electric bill for several months, so should you strive to remember to pay your Lodge dues. Find ways to remind yourself, such as paying it at the same time as your other bills. The Lodge has to pay bills on time, just like you do.
If you going through a financial dry spell, you can also earn Baphomet Bucks. One Baphomet Buck is worth $5 in dues or event fees, so you can use them to supplement your dues payment or to pay for coming to an event, like the Gnostic Mass. You earn Baphomet Bucks by volunteering to do extra labor for the Lodge (which doesn’t include expected labor, like washing glasses after Mass). They are also transferable. Contact the Lodge Master or the Treasurer for more info.
Q. What does “Minerval” mean, anyway?
A. In general, a Minerval is a Seeker of Wisdom, Truth or Light (or all three). The word is likely derived from the Roman goddess Minerva, the equivalent of Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom. Minerva was also considered to be the goddess of warriors, poetry, medicine, commerce, crafts, and the inventor of music. You may draw your own conclusions over the time you spend in the Order.
Q. What is the M.M.M.?
A. The initials M.M.M. stands for Mysteria Mystica Maxima. Originally, it was the name of the O.T.O. degree system in Great Britian, then headed by Aleister Crowley (the head of the O.T.O. was Theodor Reuss at the time). Eventually, his M.M.M. was absorbed into the regular system of the Order. It now includes the degrees from O° to VII°.
Q. Do I get to know who my initiator will be?
A. Nope. You’ll just have to wait and see.
Q. After I take my Minerval, will I be expected to take the First Degree initiation?
A. No. Taking the First Degree is a serious decision, and no Minerval should feel pushed into it. Some take their First right away, some after many years, and it is equally honorable to spend your entire life as a Minerval initiate. The choice is entirely yours.
Q. After my initiation, who will have access to my legal name?
A. We take confidentiality very seriously—this is a secret Order, after all. Full civil names are given out to Order members on a need-to-know basis. Within the Lodge, that means the Lodge Master, Secretary, and Treasurer will need to have your full civil name on record. Grand Lodge also keeps records according to civil names. However, under no circumstances will the Lodge or the Order voluntarily give out your civil name to a third party without your permission.
Q. I’ve heard that as a Minerval, I will be a “guest” of the Order. Does that mean I’m not a full member?
A. As a Minerval, you are both a guest and a full member of O.T.O. You are considered a guest because you can, at any time as a Minerval, back out of the Order completely—whereas at First Degree a lifelong Bond with the Order is established, which cannot be severed. However, Minerval initiates are eligible for all the general benefits of O.T.O. membership.
Q. If I join O.T.O. does that also make me a Mason?
A. O.T.O. membership does not, of itself, confer any status in Freemasonry. At one time the Order was allied with European Freemasonry, but those ties were cut by Aleister Crowley in 1918. Although there are many similarities, the O.T.O. system is independent and designed to reflect the teachings of Thelema.
Q. If I take the Minerval initiation, will I have to kill a goat or do anything else I don't want to?
A. First, it is important to explain that during our initations, at no time will you ever be forced to do something against your will. We can also say that none of the initiation rituals of O.T.O. involve animal sacrifice in any way (although we do not necessarily condemn this religious practice). Finally, it should be said that for some candidates, the Minerval initiation can be a fairly intense experience. The Minerval ceremony is designed to be challenging, but never degrading or painful. Rather, the aim is to instruct, illuminate, welcome, and enhance the lives of initiates.
But...but...I have more questions!
See also on this site:
U.S. Grand Lodge also has an excellent FAQ that covers relevant subjects, including OTO, Aleister Crowley, the Church, and Thelema. You can also direct your questions to any U.S.G.L. chartered initiator.