The History of the Irish Order of Thelema
“History … is a nightmare from which I am trying to wake.” James Joyce.
Where might anything that exists be said to begin? For all things that have ever been, influence and impact (however clearly or subtly), that which is.
The Irish Order of Thelema follows in the footsteps of a long tradition which has been present in Ireland from the dawn of the first human endeavors to create a unified and harmonious society.
Historically the Order of the Filid is the first manifestation of such a body of women and men. The ancient philosopher poets who created the Brehon laws and were at pains to ensure that Ireland’s Kings and Queens of old governed under the over-arching principle of fír flaithemon (rulers’ truth), which is effectively an honour code. Such Rulers were traditionally chosen by the land itself as personified in the form of a regional or national Goddess. The roots of our Order reach deep into the wisdom traditions of the Filid.
The Filid also pioneered the earliest manifestations of Gnostic Celtic Christianity, with the Brehon judge Mac Moran being credited with bringing to Ireland gospels from St. Paul in the first century and the Gnostic Christian teachings of Pelagius were evidenced in Ireland long before the celebrated Patrick ever arrived. Certainly the early monastic centres of Ireland were founded upon the colleges set up by the Order of the Filid and the Draoi. These monasteries became a light to Europe after the fall of the Roman Empire with Ireland providing many of the greatest minds in all of early medieval Europe, such as exemplified in the person of the Gnostic philosopher and poet Scotus Erigena. The roots of our Order reach deep into the enlightened scholarship of the early Celtic church.
Marching down the years, we find that some of the oldest evidence of Speculative Freemasonry comes from Ireland. The 1751 c.e. Ancient Grand Lodge was mainly composed of Irish masons who insisted on using ‘the old land-marks of the craft.’ Elizabeth Aldworth was initiated in Ireland in 1712 c.e. Further, one of the oldest existing artefacts of Freemasonry is a brass square found in Ireland dated to 1507 c.e. and inscribed with the phrase “I will strive to live with love and care, upon the level and by the square.” The roots of our Order reach deep into the dream of realising the universal brotherhood of all things as sought by the Ancient Order of Freemasonry.
Following many years of political and social conflict and oppression, it was Thomas Paine and his Rights of Man that would stir life again in the womb of Irish liberty. Paine inspired the Protestant Irishman Wolfe Tone who ‘maintained that religious division was a tool of the elite to (balance) the one party by the other, plunder and laugh at the defeat of both’ and put forward the case for unity between Catholic, Protestant and Dissenter.
A group of nine Belfast Presbyterians interested in reforming the Irish Parliament read Tone’s pamphlet and liked his ideas. They invited him to Belfast where the group met on October 14, 1791 c.e. At this first meeting, the group, which became known as the United Irishmen, passed resolutions recognising the need for ‘a cordial union among all the people of Ireland, to maintain that balance which is essential to the preservation of our liberties and the extension of our commerce’ and they further recognised ‘that no reform is just which does not include Irishmen of every religious persuasion.’ The roots of our Order reach deep into the liberty sought by the United Irish men from outside oppression and internal division and conflict.
As Thomas Paine led the way in the battle for universal freedom in the 19th Century. A new ‘Rights of Man’ was penned by a gentleman known as Aleister Crowley. These rights were drawn from the ‘The Book of the Law’ the reception of which Crowley considered the climax of his career. These rights declared that every man and every woman has the right to ‘live by their own Law.’ Crowley effectively devoted his life to the scientific pursuit of spiritual wisdom and experience, founded on a synthesis of all the magical and mystical systems of the world and considered absolute individual liberty for all to be the primary social and political condition for the welfare and illumination of the human race. The roots of our order reach deep into the traditions of Thelema, and the mystical and magical systems outlined in the writings and works of Crowley.
In more recent times Fortified Island Oasis of the OTO began its work in Ireland in 1992 c.e. and in 1993 c.e. was formally chartered under the authority of Hymenaeus Beta. The founding members of the Oasis considered that the principles of the Law of Thelema where not only the key to the future destiny of the human race but could provide a key to unlock Ireland from the sectarian conflict which had divided it and brought Northern Ireland to the verge of civil war.
However 1996 brought an unfortunate series of events which led to the closure of Fortified island Oasis and the resignation of its members from the OTO. Yet this also served as a catalyst for further change and development and the work of applying the ideals of Thelema to events in Ireland continued under the banner of an organisation known as the OTOF.
An Irish Kingdom of the OTOF was established in 1999 c.e. and developed local bodies in Armagh, Belfast, Galway and Dublin. The Kingdom also became involved in an international review of the orders traditions, with a view to their adaptation to modern circumstances. As part of this review the Irish Kingdom re-wrote the main rituals of the Order, incorporating the symbolism of its first series into a framework specific to Ireland and developing completely new rites for a second series of degrees based on the Book of the Law.
At the climax of the review the Irish Kingdoms proposals for the international development of the Order were accepted by the international head of the OTOF, and in accordance with those proposals the Irish and British Kingdoms of the OTOF declared independence from their international ‘parent’ organisation at Spring Equinox 2010 c.e.
After a period of reflection, the international aspects of the OTOF were closed down, and ceased to exist at autumn equinox 2010 c.e. with the Irish and British Kingdoms continuing as totally independent organisations.
The completion of the review undertaken had resulted in the effective creation of a new Irish Order and upon the fulfilment of the 11 year term of Office of the founding sovereign of the Irish Kingdom, the Independent Irish rite of the OTOF was dissolved, and The Irish Order of Thelema was born with the inauguration of a new national sovereign on the 31st of October 2010 c.e.
The roots of our Order reach deep into the traditions of the OTO, the work of Fortified Island Oasis, and the aspirations of the Irish Kingdom of OTOF, and are fully aligned to the ideals of all these bodies to extend the dominion of the Law of Thelema throughout the whole world.
However we neither claim, nor derive any authority from these sources, nor from any other arcane, antique, nor supernatural source. The Irish Order of Thelema is fully self determined and self responsible, our Order claims no authority beyond that vested in the Office of its National Grandmaster by the free choice of its members, defined through contract and affirmed, and maintained under Oath.
The Irish Order of Thelema represents the beginning of a new campaign in the Battle for Universal Freedom, and continues to innovate, asking what is needed in our time, and in the context of our Irish heritage. Where this campaign will lead, and the full significance of its place in history will be told by the generations that follow.
For now, the Work calls us forward – rooted in the past, present in the moment and hopeful for the future.