Funeral advice for a Thelemic family member
Our much loved close family member has passed recently and his funeral will be conducted soon. We know he was Thelemic and studied constantly, very knowledgable and we would like to honour his beliefs as best as we can.
He was 31 years old and his death was unexpected so we want to do our best to give him what he may have planned for himself in his future but sadly this was cut short and we are left sure as to what those wishes may have been.
We know he was a member of the A.A. and OTO. He lived his life by these teachings and we want to honour this for him.
If anybody could help with any information or advice that would help us with the service we would be so grateful. Any readings, or traditions, or something that would be fitting for his funeral.
We wholly accept that he would have wanted to die Thelemic as he lived by Thelema. As a family we have always and continue to respect his beliefs and encouraged him in his journey but we have no idea how to go ahead with this in a way that would suit him as this is not about us, we want to honour his life and journey ahead.
Thank you in advance for taking the time to help
If he was a member of the best-known OTO group, they have a religious branch/affiliate called Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica, or the Gnostic Catholic Church (nothing to do with those other Catholics), which has a funeral service, and clergy to perform it.
I would suggest getting in touch with the OTO Lodge/Camp/Oasis he was affiliated with; if you don't know how to reach them, here is a directory for the US:
and a page with links to other countries:
I think it is commendable that you seek to honor him in this way, especially as you don't appear to be Thelemites. My sympathy for your loss.
Thank you for your reply and links which we will explore. We are based in Wales, UK so I can email them and find more out.
Do you know of anything the would be useful specific to Thelema? Maybe a passage we could read out (or where we could find one) or something that he would have wanted as a Thelemite. Any help would be appreciated.
We will probably do a lot of this ourselves with the advice we receive and at this time there will only be a small funeral with limited attendance due to the pandemic.
Thank you again for you help and your sympathy.
The OTO/EGC funeral service i linked to has a bunch of stuff that you might find useful for extracting some readings.
In general, the Thelemic concept of death is this: Primitive man thought the sun died each night when it set, and was reborn each morning as it rose. We now know that really we just can't see the sun at night, due to it shining on the other side of the planet then. We regard death as a similar sort of illusion, where the individual passes from our view to some unknowable thing. Most Thelemites have some sort of belief in reincarnation.
The heart of Thelema is The Book Of The Law. It has this to say about death: The goddess Nuit says "I give unimaginable joys on earth: certainty, not faith, while in life, upon death; peace unutterable, rest, ecstasy; nor do I demand aught in sacrifice." (Chapter I: verse 58).
Her male counterpart Hadit says "Thrill with the joy of life & death! Ah! thy death shall be lovely: whoso seeth it shall be glad. Thy death shall be the seal of the promise of our agelong love. Come! lift up thine heart & rejoice! We are one; we are none." (II: 66).
You have been so helpful and kind.
We have The Book of the Law so we can go through and find something fitting for him, and look at the link you sent on the funeral.
You have been a great help, if anything else should spring to mind please post it and we can read through.
We have a few days until his autopsy and then we can go ahead with organising his send off, so we will research the links you have so kindly advised us to.
Thank you for your help which has been of great comfort in that we can do the right thing by his beliefs.
The OTO/EGC funeral ritual i linked to is intended as an add-on to the Gnostic Mass, which includes a section called The Collects, which might also be a useful source of language, and much of the Mass generally also. The section The Creed might be worth you reading if you aren't quite sure what all this Thelema he was into is about.
See section V of https://sabazius.oto-usa.org/gnostic-mass/ for The Collects, and section III for The Creed.
I am happy to be of service to you, and again commend you on honoring his way of life (Thelemites mostly aren't so big on believing stuff, and more into doing stuff) in the time of his death, and again offer my sympathy at losing someone you loved.
Thank you, your help has been invaluable.
Although we are not religious people ourselves, but we are spiritual and open to any of his guidance as we want to show as much respect to Tom as it was such a huge part of his life and he was a huge part of ours.
We have contacted the OTO and they have offered to forward our request for guidance to the bishop and will also provide us with readings aswell.
It's a great comfort to us to know that you are taking the time to enlighten us, and that we have been welcomed with open arms in this time of distress. It's made us feel even more proud of what Tom practised and was part of. We want to make sure that we do everything that we can to pay our respects to him, and you have helped us to do that. We are eternally grateful.
No matter how small you think any advice or readings may be, please know that we appreciate your time and kindness.
I am again gratified to hear i have been helpful, and wish you the best in this difficult time. Tom was fortunate indeed in having such a loving and kind family.
As you're in touch with the UK OTO/EGC, i think you are in good hands. I am not a member of this organization, and in fact don't like them much, but your Tom was of them; they can be relied upon here. And I can say that when i got married, and needed a Portuguese translation of some Crowley poetry for the ceremony, the Brazilian OTO was extremely helpful
Thelemites are instructed to drink "sweet wines and wines that foam" (Book Of The Law I:51), and to "eat rich foods", and "dress...in fine apparel". i will confess to being a bit of a cheater on the "sweet" part, but champagne is foamy, and festive.
Aleister Crowley himself was cremated (at Brighton) and his ashes buried under a tree in New Jersey, USA. I think cremation is quite common among Thelemites, though certainly not mandated/required (because nothing is among us).
Whatever you do, i am confident you will honor Tom in a way he would be happy with. Your love and hearts will guide you.
One more small thing: you mentioned he was an A.'. A.'. initiate. He will thus have had an A.'. A.'. superior/teacher, and, if he had advanced past the earliest stages, a student for whom he was responsible. These people should be notified of his death, especially if he had a student, so that arrangements can be made to provide that student with a new superior/teacher.
There are several A.'. A.'. "lineages", but as he was an OTO member, it is pretty likely he was an initiate of the A.'. A.'. lineage affiliated with the OTO. Thus, if you don't know how to get in touch with his A.'. A.'. superior, and any student he may have had, the EGC Bishop should be able to help.
If you find any "magickal name" among his papers, that might be useful to them in figuring this out, though his civil name should suffice. To identify his "magickal name", look for a phrase, often in Latin, and preceded by "Frater" ("brother" in Latin), and followed by his grade, which will be two numbers, separated by an equal sign, that add up to 11 or zero, with the first followed by the degree sign (like temperature) and the second by a little square- it will look like 2°=9□ or 0°=0□
The little square should be elevated, and small, like the degree symbol, but the forum software does not like superscripts.
If you find several such "magickal names", and several different sets of numbers with equal signs, the most important one for them in figuring out who his superior/student were is the one with the highest first digit, like his 3°=8□ name would be more useful to them than the name he chose for his 2°=9□
He will most likely have kept a "Magickal Diary" and you will probably find his magickal name and grade on the title page or inside the front cover.
That is very helpful indeed. His apartment is full of books and many journals. We haven't dealt with any of his personal belongings just yet as it was such a shock.
We do know that he signed any writings we have seen with 'FRATER' then three dots in the shape of a triangle, then the word 'ON' and then the three dots in the shape of a triangle again. Does this give any clue to something?
Tom had mentioned at the beginning of the year that he was either working towards being or was now a Magi. But we have no idea where or what order this would have meaning to.
We will be in touch with the Bishop when they respond to us and see if he had a student or if not let his tutor know.
Your time is so appreciated, I'm sure you realise by now we are pretty much in the dark here, although we were supportive and positive in regards to his life. Now that we know more about it, its helping us to be able to do what he would have wanted.
Most likely, "ON" is either his magickal name, or an abbreviation of his name, ie it was "O... N..." If he was close to Magus, he would have probably followed the "ON" with 8°=3□
Or if he had reached this grade, it would be 9°=2□
Either way, "ON", and his civil name, should be enough for the OTO/EGC/A.'. A.'. folks to sort out any loose ends left by his death. Sorting this out is the least of your worries now, however, take your time. Just a small thing that he would have appreciated having done.
Great thanks for the advice, we will pass that on to the Bishop who we should hopefully hear from soon.
In regards to sorting things out, is this something we can do with whoever necessary or is it dealt with by members only or something? Should we send his details to somebody or the OTO if there are loose ends to tie up?
What sort of loose ends would there be? As if to be remembered by his brothers?
You've been amazing thank you.
We will stay on the forum just incase theres any further advice from yourself or any body else, until the funeral takes place and we will give an update if we find any more.
What i meant by loose ends were the A.'. A.'. teacher, and student, relationships that he may have had. Most likely the EGC Bishop will be able to pass his details on to those folks. I'm assuming when you reached out to them, you mentioned his name, so this may well have already been taken care of.
The OTO is more of a fraternal/social organization, so they will certainly notify his OTO brothers and sisters of his death.
I see, so it is best in their hands of the OTO and the Bishop to let them know of this death. Yes, we've given them his details.
Out of curiosity, is there something that the brothers and sisters or fellow thelemites do to remember him?
What happens to all of Tom's writings and journals to do with Thelema etc etc.. is this more of a personal choice for us to decide? he was private about some things but other things we did discuss.
Best wishes to you also
I am not a member of those groups, so i don't know what they may or may not do.
As to anything he wrote, totally up to you what to do with it. Don't be too quick to discard it all.
Examine his books carefully. Any Crowley stuff published before the '80s or so may have some collector value, any first editions will be worth selling for example. In general, any quite old looking, or very nicely bound, book is worth checking on ebay/abebooks/alibris to see if it is worth money. It is quite likely his local OTO Lodge/Camp/Oasis might be happy to get his books donated to them.
Ah thank you for that advice.
We have been told that there is a brother local to us who will be in touch which is promising. Thank you for pointing us in the right direction and your continued support and guidance.
We have been through some of his work and writings and found the numbers we spoke about. They are 9°=2□.
I'm struggling with the mystery that we haven't been in touch with anyone who was Thelemic that he would have known, is that because we are not a member do you think? Or is that because you dont need to be in contact with anyone in order to continue to follow Thelema and pass through the degrees.
We have spoken to the bishop and we have readings to choose from that you and she have suggested. Thank you for that.
I hope you dont mind us asking you, just that you've helped us before.
This is a very very advanced degree. He would not have had a teacher for a while at this point, but should have had a student one grade below him, although that student would be entirely independent as being himself/herself very advanced.
As to why you have not heard from anyone "Thelemic", i can't say. Have you reached out to his friends? The OTO Bishop should presumably have been able to notify anyone who needed to know of his death. There is no inherent reason that Thelemites per se would not be in touch to offer condolences.
Best wishes again, and glad to hear from you again as i of course had been wondering how things were going for you.
Thanks for your swift reply.
There are so many questions right now, and I appreciate you answering every one that we have thrown in your direction!
...I'm just thinking, surely there must have been somebody who knew that he passed through these degrees, would he have had somebody who is above him who he would have had regular contact with or something? Kind of like a mentor. Or would that be the bishop?
It's just a mystery to us, and maybe these things we will never get the answers to our questions, we have no problem with that, we respect the privacy of everyone including Tom. I suppose we are just curious because he had very few friends and even they didnt know about Thelema. It seems to be that it was his private thing.
There are no very certain or general answers, i wish i could be more helpful. There are no more teachers at that level. Perhaps with time, more clarity will emerge. To steal a phrase from our Wiccan cousins, blessed be.
I appreciate that. We did think that these are just general questions that may never have answers, but I had to ask just incase.
I appreciate your reply and blessings. Thank you for all your help and support. Youve been really kind to us and we as a family wont forget that.