In Advocacy of a Queer Gnostic Mass
by Michael Effertz
|Hardcover:||102 + xxii pages|
|Publisher:||Luxor Media Group, Los Angeles, CA, 2013|
Reviewed by Frater U.I.F.
In 2012 a serious issue of social justice was raised and presented to the E.G.C. and O.T.O. as an organization. Michael Effertz took it upon himself to draw attention to what he views as contradictory and outdated policy regarding the Gnostic Mass. He did so by producing an incredibly lucid and well-structured argument and supporting documentation in the form of a small book called Priest/ess: In Advocacy of Queer Gnostic Mass.
As inherent in the title, the position of the author is in advocacy of same sex, and "reverse" gender celebration of the Gnostic Mass. Beyond the support for this practice as acceptable, the author formally requests consideration that the practice be accepted as a valid official practice of the O.T.O. and the E.G.C. which is direct opposition to current doctrine. Thee author holds that it is the right of any man, woman, and trans or mixed gender person to officially act as Priest and Priestess in the Gnostic Mass.
As an official publication of O.T.O., Behutet magazine is obliged to state than any and all opinion presented in this article is solely that of the reviewer and in no way represents church doctrine or official O.T.O response. It is our stance that a call for reformation of church doctrine is solely the right and responsibility of the church itself.
This being said we hope to draw attention to this work not only for its primary argument, but also as a shining example of progressive constructive criticism of church policy. In an organization of such a small size, the O.T.O. is no stranger to controversy which tends to take a unpolished form. Most critics of the O.T.O. tend toward the extreme and often are presented in an vitriolic, unprofessional manner. One need look no further than constant Facebook flame wars to shudder at the immature attacks on our organization by well meaning but misguided individuals.
This book is the exact opposite, and defines how one should approach such a criticism. It is divided threefold into the following sections: Argumentum, Apologia, and Auctoritas. Argumentum provides a formal petition to the O.T.O. in advocacy of allowing the public formal practice of same sex and reverse gender Mass. Apologia presents a collection of essays in support of the thesis. Auctoritas consists of selections from Aleister Crowley and the Grand Master Sabazius which the author feels are in support of the practice of Queer Gnostic Mass.
The Argumentum section opens with the official stance of the O.T.O. and E.G.C. quoting: " The role of the Priest shall be filled by a Man, and the role of the Priestess shall be flled by a Woman. For purposes of this document, transgendered and partially transgendered individuals shall be considered to be of the gender with which they most closely identify." Beginning with this official policy, Michael Effertz begins his dissection of the position in a clear thesis, Antithesis, and Consequent of the thesis format which he follows throughout the work.
In this particular example, the author states that the official position is necessarily contradictory. The author purports that in the first part of the stance, individuals must clearly be male or female to act as Priest and Priestess respectively. In the section with allowances for transgendered and partially gendered individuals however, official church policy makes a clear statement that exact gender is inconsequential to the roles. The allowance for gender to be considered as non-definitive opens the door to the argument that gender is not an absolute requirement.
With great acuity, Priest/ess continues on this path both refuting official church policy, and also following the further unintended impacts of said policy. In several areas Priest/ess does show some extremely troubling logical derivatives of current policy.
As another example, it is commonly accepted that the Gnostic Mass is an enactment of the supreme ritual and Magickal reenactment of human reproduction which would by definition require the current gender participants in order to function properly. Mr. Effertz responds here rightly by pointing out that if this was truly a requirement for the proper functioning of the Mass, then a further requirement as to the reproductive ability of the Priest and Priestess would be necessitated. This of course is not the case.
These arguments serve as excellent examples of the logical treatises put forth throughout the book. The remainder of the book is just as effective at presenting the positions of the author adeptly using the writings of Crowley as well as official O.T.O. and E.G.C. policy.
As someone who grew up in a queer family, being raised by a same sex couple from the age of three, I have a very real and personal attachment to matters of gay rights and social justice. I fnd that this does encourage considering my position on these matters in opposition to my membership in these most excellent organizations. Having a vested interest in both sides of this argument helps me to feel at least minimally justified in presenting my personal opinion on the matter, without feeling overly out-of-line. My position on the matter is this: Neither the author of this book, it's supporters or readers are capable of making a fully informed judgment on the true nature of the issue, and the impact that this modification would have upon the true spiritual outcome of the ritual.
The Gnostic Mass is the ritual exemplification of the Supreme Secret of the IX* of O.T.O. Even though the position in support of the Queer Mass is incredibly well argued and supported, one cannot simply ignore the fact that unless one is a member of the Sovereign Sanctuary of the Gnosis, one can not in any way speak to the efficacy of this proposed modification of the ritual. It is my position, and one I feel strongly about, is that no argument on the subject, regardless of its apparent strengths, can be formed in the dark. Until the position on the matter proceeds from a IX* O.T.O. initiate, it cannot be considered to be fully considered with full knowledge of the subject.
It is with this position that I truly hope that those who have the best interests of the organization at heart, such as Mr. Effertz, reach this lofty goal and can reconsider and solidify their theses from this position.
I highly recommend the serious consideration of this book to all initiates as a wonderful example of how one should present progressive and transgressive opinions and reformations to the O.T.O. and other organizations. The book itself is a wonderful feat of logic and debate, and a shining example of the wonderful work being accomplished by current O.T.O. members.