Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Temple of the Silver Star?
The Temple of the Silver Star (TOTSS) is a non-profit religious and educational organization based on the principles of Thelema. It was founded in service to the A∴A∴, under warrant from Phyllis Seckler (Soror Meral), to provide preparatory training in ceremonial magick, Raja Yoga, Qabalah, Tarot, Astrology, and much more. Using these foundational tools, we seek to guide the student toward a deeper apprehension of the True Will, the Law of Thelema, and his or her own psycho-spiritual constitution.
TOTSS has two categories of membership: the ACADEMIC track, and the INITIATORY track.
In our ACADEMIC TRACK, each student is assigned an individual instructor, who provides one-to-one instruction and group classes. Online lectures and similar training options are available for students living at some distance from a campus or qualified instructor. See our Course Curricula and Statement of Policy for more specific information.
Our INITIATORY TRACK offers ceremonial initiation, healing work, and a complete system of training in the Thelemic “mystery traditions”, which encompass diverse wisdom teachings of the East and West. Our degree system is based on the Qabalistic Tree of Life and the cipher formulae of the Golden Dawn, of which we are a lineal descendant. INITIATORY TRACK members have access to all the training materials available in the ACADEMIC TRACK, plus much more.
Our entire curriculum is constructed to be in conformity with the Law of Thelema, and our central aim is to guide each aspirant toward the realization of their purpose in life, or True Will. In order to empower our members to discover and carry out their True Will, we teach Qabalah, Tarot, ceremonial magick, meditation, Astrology, and much more. Our INITIATORY TRACK members meet 1-2 times per month for group ceremonial and healing work, classes, and other instruction. We also regularly offer classes and rituals which are open to the public.
We have active ritual groups across North America and the United Kingdom. Participation in a local Temple or Pronaos is the best way to maximize the benefits of our system. However, we do offer At-Large memberships for those living at some distance from one of our local bodies.
Our INITIATORY TRACK offers a complete course of training in ceremonial magick, meditation, Qabalah, Tarot, Astrology, Qabalistic psychology, and much more. Furthermore, our system places an extremely high value on developing the psychological health and balance of each initiate, as many modern sages such as Aleister Crowley and Israel Regardie have emphasized. We doubt you will find a more powerful integration of modern psychology, ritual magick and the tenets of Thelema in any other training system. Every initiate receives personalized training and oversight from their Temple Chiefs, who have themselves walked the path of the system.
Can you explain more about the difference between the ACADEMIC and INITIATORY tracks?
The ACADEMIC TRACK consists of personalized instruction in Qabalah, ceremonial magick, Raja Yoga, Tarot, Astrology, and much more. Students are assigned an individual teacher who oversees all their work. The curriculum is divided into four Courses, each of which is accomplished within two years, though usually less time is required. Studies are self-paced and largely solitary, with the exception of attendance at our group classes and meetings with the assigned teacher. The ACADEMIC TRACK is non-initiatory in nature; that is, there are no group rituals, no initiations, and no levels (or “degrees”) of membership.
In contrast, the INITIATORY TRACK is (as the name suggests) deeply rooted in the initiatory traditions of the Thelemic mysteries, with a degree system based on the Tree of Life. Progress through the INITIATORY TRACK is marked by a series of degrees, each of which has its own unique practices, transformative processes, and study materials. Most of these materials have never been published. The complete curriculum of the ACADEMIC TRACK (Course One) is spread across the First Order of the INITIATORY TRACK, plus much additional instruction.
Is TOTSS the A∴A∴? Are the rituals and teachings the same?
TOTSS is definitely not the same as A∴A∴. Membership in one group does not constitute or imply membership in the other, nor is participation in TOTSS a prerequisite to membership in A∴A∴. The A∴A∴ system stands completely on its own and operates according to the same time-tested principles that have informed its functioning since its establishment in the early 1900s. More information concerning its principles and practices can easily be found via online sources, such as http://www.hermetic.com.
Since both A∴A∴ and TOTSS are Thelemic Orders, there is naturally much overlap in their philosophical and religious foundations, but the systems of conveying these principles are quite distinct in each Order. However, many who have undergone the training available through TOTSS have found their later work in A∴A∴ was accelerated by virtue of this additional experience. In part, this is due to the general benefit of the increased self-knowledge, psychological balancing, and self-discipline resulting from the TOTSS training; but also, since both Orders (TOTSS and A∴A∴) have degrees or Grades based on the Qabalistic Tree of Life, many have found that their work in TOTSS serves as a valuable foundation for understanding the tasks associated with the paths and sephiroth that they later encounter in their A∴A∴ work. Finally, it should be noted that the training in A∴A∴ is based on one-to-one instruction from teacher to student. With the exception of a small number of initiatory rituals in the early Grades, there are no group meetings, classes or other social functions.
If you are interested in pursuing admission into A∴A∴, please visit the A∴A∴ website for more information.
Are you affiliated with the College of Thelema/Temple of Thelema based in Los Angeles?
No, we are an entirely separate and autonomous organization. However, it should be noted that Soror Meral (Phyllis Seckler) authorized TOTSS to be the continuation of her original work with COT/TOT, and that the family of Phyllis Seckler has designated TOTSS as the sole legal custodian of her literary estate, library, and archives.
I live a long way from the nearest TOTSS local body. Can I still join?
Yes. In the INITIATORY TRACK of TOTSS, we have a category of membership (known as “At-Large”) which allows those living far from a local body, or for whom there are other constraints on attendance, the opportunity to experience our training system. The curriculum for At-Large members is exactly the same as for Active members. In-person attendance is still required for your own initiations and advancements, as well as certain processes that require testing in the presence of your Temple Chiefs. If you can travel to one of our Temples at least once per year, At-Large membership might work well for you. Distance-learning opportunities exist within the ACADEMIC TRACK as well, including online lectures and webcam-based instruction with your assigned Instructor.
How often are meetings held?
Within each TOTSS initiate group (which is called a Temple or a Pronaos), rituals and classes are held 1-2 times per month on a regular and predictable schedule. In addition, we frequently offer rituals and classes that are open to the public, via Temples, Pronaoi, Campus, and Study Groups. Please see our Locations for schedules and more information.
How much time will be required of me on a day-to-day basis for my personal magical work?
Most members find that approximately thirty minutes per day is adequate in the early stages of our training. In the later degrees more time will likely be required, but at every stage, our system is designed to be workable for aspirants dealing with the family and work responsibilities inherent in modern life.
What does it cost to be a member?
For both the ACADEMIC and INITIATORY tracks there is a one-time affiliation fee of $93 ($31 for applicants residing in Mexico, and Central or South America.) INITIATORY TRACK members who are active in a local group pay additional dues of approximately $15-25 per month. At-Large initiates who are unable to attend regularly due to distance or other constraints pay only $45-75 per year. IMPORTANT: No one is ever excluded from membership due to inability to pay dues or fees when there is genuine financial hardship.
Why are you charging membership fees and dues? Initiation should not be for sale!
We agree completely. Your dues and fees do not pay for initiation itself; they go to support the overall non-profit activities of TOTSS. Our initiators, clergy, instructors, and administrators are all volunteers, and all monies are directed toward the actual costs of maintaining an organization such as ours: printing, publishing, maintenance of Temple equipment, office supplies, rental costs, and so on.
Is TOTSS a church?
TOTSS is organized as a 501(c)(3) non-profit, tax-exempt religious corporation, and in many respects we function like a typical church. We offer private and public rituals that, for many in attendance, may be experienced as worship. Furthermore, our clergy (Hierophants and Bishops, under the supervision of the Patriarch) administer the traditional sacraments such as marriage, last rites, and ministering to the sick. Our Patriarch and Bishops embody a valid Gnostic-Thelemic apostolic succession extending many generations into the past.
In contrast to many churches, however, we do not demand that our members or attendees interpret our scripture or religious practices in a prescribed and inflexible manner. In keeping with the Law of Thelema, we celebrate the right of each individual to interpret their inner experiences as they see fit.
Do you celebrate the Gnostic Mass?
No, we do not celebrate Liber XV, the Gnostic Catholic Mass. We present a public ritual known as The Mass of the Four Gates, as well as other celebratory and sacramental religious rites.
Your website says that TOTSS is a lineal descendent of the Golden Dawn. What does that mean? Do such lineages really matter?
TOTSS is indeed a lineal descendent of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. Our present leadership forms the most recent link in an unbroken chain extending back through several predecessor Orders to the original founders of the Golden Dawn, and beyond. Each successive generation of these Orders, including our own, was formed from the ranks of the highest levels of leadership within its predecessor.
Some people feel that such lineages are very important in our Work. Others disagree. What is clear is that our Order is a living, growing system, with new discoveries, practices and materials being added constantly; but we are built on the foundation of many who have gone before us, and when rightly understood and employed, this heritage is a great asset. Naturally, each aspirant must decide for him- or herself whether a particular Order is right for them, and whether historical lineage is an important factor in this decision.
Aren’t the Golden Dawn rituals relics of the “Old Aeon” and outdated?
Some might argue that this is true of the original Golden Dawn rituals. However, the ritual forms we use in TOTSS have been heavily modified to bring them in accordance with the philosophies, attitudes and symbol sets most relevant to practitioners of Thelema. We are the beneficiaries of more than a century of continued development in our training methods, via the predecessor Mystery Schools that have come before us, who themselves drew on the successes and failures of their predecessors. Most importantly, TOTSS is administered by Adepts of the Inner School, who have forged links to the spiritual sources that continually feed and develop all such outer orders as TOTSS. We do not expect or require our initiates to believe this simply because we say so. We encourage all seekers to work with our methods with appropriate skepticism, and come to their own conclusions about their effectiveness and authenticity.
Haven’t the Golden Dawn rituals all been published?
Many of the original Golden Dawn materials have indeed been published. However, even those familiar with the older versions of these rituals will find much that is refreshingly new in our presentation of them. Similarly, many of the supplementary instructional materials, rituals, and approaches to psychological transformation built into our system are far more sophisticated than those offered by the original Golden Dawn. We do not claim sole credit for all of these improvements—a century of development in our predecessor mystery schools, along with the discoveries of modern depth psychology, have given us many valuable tools with which we can work.
Aren’t the Golden Dawn rituals Christian in orientation?
In some senses this is true, if one considers only the original forms of these rituals. However, the rituals of TOTSS have been completely reformulated to be in accord with the Law of Thelema. The symbols, ritual patterns, and Divine Names employed are those most in harmony with the principles set forth in The Book of the Law, which is the foundational text of our Order.
I’m a Thelemite. Why would I want to join an Order based on the Golden Dawn?
When Aleister Crowley and George Cecil Jones reformulated the basic patterns of the Golden Dawn into the system known as A∴A∴, their aim was to strip away unnecessary processes which might be obstacles or distractions in the path of the aspirant. In the process of doing so, however, they discarded many of the opportunities for structured, preparatory training which aspirants to A∴A∴ might find beneficial. Over the last several decades, we have noted that many initiates of our system have gone on to have greater success in A∴A∴ than those who have not had the benefit of this preparatory training. For example, TOTSS uses a degree system based on the Qabalistic Tree of Life, as does A∴A∴. Accordingly, TOTSS initiates have the opportunity to experience the various tasks of the sephiroth and paths on the Tree at a lower level of intensity, so that when they eventually pursue the full work of A∴A∴, they are empowered by this prior work.
Furthermore, a central goal of our First Order is to lead the aspirant to a basic understanding of their True Will—that central Truth, or life purpose, resident in every human. Any Thelemite will likely appreciate the value of a training system that can aid aspirants in this manner. The unfolding of this self-knowledge occurs in a gradual and progressive manner, and the aspirant acquires many skills of magick, meditation, and psychological development along the way. Entry into our Second Order brings with it a full arsenal of traditional as well as newly developed magical techniques, so that this True Will may be enacted with power, wisdom, love, joy, and beauty.
I am new to magick and Thelema. Would TOTSS be a good fit for me?
While familiarity with the basics of Qabalah and related traditions, or prior exposure to magick and meditation, are certainly helpful, they are by no means prerequisites to entry into our training system. Many magical beginners have entered our Order and had great success—we really do teach “from the ground up.”
I am an experienced magician. Would TOTSS be a good fit for me?
Prior experience in magick forms a wonderful foundation for the specific work offered in our Order. No matter what magical work you may have done previously, you will likely find that our system gives you new ways of working, and empowers you to make the most of what you already know. The psychological transformational processes alone would be a worthy course of work for an experienced magician. In addition, as bearers of an unbroken historical and spiritual linkage to the founders of both A∴A∴ and the Golden Dawn, we are the beneficiaries of much training material that has never been published, and is not likely to be encountered outside our system.
Is instruction available in languages other than English?
While several of our individual instructors and study group leaders are able to convey aspects of our training material in other languages, at the present time it is necessary for all TOTSS members to be fluent in spoken and written English. Specific classes and other informal instruction may be presented in other languages in our campuses and study groups in non-English-speaking countries. NOTE: We are now accepting Portuguese-speaking applicants to the Academic Track (but not the Initiatory track.)
Who was Phyllis Seckler (Soror Meral)?
Phyllis Seckler (1917-2004) was one of the most important Thelemites of the 20th century. She was initiated into O.T.O. in 1939, and a year later into A∴A∴, under the tutelage of Jane Wolfe. Wolfe had studied with Aleister Crowley at the Abbey of Thelema in Cefalu, Sicily, and was an important figure in the early history of Thelema in the United States. Seckler was later recognized as an Adeptus Minor of A∴A∴ by Karl Germer, who was the head of A∴A∴ after the death of Aleister Crowley. After Germer’s death in 1962, Seckler carried the torch of A∴A∴ and Thelema into the modern era, supervising several generations of A∴A∴ students, and publishing the landmark journal In the Continuum for more than two decades. Before her death, Seckler authorized the formation of TOTSS as a continuation of her life’s work, and we are honored to carry her teachings forward into the next century of Thelema’s development. The family of Phyllis Seckler has designated TOTSS as the sole legal custodian of her literary estate, library, and archives.
Where can I find the writings of Soror Meral?
Soror Meral’s writings within In the Continuum, as well as other unpublished writings and correspondence, have been collected by TOTSS into a series of publications. The first of these, The Thoth Tarot, Astrology, & Other Selected Writings, originally appeared in the fall of 2010, and is available via our online Store. The second volume of Soror Meral’s writings, The Kabbalah, Magick, and Thelema. Selected Writings Volume II, was released in the summer of 2012, and may be ordered via Weiser Antiquarian Books and Amazon.com.
Who was Jane Wolfe?
Jane Wolfe was a silent film actress in Hollywood in the early 20th century. She began a correspondence with Aleister Crowley, and in 1920 she became one of the core residents of Crowley’s famed Abbey of Thelema in Cefalu, Sicily. Wolfe was admitted to A∴A∴ under Crowley, and remained a supporter and close associate of his until the end of his life. By virtue of her direct study with Crowley, Wolfe was an important ambassador of Thelema to the U.S. after her return to Los Angeles. She was a resident of the original Agape Lodge of O.T.O. in the 1930s and 1940s, and in 1940 she admitted Phyllis Seckler as her A∴A∴ student. This linkage to Seckler proved to be a crucial one in the development of modern Thelema, as Seckler went on to convey Crowley’s teachings to several new generations of students, ensuring that the flame of A∴A∴ would never be extinguished.
Is TOTSS affiliated with Ordo Templi Orientis (O.T.O.)?
No, there is no organizational affiliation between these Orders. Our rituals, administration, and initiatory systems are entirely different. However, we strongly support the work of O.T.O., and many of our initiates have found value in O.T.O.’s system.
How do I apply for membership?
How can I find out more about TOTSS?
Please feel free to write to firstname.lastname@example.org with any additional questions. You might also wish to join our Google group or Like our Facebook page, so you can receive announcements of upcoming events and participate in online discussions.