(NOTE: All names have been changed to protect privacy.)

In April 2015, Sophia opened her mail and found a package. Inside was a blue glass butt plug. Terror froze her heart as she realized she had a stalker: a fellow OTO member named Mona.

Mona had come into the lodge in 2014, announcing to all and sundry: “I’m so horny! I can’t wait to f$@% in the Gnostic Mass!” Those were literally her first words. All present were disgusted. Disgust turned to loathing as Mona began to strip. As if that wasn’t enough, Mona then sat in the Mass and stared constantly at Sophia the whole time, grinning at her with a smile like a skull. Sophia, a pretty and classy woman of color, was terrified and wondered what she had done to cause this treatment.

Once again, Sophia felt violated and defiled as she looked at the obscene object. She went online and called the post office to trace the address on the package. It had come from another country, so Sophia could not obtain further information from the post office. Sophia knew it was from Mona, because she had not worked for fifteen years and had made no enemies outside of work. She was also not on any social media, and had not been for years, which ruled out online harassment. Only Mona of the creepy smile and staring eyes could have sent such a thing to her.

Sophia’s mental and physical health suffered. She developed insomnia and the little sleep she could snatch was plagued by constant nightmares of stalking and violence. She spent days at a time feverishly searching for information on stalking. In her research, she learned that going to the police would be useless, because they would not be able to do anything and/or not take her seriously. In her anxiety and desperation, she turned to the one place she thought could help her. She would soon be in for a rude awakening.

She told the leadership at her local OTO lodge about the butt plug. They took her into a private room and she showed them the object. Ashley, the lodge secretary, laughed and said, “I think Mona has a little crush on you!” The bodymaster, Eddie, also dismissed Sophia’s complaints with a contemptuous laugh. Only Patty and Mike, the lodge’s resident bishops, seemed to have any sympathy. Even this little bit of compassion was marred by Patty’s thoughtless comment, “This looks really expensive! It’s pretty!” The all-white leadership did not take her fear seriously, dismissing her as an “angry black woman.”

A short time later, Ashely e-mailed Sophia a nasty note accusing her of spreading rumors because she had told her friends in the lodge about the stalking and butt plug. “Mona’s your sister, too. She has a right to be here,” Ashley said. Attached was a PDF detailing something called “The Path of Mediation.” Sophia opened the attachment.

The document was a masterpiece of victim-blaming and organizational ass-covering dressed up as a professional attempt to keep peace within the OTO. Included were instructions such as “Look at your part to see what role you played. See how you contributed to the problem.”

At that point, Sophia had had enough. She wrote a polite but frosty reply to Ashley stating that she was the victim, not Mona. The next day at the lodge, Ashley gave Sophia a condescending pat on the head, as if Sophia were a dog. She also stepped in front of Sophia and gave her an unasked-for hug, blocking her way. Ashley asked her how she was feeling.

“How do you think I am?” Sophia replied.

Ashley finally had the sense to realize she had done something wrong and backed off.

Meanwhile, Mona’s odd behavior continued unabated. On one occasion, she lowered her head and ran towards Sophia in the “charge” position, as if she were a quarterback making a touchdown. Only another member’s jumping up to block Mona kept her from grabbing Sophia. When asked to explain her actions, Mona replied, “I was just saying goodbye to Steve.” Mona and Steve were not friends. Indeed, like most of the lodge, Steve could not stand her.

Patty also told Sophia she had received another complaint about Mona from another member. It was revealed later that Mona allegedly pushed a man into the lodge bathroom, locked the door, and said, “My breasts are so big! I need you to milk them for me!” Mona then sexually assaulted the man. No investigation was done into this serious allegation of sexual abuse in the OTO lodge. Instead, Mona was allowed to carry on as usual.

Sophia had no other recourse but to ask Ed for permission to talk to Mona in the private room. Eddie gave her permission, but told her “don’t beat up Mona in the lodge” in a stunning display of racism, assuming Sophia was the stereotypical “ghetto black woman” despite Sophia’s well-spoken eloquence, intelligence, and dignity.

A few weeks later in June 2015, Sophia took Mona into the private room and called her out for her egregious misbehavior. In a low but icy voice, she enumerated Mona’s misdeeds one by one. Mona tried to deny stalking Sophia, but in the end, she could only bow her head in submission as she admitted her crimes.

A short time later, Sophia formally resigned from the OTO. Mona also left the lodge, not to return until the following year.

Mona’s stalking of Sophia was not the only violation of consent that did not go unpunished. On July 9, 2016,  during a workshop in Enochian magick, a lodge officer named Madison allegedly told a young man named Franklin she needed to talk to him, took him by the hand, and led him outside the lodge. She then offered to perform oral sex on Franklin in the elevator. Of course, Madison was not sanctioned for her harassment of younger members.

Thelema is supposed to be sex-positive and tolerating of all forms of sexual conduct. This is implied in the creed, “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law. Love is the law, love under Will.” As illustrated in the above account, the OTO does not practice what it preaches. Sexual harassment and stalking are openly tolerated in the OTO. These violations of members’ will are routinely covered up and the victims silenced, because “love under will” means “party 24/7” to the leadership. It is routine for people to openly have sex in the lodge and discuss their sex lives for hours on end, not to mention drinking to the point of intoxication. As long as the party never ends, what are a few assault and stalking victims?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am feeling a lot of pressure inside to be quiet. My emotional intelligence is not very high. If I offend someone, I know the best way to restore harmony is to apologize for offending the other person and then be careful forever after what I say around them. 

Niceness is my main social currency. My main criteria for saying something is, “Is it agreeable to others?” If so, I can go ahead and say it. If not, I will wait until I am around like-minded people before saying it. I withhold pieces of myself, saying certain things to some people and not others. Other people will hear different things that I won’t say to some people. I have different friends who I express different sides of myself with. 

Authenticity is overrated in my world. It is a privilege that only the few can enjoy.

 

When I was eighteen, I got saved for the twenty-first time. I went to some Christian concert and they had an altar call. They said something I had never heard before; If you don’t repent, you are not saved. I had said the sinners’ prayer before, but I had never consciously turned away from my sins, whatever those were. (As a very sheltered teen, I spent almost all my time in school, church, and extracurricular activities, plus I had hours of homework every night. I did not have the time to get in trouble at all trivial.) 

Cue me freaking out about hellfire and dalmatians. I got saved (again), went back to my dorm room, and threw all my rock music down the trash chute across the hall. Three dozen cassette tapes got thrown away that night. A bit later, some lady came to our youth group and said if you were pro-choice, you weren’t Christian (and therefore, would burn forever and ever in hell). 

I had always been moderately Democratic in my political leanings, such as they were, but I now was forced to engage in doublethink to convince myself I was a Republican. I thought that being Christian meant I had to agree with whatever these people said and believed. I was young and not dumb, but my brain was numb with fear. All the morality plays and Puritan literature I had to read as an English major only made the religious mania worse.

The lid began to be unscrewed in my junior year of college, when my then-fiance and I interviewed L7 at Hammerjack’s. They put down Domino’s Pizza because they were anti-choice – and I found myself agreeing with them. The first doubts had been planted.

A year later, I was at an SCA party and tried to witness to a couple about being born again. To make a long story short, it completely backfired and I got deconverted from the whole born-again thing instead. 

The aftereffects of the indoctrination still bug me, eighteen years later. I only notice them when I am stressed. I spent most of this past summer convinced the Universe was going to punish me because I took too much pride in winning an award at work. My performance started to decline, and I took that as a signal that I was being punished for being proud of winning the award. I lived in terror that something horrible would happen because the Gods had appointed my employer as a divine authority over me and I was disappointing them by not pleasing my employer. (Don’t even ask where that one came from – I’m guessing something along the lines of obeying the civil authorities, since they are ordained by God). 

After two months of this, a friend recommended that I read Edmund Cohen’s The Mind of the Bible Believer. The book promises to explain how evangelicals tick and how the mind-control system works. 

I am about halfway through the book and it is very fascinating. I’ll be sharing insights I glean from the book, as well as other things I learn as I rip the toxic programming from my soul.