The following is part III of a paper submitted by Frater Entelecheia is a member of Horizon O.T.O. in Seattle, Washington entitled: “A Pattern of Trust: Building a Thelemic Lodge Culture.” There’s a lot of food for thought here!
Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
The trust we have with current and prospective members is our most valuable asset. As I’ve claimed previously, we build trust by demonstrating our commitment to our Higher Cause through our words and through our deeds. According to our Supreme and Holy King, that Higher Cause is, broadly speaking, “to collectively approach, encounter, and magnify the Divine … through our shared Fraternal bonds … [and] through the sacred rituals that we work together.”
The Pattern of Building Trust
Step Three: Integration
Individual Perspective: The individual attends more than one event. They begin to have conversations and to form connections with members of the local body. They form connections on social media. They learn more about what we stand for, what we’re trying to do, and how we go about doing it. At this point they have become part of our broader community that supports us through event attendance and donations. They speak positively of us to people outside our community, helping attract new people at Steps One and Two.
Lodge Perspective: An individual is becoming integrated into our community because we have made it feel safe and inviting. We have acted with integrity on more than one occasion. We have struck up conversations with these individuals at our events. We have made a point of discovering common ground with them. We’ve let them know how to find out about upcoming events. We’ve made a point of friending them on social media. We’ve let them know how they can support our work and learn more about us.
Measure of Success: Your success at Step Three is arguably the most important for long-term growth, because this is the level where Lodge culture has the greatest impact. Culture consists in the actions we take. Those actions either build trust or corrode it. A corrosive culture will eventually drive away your core ritualists and officers, but before that happens, it will manifest as a shrinking periphery or broader community. On the other hand, a large, healthy broader community means you are successfully broadcasting your beliefs beyond your immediate circle.
Comment: If you have a Lodge culture which models O.T.O. values – where people are serious about the work, don’t engage in gossip or obsess over Order politics, follow the Path of Mediation, practice Consent Culture, don’t unduly indulge in alcohol, keep drama levels low, respect boundaries, don’t take themselves too seriously, and generally conduct themselves with continence and wit – then you will attract diverse Thelemites to your broader community. If you don’t do those things or do the opposites of them, you’ll attract “powerful magician” types and assorted mouthbreathers.
On the other hand, adding too much local culture on top of Lodge culture can also have a negative impact. Are visitors seeing many types of performances of the Gnostic Mass, or are they seeing the “Our Lodge Way” of doing ritual all the time? Is it necessary to be friends or on the good side of a particular person in the Lodge in order to fit in, or are there many ways for a person to get involved? For that matter, is there pressure to get involved (i.e., do work), or are people made to feel comfortable just being there? Are you putting pressure on people to join right away, or is it okay if they want to just attend events for an indefinite amount of time? Generally, the more ways you allow for people to fit into your community, the more they will fit in, and the larger and more diverse your community will be.
Every Lodge is going to have its own, distinct local culture. You just don’t want that local culture to be overbearing. Because then you’re going to repulse people who share your values and probably end up retaining quite a few who don’t share your values but who are there mostly by virtue of their personal relationships. Build close, enduring bonds. Develop your own style. But leave plenty of space for people who are not exactly like you. Order relationships can feel like family relationships, but the Lodge itself should be more like a business than a family.
Also note that your broader community is a large, powerful source of free advertisement. If you get your Lodge culture dialed in, your members and your broader community will want to speak positively of you to other people. This is a powerful feedback mechanism that could lead to exponential growth.
Love is the law, love under will
TO BE CONTINUED