London, December 2, 1935
STRICTLY PRIVATE AND CONFIDENTIAL
FOR THE PERUSAL OF MR. H. SPENCER LEWIS
AND NO OTHER PERSON.
My dear Imperator,
It is really very good of you to have answered my letter at such length and
with such care.
Let me first reply to your points.
(1) I have never doubted your knowledge of many of the facts in question. But I do
not think that any apparent variance between your position and mine is irreconcilable.
A. John Yarker’s activities were first and foremost Masonic, and in point of fact he
quarreled with everybody! His organisation was never more than a mere skeleton.
After the original splash in which he affiliated a hundred or more High Grade Masons
to the rites of Memphis and Mizraim, the opposition of the Scottish Rite in Golden
Square (now in Duke Street) brought everything to naught. We had barely enough
men to fill the Grand Office. My Diploma from Yarker is dated November 29, 1910.
My Diploma from Frosini is dated 2666 AUC. I have an American Diploma, dated
March 21, 1913, among others.
B. Reuss could not have been Grand Master of England because he was Grand Master
of Germany. But he was the real successor, as opposed to the official successor,
simply because of his ability and energy. In a letter written to me shortly before his
death, Yarker definitely designated Henry Meyer to succeed him as National Grand
Master of England. Henry Meyer was present at the convocation of Grand Masters in
1914. I was elected Patriarch Grand Administrator General; and Meyer left all the
work to me.
Reuss was a man of action who understood realities; and, while very
scrupulous about Minutes and Charters and son on, did not allow himself to be
fettered by them.
From 1912 until the outbreak of the war, I was seeing Reuss nearly every day,
and my revised Rituals were approved by him. He was almost invariably present at
The war made it very difficult for Reuss and myself to communicate, and it
was only after the armistice that we resumed regular correspondence.
(2) All that I did was done directly under Reuss’ supervision and his request. It has
nothing to do with the Golden Dawn, and I certainly did not call this Rosicrucian,
because it derives directly from Egyptian symbolism. There are no groups or meetings
in this Order. (The “Temple” activities have always been doubtfully regular, and were
discontinued in 1904.)
(3) As I stated previously, Franz Hartmann was titular Grand Master of U.S.A. But I
am inclined to agree with you that his activities cannot have been overt.
(4) I have the Charter among my papers now in Warehouse. With regard to my letter
relations with Reuss, I have to point out that the defeat of Germany meant his
complete financial ruin. He was shooting about in all directions (in what I must
regretfully describe as a random manner) for support. He would issue Diploma to all
sorts of people, for instance Traänker, without proper investigation. He was, I think,
also a little resentful with the part I had played during the war. It was when he had
given up all hope that he wrote (to - not from - Sicily) appointing me O.H.O. to
succeed him. The approach of death naturally restored his equilibrium.
(5) I do not expect to hear from people who are dead. And, as you are aware, in
Germany and Italy all such activities are rigorously suppressed. But I occasionally
receive letters from individuals of high position in the old organisation. All this has no
importance because there were at no time any large or important Lodges. It was a case
of a few and isolated people struggling along as best they could, and the war killed
(6) I have a letter from the Grand Master of the Order of the Martinists who
succeeeded Papus, in which letter I am fully recognised, dated March 8th, 1928.
(7) I have already dealt with thus under (4).
(8) My point is that it does not matter who claims to be the Head of an Order which
has no existence in fact. The only Rituals workable under modern conditions are those
of the O.T.O. written by me at the instigation, and under the supervision, of Reuss.
The only thing that matters is the ultimate secret of the O.T.O., which is not
disclosed below IX°. That secret is important because its possession confers real
powers. I do not know whether you yourself are in possession of it, as you have not
claimed any degree beyond the VII°. But persons in charge of Governments are under
no illusions as to the value of this decret, and have gone to incredible lengths in the
hope of discovering it. See separate documents enclosed.
I have no evidence of any authority conferred on you except the Reuss
Diploma, which is after all a very guarded document, and not in any sense a Warrant
or Charter. Besides, it is revocable. I am sure you will thank me for not referring to
the City of Toulouse. What have you then which is definitely Rosicrucian in character
? What authority have you apart from that of the O.T.O.? In this working there is
ample authority from sources which you have so far not mentioned. But if I had
authority whatever, my possession of the ultimate secret would confer it.
In short, I had better tell you exactly what happened. When Mathers brought
action against the Equinox in 1910 and was thrown out of Court, Reuss came to me
and said: “I am the secret Chief of the Rosicrucian Order.” I said: “Speak to my
secretary, and he will assign you a place in the queue.” For at that time about a dozen
or more dead-heads came along, each claiming to be the sole and supreme chief of the
But, some time later, on the publication of a certain book of mine, Reuss again
called upon me, and said: “You mus be obligated immediately to the IX° of the
O.T.O.” I asked why. He replied: “Because you have published the Secret.” I said: “I
have done nothing of the sort. I do not know the secret. What is it?” He then told me
the Secret. I said: “I have never heard this before, and I have certainly never published
anything about it.” He went to my bookshelves, took down the book in question, and
pointed out to me the passage! I was aghast. It had been written under inspiration, and
my conscious mind had paid no attention. I had printed the passage because it had
been written under inspiration, in a mood of not wanting to be bothered to revise what
I meant to print. I saw at once that he was right, I realised the importance of the
matter. I accepted the obligations. And I devoted myself to the work of the O.T.O.
(9) I hold no brief for Dr. Krum-Heller, but he has certainly been doing work of some
practical importance. As his aims are generally sympathetic; I do not think that he
should be altogether ignored.
(10) On page 1 of your letter you deny very emphatically that the Scottish Rite and
the Rites of Memphis and Mizraim are in any factor in your claim. Yet the only
document on which you base your claim is devoted to these Rites, as concentrated in
the O.T.O. (which is printed in big type right across the Diploma) and nothing
whatever is said about Rosicrucians. Further, my own private Seal is at the foot of the
document. At the same time I wish to point out that according to my information it
has always been strictly forbidden for any Rosicrucian to claim to be one. I shall be
interested to learn why you have departed from this tradition. - I take it that it is
legitimate to say that authority is “derived” from them. -
I think that the above should be an adequate basis for complete understanding
between us. There is no need for allowing these matters to come to the knowledge of
I will now go a little into personal matters. I may remark to begin with that my
bankruptcy affairs were conducted on purely Rosicrucian principles, and have not in
any way affected my income. I am sorry about the ‘egotism’, but I thought that you
wanted the facts.
You write: “you say that you can clear yourself.” I said that “I had been
cleared.” The only difficulty that remains is to get this fact into the alleged minds of
the kind of people who read the lowest class of Sunday newspaper, and believe the
rubbish there printed. This would not matter except for the fact that even people who
know that the allegations against me are pure nonsense are afraid of the prejudice of
the illeterate. My position is in this respect precisely similar to your own. But owing
to the state of the Law in America you have no real remedy against people like
Swinburne Clymer. Otto Kahn was over here in 1922 when there was some question
of a libel action and he said to me: “in America they can print that I robbed my
partner, and raped my cook; and there is nothing I can do about it.” Now in England
we have a good enough Law, but we cannot make proper use of it unless we can
afford to pay the top-nitchers. I did not know this at the time of my libel against action
against Constable, or I should have briefed Sir Patrick Hastings. I was innocent
enough to think that, because my case was so good, Truth would prevail by its own
manifestation. But I have other actions pending, and shall conduct them properly.
What is principally needed is to convict Betty May of parjury. She openly boasts of
how she fooled the Judge, and steps are actually in process to bring out a pectacular
You will remember that when I met you in New York, I was not altogether in
sympathy with your methods, but that when you were attacked by mutinous members
of your organisation, I rallied immediately to your defence. I also did you a good turn
in respect of the Charter purporting to be from the “French Rosicrucians in Toulouse”,
by pointing out that if they had mastered all the secrets of Nature, those of elementary
rules of French grammar still baffled them, so that you wisely withdrew the
document. It is not the only occasion on which it seems that your good faith has been
abused. Some Latinists deplore some note paper.
And I have not forgotten that when two delegates of the 33° (Sovereign Grand
Council of Detroit) visited the Coast in 1919, you spoke very highly of me. But I have
never in any way interfered with you or challenged your jurisdiction, and I have only
approached you this year because of the attacks upon you by this swindling imposter
Swinburne Clymer. And I think that any divergence in opinion between us as to the
propriety of our respective methods should not be a cause of controversy. I may point
out that it seems doubtful whether you have read more than a small part of my
published work; and certainly none of the secret and unpublished writings, which are
of far greater importance. So I will ask you to reserve judgment. As to your own
methods, I quite understand for instance your use of Franz Hartmann’s book. Being,
as you are, in partibus gentium, it is perhaps natural that you should find that the only
way to get elementary ideas into the heads of the natives is to do it as you have been
doing. There is no way of making such people value what is of importance except by
making them pay for it. In England you would be snowed under with law-suits and
prosecutions within a few months.
But it does seem to me that the attacks upon you have not been without effect,
and the evidence of your connection with me is quite impossible to withstand. It is not
only the question of the Diploma from Reuss, which is apparently the only document
on which you rely, but of your having adopted numerous phrases, symbols and other
matter from the Equinox, which is definitely my own. There are also numerous
references in the letters and documents reproduced by Clymer which prove to any
independent party that his contention is correct in this particular matter. Now I do not
in the least object to your adopting ‘Crowley’s Black Cross’, (so-called because it is far
older than Crowley, and because it contains all the coulours of the rainbow) but it
does not mean that if Crowley is such a terrible person, you are tarred with the same
brush. Whereas if you helped to put him forward as the celebrated Virgin Martyr, you
will yourself appear at the close of the operation “whiter than the white wash on the
wall.” I am urging these matters upon you, because I feel certain that you are in
danger of being hounded down and your usefulness destroyed. I cannot impress too
strongly upon you that when it comes to a scrap in a law-court the judge will see the
difference between such serious literature as The Equinox, and ad captandum
advertisements such as Clymer quotes on page 79 of his disgusting libel.
One of the ways in which you can help me is by informing me whether
Clymer has any following in England. If I can find anybody who publishes (that is,
according to English law, who hands to any other person not protected by legal
privilege) a copy of Clymer’s pamphlet, I will send him to prison in two shakes of a
Paschal Lamb’s whis ers. And such procedure would immediately destroy any
influence he may have in the U.S.A.
I will indicate to Mr. Schneider the lines on which these operations may be
Yours in the bonds of the Order
(Separate note attached to the above)
Excerpt from Therion’s letter of Dec. 2nd;
“It is perhaps best not to admit having seen the Lewis stuff, as I go for him rather
heavily from the last page. Your job is, of course, to get him to put his organisation in
England at my disposal for the purpose of the vindication, and to guarantee the costs
for the best legal assistance.”
London, December 2, 1935
Wisdom is always taste—in both Latin and Hebrew, the word for wisdom comes from the word for taste—so it’s something to taste, not something to theorize about. “Taste and see that God is good,” the psalm says; and that’s wisdom: tasting life. No one can do it for us. The mystical tradition is very much a Sophia tradition. It is about tasting and trusting experience, before institution or dogma.
- Matthew Fox