Camp, Oasis and Lodge
A guide to O.T.O. local initiate bodies
[based on the O.T.O. International Bodymaster’s Handbook, (2000 e.v. edition)]
NOTICE: The following, while of reasonably general application as regards the nature and function of the different types of body, should not be taken as definitive as regards specific administrative details around the formation and responsibility of local initiate bodies. These have varied over time, and vary between different Grand Lodges, provinces with national sections under a Frater Superior’s Representatives, and those under the direct rule of IHQ. For a definitive statement of current rules in your area, contact the appropriate governing body.
In the documents of O.T.O. you will see references to different types of O.T.O. body. Besides the various governing bodies discussed in Liber CXCIV, the three which are of most concern for members of the Man of Earth Triad are the three types of official local initiate bodies: the Camp, Oasis and Lodge.
A Camp or encampment is the smallest and most basic kind of formally chartered body; a Camp may be as simple as a small study group or as complex as an Oasis. A Camp may have a specific purpose or emphasis — to conduct research, to perform rituals with a particular focus, to publish a journal, maintain a website, build temple furniture, etc. — or may simply provide a presence for the Order in a particular region. Camps are encouraged to provide classes or publish instructional material, and to perform the Gnostic Mass on a regular basis. A Camp may be established by a single member of the I° or above in good standing. Camps must keep an accurate record of financial transactions and maintain a valid mailing address.
An Oasis is the next step up; it is a larger and more general group. Oases host regular performances of the Gnostic Mass and initiations into the degrees Minerval to III°, in addition to other activities varying according to circumstances, number of members, and so forth. For an Oasis to be formed, or a Camp upgraded to an Oasis, it is necessary to have one member in III° or above with a charter to initiate (this person need not be the bodymaster, but the bodymaster must in any case be III° or above), plus two or more other initiate members [which is usually taken to mean I° or above]. An Oasis must have all the necessary facilities to perform initiations up to III°, and has the same record keeping and reporting requirements as a Camp; additionally it must keep an accurate record of initiations performed.
A Lodge performs all the functions (and has all the responsibilities) of an Oasis, and additionally can host initiations to IV° and P.I., although these must be conducted by a visiting VII° if the Lodge master is not chartered to initiate to these degrees. The head of a Lodge must be an initiate of at least the V° with a charter to initiate, and the Lodge must be able to conduct initiations up to III° without outside assistance [in other words, there must be enough members in III° or above to fill all the officer parts in the III° ritual; the Lodge must have all the temple furniture, props, etc., to stage all the Man of Earth degrees]. Lodges may also be required to assist the Order in legal matters, and are required to keep complete records beyond the requirements for the lesser bodies. They are encouraged to produce publications — journals, papers, or what have you — for the advancement of Thelemic Knowledge, and are expected to celebrate the Gnostic Mass as often as possible. The primary functions of Lodges are (a) Service to a large body of members and (b) perpetuation of the life of the Order if disaster befalls the Grand Lodge.
In Liber CXCIV, O.T.O. An Intimation with reference to the Constitution of the Order, it is written that Lodge Masters are appointed by the Electoral College of the Order. Applications for body charters in province where the Electoral College has been instituted should thus be addressed to the President of the EC. In provinces where no national Grand Lodge is established, applications for body charters must be addressed to the International Secretary General; where a Frater Superior’s Representative has been appointed, applications must be sent to International Headquarters via this officer.
A Grand Lodge is a national administrative body which co-ordinates the activities of O.T.O. in a particular country, in so far as is practicable along the lines laid out in Liber CXCIV. At the time of writing Grand Lodges have been established in the U.S.A. and the U.K.; in other provinces, more ad hoc arrangements apply; some better-established national sections are governed by national or regional “Frater Superior’s representatives” others directly by IHQ.
In accordance with the 1917 Constitution, Article XI, section 6, no member may belong to more than one official local initiate body.
Most of the above is paraphrased or quoted verbatim from the O.T.O. International Bodymaster’s Handbook, 2000 e.v. edition. Different rules concerning the formation and membership of local initiate bodies apply under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodges; for reliable information please consult the latest revision of the Camp, Oasis and Lodge Master’s handbook for your area (any chartered OTO bodymaster should be in possession of a copy of this document).
The last revision of the USGL Bodymaster’s Handbook I was able to consult, included a statement specifically rescinding the rule barring membership of multiple local initiate bodies; however this was some years ago. I have not so far managed to discover a definite statement one way or the other in the current (2005) UKGL edition, of which I do not possess a copy.
At the time of last revision (September 2005), I have just been informed that an Electoral College is now operational under UK Grand Lodge. I have also been informed by the U.K. Initiations Secretary that under UKGL, initiations to III° cannot, as was previously the case, be conducted under Camps where the campmaster had a charter to initiate, but must rather be conducted under the auspices of an Oasis or Lodge.
A paragraph referring to “working groups” has been deleted. I have been reasonably reliably informed that the semi-official recognition of such unchartered bodies, which in any case was a local practice peculiar to the U.K., has recently (June 2004 e.v.) formally ceased. Such groups now have no status at all within the Order.
[ Key entry by Frater T.S. for Nu Isis Working Group, Leeds. ]