Re: O.T.O. and CWL
Oct 14, 2009 05:04 AM
On November 13, 2006, I wrote the following on the links between Vyvyan Deacon, the OTO and CWL:
'Re: O.T.O. and CWL
Some further information on Vyvyan Deacon and possible OTO links with Leadbeater. Deacon's daughter, Vivienne Browning, wrote in 'Skoob's Occult Review', Aug 1990 that
"As Frater Memnon for the Christian Mystics of the Rose Cross for whom he [Deacon] was the sole custodian in Australasia, he wrote a controversial treatise on LOVE. [her capitals] The C.M.R.C.'s pamphlets and tracts show clearly that his C.M.R.C. was a cover for the OTO and found favour among the youngsters in Christchurch and
An odd claim, and the C.M.R.C. name sounds rather like something A E Waite would have dreamed up.
Dr Tillet in 'The Elder Brother' of course notes Deacon's diaries and correspondence referring to meetings with Leadbeater. However this rather stands or falls on the assumption that Deacon was a representative of the OTO. Dr Tillett claims
"Deacon had been operating a branch of the Ordo Templis Orientis in
Australia from some time prior to 1913 . . ."
This assertion - ie, that a sixteen or seventeen year old boy was running an OTO in Australia - was strongly criticised by Keith Richmond in his recent biography of Frank Bennett.
Personally I have no doubt Deacon was both precocious and enterprising; nonetheless the notion of such a young person running a magickal group in the often puritanical Australia of the early 20th century seems somewhat wide of the mark to me. I would want to see some evidence, and this appears to be lacking.
However, Richmond's reasoning on this is somewhat askance as it assesses the chances of Deacon being an OTO member as unlikely *solely* on the basis that Crowley would not have tolerated Deacon's involvements with other groups.
That does not really address the later clarification by Vivienne Browning (who Richmond refers to as 'Elaine Bailey') that Deacon's OTO contacts were "independent of Bennett and preceded Crowley becoming Outer Head."
Richmond goes on to say the only evidence linking Deacon, and presumably Leadbeater, with a pre-Crowleyan OTO was have that suggested via Wedgewood and Yarker. A link Richmond regards as 'tenuous at best'.
Again, it would be good to have some evidence for purposes of clarification. . . .'
Keith Richmond has contacted me and I would like to correct my assertion that his reasoning was `askance' on the matter of Deacon's not being an OTO member.
Mr Richmond makes clear that there are a number of sources supporting his view that Vyvyan Deacon was an OTO member was unlikely. He says of my posting:
'. . .In it you discuss the assertions made about Deacon's supposed relationship with the O.T.O. in Australia and refer to my book "Progradior and the Beast." While I think your assesment is generally fair and to the point, I would like to take issue with your statement that "However, Richmond's reasoning on this is somewhat askance as it assesses the chances of Deacon being an OTO member as unlikely *solely* on the basis that Crowley would not have tolerated Deacon's involvements with other groups." Simply this is not the case. I also made the point (with regard to the Crowleyan O.T.O.) that (despite the existance of abundant documentation from which I sourced my book) there is "no record of him [Deacon] ever paying any of the fees upon which Crowley was so insistent, nor of him signing any of the required pledge forms" (p. 118). Anyone familiar with the O.T.O. at the time would know that Crowley was an absolute stickler on both these matters, as evidenced throughout my book, so this is no small point. Further I state that Deacon [as a member of the Order rather than just a friend of Bennett's] "failed to rate any mention in the extensive correspondence between Bennett, Crowley, et al." (p. 119) . Given we know (from multiple documents) that Bennett WAS the Head of the Order, and that he speaks regularly of other members, this is surely not an unimportant point?
One of the problems I had rebutting the Deacon/O.T.O. claim is that no-one has offered any evidence (other than the vaguest of hearsay) that even remotely suggests that Deacon was in the Crowleyan O.T.O. This was originally Elaine Bailey / Vivienne Deacon's line, by the way, but she changed it to "pre-Crowleyan O.T.O." after I gave her an early draft of my book (long before publication).
It is actually quite hard to dispute something for which there is no evidence, other than by making the point that there IS NO EVIDENCE, which I thought I did, and then examining the reasons why it would be unlikely. Thus my comments about dues / pledge forms / and membership of other groups - all of which clearly were important to Bennett and Crowley. I'd be interested to know what else you think I could have said?
The same general points apply to claims about Deacon being in the pre-Crowleyan O.T.O. If you actually look at what is being suggested, Deacon would have to have joined the Order prior to his arrival in Australia in 1908. This would mean that he would have been no more than twelve or at most thirteen years old! I'm no expert on the rules of the early O.T.O. but it clearly was very much a Masonic Order (albeit on the fringe) and virtually all Masonic Orders have a clause that candidates must be "of lawful age" - in those days twenty-one. Surely it is crazy to think they would have granted a pre-teen admission to the Order, let alone initiated him into its sexual mysteries (as sometimes seems to be implied)? . . .'
So, for what it is worth I would like to state that it's clear that Keith Richmond has a number of bases for his view that Deacon was not an OTO member.
I further agree with Richmond that the assertion of Dr Gregory Tillett that:
'The original, pre-Crowleyan Order had, however, been brought to Australi around 1908 by Vyvyan Deacon, who became the first Grand Master for the Order in Australia, having received his authority from the Outer Head, Theodor Reuss.'
should, in the absence of concrete evidence, be regarded as incorrect.
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