Chaos from Order: Cohesion and Conflict in the Post-Crowley Occult Continuum


  • Martin P. Starr Independent Scholar



Aleister Crowley, western esotericism


This article presents a study of a post-1962 attempt to craft a new religious movement in the United States of America primarily developed from the elements of the occult orders and writings of the English occultist and prophet of the Law of Thelema, Aleister Crowley (1875–1947). The leaders of groups influenced by Crowley’s abundant esoteric legacy, itself the synthesis of a range of earlier Western esoteric initiatic systems, often developed a compelling unity of purpose within their small hierarchically organized collectives espousing Crowley’s beliefs, despite the radical antinomian overtones of the thelemic maxim “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.” The article reviews the literature, traditions, history, and transmission of authority in the Ordo Templi Orientis (OTO), culminating in a particular focus on the development of one such novel religious group, the “Solar Lodge” of Los Angeles, and shows how its conflict with society drove the surviving members of Crowley’s OTO to reactivate their esoteric order in the United States.

Author Biography

Martin P. Starr, Independent Scholar

Martin P. Starr is an independent scholar of Western Esotericism. He received his AB from the University of Chicago in Classical Languages and Literature in 1981 and pursued graduate studies in the History of Science. He is the editor of the Teitan Press series of the works of Aleister Crowley and the author of The Unknown God: W.T. Smith and the Thelemites (2003), the first documentary study of Crowley’s followers in North America.


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How to Cite

Starr, M. P. (2007). Chaos from Order: Cohesion and Conflict in the Post-Crowley Occult Continuum. Pomegranate, 8(1), 84–117.