(06/1978) Karl’s Karma

Note: This is a sequel to the essay “Continuity in the Order.” Footnotes have been added with editorial comments supplied by Bill Heidrick.

Karl’s Karma
by Hymenaeus Alpha 777

Those of you who have read my rap on “Continuity in the Order” in volume I, number 2, of the O.T.O. Newsletter (in which I spoke of my disagreement with Karl Germer, Frater Saturnus, then de facto Outer Head of the Order, over his policy of non-initiation, and of what I tried to do about it) may have gotten the impression that I thought that Karl Germer was a bad ass. This would be a very great mistake. It is true that I thought that his policies were mistaken, and it is true that I did everything in my power to try to get him to change his ways of thinking — short of getting myself kicked out of the Order — but this was a disagreement over policy. As a person, it was my opinion, then, as now, that Karl Germer was a very great man. I have never known a more dedicated Thelemite. Therefore, if he made mistakes and let the Order die in the outer, we must look elsewhere for the explanations. It is possible that I am the only person who knows what really went down on that.

Let us begin with his motto: Saturnus. Time. Aleister Crowley told me that he had once said to Karl; “You must have come straight down!” What was his karma? To bring an end to the time of the Aeon of Osiris so that the Aeon of Horus might begin? It is a thought, but then the same could be said of Jack Parsons manifesting the Anti-Christ. If there is a Christ, then there must be an Anti-Christ to put an end to it. A matter of polarity. I discussed this with Mike R. when I was in Syracuse. Mike makes a goodly part of the family bread as a professional in the field of psychiatry. His comment, which I value, was; “Yes, but Saturn devoured his children!” I consider this to be extremely cogent. By refusing to initiate, Germer excluded any possibility of rivalry to his position. Had he followed the instructions in the private codicil to Crowley’s Last Will and Testament, and called the convocation of the IXth Degrees, he would have been de jura Outer Head of the Order beyond challenge. Since he did not follow the instructions of his Prophet, and was only de facto O.H.O., he could always be challenged. Paranoia set in. Or did it? I believe that is goes much deeper than that.

Aleister Crowley died in 1947 e.v. Sometime in 1948 or ’49 e.v. Germer received three enormous packing crates from England. It was the Crowley library. Germer was living in an apartment in New York City at the time and decided he needed larger quarters to house the library. That is when he moved to Hampton, New Jersey. It is also when he started to go crazy. He and his wife, Sascha, were absolutely convinced that their house was bugged by the FBI, and used to “talk” to each other by passing notes back and forth so that their conversations could not be recorded. Now Karl Germer was a very bright guy. Hearing him give an extemporaneous lecture on the influence of Napoleon on European nationalism could be a very enlightening experience. But I didn’t find out how bright he was until I was serving in the Korean War. The saying there was that the secret of long life for a Second Lieutenant of Infantry was to survive the patrols long enough to inherit the Heavy Weapons section. Once you are behind the mortars and machine guns it is a hell of a lot harder to get to you, and Karl Germer rose from the ranks in the Kaiser’s Imperial Army of War I to be a Major of Machine Gunners on the Eastern Front. So how to account for his craziness? Aleister Crowley was the greatest magician who has walked this earth since the time of the Pyramids. He would leave a legacy. There were things in that library that would drive anyone crazy.

In 1969 e.v. Putnam published a paperback of Justine Glass titled They Foresaw the Future. I have the old graduate student habit of checking the table of contents and the index; sure enough, on page 182 there is a story about a collection of the Magus’ formulas that had been bought by the wrong person, who immediately developed an obscure disease and had to get rid of them to save his life. Suddenly I flashed. Of course. It was something I had forgotten for 30 years. You will remember how on page 18 of volume I, number 4, of this Newsletter, I said that Crowley’s finger wagging lecture was “one of the only two times he ever got really pissed with me.” This was the second time. It happened in much the same way. We had been playing chess and rapping. He disappears into the kitchen to brew up some tea. Again, there I am, big eyes all over the place. The black-out shades were on the window over on the left; light security against the German bombers patrolling upstairs. His main library consisted of two rows of books under the window. I went over to take a look. One book pulled my attention (the old “poison apple” trip: “Take me!”), which was strange because it had no title on the spine. It was black, oblong and rather thick. So I picked it up and went back to sit down and look. I opened it. But what kind of book was this? There was no printing. Rather there were, as best memory serves, 4 squares across and 6 squares down. The squares were matted. Each square had a very large, single Enochian letter in it. There was something funny about it. They were very black, and very perfect; but they looked much too big to have been printed. This was a curiosity. I wondered; so I started to reach out with my right forefinger to feel one of them to see if maybe they had been painted-on, when Crowley came out of the kitchen with the tea tray, saw what I was about to do, and yelled at me — and I do mean he yelled at the top of his voice — “DON’T TOUCH THAT!” I looked up in considerable surprise, closed the book rather gently and handed it back to him. He said, quietly, “You have no idea what forces you could have set in motion!” It was the only explanation he ever offered, and the incident was never mentioned again.

Now we come back to They Foresaw the Future. When I read this, and remembered the incident, I wrote to Frater V.I.,1 probably the most knowledgeable person in the world on the subject, and asked him about it. In a letter dated 14 March 1970, in the Archives of the Caliph, he wrote back as follows: “The books at 93 Jermyn Street were not left behind when A.C. gave up tenancy. I myself after his death sent to Karl Germer what you call Enochian tablets, but which were in fact charged Abramelin squares written in Enochian. If the Solar Lodge crowd did in fact beat up Sascha Germer and steal the archives, which they seem to have done, they will in time regret it. They are not to be trifled with.” Addenda: it will be remembered that the so-called Solar Lodge group was busted on felony child abuse charges for the famous “boy in the box” case at Bythe, California. In a letter dated 28 July 1970, Frater V.I. further stated: “The incident mentioned in print by Justine Glass . . . is correct. Fitzgerald,2 after A.C.’s death, appropriated A.C.’s volume of Abramelin talismans and the consequences related appeared to follow.”

Finally, in a letter dated 18 August 1970, Fr. V.I. stated: “A.C. kept the Book of Talismans wrapped in a piece of silk when I last saw it with him. In other words he treated them as sacred or as if they were sacred and not to be handled lightly.” Now perhaps you will understand why I am so sympathetic to Karl Germer. He was carrying an impossible burden. If he made mistakes of judgment concerning initiating people into the Order, perhaps it was because his mind was affected by the forces beyond his control. As for the Solar Lodge group, so-called, obviously they had their fingers all over every one of those charged squares. I would really rather not think of the consequences.

Speaking of consequences, as I have said, Karl Germer refused to follow his Prophet’s instructions and call a convocation of the IXth Degree members so he could be elected de jura O.H.O. The consequences were tragic beyond belief. When Francis King published The Secret Rituals of the O.T.O., I was so offended that at first I refused to have a copy. Later I would obtain one for research purposes. In this instance, it serves a purpose. When you take an initiatory degree, you take oaths not to reveal certain information that has been passed on to you. Ordinarily I could not discuss this. However I can quote from a book that has been published, and on page 44 of F. King’s Secret Rituals of the O.T.O. he quotes from the Minerval ceremony: “. . . and if I break this oath . . . and betray the bread and salt, may the dogs devour my carcass: may I be mutilated and no more a man!” (italics mine). Karl Germer (Frater Saturnus) died in 1962 e.v. in West Point, California. He had developed cancer of the prostate. There is a gentleman in South America who claims that Germer declared him, Motta, to be his successor on his, Germer’s, death bed. This is impossible. Karl Germer could not have declared anyone to be his successor on his death bed because Karl Germer died screaming. After Sascha Germer’s death and after we were able to bring down the Court Order saying that Crowley’s library by law belonged to me, we inventoried what was left of it. We found, in Sascha Germer’s own handwriting, what had happened. The surgeons had made the incision (at the level of the lower Penal Sign known to our Order), found that the cancer was inoperable, sewed him up, and sent him home to die. Naturally Sascha was completely incapable of changing the bandages, the wound became infected, he was taken back to the hospital, and it was while the nurses were trying to clean him that he died screaming. We have this in Sascha’s own handwriting. The document is vaulted in the Archives of the Caliph. It was the exact penalty prescribed in the Minerval ritual reported by King for one who had betrayed the bread and salt. Karl Germer paid a terrible price for having disobeyed the instructions of his Prophet by assuming the burden of Outer Head of the Order without calling the convocation specified by Crowley. Thelema is not something to be played with. Thelema is real. And — if you take an oath — you better be damn sure you intend to keep it.

1. This would be Gerald Yorke, also one of the several individuals using “Frater N.”
2. This is Noel Fitzgerald, IXth Degree O.T.O.

Note: Originally published in the OTO Newsletter II:1 (June 1978, e.v.), and Thelema Lodge Calendar, June 2003.