Common Questions and Answers Regarding the Minerval Degree Within Ordo Templi Orientis and On Becoming a Member of the Order.
The Minerval Degree (0°) is the introductory Initiate degree into Ordo Templi Orientis. It is said to symbolize the first step in the journey of the Self in Eternity, where the Ego, a wandering God, is attracted to the Solar System. The following questions and answers were written to help guide someone considering joining the Order by taking the Minerval Degree. Some questions are specific to Sword and Serpent Oasis.
Q. First off, what is an initiation?
A. Generally, an initiation implies a beginning or an introduction. In O.T.O. it is a physical ceremony that usually serves several purposes. In the Minerval Degree (0°), it introduces the candidates, using dramatic allegory and symbol, to the Mysteries of Thelema.
Q. Why would I want to be initiated?
A. Everyone has their own reason for taking an initiation…there is no single or right answer to this question. However, here are some common reasons:
to sample what the Mysteries of Thelema might be in a non-binding way (since a Minerval does not establish any permanent bonds with the Order)
to become a member of the Order and the Lodge
to become eligible to participate in the Gnostic Mass as a child or ritual officer
to seek a deeper level of fellowship with members of the community
to become an initiate of our Mysteries
Q. What is the M.M.M.?
A. The initials M.M.M. stands for Mysteria Mystica Maxima. Originally, it was the name of the O.T.O. degree system in Great Britian, then headed by Aleister Crowley (the head of the O.T.O. was Theodor Reuss at the time). Eventually, his M.M.M. was absorbed into the regular system of the Order. It now includes the degrees from 0° to VII°.
Q. What does “Minerval” mean, anyway?
A. In general, a Minerval is a Seeker of Wisdom, Truth or Light (or all three). The word is likely derived from the Roman goddess Minerva, the equivalent of Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom. Minerva was also considered to be the goddess of warriors, poetry, medicine, commerce, crafts, and the inventor of music. You may draw your own conclusions over the time you spend in the Order.
Q. Are there any requirements?
A. Yes, there are several requirements for eligibility to the Minerval Degree (0°):
at least 18 years of age
capable of taking & keeping a binding oath to the Order
never previously initiated in O.T.O.
payment of initiation fees and dues
vouched for by two members holding the I° or higher
Q. How do I go about getting initiated?
A. It begins by filling out and turning in a Minerval application. You can request one from the Oasis Master. Learn more about the initiation application process at Advice for Candidates. Remember that one of the requirements is the signature of two sponsors that are at least I°.
Q. Okay, how do I get two sponsors?
A. Before you can be initiated, you will need to develop a level of personal familiarity and have met with in-person at least one time with at least two members. The Oasis conducts many activities that are open to non-member guests at which you can meet such people and introduce yourself. You can contact an Oasis officer or look at our calendar for information on upcoming events that are open to the public. The members of the Oasis are actually quite friendly and welcoming of guests.
Q. Will my sponsors be at my initiation?
A. While your sponsors are strongly encouraged to be there, it is not strictly required. It is important to note that it is your responsibility to inform your sponsors of the date of your initiation.
Q. What should I plan to bring to my Minerval?
A. You do not need to bring anything except for your fees if you have not yet paid them.
Q. How should I prepare for my Minerval?
A. There is no one correct answer for this. Practically speaking, you do not need to do anything to prepare. Looking over the U.S.G.L. website might be a good idea to educate yourself about the organization you are joining, and reading Liber AL, The Book of the Law, is strongly encouraged.
Q. After I take my Minerval, how long do I have to wait until I take my First Degree?
A. The waiting period between Minerval and First Degree (I°) is one month in the USA.
Q. If I take my Minerval Degree (0°) at Sword and Serpent Oasis, does that automatically make me a member of the Oasis?
A. No. By taking the Minerval Degree (0°), you automatically become a member of U. S. Grand Lodge (as are all members within America), but not the local body where you were initiated. Every local body (a camp, oasis, or lodge) has its own rules of membership. To become a member of Sword and Serpent Oasis, you must be an initiate member of O.T.O. (ie. at least Minerval) and agree to pay local dues. Please read our membership page for more information on Oasis membership.
Q. As a Minerval, what can I do in the Oasis?
A. As a Minerval, you have the ability to participate at many levels, including but not limited to:
Attend future Minerval Degree (0°) initiations as a guest (at any O.T.O. body in the world).
If you are also baptized in the E.G.C., you may participate as an officer in the Gnostic Mass (as a “Child”).
You can begin novitiate training for the Diaconate and/or Priesthood.
You can volunteer for many events and non-initiation rituals.
You will also receive Agapé (the U.S.G.L. newsletter).
Q. Do I get to know who my initiator will be?
A. Nope. You’ll just have to wait and see.
Q. I’ve heard that as a Minerval, I will be a “guest” of the Order. Does that mean I’m not a full member?
A. (From the Grand Lodge Website) The Minerval Degree (0°) is an introductory Initiate degree in which the aspirant is considered an “honored guest” of O.T.O. rather than a full member. The Minerval degree is designed to allow the aspirant to decide whether or not to pursue full membership, and to allow potential sponsors the opportunity to decide whether to support the aspirant’s application for full membership. Minervals may begin preliminary novitiate training under an E.G.C. Bishop towards ultimate ordination to the Diaconate and/or Priesthood in Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica, but they are not eligible for ordination or for service as an officer of a Local Body.
Q. After I take my Minerval Degree (0°), will I be expected to take the First Degree initiation?
A. No. Taking the First Degree is a serious decision, and no Minerval should feel pushed into it. Some take their First right away, some after many years, and it is equally honorable to spend your entire life as a Minerval initiate. The choice is entirely yours.
Q. After my initiation, who will have access to my legal name?
A. We take confidentiality very seriously—this is a secret Order, after all. Full civil names are given out to Order members on a need-to-know basis. Within the Lodge, that means the Oasis Master, Secretary, and Treasurer will need to have your full civil name on record. Grand Lodge also keeps records according to civil names. However, under no circumstances will the Oasis or the Order voluntarily give out your civil name to a third party without your permission.