Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
This article started as a review of some of the misinformation written in a recently released book, but gradually it grew into a research and a timeline about one of the major players in the history of A∴A∴ claimant groups: Marcelo Ramos Motta.
Unfortunately, there is not much available information about Motta nowadays, because the person or persons who hold his literary remains cannot be contacted anymore. If you have any more files from or about Motta, such as letters, documents, charters, etc., feel free to contact me via firstname.lastname@example.org so I can update this essay with fresh information.
Love is the law, love under will.
Marcelo Ramos Motta was born in São Sebastião, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on 27ᵗʰ June, 1931. He coursed elementary school in an anglo-american school; and had a strict high school education in a military school, both of them in Rio de Janeiro. His father (Samuel Cantarino Motta) was a Spiritist who followed the doctrines of Allan Kardec and his mother (Elzira Ramos Cantarino Motta) was a Christian Catholic. They were divorced, she left him for another man (Motta to Germer, Jul 2, 1954).
His father had a large library, which included some books about occultism and spirituality. At the age of eleven, he started to read the works of Eliphas Levi, Papus, Blavatsky, Edward Bulwer-Lytton, Patanjali, Paracelsus and Arnold Krumm-Heller. Through Krumm-Heller works, he developed an interest in Rosicrucian subjects. Motta joined AMORC, but he didn’t get satisfied with it. That was not the “real” Initiatic School he read about in Krum-Heller’s Rose Croix. At the age of seventeen, he joined Kum-Heller’s FRA (Fraternitas Rosicruciana Antiqua).
Before moving out of Brazil to the United States to further his studies, he traveled to Europe in the end of 1952, visiting at least Portugal and Germany. His mission, given by a Brazilian FRA leader, was to meet Parsival Krumm-Heller (Arnold Krumm-Heller’s son) and serve as a contact between Brazilian and international leaderships. While in Lisbon, Motta found John Symonds’ The Great Beast, a biased biography of Aleister Crowley, because he recognized the portrait of Crowley from one of the portraits he saw in FRA, in Brazil. He got interested in Crowley, and asking P. Krum-Heller, he referred him to Karl Johannes Germer, the heir of the late Aleister Crowley.
In the USA, Motta got a Bachelors of Art in Louisiana State University. He also coursed one year towards a Master of Arts, but he got bored and dropped out.
Enters Karl Germer
Now in 1953, when Motta was almost at the age of twenty two, he and Karl Johannes Germer started to exchange letters. The first letter from Germer to Motta is dated Apr. 18, 1953. Later that year, Motta traveled to meet Germer during a college vacation, and signed the Oath of a Probationer 0○=0□.
In 1954, Motta signs a letter to Germer as “א ∴”, a shorthand for Adjuvo, his A∴A∴ Probationer motto. He signs many of his subsequent letters in the same way, but also including the number of his Grade: 0○=0□. In this particular letter, he completely opens up concerning his view on sexuality, his past experiences and his current love affairs:
“I do believe frankly that sexual pleasure may and perhaps should be experienced with both sexes, and not only with sexes, in the human being, but also with animals. […] My first actual relationships with a woman as an adult happened in the United States. I told you something about that, too. I remember this girl helped me very much in getting rid of many inhibitions.” — Letter from Motta to Karl Germer, Jul. 2, 1954.
In 1956, Germer shows an interest in making Motta his representative in O.T.O. and invite Motta to visit him at his new address in California:
“I should like to give you (a) certainly, a document appointing you as my personal representative as Head of the O.T.O., and possibly even wider; (b) even a more general document. Unfortunately you ought to stay with me a at least a few days, if not at least a week, to enable me to talk to you on matters that I never so far discussed with you. If you went to leave for Rio in August, can’t you arrange to visit me in California and you can meet a number of people, possibly pass through some O.T.O. degrees, and be better prepared? Besides, there are matters of importance that I can only discuss personally with you. Briefly then: I am willing to give you a document as my representative for a limited time, but I would have to prepare you for it!” — Letter from Germer to Motta, Apr. 30, 1956.
In December 1959, six years after signing his Oath, Motta still signed as a Probationer 0○=0□, as we can see in a letter to Karl Germer dated Dec. 31, 1959. At some point near June 22ⁿᵈ 1960 he claimed the Grade of Neophyte 1○=10□:
“I have been appointed, since the Solstice of Summer of 1960, to do precisely this. That, if you remember, was the time of my Initiation when I claimed the Grade of Neophyte, and was very puzzled that you did not know that I had been appointed the Beast.” — Letter from Motta to Karl Germer, May 30, 1962.
Problems in Paradise
In 1961, Motta and Germer have been working on Liber Aleph, which was to be edited and printed by Motta in Brazil, while distributed and sold by Germer in USA. Germer was eager to get his hands on a few copies of the book to check its quality and forward copies to the stakeholders, but Motta acted strangely instead:
“The possibility exists that I may go insane without dying before we are finished with Liber Aleph; and for this reason I wish to insure that work shall continue. Therefore I am sending you a money order […]” — Letter from Motta to Germer, Aug. 24, 1961.
“As soon as you have some advance copies of the book itself, I wish you would send 2 copies to me by air, and one copy by air to Aries Press, so that they can judge what selling price we can set.” — Letter from Germer to Motta, Sept. 24, 1961.
“I have not had a communication from you lately about the completion of Liber Aleph, nor two advance copies of the book itself. Don’t you understand that I am helpless — to some extent — until I have them, at least 6 copies in all, to proceed to actively push the book and make final arrangements. Responsible people want to see an actual book, to test the printing, the binding, etc. to decide.” — Letter from Germer to Motta, Nov. 13, 1961.
Suddenly Motta announces to Germer that he became the Beast 666 and Head of A∴A∴:
“I shall speak to you once, and I shall speak to you clearly. Regardless of what you think of Marcelo Ramos Motta personally, he is, with the approval of the Secret Chiefs, and of 666 and Aiwass, the Incarnated Beast, the Priest of the Princes, Head of the A∴A∴ and your Superior. You owe him loyalty and obedience, not to speak of such mundane virtues as courtesy and fair dealing. […] Aleister Crowley is dead, and Adjuvo has ascended to his place and work.” — Letter from Motta to Germer, Dec. 17, 1961.
Germer reproves such claims with his characteristic tenderness:
“You blithering, miserable IDIOT! I have seen and had to observe several similar cases of Demonitis (including my own) but yours beats all records in our files. I saw the disease creeping up months ago; it is good that it broke out in the open. The most charitable interpretation I could put on it is that you prematurely took the oath of the Abyss, without being prepared by previous initiation.” — Letter from Germer to Motta, Dec. 23, 1961.
Motta wasn’t sure his own claim was valid:
“I confess candidly that I have great doubts whether I am really the Beast or not; the climax of my ritual work last year led me to an intuitive certainty of this; but I certainly may have been quite wrong; it is such an ego-satisfying feeling, and therefore one can easily deceive oneself. Much of my manner with you was designed to get either a positive confirmation of my position, or a positive denial from you; you have dodged the issue with the skill of great practice. […] I feel much better now that I have reached a decent decision on the question of those books. I hope I made it quite clear to you that I don’t know when, if ever, you shall get them.” — Letter from Motta to Germer, Dec. 30, 1961.
Eventually Liber Aleph came out, but Motta already had included in its Imprimatur a new motto he designed, Φ, as an Adeptus Major 6○=5□ and Imperator of A∴A∴, based in his claim that he was the new Beast and Head of A∴A∴. However, in an errata included later in the same book, he correctly identifies himself as a Neophyte 1○=10□ again:
“The Neophyte responsible for printing has accordingly been punished for his dereliction from duty; but - alas! - too late in what concerns this preliminary edition of LIBER ALEPH”
In 1962, Phyllis got some copies of Liber Aleph from Karl Germer:
“Thank you so much for Liber Aleph, which I received yesterday. Enclosed is a check for $10 to pay for it and also for an extra copy if you have one spare. […] Who wrote the description on the book jacket of Liber Aleph? Was it Marcelo Motta? Bickie has been fascinated for a long time by Marcelo and would like to have his address. Are you still in touch with him?” — Letter from Seckler to Germer, Mar. 11, 1962.
“I am sending you to-day two more copies of Liber Aleph. […] The books were packed, so use the second copy for some other purpose or keep it. […] Motta: yes, he lives in Rio de Janeiro and did all the publishing, editing, correcting, printing, and biding of Liber Aleph, including the blurb, etc. He is promising, but has yet to pass the cataracts, the Niagara and many other ordeals.” — Letter from Germer to Seckler, Mar. 17, 1962.
By June 1962, Germer is still lecturing Motta on his claims of being “The Beast”, and says he is at best a Neophyte 1○=10□:
“What you claim - the title or grade of BEAST - is only minor, i.e., a repeat of another title. (Yet Crowley assumed the grade only 13 years after he had become a full M.T., while you are at best a Neophyte!)” — Letter from Karl Germer to Motta, Jun. 9, 1962.
However, in the last letter from Germer to Motta, he seems to be happier about his student:
“Dear Marcelo, you were right. I was in the hospital for 3 weeks and instead of a simple operation, the prostate gland had to be taken out because a tumor was discovered. I am now very weak, have to remain in bed for 3 or 4 weeks and have great pain. […] The second letter which you had written has given me more pleasure than any in the last years. It is clear that you are guided by the Supreme Hierophant and if you follow him loyally and persistently to the Appointed Goal, he will lead you provided some of the illuminations given you do not influence your ego again, as did your beast. Good luck to you! […] Remember the passage in Liber 418, about the bee and the ox. The M.T. can, and often has to take the lowest jobs or serve rascally master for the time. Keep in mind NU ‘Let there be no difference made’…..! The same applies to writing.” — Letter from Karl Germer to Motta, Oct. 12, 1962.
In October 25, 1962, Karl Johannes Germer died from prostatic cancer.
After Karl Germer
Five days after Karl’s death, Sascha Germer, his widow, contacts Motta:
“Our beloved Master is dead. He succumbed Oct. 25, 8:55 P.M. under horrifying circumstances. You are the Follower. Please take it from me, as he died in my arms and it was his last wish. Who the heir of the Library is, I do not know up to now. My cable to you was a cry for help to save the Work and the Library and I hoped that you understood as he left everything open. […] Try to get a Visa and fly to San Francisco, from there a short flight to Stockton or Sacramento depends what plane you get. From Stockton or Sacramento is every day a bus connection to Jackson. In Jackson call Taxi 51 and ask for Irene. She will take you the 22 miles House. […] If you can do that I would open with you all secret papers and try to find his will.” — Letter from Sascha Germer to Motta, Oct. 30, 1962.
It is based on Sascha having called him “The Follower” that Marcelo claimed to be heir of the O.T.O. and A∴A∴.
A couple of days later, Phyllis Seckler contacts Motta too:
“It is possible that you may be named heir to A.C.’s books as Karl thought very highly of your work on the publishing end. Is it at all possible for you to come to California? Sascha can not as yet find Karl’s will but since my distinct impression is that vultures are bound to gather over A.C.’s manuscripts, some protection may be needed.” — Letter from Phyllis Seckler to Motta, Nov. 1, 1962.
One week later, Marcelo contacts Sascha saying he is not worthy of being the Follower, whatever that means:
“If this ‘follower’ thing is what it seems to be, don’t speak about it to anybody, unless it were people specially trusted; you would know of any such, I suppose. I don’t want such a thing to come out. I am not prepared. I am not anything. It will be many years yet before I am ready to do anything. I have much work to do on myself yet, and you know that better than anybody!” — Letter from Marcelo Motta to Sascha Germer, Nov. 1, 1962.
In Jan. 25, 1963, Motta sent a letter to Sascha Germer signing as a Zelator 2○=9□ of A∴A∴. He claimed this and all future Grades on his own, since he never put himself under the instruction of another member of A∴A∴ after Karl’s death:
“As far as I can see (which isn’t very far!), I am not the ‘Follower’ in the sense of the prophecy in AL. I am merely the ‘Baphomet’, the — hieratic — ‘Priest of the Princes’ under 666. […] GOD has set me where I am; in the Name of God I speak to you […] I am the Head of Thelema; I am the Source of Thelemic Policy; I am the Judge and the Reconciler set over you; I am the Vicar of the Christ; I hold the Keys of the KINGDOM, and none shall be admitted and any may be cast out from it by my FIAT; thus did He say, and so shall it be done. […] 2○=9□ A∴A∴”
In 1966, Motta typed his Portuguese translation of the Commentaries of Liber Legis, including his own commentaries. He planned to publish the Portuguese commentaries in 1969, but it was never released. However, he shared the typescript and copies with his Brazilian A∴A∴ students. This book forms most of what would be published in English as The Commentaries of AL, in 1976. He writes in Portuguese:
“This note is being written in 1966 - this Book is to be published in the Autumn Equinox of 1969”.
In 1969, he claims to have attained the Grade of Baby of the Abyss:
“In 1969, the Researcher had reached, albeit imperfectly, the Grade of Babe of the Abyss without ever having made a systematic study of Liber O […]” — The Equinox Volume V Number 2, Liber CCXXXI: A Personal Research with Notes and a Commentary, p. 283.
In December 1971 he claims to be a Magister Templi:
“I already had the O.T.O. XI° at the time of our first contact, and I am a Master of the Temple of A∴A∴, Chief of the Order of Thelema for the whole world, and A.C.’s spiritual successor (recognized as such by Saturnus himself in his death-bed). But there was never a reason to provide you such informations.” — Translated from a letter in Portuguese from Marcelo Motta to Euclydes Lacerda de Almeida, Dec. 18, 1971.
In 1974, James Wasserman, an employee of Samuel Weiser, finds out that someone sent them a Thelemic book proposal (The Commentaries of AL), willing to publish it under their seal. Since Wasserman was interested in Thelema, he promptly started communication with Motta:
“He [Weiser] recalled that Motta was a student of Karl Germer and had been involved with the publication of Liber Aleph, and that Germer had mentioned that Motta was headstrong and erratic. But Donald Weiser Publishing and The Commentaries of AL also expressed a vague interest in my looking for the manuscript. I found it that night and wrote to Motta the next day to inform him it was under review. My letter is dated June 26, 1974.” — In the Center of the Fire, pp. 64-65.
By 1975, we learn that Motta’s Magister Templi motto is Ever:
“[…] No translations of thelemic materials are required until ALL translations already done by Frater EVER, Magister Templi A∴A∴, Beast of the Order of θέλημα, XI° O.T.O., have been published in due form in Portuguese.” — Translated from a letter written in Portuguese by Marcelo Motta, sent to Euclydes Lacerda de Almeida, Jun. 26, 1975
In November 12, 1975, Philips Records released the fourth studio album of the Brazilian rockstar Raul Seixas. His new album is called Novo Aeon (“New Æon”). It contains four songs composed in association with Marcelo Ramos Motta: Tente Outra Vez (“try once again”), A Maçã (“the apple”), Peixuxa o Amigo dos Peixes (“Peixuxa, friend of the fishes”) and Novo Aeon (“New Æon”). The album also has contributions from the (nowadays) best-selling writer Paulo Coelho. Both were A∴A∴ Probationers: Seixas under Motta, Coelho under Euclydes Lacerda de Almeida.
Although The Commentaries of AL was released in 1976, its first pages date it back as September 22, 1975. Therein, James Wasserman, the editor, claimed Marcelo Ramos Motta was the Praemonstrator of A∴A∴:
“This edition of Commentaries on the Book of the Law has been prepared by Marcelo Motta the Praemonstrator of the A∴A∴ during Its current Period of Speech. Mr. Motta was the devoted disciple of Frater SATURNUS, Karl Germer. Mr. Germer was Crowley’s most trusted disciple and succeeded him as the Outer Head of the OTO after Crowley’s death in 1947. Mr. Germer thought most highly of Mr. Motta and it was his dying wish that he be informed that he was the ‘Follower’ promised in AL II, 76, a belief which Mr. Motta has since stated was incorrect. A Brazilian by birth, he was introduced to the English speaking world as the publisher and editor of the first edition of Liber Aleph, prepared in collaboration with Mr. Germer in 1961” — Preface, The Commentaries of AL, being Motta’s The Equinox Volume V Number 1
It seems Motta understood being called “the follower” as meaning he was the heir of Karl Germer’s leadership in O.T.O. and A∴A∴, however he changed his mind years later, when he heard about another “follower”.
In the Imprimatur page, he lists:
- 216 as a Magister Templi. 216 is the Gematria of הוהר, a way of writing “Ever” in Hebrew. Ever is his Magister Templi motto.
- Φ again as an Adeptus Major 6○=5□, but not as an Imperator.
- A. as a Practicus 3○=8□. Probably A. refers to Adjuvo, his motto as Probationer, Neophyte and Zelator.
In 1979, Motta released the next number of his Equinox, under the same Imprimatur and mostly composed by Crowley’s and Motta’s commentaries on Liber LXV. In its Praemonstrance, Motta states he took over the leadership of A∴A∴ because he felt nobody else was qualified to do so:
“In our youth we aspired, as most young people do, to lead and administer the movement of which we were part. We abandoned this ambition because we thought it was not welcome to our Superiors. With the years, we came to the realization that leadership is hard on those who try to lead honestly, and severely limits their lives and their freedom; therefore we abandoned any desire for it, and viewed askance all those who were eager to embrace it, unless they were, as we once were, young and inexperienced. Now we have had leadership thrust upon us. We must assume leadership for the very simple reason that there is no one else qualified to do so.” — Praemonstrance, Motta’s The Equinox Volume V Number 2
In 1980 and in 1981, Motta released the next numbers of his Equinox (The Chinese Texts of Magick and Mysticism, followed by Sex and Religion), wherein he listed 216, Φ and A. again in their respective A∴A∴ Grades as in the previous Imprimatur.
In Sex and Religion, Motta speaks about many of his ex-disciples including the ones who are part of the new A∴A∴ claimant group advertised by modern O.T.O.:
“James Daniel Gunther: once a legitimate O.T.O. representative; demoted for planning to murder his hierarchic superior; withdrew voluntarily from the A∴A∴ and was expelled from the O.T.O.
[…] James Wasserman: at a time was a Probationer under Marcelo Motta; received a full power of attorney from Motta to handle the legitimate transfer of O.T.O. property to qualified hands; disobeyed all his instructions and delivered the property into the hands of thieves. We transferred to another Instructor and subsequently was cut contact with for breaking his Oath.
[…] William Breeze: an ex-Probationer who failed to keep his Oath and perform his Task and was cut contact with as a result.” — Editorial, Motta’s The Equinox Volume V Number 4: Sex and Religion.
He also criticizes other people who now are considered the heads of other A∴A∴ claimant groups, mostly on the grounds that he is the true leader of the original O.T.O.:
“Phyllis McMurtry, a.k.a. Phyllis Wade and Phyllis Seckler. Once a bona fide Neophyte of the A∴A∴, on reaching the Vision of the Holy Guardian Angel became obsessed with the delusion that she had become an Adeptus Minor. Was accused by Mrs. Karl Johannes Germer of sending a gang led by her own children to assault and rob Mrs. Germer’s person and residence. Has misappropriated Thelemic property and misrepresented herself as an O.T.O. Lodge Master.
Grady McMurtry: falsely passes himself for an O.T.O. representative; has granted papers without ever having had a proper warrant; has slandered legitimate O.T.O. members and misappropriated Order property.
[…] Israel Regardie: pirated O.T.O. material and published it for his own personal profit; did so even while Mrs. Karl Johannes Germer, legitimate executor of the Outer Head’s last will and testament, was slowly dying of starvation in his own state of residence, California.” — Editorial, Motta’s The Equinox Volume V Number 4: Sex and Religion.
In October 15, 1984, Motta writes his last will, where he declares what must happen to his Society Ordo Templi Orientis and his version of the O.T.O., naming three persons (Claudia Canuto de Menezes, Daniel Ben Stone, William Robert Barden) to be the executors and hold an election for a sole heir.
A∴A∴ is not mentioned at all.
In June 21, 1987, in his last book, Motta includes lengthy explanations about the troubles and lawsuits, and says his last words about some of his past students and correspondents:
“I have repeatedly had students fail to reach even the Neophyte Initiation and lose all sense of perspective and even of morality as a result. Instances in the last two decades have been Euclydes de Almeida, Oseas de Almeida, James Wasserman, J. C. Ellis, J. D. Gunther, Richard Gernon, M. P. Starr, J. A. Queiroz. Of course, though from before my time, Francis ‘Israel’ Regardie, Kenneth Grant, G. J. Yorke, G. L. McMurtry, H. P. Smith and Phyllis Seckler are classical cases of initiatic failure leading to permanent moral insanity.” — Thelemic Magick Unexpurgated Commented, Part 1, p. 56.
In the same book, he mentions his findings about Metzger also having been called the Follower by Germer. Motta had the understanding that the Follower actually referred to the office of Outer Head of the Ordo Templi Orientis, and not to the follower of The Book of the Law or the leadership of A∴A∴:
“I did not know that You are in direct Correspondence with him nor did I know that he as O.H.O. of the O.T.O. asked your Opinion about his Status. As You mention my Name in the Letter, I take the Liberty to tell You that Frater Saturnus has made him in 1961 (sic) the only Follower to the Crown of the Order. […] Sascha. […] In any case, a letter written in 1961 e.v. appointing Metzger as ‘Follower’ would have been superseded by the deathbed statement in 1962 e.v. that Motta should be informed that the ‘Follower’ was he.” — Thelemic Magick Unexpurgated Commented, Part 1, pp. 267-268.
On August 27, 1987, Motta passed away from myocardial infarction and pulmonary oedema. As far as it is known, his last will was never executed.
|1931||Motta was born|
|1953||First contact with Germer|
|1960||1○=10□ claimed by Motta|
|1961||6○=5□ claimed by Motta|
|1962||1○=10□ confirmed by Germer|
|1962||Germer passed away|
|1963||2○=9□ claimed by Motta|
|1969||Babe of the Abyss claimed by Motta|
|1971||8○=3□ claimed by Motta|
|1987||Motta passed away|