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The structure of O.T.O., like that of Freemasonry and the ancient mystery schools, is based on a series of initiations or degrees, most of which are conferred ceremonially. In the Rituals of these degrees, O.T.O. seeks to instruct the individual by allegory and symbol in the profound mysteries of Nature, and thereby to assist each to discover his or her own true Identity.
The degrees of O.T.O. are divided into three Grades or "Triads": the Hermit, the Lover, and the Man of Earth, as shown in the accompanying table:
|The Third, or Man of Earth, Triad||O°||Minerval|
|I°||Man and Brother / Woman and Sister|
|IV°||Perfect Magician and companion of the Holy Royal Arch of Enoch|
|Perfect Initiate, or Prince of Jerusalem|
|Outside all Triads||Knight of the East and West|
|The Second, or Lover, Triad||V°||Sovereign Prince Rose-Croix, and Knight of the Pelican and Eagle|
|Knight of the Red Eagle, and Member of the Senate of Knight Hermetic Philosophers|
|VI°||Illustrious Knight (Templar) of the Order of Kadosch, and Companion of the Holy Graal|
|Grand Inquisitor Commander, and Member of the Grand Tribunal|
|Prince of the Royal Secret|
|VII°||Theoreticus, and Very Illustrious Sovereign Grand Inspector General|
|Magus of Light, and Bishop of Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica|
|Grandmaster of Light, and Inspector of Rites and Degrees|
|The First, or Hermit, Triad||VIII°||Perfect Pontiff of the Illuminati|
|Epopt of the Illuminati|
|IX°||Initiate of the Sanctuary of the Gnosis|
|X°||Rex Summus Sanctissimus|
|XI°||Initiate of the Eleventh Degree (This degree is technical, and has no relation to the general plan of the Order)|
|XII°||Frater Superior, and Outer Head of the Order|
Every man and woman of full age, free, and of good report, has an indefeasible right to the first three degrees of O.T.O. These "first three degrees" actually include all the degrees in the Man of Earth Triad; as the Minerval is considered a prologue to the First Degree, and the Fourth and P?I? Degrees are considered pendants to the Third Degree.
The Man of Earth degrees follow a pattern based on the symbolism of the chakras and the stages of Kundalini Yoga. They also represent, in dramatic form, the Individual's Path in Eternity. In the 0°, the Ego, a wandering God, is attracted to the Solar System. In the I°, the Child experiences Birth. In the II°, the Man or Woman experiences Life. The III° represents the Death of the individual, and the IV° represents the world beyond Death, the glorified state of the Initiate. In the P?I? Degree, the Initiate symbolically achieves ultimate Perfection, and the entire cycle is withdrawn into Annihilation.
Of these Stations upon the Path, all but the II° represent single critical experiences. We are however concerned with Life in all its variety, and therefore all degrees above P?I? are elaborations of the II°, a progressive instruction in how to live, since in a single ceremony it is hardly possible to sketch, even in the briefest outline, the Teaching of Initiates with regard to Life. The V°- IX° rituals and teachings are therefore instructions in the Mastery of Life. There is instruction in Hermetic Philosophy, Qabalah, Magick and Yoga, all intended to prepare the candidate for the sex magical techniques of the highest degrees of O.T.O.
In addition to the official O.T.O. instructions, many of the local O.T.O. Lodges, Oases and Camps offer supplementary instruction to their members. The particular form of this supplementary instruction depends on the character and capabilities of the particular local body; it may be provided in the form of classes, seminars, study programs, or publications.