It needs to be known that Paul Rovelli is a raging misogynist and due to the lack of an appropriate call-out of abuses among Thelemites, I am posting this.
Since Paul Rovelli is claiming I “failed THE A.’.A.’.” I am going to provide the full context in which this occurred to clear up misconceptions as well as my side of the story. As most Thelemites will state, the A.’.A.’. is not a mundane lineage which focuses on politics. It is a spiritual one. Aside from the claims of the O.T.O. and organizations such as HOOR, there is no spokesperson or leader for Thelema, no one mainstream group, no vicar. Hence, while someone can fail an A.’.A.’. lineage, they cannot fail THE A.’.A.’. any more than an A.’.A.’. head can be “head of THE A.’.A.’.”
Yet if the A.’.A.’. is a spiritual lineage, and we understand teachings and religions as expressed by “churches” and practices of people, where does that leave it? I think this has to do with legitimacy. A legitimate A.’.A.’. lineage is one in which the founder has established contact with the Secret Chiefs, better known as the guardians of humanity. But this does not mean that every single person in that lineage is free from corruption or that nobody in it ever does immoral things.
What is ironic in Paul Rovelli’s lineage is his decision to stick with certain policies while disregarding or changing others. For example, he switched the Probationer and Neophyte robe colors (black for the former, white for the latter). At the same time, he stuck with the policy of the requirement of 1 letter per month written to one’s superior or teacher. That is how my “failure” occurred. It needs to be said that I failed HIS lineage and not THE A.’.A.’. per the aforementioned information about there not being one true representative A.’.A.’. lineage. If someone fails one lineage they are able to join another. And I have never heard of anyone failing their own lineage they founded; I would assume in the event they did, they would designate someone else as the new head of that lineage in order to maintain the established current.
In his lineage I joined as a Probationer and made my way up to Neophyte. As a Probationer he was my teacher. We got involved in a sexual relationship, and I was still his student. Afterwards, he told me he would have to assign me another teacher. I understood this transfer was the right thing to do, and he continued to teach other students — in spite of the fact that sleeping with students is a breach of the teacher-student relationship and an abuse of power. Anyone wanting to sleep with their students needs to make sure their student gets a different teacher before engaging in sex with them.
My new teacher was a Neophyte named Jen, who was formerly a kinkster and involved in Wicca. She had a very dominant personality, a thinly veiled aggressiveness expressed by the desire to control and take up a lot of space (somehow the difference between this and assertiveness had escaped the notice of the men too busy praising hyper-masculine and colonialist virtues in women). When I visited her after a year, she initiated me into the Neophyte grade and she in turn was initiated into the Zelator grade. During this time when I wrote her monthly letters, I once received a response that was completely uncalled for. After I described the situation with my mother – who is an emotionally abusive narcissist – she replied that “maybe if you weren’t such a bitch she wouldn’t be like that.” And at the time, I didn’t know how to react to that except to simply avoid and not reply. Then I missed my next monthly letter requirement as she tried to call me a few times.
I continued to ignore her, since I wasn’t about to take orders from someone who was obviously conditioned to give them. So eventually I failed, and she also failed — meaning she dropped out. From what I was told, she was very disheartened as I was her best student. Also, Paul Rovelli told me that if I had alerted him before he could have transferred me to another teacher, meaning she would have been free to possibly abuse someone else. Of course I didn’t understand how it can be so easy to just brush it off as “compatibility problems.” She was a domme in the kink community, after all. That told me she still had some unpacking to do. Not a good recipe for being anyone’s superior. But I had heard from him personally that students of his had gone for over a month without sending in a letter; apparently, my situation did not count as extenuating circumstances (like emotional abuse). And looking at her letters again, it was apparent to me that she was into pushing me and being a bully, trying to rush me into completing my Neophyte task so that she could then have her initiation into the next grade. I don’t recall anywhere in which I agreed that my teacher should pester me about “getting my act together” like my parents do – they didn’t help, and she failed to understand that I came from a dysfunctional, abusive family and that I was dealing with years of trauma.
In addition to this, Paul Rovelli continued to hold onto a picture he took of me (without my consent) in which I was wearing one of his shirts unbottoned at the top, revealing my breasts. He used this picture 10 years later to send to some 30-odd people on his email list, specifically under the pretext that I “failed the A.’.A.’.” and a poor attempt to give an air of spiritual credibility to what constituted sexual harassment and a form of revenge porn.
So, I conclude that: If you are abused by a teacher and the founder of that lineage sympathizes with them, you’re screwed, as far as that particular lineage goes. I am not saying that this is reflective of the A.’.A.’. in general, as a spiritual order; only that there is no established method as a check against abuse. Even if there is some spiritual insight to be had, it is not an adequate compensation for dignity. The view that an individual “needs” to be a member of a particular lineage in order to be spiritually successful creates a sense of dependency, and that is toxic.
If I hold the value of a superior acting morally and being an example for his/her students, and I’m seen as evil for that, then it’s really okay in my book. So be it. “Pulling rank” is not an effective way of interacting with students, and it holds that teaching is only one-way (from teacher to student). It is not only hierarchical but authoritarian, surpassed only by students who jump ahead and proclaim themselves to be of a higher grade they’re not prepared for, and who take on other students under false pretenses. But “the A.’.A.’. can refuse none,” so abusers, megalomaniacs and even criminals being among their ranks is par for the course.
Finally, I think it is disingenuous to claim that people who voluntarily leave the lineage or no longer interact with their teachers have failed or that they are somehow no longer spiritual; the Great Work is open to anyone and they do not need to acquiesce to some outer Authority. When will Thelemites realize this? Surely I can’t be the only one who does.