Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica
The Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica or Gnostic Catholic Church is a Thelemic Ecclesiastic body within the Ordo Templi Orientis.
The Gnostic Church was founded by Jules-Benoît Stanislas Doinel du Val-Michel (1842-1903) assuming the office of Patriarch in 1890. As Patriarch Doinel took the mystic name Valentin II and proceeded to consecrate several bishops. The bishops of Doinel's Gnostic Church all chose a mystic name prefaced by the Greek letter Tau. Two of the original bishops made by Doinel were: Gérard Encausse (1865-1916) as Tau Vincent, Bishop of Toulouse, and Louis-Sophrone Fugairon (born 1846) as Tau Sophronius, Bishop of Béziers. Eventually these two bishops joined a schismatic branch of the Gnostic Church (l'Église Catholique Gnostique or the Gnostic Catholic Church) founded by a third, later consecrated bishop: Jean Bricaud (1881-1934).
In June of 1908 it is believed that Gérard Encausse bestowed episcopal and primatial authority in l'Église Catholique Gnostique on Theodor Reuss (1855-1923) who incorporated it into the Ordo Templi Orientis of which he was the Outer Head.
Jean Bricaud passed apostolic succession through the Joseph René Vilatte line (Antioch succession) to Theodor Reuss on September 18, 1919.
Theodor Reuss appointed Aleister Crowley National Grand Master Xº for Ireland, Iona, and all the Britains in 1912. Crowley created Liber XV the Gnostic Mass in 1913 which Reuss published in 1918 under the auspices of the OTO representing a formal acceptance of the Law of Thelema.
Aleister Crowley succeeded Reuss as Outer Head of the OTO and leader of the Thelemic Gnostic Catholic Church in 1922.
Although several valid lines of apostolic succession exist within Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica, Christian apostolic succession is not required of The Episcopate, or of particular relevance as sacerdotal authority is derived from succession from the Prophet of Thelema: Aleister Crowley. Having apostolic succession does not make one a member of the E.G.C. or confer any rights or privileges therein.
The central activity of the E.G.C. is the celebration of the Gnostic Mass, Liber XV. Membership in E.G.C. is available through baptism and confirmation.
As it exists today our Church has two classifications of membership: Lay membership (people who have been baptized and confirmed), and the Clergy (the Patriarch, the Primates, the Bishops, the Priests and Priestesses, and the Deacons.)
The Patriarch is the Father (or Mother) of the Church. This office is held by the Outer Head of the Ordo Templi Orientis.
The Primates are Presiding Bishops and are the National Grand Masters General X° of various countries.
Bishops within E.G.C. must be Sovereign Grand Inspectors General VII° of O.T.O.
Priests and Priestesses of the E.G.C. hold the degree of Knight of the East and West (KEW), the first of the invitational degrees in the Ordo Templi Orientis.
E.G.C. Deacons must be O.T.O. initiate members of the II°.
Members of O.T.O. in good standing are eligible for clerical training and ordination in E.G.C. Many O.T.O. local bodies celebrate the Gnostic Mass on a regular basis. Usually individuals not initiated in O.T.O. are welcome to attend Mass, although visitors are expected to communicate the sacrament.