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Voudon and other occult activities

In 1964, Bertiaux traveled to Haiti, where he was initiated into the system of
Haitian Vodoun. He settled in Chicago in 1966, where he formed (among other bodies)
the Neo-Pythagorean Gnostic Church. Bertiaux's interpretation of Vodoun was
strongly influenced by Martinism, a Francophone occultist society who pretended to
inherit from the teachings of Louis-Claude De Saint Martin, although the regularity
and mere existence of such a linkage was questioned, and which became established
in Haiti in the 18th century.[1]

Bertiaux had long been associated with the Ordo Templi Orientis Antiqua, a pseudo-
initiatic gnostic-magical order supposedly founded in 1921 in Haiti by the gnostic
patriarch and Voudon high priest Lucien-Francois Jean-Maine.[2] The O.T.O.A.
tradition comes from the gnostic voudon, as practiced in secret societies. There, a
synthesis was purportedly developed between European gnostic-hermetic currents,
being the heritage of the ancient western initiatic tradition, and Haitian
metaphysics. Within the group, the O.T.O.A. works through the Monastery of the
Seven Rays system.[3] Both of these organizations cooperate with the gnostic church
Ecclesia Gnostica Spiritualis.

La Couleuvre Noire (The Black Snake) is an independent order founded in 1922,


closely cooperating with the O.T.O.A.. It is dedicated to the practice of advanced
techniques of Gnostic Voudon, a powerful system of Afro-Atlantean magic in its
purest and most traditional form. Today, Courtney Willis (Tau Ogdoade-Orfeo VIII)
is the Hierophant and the Sovereign Grand Master Absolute (SGMA) of the L.C.N. as
well as the S.G.M.A. of the O.T.O.A. Michael Bertiaux (Tau Ogdoade-Orfeo IV) is the
Grand Conservateur of the L.C.N. and the Hierophant of the O.T.O.A.

Bertiaux also heads the Choronzon Club, in his words "his personal magical club,"
Bertiaux is extremely reticent concerning this "club"'s secretive purpose and
nature, which revolves around a core practice of exclusively male homosexual sado-
maschism, with anal-sex as the central 11th grade initiation (both Bertiaux and
originally, Crowley were both heavily influenced by Crowley's initial, formative
encounter with German "thelemic" initiate Theodore Ruess and his personal
homosexual circle of consensual participants in the controversial practices in
exclusively male homosexual rituals (with anal-sex as the 11th grade 'sacrament',
just as this act was one the Knights Templar were also (falsely) accused of by the
Inquisition.

For a period, Michael Bertiaux was also a secretary of the Theosophical Society
until moving to Chicago in 1966, where he trained and qualified as a social worker,
a job he remained in for just under forty years. He specialized in working with the
Chicago Haitian community, which currently has a population of around 5,000-15,000.
[4]

Bertiaux's life and occult system are examined in Kenneth Grant's books, Cults of
the Shadow (1975),[5] Nightside of Eden (1977),[6] Outside the Circles of Time
(1980),[7] and Hecate's Fountain (1993).[8] Grant devotes two entire chapters of
Cults of the Shadow to a discussion and analysis of Bertiaux's work in La Couleuvre
Noir, as well as a portion of the chapter �Afro-Tantric Tarot of the Kalas."

Bertiaux was also featured in the 1985 book and documentary by Nevill Drury, The
Occult Experience.[9]

Bertiaux's magical system is complex, including terms unique to himself, such as


the "meon" and "Zoythrian" energies but also drawing on magical extensions of the
writings of H.P. Lovecraft and the teachings of Aiwass.

Following his retirement, Bertiaux has focused on his art and writing.