Forgotten Templars

The Untold Origins of Ordo Templi Orientis

Richard Kaczynski


An unlikely cocktail of actors and musicians, doctors and merchants, anarchists and sexual reformers populated the occult underground of the late nineteenth century. One by-product of this strange brew was the magical order known as Ordo Templi Orientis, or the Order of Oriental Templars, with its controversial mix of esoteric Freemasonry, yoga and sex magic. While its name is familiar thanks to its second Grand Master, Edwardian enfant terrible Aleister Crowley, its origins have subsisted as shadowy mytho-history. Until now. This revelatory study brings into sharp focus the perfect storm of personalities, movements, and circumstances that gave rise to one of the largest and most influential secret societies of our time. It is a story that has waited a century to be told.

Advance praise for Forgotten Templars

“Kaczynski has excavated the prehistory of O.T.O. with the tenacity and passion for detail that he showed in his unrivaled Crowley biography, Perdurabo. If the Order has not gained in glamor thereby, the founders have received their due, as men who really knew how to live by their wits. Whoever has heard of the Order’s third founder, Henry Klein, who had a finger in every musical pie in Victorian London and died on a newspaper magnate’s charity? Of Carl Kellner’s sinister Oriental masters, or Franz Hartmann’s years in gold-rush country? I know of no book that joins up more pieces in the jigsaw puzzle of modern esoteric history.”

—Joscelyn Godwin, author of The Theosophical Enlightenment, Atlantis and the Cycles of Time, etc.

Forgotten Templars is a fascinating and immensely detailed study of the creators—direct and indirect—of Ordo Templi Orientis. All of the characters involved—Klein, Reuss, Hartmann, Kellner, Yarker, Steiner and others—are set in the context of both their esoteric and everyday lives, and Dr. Kaczynski has teased out every scrap of information that can throw light upon their work. But his book is much more than a historical handbook for enthusiasts of OTO. The wealth of material that he has assembled—much of it previously unknown—ensures that Forgotten Templars will become an essential resource for all students of the 19th century ‘occult revival,’ to be placed alongside such classics as Joscelyn Godwin’s Theosophical Enlightenment.”

—R. A. Gilbert, author of The Golden Dawn Companion and A.E. Waite: Magician of Many Parts.

“For a hundred years the origins of Ordo Templi Orientis have been shrouded in mystery and misinformation. Now for the first time the true story is finally being told. Dr. Kaczynski has created a book that is both meticulously researched and elegantly written, and will no doubt become the standard biographical work on the subject in the future. From its roots in 19th century fringe Freemasons and Theosophists, popular music performers, and German sex magicians (and sometimes all of those combined), this book covers the characters and philosophies that shaped one of the most vital systems of modern occultism. For anyone interested in the history of Western esotericism this book is an absolute must-read.”

—Rodney Orpheus, author of The Grimoire of Aleister Crowley and Abrahadabra—Understanding Aleister Crowley’s Thelemic Magick.

“What a treasure trove of Order history. I have waited three-and-a-half decades for this book. Klein, Kellner, Hartmann, Reuss, Yarker—innumerable photos, documents, and memorabilia—my goodness! This book is one of the most important scholarly contributions to the history of the O.T.O. ever written; and it has been created by one of our own. Forgotten Templars is an essential volume for the library of every Order member, as well as every Lodge, Oasis, and Camp. Thank you Brother Kaczynski. You have indeed helped us to explore the river of the soul of our Fraternity.”

—James Wasserman, author of In the Center of the Fire: A Memoir of the Occult, 1966–1989.


Limited edition of 777 705 copies, sold out • quarto (9×12) format on 70 pound paper • viii + 322 pages • over 250 b&w illustrations • cloth hardcover with gold-foil stamping and dust wrapper • $85.