The G∴B∴G∴ stands for The Great Brotherhood of God.
The promise of the Order was "A Shortcut to Initiation." That was the headline of a 1931 announcement appearing over a Chicago box office number. The founder of the G∴B∴G∴ was C. F. Russell whose magical name was Frater Genesthai. Lou Culling described Russell "…as a teacher in Practicing Magick, was, without question, the greatest genius of this century, or of several past centuries that I have been able to trace.” This was the man who had a tiff with Aleister Crowley about giving up his room at the Abbey in Cefalu, Italy and spent the next sixty hours in magical retirement sitting on "The Rock" without food or water.
Unless you are both interested and a good historian in regard to the world of Crowley, this information won’t mean much to you, and perhaps it really doesn’t mean anything other than to tell you that Russell was a magician who studied with Crowley and was intimate enough to be part of Crowley’s inner circle.
Following this event, Crowley gave Russell his blessing to found his own Order to be based on these three points:
- Liber Legis. Crowley’s Book of the Law.
- The Aeon of Horus
Reading that 1931 announcement, Louis T. Culling wrote of his interest, and was the first to have responded. He was required to pay a fee of $5.00 and to secure at least eight "loyal and active" members to form a "Neighborhood Lodge." We have only limited information about the full size of the Order. In San Diego, there were 25 members, in Los Angeles 75, in San Francisco 50, and in Denver 125. Culling writes that there were other local lodges in all the large cities.
The G∴B∴G∴ was not an exclusively male organization and had both men and women in equal status. A "Brotherhood of God" becomes an association of men and women with God. Perhaps this is not a claim to equality with God, but when we look to Biblical texts we see that God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him, male and female created He them. (Genesis 1:27). Elsewhere we read that Jesus—equated with God—promises that men will be able to perform miracles just He does. Does this make us equal to God? Perhaps, for we are all part of one creation, and quantum theory demonstrates that the process of creation is continuous and that with will and intention we can bring about change.
The G∴B∴G∴ closed its doors to new members in 1936, and then ceased entirely in 1938. In 1936 Russell, as Head of the Order, wrote to Lou Culling: The closing of the doors of the G∴B∴G∴ does not mean that the Great Work must be lost to the ken of man. I appoint you to reveal the entire curriculum of our Magick Order. This is not to be before the year 1956, and furthermore, only when you are ready to assume the responsibility.
Why was the Order closed? Apparently the closing was planned at the time of its beginning. Culling writes, "As early as 1932, I received official notice that the doors would be closed to new members after 1936, after which the existing members would continue operations until the final closing period of 1938." He also noted in an interview transcribed in 1971 that "Russell’s prediction was that after the G∴B∴G∴ closed its doors, that all occult orders were losing their dispensation (amount to nothing) and there would not be another legitimate order of any kind with any real dispensation until the year 1972."
What the G∴B∴G∴ claimed to have accomplished was to reduce all the extensive magickal material derived through the Golden Dawn and Aleister Crowley to an efficient and essential curriculum of personal or group study and practice as a true "Short Cut to Initiation."
The purpose of all magickal study is this Initiation, which culminates in the attainment of the Knowledge and Conversation of one’s Holy Guardian Angel—one’s true Inner, or Higher, Self. While Culling claimed that the practice of this curriculum would also lead to the attainment of magickal powers, these are considered here only as aids in the Great Work, described in psychological terms as "the integration of the subconscious with the conscious personality," and ultimately union with the Highest Self.