All must be done well and with business way. —AL III:41
The original Kaaba Colloquium for O.T.O. Organizers was held as a joint project of five chartered bodies in the Southwest and Southern Midwest USA: Bubastis Oasis (Dallas), Ra-Heru-Behutet Camp (Kansas City), Saladin Oasis (San Antonio), Scarlet Woman Lodge (Austin), and Soul of the Desert Camp (Santa Fe). It took place at the Valley of Austin O.T.O. Temple in Austin, Texas, in March of 2000e.v. Authorization and capitalization for the event came entirely from the five sponsor bodies (i.e. no national or international sanction or mandate were involved). The administrative coordinator of the event was a Sovereign Prince Rose Croix holding no governing office at that time. Presenters included four sitting masters of local bodies, three officers of US Grand Lodge, and one officer of O.T.O. International. There were about forty attendees from a dozen different local bodies nationwide.
These were the presentation topics at the event:
- Mapping the Critical Path: A Strategic Approach to Event Planning
- Diagnostic Models for the Development of O.T.O. Local Bodies
- Local Membership Development: A Strategic Primer for Fraternal Magicians
- Cohesion: How to Keep Members Engaged and Grow a Strong Egregore
- Local Body Publishing: Spreading Thelema and Presenting Ourselves
- The Internet as an Organizing Tool
- Administrative Procedures for Initiations
- US Administrative Interface with International Headquarters
There were also two Gnostic Masses, the ordination of a priest, an evening social, and a choral concert.
As originally conceived, this Colloquium (later known informally as "Kaaba Zero") was a "horizontal" effort to provide a medium through which local officers could get to know each other and exchange information on successful organizing tactics and strategies, and also to bring in national officers to address the challenges and concerns of local bodies. The event coordinator hoped that either a) it could serve as a model for future analogous events to be organized in other regions, and/or b) it could prompt USGL to actively promote—and even subsidize—similar events in the future. The latter option has been realized in the continuing Kaaba Committee and the ongoing Kaaba Colloquium program.
The first U.S.G.L.-sponsored Kaaba Colloquium was held in Indianapolis, Indiana. It was expressly authorized through the Electoral College—who have "full control over the affairs of the Men of Earth"—and the USGL Kaaba Committee since 2003e.v. has been chaired by an Electoral College member. The Kaaba effort got off to a brisk start with two "and a half" sessions that year. The Kaaba event at NOTOCON IV was a half-day sampler (a.k.a. "Kaaba Lite") that represented under a third of the material that would typically be included in a two-day weekend seminar. Since 2003, Kaaba Colloquia have been conducted twice per year, in deliberately varying regions of the country (go here to see the locations on a map).
The Kaaba Colloquia in 2003e.v. and 2004e.v. based their content primarily on a survey of local officers regarding the topics they most desired to be addressed. Another factor was the particular expertise and interests of the Committee members and guest presenters. At Salem in 2005e.v., the Kaaba Committee had a major planning session, in which a more ambitious approach was undertaken: to meet the expressed desires of local body officers, and to provide a full range of information that U.S.G.L. governing officers considered helpful and/or necessary to local officers. This change provoked other important modifications. There would be too much material to cover in the allotted time, especially when providing for important Q&A sessions, so "double-tracking" was introduced, under which two presentations would run simultaneously in separate rooms. At this point, a shift was also inaugurated to move responsibility for funding the meeting spaces and administering attendee registrations to the Kaaba Committee, whereas previously they had been handled by the hosting local bodies.
The "double-tracking" shift was a complete success, but the Kaaba Committee further refined that after the Kaaba Colloquium held in Philadelphia, to form what is now called "Kaaba 3", which has "double-tracking" based upon the experience level of the attendee on the first day and on the developmental level of the local body on the second day. This refinement had really enabled bodies to get the most out of their Kaaba experience, by splitting their attendees between the two tracks based on their needs. Exceed! Exceed!
The Kaaba Committee now includes representatives of all of the principal governing bodies of U.S.G.L., including multiple members of the Strategic Planning Committee. The roster of potential guest presenters is growing, and the presentation topics are constantly evolving in response to the planning demands of U.S.G.L. as well as the growing sophistication of local bodies.
Kaaba events are organized through a standing committee of the O.T.O. United States Grand Lodge, which receives direction from the Executive Committee and the Electoral College. The particular strategic concern of the Kaaba Committee is to support the growth of local bodies.
Kaaba Colloquia are currently intended to:
- Provide training in O.T.O. leadership philosophy and techniques for local officers.
- Create opportunities for officers of different local bodies to meet and exchange ideas on the theoretical and practical concerns of O.T.O. organizing.
- Expose interested members to the challenges and rewards of local officer work.
- Make key national officers available in person to members who have not yet reached the invitational degrees.
- Permit USGL planners to encounter the concerns and aspirations of local leaders.
The hosting local bodies continue to provide support for Kaaba Colloquia, but the current and intended trend is to reduce their support responsibilities, and leave them instead with opportunities to provide hospitality and showcase their local accomplishments.