Mishkan ha-Echad

Sunday, 8 November 2015

A Rosicrucian by Any Other Name, Part 2

As a follow-up to my previous blog post, questioning the supposed rule that a Rosicrucian cannot claim to be a Rosicrucian, I have discovered some additional references that really do make it clear that the Golden Dawn founders, at least, did not accept this view (and, indeed, violated it, if there ever was such a rule then to violate), and it was also not (and still is not) held by many others within the wider Rosicrucian community.

1. Mathers wrote an open letter that was published in the public occult journal Lucifer (run by the Theosophical Society) in 1889 (just one year after the founding of the GD), challenging a group called the Order of the Dew and the Light, which claimed to be the true and only descendants of the "Fraternitas Rosae Crucis."

He explicitly stated that he was writing "on behalf of the Metropolitan College of the Rosicrucian Society of England," openly named Woodman as head of that same order, and stated that Westcott was Secretary General. Mathers signed the letter with his full name, rank, and title.

At no point were mottos used here. All three founders were publicly declared as members of the SRIA, and thus were Rosicrucians. While Mathers does not explicitly state "I am a Rosicrucian" in this letter, it is clearly implied, and anyone reading it would have been certain that Mathers viewed himself as a Rosicrucian.

2. In a letter to the same journal, Westcott (signing with his real name) wrote the following (in response to an attack on the SRIA for its alleged focus on dinners and suppers, which Westcott obviously disputed):

"we Rosicrucians confess to taking dinners and even suppers also when we require them ..."

There is no room for ambiguity here. Westcott literally says that he, and other members of the Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia, are Rosicrucians.

3. In 1916, Mathers wrote an article for The Azoth Magazine (published in 1917), with the following title and byline:

The Real and True Rosicrucian Order
by its Head, The Comte de MacGregor de Glenstrae

While Mathers did not use his full name, it was pretty clear who he was, and what he claimed: that he was the head of the real and true Rosicrucian Order, and that, therefore, he was a Rosicrucian.

4. In an obituary for Mathers written by A.E. Waite and published in the public esoteric journal The Occult Review in 1919, Waite describes how he met Mathers around 1883 in the British Museum, and some of the first words Mathers said to him:

"I am a Rosicrucian and a Freemason; therefore I can speak of some things, but of others I cannot speak."

Here we see Mathers literally speaking the very words that some today suggest are forbidden (or somehow proof that the person is not what is claimed). Again, there is no ambiguity here, and no way to interpret this other than to say that clearly Mathers, like Westcott, did not believe in this supposed prohibition.

5. What of other Rosicrucian streams, however? While my focus is obviously on the GD side of things, I have been unable at present to find any other sources of this alleged rule. Indeed, I have found the opposite.

An organisation called the Fraternitas Rosae Crucis was established by Paschal Beverly Randolph in 1858, and one John B. Pilkington wrote about meeting Randolph to a Boston newspaper in 1861, stating these as Randolph's words:

"I am a Rosicrucian, and cannot accept money; keep it."

6. The Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia (SRIA) openly claims to be a "society of Rosicrucian Freemasons," and publicly lists the names and contact details of the secretaries of its various colleges on its website. Again, no mottos. Real names. In doing so, the implication is that they are claiming to be Rosicrucians, and therefore see no problem with it.

Now, it is open to debate whether or not such public presentation is good or wise, or if it is becoming of such a Fraternity long held to be secret, and I can see the merits of such arguments (and counter-arguments). Even Waite wondered this in relation to Mathers' announcement to him.

Yet that debate is beside the point. The focus here is on whether or not it is Rosicrucian tradition that one cannot claim to be a Rosicrucian. I believe the numerous examples given above, and in my previous post, raise some serious doubts about this supposed prohibition.

Friday, 6 November 2015

A Rosicrucian by Any Other Name, Part 1

A common view espoused today is that a Rosicrucian may not claim to be a Rosicrucian, that doing so essentially shows that he or she is not actually a member of that Fraternity.

Peregrin Wildoak raised this topic in his recent blog post with a number of sources for this rule, and though the sources may appear initially compelling, there are a number of issues which make me question just how authentic this prohibition really is, and how valid it is in the context of the Golden Dawn.

1. The primary sources for Rosicrucianism are, of course, the Fama and Confessio, and it is the Fama that gives us six articles that the ancient brethren bound each other to keep. The first two of these concern us, given that they are cited as evidence for the aforementioned rule.

"1. First, That none of them should profess any other thing than to cure the sick, and that gratis.  
2. None of the Posterity should be constrained to wear one certain kind of habit, but therein to follow the custom of the Country."

Neither of these state that a Rosicrucian cannot claim to be a Rosicrucian. 

The first states that he or she should not profess to "any other thing" than to cure the sick. This, to me, is a clause about claiming abilities, not names.

The second is about the style of dress, that members of the Fraternity should not be required to wear a particular form of regalia, but rather blend in with the culture in which he or she is operating. This largely ties in with the concept of secrecy.

To my knowledge, neither the Fama nor Confessio say elsewhere that no one can claim to be a Rosicrucian, and, indeed, don't even use the word "Rosicrucian" at all. The concept, therefore, appears to have come much later.

2. The third pivotal text in the Rosicrucian corpus is the Chymical Wedding of Christian Rosenkreutz (and, indeed, it is from here that we get the name of the founder of the Fraternity, it being rendered simply C.R.C. in the manifestos).

This text also does not use the term "Rosicrucian," but we do find the following:

"Now I having replied that I was a Brother of the Red-Rosy Cross, he both wondered and seemed to rejoice at it ..."

It is clear that the protagonist in this text claims to be a member of the Fraternity, and thus, by implication, he claims to be a Rosicrucian.

3. The prohibition appears to be much clearer in the following example, which is from the end of the Third Part of the 5=6 Ritual from the Hermes Temple of the Stella Matutina in Israel Regardie's The Golden Dawn:

“Finally, you must understand that you are never permitted to say to anyone not a member of this Order that you are a Rosicrucian.”

That seems fairly clear indeed, but the problem is that this line is not present in the original Golden Dawn 5=6 Ritual, nor in the AO ceremony. It seems it is a later addition by the Stella Matutina (which did not restrict its changes to the lower grades, but made several alterations to the Adeptus Minor ritual, including completely changing the Grip).

Interestingly, this line also does not feature in a Stella Matutina copy of the 5=6 Ritual from the Amoun Temple from c. 1914, suggesting the insertion of this rule was made after this date (and before the publication of Regardie's book).

Yet it is clear that this prohibition was never part of the original Golden Dawn teachings.

4. The Obligation of the 5=6 Grade does, however, make the following reference in relation to the Malkuth clause:

“Finally, if in my travels I should meet a stranger who professes to be a member of the Rosicrucian Order, I will examine him with care before acknowledging him to be so.”

This is more about the use of discernment and discrimination (the Virtue of Malkuth), encouraging Adepti Minores to test others claiming to be Rosicrucians. It does not prohibit them from claiming to be Rosicrucians, and it allows for someone who claims to be a Rosicrucian to be acknowledged as such if examined first.

5. Mathers and Westcott clearly did not have any problem with describing the GD as Rosicrucian, given that some papers are titled “Hermetic Students of the Rosicrucian Order of the G.D.” Likewise, the AO was sometimes referred to as “Rosicrucian Order of A.O.” More on these names, and the numerous other forms used by the historical Order, can be found here.

6. The Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia (SRIA), to which all three GD founders belonged, and from which some of the structure of the GD was adopted, clearly claims to be Rosicrucian, and Westcott explicitly claims it to be Rosicrucian in numerous places, not least of all the Historic Lecture given to Neophytes in the GD.

It seems to me, therefore, that this "rule" does not have as much basis as previously assumed.

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Lamens of the Golden Dawn, Part 1

For decades, the designs on the Lamens worn by the Officers in Golden Dawn ceremonies has largely been taken for granted, with the vast majority of people relying on or replicating the forms given in Israel Regardie's The Golden Dawn, or other books.

The original source material shows some subtle, and not so subtle, differences, which I will highlight in this series of articles.

To begin, let us look at the Lamens as given in Regardie's book:

Next, let us look at the original designs drawn by Mathers, with his accompanying description beneath them (click the image for a larger version):

There are numerous points of interest here, but for now I will focus on one that I think has been consistently overlooked: the fact that the Lamens of the Inferior Officers (Kerux, Stolistes, and Dadouchos) do not have a white circle (or border) around them.

Of course, it is always possible that Mathers made a mistake, forgetting to add the circles, but the descriptions below them, where the borders for the Superior Officers are mentioned, and none are mentioned for the remainder, makes this an unlikely scenario.

Another possibility is that he altered the designs after drafting these, but evidence elsewhere suggests that this is not the case.

For example, Z1 describes the Lamens in some detail, giving quotations from the previous ceremonies, and the outer circle is explicitly referred to in the case of the Hiereus and Hegemon, and inferred in the case of the Hierophant, while also being drawn in accompanying full-colour diagrams.

Z1 makes zero mention, however, of there being surrounding circles in the Lamens of the Inferior Officers, supporting the form as outlined in the above diagram by Mathers.

Interestingly, those worn by the Hierophant, Hiereus and Hegemon are all referred to as a "Great Lamen," while the remainder are just called Lamens, which also highlights their distinction.

This is further exemplified in a diagram showing these three Lamens on the Tree of Life, with their accompanying circles, a version of which is published in Adept Magic in the Golden Dawn Tradition by Frater YShY.

Further still, there are surviving AO drawings of several of the Lamens, dating from around 1904, and these only show the circles for the Superior Officers.

While some may see this as being a minor point, if we accept that symbolism is important, as evidenced by the Great Lamens on the Tree of Life diagram, then we must in turn accept that errors in symbolism are also important.

Of course, it is always possible that the Stella Matutina changed the design of the Lamens, and Israel Regardie subsequently inherited this change, but I think the above shows that in the case of the original GD, and the AO, the Lamens of the Inferior Officers did not have a surrounding circle.

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Common Errors in the Elemental Implements

A variety of popular books, and the advent of the internet, have created and perpetuated a number of errors in the Elemental Implements, which are being unwittingly copied and promulgated by a new generation of occult students.

Firstly, Robert Wang's The Secret Temple gave the wrong Divine Names for the Elemental Implements, adopting the Sephirothic names instead of the Elemental ones (that we see in the Supreme Ritual of the Pentagram). His errors were duplicated and popularised by Donald Michael Kraig's Modern Magick.

Wang and Kraig give the following:

Fire Wand: YHVH Tzabaoth
Water Cup: Elohim Tzabaoth
Air Dagger: Shaddai El Chai
Earth Pantacle: Adonai ha-Aretz

The correct names are:

Fire Wand: Elohim
Water Cup: El
Air Dagger: YHVH
Earth Pantacle: Adonai

Further, most depictions of the Earth Pantacle are missing a name: Aphar (עפר). This is another name for earth, often translated as "dry earth" or "dust". It goes between Tzaphon and Aretz.

Another common error is the spelling of Madim, the Hebrew name for Mars, which is employed with the Magical Sword. The spelling is often given as מדים, but it should actually be spelled מאדים (with an Aleph). I was informed of this error by a native Hebrew speaker, and I initially thought it was a mistake made by the original Order (as some papers have the missing Aleph), until I found instances in original papers where it was, in fact, spelled correctly.

This error also changes the shape of the sigil drawn from the Rose, and thus is quite significant.

The above is confirmed by numerous extant copies of Ritual G, the expanded consecration instructions by Westcott, notes made by original Order members (George Pollexfen, Yeats' uncle, made lists of all the appropriate names in English and Hebrew, with their sigil from the Rose), and surviving implements (such as Yeats' and Ayton's Earth Pantacles).

Of course, it is important to consider that errors can and will happen. Making mistakes is not necessarily the issue (none of us are perfect). Ignoring or continuing to make those mistakes is a different matter entirely, and I hope the above helps some students avoid these common errors.

Monday, 7 September 2015

Pre-order Enochian Magic in Practice

05 September 2015—Dublin, Ireland—KERUBIM PRESS has announced that readers can now pre-order the Limited Hardback Edition of its latest esoteric title, Enochian Magic in Practice by Frater Yechidah (ISBN 978-1-908705-13-6), due to launch in January 2016.

There will be only 100 signed and numbered copies of the Limited Hardback Edition. A paperback edition will follow several months later.

The sequel to the widely praised Enochian Magic in Theory, this book has been in the works for some time, and we are proud to finally bring you this much-awaited volume.

Check out the (preliminary) back cover description:

The second of Frater Yechidah’s eagerly awaited Enochian Magic series, detailing John Dee and Edward Kelley’s magical system in extraordinary detail, from the Heptarchic system to Enochian proper.

This expansive volume goes beyond the theory, giving a detailed, thorough and comprehensive guide on how to put Enochian magic into practice, from skyring and evocation to tools and talismans, and, for the first time ever, a complete method for the binding of Cacodaemons.

This tome gives easy to follow instructions on how to use the Enochian system, both from the original Dee perspective, and also from more modern techniques, such as those employed by the Golden Dawn, Aleister Crowley, the O.’.S.’.D.’.L.’., and other magicians.

The Limited Hardback Edition is priced at €50 (+€15 shipping), and can be ordered through PayPal from the product page here.

Since this is a one time hardback print run, make sure to order early to avoid disappointment. Orders will be shipped in January 2016.

The paperback version (ISBN 978-1-908705-14-3) will release at a later date and will retail for $29.99, £19.99, €24.99, or AU$39.99. It will be available through all major online bookstores, including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and The Book Depository. Bookstores are welcome to contact Kerubim Press to inquire about wholesale options.

(The cover shown is that of the paperback edition. The hardback version will have a slightly different cover.)

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

The Name/s of the Order of the Golden Dawn

For some years there has been some debate on what the "true" name of the Golden Dawn was, whether it was Hermetic, Esoteric, Rosicrucian, or something else entirely. Some suggest it was one or the other, and that all other descriptors are wrong, but history says otherwise.

Firstly, if we look at the rituals themselves, the terminology used is "Order of the Golden Dawn in the Outer." This is, to the best of my knowledge, universal in all surviving copies of the original Order rituals.

The Ordinances give: "The First Order of the G.D. in the Outer." The Bye-laws of Isis-Urania give: "Order of the G.D. in the Outer." Circulars issued to members announcing meeting times also use this form. Likewise, the temple warrants use the same.

However, all labels on Order documents contained the title "Hermetic Order of the G.D."

To muddy the waters a little more, the title page of some documents gives: "Hermetic Students of the G.D."

Others say: "Hermetic Students of the Rosicrucian Order of the G.D."

In Westcott's "Historic Lecture to Neophytes," originally delivered in March 1888, he refers to it as simply the "Order of the G.D. in the Outer" (matching the rituals), but then calls it "an Hermetic Society."

Westcott further gives the name of the Order "in the several languages." These are:

"In Hebrew the title is 'Chabrath or Chevrah Zereh aour bokher' which means 'Society of the Shining Light of the Dawn.' [This is given as Chabrath Zerech Aur Boqer חברת זרח אור בקר in the Cipher MS.] 
"While yet Latin was the language in almost universal use amongst persons of culture the name was 'Aurora'. 
"In Greek Hē eōs Chrisē η εως χρυση. 
"In French, 'L'aube Dorée'. 
"In German the title is 'Die Goldene Dammerung.'"

In a response to a query about the group in the journal Notes and Queries, Westcott wrote: "Its true name is only told to initiates, and the few outsiders who have heard of its existence know of the society as 'The Hermetic Students of the G.D.'" He also referred to it by this name in a lecture to the SRIA.

A letter to Westcott in January 1888, purporting to be written by Anna Sprengel, calls the group simply "the Order of the G.D." In a letter to Yeats in 1900, Westcott refers to it as "the G.D. Hermetic Society."

A letter from Mathers to the Editor of the journal Lucifer referred to the Order as "The Hermetic Students of the Rosicrucian G.D. in the outer."

The initial Pledge Forms, meanwhile, gave the name as "the Esoteric Order of the G.D. in the Outer."

For those who rebelled against Mathers in 1900, the name was soon changed, largely in response to the very public Horos scandal of 1901. In the draft rules of reconstitution devised in 1902, it says:

"The name of the Hermetic Society of the G.D. shall be changed to some other title, to be approved by the Council."

The name chosen was Morgenrothe (Morning Red, or Dawn), and the letters "G.D." on most labels were replaced with "M.R." Bye-laws from this time also give: "Der Scheine des Lichtes" (The Shining of the Light) in brackets beneath "M.R. in the Outer."

In Mathers' post-rebellion group, the name was changed to "Alpha et Omega." The rituals describe it as the "Rosicrucian Order of A.O." or "Rosicrucian Order of the A.O." Surviving Bye-laws give "A.O. in the Outer."

However, the labels typically call it "Hermetic Order of the A.O."

Some papers, reproduced by photographic negatives, simply say "Order of A.'.O.'."

Stella Matutina labels appear to be much simpler, with the number of the temple. For example: "H.O. 21" (Amoun) or "H.O. 49" (Whare Ra/Smaragdum Thalasses).

As a matter of curiosity, one copy of a 0=0 ritual from the Amoun temple has "Stella Matutina" crossed out and replaced with "Monocris de Astris" (Unicorn of the Stars), suggesting this was a name being contemplated. It does not appear this was ever formally adopted.

So, clearly there was no single name that was universally used, and all of the above descriptors are correct in their own way. Perhaps the simplest name to use (in the case of the original Order) is "Order of the Golden Dawn," as this is largely consistent throughout the various forms, and the one adopted in both the official rules and rituals.

Sunday, 12 July 2015

Age and the Occult

Every so often I encounter some "rules" regarding how old one should be before embracing the occult, or comments that dismiss the role and contribution younger people have made. While some of these have some logic behind them, many of them are based on the presumption that older equals wiser (which, unfortunately, is not always the case).

It is well known that some Rabbis, such as Shabbatai HaKohen, suggested that a man should not study the Qabalah until he is at least 40, and that this gives him time to live life, have and raise a family, and thoroughly learn Jewish tradition and law.

Yet, according to Professor Elliot Wolfson, the Abraham Lieberman Professor of Hebrew and Judaic Studies at NYU, this rule was not widely followed, with many Qabalists starting out before 40, and some not even living to 40 years of age.

“For the most part, I do not see that this was ever taken too seriously until recent times,” Wolfson said, according to MyJewishLearning. “As interest in Kabbalah has spread and the level of Jewish literacy has diminished, some religious authorities have felt the need to emphasize that one should not study Kabbalah until one is 40.”

Indeed, Isaac Luria, widely considered the "father" of modern Qabalah, was only around 22 when he began studying the Zohar, and yet where would the Qabalah be today without him? We owe many of the concepts we take for granted to him.

In recent times, I've seen these kinds of rules and restrictions creep into Golden Dawn circles, and, unsurprisingly, they are unsupported by history.

For example, Mathers was just 34 when he co-founded the Golden Dawn (and 33 when he was writing the rituals), and yet he contributed a vast amount of material to the Order, which has influenced many magicians over the past century. He was also just 23 when he joined Freemasonry, and 28 when he joined the Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia, both of which heavily influenced him.

Likewise, Westcott was 39 when he co-founded the Golden Dawn (turning 40 later that year), and he also had his esoteric start with Freemasonry in his early 20s. Freemasonry was to become a pivotal aspect of his life, and he was, in the words of Waite, "a man whom you may ask by chance concerning some almost nameless Rite and it proves very shortly that he is either its British custodian or the holder of some high if inoperative office therein."

Indeed, Mathers and Westcott not only started young, but became prominent members of almost everything they joined. Both gave numerous erudite lectures while they themselves were still quite young, and some of these papers are still mined for occult wisdom today.

So much for starting at 40.

Monday, 29 June 2015

The Sentinel Beyond 0=0, Part 2

My previous post highlighting evidence of the Sentinel's presence in the grades beyond 0=0 sparked some interesting and engaging debate, and has led me to further explore this issue, which has resulted in additional evidence that reinforces the argument I originally made.

To begin with, some questioned the reliability of Crowley's copies of the rituals, despite them being largely identical to other copies made by original members. Of course, what Crowley teaches in the OTO or AA is not a reliable indication of what the GD taught, but his transcripts of the GD rituals are a completely different matter.

Indeed, Crowley clearly opted not to make alterations to the text of the rituals themselves, but rather made notes on the opposite pages. While he may have shown a lack of understanding of the GD rituals (he writes, for example, "Is the Hg [Hegemon] an 'inferior officer'? I think not," despite the fact that the ritual says "I superintend the Inferior Officers..." [my italics]), he was at least accurate in his transcriptions of the rituals.

To put this point to rest, I checked Allan Bennett's copies of the grade ceremonies (made in 1894), which Crowley copied from. Unsurprisingly, they are essentially identical to Crowley, and they reference the Sentinel in both the opening and closing of the 3=8 and 4=7 ceremonies, as follows:

3=8 Opening 
"Hegemon, answered by Sentinel" 
3=8 Closing 
"Hg answered by S" 
4=7 Opening 
"Heg (answered by Sentinel) !" 
4=7 Closing 
"Hegemon rises and knocks at inside of door, answered by Sentinel."

So, clearly Crowley did not make this up, and he has proven to be far more reliable in this case than some make him out to be. Likewise, J.F.C. Fuller made copies from Bennett's rituals in 1906, which contain the same references to the Sentinel.

Another argument I have seen in relation to the Sentinel is that none of the ceremonies mention that the Stolistes and Dadouchos drop out after 1=10, nor do they mention that the Kerux drops out after 2=9. It has been suggested that if we were to follow my logic, that the rituals never state that Sentinel drops out, then we would have to apply the same to these other three officers.

To put this point to rest, let me highlight the fact that some rituals do in fact state clearly that the other three officers drop out, but do not mention the same for the Sentinel. For example, a 2=9 ceremony from the AO, dated 1904, states:

As in the Grade of Zelator, except that there is neither Stol and Dadouchos."

Not only does the above make it clear that those officers dropped out—it also raises the question that if the Sentinel is present in 1=10, as some readily accept, then the above description clearly tells us that all officers in 1=10, bar Stolistes and Dadouchos, are present in 2=9. This must therefore include Sentinel.

Likewise, the accompanying 3=8 ceremony states:

As in the Grade of Theoricus, except that there is no Kerux."

We therefore have evidence that these officers dropped out, but none that Sentinel dropped out after either 0=0 and 1=10.

In some copies of original GD ceremonies, lists of officers are given at the beginning. 3=8 and 4=7 typically list only the three primary officers, while 2=9 lists those plus Kerux, and 1=10 lists all bar the Sentinel. At first glance this can be seen as evidence that the Sentinel is not present. A second glance shows otherwise, as numerous 0=0 copies also do not list the Sentinel, which was largely considered a role outside of the ceremony.

Indeed, many copies of the 0=0 do not even show the Sentinel on the floor plan. By some people's logic, this means the office does not exist. The same logic has been applied to the dais officers, which are most definitely present during all Outer Order ceremonies. They are generally not drawn in temple layouts beyond 0=0, largely because they, like the Sentinel, do not move position, nor take part directly in the ritual (though they contribute in other ways). 

Yet, despite all of the above, we know for certain that Sentinel was present in 0=0.

Of course, we must also consider the practical aspects of the office of Sentinel. If a temple space is being rented, as it was in the original Order, which used one of the rooms in Mark Mason's Hall, then the need for some kind of security is essential. This practical necessity does not suddenly disappear after 0=0, nor does the magical necessity of an Outer Guard (which arguably is needed more than ever in the higher grades).

This practical requirement may be less pressing when it comes to those who operate purpose-built temples, such as Whare Ra, but the reality is that the original Order never had this luxury.

If we accept that Sentinel is indeed present in 1=10 and above, as the evidence suggests, then we must consider how this office is implemented. In 0=0 a Neophyte can hold this role, but the same may not be the case for higher grades, where the specific knocks and admission badges would be known by the Sentinel. The solution, of course, is to appoint a Sentinel of the respective grade, in much the same way that a Hegemon may be 3=8 in 3=8, but must be 4=7 in 4=7.

The above, coupled with the evidence presented in my first post on this matter, should be more than sufficient to show that the office of Sentinel was not abandoned after 0=0 or 1=10 in the original Order, and I predict that further research on this matter will uncover additional evidence of the same.

Monday, 23 March 2015

The Sentinel Beyond 0=0, Part 1

In the modern Golden Dawn community, it is commonly believed that the Sentinel is not present after the 0=0 (or, in some cases, after the 1=10), but there is a significant body of evidence that shows that this was not the case in the original Order, that, in fact, the Sentinel stood outside the door of the Hall for all grades of the Outer Order.

Before we explore this evidence, let us consider some of the reasons why the Sentinel "dropping out" has become the status quo:

1. The vast majority of ritual scripts, including the redacted Stella Matutina texts printed in Regardie's book, do not mention the Sentinel in 1=10 and above. In most cases, when the Kerux or Hegemon is asked to check if the Hall is properly guarded, the rubrics simply say "Done," "Does so," "This is done," "Having done so," or something equally vague. In some cases, no rubric is given at all.

2. There is an established pattern of officers dropping out at particular grades (Stolistes and Dadouchos after 1=10, and Kerux after 2=9), and since Sentinel is the only office that can be held by a 0=0, it can be inferred that he or she likewise drops out after 0=0. This inference is even found in footnotes in Regardie's book.

3. There are proposed magical reasons based on the above pattern, one of which I have seen being the idea that the Sentinel is essentially "absorbed" by the Candidate after 0=0, and then Stolistes and Dadouchos are "absorbed" after 1=10, and so forth. Thus, the Candidate essentially takes on these roles him or herself in higher grades.

All of the above may seem quite compelling at first, but there are significant flaws with all three points:

Firstly, the lack of clarity in the rubrics does not, in fact, intimate that the Sentinel is not present, but rather that the process of checking if the Hall is properly guarded is simply done. I would argue that in places where the text does not specify directions, it is expected that the members would follow the previously instructed procedure, which, in this case, is given in the 0=0. In other words, the Kerux gives one knock, which is answered by the Sentinel.

Secondly, the pattern of officers who drop out from the ceremonies already has a major issue, because the Hegemon, whose office can be held by a 3=8, does not drop out after 3=8. That office is kept on for 4=7, and must be held by a 4=7 then. 

This also affects the proposed magical reasons for officers dropping out, because only the Stolistes, Dadouchos and Kerux actually drop out of the ceremonies. If the idea was that the Candidate "absorbs" each office as he or she goes through the ceremonies, why does the pattern suddenly stop halfway through? While I can see potential explanations for this, the point is that the noted pattern is not consistent, and thus cannot alone be used as a basis for the Sentinel following suit.

It is also important to consider the fact that dropping the Sentinel after 0=0 (or 1=10) effectively leaves the Hall unguarded for those higher grades, which is not a good thing practically, symbolically, or magically. This certainly would not follow the protocol established by either Freemasonry or the SRIA (both of which heavily influenced the GD), where the Tyler and Acolyte guard the door for all of the ceremonies.

Now, let us consider the actual evidence for the Sentinel remaining for all five Outer Order grades:

1. Crowley's handwritten copies of the rituals explicitly show that the Sentinel gives an answering knock to that given by the Hegemon, in the case of the 3=8 and 4=7, as shown below:

The Sentinel is also mentioned in the closing of the above ceremonies.

In the case of 1=10, the Sentinel is not mentioned, but then neither is the knock given by the Kerux (the Kerux simply says that the Hall is properly guarded, with no rubrics). For 2=9, the Sentinel is not mentioned, but the knock by the Kerux is. Since the Sentinel is shown to be present in 3=8 and 4=7, however, the logical conclusion is that the Sentinel is also present for 1=10 and 2=9.

2. One copy of the 1=10, originally copied in 1896 and then revised by the rebels in 1901, has the typical "having done so" crossed out, with the knock of the Kerux and Sentinel added in.

While an argument could be made that this is a change implemented by the rebels (there are a number of changes elsewhere), I would argue that, in this case, it is actually just a clarification of the implied instructions.

Further, a typed copy of the 1=10 script, from the Amoun Temple of the Stella Matutina, clearly has the Sentinel giving an answering knock to the one given by the Kerux.

Further still, while my own copies of the Whare Ra (Smaragdum Thalasses) rituals do not mention the Sentinel, Pat Zalewski argues in his Golden Dawn Rituals and Commentaries book that "the Office of Sentinel is not dropped after the Neophyte ceremony," and that copies from both the original Golden Dawn and Whare Ra "clearly state this officer is present." (p. 189, footnote).

3. A lecture given by Brodie-Innes in 1895 on the 1=10 grade explicitly shows the presence of the Sentinel in Zelator:
"But it is the Sentinel, the Watcher Without, who prepares you to enter. Blindfold the King enters upon his Kingdom, blindfold because he must enter in faith. By knowledge he can never enter, by pride of accomplishments and attainments he can never enter; for man may study his whole life, he may attain riches and honour, but he never by these means can attain to the kingship of his own body, but only by faith. Therefore he enters blindfold; and it is not the Hegemon, representative of Mercy and Equilibrium, but it is the Sentinel who keeps and guards the door without, who thus prepares him."

4. If we were to argue that the lack of mention of the Sentinel in most scripts means that the office is not present, the same argument could be made for the dais officers, who are typically not mentioned in the rubrics, and not shown in the temple diagrams.

Yet, we know from Z1 (and, indeed, the Cypher Manuscript) that no meeting can be held without at least one of the Chiefs, and that it is preferable if all three are present.

Further, the same 1=10 paper by Brodies-Innes cited above tells us:
"Now the Hierophant and the Chiefs of the Temple, sitting upon the Dais, represent to you powers recondite and occult powers beyond anything you can know or conceive of at present."

This, therefore, confirms the presence of the dais officers in 1=10, and, by logical conclusion, in the other Outer Order grades. Thus, the argument that they are not mentioned in the ritual scripts, and thus must not be present, has no basis in this instance. While the above is somewhat of an aside, this arguably applies to the Sentinel as well.

5. In the Exordium of the 1=10, a paper explaining the inner workings of the Zelator ceremony, which was given to Theorici Adepti Minores, it states:
"As in the 0=0 Grade, the Candidate is waiting in the care of the Sentinel, and the Hegemon is sent to superintend his preparation. All that was said to the ZAM may be now considered as repeated here."
See the next point for more on this.

6. In all five ceremonies of the Outer Order, the Hierophant instructs the Hegemon to "superintend the preparation" of the Candidate. To superintend something is to supervise, oversee, or administer it. It does not mean to actually perform it, but rather to ensure that it is properly performed by another.

Z3 explains this as follows:
"But the actual Preparation of the Candidate is performed by the Sentinel, the 'Watcher Without,' to show that this Preparation must be first accomplished before the establishment of Equilibrium can occur. Therefore doth the Hegemon superintend the preparation rather than perform it actually." (underlines in original)

While the above text relates specifically to the 0=0, it does highlight the difference between superintending and performing the preparation of the Candidate. Thus, if the Hegemon is to "superintend" in 1=10 and above, someone else (namely, the Sentinel) must perform the actual preparation.

The above should be sufficient to show that the Sentinel was, in fact, originally employed in all the Outer Order grades, and that the modern practice of dropping this office is an error, no matter what arguments may have subsequently been made to justify it.

Thursday, 12 March 2015

The Four Elemental Implements, Part 2

For many, making magical tools is a significant challenge, and for some it is even an obstacle. After all, not everyone has woodworking or metalworking skills, so the Elemental Implements can seem quite daunting.

Something that I found interesting when going through Ritual G was the wording for creating each of the implements. There is a subtle distinction between making/forming two of them (the Wand and the Pentacle) and adapting the remaining two from existing objects (the Dagger and the Cup).

For the Fire Wand, we are told that it is "convenient to make the wand of wood," though cane (or bamboo) with an existing hollow and notches presents an easy alternative. Yet either method requires some amount of assembly.

For the Air Dagger, we are told that "any convenient dagger, or knife, or sword may be adapted for this purpose; the shorter the better."

For the Water Cup, we are told that "any convenient clear glass cup may be adapted..."

Ritual G does not use either word in relation to the Earth Pantacle, but a Whare Ra (Smaragdum Thalasses) copy distinctly lists the following titles for each section:

The Construction of the Wand
The Adaptation of the Cup
The Adaptation of the Sword (referring to the Dagger)
The Formation of the Pentacle

This, to me, is rather interesting, because I think the Dagger is one of the primary stumbling blocks for many students in creating their own Elemental Implements. Yet if we can simply adapt "any convenient dagger," then that process is significantly easier.

Yet, when the modern student thinks of the Air Dagger, a particular shape comes to mind, based on the general shape shown in Regardie's book, where the hilt is somewhat curved forward. This appears to have become the most popular design of this implement, but, of course, it is not required.

In fact, the design shown in Ritual G is strikingly different, and much closer to that of the Sword, which is itself based on the design in the Key of Solomon. I provide an example of this below (without the Hebrew, etc.).

The original design of the Air Dagger given in Ritual G

Of course, it is important to recall the actual instructions in the text, which allow for an existing dagger to be adapted. Most daggers will be significantly plainer than the above diagram.

In fact, even for the Sword, which is also depicted like the image above (albeit with a longer blade), Ritual G tells us "the shape of hilt there given is not absolutely necessary." The same instruction clearly applies to the dagger (with historical examples coming in varying shapes).

These tools, therefore, do not have to be overly complex in form, and even the least skilled craftsman can adapt an existing dagger for use. Here is an example of one used by either Yeats or his uncle Pollexfen (it is not clear which, as there are images of another attributed to Yeats, which is very different, and much less crude).

© National Library of Ireland

Saturday, 14 February 2015

The Four Elemental Implements, Part 1

The Four Implements (the Wand, Cup, Dagger, and Pentacle) are perhaps the most iconic and memorable set of tools in the Golden Dawn tradition, relating to the four elements, the Tetragrammaton, and the four suits of the Tarot.

Due to their elemental nature, some groups have incorporated their use into the Outer Order, tasking initiates to make and consecrate each particular tool in the grade related to that particular element. On the surface this might seem like a good way to better imbue the tool with the associated element, but the big problem with this, aside from Inner Order teaching not belonging in the Outer Order, is that these four implements are not to be separated (as would be the case if divided by the four Elemental Grades).

Ritual G tells us that these implements "have a certain bond and sympathy between them," elaborating as follows:

"So that even if one only is to be used, the others should also be present. Even as each of the four Elemental Tablets is divided in itself into four lesser angles representing the other three elements bound together therewith in the same Tablet."

Thus, even in the consecration of each implement, the other three are present on the altar, and, indeed, actually employed in the consecration ceremony itself (along with the Sword, which is often used in conjunction with the Elemental Implements).

In Flying Roll XXVIII, Mathers and Westcott reinforce this teaching:

"The four Elemental Implements should be all laid on the table before you for immediate use as required. The whole four must be present to preserve a certain balance and harmony in the sphere of your aura..."

Thus, these implements should be left until 5=6, where they can be constructed and used together, as intended.

Monday, 2 February 2015

Nazi Persecution of Esoteric Societies

As we remember the suffering of the Jews, and other minorities, at the hands of the Nazis, let us also consider that members of esoteric societies were also persecuted, and often were seen as a political threat to Hitler.

As many as 200,000 Freemasons are believed to have been murdered by the Nazis, and Hitler issued orders to ban and dissolve Freemasonic lodges, as well as "Freemason-like organisations," including the Golden Dawn and the OTO.

Freemasons were forced to wear an inverted red triangle in concentration camps, marking them as political prisoners.

On a list of almost 50 "forbidden organisations," issued in 1936, we see the following:

Hermetischer Orden der Goldenen Dämmerung

This is German for "Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn." Of course, by this stage the original Order no longer existed, but the name still had a powerful resonance, and there were several temples from the various offshoots still active.

Wherever there is teaching designed to promote the spiritual advancement of people, to encourage them to think for themselves, to forge their own path in life, and to value and protect the diversity among us all, there is likely to be oppression.

Therefore, let us remember those who died, and pledge to never allow, through action or inaction, the persecution of any minority. Let us consider that our fraternal ties not only bind us to our Brothers and Sisters in the Order, but to everyone throughout the world.

Monday, 1 December 2014

The Adeptus Minor Sash

When many in the modern Golden Dawn community first encountered the 5=6 sash worn by W.B. Yeats, which is on display at the National Library of Ireland, it presented what appeared like a very unusual design, with some suggesting that Yeats added symbols of his own. Even today it is often called the "Yeats sash," as if it was entirely unique to him.

Yeats' 5=6 sash (© National Library of Ireland)

The reality, however, is that this sash design is actually the official one, and was what all original Order members used, not the typical version we see all over the internet today. For example, here is Aleister Crowley's one:

Aleister Crowley's 5=6 sash

In case one might think this is a fluke, there are several other surviving sashes from original Order members, including ones attributed to A.E. Waite and W.A. Ayton, dated to c. 1892, the year when the Inner Order was formally established. There is even one from around 1920. All of these bear the exact same design as the one Yeats wore.

Furthermore, the original GD Portal ritual (which differs greatly to the SM version popularised by Regardie's book) describes the sash as follows:

"... white bordered with gold with the emblems of the 5=6 grade embroidered in gold thereon, and also those of the 24th, 25th, and 26th paths attributed to this grade."

While the above description does not make it clear what these "emblems" are, it does show that they are all gold, whereas the popular rendition of the 5=6 sash employs a red cross, red 5 and 6, and no path numbers at all (which breaks the trend set by the Outer Order sashes, where the path numbers are all employed on the sash).

So where did the design for the more familiar version come from? It was part of Westcott's original designs for the Inner Order sashes, in a document entitled Second Order Insignia, dated to 22 June, 1892.

In this document, Westcott draws designs for the 5=6, 6=5, and 7=4 sashes, as well as outlining plans for the jewels of the 5=6 sub-grades. Those who achieved the sub-grade of Adept Adeptus Minor (and only this sub-grade, not any of the preceding ones) were to receive "a different sash to the ordinary 5=6 members," which was to be born crosswise over the ordinary 5=6 sash.

Westcott then proceeds to describe this sash for Adept Adeptus Minor, and, lo and behold, it is the 5=6 sash we are all familiar with. Of particular note is the employment of the colour red for the cross and numbers of the grade, "to show the link with Geburah."

Adept Adeptus Minor sash design by Westcott

This sash, therefore, is not incorrect, per se, but it is designed, at least originally, for those who have fully completed the 5=6 sub-grade curriculum, and are, as it were, candidates for the 6=5 grade, attributed to Geburah. Before then, at the lower sub-grade levels, the use of red upon the sash could be seen as somewhat jumping the gun.

As for the provenance of the design used for ordinary 5=6 members, it is possible it was created by Mathers, who wrote the Portal ceremony, and who would have clearly understood the importance of adding the numbers of the paths. Alternatively, it may have been designed years previously by Westcott. After all, there were those who were nominal 5=6 members before Mathers wrote the 5=6 ceremony, so it is possible the sashes were in use earlier than 1892.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Golden Dawn Books Galore

This month sees the release of several major books relating to the Golden Dawn, or of interest to Golden Dawn magicians. Check them out, and make sure to order your copies.

This book has earned wide acclaim across the GD community. For those of you interested in the Limited Hardback Edition, there are only a couple left for sale at Kerubim Press. Otherwise, you can order the paperback edition on Amazon here.

A long-awaited book showcasing the original Tarot designs of the Golden Dawn, along with other previously unreleased material. All in full colour. A must-have for those interested in both the historical and practical aspects of the Order. It can be ordered on Blurb here.

A new journal for the Western Mystery Tradition, edited by Nick Farrell. This issue contains articles by many well-known Golden Dawn magicians, including Sandra Tabatha Cicero, Aaron Leitch, Christine Zalewski, and Jayne Gibson, among many others. It can be ordered on Lulu here.

Wishing you all warm fraternal regards on this Autumnal Equinox.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Admission Badge: Greek Cubical Cross

To answer a question on the Golden Dawn Forum, I drew up the following image to show the placement of the Hebrew letters on the Greek Cubical Cross. I thought I'd share it here for others interested in where the letters go.

The image can be printed out, cut to shape (ensuring the blank squares are cut out) and then folded up to form the cross. This can then be used as a guide for painting a more solid construct.

The above placement, which the original Order used, has the three mother letters down the centre of the front, with Fire (Shin) above, Water (Mem) below, and the reconciling Air (Aleph) between them. The two letters on either side of this are the Moon (Gimel) on the left and the Sun (Resh) on the right.

The back of the cross has the remaining five letters related to the planets, while the 12 simple letters, relating to the zodiac, are placed around the sides.

To avoid confusion, note that some modern groups assign the letters differently.

Thursday, 10 July 2014

The Importance of the Past Hierophant

As a lodge-based system, the Golden Dawn is essentially crafted within the framework of Freemasonry, with an additional layer of magic placed upon those foundations. These Masonic roots are not hard to find, with everything from the officer structure to the grip, step and passwords of the grades stemming from earlier tradition.

Some of these elements have an obvious function, where their symbolic purpose and magical application was explained in detail. Others may appear to have no purpose at all, which has led to some modern magicians calling for them to be axed from the rituals. The Past Hierophant is the classic example of this.

On the surface, the Past Hierophant appears to do very little. He or she sits to the left of the Hierophant on the dais, watching the proceedings, contributing to the visualisations and inner workings of the ritual.

One important duty of the Past Hierophant is to build up the godform of Aroueris upon the Hierophant when he or she is moving (for the godform of Osiris never leaves the dais). 

However, the Past Hierophant is also important for another major reason. The entire Hall of the Neophyte is mapped to the lower half of the Tree of Life, making every placement symbolically and magically important. The dais officers are not mere observers, but mark the places of five paths, with Past Hierophant on the path of Nun.

This can be seen clearly in the floor plans that were given to members of the original Order and its offshoots. I include a sample of one of these surviving documents below, while Crowley gives a crude example in The Equinox.

This alone makes it pivotal that the office of Past Hierophant remain, because without this officer we would be axing a path on the Tree of Life. Reshuffling the other officers is no solution, because they stand on important paths of their own. There are five upon the dais for a reason.

Part of the beauty of the Golden Dawn system is that nothing is arbitrary. Everything has a purpose, and even though we may not know that purpose initially, with study and practice we may uncover it in time. The consistency and coherency of the system is dependent on every element within it, so moving or removing one can easily upset or unsettle the others, and lead to other repercussions.

For those interested in delving deeper into the Masonic roots of the Golden Dawn, I highly recommend getting a copy of Frater YShY's forthcoming book Adept Magic in the Golden Dawn Tradition, which includes some interesting material in this area. 

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

The Four-letter Names and the Four Directions

Many people wonder why the various names used in the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram were chosen over other alternatives, particularly when it comes to a name like AGLA, a notariqon of Atah Gibor leh-Olam Adonai ("Thou art mighty forever, O Lord."), which appears to have largely been selected because it has four letters.

It is not difficult to understand the idea that since there are four directions, and thus there must be four names, that this motif would be continued in the formation of the names themselves. It is, after all, a continuation of the mystery of YHVH, the first name employed.

But there is another reason that these must be four-letter names. If we look at the Hebrew names for the four directions, we have the following: Mazrach (מזרח) for East, Darom (דרום) for South, Ma'arav (מערב) for West, and Tzaphon (צפון) for North.

The astute student will immediately notice that these are all four-letter names. Thus the most resonant names for the four directions should also have four letters, for it creates a sympathy between them that enhances their meaning and potency.

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Occult Obsession

Obsession is something that occurs in all walks of like, but doubly so within the occult world, where there are many things to fixate upon, and many ways for the magician to lose control and end up being controlled by outside forces. Mathers and Westcott frequently issued warnings about this.

A student might, for example, feel a special affinity with a number. Let us say 10, since it is the number of Sephiroth. Then they might start to obsess about it, seeing it everywhere, and thinking there is some greater significance than that which they are affording to it from their own behaviour. They suddenly note that they stopped reading a book on page 10 (despite ignoring that they stopped on page 6 the night before), keep noticing the number 10 bus (despite ignoring all the hundreds of other numbered buses they encounter perhaps more frequently), and start to let the number rule their life. Then the occult meaning is irrelevant, as the true value of the relevant teachings of that number have been supplanted by a kind of paranoia.

Numbers are particular foci for people within the occult community, thanks to the importance of gematria (a system that is much abused, leading many occultists to force meaning where there is none). Someone may glance at the clock at 11:11 and think it significant, or they might stop on page 93 of a book and see it as a sign. In numerous cases, the more they appoint significance to these encounters, the more these encounters appear to happen (or, rather, the more they notice them, at the expense of noticing all the other numbers that are deemed less significant). 

This is particularly common with numbers that have strong esoteric associations, like the number 93 of Thelema. In answer to this, some have attempted to give the Golden Dawn a special number, employing 120 due to its Rosicrucian associations (Post 120 annos patebo), but I disagree strongly with the search for a single number of importance, when instead we should seek to learn from all of the numbers, and never be ruled by one of them.

This is why even meditation upon and skrying of symbols requires much care and many safety techniques. It might seem harmless at first to think of a special affinity with, for example, the symbol of Venus, but if it stops becoming a means to an end (the acquisition of greater knowledge and understanding), and instead becomes the end itself, the focus and fixture of the mind, it becomes a detriment more than a stepping stone to greater things.

Indeed, even a positive and protective symbol like the pentagram can be obsessed over, leading Moina Mathers to write: 

"Once the symbol has been clearly traced, it is better not to think of it too much; for the Neophyte ought not to permit himself to become obsessed by any Symbol."

Monday, 6 January 2014

Golden Dawn Motto Guidelines

A common question asked by those new to the Golden Dawn system is how to come up with a motto. While there is no step-by-step process, there are a few guidelines that Candidates might consider:

The first is that it should represent your spiritual/magical aspirations. Therefore, you should consider something positive, and consider something of an overarching goal. Your motto usually stays with you. For example, even when someone takes a new motto at 7=4, they still keep their 5=6 motto (at least within the context of an order).

The second is that it should be in Latin, Hebrew, Greek, or a similar language traditionally employed in the Mysteries. You should generally avoid a language you will be speaking every day. Latin is traditionally the preferred choice. It is ideal to keep the phrase short, with perhaps four or five words maximum (though a single word can also be used).

The third is that you should spend some time meditating on this, looking through dictionaries, directories of classical mottoes, etc. There is no one single right way to come across a relevant motto choice. Some people use established mottoes, which they might have read in a book or received from their family, while others translate a phrase themselves (which can be risky, depending on their knowledge of the language's grammar).

The fourth is that the motto is a personal choice. It should therefore be chosen by you, not anyone else. I am aware that at least one GD order chooses mottoes for people, but this is certainly not traditional, and, in my opinion, certainly not recommended. No matter what grade someone is, they have no right to decide what your aspirations should be.

The fifth follows on from the fourth, in that the motto should be chosen for its applicability, not to emulate another magician. Some people pick a well known motto used by Crowley, for example, but this somewhat diminishes their own persona, since they are identifying too much with another magician. It does not matter how good a previous magician was—we are here to forge our own paths. This said, it is possible to accidentally pick the same, or a similar, motto to a lesser known member of the Order, and this is fine, since it was not a deliberate choice to emulate that person, and the fact that they are less well known will limit the possibility of people thinking of that person when they hear your motto.

Monday, 7 October 2013

The Origin of the Unicursal Hexagram

The Unicursal Hexagram is widely believed to have been created by Aleister Crowley, but the reality is that it is a form introduced in a paper called Polygons and Polygrams, one of seven papers given out in the 4=7 grade of the Golden Dawn. Regardie did not publish this in its entirety, so it is not surprising there is some confusion, but the nature of this symbol according to the Golden Dawn is a bit different to what many Thelemites turned it into.

As the image shows, this is not just another way to draw a standard hexagram, allowing for a single united line, but rather a symbol that denotes something entirely different. It is arguably more alchemical than planetary.

It is classified as the third form of the hexangle and is called the "pseudo-hexagram" or "irregular third form." Its description is: "Denotes the presidency of the Sun and Moon over the Four Elements, united in, and proceeding from, the Spirit."

It is not, therefore, a good replacement for the hexagrams used in the Ritual of the Hexagram, as the only planets concerned are the Sun and Moon, and the Sun is no longer the central focus point, but an opposing force to the Moon, which is its sister and twin.

Saturday, 24 August 2013

The Zodiac Colour Wheel

While going through some of my Golden Dawn papers I came across a diagram of two interlaced hexagrams, which show how the colours of the Zodiac signs are obtained. I have reproduced this here so that others wondering why, for example, Scorpio is "green-blue" can see the pattern.

This diagram needs some explanation. The colours of the planets do not entirely match the Golden Dawn's system, either for the King or Queen Scales of either the planets themselves or the Sephiroth to which they are attributed. The problematic ones are Saturn (typically indigo, or if we take the colour of its Sephirah, black), Jupiter (typically violet, though blue is applicable to its Sephirah), Mercury (typically yellow, though orange is applicable to its Sephirah), and Sol (typically orange, though yellow is applicable to its Sephirah). These planetary colours appear largely drawn from the Greater Key of Solomon.

Once we appoint six signs to the planets (Mercury to Gemini, for example), we then have the basic colours in place. The remaining six signs are simply combinations of the two colours on either side. For example, Taurus is between Aries (red) and Gemini (orange), and thus its colour is red-orange.

There are some other names used for some of these combinations, such as indigo for Capricorn, but this is a combination of violet and blue. Likewise, crimson (or ultra-violet crimson) for Pisces is a combination of red and violet, while amber for Cancer is a combination of orange and yellow. 

While the Golden Dawn has not done so, we could arguably call all the mixed colours by another name. For example, the red-orange of Taurus is peach. The yellow-green of Virgo is lime. The green-blue of Scorpio is aquamarine. However, it is easier to remember the colours as combinations of the two colours on either side than a more fancy name.

Most of these match very nicely, but not all appear to match the Golden Dawn's colour scales. Unless the colour scales in Regardie's book contain errors (which is certainly a possibility, and I have not had time to compare them to original documents yet), there is one sign that doesn't add up. Leo is yellow on this colour wheel, but greening-yellow in the King Scale. Everything else appears to largely match.

Please note that the colours displayed in the diagram may differ on your monitor or might not match your definition of the colour. It is provided for illustration only.

Saturday, 17 August 2013

The Gradations of Adepthood

The word Adept brings a lot to mind, so much so that I believe it necessary to clarify some things regarding Adepts in the Golden Dawn system.

Firstly, using the word Adept on its own is a bit of a misnomer, for the Golden Dawn classified Adepts based on just how much they knew and could do (within the context of the system). Those who are advanced to 5=6 were Adepti Minores, which shows that they are Lesser Adepts, in much the same way there is a Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram before the Supreme Ritual is taught.

Only at 6=5 is an initiate an Adeptus Major and only at 7=4 is he or she an Adeptus Exemptus.

Yet within these lofty grades are a set of sub-grades, which specify even further the level of the initiate. For example, in 5=6 we have the Neophyte Adeptus Minor, Zelator Adeptus Minor, Theoricus Adeptus Minor, Practicus Adeptus Minor, Philosophus Adeptus Minor, and finally Adept Adeptus Minor. All of that is before 6=5 is even approached.

Of course, historically the Order collapsed before anything beyond Theoricus Adeptus Minor was created, and both the Stella Matutina and later Alpha et Omega abolished the sub-grades and moved material to higher grades. Many modern orders, however, have restored these sub-grades and implemented relevant teachings.

The beauty of the sub-grades, beyond the fact that they are useful divisions of content, is that they are somewhat humbling. The new Adept not only has to remind him or herself that he or she is just an Adeptus Minor, but a Neophyte Adeptus Minor. He or she is "newly planted" once more and very much a beginner in the new material he or she will be learning and practising.

The process extends further into 6=5 and 7=4, where the sub-grades may also be employed. Some groups keep these as single grades, but there appears to be some evidence to suggest the Alpha et Omega, at least, adopted sub-grades at these levels in its early years, suggesting this was the intended structure for the Golden Dawn as well.

Thus, when the Adept, who recognises that he or she is a Lesser Adept, has gone through the process of Neophyte to Philosophus within this first Adept grade, and now dons the title of Adept Adeptus Minor, he or she is now faced with being "newly planted" all over again as a Neophyte Adeptus Major. Further still, when the sub-grades of that grade are undergone, it begins again with Neophyte Adeptus Exemptus.

This might seem like an overly complex way of doing things, but it does show that Adepthood is just the beginning, in much the same way a black belt in a martial art is. The Outer Order is preparatory, while entry into the 5=6 does not mark achievement, per se, but rather the start of the quest in earnest towards that achievement.

Thus, when we speak of Adepts in the Golden Dawn system, we might be discussing very different things, or people at very different levels. This does not even take into consideration the vast differences between people, their experiences, their skills, and how dedicated or not they are to the Great Work. All of these factors make for very different Adepts at very different stages of their magical maturity, and even the grade structure itself, evocative as it is, is merely symbolic of spiritual progress that cannot be so easily defined.