Saturday, February 14, 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, February 2, 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, December 1, 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, September 21, 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, August 19, 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, July 10, 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, February 11, 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, January 19, 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, January 6, 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, October 7, 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, August 24, 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, August 17, 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.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Mediums and the Golden Dawn, Part 2

Last year I explored the official view of the Order, spanning several decades, on the topic of mediums, one of the few areas of spiritual practice that was overtly prohibited by the founders of the Golden Dawn.

In fact, while Mathers and Westcott disliked certain other groups (the Lake Harris school, the Hermetic Brotherhood of Luxor and the Rose Croix of Sir Peladan, for example), the Order took a stauncher view on mediumship and related practises, so much so that it became part of the Oath every initiate had to take.

Here I will share some more examples of the Order's views on mediums, which might help clarify the matter and show that it was not a view taken lightly, nor was it only held for a certain period of time or by just one or two people in the Order.

The first example is from Dr. William Berridge, who shows the Order's dislike of mediumship in one of his illustrations of experiences he had:

"A lady, hoping to develop herself spiritually had allowed herself to become passively mediumistic, and her health began to fail.
"On one occasion, feeling very weak, she asked me to mesmerise her. I availed myself of this opportunity, and while apparently only making mesmeric passes over her I occultly surrounded her with a protective aura as in my own case. The result was successful, she improved in strength, and, as a well-known student of occultism observed to me, she looked more human; and with all this, her mediumistic experiences ceased. Had she followed my advice, and held herself positive; I believe she would have fully recovered her health and strength; but she again drifted back into her former condition of passive mediumship, her health broke down, and after a lingering illness, she died."
— Flying Roll V, Some Thoughts on Imagination (Berridge)

Interestingly, Berridge's method of helping the medium in this case was to "mesmerise her." Of course, it does not state that he ever allowed himself to be mesmerised himself, which would have been a violation of the Oath. Berridge's account clearly shows that mediumship was considered dangerous, so much so that it was thought to cause illness and death in this case, despite his efforts to help her cultivate a more active control of her existence.

P.W. Bullock also briefly highlights the views of mediumship as being the opposite of the magical path, since they are passive rather than active, negative rather than positive.

"It will be seen upon consideration that every thought which is creative and positive (as distinct from a passive and mediumistic reflex) must contain, as it were, within itself the complement and completion thereof, i.e. Intuition."
— Flying Roll XXVII, The Principia of Theurgia or the Higher Magic (Bullock)

Mathers was quite clear about his disapproval of mediumship, even warning members to avoid self-hypnosis when performing skrying, since this would open the magician to becoming overly passive. He encouraged members to retain active control of their practises and experiences:

"In using Symbols it is necessary to avoid self hypnotisation, for this occurrence would dispose you to mediumship, and to be the playground of forces you must control, and not permit to control you."
— Flying Roll XI, Clairvoyance (Mathers)

Again Mathers speaks out against self-hypnosis, highlighting the dangers caused by such an approach, which include deception and obsession:

"He or she who is operating should avoid carefully any self hypnotisation by the Tattva, for this will simply lead to foolish and hysteric visions, the offspring of the intoxication of the Operator’s astral sphere by the Tattva."
— Flying Roll XXX, Tattwas and Skrying and Hierophant’s Making 0=0 Signs (Mathers)

For those thinking this was just a focus of Mathers, it is important to note that Westcott fully agreed with him about the dangers of mediumship and the negative or passive atitude:

"So long as you lead an ordinary life you are safe from the assaults of influences beyond the material world of your brother men; but as soon as you get outside of that world and put yourself in a position to seek out occult mysteries, you bring yourself under the action of forces of which you know very little or nothing. The only way to avoid being controlled by such forces, to which you have rendered yourself liable, is to preserve what we call the positive attitude, which is the extreme contrast to what is called mediumship. A medium is one who cultivates negativity and such a person is therefore one to be avoided. The condition we want you to cultivate is that of positivity. I could give you a very good example of a person who is negative and who has got into trouble almost entirely through that."
— Flying Roll IXI, The Aims and Means of Adeptship (Westcott)

Unfortunately Westcott never gives the example, so we do not know who or what he was referring to, but clearly the founders and members were seeing first-hand some of the disastrous effects of such a passive approach to spiritual experience, which is, as he says "the extreme contrast" of the magical approach, where the magician retains active control.

For those thinking the Order changed its mind on this after a period, let us consider the following quote from Monia Mathers, dated July 1926, nearly three decades after the founding of the Order:

"Regarding seers and mediums, as before remarked, our school lays great stress on the simultaneous development of, crudely speaking, the three planes of being, which development must precede psychic experiment. The methods employed to equilibrate the nature entail considerable study, time and patience. There is no royal road to any science, let alone the science of the occult. Before touching such experiments as obtain in spiritualism, the student would be supposed to be in a measure aware of the nature of the entities he would be likely to encounter, and especially to have some idea of the constitution of Man. When this is achieved he will be equipped and enabled to face the many dangers and difficulties he will encounter in the invisible world.
"Spiritualism is distinctly a Western movement and has certainly been the means of bringing conviction of the after life to many. The methods employed by spiritualists may be very dangerous, in that they frequently lack the preliminary preparation and knowledge necessary before approaching psychic phenomena. The spiritualist who lacks this specialized knowledge must be prepared to encounter all the dangers which explorers in unknown lands are beset. He who enters into these regions has sometimes found it easier to open the door than to close it."
— Moina Mathers, Introduction to The Kabbalah Unveiled (July, 1926)

Ritual V, on the Microcosm, states:

"And this is the reason why there are so many and multifarious errors in untrained spirit visions. For the untrained seer, even supposing him free from the delusions of obsession, doth not know or understand how to unite his consciousnesses and the harmonies between his own sphere of sensation, and the universe, the Macrocosmos. Therefore is it so necessary that the Adeptus Minor should correctly understand the principia and axiomata of our secret knowledge, which are contained in our Rituals and Lectures."

Here it is clear that the Order greatly values and encourages that anyone working with visions or related psychic phenomena is fully trained, to avoid delusion, obsession, and other dangers. The medium, lacking such training, qualifies as an "untrained seer."

In an Order paper providing some description of the meaning of the Tarot cards, we find the following for The Lovers:

"Inspiration (passive and in some cases mediumistic, thus differing from that of the Hierophant and Magician and Hermit.)"

Here we see a direct contrast between the mediumistic approach of passive inspiration to that of the Hierophant, Magician and Hermit, the latter three being cards distinctly tied with the active approach of the magician in the Golden Dawn system, and further representing the Three Magi.

It should be clear by this stage that mediumship was not approved of in the Order, a fact that has been stated numerous times by scholars and historians (see, for example, page 33 of R.A. Gilbert's The Golden Dawn: Twilight of the Magicians). This is not to say that the Order disapproved of psychic activity in general (such as skrying and clairvoyance), as it clearly taught and encouraged this, when the initiate was ready for it and properly trained. 

The magical path, however, is a very different one to the passive path of the medium, and the wise magician prepares with theory, arms with knowledge, tests with the Divine Names, signs and symbols, and retains active control of all voyages in unknown territory, lest he or she be lost in a sea of illusion or delusion, or hand over power to other people or other beings, and so lose that which makes them human, and that which might help them better come to know and understand the divine.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Eleven Rosicrucian Rules

(An excerpt from the book S.R.I.A. Manual by Dr. George Winslow Plummer, published in 1923.)

1. Love God above all. To "love God" means to love wisdom and truth. We can love God in no other way than in being obedient to Divine law; and to enable us to exercise that obedience conscientiously requires knowledge of the law, which can only be gained by practice. 

2. Devote your time to your spiritual advancement. As the sun without leaving his place in the sky sends his rays upon the earth to shine upon the pure and the impure, and to illuminate even the most minute material objects with his light; likewise the spirit of man may send his mental rays into matter to obtain knowledge of all terrestrial things; but there is no need that the spirit should thereby lose its own divine self-consciousness, and be itself absorbed by the objects of its perception.

3. Be entirely unselfish. Spiritual knowledge begins only where all sense of self ceases. Where the delusion which causes man to imagine himself to be a being separated and isolated from others ends, there he begins to realize his true state as an all-embracing universal and divine self conscious power.

4. Be temperate, modest, energetic, and silent. The door to the inner temple is called "Contentment"; but no animal can enter therein, only he who walks uprightly, being conscious of his true dignity as a human being. Without energy, nothing can be accomplished; and only in the silence, when all thoughts and desires are at rest, can the Divine harmonies penetrate to the internal ear.

5. Learn to know the origin of the Metals contained within thyself. Ignorance is the cause of suffering. That which is material must be crucified and die, so that that which is spiritual may be resurrected and live.

6. Beware of quacks and pretenders. He who claims to be in possession of knowledge knows nothing; only he through whom the Word of wisdom speaks is wise.

7. Live in constant adoration of the highest good. The worm seeks for pleasure among abomination and filth; but the free eagle spreads his wings and rises up towards the sun.

8. Learn the theory before you attempt the practice. He who travels with a trustworthy guide will be safer than he who refuses to profit by the experience of another.

9. Exercise charity towards all beings. All beings are one in the spirit; divided from each other merely by the illusion of form. He who is charitable towards another form in which the universal One Life is manifest, saves suffering to his own self.

10. Read the ancient books of wisdom. Books are to the unripe mind that which the mother's milk is to the nursling. We must receive drink from others until we have gained sufficient strength and experience to descend to the living fountain within ourselves, and to draw from there the water of truth.

11. Try to understand their secret meaning. That which is external may be seen with the external eye; but that which is spiritual can only be seen with the eye of the spirit.

These are the eleven rules which ought to be followed by those who desire to enter the temple of the Rosy Cross; but the Rosicrucians have a twelfth rule, an Arcanum, in which great powers reside, but of which it is not lawful to speak. This Arcanum will be given to those who deserve it, and by its aid they will find light in the darkness, and a guiding hand through the labyrinth. This Arcanum is inexpressible in the language of mortals, and it can, therefore, only be communicated from heart to heart. There is no torture enough to extract it from the true Rosicrucian; for even if he were willing to reveal it, those who are unworthy of it are not capable of receiving it.

[Originally posted by Sandra Tabatha Cicero on the Societas Rosicruciana in America blog here.]

Friday, June 21, 2013

The Ancient and Honourable Order of the Golden Dawn


The Ancient and Honourable Order of the Golden Dawn officially unveiled itself today with the launch of its new website, which highlights its goals and approach to the teachings and tradition of the Golden Dawn.

The Order currently operates the Dublin Temple, which was officially founded on Summer Solstice 2009. Since then it has flourished, offering candidates a traditional experience of the Golden Dawn, with the original rituals and teachings of the Order.

More Temples are expected to open over time.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Announcing Commentaries on the Golden Dawn Flying Rolls

31 May 2013—Dublin, Ireland—KERUBIM PRESS has announced the imminent release of its latest esoteric title, Commentaries on the Golden Dawn Flying Rolls by the Golden Dawn Community (ISBN 978-1-908705-07-5), due to launch on 14 June 2013.

The book weighs in at 440 pages, packed not only with all 36 Flying Rolls (including rare material), but with additional magical teachings, historical insights, and commentaries from members of a variety of modern Golden Dawn orders, including well-known authors like Chic and Sandra Tabatha Cicero, Aaron Leitch, Nick Farrell and Peregrin Wildoak.

Anyone working with the Golden Dawn system of magic, and, indeed, anyone working in the Western Mystery Tradition as a whole, will find this an indispensible addition to their bookshelves.

Check out the back cover description:

This book contains the 36 pivotal papers given to Adepts in the original Golden Dawn order, providing key insights and instructions into the theory and practice of magic, from theurgy, imagination and symbolism to clairvoyance, divination and telesmatic images. For the first time these texts are brought together in a single printed volume, along with some rare administrative versions that were all but ignored by modern eyes. 

In addition, extensive and insightful commentaries from modern Golden Dawn magicians from a variety of orders are here provided, adding to the corpus of teaching provided in the Flying Rolls themselves. 

The contributors to this book include: 

Frater A.M., Frater AR, Deanna Bonds, Christopher Bradford, Chic Cicero, Sandra Tabatha Cicero, Ian Cowburn, Morgan Drake Eckstein, Nick Farrell, Paola Farrell, Lauren Gardner, Jayne Gibson, Frater Goya, VH Frater IOV, Aaron Leitch, Liza Llewellyn, Joseph Max, Frater Philomancer, VH Soror QQDAM, Samuel Scarborough, Eric V. Sisco, Rachael Walker, Sam Webster, Harry Wendrich, Peregrin Wildoak, Frater Yechidah, Frater YShY

The book will retail for $29.99, £19.99, €24.99, or AU$29.99. 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.

Monday, May 13, 2013

The Riddle of the Tattvas

The Tattvas have long appeared to be the most unorthodox aspect of the Golden Dawn system, clashing quite obviously (at least on the surface) with the rest of the Order's Western-leaning teachings. The shapes and colours don't seem to fit, and it seems readily apparent to many that there are other, perhaps better, alternatives.

And here is where we need to be careful, because it is this kind of reasoning that can hold us back, can hinder us from actually learning something new. Not all is clean-cut on the esoteric path, and we are frequently forced to reconcile opposing ideas and balance seemingly contradictory thoughts.

First, let us explore the tattvas from a historical perspective. Many Golden Dawn members were also members of the early school of Theosophy when it was more Western focused. They were also exposed to Eastern teachings, some of which were mentioned in passing in various Golden Dawn documents, often as ways to help better explain Western material.

But why did the Golden Dawn use the tattvas and not other Eastern material? If it was simply an issue of them being new and intriguing, it begs the question why so many other new and intriguing ideas from across the globe were not embraced. Surely their introduction was less because of their general appeal and more because they actually fit into the system.

But how do they fit? Prithivi is a yellow square and relates to Earth. The square aspect matches Western associations, thanks to the Platonic solid of the cube, but the colour yellow would suggest, in the Golden Dawn, the element of Air. Likewise, the blue circle of Vayu would suggest Water, but is actually Air, and the black egg would suggest Earth, but is actually Spirit. Only the red triangle of Tejas appears to match other Golden Dawn associations, while the silver crescent of Apas does bring to mind the lunar connection of Water.

So then we have incongruence, and here is part of the beauty of this system within the carefully ordered material of the Golden Dawn. When these are skryed, the magician is instantly faced with, in most cases, preconceptions based on the colour and shape of the objects, which could easily provide a false vision. Yet because their real associations are often starkly different, it is generally easier to notice these illusions. For example, if the magician were to skry Prithivi and be greeted with Air-related imagery, then he or she immediately knows that the vision is not reliable. So, in a sense, the Tattvas provide an additional testing mechanism by the pure fact that they do not so easily match the correspondences Golden Dawn magicians have previously learned.

However, there is more to these than that. My personal experience suggests the Tattvas are tamer in nature than many other symbols, despite their elemental associations. They appear to cause less astral strain, and the energy involved is gentler than, for example, the four alchemical triangles that magicians in the West are more familiar with. The colours match more closely the Queen Scale, and thus work on a lower level than the King Scale colours we are perhaps more familiar with. Therefore, the Tattvas present a good introduction to the art of skrying that is less likely to result in dangerous situations for those new to the technique.

That raises the question why Mathers never advocated skrying the four elemental triangles. The Neophyte learns of these triangles, and they become an essential part of magical teaching and tradition. I agreed for many years with others who suggested these symbols were more appropriate, but I have come to learn differently over time. It was not like Mathers was not aware of them. They appear to be the most logical symbols to use, and yet he chose not to. There must be a reason for this apparent oversight.

The reason for this can be better understood when we look at the following passage in the original paper on the Hexagram Ritual:

"Remember also that the triangle if apex downward is an extremely evil and hurtful symbol and it is for this reason that these symbols of the elements [fire triangle, water triangle, air triangle, earth triangle] are not usually traced as Sigils, but are replaced with the Cherubic emblems of Leo, Scorpio, Aquarius and Taurus."

One will note that in the Lesser Ritual of the Hexagram the inverted triangle is only employed in conjunction with an upright triangle, unless in very rare circumstances as a double inverted triangle for use in workings with evil forces, largely beyond the scope of the Zelator Adeptus Minor.

What this reveals, however, is that the inverted triangle, employed as the symbol of Water, is considered evil, and thus also we may consider the inverted triangle with line employed as the symbol of Earth. Thus, if we were to skry these, we would be working with evil symbols. This would go a long way to explaining the harsher energy and more straining nature I have personally experienced with these symbols. It would also explain why these familiar symbols were not employed for skrying, with the Tattvas taking their place.

It is not difficult to see why Mathers advised against using an inverted triangle. The upright triangle is, after all, one of the primary symbols of the Order and that which we aspire to, the Supernal Triad. When inverted it is similar to the pentagram, putting Kether below Chokmah and Binah, and, in effect, marking the Fall. The symbols on the altar also relate to this, for while the inverted triangle is employed, the Cross is never placed below it, for that would be the symbol of the Order entirely overturned. 

Of course, the Vault walls do employ the inverted Water triangle, but note that it is balanced by the upright Fire triangle, and between them is the reconciling symbol of Air. Note also the absence of the Earth Triangle, the very emblem of that which has Fallen.

There is much in this worth careful study, but this is sufficient for understanding the place of the Tattvas in the Golden Dawn system, and why also we should look deeper into why the pieces of the system were designed in this way.

Monday, May 6, 2013

The Prison of the Planets

It is five years to the day since I posted on my Gnostic blog Henosis Decanus about the relation of the planets to the Archons of Gnostic mythology. I was recently asked what my thoughts on this are after all these years, so let us explore this idea a little deeper.

In the esoteric world we are often seen as being tied to the forces of our birth charts. Our strengths and weaknesses, our high points and low points, our ideals and aims, what drives us and holds us back, are all mapped out before us like an oracle, like the foretelling of our doom. 

Indeed, it is often the case that many occultists will blame their chart for their problems, admitting a kind of fatalist thinking, where who and what we are is already decided, and cannot be deviated from.

This is, in my opinion, an unacceptable approach for a magician, and certainly for a Gnostic. An adept who blames exterior forces for his or her problems is an adept hoping to escape responsibility, and thus this shows a magical immaturity which is not congruent with adepthood.

Those who seek to escape responsibility enter a greater prison of the mind and soul, handing over the keys to their being to a force or power undeserving of them. We study astrology not merely to find out who we are and are likely to be, but so that we can redirect the forces and powers to create ourselves as we see fit, knowing that the road carved out before us is not the road we necessarily have to travel.

When we climb the Tree of Life we encounter the planets in turn. The Golden Dawn's grade structure is built upon this. The subtle suggestion is that as the Theoricus gains the secrets of Yesod, he or she gains mastery over the Moon, and is thus free from her reign. Of course, we talk of the real initiation, not merely the grade attained within an order, and this is far more likely to occur in the sub-grades of Adeptus Minor or above than in the Outer Order.

So if, from a Gnostic perspective, climbing the Tree of Life allows us to gain freedom from the Archons of the planets, what happens when, in the case of the Golden Dawn, the attainable human grades stop at 7=4? Here there is a mystery, for the only remaining of the old planets is Saturn in Binah, and Saturn is the Demiurge—Saturn is Death and the bondage of mortality.

So, in one sense, there is no escaping the Demiurge for any of us, for we must all answer the call of death, but in another, far greater sense, this is the ultimate freedom, the loosening of the shackles of mortality, knowing in our mind, heart and soul that we are undying. This is the Elixir of Life, the Philosopher's Stone, that which the alchemists of old have strived for and which the complete adept attains.

Chokmah is linked with the wheel of the Zodiac, showing that even after escaping the seven jails, there is an outer wall that must be climbed. Yet even then there is Kether and the Gilgulim, the reincarnation of the soul, which is, from one perspective, another prison, similar to the samsara of the Buddhists. One freedom is, as it were, another prison, yet ultimately it is in Kether that we experience unity, and so if in there we find the jailkeeper, in there we also find the key.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Angels and Men

"The angels aspire to become men, for the perfect man,
the man-God, is above every angel."

— Eliphas Levi

Monday, April 15, 2013

The Ruby Tablet, Vol. I, No. 5

Issue 5 of The Ruby Tablet, compiled and edited by Golden Dawn scholar Darcy Kuntz, has been released. Check it out and donate if you like the material.


The Rosy Cross in Russia Part 1 by A Russian
Golden Dawn Research Trust
The Rosy Cross in Russia Part 2 by A Russian
Kerubim Press
The Conjuration of Kronos by Frater Achad
The Twelve Angels of the Zodiac
Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn Books
Laws of the Brotherhood of the Rosicrucians
The Mystery of the Lords Prayer
Rosicrucian Order of the Golden Dawn
Pasquales and his Elus Cohen by Sendivogius
Skylight Press
Astral Origins of the Zodic Signs
The Ineffable Name by A[lexander] W[ilder]

Friday, March 22, 2013

Magic and Failure

In an interesting blog post Nick Farrell asked a pivotal, and yet frequently ignored, question about why some magic fails. He cited a number of reasons people have given over time, including classic cop-outs like God or your Higher Self saying no, and the more acceptable notion of psychological blocks.

On the first topic, I do not personally believe that God or the Higher Self would refuse a request. This might be an acceptable idea in a devotional school of thought, but magicians do not simply go with the flow—they create and direct the flow. A magician is an active player in the universe, one who takes responsibility for his or her life. If a ritual for a job is performed and it does not work, then the magician cannot simply blame God and accept this as "the way it is meant to be." Such fatalistic thinking has no place in magic.

So if external forces are not stopping us, that leaves internal forces. In many ways we are our own worst enemies, and part of the process of the Golden Dawn system is to tear down the poorly built construct enforced on us by society, our own Tower of Babalon, and build in place something with a stronger foundation, a "self" designed and moulded by us as we see fit. Of course, this is no easy task, and this is why we employ powerful occult symbolism and forces to give us an advantage in the battle with our own minds.

When a ritual fails, then, there is certainly an element of us blocking the result. We might wonder why any of us would block a result like winning the lottery, but these are usually deeply rooted subconscious blocks, the kinds of things people spend their entire lives trying to sort out, while others remain oblivious to them. Feelings of guilt or inadequacy could unearth the seeds of prosperity that are sown in a ritual, while doubt and frustration, and even the "lust for results" can cause a constant blight upon them.

Nick raised the point that this explains why his own ritual for himself might fail, but why does a ritual performed by another magician for him also fail? The same issues apply, but there are additional factors. Firstly, the manifestation is sought within person X's life, so it does not matter whether person X or person Y does the magic; it still has to go through the conduit of person X's world, where it can be assailed by all the various destructive elements of his or her psyche. And even if it manages to bypass these, person X might be in such a negative mindset in regard to the desired outcome that he or she could actually be ignoring the opportunities that are arising as a result of the magic done.

Let us use an example to drive this point home. If Bob does a ritual for wealth, but is unsuccessful, and then asks for the help of Jane, but then Bob refuses to accept a job offer or go to that social event where he would have met millionaire Tom, the issue is not that the magic has not worked, but that the resulting opportunities have not been taken. This might be through the same feelings of inadequacy that stopped Bob's ritual from working in the first place, or Bob might be so immersed in his financial issues that he not only does not see a way out, but his frustration blinds him to any doors being opened to him.

Of course, the problem with this idea is that it is hard to prove, because we do not know for certain what would have happened if any available avenue was taken. Attending the party might have led to Bob meeting Tom, but there is no guaranteeing they would have become friends, or that Tom would have offered Bob a job or paid off his debt. Missed opportunities are generally, by their very definition, things that have slipped under the radar, so it easier to simply think a ritual has not worked.

There is also the issue of whether or not a ritual should be left to its own devices or constantly reinforced. While there are various schools of thought on this, I think a middle ground approach is the most effective. When a ritual is performed, there is a "gestation" period immediately after, and ideally the magician has set a time frame for the result to become manifest, by which time he or she can judge if it has succeeded or failed. During this period it is important to let things happen, not constantly check to see if they are happening. This is the "To Keep Silent" part of the Powers of the Sphinx. The reason for this is that we performed the ritual in our magical mindset, but we usually "check in" later with our mundane mindset, which has the tendency to question, doubt and otherwise undermine our efforts. The fact that we need to check at all means we are unsure if it is really doing the job, so immediately we are smothering the seeds with doubt, or prodding at the earth with questions, potentially unearthing the seeds completely.

To balance this approach, however, we need to consider that once the gestation period is up, and if the desired outcome has not manifested, it is senseless to simply give up. The ritual, a variant, or something new entirely should be employed. If the desired outcome is monumental, then we must make an investment on a similarly large scale, potentially a long-term magical operation. Perseverance is the key to success in any aspect of life. Those who stop climbing the mountain halfway up will never reach the summit.

In the end the elaborate rituals we employ are largely designed to bypass the parts of ourselves that doubt our abilities or attempt to hold us back. Instead of using language like "I deserve X," we employ symbolic language that does this on a much more primal level, tapping into the very essence of not only our own being, but that of the universe at large. There such seeds can grow into manifest results, in much the same way we consider the Four World of the Qabalah in the formation of things from archetypal concepts to the World of Action.

The magician therefore needs to want the result more than they doubt or fear it. Then they must will it to happen with an appropriate level of investment for the scale of the result sought. Then they must not recall the line that has been thrown before the fish has a chance to bite, yet they must also provide a bait, and this is the creation of an environment where the opportunities of success can occur.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Hermetic Virtues, Vol. 6, No. 1

Hermetic Virtues has entered its sixth year, publishing articles on the Golden Dawn and general esoteric ideas and teachings from well-known magicians in the field. Check out the contents of the latest issue:

+ The Alchemical Hexagram by Chic and Tabatha Cicero
+ The Emperor by Harry Wendrich
+ The Grimoire of Arthur Gauntlet - A book review by Aaron Leitch
+ Group Work - an unpublished Whare Ra document - Mrs. Felkin with a commentary by Nick Farrell
+ Hidden Treasures of the Golden Dawn - A book review by Samuel Scarborough
+ Invocation of the Powers of Aquarius by Jayne Gibson
+ Astrological Magic - A book review by Samuel Scarborough
+ Becoming the Star Child by Nick Farrell
+ An Invocation of Kether by Samuel Scarborough

You can order a copy here.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Regardie on Constructing a Vault

A note left behind by Israel Regardie on the construction of the Vault walls offers an interesting approach to the toilsome task of mixing the appropriate colours for the numerous squares:

"The most practical plan is to have the walls of the Vault coloured as in the last diagram.
Then the way to differentiate between the various planetary sides of the Vault is simply to cover any particular side with a large sheet of strong cellophane or other plastic. So, for the Venus side, the wall could be covered with a Green sheet of plastic. For the Jupiter side with a blue sheet of plastic. For the Mars side with red. For the Saturn side with very dark blue or indigo. For the Solar side, use yellow or gold plastic. For Mercury a yellow orange plastic. And for Luna, a lavender or light violet plastic."

Putting aside the fact that the suggested colours here are wrong (the Jupiter wall should be violet, Sun should be orange, Mercury yellow, and Moon blue), this idea is a novel one, though not exactly one I find very appealing.

It "simplifies the task," as Regardie puts it, and cuts out a large volume of work required, since painting a Vault is an immense undertaking. The biggest issue with a Vault is not the construction of the room itself, but the mixing of the base colours of the squares with the base colours of the walls, resulting in a uniquely tinted assortment.

This is largely a trial or error affair, as the instructions left behind do not specify exact ratios of paint required, and this has led to existing Vaults looking sometimes very different from each other when it comes to colour tones. There is nothing wrong with this, as undoubtedly the original Vaults looked very different to each other, as each artists' work takes on, as it were, a hint of his or her character, or, indeed, the character of the Order or Temple in question.

The issue for me with Regardie's suggestion is that plastic as a material tends to take the magic out of a lot of things. We do not have to go over the top with our tools or talismans (the original members were quite fond of cardboard and coloured paper, for example), but plastic just does not cut it for me. It always feels like such a lifeless material and usually heavily reminds us of our present-day, factory-driven world, which does not exactly help with getting into the magical mindset.

I am also not particularly fond of the idea of having each wall's tint made purely from an overlaying material. I much prefer the idea that the colours are mixed to begin with to give that final hue, that you are not just looking at the same scene from a tinted window.

I suppose I am a little "old-fashioned" on this, but hand constructing and painting the Vault seems to me to be the best way to go, despite the huge investment of time and energy required. Since this is something for an entire Temple, or perhaps an Order as a whole, there will surely be at least one person involved who has enough artistic ability to do a good job with a paintbrush, and the work can be divided up to build a Vault more quickly.

That said, there are, of course, other options. Brodie-Innes suggested coloured papers. Printing is a growing trend in occult circles, which affords a potentially more accurate colour and a fancier print form of the symbols. Then there is Regardie's suggestion, and undoubtedly there are more ideas floating around for how best to undertake this task.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Mediums and the Golden Dawn

Something that comes as a surprise to many when first approaching the Golden Dawn system is the prohibition against mediums, which was one of only a handful of things overtly frowned upon by the founders of the Order.

Of course, in modern groups this point might not be apparent, and in some cases the rule might not apply at all, but the original Order was very clear that mediumship was not permitted. In one of the early preliminary pledge forms that Candidates were required to sign, there was the following:

"The Chiefs of the Order do not care to accept as Candidates any persons accustomed to submit themselves as Mediums to the Experiments of Hypnotism, Mesmerism, or Spiritualism; or who habitually allow themselves to fall into a completely passive condition of Will; also they disapprove of the methods made use of as a rule in such Experiments."

This is explicit, criticising not only mediums themselves, but the manner in which they work. This is important, as the Golden Dawn tended to see such activities as a perversion of the Occult Science, a dangerous watering down of truer occult principles.

The Order did, of course, make use of esoteric practices that many would see as being similar to that of Spiritualism, such as the use of the Ring and Disc or the Tripod in the Theoricus Adeptus Minor sub-grade. The former bears some resemblance to the infamous Ouija Board, using a specially created Ring to douse above a complex Disc of numbers, symbols and letters in English, Coptic and Hebrew. The latter is clearly related to the popular performance of "table tipping," employing a special three-legged table and one or more operators. 

If the parallel was not clear enough from the teachings of the grade, a paper on the Tripod describes the true occult performance as having been degraded by a growing phenomenon of the time, stating that it was "in recent years revived in a mistaken form among the Uninitiated under the title of Spiritualism and Table Turning."

The Victorian era of the Golden Dawn was also shared with the rise and peak of Spiritualism, which popularised the notion of séances and mediumship. To real magicians of great knowledge and experience this must have been harrowing to watch, in much the same was as the New Age movement or TV mediums are to modern magi.

But given that the Golden Dawn employed strikingly similar practises, on the surface, in some of its later teachings, what exactly is it about mediumship that is not tolerated? The key is passivity and the inherent danger and lack of knowledge and proper protocol employed in such activities.

Firstly, the medium opens up to whatever is out there, hoping to contact the dead, and yet not knowing if they will, and if what has been contacted is not their own subconscious, the wrong spirit, or something a little more sinister. It is epitomised in the phrase: "Is there anyone there?"

This is not the approach of the magician. The magician does not invite all and sundry into his or her temple in the hopes that something true and good shows up, but sets out with a goal in mind, selecting a spirit in question, employing its name, challenging it with various tests, and getting rid of it when desired or required.

These tests and the ability to banish are important, so much so that the Golden Dawn taught the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram from the beginning, to Neophytes who would have to go through many more grades before beginning proper practical magical work.

The medium, however, usually lacks these safety measures. Not only do they call whatever is "out there" forth, they do not have any means to test what, if anything, shows up. There are no names or symbols or signs, no way to avoid self-delusion or the illusion of external beings.

The Golden Dawn advised safety regularly, not only teaching many ways to practise occultism in a balanced and safe manner, but coding in safeguards into the system itself. In the teachings on the Ring and Disc and the Tripod Mathers frequently warns of self-deception and obsession, offering various recommendations to limit this danger.

Yet the medium does not have these tools at their disposal, does not know how to deal with the force called upon, can merely open a door and not be certain of the ability to close it. Thus the first Power of the Sphinx, which must precede the others, is missing—and it is Knowledge.

And so a medium would be unable to truly join a Golden Dawn order, for they would immediately break their Oath, which states:

"I will not suffer myself to be hypnotised, or mesmerised, nor will I place myself in such a passive state that any uninitiated person, power, or being may cause me to lose control of my thoughts, words or actions."

The medium, who lets a spirit talk through them, would be unable to abide by this pledge, and such passivity is not what magic is about. While the Candidate of an initiation ceremony needs to be passive enough for the ritual to be successful, that is a far cry from the dangerous operation of handing over the reins to a spirit, especially a spirit that the medium knows next to nothing, or literally nothing, about.

The prohibition against mediumship was, therefore, not merely a product of the time period, but a genuine disapproval of unsafe occult practices made by those without the appropriate knowledge and experience to render the risks negligible. As such, it applies as much today as it did in the late 19th Century.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Swedish Review of Enochian Magic in Theory

Robert Halvarsson of cultural magazine Tidningen Kulturen has reviewed my book Enochian Magic in Theory. You can read the original in Swedish here, but the reviewer was kind enough to translate the review below:

16th century magic today

Irish author Dean F. Wilson have a strong inclination and interest towards the magical-religious system in modern times referred to as enochian magic. This is evident through Kerubim press release of the book Enochian magic in theory. Through this work Wilson makes a skilled attempt at laying down the theoretical foundation which is part of the system that came out of 16th century Christian occultism. Namely the work begun by astrologer John Dee and clairvoyant Edward Kelley, and their communication with a number of entities they thought to be angels.

Through the 19th century’s occult revival, this body of work and more non-rationalist systems were invented or conjured from the past. In the case of enochian magic this was done largely through the Rosicrucian influenced magical order of the Hermetic order of the Golden Dawn (HOGD), Rosae Rubeae et Aureae Crucis and its later incarnations. These organizations popularized the works of Dee and Kelley, and also changed several aspects of it.

In our modern times Wilson is a modern heir to the original impulse coming from Dee, through his own Golden Dawn-oriented blog Mishkan ha-Echad and other writing he continues the angelology that made Dee’s name to be remembered. Enochian magic in theory is thought of as the first of a series of two books – the latter focusing more on the practical applications of the theoretical framework presented herein.

Now, it should be noted that Wilson is a practitioner of the system he here espouses. This is clearly evident in the way that he writes about the topic. He also doesn’t dismiss other peoples ideas of the system out of hand, that goes against his own theories of the nature of the enochian system, rather he argues and presents these ideas and then contributes his own theories.

This becomes evident when Wilson argues against the American qabbalist and hermetic author Paul Foster Case. Case believed that the system was inherently dangerous for the mental health of practitioners, these arguments are preserved in a letter addressed to Golden Dawn-author Israel Regardie. Wilson presents Case’s arguments, and then provides his own ideas in contrast.

Wilson also makes several arguments to support the claim that the enochian system is both working, real and not inherently dangerous if the right precautions are taken. The angels themselves though, are hardly the image we have of victorian kerubim, but rather firmly rooted of a larger biblical tradition. Also, which should be noted, some consider these also as part of an apocalyptic tradition as well.

Regardless as to what we choose to believe about the legitimacy of the angels existence, Wilson’s clear prose should make us understand his arguments without any second-guessing. A refreshing thing while taking into account the inherent complexity of the source-material itself.

Enochian magic in theory is a piece of work that should have marginal interest to the general public, but is well-written and collects a lot of knowledge in one place. Besides containing a background, there are also discussions of the nature of the language itself, as well as grammatical and phonetic speculations.

Fortunately, given the seriousness of the ideas and the argued danger of wrong application, Wilson always comes forward as approaching the system with a keen sense of respect for its volatile aspects. At all times he advocates safety-measures to be taken and right preparations. This posits him in stark contrast to some magical groups and individuals of today. And considering the ongoing popularity of esotericism, this is a good thing – and hopefully will provide somewhat of an antidote to the potential of reckless behaviour.

Text: Robert Halvarsson

Saturday, September 1, 2012

The Challenge by Eyes of Wood

Check out one of my latest projects: a mix of music, verse, and art. Our first musical piece, The Challenge, was released as part of the The Hermetic Library Anthology Album - Magick, Music and Ritual Volume 4. Check out our Facebook page for more details and some amazing artwork by K. Blalack.

Tell me what you think. This is the first of many upcoming pieces.


(Music by Rebecca Loftiss and Frank Suchomel; Vocals by Rebecca Loftiss and Dean F. Wilson)

The Challenge

Lyrics by Dean F. Wilson

I waited in middle moments, in the hidden hours,
And cast my ears like spells unto every little sound;
A creak or tap I heard; is that the speech of powers
That have no mouths in places where they are spectres bound?

In answer to vocal questions came my rampant mind,
A million more inquiries that from my head would flee;
And yet my probing prayers are one by one all declined,
And so the voiceless was the only voice to greet me.


Then I spirit-spoke like the utterance of hammers,
A sharp sound that strikes the timeless clock across the veil.
The words that come, they all allure like charming glamours;
My ghostly voice works alchemy on your face turned pale.

So you called me now, and yet start at my arrival,
As if a guest invited should not attend the meal.
The panic in you whispers soft for your survival
And entreats the mind to tell the heart that I’m not real.


I called you forth, but are you that which you now claim?
Are you not the product of my tired and trickster head?
Come, tell me now – speak aloud your true and rightful name,
So I know I talk not to my own mind, but to the dead.

Give me a sign, some token to show that you are there,
A subtle hint, an object moved, some small proof of truth.
Manifest before me, cast some thing into the air,
And I will judge your being, I will be the spirit sleuth.


So you challenge me and hope inside that I accept.
You summon from within you the words that cause us strife,
Yet know little of the pacts that must by law be kept –
As if this were but some Faustian fable brought to life.

But if I reach to you with my ethereal touch
And seize you by the hand: What reaction will be met?
Will that be enough, or is even that perhaps too much?
What deed or word will do in this phantasmic duet?


You slither from my questions; this is not cold debate.
The books give clear instructions – I am to challenge you.
You can still answer much in your far-off spirit state,
And show me that what you say, and what you are, is true.

You are bound within the triangle, held by higher will,
But maybe you are a thing imprisoned in my mind,
An idea that was trapped, a thought that I distil,
And thus we talk within; the pact outside remains unsigned.


The challenge runs both ways, but you hoard up all the cards,
And should I not heed your call, then you shall cry “Avaunt!”
So then I flee, but now I’m locked within your occult guards,
An astral refugee in foreign lands, your favoured haunt.

No matter what I speak, show, or make from naught appear,
The question still exists: Are we one, or are we two?
We may not share in flesh, but we all share in this fear –
You seek the same as I: someone to believe in you.