Mishkan ha-Echad

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

The Three Degrees



Sincerus Renatus made a comment on an earlier post here that the Portal grade correlated with Yesod, as opposed to my previous assertion of Adeptus Minor to this Sephirah. This opened the door for Adeptus Minor to go to Tiphareth, as per its traditional grade structure. However, this got me thinking about the Three Degrees in the Golden Dawn system, and how they each relate to a single Sephirah on the Tree of Life, and, indeed, a number of other elements of the Golden Dawn system.

The First Degree is the entire Outer Order, from Neophyte to Philosophus. It is attributed to Malkuth. The Second Degree is Portal, and is attributed to Yesod. The Third Degree is Adeptus Minor (including all its sub-grades), and is attributed to Tiphareth - although all the Inner Order would also qualify for this Degree (albeit the original Order didn't really go above Adeptus Minor, barring temple grades).

These also correlate with the three principle Officers in the Outer Halls: the Hierophant, Hegemon, and Hiereus, which are Third, Second, and First Degree, as well as Tiphareth, Yesod, and Malkuth respectively. These are the "Middle Pillar Officers", and, indeed, it becomes apparent that the entire Degree structure is a "Middle Pillar" one, further emphasising the role of balance utilised in the Order (thus there is balance even in grades like Practicus and Philosophus).

But what other associations does this entail? Let's look at Godforms. Because the Hiereus is linked with Horus, could we view Horus as the primary god of the Outer Order? Ma'at is linked with the Hegemon, so is it possible that she would represent the energies of Portal? Osiris is the god-form of the Hierophant, and is the most obvious parallel to the Inner Order, which is Rosicrucian, and thus also Osirian in format.

But that's not everything, as anyone who has delved into Golden Dawn correspondences will tell you. Pat Zalewski gave a list of planetary energies associated with each of the Officers (differing somewhat to one or two of their assignments to the Tree, such as the Hiereus, which is Mars, not Earth, as might be indicated by Malkuth). You can find that list here.

This means that Mars may be considered the planetary energy of the Outer Order. I find this fitting, particularly with the Tarot card "The Tower", since it's about the destruction of the ego. In a sense the Outer Order is about removing the gross elements so that the spiritual ones of the Inner Order may take their place. It's an alchemical process.

The Moon for Hegemon and Portal seems suitable, since this is where the first contact with the "inner" side of things is supposed to take place. The elements are balanced and Spirit is invoked to crown the pentagram that this creates. The Moon is well known as a planet of the subconscious and astral spheres, which also play up to some degree in Portal.

The Sun for the Inner Order and Hierophant is, again, the most obvious correlation, given the whole Osirian emphasis. Adeptus Minor, in particular, is strongly linked with Solar energies.

This post is, in a sense, a "work in progress". I'm looking for input from my readers about their thoughts on this. Can you find new correlations or reasoning to explain the current ones I and others have found? How can we use this understanding of grade, degree, and officer stucture to better our work with the Golden Dawn system? Should Officers, for example, invoke planetary energies prior to their work?
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