"The central principle of all the Magic of power is that everything we formulate in the imagination, if we formulate it strongly enough, realises itself in the circumstances of life, acting either through our own souls, or through the spirits of nature."- W.B. Yeats
Sunday, August 31, 2008
Saturday, August 30, 2008
- Jeremy Puma at Gnostica posted a very thought-provoking piece, entitled "The Politics Of Knowing: A Challenge To Gnostics". Many of these thoughts can be carried over to non-Gnostics too, and are worthy of consideration when it comes to the formal involvement of occult orders in the political machine (a matter which I strongly object to, at least when it comes to the Golden Dawn).
- Morgan Drake Eckstein posted a short but interesting piece on his blog Gleamings from the Dawn entitled "Lineage: What we can be sure about it". The main point of interest is the quoted text (in red) at the bottom of the post, which makes a very important point that must be considered in the lineage debate.
- The Galloway Chronicles posted an amusing video of probably the best part of Richard Dawkin's day, where he reads all the nutty emails he gets. If you haven't already, check out this poem I wrote, which was inspired by Dawkins. Also check out this wacky email that Father Jordan Stratford, a Gnostic priest of the Apostolic Johannite Church, received. It seems there is no rest for the atheists and religious alike.
- MythMath at Abrahadabra.com posted an amazing image of the planets in the solar system to scale. It is a little mind-blowing to see the speck that is Earth beside the giant orb of the Sun.
Friday, August 29, 2008
Neophyte can be seen as the symbolic or magical birth of the initiate, from the darkness of the Womb of Matter into the Light of the Spiritual World. Even the thrice-bound cord around the candidate's waist can be seen as the symbolic umbilical cord, which is removed as the initiate enters the Light of Day, and is, as a newborn, given a new name.
The Elemental Grades are, therefore, the magical childhood of the initiate, and involves much learning. Just as a child must learn their ABCs, so too must the magical child, who does so in a figurative way (the ABCs of astrology and Qabalah, for example) and a literal way (the actual Hebrew alphabet). The magical child must learn the material that develops their mind, but they must also learn some key magical "life lessons", akin to what a child in normal life must learn. This include learning that the world does not revolve around the magical child, and thus a strong rebuking, as it were, of the ego, which, if left to its own devices, would run rampant and suppress the true Self which is developing and unfolding during this period. Moderation and balance is another key lesson, as is not biting off more than one can chew or sticking one's hand in a fire. These are, in one form or another, exemplified in the structure and safeguards of the Elemental Grades. And, just as childhood is a necessary prerequisite to adulthood, these grades are absolutely essential as part of the system of the Golden Dawn. Adepthood can come without them, that is true, but eventually such an Adept will need to go back and face their elemental imbalances, whether they like it or not. Indeed, often one trip through the cycle of elements is not enough, and this is partially why a similar sub-structure can be found in the sub-grades of Adeptus Minor, where the elements (among other things) are experienced on another, higher level.
This leads us then to magical puberty, which could be seen to begin roughly in Portal. The magical child finds their astral body changing, because there is now an influx of Light, of Spirit. This can be a chaotic time, as the final dross is purged from the system and the transformative process is undergone. Yesod can be seen as the athanor in which the energies of Malkuth and Tiphareth are mixed together, and this is where the process of extracting the spiritual gold of Tiphareth, the prima materia (which is technically of Kether and above, but is experienced in a kind of "tamer" form in Tiphareth), from the dross of Malkuth is experienced.
This leads on naturally to Adeptus Minor, where ideally the magical maturity is developed, but often this is not so. What I mean by "magical maturity" is a non-dependence on others for spiritual growth. No longer is the initiate being spoon-fed lessons, as is the case in the scholastic system of the Outer Order (which is not to denigrate what is ultimately a necessary and honourable role), but they are now free to pursue their magical path, answering primarily now to their Higher Self, an internal, not external agency, with no one any longer holding them by the hand. Indeed, much of the hidden elements of the prior initiations has been specifically designed for this awakening, to stimulate the contact and communion with the Higher Self. Of course, this does not mean that the initiate can or should ignore the Chiefs of their Order, for example, or think they can change rituals and so forth willy-nilly; nor does it mean that they should shun papers and teachings given by other Adepts, many of whom have developed their magical maturity for quite some time. To think such only shows that magical maturity has not been attained, and in its place the Vice of Tiphareth, of false pride, has grown supreme. The mature adult of the normal world is independent, but is also not foolish enough to think that he or she should refuse help or guidance when offered or required. Likewise for the magically mature.
One of the key elements of magical maturity is the ability to think for oneself. While this may seem like an obvious matter, and one that all of us would like to think we have, it is, in this context, rarer than we think. It involves the ability to get one's own insights from material, rather than simply reproducing and regurgitating the insights of another (this is not an excuse to not properly cite or quote references, however). This does, of course, mean that a deep and true understanding of the material is required, but without this how can someone truly call themselves an Adept?
This magical maturity should also reflect a general maturity, such as a temperate nature, able to show kindness and compassion, but also sternness and severity when required. Both spheres of Geburah and Chesed feed into Tiphareth, and thus the qualities of both should be fortified and utilised by the mature magician. General childish behaviour is an obvious indicator of lack of maturity in the normal world, and is likewise a reflection of this in the magical world.
May we all, therefore, embark on this path, no matter our personal grades or spiritual standing, with a level of maturity in mind (even if there are many years to go before our own Adepthood). In the end we are all Children of the Light, fellow Brothers and Sisters, answering to our older Brothers and Sisters: our Higher Selves. May we embrace our own magical childhood, puberty, adulthood, and maturity, and that of others, and may we do so with the blessings of Adonai El Chai Melekh ha-Shamayim va-Aretz.
Thursday, August 28, 2008
"This, I believe, explains why Rosicrucianism has continued to exert its grip on the Western mind. It is not because we are hopelessly gullible, or because we would like to believe in absurd fantasies. In a legend like that of Christian Rosenkreuz, we seem to catch a glimpse of what we ought to be, and what we could be. If we set about it with sufficient determination, the grip of 'the world' can be broken - or at least, weakened until it ceases to induce a constant feeling of alienation. We are a planet of a double star, torn between two powerful gravitational forces. We have to learn to move inward without losing control over the external world and, like Rimbaud, simply surrendering ourselves to an 'ordered derangement of the senses.'"- Colin Wilson,
Introduction to Christopher McIntosh's The Rosicrucians
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
One of the main problems here is that in the original Order a letter of invitation was required to join the Second Order. Admittedly most members who reached Portal progressed on to 5=6, but not everyone was admitted. Crowley is the best example of this. He applied and was refused, and it was Mathers' overruling of the other Adepts decision that broke the camel's back and began the rebellion.
So, how could this element of "invitation only" be carried forward to self-initiation? The truth is: it can't. If I were to apply for 5=6 to myself, I am hardly going to refuse myself. I will think I'm ready even if I'm not. While it is hoped that the student has developed sufficiently to recognise their own progress and such by this stage, this is often not the case, especially with self-initiation, where there is often no mentor to point the way or correct mistakes in knowledge and progress, not to mention the possible emotional and psychological matters that may have arisen, such as the all-too-frequent rearing of the ugly head of Ego.
The requirement for 5=6 is that the candidate must be "Vaulted", which is to say that they must be initiated into a fully equipped (and hopefully accurate) Vault of the Adepti. It was the building of such a Vault that started much of the modern revival of the Golden Dawn. When we look at the 5=6 ceremony it is not difficult to understand why this Vault is needed and why a simple plain room will certainly not do. It is the very heart of the ceremony. The candidate discovers the mythical Vault of Christian Rosenkreutz, after the figurative 120 years, as described in the Rosicrucian manifestos. If we remove the Vault we remove a huge chunk of the ceremony - indeed, the entire setting of the initiation as a whole. Combine with this the loss of the specific energies charged on Corpus Christi, etc., and it makes for a petty barren substitute for the 5=6. So, if a student truly wanted to self-initiate into 5=6, the construction of the Vault would be needed, just as he or she is required to construct all the wands, lamens, and other tools and regalia for the Outer Order ceremonies (when following the Cicero instructions, that is).
Apparently Mathers wrote a self-initiation ceremony for 5=6 in the Alpha et Omega. I have not yet seen this, but I was told it was weak in comparison to the actual 5=6 itself. I cannot really comment on what I have not seen, but I think it does support the idea of self-initiation, although I am hesitant to consider what it would be like in comparison to a fully Vaulted initiation.
It should be noted that while self-initiation into Adeptus Minor may be impossible, that does not mean one can not become an adept in the broader sense. Aaron Leitch pointed this out by stating: "Let us not confuse the word "adept" with the "Adeptus" Grades in the HOGD", which is an important point to make. Regardie, for example advocated using the Watchtower ceremony to become an adept, but I do not recall him saying it made the person an Adeptus Minor (although that is arguably what he meant, given subsequent teaching, for example, to Cris Monastre). There are adepts in multiple traditions, but an Adeptus Minor in the Golden Dawn is a specific grade, and one does not equate with the other (true adepthood is not necessarily granted with the grade, for example). One can still study the gradework of Adeptus Minor, and become an adept in the larger sense of the word, but the consensus remains, even among those who advocate self-initiation into the Outer Order grades, that self-initiation into Adeptus Minor is simply not possible.
To end this topic, I will link again to my post on my Gnostic blog Henosis Decanus nearly two years ago, which deals with a parallel subject that frequently pops up in ecclesiastical Gnostic circles: self-ordination.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
A Conscious, Active Cause in all we see,
And number proves the living unity.
No bound hath He who doth the whole contain,
But, all preceding, fills life's vast domain.
Sole worthy worship, He, the only Lord,
Doth His true doctrine to clean hearts accord.
But since faith's work a single pontiff need,
One law have we, and at one altar plead;
Eternal God for aye their base upholds.
Heaven and man's day alike His rule enfolds.
In mercy rich, in retribution strong,
His people's King He will upraise ere long.
The tomb gives entrance to the promised land,
Death only ends; life's vistas still expand.
These doctrines sacred, pure and steadfast shine;
And thus we close our number's scale divine.
Good angels all things temper and assuage,
While evil spirits burst with wrath and rage.
God doth the lightning rule, the flame subdue.
His word controls both Vesper and her dew.
He makes the moon our watchman through the night,
And by His sun renews the world in light.
When dust to dust returns, His breath can call
Life from the tomb which is the fate of all.
His crown illuminates the mercy seat,
And glorifies the cherubs at His feet.
- Eliphas Lévi, Transcendental Magic
Monday, August 25, 2008
The thing that I noticed is that, in the Hebrew, the spelling is ThMA, and there is another word of the same gematric value, but not only that - the same exact letters. This is AMTh, Emeth, which means Truth. THMÊ is the Coptic form of Ma'at, the Goddess of Truth.
Sunday, August 24, 2008
The book itself is 200 pages, with seven chapters, an introduction, and a small index and bibliography. The history itself is not extensive, and only deals with some of the more pivotal moments, but Gilbert himself admits this, stating "it is not intended to be a documentary history of the Order … This book is intended simply to provide an overview of the Order, and to tell its story through the lives and actions (or inactions) of its members." Thus, this book is mainly for those inquisitive for more details regarding certain aspects (primarily the matters of scandal, schism, and intrigue) of the Order’s history (because, despite what Gilbert says, it deals with the history, not the practice, of the Order). It is of little value to the non historically-inclined magician, as Gilbert also expresses: “it is not designed to be a manual or practical instruction”, but there is much of value here, primarily in the printing of letters and scans of Order documents, including by-laws, temple summons, notices, circulars, warrants, pledges, extracts from ritual journals, and even a few scans of Westcott’s Tarot designs. All of these give us a better idea of how the original Order operated, and allows modern Golden Dawn magicians to correct any errors that have crept into their own material (via the mistakes in Regardie’s book and other earlier sources).
However, there is an issue with R.A. Gilbert himself, and I’m not entirely sure how I feel about him, because I’m not entirely sure how he feels about the Golden Dawn system and magicians in general. I know that it would be naïve to assume that a historian would be interested in magic, and it is perhaps good that he is not, to ensure a more unbiased view. However, it seems that Gilbert is sympathetic at times and rather dismissive at others. In his introduction he states that "there are adepts, possessed of the necessary dedication and integrity to revive the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn and restore it to the role intended by its Victorian founders: that of a teaching body that unfolds the psycho-spiritual nature of the Self by the way of ceremonial practices based on the symbolism of the Western Mystery Tradition."
But this is met with contradictory sentiments, such as at the end of the book, where he states: "I can only echo Regardie’s sentiments as he expressed them to me in a letter written many years ago: 'I sometimes wish in moments of reverie, that Crowley, the O.T.O., Waite and the Golden Dawn would all gently blow away in a cloud and disappear and never be heard from again'. Amen to that." This is rather disingenuous of Gilbert, given his career is partially founded upon research into the Golden Dawn. Indeed, if he wishes to say "Amen" to the idea of the Golden Dawn blowing away and never being heard of, then why has he dedicated so much time and effort into publishing books on the subject, thereby extending its life and influence?
The matter is confused again when we see Gilbert’s praise of the Ciceros, who run a modern incarnation of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn (founded with the aid of Regardie). Gilbert says: "Just as Israel Regardie rescued the Golden Dawn from oblivion, so have the Ciceros, with their unrivalled grasp of magical practice, maintained it as a living tradition available to all … They are, indeed, true magicians of the Golden Dawn." This seems like high praise, and I don’t necessarily disagree with his sentiments here.
But again, this is contradicted elsewhere, most recent of which was his announcement of his finishing with the Golden Dawn: "I am finally done with the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, which has dominated my literary life for far too long. My private collection, of ritual and other manuscripts, association copies, printed ephemera, printed rituals and my personal files, is going to a new home in an English institutional library where it will, in time, be integrated with the more famous 'Private Collection'. Future researchers will thus have an easier task as they seek to find answers to the all too many questions that still remain in connection with the Order. The remainder is here, for my work is done and I can now turn to other and equally rewarding fields of research. Such of those who follow me who are honourable I salute, but I can only shudder at the prospect of the others, most of them would-be magicians, who seek to keep alive the corpse of the Order." The last line here seems to be rather disparaging of modern Golden Dawn magicians. I can’t quite understand why Gilbert jumps back and forth across the fence, praising and insulting in various leaps. While I value his work, as I do all Golden Dawn historians, I can’t help but question his integrity on the matter expressed above.
Revelations of the Golden Dawn, by R.A. Gilbert; Quantum (Foulsham Imprint), 1997
Saturday, August 23, 2008
- Peregrin at Magic of the Ordinary posted some excellent insights regarding potential risks in the Golden Dawn System (and magic in general), in his post "Nine Dangers of the Golden Dawn". This includes ego inflation (understandably high on the list, and probably the most common danger), astral corruption, and incorrect magic, among others. I do not agree with all of Peregrin's points, or indeed that we should be quite as wary, but it's good to exercise caution and realise the very real risks that come with magic.
- Sincerus Renatus at Gyllene Gryningen posted a response to my Sex & The Golden Dawn post, entitled "The sexual teachings of the Alpha et Omega and its supposed relation to the Cromlech Temple". While I do not agree with his findings (see my original post on the matter), I think it's important to share the other side of the argument. He also provides some material not covered in my original post.
- Psyche at Plutonica.net posted a great review of Enochian Vision Magick by Lon Milo Duquette. This book has been sitting on my shelf since its release date, and I haven't had time to get round to reading and reviewing it. However, there is little need for my review, as Psyche's one is extensive, balanced, and highly informative.
- The Galloway Chronicles posted an amusing video of a reincarnation of MacGregor Mathers performing a musical number. Mathers is quite the performer, as he always was.
Check back next Saturday for another Weekly Roundup. Also check out Plutonica.net's excellent Saturday Signal.
Friday, August 22, 2008
The closing lines of the LRP, before the final QC, have been the cause of much debate and are the only part of the ritual that seems to have changed in the hands of different magicians over the years. Thus, today there are multiple variations of these lines, from the original "Before me flames the pentagram and behind me shines the six-rayed star" to the Crowley version of "For about me flames the pentagram and in the column shines the six-rayed star", and some slight variations of the two. All of them are perfectly valid, and there are justifications, usually in the form of gematria, for them all. This post will explore some of the variations and the reasoning behind them.
First there is the original format employed in both the GD and SM and printed in Regardie's The Golden Dawn: "Before me flames the pentagram, and behind me shines the six-rayed star". On the surface this does not make sense, for the pentagram is not "before" the magician, but rather there are four of them around the magician, including behind him or her, where the hexagram is stated to be. Regardie suggested the visualisation of a pentagram on the chest and a hexagram on the back, indicating that the pentagram here mentioned has no relation to the four already drawn. This refers to the microcosm (the human, represented by the pentagram [somewhat akin to the extended figure in Da Vinci's Vitruvian Man, with the five points of the body relating to the head, two arms, and two legs]) and the macrocosm (the "more than human", the divine man, the Adam Qadmon, represented by the hexagram, symbolic of Tiphareth, where the Higher Self dwells).
But there is no specific indication as to why the pentagram is before the magician and the hexagram behind, although the Ciceros give an interesting suggestion in footnote 20 on page 66 of their annotated edition of Regardie's The Middle Pillar: "The positioning of a hexagram behind the magician alludes to an advanced working in which the magician visualizes the Golden Dawn's Banner of the East within his aura." This does not personally make sense to me, as the magician would be facing East (where the Banner of the East is positioned) and stating "before me flames the pentagram", whereas the hexagram is linked to the Banner, not the pentagram. I would imagine the Banner of the West behind the magician, since the magician faces East at this point of the ritual, but all of this is speculation at present, as I'm not aware of exactly what the Ciceros were describing in this footnote.
The main alternative to the above is the one we get from Crowley: "For about me flames the pentagram and within the column shines the six-rayed star". This is the one that I and most others I encounter prefer, and I think for good reason, as there is more justification behind the use of the words. Firstly the "about me" relates to the very obvious fact that the four pentagrams just drawn are about or around the magician (some alternatives use "around me"). The column is the magician him or herself (symbolism lost in the alternative of "within me"), standing in the centre of the circle surrounded by the pentagrams. This column is an allusion to the Middle Pillar, and thus it subtly affirms a balanced disposition in the magician, who is symbolically identified with the Pillar of Balance. This adds an essential symbolic ingredient to this ritual which falls in line with all Golden Dawn teaching, to avoid the extremes of mercy or severity. Affirming this on a daily basis adds an extra layer to the ritual. Combined with this is the same symbolism of the macrocosm linked to the hexagram, only this time the hexagram is to be imagined within the column that the magician represents, centred around the heart region, which is the area of the body linked with Tiphareth, which, as the sixth Sephirah, is represented by the hexagram and again symbolises the Higher Self of the magician.
But what of the microcosm? This is still present in the ritual, in the pentagrams that are "about" the magician. To try to make this point clear, imagine the circle drawn around the pentagrams - this is the microcosm, the symbolic extension of the aura of the magician. Then imagine a smaller circle contained within this circle, representing the central pillar, where lies the hexagram, the macrocosm. This, therefore, intimates that the macrocosm is contained within the microcosm, just as the microcosm is contained within the macrocosm (the much larger circle of the universe around the personal circle or sphere of the magician). This "inner macrocosm" is the inner spark of Divine Light within each person (As Above, So Below) and this is affirmed in symbolic fashion with this variation of these lines in the LRP.
There is an interesting element to this variation which can be found via gematria. If we take the value of the four pentagrams (4X5=20) and add the value of the single hexagram (6) we get 26, which is the number of the Tetragrammaton, YHVH. Aside from the obvious relation to God, it could be seen as relating, via its four-fold nature, to the four directions, the four Pillars the four Archangels, and so forth, thus tying it further to the LRP, and the East in particular, where this God-name is utilised, and where the Light of the Dawn shines forth into the personal sphere and temple of the magician. But this is not all, for 26 is also the number of the Middle Pillar (Kether=1, Tiphareth=6, Yesod=9, Malkuth=10; 1+6+9+10=26), thus relating to the column mentioned in these lines and the symbolic invocation of Light down the Middle Pillar (and the magician's ascent back up).
There is a variation that suggests a hexagram should be drawn or imagined above and below the magician, thus "sealing" all six directions of the magician's sphere (front, back, left, right, up, and down). While this has merit (including a gematric link  to AHYHVH, the amalgamation of AHYH and YHVH, the God-names of West and East), there is no need for this, as the pentagrams can sufficiently seal the personal sphere of the magician, while still allowing the Light of Kether to enter. Besides, the hexagram is not intended here to banish or seal, but to represent the hidden macrocosm, the Higher Self, within the magician.
Finally there is an additional line present in an AO version of the LRP: "And above my head the Glory of God". This was probably added to differentiate it from the rebels in the Stella Matutina and is much more religious in tone (suitable for the prayer aspect of this ritual). In many ways, however, it is not necessary, and one could even argue that it intimates that God is only "above" as opposed to also being present within each of us, particularly as we invoke the Light during this ritual.
Thursday, August 21, 2008
"I believe in the practice and philosophy of what we have agreed to call magic, in what I must call the evocation of spirits, though I do not know what they are, in the power of creating magical illusions, in the visions of truth in the depths of the mind when the eyes are closed; and I believe in three doctrines, which have, as I think, been handed down from early times, and been the foundations of nearly all magical practices. These doctrines are:-
(1) That the borders of our mind are ever shifting, and that many minds can flow into one another, as it were, and create or reveal a single mind, a single energy.
(2) That the borders of our memories are as shifting, and that our memories are a part of one great memory, the memory of Nature herself.
(3) That this great mind and great memory can be evoked by symbols."- W.B. Yeats, Magic (1901)
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
W.B. Yeats described the summer of 1897, when he was 32, as "the most miserable time of my life". He went on to say, "I was tortured by sexual desire and disappointed love... When desire became an unendurable torture, I would masturbate, and that, no matter how moderate I was, would make me ill." Now, admittedly he was taking hashish pills at the time, which may or may not have influenced his feelings of illness, but it seems hard to deny that his reaction to masturbation was extreme, although probably not uncommon for the Victorian era. I have to admit that, as a young Irish man myself, I find these kinds of accounts quite surprising, even to one already aware of the Victorian attitude towards sex. I wonder if Yeats' extreme view, and that of Moina described in a previous post, was shared by other Golden Dawn members of the time?
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
"If I had not made magic my constant study I could not have written a single word of my Blake book, nor would The Countess Kathleen ever have come to exist. The mystical life is the center of all that I do and all that I think and all that I write."- W.B. Yeats
Monday, August 18, 2008
But first, let us look at MacGregor and Moina Mathers, the two leading forces in the Order once Westcott had resigned. While they were married, they never consummated the marriage, and never engaged in sexual activity whatsoever (or, at least, so it is claimed). In 1895 Moina wrote to Annie Horniman about her views on sex, the sexual abstinence she and her husband undertook, and the concept of incubi and succubi:
"When I first heard this theory it gave me a shock, but not such a horrible one as that which I had when I was young, about the human condition. Child or no, a natural thing should not upset one so. I remember that my horror of human beings for a while was so great that I could not look at my own mother without violent dislike - and loathing.I think it is fairly clear here that Moina was very much ingrained in the prudish Victorian society in which she lived, as were many of the members of the Order (I was recently told that masturbation made Yeats feel ill, for example), while some, such as Florrence Farr and Aleister Crowley rebelled against it. It is obvious, however, that Moina heavily disliked the notion of sex with entities, and, indeed, any sexual relations whatsoever. I think this is rather clear in relation to sex magic. It is not quite certain if Mathers shared his wife's views to such an extreme, but he seemed to respect her wishes, and they both came to a mutual decision to avoid sex. How, therefore, could a couple who refused to have sex espouse sexual teachings in their Order (that is, other than the sexual symbolism of polarities)? I can state with absolute certainty here and now that sex was never a topic for discussion in Order papers, and sex magic was never a practice engaged or taught in the Order, no matter what grade. There are, of course, some Cromlech Temple papers, such as Aura Paper 23, Concerning Sex on the Aura, but these are not technically Golden Dawn material.
I have always chosen as well as 'SRMD' to have nothing whatever to do with any sexual connection - we have both kept perfectly clean I know, as regards the human, the elemental, and any other thing whatever.
I have tried, and I think succeeded, never to allow myself to think of any subject in that direction."- Moina Mathers
Dion Fortune came into conflict with Moina when she published a book dealing with certain sexual principles. Her own account of the conflict states that "[Moina] turned me out for writing The Esoteric Philosophy of Love and Marriage, on the grounds that I was betraying the inner teaching of the Order". I believe that this statement (and the original ones made by Moina, as well as similar letters to Case on the same subject, not to mention the Horos scandal, where the Horos couple falsely claimed to be leaders of the Golden Dawn, thereby associating their sexual deviancies with the Order) has given some people the intimation that sex magic is employed in some of the higher grades of the Golden Dawn, but again this must be refuted on two grounds: 1) the complete lack of any such papers dealing with the subject, in any of the grades; and 2) the attitude to sex taken by the Mathers.
I made the point above that it is unclear if Mathers shared the extremity with which his wife viewed sex, and I believe the following should make it clear that he did not. He was always espousing the belief that one's private life lay outside the temple, and this included sex. He initiated Crowley when the latter was refused initiation by the other Adepts, with one of the causes of the refusal being his sexual promiscuity (and possibly his bisexuality). Crowley is notorious for his attitude to sex, so it seems unusual that Mathers would not berate him on it if he believed it to be an issue. But he did not, as it was Crowley's private life, part of the outer personality that was to be left at the door when one entered the temple.
But there was one person in the Golden Dawn who did receive a berating by Mathers on the matter of sex, and this was Dr. Edward William Berridge (Frater Resurgam). He became entangled in some sexual issues within the Order, promoting the sexual theories of T.L. Harris and making some advances on the female members of the Order while in temple. Annie Horniman and a few others complained about him, and Mathers was forced to demote him from his office as Sub-Imperator and finally to suspend him from both Inner and Outer Orders for a period of 3 months, once he was seen to be gloating over Horniman's prior dismissal.
Waite noted the following about Berridge:
"My information was full of iniquities of Resurgam and told a strange story concerning a Nurse Graham, brought in, I think, by Soror Mystica, whom he visited continually. He boasts of his astral intercourse with a counterpart or affinity in the astral world, by whom he has had three spirit children."This was not the only reference to such, as there was a curious reference to "elemental marriage" in a letter from Mathers to Horniman, where he stated:
It is not clear what is meant here by "elemental marriage" or what occured with Mrs. Carden (Sr. Amore), but this is one of the very few mentions of sexual practices in relation to the astral world. For the most part, most of the members of the Order progressed through their gradework perfectly happy to leave their sex lives at home, as most of the members of the modern Golden Dawn Orders are content to do likewise. Some will continue to argue that the Golden Dawn teaches sex magic, either as an attempt to discredit the Order or as an attempt to bring sex magic into the Order on a basis that has never existed, but at the end of the day there is no backing to these speculations whatsoever."[Regarding Soror] Amore - she was recommended Elemental marriage because of in her case the extreme danger of invoking an incubus instead of a Fay through want of self-control."
Sunday, August 17, 2008
You see devils in the hearts of all God's people,
Who must, by your great will, come out in straw
With pitchforks ready
To clash, steel on wood, against the sceptres of sure Science,
Held aloft upon the horses of your reign.
If only it were simple,
Adam cast across the rift from Atoms,
An uncrossable Abyss,
A mental chasm where only malice lies.
But where is subtlety in these uncertain times,
Where we, in our doubt, assume we know it all?
There is only red and blue and yellow,
Stark around their corners
Where no meld of hue is seen,
Nor permitted, nor encouraged,
As was once the case
When the brilliant light of art
Merged with the evanescence of the angels
And the candescence of great culture
Saw no contradiction between the art of science,
And the science of art.
There was none of this vile blindedness,
Where the books of chemistry and physics
Cannot rest upon the shelf amidst the classics,
Those epitomes of literature
And the episodes of Man.
Our books are bound more tightly,
And thicker are their covers,
For fear we might somehow contaminate each other
With these opposing truths, these opposing lies.
The incivility of cynicism,
That vast tidal wave of suspicion,
Washes over many, a ravage rampant tempest
Against those "savages" who believe in something more.
And in the shadows of our minds creeps a growing creed:
Turn the other eye instead of cheek,
Afraid to face the possibility
That there are answers in the artistry
That only the humble heart can read.
Inspired by Richard Dawkins
Saturday, August 16, 2008
Check out this excellent electronic magazine, Hermetic Virtues, which you can download in PDF format. There are four issues a year, relating to the Equinoxes and Solstices, and they usually number between 60-80 pages, with contributions from the Ciceros, Nick Farrell, Donald Michael Kraig, Aaron Leitch, Pat Zalewski, and a number of other well-known esoteric authors, as well as many who are lesser-known, but whose work is of excellent calibre. While not specifically a Golden Dawn magazine, it does tend to focus on G.'.D.'. subjects, and has many G.'.D.'. authors, but there are often essays on other subjects of esoteric note. Each issue costs $6, or you can get a year's subscription for $20. All proceeds go to the HOGD legal fund. This is essential reading for any student interested in the Golden Dawn and the occult in general.
Friday, August 15, 2008
"The 5=6 ritual appeared. Mathers seems to have taken elements given by this mysterious adept from Liege and fused it with rituals from SRIA. At the same time there came the fantastic Z documents, which superimposed a magical technique over the outer order and gave a formula that turned a somewhat dry masonic ritual into something that could be used to charge a talisman or get a spirit to physical manifestation. There is also the fairly cryptic Man, Macrocosm paper which gives a fairly powerful introduction to the Sphere of Sensation. We also see Book T, which was an inspired description of the Tarot.
But we cannot be sure how much of this material or genius belonged to Mathers, or how much was a cut and paste from Lux E Tenebris. Certainly the 5=6 is nothing like what Mathers had written before, or would write again. Mathers or Tenebris? Or again was someone else involved? We know that other adepts were also inspired at this time. Take for example the design of the Vault. Mathers' rite does not say much about it, other than recount the official material from the Manifestos. Yet the person who seems to be writing the most about the Vault is Westcott. It is his material, based on a lecture, that remains in both the SM and AO."- Nick Farrell, The Genius of the Golden Dawn
(Hermetic Virtues, Vol. 1, No. 3)
Thursday, August 14, 2008
The letter is drawn by starting with the horizontal "roof", drawing from left to right, and then drawing the vertical line from top to bottom. It is important to ensure the horizontal line extends slightly further on the right, so as to distinguish it from the letter Resh.
Just as Gimel is the charitable letter, Daleth is the poor letter which receives Gimel's charity. This aspect comes from the shape of the letter, which, because it is "bent over", resembles a beggar looking for charity. It is also because of the root word for this letter, which is dalah, to impoverish , which, in turn, gives rise to daluth, meaning poverty.
Daleth is related to Chesed via the number four, and its relationship can be seen through the aspect of poverty, for Chesed is the first Sephirah outside the Supernal triangle, and thus is "impoverished" in comparison to them. There is also a relationship between the just and merciful aspect of Chesed, as the residence of the Chasidim and Jupiter, the just and righteous god, and the notion of poverty, both in the vow of poverty taking by many righteous people, and the act of Gimel, of giving aid to those who are impoverished. Thus, these two letters create a symbiotic process, for the poor need the rich and the rich need the poor.
The number four, being the number of Daleth, is particularly evocative, for there are many mysteries to this number, not least of all the Tetragrammaton. Because Chesed is the first Sephirah outside the Supernal realm, it can be seen as the first proper expression of the elements, and this occurs through the number four, and the Tetragrammaton. It is often said that Da'ath cannot be crossed while in the physical body, and thus Chesed is the last "physical" Sephirah, as it were, although it is very far from the physicality of Malkuth, where the elements find their fullest expression. Daleth is the doorway through which the Light of the Supernals reach the other Sephiroth, and also the passage through which the ascent back to these Supernals is accomplished.
Daleth is also the doorway to Scripture, for there are four levels of understanding such, and they are terms Pardes (PRDS), the orchard, which is a notariqon of Pesheth, the literal understanding, Remeze, the allegorical understanding, Derash, the exegetical or interpretative understanding, and Sod, the mystical or "secret" understanding.
But this is not the only doorway that Daleth hints at, for this is a deep mystery in adding the letter Daleth to the Tetragrammaton. If we add this letter between the last two letters of YHVH, we get YHVDH, which is Yehudah, or Judah, the Jew. Thus it is said that the Jew is the doorway to God, and while this may seem overly in favour of Judaism, it could be argued by Christians that this hints at Christ, who was a Jew, and is the doorway to God. This is also shown in the assignment of Christ to Tiphareth, which must be passed through before union with God in Kether ("No one comes to the Father except through me").
Daleth is a Double Letter, meaning it originally had two pronunciations ("d" and "th"/"dh"). It is also, as a Double Letter, given a planetary assignment of the Sun in the Kaplan GRA translation, as well as Westcott's translation. In the Short, Long, and Saadia versions the planet is Mars, possibly because of its relation to Tuesday in the GRA version, but the other three opt for Monday instead. Its dual nature also relates to "seed" and "desolation".
"He made the letter Dalet king over Seed
And He bound a crown to it
And He combined one with another
And with them He formed
The Sun in the Universe
Tuesday in the Year
The right nostril in the Soul,
male and female."
Sepher Yetzirah (GRA version), 4:10
The path attributed to Daleth is called the "Illuminating Intelligence" in the 32 Paths of Wisdom (Westcott translation), while in Kaplan's translation we have the following:
"Illuminating Consciousness. It is called this because it is the essence of the Speaking Silence. It gives instruction regarding the mysteries of the holy secrets and their structure."
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Photo copyright by R.A. Gilbert
Firstly, there is the matter of Westcott denying being the author of the R.R. et A.C. material, but fervently defending his assertion that the origin of the Outer Order material is his, and that Mathers was little more than a paid scribe for those materials (all of which had their origins in the Cipher Manuscripts anyhow, which neither Westcott or Mathers wrote). These words from Westcott are so important that I feel the need to share them here, to ensure that all readers, whether scholar or student (or both), can have access to them:
Westcott isn't very clear whether his references to Mathers as being paid to "write out the rituals" means he transformed the skeletal structure in the Cipher MSS into the workable rituals we know today or whether he was merely a "scribe" of sorts, copying the material out. However, in 1909 Westcott was more explicit, when he stated in a letter to Brodie-Innes: "I am the only person who could prove [Mathers] wrote the Rituals and so could claim the copyright" (this was in reference to Mathers' suing of Crowley after the latter's publication of the G.'.D.'. rituals in The Equinox). But the letter shared above, which is somewhat more ambiguous, is dated 1912, and Westcott seems to claim a bit more involvement in the writing of the Outer Order rituals: "Mathers helped me to write those up". It could be argued that perhaps Westcott's intimation in 1909 that Mathers wrote these rituals was because Westcott wanted no involvement in the legal proceedings. This is mere speculation, however, and the consensus of opinion, both lay and scholarly, seems to suggest that Mathers was the ritual genius (clearly evident in his 5=6 ritual), and thus turned the Cipher rituals into the beautiful and powerful rituals they are today.
"Mathers is the only person alive who has any knowledge of the starting of Isis Urania Temple & he has made & no doubt will make false claims of proprietorship of the G.D. Hermetic Society because of his vanity, and because I resigned all offices of the Society in 1897;- I think it was.
I have cipher Rituals, early Rituals in English, diagrams - a volume of historical data from 1887 and a volume of moneys expended from 1887 - and many letters from Mathers, especially 2 asking leave to help me in the G.D. Rituals translation and literature. Those latter he will give his soul to get hold of _ and shall not get.
There are also letters from the first 30 G.D's who asked for the 5=6, each expressing approval of the G.D. system & several German letters re G.D. I want all these kept for my protection. I want you if alive & well after my death to use those to protect my claims _ if any false claims are made about them.
About 1886 AFA Woodford gave me Hermetic teaching & old MSS information of G.D. 0=0 to 4=7. Mathers helped me to write those up _ & Woodman as S.M. agreed to be 1st Principal of the Isis Temple. We 3 were co-equal by my wish _ & this lasted until he died Dec. 1891. Then Mathers brought from Paris the 5=6 and said it was the culmination of my G.D. 0=0 to 4=7 and I carried 5=6 on in England until M. became so eccentric that I resigned in 1897.
I make no claim to the 5=6 Ritual authorship but I do claim right & precedence in the origin of G.D. 0=0 to 4=7 derived from Woodford I started the Isis Temple. I paid Mathers to translate & write out the rituals from my original cypher drafts. I paid for the Isis Warrant, & paid M. for writing it & I won't have him say he got the G.D. from his ancestor in Pondicherry, as he now pretends."- W. W. Westcott
The important thing to garner from the above is that Westcott (through his ownership of the Cipher MSS which he obtained from Woodford) was the prime source of Outer Order (or Golden Dawn) material, while Mathers was the prime source of Inner Order (or R.R. et A.C.) material. Of course, there's always a problem with terminology, since "Golden Dawn" is used as a blanket term for the entire three-order system, and can thus cause confusion when certain people are referring only to the Outer Order as opposed to the entire system. as a whole. Therefore I believe it is imperative that clarification on this issue is always supplied.
Secondly, there is the issue of the Alpha et Omega material, under Mathers, after the initial split in 1900. S.R., in his blog post, shares a few quotes from Pat Zalewski and Nick Farrell from the Golden Dawn Yahoo group, where the latter posits that the A.O. material was of inferior quality to the original G.'.D.'. material and the later Stella Matutina material. Zalewski cites a number of A.O. documents which he has seen and comments on their effectiveness. Admittedly, Zalewski is biased towards S.M. material, what with his Whare Ra teachers being members of the last remaining S.M. temple, and thus he may believe Felkin's input to be of a higher standard than that of Mathers, but none of this bias automatically renders his opinion untrue. There is also the matter of the supposed "optionality" of the Z-documents in the A.O., which, if true, raises a large question mark over Mathers' head, since they are so vital to the system, and easily some of his most important written documents. Since I have not seen any of these A.O. documents yet, I cannot make a full appraisal of this matter. I do look forward to Nick Farrell's book on the A.O., however, which should elucidate some of these things. Until this book (co-authored by Melissa Seims, I believe) is available, I must point out that S.R.'s comment on the revelation of the A.O. material being "no doubt from an S.M. perspective" is entirely speculation, and seems to be extremely biased, since S.R. appears to dislike Farrell.
Thirdly, there is the issue of Mathers' character as a whole. The problem with this is that he is just as eccentric a figure as Aleister Crowley, and we all know how heated the debate on him has been in the last hundred years. Like Crowley, people seem to love or hate Mathers, and I agree with S.R. on the initial point that he made in his blog post, in that it seems to be "in vogue" to bash and discredit Mathers. However, that does not mean that we should not criticise Mathers (for there are many areas where he deserves criticism), just because we don't want to be seen as going with the flow of the "popular vote".
The more letters I read from Mathers recently the more I found myself disliking him as a person, though I must qualify this comment by stating that I do like some of his qualities, such as his belief that one's personal life should be left outside the temple (see here). But he definitely did many things wrong, and I think it would be naive of us to ignore that, which even S.R. realises in his acknowledgement that the appointment of Crowley as Mathers' confidant was a huge mistake (although it seemed they both found comfort in each other's egocentric personality, which was, in a sense, a mirror of their own). Given the initial spur for the 1900 revolt was Crowley's admission to 5=6 by Mathers after he was rejected for Inner Order membership by the Council of Adepts, it seems not just a huge bad judgement to send him as his representative, but almost a defiant insult to the other Adepts, which shows he had no respect for the judgements of those other Adepts, which he believed his opinion should automatically overrule.
Speaking of bad judgements, the whole Horos scandal is a prime example, and the evidence shows that Mathers was completely duped by this couple, regretting it to large extent soon after. It does make one wonder just how "solid" and reliable his claim to contact with the Secret Chiefs really was, given that they might have warned him against these people (who the other Adepts saw through easily). To be brutally honest, I find his claim to contact with the "Secret Chiefs" to be dubious at best (although just as justifiable as Westcott's claims of authenticity of the Sprengel correspondence). There is probably no denying that he had "inner plane contacts", that, indeed, some of his material was "inspired", for want of a better word, by a greater spiritual essence. However, this occurs naturally as part of the Current or egregore of an Order (as I have experienced both within and outside the Golden Dawn), and the "Secret Chiefs" are, in my eyes, merely a personification of this process, one that, however, tends to lead to elitism and autocracy (clearly evidenced in Mathers' case). There is no doubt a presence of "guardians" (again, a personification) within a magical group's Current, but all true students of the system can have access to them, depending on their nature, and it does not confer any special right to leadership (which is a quality dependant very much on the individual person).
But the fact remains that, even with all this "bad press", Mathers deserves credit for his work for the Golden Dawn. While he was not, as some (including himself) claim, the sole source of everything in the Order, he did bring the Order very far, and was the only one of the original three founders to stick with it all the way through (although Woodman died early on and Westcott had issues with Mathers' personality and the State's insistence that he withdraw from his occult involvement). Mathers' dedication needs to be appreciated, even if he was distracted by other matters, such as the Isis Mysteries, at varying times. He had huge character flaws, and these also need to be realised, but he was no demon. And before people think I'm actually writing an apologetic here (which I most certainly am not), he was no angel or saint either for that matter, but then neither was Westcott. Despite Mathers' genius he was paranoid, lacking in good judgement, and extremely egotistical and power-hungry. He was simultaneously the source of much excellence in the Order and much turmoil, and without him I cannot see the Order having survived as long as it had.
At the end of the day, Mathers was human, not a hero and not a villain, and no amount of contact with "Secret Chiefs" is going to change that. So, while I find myself disliking him sometimes as a person, and at times am forced to question his mental state, I like and value much of his work, and appreciate his great input to the Golden Dawn, which he rightly deserves credit for. But Westcott also deserves credit, and I think it has gone too long with everyone blowing Mathers' trumpet and not recognising that which Westcott contributed to the Golden Dawn. Just as it is popular now to see Westcott as the "true genius" of the Golden Dawn, it was for a long time (and still remains in many quarters) a popular view to see Mathers as the sole genius of this magical system. Like all things in the Golden Dawn, balance is key, and thus we must recognise the input of both men and attempt to avoid falling prey to extreme lauding or extreme loathing.
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
1. The Heptarchic System
From hept ("seven") and archy ("realms/kingdoms" - from archon: "ruler"), this is, as you can imagine, entirely devoted to the seven "old" planets (the ones that can be seen with the naked eye). This was delivered first and includes the basic tools that were deemed necessary for the later Enochian work - such as the Sigillum Dei Aemeth, Lamen, Table of Practice, Seals of the Bonorum, etc. There is a lot of material here (most of which can be found in the Five Books of Mystery [Quinti Libri Mysteriorum] if anyone wants to check the source works), the majority of which isn't used by modern magicians, barring the Sigillum Dei Aemeth, as most people simply do not know it exists or know much about it (it wasn't as heavily employed by the G.'.D.'. as the Watchtower material was). Some of this material sneaks its way into the next section, however, so it is an area that will require further study once the student has made some progress with the Watchtowers and Aethyrs. In the O.'.S.'.D.'.L.'. we usually reserved this work for higher grades, and this is likewise for the Golden Dawn.
2. Enochian "Proper" - Language, Watchtowers, & Aethyrs
This is the bit we're all familiar with, and it includes the actual language itself, the Great Table (and its subdivisions into Watchtowers, etc.), all of the Calls/Keys, the Aethyr names, and anything else that we traditionally think of when it comes to Enochian (barring the Sigillum Dei Aemeth, which is from category 1, as noted above). Most G.'.D.'. Enochian focuses on this material.
3. Liber Loagaeth & Other Obscurities
There was other material delivered, most of which is incredibly obscure, such as the Liber Loagaeth. Most people just don't know what this is, what it is intended to do, or how to make any practical (or even theoretical) use of it. There were myriads of tables delivered and some people have some theories on their use, but this is the section that is most open to interpretation and experimentation (and also, because of this, the most potentially risky, if one manages to even get anything out of it at all). It can be linked to the other two sections (afterall, they make up one unified system in the end), but how it links up remains theoretical and sketchy at best.
Monday, August 11, 2008
Sunday, August 10, 2008
"Each of the Golden Dawn women chose a motto to define her personal search for meaning and her link to the Divine. The motto became her magical name, because in naming herself after the image of a central principle, each woman strove to make herself over in that image. Yeats said, "There is some one myth for every man, which if we but knew it, would make us understand all that he did and thought." Through their mottos we an glimpse the inner myths through which these women gave life to their souls. As you read their stories and discover how their mottos weave through their decisions and actions, you might think about the magical motto you would choose for yourself to express your own inner myth. What is the central principle or image by and for which you would wish to live? Wisdom, Light, Peace, Joy, Justice, Bliss, Strength, Truth, Unity ... to quest, to love, to learn, to dare, to persevere. Is it symbolized by a Heart, Fire, Stars, a Sun, Divinity? All of these appear in the mottos of members of the Golden Dawn, and always they tell something about the character of the person so named and about the central principle or image that motivates them. Through their mottos we will find the character, motivation, and aims which the women of the Golden Dawn aspired, which can be seen through the related concepts of principle quest, and task."Mary K. Greer, Women of the Golden Dawn
This kind of tradition does not apply to the magical mottos in Ceremonial Magic, although it is valid, if not a little cheesy, in its own right. Golden Dawn mottos, for example, are usually in a foreign language, adding to some element of mystique, and this language is predominantly Latin. This is most likely due to the fact that most mottos in general, be they for a school, a town, a club, etc., are usually in Latin. A smaller few are in Hebrew or Greek, or another similar language, or sometimes, though very rarely, a mixture of a few.
But what is the magical motto actually for? What does it do? Why is it utilised? In the Confirmation ceremony of Catholic tradition the person will adopt a "Confirmation name", which shall, thenceforth, follow their first and middle names. This is more of a ceremonial adoption, as I do not believe there is any legal backing for the addition of a fourth name to someone. The purpose of it is to symbolise the new life that the Catholic in question is undertaking. Indeed, it is also designed to symbolise a certain principle or goal that is deemed important to the person taking the name, and thus tradition has it that the name must be one of a Saint. The taking of this name, therefore, is like the adoption of a patron saint and the values and principles that this Saint epitomizes.
This is how the magical motto of Ceremonial Magic works. It symbolises the end of the old way of life and the beginning of a new. The candidate in the Neophyte ceremony of the Golden Dawn, for example, symbolically sheds his old identity and takes on a new one ("I give permission to admit [name] who now loses his name and will henceforth be known among us as [motto]"). This magical identity is donned much as the robe and nemyss is, and contributes to the growth of the individual in question. It also symbolises their magical goal, and thus should not be chosen lightly. Sometimes people choose a motto that is not their goal, and thus they are reinforcing something that they do not want to become. Careful consideration is essential before the adoption of a new motto, for, as the old slogan goes, "by Names and Images are all powers awakened and reawakened". By the Name you choose to represent you and your spiritual quest, great powers in the Universe are awoken, and they will be continuously reawoken and tapped into every time you utilise that name. Thus it is vital to choose a name which signifies powers, attributes, values, and goals that you wish to evoke and invoke. I will close with the Declaration of the Motto segment of the O.'.S.'.D.'.L.'. Aspirant Initiation Ceremony, which I feel aptly evokes some of the gravity of adopting a new motto:
Initiate: “From the darkness of the days when I did not know these Words, I walked a Land that was wild and dim, shrouded in Ignorance and Folly. The Letters, expressions of a Living Fire, join into Words, expressions of a Living Being.”
Initiate: “I am the Utterance of My Name.”
Initiate (declares): “AMGEDPHA (motto)! ZIR (motto)!”
Initiate: “I am the Light in the Darkness. I am the Knowledge of My Name.”
Saturday, August 9, 2008
"It had somehow become known to the State officers that I was a prominent official of a society in which I had been foolishly posturing as one possessed of magical powers - and that if this became more public it would not do for a Coroner of the Crown to be made shame of in such a mad way."- W.W. Westcott
"Or, as Aleister Crowley more picturesquely put it, the authorities 'intimated to Dr Westcott that he was paid to sit on corpses, not to raise them; and that he must choose between his Coronership and his Adeptship'. Westcott thought that someone was talking, although he had no idea 'who it is that persecutes me'."- R.A. Gilbert, Revelations of the Golden Dawn
Friday, August 8, 2008
The first thing that must be addressed is the very real presence of Christian symbolism within the Order. There are numerous references to Christ, sometimes in veiled format as Osiris, and the Adeptus Minor grade (and the entire Inner Order of the R.R. et A.C.) are overtly Christian in symbolism. This has been classified by many, including myself, as Rosicrucian and Gnostic, but even the casual observor of either tradition will be aware of its emphasis on the Christ mythos, even if the elements of belief and dogma are very radically different to those of the orthodox Church. However, the symbolism is designed in such a way as to be, like many elements of Gnostic teaching, quite open to interpretation. Thus can a Pagan see a reference to Christ as being one of Osiris, and a Christian can see a reference to Osiris as being one of Christ.
The fact that the three founding members of the Order were avowedly Christian needs to be stressed, as context is a matter essential to all things. Thus, the preliminary form of the Pledge, detailed below, is, without question, quite Christian. Indeed, many of the members who joined the Order were Christian, including some clergy members, some of whom went on to form the Cromlech Temple of the Sun Order, a kind of "side-order", if you will, to the Golden Dawn, limited to only Christian members (given its more mystical focus). Not all members were Christian however. Moina Mathers was a Jew, for example, and a few others would have classified themselves as Pagan. Today there are hundreds of members of G.'.D.'. temples or groups, or just practising solo, who are also Pagan. Indeed, some of them run their own temples as Chiefs or Officers.
The Christian symbolism within the Order is tempered frequently by overtly Pagan symbolism, particularly that of the Egyptian pantheon used extensively throughout the first Order. Some people have classified the Outer Order as Egyptian and the Inner Order as Rosicrucian, which is apt in terms of symbolism used. Jewish symbolism is also utilised frequently, particularly from the Qabalah. But there are other Pagan traditions utilised too, including some elements of the Eleusinian and Samothracian mysteries. Thus, the Pagan will not necessarily feel out of place, for the Golden Dawn is always syncretic, and this includes the multitude of religions too.
The first "Pledge" written for the G.'.D.'., dated 12th February, 1888 and signed by the three founders and the enigmatic "Anna Sprengel" (who remains in my mind a construct of Westcott, even if it was a very necessary one for the time), contains a passage that is quite overt:
"Belief in One God necessary."
However, as R.A. Gilbert points out in his Revelations of the Golden Dawn, this was soon changed to:
"Belief in a Supreme Being, or Beings, is indispensable. In addition, the Candidate, if not a Christian, should be at least prepared to take an interest in Christian symbolism."This is quite a big change, and must have been done on some request by Pagan applicants or members. There is definitely very real Christian symbolism in the Order, particularly in the Inner Order of the R.R. et A.C., as pointed out above, so this allowance for members who believe in "Supreme Beings" (plural) is made with the understanding that such members will not see Christian symbolism as anathema, as is so often the case, particularly in the modern world, whether in Pagan or other circles.
The above Pledge acted as a kind of prototype for the Obligation found in the Neophyte Ceremony, and this is rather explicit on a few matters, the one of interest here being religion, where it states that there is "nothing contrary to your civil, moral or religious duties". Thus, the Golden Dawn is very much not a religion, though it uses religious symbolism to great and varied effect. The oath that is taken stresses this fact, urging members to fulfil whatever religious duties are required of them. The Golden Dawn is, instead, a magical Order, a system of magic, that can, by its syncretic nature, be bent to the needs of many religions, dependant only on the flexibility of the member in question. If that member is flexible in their approach, valuing all religions (as also stressed in the Neophyte Obligation), then the Golden Dawn system is equally, if not more, flexible to meet their magical and spiritual needs.
Thursday, August 7, 2008
In the Practicus (3=8) ceremony the Kabiri are mentioned, and these three primary Officers each classify themselves as one of the Kabiri, thereby giving us the final correspondences shown in the images above. The Hierophant relates to Axieros, the Hiereus to Axiokersos, and the Hegemon to Axiokersa. This gives us another set of deities to work with in relation to the Sephiroth, the Zodiac Signs, the Festivals, the Egyptian gods, and the Solar Adorations. The main point I want to make with this post, however, is that the Solar Adorations done daily are the microcosmic reflection of the macrocosmic adorations we do during the four primary festivals throughout the year, the Solstices and Equinoxes.
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
Let me explain. One of the names of Yesod in Jewish Qabalistic texts is berith, the Covenant, and this represents the circumcision of the foreskin, as per Jewish tradition. The reason for its association to Yesod is due to Yesod's relation, on the anthropomorphized Tree of Life, to the phallus (this became later the "reproductive organs" to include the feminine, but traditional [some might say more sexist] views would have seen man alone here, and woman was seen, in her entirety, in Malkuth, as depicted in this post).
There are frequent references in the Hebrew Bible, however, to a circumcision of the heart. For example, in Deuteronomy 30:6 (NRSV, my italics):
"Moreover, the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, so that you will love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, in order that you may live."
And in Leviticus 26:40-42 (NRSV, my italics):
"But if they confess their iniquity and the iniquity of their ancestors, in that they committed treachery against me and, moreover, that they continued hostile to me— so that I, in turn, continued hostile to them and brought them into the land of their enemies; if then their uncircumcised heart is humbled and they make amends for their iniquity, then will I remember my covenant with Jacob; I will remember also my covenant with Isaac and also my covenant with Abraham, and I will remember the land."
It is also echoed in later Christian works, such as those by Paul, where he states quite explicitly that "real circumcision is a matter of the heart—it is spiritual and not literal" (Romans 2:29, NRSV).
The heart is a reference to Tiphareth, and the circumcision of the heart is a reference to an act of Tiphareth, of the true covenant with God, the cutting away of the useless material that encases the heart, the abolishment, in a sense, of the ego. The circumcision of the foreskin in Yesod is but a reflection of this true circumcision, the circumcision of the heart, just as Yesod is the Moon and Tiphareth is the Sun, and the Moon shines only with a reflection of the light of the Sun. The circumcision of the heart is like the unfolding of the lotus flower, upon which Harpocrates, the child Horus (also attributable to Tiphareth, as both Child, King, and solar God) stands. Interestingly enough, however, this link with Harpocrates can be carried further.
One of the most well-known Signs used in the Golden Dawn tradition is the Sign of Harpocrates, or the Sign of Silence. While technically a misinterpretation of the ancient heiroglyph by the Greeks (it actually meant "child", not "silence", as was assumed from the "shushing" gesture), it has become a bit of established tradition, and is utilised to great effect within the Golden Dawn tradition. But how does this relate to circumcision or the Covenant? Because there is a third circumcision, a third Covenant, and this is berith leshon, the Covenant or circumcision of the tongue. This would be attributed to Da'ath, related to the throat and speech, and to circumcise the tongue is to, in effect, enact the virtue of silence. Thus it is also linked to Harpocrates, via the Sign of Silence. Indeed, even the circumcision of the flesh could be seen as linked to him, as he is a child, and it is as a child that the circumcision of the foreskin occurs in Jewish tradition.
Thus, Harpocrates is the secret to all three circumcisions, all of which are attributed to Sephiroth on the Middle Pillar, barring the two outer-most Sephiroth of Malkuth and Kether, which are, in a sense, reflections of each other. Ultimately, however, the circumcision of the heart is the focal point for most magicians, for it is there that the magical child sitting silently in the hidden lotus within all magicians finds its first blossom and finally unfolds. This is, in a sense, the magical puberty that will lead to the magical maturity of adepthood.
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
"Consider instead the following assessment: even as human progress is taking away the difficulties of staying alive, we are thereby gaining more freedom to pursue the even greater challenges of a different landscape in a different realm of our existence - one that has always been there. Our lives as animals are presenting fewer and fewer obstacles to overcome. A new kind of evolution is surfacing: the life of the individual stepping into the frontier of his own soul and exploring the confines of his interior psychological and spiritual vehicles."- Lyam Thomas Christopher,
Kabbalah, Magic, & the Great Work of Self-transformation
Monday, August 4, 2008
This lecture gives a table of the 12 zodiac signs, the Twelve Tribes, 12 relevant angels, and the 12 permutations of YHVH. What I'm interested in here is the permutations, as they offer the key to assigning the Tribes to the Tablet given above.
I must stress that this is a work in progress, and I do not fully understand where it may lead, if anywhere. It just goes to show, however, that the LBRP has more hidden gems to mine.
Sunday, August 3, 2008
To read the rest of this review, click below: