Mishkan ha-Echad

Saturday, 22 August 2009

The Cross & Triangle

The symbol of the Golden Dawn is a red calvary cross above a white triangle, often, but not always, shown upon a black background. This is a very evocative image, which means different things to different people, but what does it mean for the Golden Dawn as a whole?

The Neophyte Ceremony tells us the following about it:

"The Red Cross above the White Triangle is an Image of Him Who was unfolded in the Light."

Another section states:

"Two contending Forces and one which unites them eternally. Two basal angles of the triangle and one which forms the apex. Such is the origin of Creation - it is the Triad of Life."

Z3 refers to "the White Triangle of the Three Supernals formulating in Darkness" and states that the Candidate "may bear that potent and sublime symbol as a link with his Higher Self and as an aid in searching out the forces of the Divine Light"

Z1 states:

"The Symbols upon the Altar represent the Forces and Manifestation of the Divine Light, concentrated in the White Triangle of the Three Supernals as the synthesis; wherefore, upon this sacred and sumblime Symbol, is the obligation of the Neophyte taken as calling therein to witness the Forces of the Divine Light.

The Red Cross of Tiphareth (to which the Grade of 5=6 is referred) is here placed above the White Triangle, not as dominating it, but as bringing it down and manifesting it unto the Outer Order; as though the Crucified One, having raised the symbol of self-sacrifice, had thus touched and brought into action in matter, the Divine Triad of Light."

This clearly refers to an invocation of the Light of the Supernal Triad into the manifestation of the Outer Order, as can be seen in this image:

Of course, the triangle may not be placed as shown above, but may encompass Yesod and Malkuth also, but the above format keeps the form of the triangle consistent with the form of the Tree itself. Perhaps it could be seen to show the delicate link between the Water of Practicus and the Fire of Philosophus, and perhaps it is used to balance these two contending forces with the one that unites them eternally in Tiphareth (symbolic of Air). This also correlates with the placement of the Triangle on the Tree in the Admission Badge for Portal (Hiereus lamen).

Friday, 21 August 2009

To Strengthen the Weak & Purify the Strong

"... in the natural man, the symbols are unbalanced in strength - some being weaker and some stronger. The effect of the Ceremony is to strengthen the weak, to purify the strong, and so begin to equilibriate them and at the same time make a link between them and the corresponding forces of the Macrocosm."

- Z3, The Symbolism of the Admission of the Candidate

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Grade Placement & the Minutum Mundum

There is a continuing lack of understanding regarding the placement of the grades upon the Tree of Life, particularly in terms of their elemental associations. I addressed some of the Golden Dawn reasoning behind the seemingly inconsistent placement of the Air grade of Theoricus in the watery Sephirah of Yesod (Luna) and the Water grade of Practicus in the airy grade of Hod (Mercury) in my article Reconciling An Elemental Inconsistency in Issue 6 of Hemetic Virtues. Here, however, I will highlight another aspect, which sheds light on the placement of the elements with the Sephiroth, or, conversely, sheds light on the choice of colours employed.

Let us skip Zelator for now, which is Earth and Malkuth, and focus on the three primary elements of Air, Water, and Fire (Yesod/ Theoricus, Hod/Practicus, and Netzach/Philosophus respectively). The Sephirah of Yesod is coloured violet (or purple) in the Queen Scale (the most commonly employed of the four Colour Scales). The colour of Air is yellow, which just happens to be the flashing colour of violet. Coincidence? Certainly not. The Sephirah of Hod is coloured orange in the Queen Scale, while the colour of Water is blue, its flashing colour. And then the Sephirah of Netzach is coloured green in the Queen Scale, while the the colour of Fire is red, its flashing colour.

But what about Malkuth? The colour of Earth is black, but the colours for Malkuth are citrine, olive, russet, and black. They're not the flashing colour, which is white. However, this is where one of the mysteries of Malkuth comes in. It's fairly common knowledge that Malkuth is in Kether and Kether is in Malkuth, thus making this earthy-coloured Malkuth the white-coloured Kether of another world. And thus do we have the flashing colours.

It does not end there, however, as the flashing colours are also present on the Tree itself, without the need to apply the elements. The flashing colour of Yesod can be found directly above it in Tiphareth. The flashing colour of Hod can be found diagonally across from it in Chesed. The flashing colour of Netzach can be found diagonally across from it in Geburah. And finally, the flashing colour of the black segment of Malkuth can be found directly above it in Kether.

Anyone with a cursory knowledge of art will notice something else in the above image. The colours of red, yellow, and blue are, of course, the primary colours, while the colours of orange, purple, and green are the secondary colours (made by mixing two of the primaries, such as red and yellow forming orange, blue and yellow forming green, and red and blue forming purple). What is not depicted in the above image is the tertiary colours, but they can be found on the Minutum Mundum diagram and the image displayed below. These are created by combing two of the secondary colours, so that russet is formed from orange and purple, olive is formed from green and purple, and citrine is formed from orange and green. The white of Kether is all colours, while the black segment of Malkuth is the absence of colour.

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

"The Most Exacting Scrutiny"

"But enough has been said, I hope, to show the student not to accept superficially any phase of the Rituals and the teachings, but to subject them to the most exacting scrutiny."

- Israel Regardie, Introduction to the 2nd Edition of
The Golden Dawn

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

The Relationship Between the Grades & the Officers

In the Neophyte Ceremony of the Golden Dawn a total of seven floor officers are required (although one could do without the Sentinel, since he/she doesn't really do much), but as one progresses up the grades one or more of these officers are dropped, until Practicus and Philosophus, when only the three main officers (Hierophant, Hiereus, and Hegemon) are required.

One of the reasons for this relates to the grade that can hold the office. For example, a Neophyte can only hold the office of Sentinel. So, in order to prevent Neophytes from seeing Zelator and above, the Sentinel role is dropped. Some people argue that this is not specifically stated, since the Sentinel traditionally sat outside and can continue to do so for the rest of the grades. However, aside from the possibility of them eavesdropping (the natural curiosities of humanity kick in when vague mumblings of barbaric names sound out from the room next door), this would not follow the subsequent system that is applied to the other officers. For those not familiar with this, I have given the relationships between the grades and the officers here.

Let us explore the relationship between each of these offices and their respective grades.

The office applicable to the Neophyte is the Sentinel, or Phylax, who traditionally resided outside the Hall. He is, effectively, a bit of an outsider, an officer but not an officer, if you will, just as the Neophyte him or herself is a member but not a member (given that the 0=0 grade is probationary). The Sentinel's place outside the Hall has a symbolic relationship with the Neophyte's place off the Tree of Life. The fact that the Sentinel is charged with preparing the Candidate also highlights the intimacy that is between them, for, in many ways, it is the Candidate him or herself that must do this preparation, such as finding out that this is the right path for them and mustering the courage to pursue it.

The offices applicable to the Zelator are the Stolistes and Dadouchos. It might seem unusual that the Zelator can take on two offices, but in many ways they act as one unit, and thus to understand one the Zelator must also work with the other. It also highlights the Golden Dawn's constant emphasis on balance, especially when it comes to the powerful elements of Water and Fire. Thus, these offices are given in one grade, that neither may become too dominant so as to imbalance the initiate. The Dadouchos office has a particularly strong relationship with this grade, given that the Admission Badge of 1=10 is actually a Fylfot Cross, depicted upon the Dadouchos' lamen, and the Dadouchos also takes precedence in the Opening of the 1=10 grade by consecrating before the purifications of the Stolistes, the reverse of which is employed in 0=0. There appears to be a somewhat fiery undercurrent to the 1=10, which can also be seen in the red slippers of the Outer Order (the whole of which is applicable to the Sephirah of this grade) and the link between the placement of the Cross within the Triangle and that of the Banner of the West (an implement of the fiery office of Hiereus).

The office applicable to the Theoricus is the Keryx, whose lamen is a Caduceus and whose wand is also a Caduceus. The Admission Badge into the sphere of Yesod within Theoricus is, of course, a Caduceus. That this grade is linked to Air, while the Caduceus is linked with Mercury and thus also Air, is another possible relationship, but an argument against that would be Mercury's association with Hod, not Yesod.

This is where we encounter some problems, however, as instead of finding the Admission Badge of the grade of Practicus being the lamen of the Hegemon it is the lamen of the Stolistes. Of course, the Practicus grade is related to Water, and thus there's an obvious relationship between that and the Stolistes, but the link between the Practicus and the Hegemon is more difficult to understand. Even the Hegemon Sceptre does not link up, as it represents the Pillar of Mercy, where Philosophus lies (in Netzach) rather than that of Severity, where Practicus lies (in Hod). However, we know that the Golden Dawn system has built in fail-safes to ensure balance, and this especially applies to the outer Sephiroth of Hod and Netzach (since they no longer enjoy the balance of the Middle Pillar, like in the previous two grades). Thus in this watery Sephirah the fiery Sword of the Hiereus, representing the Pillar of Severity, is present, while in the fiery Sephirah of Netzach the watery Sceptre of the Hegemon can be found. This also explains why the Hegemon does not disappear after this grade, as per the system of the previous grades, for both these officers, indicative of the two outer pillars, are important to maintain balance.

This naturally leads us to Philosophus and the office of Hiereus. The same issues as that of Practicus applies, for not only is the Admission Badge not that of Hiereus, it is actually that of the Hegemon. This could, of course, be seen as an attempt to bring the office applicable to Practicus (and thus those watery energies) into the volatile grade of Philosophus, in much the same way as the reversal of implements described above. The balancing role of the Hegemon is particularly an important energy to be brought into the sometimes destructive grade of 4=7. However, the office of this grade is the Hiereus, the sacrificial priest who guards against the Qlippoth in the West, represented by the god-form of Horus the Avenger. This is clearly a very fiery role, and thus works well with the flames of the Philosophi.

So then what happened to the elusive Hiereus lamen? That becomes the Admission Badge of the Portal Grade. While, of course, such a fiery relationship might be seen to unbalance the energies present in this grade, the lamen itself is a white triangle, which has a far wider scope than many of the others. Instead of representing the fiery triangle that it might do with certain aspects of the Hiereus, it can easily be seen as that great emblem of the Light that is pivotal to Golden Dawn teaching. Thus it would represent the Spirit. And, of course, it shows that the Hiereus, in essence, captures a reflection of the Light from Tiphareth (and Kether beyond) to scare away the Darkness in the West. Indeed, this symbol shows the Light hidden in and emerging from the Darkness. "The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it." (John 1:5, NRSV)

Much of the above, barring the seeming inconsistencies (which may simply be mysteries yet to be understood), hints at one further point: on entry into Neophyte the initiate receives the necessary energies and teachings to fulfill the role of Sentinel, and thus in all the grades above 0=0 he or she takes on the role of Sentinel (on an inner, somewhat subconscious, level). Likewise, the new Zelator absorbs the offices of Stolistes and Dadouchos, to the point that his or entry into Malkuth is dependant on his or her possession of the symbol of the Dadouchos (although not Stolistes), and thus the Zelator him or herself takes on these roles in the subsequent ceremonies. And so on as the grades progress, until the Zelator Adeptus Minor becomes a kind of one-man initiating team, having absorbed all of the offices that have gone before. While this is not to suggest that other people are not needed (although arguably they are not), each step up the ladder is not merely a new step, but encompasses the one that has gone before. Frank Salt, a 7=4 of the old Whare Ra Temple in New Zealand, came to a similar conclusion:

"After this Grade [1=10], none of the three Offices [Sentinel, Stolistes, and Dadouchos] appear again. Signifying that now you are responsible for the performance of their Offices, personally. You are ‘on your own’ regarding your personal life in the world. You now, in symbolism, are responsible for everything in your own outward life, while within, the Hegemon, through the Kerux, guides you, under the direction of the Hierophant. We therefore advise you to clarify as far as you are able, just what these Offices represent in your living."

This is, of course, merely a cursory glance at the relationships between these grades and their appropriate offices, but it may help to illustrate that their appointment is not arbitrary, and that, indeed, a greater understanding of the component parts may be gleaned by exploring their relationship with others. There is undoubtedly more to find, and I encourage all students of the Golden Dawn to explore these rituals and their parts in much more detail.

Sunday, 16 August 2009

The Batteries of Knocks, Part 2

In my previous post I commented on the Battery for Theoricus (!!! !!! !!!) as being partly a reference to Saturn. Here's some extra material to support that assertion.

The Grade of Theoricus includes the Advancement in the 32nd Path of Tav, to which the planet Saturn is attributed. This is mentioned as a reflection of the Sphere of Saturn, which would lie in Binah, but I also pointed out how Saturn lies on the opposite end of the Hexagram to Luna, the planet of this grade, and thus this is how it is found reflected in Theoricus.

Some of the Opening of the 2=9 Grade:

"Hierophant: Honoured Hegemon, what path is attached to this Grade?

Hegemon: The 32nd Path of Tav.

Hierophant: Honoured Hiereus, to what does it allude?

Hiereus: To the Universe as composed ofthe Four Elements - to the KERUBIM, the QLIPPOTH and the Astral Plane, and the reflection of the sphere of SATURN."

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

The Batteries of Knocks

One aspect of the Opening and Closing of each grade in the Golden Dawn is the Battery of Knocks, which is unique for each one and represents its own magical formula applicable to the energies of that grade.

In 0=0 the Battery is !!! (3) or ! ! ! (1 1 1) repeated three times to give three rounds of three, albeit in alternating fashion between the three main officers in the temple, while saying a particular word in the formula, as follows:

Hierophant: ! Khabs
Hiereus: ! Am
Hegemon: ! Pekht

Hiereus: ! Konx
Hegemon: ! Om
Hierophant: ! Pax

Hegemon: ! Light
Hieropahnt: ! In
Hiereus: ! Extension

Chic Cicero wrote a short article on the Neophyte Battery as being a representation of the Qamea of Saturn, which definitely makes sense in terms of its 3X3 pattern and the alternation between the three officers. This three-fold pattern clearly references the White Triangle, which is a symbol of the Supernals and the Light therefrom (which is particularly important for this grade), and Saturn is frequently employed to reference these Supernals, being the closest of them to us (and the only planet related to those Sephiroth). Saturn can also be seen as the "three-fold bondage of Mortality" (represented by the thrice-wrapped Cord about the Neophyte's waist), for he is the planet of bondage and limitations, while Binah herself, as Supernal Mother, is the ultimate source of our mortal and material lives.

The Battery for 1=10 is !!!! !!! !!! (4 3 3), employed by each of the three main officers. This enumerates to 10, the number of Malkuth which this grade is attributed to. It again contains a three-fold nature, referencing the Light once more, albeit the base of the Triangle could be seen to be represented by the unique first round of four knocks, symbolic of the four-fold division of Malkuth.

The Battery for 2=9 is !!! !!! !!! (3 3 3), employed by each of the three main officers. On the surface this appears to have similarities with the 0=0 Battery, but all three rounds are given by a single officer before being repeated by the other two. It also lacks the "Light In Extension" formula. However, the 3X3 nature could still be seen as a reference to Saturn, which is the planet opposite to Luna (the planet of the Theoricus grade) on the Hexagram. The enumeration of 9 is also a reference to the 9th Sephirah to which this grade is attributed. The hidden Light symbolised by 3 is still present.

The Battery for 3=8 is ! !!! ! !!! (1 3 1 3), employed by each of the three main officers. The enumeration of 8 is a clear reference to the 8th Sephirah of Hod to which this grade is attributed. Again, the hidden Light is also present.

The Battery for 4=7 is !!! !!! ! (3 3 1), employed by each of the three main officers. The enumeration of 7 references the 7th Sehirah of Netzach to which this grade is attributed. As above it is divided into rounds of three, with the spare knock left over.

The Battery for Portal is !!!! ! (4 1), employed five times in the order of Chief Adept, Second Adept, Third Adept, Hiereus, and finally Hegemon. This emphasis on 5 references the Quintessence, the fifth element of Spirit to which this grade belongs. The rounds emphasise the four elements and then the one that crowns and unifies them all, bringing them and the initiate into balance. Another Battery, with and without knocks, is employed in the Portal relating to the formula Paroketh, where each of the four Hebrew letters making up that name are stated).

The Battery for 5=6 is ! ! ! ! ! ! (1 1 1 1 1 1), with one round per each of the three officers in an alternating pattern much alike the 0=0:

Chief Adept: !
Second Adept: !
Third Adept: !
Chief Adept: !
Third Adept: !
Second Adept: !

Clearly there is a mystery in their alternation that has yet to be unlocked. What is not a mystery, however, is that the enumeration of the knocks equals 6, the number of the Sephirah of Tiphareth to which this grade is attributed. The alternation between 3 officers again intimates the Light, while the single knock employed by both could be taken as a suggestion of the unity the Adeptus Minor must undertake with his or her Higher Self.

These Batteries, and the many others employed throughout the grades, play a vital role in the initiation ceremonies and the Opening and Closing of each grade. Like many elements of the Golden Dawn system they should not be underestimated, for in them lies a key of great magical potency which allows every initiate to access the energies of these grades long after their own initiations.

Friday, 7 August 2009

Renaissance of the Golden Dawn

Many people think that the "lodge system" is dead or dying, and that the Golden Dawn is not as strong as it was in its hey-day, or, indeed, that it too is dying a slow death. I don't believe this to be true. Indeed, while perhaps the lodge system is not as popular as it once was (the decline in Freemasonry being the prime example), the Golden Dawn is thriving, so much so that I wonder if there is a kind of Renaissance occurring.

The Golden Dawn today is served by at least half a dozen orders, with another dozen or more that use its magic or are in some way derived from it (for example, the BOTA and SOL). Many of these Orders have a large number of temples around the world, more than the original ever had, and there are more popping up as we speak. Europe and America, in particular, are well-served today.

Couple this with a number of new developments and publications that have occurred or are on the horizon. For example, there is the GD magazine Hermetic Virtues, only a few years old. Then there are the two new GD Tarot decks coming out, the HorusHathor deck and the Ra Horakhty deck, not to mention the half a dozen other GD decks already published. Then there are also a number of intriguing GD books that will be published soon, such as Nick Farrell and Melissa Seims' King Over The Water (which will include much previously unpublished Alpha et Omega material), Peregrin Wildoak's By Names and Images, a reworked reprint of Pat Zalewski's Golden Dawn Rituals and Commentaries (all his Z4 and Z5 material), and Darcy K√ľntz's magnum opus Golden Dawn Temple Manual. Add to this the excellent (if I do say so myself) Golden Dawn Forum, not to mention the many GD yahoo groups and dozens of blogs, and it does sounds like those who are interested in the Golden Dawn are enjoying a really good time.

So, is this a bit of a Renaissance for the Golden Dawn?

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

The Value of Tools, Part 2

Brother B.h.D.A. linked me to a few of his posts (here and here) on the subject of magical tools which have raised some additional thoughts. The one I'd like to focus on here is the idea of giving life to an implement. It's not simply employed as eye-candy or a focus-aid, but as a living entity in and of itself, with the power to open and close ceremonies, purify or consecrate initiations, frighten away phantoms, invoke or banish energy, among a myriad of other vitally important tasks. Of course, all of this relies on the magician, but there's no denying that a tool that has seen use by a seasoned magician can easily bring wonders to a ceremony that may otherwise be lacking in a magical spark.

The power that can be invested in a tool can be astronomical, and to demonstrate this I'd like to highlight the Opening or Closing by Sceptre than can be employed by a hasty Hierophant. Z1 states:

"[The Sceptre] represents [the Hierophant] as touching thereby the Divine Light of Kether and attracting it through the Middle Pillar to Malkuth. It is called 'The Sceptre of Power' and invests him with the power of declaring the Temple Open or Closed in any Grade, if time be short, and this is done by saying: "By the power in me vested by this Sceptre, I declare this Temple duly opened (or closed)."

While it is true that this power comes from both the Hierophant and Kether, it still literally states the importance of the Sceptre itself. In fact, the power is vested in the Hierophant by and through the Sceptre, as a conduit for the energy from Kether. This potency is affirmed on a regular basis in the Equinox Ceremony, where the laying down or claiming of an implement symbolises the end or beginning of one's service as the respective Officer. These points alone should highlight the value of the employment of such tools in ceremonial practice.

Monday, 3 August 2009


Use the physical as a springboard for the spiritual.
Use the Night to help you find the Day.