Mishkan ha-Echad

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Hermetic Virtues, No. 10

Issue 10 of Hermetic Virtues has been released, containing the following excellent articles:

+ Words of Power by Nick Farrell
+ Death, another new Tarot trump by Harry Wendrich
+ The Cross and the Triangle in the Golden Dawn by Dean F. Wilson
+ The Alchemy and Spirituality of Magick by Donald Michael Kraig
+ Fragmentary Aspects of Philosophy, Occult and Academic, in which the Truth of Reincarnation is Ably Discussed by Dr. Israel Regardie, edited by Sandra Tabatha Cicero
+ Elemental Quarter Altars by Samuel Scarborough
+ An Alternate Method of Prayer: the Middle Pillar as a Group Working by James Wasserman
+ Hildbold of Schwangau, Schwanstein and the Order of the Knights of the Swan by Ian Cowburn
+ An Invocation of Hod by Samuel Scarborough

To obtain a copy, click here. For a very small sample of my article on the Cross and Triangle, click here.

Friday, 25 September 2009

Fraternity

The topic of fraternity has recently come up, and it is such an important issue that it deserves some special attention.

Fraternity is the cornerstone of all organisations, especially those which deal with the occult. It is one of the primary reasons any of us join an Order (or any community) in the first place. To be fraternal is to treat others as a Brother or Sister, and, while this means to do so in the spiritual sense, we need to examine the biological aspect to understand exactly how it works. A physical brother or sister may, for example, be annoying, insulting, or any other denigratory term one wishes to apply; however, they are still one's flesh and blood and a certain platonic love is extended (or should be) even at the worst of times, while the closeness that can occur between biological siblings is a testament to the fraternal bonds that can be formed in the best of times. So should it be for us spiritual siblings.

Thus a basic civility and compassion is required, often more than we would extend to someone not within the Order, for we are bound by oath and mutual aims, and there is a common understanding between us all. This is not to say that we must always agree with one another or blindly obey whatever directions we are given, but rather that if we do have such disagreements that we would attempt to broach them in a way that encourages our fraternal bonds as opposed to straining or severing them.

While ultimately the Golden Dawn is all about magic, it is important to recognise just how valued the aspect of fraternity is, and how, indeed, it acts as the foundation upon which we make our magic, since we work a system that is largely dependant on the coming together of magicians.

The Oath taken in 0=0 is explicit about the fraternal relations required of initiates:

"I undertake to maintain a kindly and benevolent relation with all the Fratres and Sorores of this Order."

While it says "this Order" I believe this "kindly and benevolent relation" should be extended to all people working with the Golden Dawn system, and, dare I say it, to humanity as a whole.

The Obligation of the 5=6 also reinforces the pledge of fraternity in the section dedicated to Hod:

"I further promise ... that I will always display brotherly love and forbearance towards the members of the whole Order, neither slandering nor evil-speaking, nor repeating nor tale-bearing, whereby strife and ill-feeling may be engendered."

Then again in a letter dated 2nd April 1900 Mathers states that "the first duty of an Occultist ... is Fraternity and Fidelity." One cannot get much more explicit than that.

Thus fraternity is one of the basic tennets upon which the Golden Dawn was founded, and it should underscore all other elements of the Work. When we omit this we hack away at the foundations of the Order and of all good human interaction.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Poetry: Zayin

A new poem of mine on the Hebrew letter Zayin has just been published in the latest issue of JWMT. You can read it here:

Journal of the Western Mystery Tradition, Vol. 2, No. 17



The latest issue of the Journal of the Western Mystery Tradition has just gone live, focusing on the Tarot. As one can expect from a system that has been largely used and contributed to by the Order there are two articles there dealing with the Golden Dawn's rendition of the Tarot.

Friday, 18 September 2009

Officers & Grade Sashes

[Edit 2012: I should point out that further research, contemplation, and discussion has led me to believe my prior views on sashes held by officers was wrong. The documents themselves make it clear that they were worn by officers in the original ritual, and many of my other points can be easily argued against. I leave the post intact for the sake of the debate, but I recommend any group wishing to follow the traditional Golden Dawn system keep the sashes for officers.]

In a recent discussion with Nick Farrell on his blog the topic of officers wearing grade sashes in ritual came up. Both he and I are of the opinion that these should not be worn when holding an office, for a number of reasons:

  1. They can be impractical. An officer has enough to wear with a robe, tabard/cloak, collar and lamen, and so forth. Adding a sash to the mix only makes things more cumbersome.
  2. The Initiate may be, for practical reasons, of a lower grade than the office requires. For example, there may not be a 4=7 to take the role of Hiereus, and thus a 2=9 may have to hold this office. In this circumstance wearing the 2=9 sash would clash with the role and teachings behind the role.
  3. When the Initiate enters the Temple they are "Frater Bob", a 2=9, for example, but when they take on an office they are no longer "Frater Bob", but "Frater Hiereus" (and the godform behind the office). Therefore they should be wearing the badge of Hiereus and not the badge of Theoricus (or other grades).
  4. When a Candidate in 0=0 is being led around the Temple and gets his or her brief sights of the regalia, etc. of each officer, he or she should see the regalia of that officer, not their sash. It not only serves to distract from the real symbolism present within the regalia, but may confuse grades and energies, for a 0=0 should not be constantly seeing the sashes of higher grades in the officers initiating him/her.
  5. Ultimately it could be seen as feeding the ego, especially in light of the above magical reasons not to use it. Sashes and grades are notorious for inflating the ego, and to wear them while holding an office could prove disastrous as the energies of the individual and the role (and godform) they are playing are confused and muddled.

Friday, 11 September 2009

The Ritual Voice

Performance of ritual, especially in a group setting, requires a number of things, but one of the most important (and yet frequently overlooked) aspects is the ability to act out the role in a way that creates an impression on all present. This requires firstly that the officer read their part with vigour, not simply a dull recitation. They are no longer Frater "Bob" but Frater Hierophant, for example, and represent forces greater than the physical enactment of the ritual makes apparent. Thus a certain ability to perform is required and one of the most vital aspects of this performance is how each part of the ritual is read. Too many times I encounter barely audible voices of officers or a reading as if the ritual was the most boring thing on earth. It is not boring, and it should not be made to appear that way by a monotonous tone.

Z3 gives explicit instructions on how a ritual is to be read and performed:

"The Ritual should be read in a loud, clear, stern and solemn voice so as to impress the Candidate with the solemnity of the occasion. In this, there should be no foolish nervousness or hesitation, but the Ritual as performed by an initiated Hierophant should become in his hands something more than this."

And further on:

"Let him speak, then, not as if unto an assembly of mortals but as to an assembly of Gods. Let his voice be so directed as to roll through the Universe to the utmost confines of space."