Mishkan ha-Echad

Monday, 15 October 2012

Regardie on Constructing a Vault

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Mediums and the Golden Dawn

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Swedish Review of Enochian Magic in Theory

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


16th century magic today

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Text: Robert Halvarsson

Saturday, 1 September 2012

The Challenge by Eyes of Wood

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

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

 

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

The Challenge

Lyrics by Dean F. Wilson

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

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

-

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

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

-

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

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

-

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

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

-

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

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

-

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

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

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

The Ruby Tablet, Vol. I, No. 3



Issue 3 of The Ruby Tablet, compiled and edited by Darcy Kuntz, has been released. Check it out and donate if you like the material.

Contents

The Egyptian Belief by P.W. Bullock
Hebraic Aspects of the Ritual by Bro. Harry Carr
The Order of Saint Catherine of Mount Siani
L'Homme de Désire
The Riddle of Man's Life by Nathanael

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

The Password of the Equinox

The Password, like everything in the Golden Dawn tradition, is more than just a word used to distinguish initiates from non-initiates - it has magical reasons and applications that far surpass its mundane purpose.

At each Equinox the Password is changed. The Hiereus explains why this occurs: "The password ... will be periodically changed at each Equinox so that a member who has resigned, demitted or been expelled from the Order, may be in ignorance of the existing password."

This is the practical reason, which makes sense and ties in with the Masonic roots of the practice. It was likely particularly useful in the Victorian era when members may have been travelling long distances and would not have had the luxury of internet groups from which they could get to know people — leaving the Password as one of the primary forms of knowing who was or was not an initiate for those who had not met before.

But magic underscores all that we do, and while much of our ritual technique comes from Masonic convention, the additional layer of magic is what makes it the Golden Dawn.

The Password is, in many ways, a temporary magical motto for the Order, and just as the motto represents the spiritual and magical goals of the initiate, so too does the Password represent the spiritual and magical goals of the Order for the period it is in use. 

The Chiefs of the Order or Temple may choose a Password in a variety of ways, such as a more passive form via divination (like the Ring and Disc), which can be opened with an invocation to the Guardians of the Hidden Knowledge and the egregore of the Order, allowing it to suggest a word that will best suit what is needed at the time.

A more active technique is also possible, where the Chiefs may decide upon a specific short-term goal for the group, depending on the specific issues or aspirations noted at the time.

The ramifications of the Password chosen may also be explored through divination, and a combination of active and passive techniques can be employed to find the most appropriate word to install at the Equinox.

There are many magical applications of the Password for all members as well. It connects them to the egregore of the Order and can be employed on a regular basis as part of a connection rite. It can also be used literally as a password to get into an astral temple.

We are tasked in the Oath to not discuss anything pledged to secrecy with anyone unless "they are in possession of the password for the time being." The Password, therefore, is that mystical word with which we bridge the silence of a primal sleep. It is the lock that keeps the secrets safe, and also the key to unlocking those secrets, for it is the word spoken to the Sentinel on approaching the temple doors, the word that bars and opens.

Monday, 2 July 2012

Book Review: Enochian Magic in Theory [Behutet Magazine]


Review by Charles Humphries
(Published in a forthcoming issue of Behutet Magazine)


Enochian Magic in Theory
Dean F. Wilson (a.k.a. Frater Yechidah)
Kerubim Press, Copyright Dublin 2012 
Trade Paperback, Nonfiction, Magick Reference
ISBN: 978-1-908705-03-7
$30.00 US (most websites and retailers)


Dean F. Wilson has offered the first of two of what look to be refreshing and welcome additions to the Enochian Section of any Magician’s library. Meant to be the first of two books, one of Theory and one of Practice, Enochian Magic in Theory is basically a summary of the structure of the extant records of the operations of John Dee and Edward Kelley. There are several accounts of these, with most die-hard enthusiasts having and perusing their own scans of the manuscripts themselves. I myself have spent the better part of two decades going through exactly that process. I know well the mistakes commonly made, the ideas that get merged with but do not originate with the “Enochian” source journals. I have a fairly impressive experience in Golden Dawn related approaches, and was a veteran of the infamous rounds of early Enochian internet subculture under many various screen names and guises.

Upon receiving my copy of Dean’s publication, I was filled with excitement. From the minute this book is in your hands, you see its quality. I have read his blog on occasion, and spoke with him online enough to understand he is very much of a similar mind as me on the fallacy of words such as “right and wrong” and is more liable to use “consistent and sincere” as a complimentary polarity of true use to a magician not crippled by superstition and arrogance. In the six months or so I have occasionally spoken with Dean, I greatly enjoy our conversations which have revealed him as a person well-qualified to write a book expressing his perspective on popular opinions on Enochian Magic.

He spares no expense making such a treasurehouse of opinions from most sources, either. In fact, from printed and electronically distributed perspectives on nearly every source of easily attained Enochian scholarship I have seen, ranging from the best-selling and easily digested to the freely distributed and brain wracking, he pretty much samples a bit of all of them. If you are not sure where or who to start with in Enochian Magic and just want to see a combined outline of the prevalent thoughts on the components, and see their integration, his book is frankly the perfect choice. I could not imagine I have three books on my shelf on John Dee or Enochian that he does not cover, mention, or quote; aside from an obscure textbook translated from Poland. And just as freely, he credits fellow artisans and scholars with their own findings. Unfortunately, in such a book I would expect to see some reinteration, and some misstatement or biased conclusions. One HUGE one is the old conclusion about IAD BALT (Lord of Justice) and Yaldoboath.

There is really no reason to think these two are connected aside from their phonic similarity. There are a few other conclusions I do not share and a few facts I would check about the order of things, and some leaps I probably make that he does not, but all of that is ultimately not really important to know we can agree to disagree. However, even though I disagree with the idea as presented, I do encourage one entertain it themselves. I also like that he mentions several prevailing ideas that even he questions. If anything, Enochian Magic in Theory is a supercharged well-executed effort to bring a magician up to speed on the general variety of influences, opinions, and ideas one might encounter in the broad spectrum of people drawn to this Art.

Dean’s writing style is easy to read, and his treatment of subjects is both speculative and competent. He makes good use of his 356 pages to include a dictionary of the calls, a list of the expansive catalogues of spirits, and to illustrate nearly every table that is diagrammed in Dee’s own work. His writing style is far from formal, but it is certainly more engaging than a casual tone. You immediately sense that Dean not only believes the potency of this work, but that he has experienced it. Furthermore, he encourages that experience to form an opinion of your own. I rather like that approach instead of the “sheltered genius” amassing everyone else’s findings.

The binding is great, the spine does not break from casual reading, and the interlaid textured-blue graphics that form a nice backdrop to an imposed Sigillum many will recognize as a centerpiece to John Dee’s work. But the real gem is the work itself, though I encourage EVERY person who seeks to look into actual practice of this work look back into the diaries of John Dee that we are fortunate to still have. This book provides a quality resource for those who do so, or just want to skip the 16th century and just start working it immediately. This book is written fearlessly, and with little of the stigma or overly cautious tone many books address Enochian in. I would personally be comfortable saying this would be a excellent first book on Enochian Magic, and a invaluable resource in the personal library of even seasoned participants in the legacy of John Dee, The Golden Dawn, Aleister Crowley, and other modern approaches. I eagerly wait this book's companion, presumably "Enochian Magic in Practice" and anticipate being equally satisfied with how he develops such a well rounded understanding of the full spectrum of what is considered "Enochian Magic" into a body of practical work and personal development.

Sunday, 24 June 2012

In Celebration

In celebration of the 30th Anniversary of the consecration of the Vault of the Adepti of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn by Francis Israel Regardie...


The ages pass like crumpled pages in a book,
Some still pristine within the annals of our mind;
A century to come and go is all it took
For much of magic to be lost, and now we find
That somehow it is here again for us to know.
The birthright of our hungered spirit lingers still,
The fruit of inner trees we weather, nurse and sow
That we might come in contact with our higher will.
The light glows stronger now, despite time's leaden hold;
The magi stir from deep within their temple tombs —
What once was but a metal has become fair gold,
And where an ancient garden was, a rose now blooms.



Hermetic Virtues, Vol. 5 No. 4

Volume 5, Issue No. 3 of Hermetic Virtues has been released, containing the following excellent articles and reviews:

+ Hidden Church by John Michael Greer
+ The Hierophant by Harry Wendrich
+ Tools of Light by Chic Cicero
+ New Way of Looking at Golden Dawn Rituals – a book review by Samuel Scarborough
+ Traditional Golden Dawn and the Missing Landmarks by Nick Farrell
+ King Over the Water – a book review by Frater YshY
+ Two Thrones for the Golden Dawn by Aaron Leitch
+ Summer Solstice Ritual by Darcy Kuntz
+ Change Your Motto, Change Your Destiny by Eric V. Sisco
+ Consciousness and the Tree of Life by Jane Gibson
+ An Invocation of Chokmah by Samuel Scarborough
+ Enochian Magic in the Golden Dawn Tradition by Dean Wilson
+ The Origins of the Rosicrucian Society in England by Ian Cowburn

To obtain a copy, click here.

Monday, 4 June 2012

Venus and the Vault of the Adepti

One of the mysteries of the Vault is the fact that it is entered through the side of Venus, which seems at first to be strange, especially when the grade of 5=6 is attributed to the Sun. There are many reasons for this, however, some obvious, and others somewhat more subtle.


The usual explanation I see given is that Venus is, as Regardie put it, "the occult planet which represents the Genius of this Order." Of course, he was a member of the Stella Matuina (Latin for "Morning Star," a title given to Venus, along with Evening Star), so Venus was certainly strongly applicable there, but the link is somewhat more tenuous when considering the original order and its other offshoots, all of which employed references to the Sun in their name. "Golden Dawn" is obvious enough, while "Morgenrothe" is "Dawn" (from the German for "Morning Redness") and AO is, according to Mathers, the ancient Egyptian root for "Dawn." Venus, therefore, is not as important in the name, at least.

Venus does have significant occult value, however, that gives it a prominence above the other planets when looked at from a certain perspective. Some of this is covered by Westcott:

"[The Chief Adept] has Mars and Geburah at his right hand, and Jupiter and Gedulah at his left hand. He faces Venus in the West, the Evening Star, which represents the entry of the Candidate who has toiled all day until the evening. At even he enters the Western door of the planet Venus, that sole planet unto whose symbol alone all the Sephiroth are conformed. ... [The newly admitted Adept] enters through the Green side of the Vault. Green is the colour of growth; let him see that he grows."
- William Wynn Westcott, The Symbolism of the Seven Sides.

The encompassing of all the Sephiroth is important, as this represents the complete Tree of Life and links with the Ankh that is also significant to the Adeptus Minor ritual.

The idea of growth is equally important, although it could be argued that this is countered by the strong symbolism of death in the 5=6 ceremony itself. The colour green is interesting, however, as it is the flashing colour of red, and these two colours are employed on the lamen of the Hierophant, the Outer Order officer applicable to the grade of 5=6.

There is another occult significance, however. The Hebrew letter to which the planet Venus is attributed to is Daleth, which means "Door." It makes sense then that the Venus wall would be the door to the Vault.

However, the most important reason is because the previous Sephirah that the initiate has come from is Netzach, from the 4=7 grade, which is attributed to the planet Venus. Therefore in order to enter Tiphareth, wherein lies the Vault, the initiate must enter through the Venus door.

Sunday, 3 June 2012

"Perceive with the Soul..."

"Yet even in the 1=10 grade you are told you must analyse and comprehend that Light or Knowledge, and not only take it on personal authority. Let us then be Adepti in fact, and not only on the surface; let our investigations be more than skin deep. That only which you demonstrate is really known to you, and that only which is comprehended can fructify and become spiritual progress as distinguished from intellectual gain. Unless you can perceive with the soul as well as see with the eye your progress is but seeming, and you will continue to wander in the wilds of the unhappy."

- William Wynn Westcott, The Symbolism of the Seven Sides

Friday, 18 May 2012

The Ruby Tablet, Vol. I, No. 2


Issue 2 of The Ruby Tablet, compiled and edited by Darcy Kuntz, has been released. Check it out and donate if you like the material.

Contents

The Secret or Mystery of the Rose
Notes: Sephiroth and Hermetic Brothers of Egypt
Skylight Press
Notes on the Astral Light by B.N. Acle
Golden Dawn Research Trust
Ritual of the Fratres Lucis (concluded)
Rosicrucian Order of the Golden Dawn
Allocution for the 2=9 Grade of Theoricus
Ouroboros Press
Alchemy by Parabolanus
Forge Press
The Tarot: An Antique Method of Divination
Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn Books
Magical Aphorisms of Eugenius Philalethes

Monday, 14 May 2012

Sharing the Golden Dawn Tradition

Francis Israel Regardie earned fame and notoriety when he published many of the rituals and teachings of the Golden Dawn, heralding a new period in the Order's complex history.

In his book My Rosicrucian Adventure (since republished as What You Should Know About The Golden Dawn), Regardie shared his views about the preservation of the Golden Dawn system by sharing it with the wider world.

"...it is essential that the whole system should be publicly exhibited so that it may not be lost to mankind. For it is the heritage of every man and woman – their spiritual birthright."

It is difficult to say what would have happened if Regardie had not published his book. Some temples closed their doors, while others continued relatively undisturbed. Yet it is largely through Regardie's work that most modern Golden Dawn students came across the system, and it is also mostly through Regardie (and Crowley) that the Order's teachings have permeated the wider Western Mystery Tradition.

So then for those of us fortunate enough to belong to magical orders and/or have access to a plethora of unpublished documents from over the years, it begs the question what we can do to help fellow Fratres and Sorores grow their knowledge of the system so that it may better inform their practice.

In his post on this year's Pantheacon, Donald Michael Kraig wrote the following:

"In his earlier workshop, Chic had shown photos of that Vault, something that, traditionally, never should have been done. In this workshop about his relationship with Regardie, he stated that he, like Regardie, believed that the information on the system needs to be shared, not hidden away. As a result, Chic revealed that in forthcoming books, he and his wife are going to be revealing some previously secret and unpublished Golden Dawn knowledge and techniques (rather than keeping them private to aggrandize power and money for themselves)."

We have already seen some of this sharing with the wider community with the publication of a number of books recently that reveal some of the rituals and teachings of the Golden Dawn, the Stella Matutina, and the Alpha et Omega, but since there are hundreds of unpublished documents still gathering dust in private collections, I think it is fair to say that this is only the beginning.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Book Review: Enochian Magic in Theory


Into the Aethyrs of Enochian Magic

Review by Samuel Scarborough
(Published in Hermetic Virtues, Vol. 5, No. 3)


Enochian Magic – whether you are talking about Dee purist, Golden Dawn, or something different, there appears to be no more “sexy” magical system or magical mythos within the Western Mystery Tradition. There is something that just attracts most people in the esoteric community to Enochian magic in one way or another – whether those people are seasoned magicians with years of experience or fresh faced beginners.

The latest entry into the field of Enochian magic is Dean F. Wilson’s Enochian Magic in Theory. There are several books on or about Enochian magic at any one time in print and available. Some are sensational books filled with lots of inaccurate material written by people with little or no practical magical experience, especially with Enochian magic. Some of these books are just rehashes of earlier books without much effort on the part of the author to further illuminate their topic. Not so with Enochian Magic in Theory. Dean F. Wilson is a magician in the classic sense that has studied and practiced magic in several different magical orders. He has a specialty with Enochian in both its Golden Dawn and Dee purist forms. This gives Wilson something of a unique perspective to write about Enochian magic.

So what is covered in this new book on Enochian magic? A fair question considering that a great deal of the material has been published over the years. Dean F. Wilson covers the basics of the history of how the Enochian System came to be through the scrying sessions of Dr. John Dee and Edward Kelley in the late 16th century. He also provides a straightforward overview of material that was received during these scrying sessions. This includes information on the “shewstone”, the ring, the Sigillum Dei Aemeth, the Table of Practice, the Lamen, the Bonorum, the Tablet of Nalvage, and the Watchtowers.

All of this has been covered before in other books, but what Wilson is able to do, is explain even some of the more complex elements of the Enochian material in such a way as to be straight forward and easy (or easier) to grasp.

Wilson also takes a look at the various styles of Enochian. He goes into some detail about the differences in what has been termed “Dee purist”, which is using Dee’s system as we have it from Dee’s diaries; and the version of the system as used by the Golden Dawn/Crowley. While the Golden Dawn version is heavily influenced by the Dee material, it has in many ways gone its own direction and has become something a bit different. Wilson also hits on the multitude of modern – that is to say, interpretations of both the Dee purist and the Golden Dawn models that were developed in the late 20th century into the early 21st century – methods of using the Enochian system of magic. All these differing approaches to using Enochian can get confusing, especially for the novice Enochian practitioner, and it helps to see and understand some of these various methodologies being set forth for comparison.

Also in the Enochian Magic in Theory, Wilson gives a very nice break down of the Enochian Calls – those invocations for working with the various Angels. It is from these Calls that most of the Enochian words are derived. Dean Wilson lays out the Calls in a very easy manner so that they are conveyed in both Enochian and English to the reader. He further expands upon these Calls in his two appendices. One on gematria, which is a theory that the letters of the Enochian language have a numerical value, and that those words which have the same numerical value have a direct correlation to each other. In the second appendix, Wilson provides an Enochian Dictionary based upon his work with the system.

Following this Enochian dictionary of Wilson’s is a bibliography and a very comprehensive index. Both of which are pleasures to see as many “modern” esoteric books seem to leave these portions from the book making it difficult for the reader to quickly locate material within the book itself and/or not being able to do further research on their own into the sources of information used by the author.

What really makes the book shine, as it were, is that Wilson is obviously very familiar with his subject matter from both a theoretical and practical point of view. It shows in his level for research – the book is heavily footnoted throughout – and in the way that he writes about the Enochian system, whether about the history of the system, its use in either the purist Dee format or the Golden Dawn format, and in the theory surrounding much of the Enochian material. Wilson’s explanation of the Sigillum Dei Aemeth and it constituent parts, is one of the best and most uncomplicated that I have ever seen published heretofore.

When Wilson discusses the Watchtowers and how they are used, he shows both the “traditional” Dee method and the Golden Dawn method; giving clear examples between the two methods that have come to dominate the “Enochian Tradition” in modern times. He is obviously familiar with both of these methods and does not brow-beat the reader with whether one version is better than another – simply shows the two and allows the reader or practitioner to implement or not whichever into their working paradigm.

Enochian Magic in Theory is a heavy book. That is it is both large, 378 pages of laviously illustrated material and that the subject matter is complex, often difficult to follow and understand. Wilson manages to write in a way that clearly gets his point across to the reader. He does not over intellectualize in his discussion of the material or with his own theories regarding the material and its uses. This is a godsend to the reader who can concentrate on gleaning the information for use in whatever magical paradigm they are familiar. The diagrams and illustrations given throughout the book clearly and concisely exemplify the points that Mister Wilson is making within the accompanying text.

The second appendix provides a theory for creating and using Enochian gematria. This is a rather intriguing concept. Wilson simply gives the basics of the theory in a way that makes it easy to access, but leaves it to further work, either by himself or others, to flesh this theory out more fully.

What can one say about Enochian magic? It is definitely considered “sexy” by those that see it as something of a crowning jewel in the Western Mystery Tradition. It has certainly built up a mythos and mystique over the last four centuries, and especially during the 20th century. Dean F. Wilson clearly shows this mystique in his work, but he does not obfuscate the material he is writing about in any overtly mystique. He does the refreshing – he actually lays the Enochian system out in a manner that is easy to comprehend, packed with information without overwhelming the reader.

Mister Wilson suggests that there will be a sequel to Enochian Magic in Theory which will delve into the more practical applications of using the Enochian system. If it is anything like what he has written in this first book, then we all are in store for a real gem of knowledge and experience.

There are many good books on Enochian magic and even more horrible books on Enochian. There are few that would be considered great books on Enochian. Dean F. Wilson’s Enochian Magic in Theory takes its place amongst those few great books. Here is a book that is usable, informative, and most importantly accessible on one of the more complex subjects in the Western Mystery Tradition – Enochian Magic. Enochian Magic in Theory should become one of the new standards for working with Enochian magic and it will be referenced and used by those both learning the system and those who are grizzled veterans of Enochian magic.


Enochian Magic in Theory by Dean F. Wilson
ISBN: 978-1-908705-03-7. 378 pages. €25 ($30 USD)

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Poetry: Candlelight Key

A poem I wrote in 2006:

In vessels of beauty I sought the beloved;
I sailed upon seas made of poetry and prose.
This tongue-tied tale of a travelling wayman
Brought me to the foot of the cross and the rose -
And there in the shadow the hidden light shows.

In moments of rapture and deep thoughts enclosing,
I rode on a mule that was made out of me;
This trip was in darkness, though on the horizon,
Was a single star shining for all us to see.
Lost in my thoughts, I was trapped and yet free.

In times of great trial when the dark is approaching,
I only need look past this valley of death,
This cage of bleak remnants and careful supposings,
To the great and wide ocean outside the fish net,
Where the waters still nourish and the Mother is met.

Inside are the waters, within is the Tree;
I sailed upon oceans that were all within me.
It took me so long to stop sailing and Be,
And in that pure Being my being was set free -
Let no Dark avail, for the Light is the Key.

Monday, 23 April 2012

Hermetic Virtues, Vol. 5 No. 3

Volume 5, Issue No. 3 of Hermetic Virtues has been released, containing the following excellent articles and reviews:

+ The Path of the Chameleon: Golden Dawn Color Studies by Sandra Tabatha Cicero
+ The Lovers by Harry Wendrich
+ Spiritual Development by Frater YShY
+ The Elemental Weapons of the Adept by Jayne Gibson
+ A life magical and rich - review by Samuel Scarborough
+ An invocation of Binah by Samuel Scarborough
+ The Book of the Concourse of the Watchtowers:  An Exploration of Westcott's Enochian Tablets - review by Lauren E. Gardner
+ Restoring the Goddess of Nature to the 1=10 by Nick Farrell
+ Into the Aethyrs of Enochian - review by Samuel Scarborough
+ An invocation of Qadesh Aphariel (Perfect Spirit) by V.H. Soror A.A.

To obtain a copy, click here.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Book Review: By Names and Images


Peregrin Wildoak's first book, By Names and Images: Bringing the Golden Dawn to Life, is an aptly-titled exploration of the Golden Dawn system of magic from a unique perspective. It delves into the inner workings of the rituals and techniques utilised by the Order and provides an accessible guidebook and manual for working with and within the Golden Dawn tradition.

At 371 pages this is a comprehensive text, exploring many of the important teachings of the Order in some detail, with chapters on purification, meditation, divination, aura control, invocation, evocation, inner plane work, and initiation. The material on auras and dramatic invocation is particularly good, showing a wealth of experience and insight in this area.

I do not always agree with some of the things Wildoak suggests, such as drawing up the light from the Earth in the Qabalistic Cross, but it is interesting to see another approach to this thriving magical tradition. There are also a couple of Hebrew errors, but these are relatively minor and do not detract from the overall quality of the work.

Perhaps the biggest strength of this book is the fact that it highlights the importance of the inner workings that actually make the Golden Dawn rituals and ceremonies operate effectively. The original Order left behind a wealth of material, but there are definite gaps in the system which need to be filled by modern adepts. While many of Wildoak's suggested inner workings are not strictly traditional, they do provide a workable system for enhancing ritual practice and show how other magicians can instil more life into their magical work.

By Names and Images is more than just a theoretical text, however. It is, in many ways, a detailed manual, giving step-by-step instructions for the performance of ritual magic. This is primarily aimed at solitary magicians, but temple members can equally benefit from seeing how a fellow Frater does things. Instructions at the end of the book for connecting with the Golden Dawn egregore provide a workable alternative or supplementary material to existing approaches of self-initiation.

This book was supposed to be released many years ago, but a delay at the previous publisher means that this material has only now come to light. This is a pity, as I can see how beneficial something like this would have been to aspiring magicians several years ago, but it is good to see small publishing companies like Skylight Press ensuring texts like this are made available.

Wildoak's passion for the Golden Dawn and spiritual growth pervades this work, which constantly affirms a connection to the divine, something that cannot be accessed by just going through the motions in our ceremonies and rituals. We might know the names and images that are used in Golden Dawn work, but Wildoak highlights some of the inner work that really brings the system to life.

Friday, 13 April 2012

Short Treatise on the Sigils of the Scales

Olen Rush posted his excellent Short Treatise on the Sigils of the Scales on his blog, which is a perfect accompaniment to Sandra Tabatha Cicero's The Book of the Concourse of the Watchtowers, shedding light on one of the more mysterious aspects of Golden Dawn teaching.

Image © Olen Rush

This advanced Golden Dawn Enochian material shows how much more there is to explore, experience and learn in the Golden Dawn system, and Olen's treatise makes for an excellent new Flying Roll for modern adepts.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

What is the Golden Dawn?

There are many misconceptions out there about what the Golden Dawn is. Instead of disputing or debunking them, let us look at what the Golden Dawn really is. These points are in no particular order, nor are they a complete representation, but they will hopefully shed more light on this more than a century old tradition.

The Golden Dawn is a syncretic tradition that combines and unifies a multitude of magical systems employed in the Western Mystery Tradition, including, but not limited to: Qabalah, Astrology, Tarot, Hermeticism, Alchemy, Rosicrucianism, Enochian, Geomancy, and various other esoteric subjects.

The Golden Dawn is a school that teaches a structured approach to magic, being primarily theoretical in the Outer Order (the Golden Dawn proper) and practical in the Inner Order (the RR et AC or Rosae Rubeae et Aureae Crucis). Some have likened the requirements of Golden Dawn study to that of a college degree, with several grade exams and, in the Stella Matutina tradition, a thesis of several thousand words required in the Portal grade.

The Golden Dawn is a magical order dedicated to the aim of creating magicians and adepts, who are "more than human" and dedicated to the Great Work. Magical techniques are taught and employed for multiple ends. Depending on the group in question this might be entirely spiritually focused or a mix of spiritual and practical. Members usually practice magic on their own and as part of their temple.

The Golden Dawn is a system of alchemical change that, if properly adhered to, highlights the imbalances within us and forces us to address them. It works as a form of active therapy, where we work out our problems so that we can become better people, both in a mundane and spiritual sense. We are torn apart that we may be renewed. Our old self, created by societal imprints and pressures, is replaced with a new self that we alone create, one that is no longer bound by illusion and limitations, where we actively engage with our life and where we want to lead it, and take responsibility for all that we think, say, and do.

The Golden Dawn is a fraternal group that is open to a wide mix of people from all backgrounds. It was one of the first magical groups to accept women, despite its Masonic background, and it has included members of multiple religions, teaching that there is value in all of them. This fraternity has expanded in modern days, with most groups being open to members of any gender, religion, nationality, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability, or political persuasion. Most modern Golden Dawn groups extend their fraternal relations beyond just their own group, encouraging a growing and thriving exchange between members of various Orders and those who belong to independent temples or work on their own.

The Golden Dawn is a "Society of Kabbalists," according to the original publicity of its existence (see this post by Olen Rush). This emphasises the important place of the Qabalah in the Golden Dawn, and many people see it as the underlying tradition that interweaves the entire system of magic.

The Golden Dawn is a 19th Century creation based on earlier teachings and traditions. The Cipher Manuscripts upon which the Outer Order rituals and Knowledge Lectures are based are widely believed to be the work of Kenneth Mackenzie (1833-1866). The Order itself opened in 1888. Westcott's official "History Lecture" proposes a fanciful history that links the Order back to ancient times, but historical evidence and common sense contradicts this. This in no way invalidates the Order or its teachings, however, which are certainly rooted in older tradition.

The Golden Dawn is one of many equally valid magical traditions. The Order popularised many occult topics and contributed a significant amount of material to the modern approach to magic, but it is only one of a large consortium of groups that has influenced the wider Western Mystery Tradition. While many present-day magicians owe some of their knowledge to the Golden Dawn, the Golden Dawn owes much of its knowledge to older traditions and magicians who came before it. 

The Golden Dawn is a living, breathing and growing tradition. Over the years the Order has been maligned by some from without and within, but it is as strong as it has ever been, with more members today than at any time in its history. Some have suggested it is obsolete, but it still provides the tools for change that many magicians find are powerful and valuable. Many Order papers remain unpublished, some are only recently being shared with the wider world, and modern adepts are contributing new material, just as the adepts of the original order did. There has never been a better time to be a member, whether it is within an order or as a solitary magician.

Monday, 2 April 2012

The Magical Motto - Secret or Revealed?



"I am the Knowledge of my Name." 
Thunder, Perfect Mind

In the Golden Dawn the magical motto is not just a fancy name or title, but a representation of the spiritual and magical goals of the magician. It is, in many ways, the first magical act performed by the Candidate, consecrating themselves towards a given purpose, redirecting their life as they see fit.

The motto therefore carries a lot of power, particularly when employed regularly in ritual work, where it becomes the very embodiment of the magical persona of the initiate. On entering the temple, Bob is no longer Bob, but Frater Whatever, and if he really chose that as his motto we would expect to see disinterest and apathy become a central focus and defining factor in his life.

So, with so much wrapped up in our magical name, should we keep it secret or let the whole world know? There are varying schools of thought on this, none of which are right or wrong, and ultimately the choice to share your motto is a personal decision to make, just as the choice of the motto itself should be personal (and not assigned to you, like the policy of certain groups).

Some view the motto as one of those things that should be kept secret, but the reasons for this secrecy are often vastly different.

On one hand, secrecy is a well-known aspect of the occult, both for mundane and magical reasons. It has been written about in many tomes how secrecy can aid our magical work. It is often associated with the idea of containing power, just as a magician might not tell anyone about a magical working until it has been completed and achieved, lest the generated energy and intent towards that goal is dissipated. Some of this line of reasoning has even become part of pop culture in the form of birthday wishes, which must not be shared or they won't come true.

On the other hand, some believe that sharing their motto, which they think of as their true name, will give people power over them. There is a long-standing tradition that supports this idea, with occultists regularly gaining power over spirits through the employment of the spirit's name, or a certain divine name. This approach even made it into the well-known Rumpelstiltskin fairytale, where the woman was able to escape her bargain with the imp by telling him his name. The importance of names and their power is also explored frequently in the Qabalah.

In the Golden Dawn we see this coming into play when the Candidate is challenged by, for example, the Hiereus in the Neophyte ceremony: "Thou canst not pass by me, saith the Guardian of the West, unless thou canst tell me my name."

Thus, some people claim that sharing their motto with someone else gives the other person, or people, power over them. Of course, a counter to this argument is that usually a motto is shared within an Order, which would, by this logic, give fellow initiates power over them, and if a magician really lost his or her power by sharing their motto I would personally question how much of a magician they were in the first place.

On the third hand (which every occultist should really have), there are the various oaths of secrecy to take into account. Some magicians hide their motto because they have been or believe they have been sworn to keep it secret, with little consideration for any possible magical reasons whatsoever. In most Golden Dawn groups, however, the Neophyte Oath does not list the personal motto of the initiate as something that must be kept secret, and even the requirement not to share the names of fellow members does not specify their mottoes (though some would argue that these are their true names and thus fall under this line of the oath).

The opposing viewpoint to the employment of secrecy is the idea of revelation, of sharing one's magical motto far and wide. This might be a wilful act, where the magician deliberately employs their motto (such as in the signing of a charter or initiation certificate, the inscribing of the motto on a talisman that will be seen by others, or as I have done in the image above), or it could be a simple refusal to accept that there is anything wrong in sharing such a name.

If you haven't guessed by now I find value in both approaches, as there is certainly power in secrecy and power in names, but my experience has shown me that in revealing one of my mottoes I have not been weakened or subjected to the rulership of another. In fact, in many ways I have been strengthened and empowered, because every time someone speaks to or of me when employing my motto, they identify me with my magical goal, constantly affirming the name and empowering the act of magic that went behind it.

"I am the Utterance of my Name." 
— Thunder, Perfect Mind

Saturday, 31 March 2012

Enochian Magic in Theory - Free Chapter Sample


The first chapter of my Enochian book, detailing the life and history of John Dee and Edward Kelley, is available as a free download. Check it out, and if you like what you read, buy a copy of the book.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Golden Dawn Inner Workings

Peregrin Wildoak, author of By Names & Images: Bringing the Golden Dawn to Life, posted an excellent summary of the inner workings of GD temples, showing how GD techniques differ from Masonic-style workings to create a truly magical tradition.

This is one of the best articles on this subject and will benefit any Golden Dawn magician, whether they are a solitary worker or belong to a temple.


Monday, 26 March 2012

Material Gain and the Golden Dawn


I have been reading Peregrin Wildoak's recently released (and long-awaited) By Names & Images: Bringing the Golden Dawn to Life, which I will review on this blog once I'm finished. So far it has been enjoyable and insightful, addressing a wide variety of subjects.

One subject in particular that was raised is the idea of using magic for material gain, a hotly debated topic in occult circles. It is such a huge area that it deserves a post of its own. Please note that while this post was inspired by the relevant section of Peregrin's book, I am also making some broader comments on the topic in general.

Sufficed to say, I do not agree with Peregrin's suggestion that there is no place within the Golden Dawn for magic to better our everyday lives. I used to think this for a long time, and then I realised that if I do not accommodate my material existence then I will have difficulty focusing on spiritual growth. 

For example, if I cannot afford enough food, I will likely suffer physical ailments that make it impossible for me to pursue the magical path. If I am constantly worrying about when the next pay cheque comes in, for fear of being thrown out of where I live, or for fear of providing enough for my children, I will spend my time working extra jobs or being consumed by stress, with no time or energy to focus on spiritual things.

Also, the idea that if someone can afford a book on magic then they are "rich beyond measure" is something I cannot agree with it, as some people scrape by in life and make sacrifices in order to afford books and other things that are employed within our tradition.

This is obviously a controversial area of magic, and understandably so, as our primary aim in Golden Dawn work should be our spiritual growth. Balance is key to everything within this system, however, and ignoring the physical world is an act of imbalance. I see absolutely no reason why a person who would use all the tricks in the book to get a job, such as presenting themselves in as best a light as possible in their CV, should not, if they feel it appropriate, use magic also.

In the old Golden Dawn documents there are not many examples of magic used for material ends, but there are some dotted throughout. For example, the Jupiter Talisman consecration ceremony in Regardie's book has as one of its primary purposes the invocation of "abundance" (a word repeated frequently throughout the ritual). While obviously this word is open to interpretation, it can mean a material abundance just as much as a spiritual one, and was likely something that attracted many original members like Yeats to create a Jupiter talisman.

Another example can be found in the Z-documents published in Nick Farrell's King Over the Water, where we see that under the Water heading for the Z2 formulae is the "production of meteorological phenomena such as sunshine, storms, drought, increase of water, floods, earthquakes, etc." These are very mundane, non-spiritual aims, and "spiritual development" is set in its own section under Spirit, thus showing that it is not the only thing permissible within the scope of Golden Dawn magic.

Clearly these are very small aspects of the GD corpus, which is predominantly focused on spiritual growth, which must always be our primary aim, but I see nothing in the material that is contradictory to the idea of material gain, nor anything that overtly forbids it.

Indeed, it is often easy for us to forget that Mathers was being financially provided for by Annie Horniman, which allowed him to produce a lot of the good material that he did. We would have to question if this would still be the case if he had to work for that money. He certainly would not have been able to spend so much time in museums and libraries studying old texts and would have had less time for his astral contact with entities, etc.

In fact, when we think of the original members they were usually fairly comfortable, if not abundantly so, when it comes to their finances. It is easy to focus on spiritual things when you do not have the worry of needing to make money, a worry that an increasing number of people face with the lower availability of jobs in most countries.

The issue of material well-being also affects our gradework. We often hear horror stories about the Zelator grade, in particular, where people's mundane lives fall apart. This is often the grade that most people leave, unable to cope with their world crumbling. Some people report that they lose their job, their house burns down, they get incredibly sick, or some other unfortunate example of the physical gone wrong. And it does not need to be like that. Often these wake-up calls arise from people ignoring their problems, such as an inability to manage their finances or not eating healthy or taking enough exercise. They need to address them on the physical plane, but just as we would employ a Raphael rite to help in the healing process of someone (which can actually be a very physical thing), there is no real reason why we should not use magic to help with the other problematic aspects of our lives.

Peregrin does make a good point that we should help our fellow human beings, particularly those who are less fortunate than us, but I do not think it is the place for Golden Dawn leaders to criticise and judge the motivations of magicians who employ magic for personal gain. Indeed, just as Mathers thought that the temple members and chiefs should not interfere with the personal lives of members, I think we should be careful about imposing our own moral values on others, no matter how important they are to us. The Golden Dawn is, after all, not a religion.

Compassion is one of the principles of Chesed, and it is an act we should extend to the sick and the poor, as any good Rosicrucian, or, indeed, human being, would do. However, judgement is an aspect of Geburah, and while it has its place in the grand scheme of things, where we must balance all that we think, say and do, if we wish to be truly compassionate we must also avoid judging the choices and motivations of our fellow magicians who decide that using magic for material ends is appropriate for them.

I must qualify my remarks by stating that Peregrin does acknowledge that some people within the Golden Dawn community did or do use magic for material gain, including Regardie, and that "each of us must decide for ourselves on the validity or otherwise of attempts to magically address material concerns." It is thus a personal choice, and neither approach is necessarily right or wrong.

In the end the 0=0 oath forbids the use of "evil magic," which is a very ambiguous term and does not, in my opinion, include magic aimed at making our stay in this world that bit more pleasant. We are told to "Quit the Material and Seek the Spiritual," but extreme asceticism is not the Golden Dawn approach, and we cannot ignore our physical lives if we want to be truly successful as human beings and being more than human.

This section of Peregrin's book takes up a very small amount of space, roughly one page, but it raises important questions and shows just how much is packed into the text. While I cannot yet make my final verdict until I've read the entire book, I am impressed with the content so far, which covers things that have not been published before, or have not been written about in such a clear way.

Making Tools - Do It Yourself

While the materials used to make tools might be of significance to some people, a bigger element that we see in Golden Dawn circles is an emphasis on making the tools yourself, rather than having someone else make them or buying them from a store.

And this is a myth. While it is hugely beneficial to make your own tools, it is by no means a requirement, and sometimes we have to make do and employ the help of others for things we simply cannot do ourselves.

I often use the example of John Dee and the PELE Ring, which was to be made of gold. In grimoiric tradition the exact instructions to be followed are usually extremely important, even if they might at times be symbolic. Dee was concerned that he would not be able to make the Ring, but the angels told him that "any honest man" could do it, which shows that he was not required to do it himself, that there is some flexibility in the original Enochian system.

And there is even more flexibility when it comes to the Golden Dawn.

An officer wand or lamen or any other tool does not have any inherent power. The power comes through the symbolism (which should be there whether you or someone else makes it) and the consecration of it (either as a once-off ceremony or on a regular basis, such as at the Equinox Ceremony).

You do not need to make your own tools in order to participate in the Golden Dawn tradition. When you think about it, a temple usually only has one set of tools made by one person, and yet everyone uses those in temple work. An initiate's personal temple is something different, of course, but I wouldn't be surprised if some of the surviving implements of original Order members were created for them.

There's also something to be said for procuring an item that is well-crafted, compared to making something of your own that might not be up to scratch. That is not to say that we should all be judgemental about our artistic talent, but I know that personally I would rather buy a well-stitched sash than struggle through on my own and not be happy with the finished product, a negative emotion that could be subconsciously brought into any magical work employing it.

Now, before anyone thinks I'm staunchly against making your own tools, I'm not. In fact, I'm very much in favour of it, and I like to make as many of my own tools as possible, or at least hand-paint them if the basic object is created for me.

One of the best reasons to make your own tools is that it forces you to spend time and energy working with the symbols. It effectively works out as an active meditation. My own experience with making tools has shown that this is worth the time and effort, no matter how many hours it takes.

The personal investment also creates a connection with the item that is hard to mimic, but one of my old teachers shared a valuable alternative for when buying an item. Magicians can spend each working hour required to earn the money contemplating the tool, effectively dedicating that time and effort to acquiring it, closely approximating (and sometimes exceeding) the time and energy involved in creating tools.

Here's an example of one piece of temple furniture I made and hand-painted:


Should anyone wish to make their own tools, something I encourage they at least try for some items, the Ciceros' Making Magical Tools is an excellent resource. For those who buy their tools, the Ciceros also have a book called Ritual Use of Magical Tools, which gives various meditations and rituals that can help connect you to the item and provide significant insight (a valuable practice that those who make their own tools should also employ).

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Join the Golden Dawn Forum

Three years ago I set up the Golden Dawn Forum for discussions on the Order, the system, and the magic, form both solitary magicians and members of a wide variety of Golden Dawn orders.

I would like to remind people of its existence now that I managed to sort out some issues with spam and the registration process, and cordially invite anyone and everyone interested in Golden Dawn magic to join and participate in the many interesting debates.

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Peregrin Wildoak's Interview with Nick Farrell

Peregrin Wildoak (author of By Names & Images: Bringing the Golden Dawn to Life) posted a very interesting interview with Nick Farrell, head of the Magical Order of Aurora Aurea, about his latest book on Samuel Mathers and the Golden Dawn, King Over the Water.


Monday, 19 March 2012

Making Tools - Materials

One of the important things to realise when making tools within the Golden Dawn tradition is that the material largely does not matter. Unlike some grimoiric traditions, the Golden Dawn generally does not see the magic as being inherent within the material itself, but rather within the symbolism employed upon it.

An example of this can be found in the Theoricus Adeptus Minor paper on the Ring and Disc (see Sandra Tabatha Cicero's The Book of the Concourse of the Watchtowers, p. 258):

"The Ring and the Disc may be made of any material - cardboard will do - not too light, or the elasticity of the thread may vitiate its action."

It may come as a surprise to many people that cardboard was a particularly common material used by the original members. For example, W.B. Yeats made a lot of his talismans from cardboard, pasting coloured paper on to make the various polygrams, etc.


Yeats' Tzadkiel Talisman


Yeats' Rose Cross Lamen

This is not to say that the material employed cannot add another layer of meaning. We know from our Golden Dawn studies that copper is linked with Venus, for example, so if we employed a copper disc with Venusian symbolism it would have more symbolism than a cardboard equivalent. 

The power is in the symbols, however, not the raw material, so we need not feel limited by our lack of ability to procure or craft with a certain material. Necessity often requires that we make do with what we have, and it is infinitely better to employ a tool made of cardboard or paper than none at all, a truth discovered by many magicians, such as Lon Milo DuQuette with his paper PELE Ring.

Images © National Library of Ireland

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Book Review: The Book of the Concourse of the Watchtowers

The Book of the Concourse of the Watchtowers by Sandra Tabatha Cicero presents a new layer to the Golden Dawn's Enochian teachings, revealing the set of Watchtower Tablets that Westcott was working on, and exploring the importance of colour magic within the order.

This book details Tabatha's explorations of the Westcott Tablets in considerable detail, providing both the appropriate colours from the order's four colour scales and the relevant sigils for the Tablet of Union squares.

The book begins with a brief and lucid introduction to both Enochian magic in general and the Golden Dawn's application of it. A lot of time is then devoted to the use of colour, which the original order considered to be one of the most vital and secret teachings it had.

Tabatha then provides colour keys and formulae for painting a set of Westcott Tablets, saving fellow magicians many hours of work. The inclusion of colour plates to show the Watchtowers in their full beauty is another valuable addition, as is Tabatha's provision of a PDF file of these Tablets, Enochian Chess boards, etc.

Golden Dawn magician Olen Rush provides an intriguing chapter on the Convoluted Forces and their relation to the Westcott Tablets. Even if the Enochian element is removed, this is an interesting and illuminating read on one of the more, shall we say, convoluted aspects of the order's teachings.

This book is primarily a presentation of the material relating to Westcott's Tablets, leaving the exploration of them up to the reader. This is not surprising, given that this is a new area of Golden Dawn research and practice, and we will likely see further revelations about this subject in years to come.

Tabatha has also contributed to the wider field of Golden Dawn material by printing some previously unpublished documents, including the colour notes from Sub Spe (Brodie-Innes) and Sapientia Sapienti Dono Data (Farr), a slew of Theoricus Adeptus Minor papers (The Ring & Disc, the Tripod, the True System of Astrological Divination, and a paper on the Convoluted Forces), and finally Mathers' 6=5 ceremony.

This book is a valuable addition to the bookshelf of any Golden Dawn student. The Westcott Tablets or the unpublished papers on their own would have been worth the money, but Tabatha provides both in what will undoubtedly become essential reading material for higher grades. 

In her epilogue she highlights how these recent findings in Golden Dawn magic show that there are areas of the system that have not yet been explored, or barely so, and that the system that some consider outdated is still unfolding to us like a lotus flower, providing new material for a living, growing tradition.