Friday, 24 February 2012
The Bare Minimum
Students of the Golden Dawn system are required to learn the Knowledge Lectures to pass their exam. The information in these is valuable, but it is, in all honesty, relatively scant. Someone with a good memory could easily cram this into their mind within a day or two and then regurgitate it onto their exam paper.
Initiates are also expected to learn key parts of their initiation ritual, including the roles of officers, their godforms, how many divisions the ritual is made into, and so forth. This is probably the more difficult part, but could also be learned in a relatively short period of time.
There are also a number of side lectures that are given out in each grade, most of which provide valuable information, yet many of which are extremely dated and somewhat limited in scope. Modern orders usually expand upon these, either by literally editing the papers or by adding new ones of their own.
All of this, along with the required daily ritual and practical work, is the bare minimum expected of an initiate. It is the launching pad, the starting point, not the entirety of what an aspiring adept should be doing.
Ideally a magician should be doing more. They should be seeking out information and insight, and going beyond what is expected of them. This is the mark of an adept in my eyes, as it shows an independent mind, a drive and willingness to learn and do, a magical maturity that shows that they do not need to be spoon-fed their lessons throughout the grades.
Of course, it is important that these extra-curricular activities are not taken at the expense of the minimum knowledge and practice required within an Order, as this would amount to neglecting the primary duty of study and a failure to do the work that was agreed during the oath.
If an initiate wants more out of magic, they must give more. One drop of blood will pay back tenfold in knowledge. One bead of sweat in practice will result in a downpour of experience and insight in ritual. The bare minimum will provide some of this, but at some stage we have to go beyond it.
For example, instead of just learning the list of Hebrew letters in the Neophyte grade, why not try to understand them? Intellectually speaking, the Neophyte can research their correspondences, while practically he or she can meditate on or skry the letters, giving a personal insight and experience that will make those letters meaningful - and help prevent the valuable occult information from being forgotten.
Aim high and even if you fail to meet those goals you will learn and do and grow well beyond that which can happen with just the bare minimum. Push the boundaries of your knowledge and experience and you will realise just how far you can go, just how much you really know, and just how close you are to becoming more than human.