Mishkan ha-Echad

Saturday 1 November 2008

Brief Histories of the Golden Dawn

The history of the Order of the Golden Dawn (in all its guises, both old and modern, orthodox and heterodox) is an intriguing affair for both the magician and the scholar. Like the history of many occult groups it is filled with scandal, secrecy, and sometimes a bit of sex to boot. It is also filled with magic, mystery, and the transmutation of gross matter into spiritual splendour, but that looks less appealing on the headlines and is often ignored in sensationalist accounts.

It has come to my attention that my blog lacks resources for those new to the Order in finding some of the basic elements of that history, a history which should be studied (regardless of depth) by every student of the system, given it provides some of the foundations upon which we work. Therefore, without further adieu, here are a few links that detail some of the Order's history. For more detailed information the books of R.A. Gilbert, Francis King, Ellic Howe, Ithell Colquhoun, Israel Regardie, and Mary K. Greer (and the pamphlets edited by Darcy Küntz) are worth acquiring (noting that many of the above are out of print, and therefore fetch a hefty price on the second-hand book market).

Firstly there is the History Lecture that was written by Westcott. It offers an interesting look at the Order, although it can hardly be classed as factual. Nevertheless, this is what many of the original members were presented with (and most likely believed):


Below is an essay that the Ciceros wrote on the history of the Order, much of it included in their book, The Essential Golden Dawn (which I personally recommend to those who know little or nothing of the Order, its history, practices, and so forth). While some information is now outdated, I have yet to find a freely available essay on the history of the Order that is as clear and comprehensive:


Finally, another website I came across that has a detailed breakdown of the timeline:


I would welcome that my readers suggest other websites and essays that deal with the history of the Order, and I may update this post to include them. In time it is hoped this will become a good resource for those interested in learning more, and therefore I ask that critical pieces (arguing for or against certain elements of the "accepted" history) be included, in the interest of truth and integrity.

Monday 13 October 2008

Why Egypt?

A question that crops up every so often from people interested in garnering a stronger understanding of what the Golden Dawn is all about, and why certain beliefs or practices are utilised, is the Egyptian focus of the Outer Order. At one stage I was asked "is there an explanation or group of explanations even as to why the Egyptian pantheon is utilised versus any other?" While there are a myriad of reasons, some esoteric (and often highly convoluted), I have opted to give the more pragmatic of reasons below:

1) It was claimed by Westcott, in his History Lecture, that the Jewish people were taught by the Egyptians. It was common (and still is) to ascribe ancient wisdom to the Egyptians. Alchemy, for one, is a word that comes from "Al-Khem", or "from Egypt". Here is a little of what Westcott wrote:

"Through the Hebrew Kabbalah, we have indeed become possessed of more of the ancient wisdom than from any other source, for it must be born in mind that the Hebrews were taught at one time by the Egyptians, and at a later date by the Chaldean Sages of Babylon. It is A very curious fact that the Classical nations, the Greek and the Roman, have handed down to us but slight glimpses of the Ancient Magic, and this is the more notable because Greece succeeded to the Mastership of Egypt, and Rom to the Empire of both the Greeks and of the Jews. Greece indeed succeeded to a share of the Mysteries of the Egyptians, for the Eleusinian Mysteries were copies of those more ancient and solemn ceremonies of Isis, Osiris, and Serapis, but they lacked the true Magic of Egypt and further the classics retain but faint glimpses of even the Elusion Secrets. And these glimpses serve only to disclose the fact that the Eleusinian pupils were partly ignorant of the Isiac Mysteries, a notable example of which is seen in the use of the words, Knox Om Par, of which even they knew not the meaning, the words being merely the Greek incantation of the real ancient Egyptian words whose meaning has been a secret for centuries.

Hence the 0 = 0 grade of Neophyte is found to possess Egyptian characteristics and symbolism, and further an attentive study of the Higher Grades will reveal the source of much of the culture, and illustrate the language of the late Eliphaz Levi, through whose adeptship and advocacy the study of Occultism has been popularized."

Westcott - History Lecture

It is therefore part of established Western tradition to hark back to older times and places, intimating that what is taught to initiates now is a continuation, in some form, of the ancient teachings and practices of the initiates of the past. This gives credence to those modern teachings and practices, and adds to the mystique of connecting to this "long-established" esoteric tradition.

2) Egyptology and archaeology was really kicking off at the time of the inception of the Order, particularly with the work of E.A. Wallis Budge. I believe the Rosetta Stone, for example, was discovered around a century or so before the Golden Dawn was established. Likewise, there was a lot of fervour and interest in the archaeological world regarding certain Egyptian finds. The Egyptian Book of the Dead is, in particular, a source work for Golden Dawn material. This "popularity" is believed to have influenced the Golden Dawn's emphasis on Egyptian forms in the Outer Order, and I agree that there is much truth to this assertion.

Sunday 28 September 2008

Weekly Roundup: Divine Names, More Roots, & the Divine Femine

Some of you may have noticed that I haven't been updating as often lately. At present I do not have the time to keep daily updates, but I intend to post a few times a week, so keep checking back. Also, if you'd like me to tackle a certain subject in a blog post, add a comment here and I'll get on it as soon as possible. In the mean time, here's another round-up:

Tuesday 23 September 2008

Happy Autumnal Equinox

A somewhat belated Autumnal Equinoctial greeting to you all, and a few words of prayer from the Occult Ireland Autumnal Equinox Ceremony, which was performed on Sunday gone:

At this Autumnal Equinox, when there again arises a moment of balance, when night and day are equal, when there is no dominance of darkness or light, let us turn inward and focus upon the Osirian energies that are now in motion.

Let us turn inward and meditate on the properties of Libra, the sign of the Scales, most symbolic of balance, and most pertinent to us now.

Let us turn inward and think upon the contraction of energies, to the inward-turning spiral of spiritual growth.

Let us turn inward and muse upon the catabolic process, the breaking down of things in order to expose the primal matter hidden within.

Instil within us the qualities of balance, of temperance, of the reconciliation of opposites, and be to us a fervent reminder of the straight and narrow path between the Pillars of Mercy and Severity, the two opposing forces. Bring balance to our lives, that we might bring balance to the world.


Monday 22 September 2008

Hermetic Virtues & Yours Truly

The Autumnal Equinox edition of Hermetic Virtues magazine is now out, and includes work by Lyam Thomas Christopher and Lon Milo Duquette, along with many other excellent articles (and a new Horus Hathor tarot card, as well as a Malkuth ritual), including one of my own, entitled Reconciling An Elemental Inconsistency, which deals with the frequently-asked question of why Air is attributed to Theoricus and Yesod (a watery Lunar sphere) and Water is attributed to Practicus and Hod (the sphere of Mercury and the intellect, etc.). Reasons for why this seems inconsistent are first explored, before addressing some of the reasons for why it actually makes a lot of sense. If you don't already have a subscription to HV, get one now, and feel free to comment on the article itself (or other matters in the new issue) here.

Sunday 21 September 2008

Poetry: Leshon ha-Qodesh

The new Autumnal Equinox edition of the Journal of the Western Mystery Tradition is nearly here, and it deals with magical languages, which is very applicable to us Golden Dawn magicians, what with our interest in Hebrew and Enochian. On the topic of the former, which is called the Leshon ha-Qodesh, or the Holy Tongue, I wrote the following poem:

Friday 19 September 2008

Virtual Vault of the Adepti

Aaron Leitch made a great virtual tour of the Vault of the Adepti last year, which I believe is worth sharing here:

Thursday 18 September 2008

Israel Regardie on the Initiation Ceremonies

"From one point of view the officers employed in these Rituals represent just such psychic projections. They represent, even as figures in dreams do, different aspects of man himself - personifications of abstract psychological principles inhering within the human spirit. Through the admittedly artificial or conventional means of a dramatic projection of these personified principles in a well-ordered ceremony a reaction is induced in consciousness. This reaction is calculated to arouse from their dormant condition those hitherto latent faculties represented objectively in the Temple of Initiation by the officers. Without the least conscious effort on the part of the aspirant, an involuntary current of sympathy is produced by this external delineation of spiritual paths which may be sufficient to accomplish the purpose of the initiation ceremony. The aesthetic appeal to the imagination - quite apart from what could be called the intrinsic magical virtue with which the G.D. documents Z.1 and Z.3 deal at some length - stirs to renewed activity the life of the inner domain. And the entire action of this type of dramatic ritual is that the soul may discover itself exalted to the heights, and during that mystical elevation receive the rushing forth of the Light."

Israel Regardie, The Golden Dawn

Wednesday 17 September 2008

Fear is Failure

One of the key passages of the Neophyte ceremony is that said by the Hiereus: "Fear is failure [and the forerunner of failure]" (the bracketed part is only employed by certain groups). "Therefore, be without fear", we are told.

I would like to explore some of these elements of fear that a Neophyte might face.

Firstly there is the fear of magic, spirits, and the "occult" in general. To fear such is to cause the journey to cease before it is begun. Fear is a natural human emotion, true enough, but we are to become "more than human", and to do so we must not fear the tools of our growth, which are the occult. To do so would mean that we leave the path, having failed our mission, giving in to the wiles of the ego, and never progressing within the Order.

Secondly there is the fear of change. Magic is, as Crowley put it, change in conformity with Will. Initiation, if successful, causes the beginnings of change. This can be hectic and seemingly catastrophic, as the world of the initiate becomes the athanor of affliction. Alchemy is all about change, of the transmutation of things. And there is no doubt that change is painful, especially for the ego, which fears losing its potent grip on the personality of the initiate. To fear change then is to fail, and is the forerunner of failure, because it stunts the possibility of growth. We must bear the burden of the cross if we are to attain the summit and bear witness to our resurrection.

Thirdly there is the fear of the path ahead, and this is often influenced by the former two points, primarily the second one. This is where people fear what they might become, or where the path may lead them. The fear of the unknown, the nagging splinter of uncertainty. Ultimately this is the ego that fears, for the end is not "unknown", but the only real thing that can be known truly, the inner spark of divinity.

Fourthly there is the fear of exposing our weaknesses. This is the reluctance to embrace the Light, for fear that it will highlight our darkness, exposing the skeletons in the closet. Again, this is linked to the fear of change, but, in the end, if we live a life of comfort ("ignorance is bliss"), we will never embark on this path, never search, and never attain.

Fear is doubt, and the Higher Self does not doubt, nor does it question the path or wonder if the Great Work is worth the effort. Let us, therefore, be without fear and doubt, and embrace the certainty of the Divine, of the Light, and our own place in it.

"Ask of God and ye shall have,
Seek and ye shall find.
Knock, and it shall be opened unto you."

If we fear we will not ask and will not seek, nor will we knock upon the door, for we will be afraid of who might answer. How then will we ever enter?

Tuesday 16 September 2008

Air Dagger, Fire Wand, & Their Reversals

One of my personal magical "pet peeves" is the reversal of the old G.'.D.'. attributions of Air to the Dagger (cutting through the illusions of the mind, etc.) and Fire to the Wand (indicative of the fiery Will, etc.) to Fire for the Dagger and Air for the Wand. This latter approach has been taken up by many Wiccan groups and has been the cause of quite some muddying of attributions, and a lot of confusion therefrom.

In a discussion on this topic a while back, Morgan Drake Eckstein mentioned that Francis King and Stephen Skinner, in their Techniques of High Magic, proposed the notion that the traditional attributions, as per Regardie and other earlier sources, were "blinds", and that they should be reversed. He gave the following quote from Skinner's Complete Magician's Tables:

"The only notable exception to Golden Dawn practice is the reversal of the ascription of two magical weapons back to the traditional grimoire ascription of the Sword to Fire and the Wand to Air. In addition, several well known and acknowledged 'blinds' have been silently removed, as we no longer live in the prudish atmosphere of Victorian England."

The problem here is, I feel, self-explanatory. Skinner goes back to the "traditional grimoire ascription", which has the Sword as Fire. But the Sword is not the Dagger, at least not in the Golden Dawn tradition. The Sword is red, without a doubt, but that's a reference to Geburah and Mars, not Fire. It's a planetary and Sephirothic attribution, not an elemental one, and to mix them is to muddy the waters completely, and, I believe, to fail to understand some of the grimoire tradition on the Sword in the first place. But regardless of grimoire tradition, it is fairly obvious that the Swords of the Imperator and the Hiereus, for example, are not related to Fire, but to Geburah and Mars.

I am not sure where the original reversal came from, although Morgan suggested it may have been Gardner. Any thoughts and insights on this matter would be greatly appreciated, as it's one of the most common topics to crop up in esoteric circles, especially when Wiccans join a Golden Dawn group and find the attributions "at odds". Sufficed to say, I have found absolutely no evidence to support the notion that the Golden Dawn papers on the matter contained such blinds, and that a reversal of attributions is warranted. It takes quite a leap, in my opinion, to come to that conclusion.

Saturday 13 September 2008

Weekly Roundup: Words, Secret Chiefs, & More

  • Morgan Drake Eckstein at Gleamings from the Dawn posted the second part of his Roots of the Golden Dawn series, which explores the precise use of language used by certain adepts.
  • Sincerus Renatus at Gyllene Gryningen posted on the recent topic of the Secret Chiefs (which I have shared my views on here, as well as Mathers views here). It's a rather lengthy entry, but worth exploring for the facts and the support he lends to the "in the flesh" side of the Secret Chiefs debate, whether you agree with it or not.
  • [Edit: This was an automatic post, and, since I was away for the weekend, I was unable to edit and expand it with the "more" that was indicated by the title. Apologies for such. Hopefully my next round-up will be somewhat lengthier]

Thursday 11 September 2008

Rote Learning Does Not Equate As Understanding

"It is possible for you to be word perfect in all the knowledge of the Zelator Adeptus Minor Grade, and to know all its ceremonies by rote, and yet unless you can really and profoundly grasp their inner meaning, an uninitiated person who has a strong will, faith, reverence, self-sacrifice and perseverence, may be more truly a Magician than you."

- S. L. MacGregor Mathers, Manifesto (1896)

Wednesday 10 September 2008

Book Review: The Rosicrucians

The history of Rosicrucianism is a bit of a muddled affair, not least of all due to the fact that we don't really know who wrote the two manifestos (barring the likely candidate of Andreae, who wrote the Chemical Wedding of Christian Rosenkreutz), nor why they were written, nor, indeed, if it was intended as a joke or a subtle social experiment designed to bring about change, propelled by the powerful forces of mystery, secrecy, and intrigue. It is difficult, even in modern times, to separate the myths from the facts, to discern which was the first actual Rosicrucian group from the many that claim its ancient heritage. The Rosicrucians: The History, Mythology, and Rituals of an Esoteric Order, by Christopher McIntosh (author of The Rose Cross and the Age of Reason) is an excellent attempt at this discernment.

The book spans just under 150 pages, which is relatively slim for a scholarly work, but then this is mainly intended as an overview, and is certainly not lacking in depth in those 150 pages. It has thirteen chapters, ranging from an exposition on groups and beliefs that influenced the Rosicrucians, the general esoteric tradition in Germany prior to the birth of Rosicrucianism, the actual release and effect of the manifestos themselves, and then the spread of Rosicrucianism, to its alchemical emphasis, the Golden and Rosy Cross Order, the King of Prussia's membership, the French revival, the Golden Dawn, the Rosicrucian Adept in literature, and modern Rosicrucian movements, most notably AMORC.

McIntosh cites numerous sources, displaying a wealth of knowledge on the subject that cannot easily be dismissed. The bibliography is also fairly extensive (though McIntosh calls it "select"). Much of the translations of texts quoted throughout are his own, and the reasoning for this is explained by Colin Wilson in his foreword, where he explains McIntosh's love of detective work, "especially when it involved reading in French and German". This adds an extra layer to the book, where the various translations can be compared and cross-referenced with others in the fully-translated published texts.

McIntosh presents an overview of Rosicrucianism that is both scholarly and literary. The facts are there, and are well supported, but this is far from a dry academic tome (although parts of it unfortunately sink to that level). It is clearly evident that the author is partial to the subject at hand, and this is best explained in his own words: "When I began it, I was going through a phase of rather dry, scholarly objectivity in my attitude to such subjects and I intended to examine Rosicrucianism simply as a rather curious historical phenomenon without really expecting to find that it contained a teaching of any real depth or coherence. Since then, not only has my attitude changed - I have become much more pro-occult - but I also found ... that Rosicrucianism goes deeper than I had realized, and does contain something valuable and coherent. ... It has taught me that, sooner or later, anyone studying these subjects from an academic point of view has to make the decision whether they are going to take a personal stance for or against. To turn away from this decision and try to remain neutral is, to me, death."

This is not to say that McIntosh has abandoned his scholarly focus, as that is not true, but this is a book to be enjoyed mainly (though not exclusively, as it has a broad appeal) by historically-inclined Rosicrucians, for they will find that McIntosh really identifies with the powerful mythology that Rosicrucianism has invented. It matters little in the end who created it and where, but rather the many people who felt moved and empowered by it, and the rapid spread of its movements and ideals across Europe and America. The historical questions are answered as best as they can be at this time in this book, but never at the expense of the heart of Rosicrucianism itself.

The Rosicrucians: The History, Mythology, and Rituals of an Esoteric Order, by Christopher McIntosh; Weiser Books, 3rd Revised Edition (1997)

Monday 8 September 2008

Origins of the Golden Dawn Grades

The Gold- und Rosenkreuz Order, one of the first Rosicrucian orders in existence, seems to have had a major effect on the formation of the SRIA and Golden Dawn, as evidenced in Rosenkreuzery by I.A. Fessler, which gives the breakdown of grades as:

1 9 Junior
2 8 Theoreticus
3 7 Practicus
4 6 Philosophus
5 5 Minor
6 4 Major
7 3 Adeptus Exemptus
8 2 Magister
9 1 Magus

In the SRIA, the Junior became a Zelator, and the names of Theoreticus or Theoricus, and Philosophicus or Philosophus, can be used. The Adeptus tag was also added for the Minor and Major degrees, which seem unusual in the above layout, as if they are, indeed, missing part of their name. Templi was then added to the Magister grade, completing the layout.

It's interesting to note the numbers given to the grades. Since there is no tenth grade, the Adeptus Major one is "5=5", for example, and that does not fit nicely with the Tree of Life, like the "5=6" does. Sufficed to say, while these are undoubtedly the origins of the grade names of the Golden Dawn, the ones used by the latter seem to have made some major improvements, including the addition of Neophyte and the crown of the system, the Ipsissimus.

Sunday 7 September 2008

Weekly Roundup: Roots & Anniversaries

It's been a slow few weeks in the blogging world, particularly with those on my blogroll, and this may be related to the proximity of the Autumnal Equinox, where our attention is turned inward to focus on our personal spiritual growth. Thus, this round-up is somewhat short:

  • Morgan Drake Eckstein at Gleamings from the Dawn has started to explore the Roots of the Golden Dawn, with more posts to come, no doubt, given the very tangled and ambiguous state those roots are in. This first part explores the unfinished state of some GD teachings, and
  • There are two very interesting diagrams from Ithell Colquhoun's The Sword of Wisdom (which I have, but have yet to read and review here) available online, charting the regular and dissident Orders stemming from the Isis-Urania Temple No. 3. How truthful they are is another story, and so I would welcome any of the historically-inclined readers of this blog to verify some of the details (such as the "Egyptian Lodge" led by E.A. Wallis Budge in 1907, which the website in question has dismissed as unlikely).
  • Finally, I am somewhat late in starting this blog, so I missed the 120th (a very important number in the GD) Anniversary of the Golden Dawn earlier this year, roughly at the time of the Spring Equinox. Since we are approaching another Equinox, I thought it might be nice to look back on that anniversary - indeed, before the year is through. An interesting post on such can be found here. It's a pity that blog wasn't updated since, however.

I'm hoping there will be more of interest to share soon, but chances are that I will not be updating this 'til maybe every two weeks or so. If, however, you find anything of interesting on the web, old or new (and preferably GD-related, although anything occult will do), feel free to leave a comment and a link.

Saturday 6 September 2008

Mathers on the "Secret Chiefs"

"Concerning the Secret Chiefs of the Order, to whom I make reference and from whom I have received the Wisdom of the Second Order which I have communicated to you, I can tell you nothing.

I do not even know their earthly names.

I know them only by certain mottoes.

I have but very rarely seen them in the physical body; and on such rare occasions the rendezvous was made astrally by them at the time and place which had been astrally appointed beforehand.

For my part I believe them to be human and living upon the earth but possessing terrible superhuman powers.

When such rendezvous has been in a much frequented place, there has been nothing in their personal appearance or dress to mark them out as differing in any way from ordinary people except the appearance and sensation of transcendental health and physical vigour (whether they seemed persons in youth or in age) which was their invariable accompaniment. In other words, the physical appearance which the possession of the Elixir of Life has traditionally been supposed to confer.

On the other hand, when the rendezvous has been in a place free from easy access by the Outer World they have usually been in symbolic robes and insignia.

But my physical intercourse with them on these rare occasions has shown me how difficult it is for a mortal, even though advanced in occultism, to support the actual presence of an Adept in the physical body; and such meetings have never been granted to my own personal request but only by their own special appointment, and usually only for some reason of extra vital importance.

I do not mean that in such rare cases of physical converse with them that the effect produced on me was that of intense exhaustion which follows depletion of magnetism, but, on the contrary, the sensation was that of being in contact with so terrible a force that I can only compare it to the continued effect of that usually experienced momentarily by any person close to whom a flash of lightning passes during a violent storm, coupled with a difficulty in respiration similar to the half strangling effect produced by ether; and if such was the result produced in me, as tested as I have been in practical occult work, I cannot conceive a much less advanced initiate being able to support such a strain even for five minutes without death ensuing."

- S.L. MacGregor Mathers, Manifesto (1896)

It is very clear in this account that Mathers believed the Secret Chiefs to be "in the flesh", although one could argue that he could be posturing this belief, like the belief in Anna Sprengel. The physical meetings part seems somewhat ambiguous, since Mathers qualifies this statement by saying that the rendezvous was made astrally, which would mean it wasn't a physical meeting at all, and yet back-peddles again to speak of the immense strain of the rare physical meetings. It seems that we must be content with his earlier admission that he can tell us "nothing" about these Secret Chefs, and perhaps, in the end, they are meant to remain secret.

Friday 5 September 2008

A Cautionary Note

"Surgeons who practice medicine without a license often end up in jail. Superficial occultists who occasionally manage to open psychic doors without knowing what to do next sometimes end up in mental hospitals."

- Chic & Sandra Tabatha Cicero,
Self-Initiation into the Golden Dawn Tradition

Thursday 4 September 2008

Asceticism in the Golden Dawn

Every so often the topic of asceticism is brought up, and some wonder how it applies to the Golden Dawn, and if there is any official policy on it. Some wonder whether or not they may have to give up the recreational use of illegal drugs, or perhaps even alcohol or caffeine, or abstinence from sex and other worldy pleasures.

For the latter topic of sex, the relationship of MacGregor and Moina Mathers is an interesting topic of debate, but it seems clear that Mathers, while perhaps choosing a life of sexual abstinence with Moina, did not encourage others to do likewise, and seemed to defend Crowley when others were judging his worthiness on the basis of his sexual promiscuity (among other things).

While there was no official policy on one's private sex life (after all, it was supposed to be private, and Mathers was a staunch defender of such), we may potentially gleam some insight to what might have been considered an "unofficial policy", stemming from the Cromlech Temple, which many of the Golden Dawn members, Mathers included, were members (and leaders) of:

"Thou shouldst call nothing common or unclean. That man or woman who seeks a good or fancied good, be it what it may, even if it be merely sensual lust (which to him or her seems the best thing), is all unknown to himself or herself seeking the Master; the soul is young, the ideal is low and primitive, but nevertheless it is an ideal - by degrees other ideals will be substituted for the lower ones. [...] Nothing is common or unclean - the sacrifice he asks of thee is the sacrifice of thy prejudices, thy limitations, in order that thou mayest feed his sheep, above all his lambs."

The above quotation from one of the Cromlech Temple Aura Papers (via Chic Cicero's article By the Holy Light of the Sun: The Magical Workings of the Cromlech Temple in Hermetic Virtues Volume II, Edition I [i.e. Issue 5]) gives what appears to be a very noble and liberal outlook on matters, asking that no matter, even "sensual lust", be condemned, but that instead compassion be offered to them, seeing those we might dismiss and judge as younger brothers and sisters, less evolved, but not inferior - lambs to the sheep of those who are "in the know" (within the Sun Order and the Golden Dawn).

However, another Cromlech paper (Aura XXIII) discusses the dangers of sex, which include the potential of the formation of astral bodies that certain evil spirits may inhabit. Caution is asked of the Neophytes of the Sun Order, therefore, to ensure they do not unwittingly give rise to this phenomenon.

It seems apparent that ascetic practices in relation to sex, despite the prevailing Victorian attitude (see here for an example), were not a requirement in any form in the original order, and most modern incarnations of the Golden Dawn would agree. I know of no group that currently asks that members abstain from sex, unless only to suggest a period of abstinence (and general fasting) for a few days prior to initiations, and as a form of development of Will. Usually such matters are not requirements, however.

But what of other ascetic practices? When it comes to illegal substances, a member may be asked to refrain from using such, but this will be an individual Order and temple policy. Many will just require that no member show up to temple under the influence of any intoxicating substance, primarily alcohol and illegal drugs. This is a common sense approach, and ensures the safety of all others present, as well as limiting the potential for disruption.

Outside of temple, what one does with one's body is up to the individual, but like all things in the Golden Dawn, balance is key. I can think of no better way to illustrate this than by sharing this passage from Westcott, from Flying Roll No. II:

"Before even strength of will, you will must have purity of body, mind, intellect and of emotion if you hope for magical power.

The spiritual powers will flourish only as you starve the animal soul, and the animal soul is largely dependent on the state and treatment of the animal body. The animal man is to be cared for and protected, kept in health and strength, but not petted.

Be moderate in all things human. Extreme ascetic habits, are to you here, a source of another danger, they may lead only to a contemplation of your own Heroism, in being abstinent. To be truly ascetic is indeed to submit to discipline and to curb unruly emotions, thoughts and actions. But, who is a slave to his animal soul, will practice vice in a Forest; while he who restrains himself among the crowds of a city, and passes through a busy life unpolluted, shows more resistance and suffers severer discipline, and shall obtain greater reward."

It is general health advice in modern times to ensure moderation, and this applies to food, exercise, sex, TV, and many other elements beside alcohol, nicotine, caffeine, and illegal (or, in some countries, legal) substances. In keeping with this, the Golden Dawn generally suggests moderation and balance, and does not advocate asceticism.

For more of my thoughts on asceticism from a Gnostic perspective, check here, here, and here.

Wednesday 3 September 2008

My Views on the "Secret Chiefs"

The Secret Chiefs are one of the most controversial topics within Golden Dawn circles today, and were the focus of much debate and furore in the original Order and its offshoots some 100 years ago. Mathers brought the term into the Golden Dawn when he established the Inner Order, claiming to have contacted the Secret Chiefs of the Third Order (thus giving him primary authority). However, it wasn't readily apparent whether these were actual people (whether incarnate "Masters" or not) or discarnate entities, although some of the language used to describe them (including their questionable ages) seems to intimate that they were allegorical constructs, like much of Rosicrucian teaching (and very similar to the fanciful tales of Christian Rosenkreutz himself). However, this did not stop many Golden Dawn members from looking for the Secret Chiefs in the flesh, most notable of which was Felkin, who, like the others, came back unsuccessful. It must be noted that Felkin also believed the Vault of Christian Rosenkreutz was a real construct, and also searched for that, so he can hardly be judged as the most critical of minds on such matters.

The way I consider the "Secret Chiefs" at present is that they (and other astral masters) are personifications of the Current of the group in question (in this case, the Golden Dawn). There is a definite "sentience" to a magical Current, which means that there is definitive Briatic consciousness, for want of a better term. However, we would project our own Yetziratic personae onto that Briatic consciousness, and the Current would actively facilitate this. Thus, the heart of the message is transmitted, but the vessel of it, the form it takes (including language choice and grammar) is dependent entirely on the receiver. This explains why grammatical errors of old English and the like show up in channelled works.

So, the Secret Chiefs are, in a sense, metaphorical. They are a way of describing what is a somewhat abstract form of contact with the Current, a kind of magical "collective consciousness", to borrow Jung's terminology. Indeed, I believe the older Rosicrucian groups originated the term "Secret Chiefs" (roughly in the 1700s, from the German unbekannte Oberen), and, like most elements of Rosicrucian teaching, it is meant to be allegorical, not literal. However, there is a reality behind the allegory - except it is much less fanciful, and anyone with a true connection and a receptive vessel can establish this contact with the Current - otherwise known in personified form as the "Secret Chiefs".

Monday 1 September 2008

New Version of Flying Roll No. V

On rereading Flying Roll No. V recently I found myself rewording it and elaborating on certain points within my mind. Since the original paper is quite old and somewhat archaic, I thought I should share my rewording of it here:

Imagination, as any magician will know, is not a matter of fantasy and the idle creations of the mind. Despite its denigration as "childish", as the wilful enactment of fallacy in the playground of the mind, Imagination is one of the key weapons in the magician's arsenal, and without it there would be no vessel in which to pour the power of the magician's Will. Imagination puts us in touch with a more primal element of our being, one that is exemplified in the child, unconditioned by the social limitations imposed upon it by adults who have been drained of this essential ability. It is Imagination that is tapped into by artists and writers, and so too does the magician partake of this art, to result in the creative process that is magic.

But to practice magic, both the Imagination and the Will must be called into action, for they are co-equal in the work; they are a symbiotic process, each empowering and complimenting the other. For the Will is Force, while the Imagination is Form; the Will the representative of the Fires of Spirit, and the Imagination the representative of the Masses of Matter.

The Will unaided can send forth a current, but this energy will dissipate or catapult chaotically about if there is no vessel to contain it, nor medium to channel it.

The Imagination unaided can create an image, a Tzelem, a vessel, a subject in which the current of the Will can operate, yet it can do nothing if it is not thus vitalised and directed, being, as it were, an inanimate golem, or a clay Adam bereft of the vitalising Breath of Life.

Thus, just as Mercy and Severity must be brought together in mystic marriage, and just as the Tree of Life tells the tale of the long voyage of the Light through the Twin-Houses of Force and Form, so too must the Imagination and Will be brought together, the one creating the vessel and the other filling it and setting it assail. When both are properly trained and made to work in harmony with each other, then is magic made.

Note that the above does not contain the examples (or illustrations) contained in the Flying Roll, which can be found, along with Frater Resurgam's original wording of these thoughts on the Imagination and Will, and Westcott's remarks thereon, here.

Sunday 31 August 2008

Definitions of Magic: Formulation in the Imagination

"The central principle of all the Magic of power is that everything we formulate in the imagination, if we formulate it strongly enough, realises itself in the circumstances of life, acting either through our own souls, or through the spirits of nature."

- W.B. Yeats

Saturday 30 August 2008

Weekly Roundup: Gnosis & Politics, Lineage, Nutty Emails, & the Solar System

Another round-up of links to interesting pieces, old and new, that I recommend my readers check out.

Friday 29 August 2008

Magical Maturity

One of key factors to Adepthood, as far as I'm concerned, is the magical maturity that should be present, or, at least, a magical puberty that will culminate in magical maturity when the Lesser Adept progresses towards Greater Adept. The point of this is that the entry into Adeptus Minor does not, for one, automatically equate with the entry into Tiphareth, and certainly does not equate with communion with the Higher Self, which may not come until much of the work of that grade is complete. I expressed this point somewhat in a previous post, but I would like to comment more now on exactly how I view this magical maturity and the preceding stages of magical growth.

Neophyte can be seen as the symbolic or magical birth of the initiate, from the darkness of the Womb of Matter into the Light of the Spiritual World. Even the thrice-bound cord around the candidate's waist can be seen as the symbolic umbilical cord, which is removed as the initiate enters the Light of Day, and is, as a newborn, given a new name.

The Elemental Grades are, therefore, the magical childhood of the initiate, and involves much learning. Just as a child must learn their ABCs, so too must the magical child, who does so in a figurative way (the ABCs of astrology and Qabalah, for example) and a literal way (the actual Hebrew alphabet). The magical child must learn the material that develops their mind, but they must also learn some key magical "life lessons", akin to what a child in normal life must learn. This include learning that the world does not revolve around the magical child, and thus a strong rebuking, as it were, of the ego, which, if left to its own devices, would run rampant and suppress the true Self which is developing and unfolding during this period. Moderation and balance is another key lesson, as is not biting off more than one can chew or sticking one's hand in a fire. These are, in one form or another, exemplified in the structure and safeguards of the Elemental Grades. And, just as childhood is a necessary prerequisite to adulthood, these grades are absolutely essential as part of the system of the Golden Dawn. Adepthood can come without them, that is true, but eventually such an Adept will need to go back and face their elemental imbalances, whether they like it or not. Indeed, often one trip through the cycle of elements is not enough, and this is partially why a similar sub-structure can be found in the sub-grades of Adeptus Minor, where the elements (among other things) are experienced on another, higher level.

This leads us then to magical puberty, which could be seen to begin roughly in Portal. The magical child finds their astral body changing, because there is now an influx of Light, of Spirit. This can be a chaotic time, as the final dross is purged from the system and the transformative process is undergone. Yesod can be seen as the athanor in which the energies of Malkuth and Tiphareth are mixed together, and this is where the process of extracting the spiritual gold of Tiphareth, the prima materia (which is technically of Kether and above, but is experienced in a kind of "tamer" form in Tiphareth), from the dross of Malkuth is experienced.

This leads on naturally to Adeptus Minor, where ideally the magical maturity is developed, but often this is not so. What I mean by "magical maturity" is a non-dependence on others for spiritual growth. No longer is the initiate being spoon-fed lessons, as is the case in the scholastic system of the Outer Order (which is not to denigrate what is ultimately a necessary and honourable role), but they are now free to pursue their magical path, answering primarily now to their Higher Self, an internal, not external agency, with no one any longer holding them by the hand. Indeed, much of the hidden elements of the prior initiations has been specifically designed for this awakening, to stimulate the contact and communion with the Higher Self. Of course, this does not mean that the initiate can or should ignore the Chiefs of their Order, for example, or think they can change rituals and so forth willy-nilly; nor does it mean that they should shun papers and teachings given by other Adepts, many of whom have developed their magical maturity for quite some time. To think such only shows that magical maturity has not been attained, and in its place the Vice of Tiphareth, of false pride, has grown supreme. The mature adult of the normal world is independent, but is also not foolish enough to think that he or she should refuse help or guidance when offered or required. Likewise for the magically mature.

One of the key elements of magical maturity is the ability to think for oneself. While this may seem like an obvious matter, and one that all of us would like to think we have, it is, in this context, rarer than we think. It involves the ability to get one's own insights from material, rather than simply reproducing and regurgitating the insights of another (this is not an excuse to not properly cite or quote references, however). This does, of course, mean that a deep and true understanding of the material is required, but without this how can someone truly call themselves an Adept?

This magical maturity should also reflect a general maturity, such as a temperate nature, able to show kindness and compassion, but also sternness and severity when required. Both spheres of Geburah and Chesed feed into Tiphareth, and thus the qualities of both should be fortified and utilised by the mature magician. General childish behaviour is an obvious indicator of lack of maturity in the normal world, and is likewise a reflection of this in the magical world.

May we all, therefore, embark on this path, no matter our personal grades or spiritual standing, with a level of maturity in mind (even if there are many years to go before our own Adepthood). In the end we are all Children of the Light, fellow Brothers and Sisters, answering to our older Brothers and Sisters: our Higher Selves. May we embrace our own magical childhood, puberty, adulthood, and maturity, and that of others, and may we do so with the blessings of Adonai El Chai Melekh ha-Shamayim va-Aretz.

Thursday 28 August 2008

"We are a planet of a double star"

"This, I believe, explains why Rosicrucianism has continued to exert its grip on the Western mind. It is not because we are hopelessly gullible, or because we would like to believe in absurd fantasies. In a legend like that of Christian Rosenkreuz, we seem to catch a glimpse of what we ought to be, and what we could be. If we set about it with sufficient determination, the grip of 'the world' can be broken - or at least, weakened until it ceases to induce a constant feeling of alienation. We are a planet of a double star, torn between two powerful gravitational forces. We have to learn to move inward without losing control over the external world and, like Rimbaud, simply surrendering ourselves to an 'ordered derangement of the senses.'"

- Colin Wilson,
Introduction to Christopher McIntosh's The Rosicrucians

Wednesday 27 August 2008

Self-Initiation Into Adeptus Minor?

One of the common topics of debate that frequently pops up (even in my own post on the validity of self-initiation) is the question of whether or not it is possible to self-initiate into Adeptus Minor. Of course, first we have to assume that it is possible to self-initiate into the Outer Order grades or the entire topic goes out the window. However, once we have assumed that the latter is possible, exactly how far does it go?

The Ciceros comment in their Self-Initiation Into The Golden Dawn Tradition (the primary Golden Dawn text on self-initiation) that "although Israel Regardie suggested that the Outer Order ceremonies could be converted over into self-initiation rituals, he was convinced that to do so with the Adeptus Minor Ceremony was impossible. ... Initiation into the Second Order grades (starting with Adeptus Minor) still requires an authentic initiator and a physical Vault of the Adepti. However we agree with Regardie in his belief that continued and persistent repetition of the Opening by Watchtower Ceremony over a long period of time can result in the acceptance of the performer as an Adept in the astral realms".

One of the main problems here is that in the original Order a letter of invitation was required to join the Second Order. Admittedly most members who reached Portal progressed on to 5=6, but not everyone was admitted. Crowley is the best example of this. He applied and was refused, and it was Mathers' overruling of the other Adepts decision that broke the camel's back and began the rebellion.

So, how could this element of "invitation only" be carried forward to self-initiation? The truth is: it can't. If I were to apply for 5=6 to myself, I am hardly going to refuse myself. I will think I'm ready even if I'm not. While it is hoped that the student has developed sufficiently to recognise their own progress and such by this stage, this is often not the case, especially with self-initiation, where there is often no mentor to point the way or correct mistakes in knowledge and progress, not to mention the possible emotional and psychological matters that may have arisen, such as the all-too-frequent rearing of the ugly head of Ego.

The requirement for 5=6 is that the candidate must be "Vaulted", which is to say that they must be initiated into a fully equipped (and hopefully accurate) Vault of the Adepti. It was the building of such a Vault that started much of the modern revival of the Golden Dawn. When we look at the 5=6 ceremony it is not difficult to understand why this Vault is needed and why a simple plain room will certainly not do. It is the very heart of the ceremony. The candidate discovers the mythical Vault of Christian Rosenkreutz, after the figurative 120 years, as described in the Rosicrucian manifestos. If we remove the Vault we remove a huge chunk of the ceremony - indeed, the entire setting of the initiation as a whole. Combine with this the loss of the specific energies charged on Corpus Christi, etc., and it makes for a petty barren substitute for the 5=6. So, if a student truly wanted to self-initiate into 5=6, the construction of the Vault would be needed, just as he or she is required to construct all the wands, lamens, and other tools and regalia for the Outer Order ceremonies (when following the Cicero instructions, that is).

Apparently Mathers wrote a self-initiation ceremony for 5=6 in the Alpha et Omega. I have not yet seen this, but I was told it was weak in comparison to the actual 5=6 itself. I cannot really comment on what I have not seen, but I think it does support the idea of self-initiation, although I am hesitant to consider what it would be like in comparison to a fully Vaulted initiation.

It should be noted that while self-initiation into Adeptus Minor may be impossible, that does not mean one can not become an adept in the broader sense. Aaron Leitch pointed this out by stating: "Let us not confuse the word "adept" with the "Adeptus" Grades in the HOGD", which is an important point to make. Regardie, for example advocated using the Watchtower ceremony to become an adept, but I do not recall him saying it made the person an Adeptus Minor (although that is arguably what he meant, given subsequent teaching, for example, to Cris Monastre). There are adepts in multiple traditions, but an Adeptus Minor in the Golden Dawn is a specific grade, and one does not equate with the other (true adepthood is not necessarily granted with the grade, for example). One can still study the gradework of Adeptus Minor, and become an adept in the larger sense of the word, but the consensus remains, even among those who advocate self-initiation into the Outer Order grades, that self-initiation into Adeptus Minor is simply not possible.

To end this topic, I will link again to my post on my Gnostic blog Henosis Decanus nearly two years ago, which deals with a parallel subject that frequently pops up in ecclesiastical Gnostic circles: self-ordination.

Tuesday 26 August 2008

"Number Proves The Living Unity"

A Conscious, Active Cause in all we see,
And number proves the living unity.
No bound hath He who doth the whole contain,
But, all preceding, fills life's vast domain.
Sole worthy worship, He, the only Lord,
Doth His true doctrine to clean hearts accord.
But since faith's work a single pontiff need,
One law have we, and at one altar plead;
Eternal God for aye their base upholds.
Heaven and man's day alike His rule enfolds.
In mercy rich, in retribution strong,
His people's King He will upraise ere long.
The tomb gives entrance to the promised land,
Death only ends; life's vistas still expand.

These doctrines sacred, pure and steadfast shine;
And thus we close our number's scale divine.

Good angels all things temper and assuage,
While evil spirits burst with wrath and rage.
God doth the lightning rule, the flame subdue.
His word controls both Vesper and her dew.
He makes the moon our watchman through the night,
And by His sun renews the world in light.
When dust to dust returns, His breath can call
Life from the tomb which is the fate of all.
His crown illuminates the mercy seat,
And glorifies the cherubs at His feet.

- Eliphas Lévi, Transcendental Magic

Monday 25 August 2008

THMÊ - Goddess of Truth

A week or two ago I was looking through the Ciceros's Self-Initiation into the Golden Dawn Tradition when I noticed the Coptic and Hebrew spelling of the name THMÊ (A Coptic form of Greek Themis and Egyptian Ma'at) on page 22.

The thing that I noticed is that, in the Hebrew, the spelling is ThMA, and there is another word of the same gematric value, but not only that - the same exact letters. This is AMTh, Emeth, which means Truth. THMÊ is the Coptic form of Ma'at, the Goddess of Truth.

Sunday 24 August 2008

Book Review: Revelations of the Golden Dawn

The history of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn has been dealt with in a number of books, not least of all Ellic Howe’s Magicians of the Golden Dawn. However, as each new scholar approaches the subject or old scholars publish a new book more and more papers, photographs, documents, and letters are published. Revelations of the Golden Dawn, by R. A. Gilbert (a republication of The Golden Dawn Scrapbook) is just one of these examples, giving a brief look at the history of the Order, replete with some interesting source material.

The book itself is 200 pages, with seven chapters, an introduction, and a small index and bibliography. The history itself is not extensive, and only deals with some of the more pivotal moments, but Gilbert himself admits this, stating "it is not intended to be a documentary history of the Order … This book is intended simply to provide an overview of the Order, and to tell its story through the lives and actions (or inactions) of its members." Thus, this book is mainly for those inquisitive for more details regarding certain aspects (primarily the matters of scandal, schism, and intrigue) of the Order’s history (because, despite what Gilbert says, it deals with the history, not the practice, of the Order). It is of little value to the non historically-inclined magician, as Gilbert also expresses: “it is not designed to be a manual or practical instruction”, but there is much of value here, primarily in the printing of letters and scans of Order documents, including by-laws, temple summons, notices, circulars, warrants, pledges, extracts from ritual journals, and even a few scans of Westcott’s Tarot designs. All of these give us a better idea of how the original Order operated, and allows modern Golden Dawn magicians to correct any errors that have crept into their own material (via the mistakes in Regardie’s book and other earlier sources).

However, there is an issue with R.A. Gilbert himself, and I’m not entirely sure how I feel about him, because I’m not entirely sure how he feels about the Golden Dawn system and magicians in general. I know that it would be naïve to assume that a historian would be interested in magic, and it is perhaps good that he is not, to ensure a more unbiased view. However, it seems that Gilbert is sympathetic at times and rather dismissive at others. In his introduction he states that "there are adepts, possessed of the necessary dedication and integrity to revive the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn and restore it to the role intended by its Victorian founders: that of a teaching body that unfolds the psycho-spiritual nature of the Self by the way of ceremonial practices based on the symbolism of the Western Mystery Tradition."

But this is met with contradictory sentiments, such as at the end of the book, where he states: "I can only echo Regardie’s sentiments as he expressed them to me in a letter written many years ago: 'I sometimes wish in moments of reverie, that Crowley, the O.T.O., Waite and the Golden Dawn would all gently blow away in a cloud and disappear and never be heard from again'. Amen to that." This is rather disingenuous of Gilbert, given his career is partially founded upon research into the Golden Dawn. Indeed, if he wishes to say "Amen" to the idea of the Golden Dawn blowing away and never being heard of, then why has he dedicated so much time and effort into publishing books on the subject, thereby extending its life and influence?

The matter is confused again when we see Gilbert’s praise of the Ciceros, who run a modern incarnation of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn (founded with the aid of Regardie). Gilbert says: "Just as Israel Regardie rescued the Golden Dawn from oblivion, so have the Ciceros, with their unrivalled grasp of magical practice, maintained it as a living tradition available to all … They are, indeed, true magicians of the Golden Dawn." This seems like high praise, and I don’t necessarily disagree with his sentiments here.

But again, this is contradicted elsewhere, most recent of which was his announcement of his finishing with the Golden Dawn: "I am finally done with the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, which has dominated my literary life for far too long. My private collection, of ritual and other manuscripts, association copies, printed ephemera, printed rituals and my personal files, is going to a new home in an English institutional library where it will, in time, be integrated with the more famous 'Private Collection'. Future researchers will thus have an easier task as they seek to find answers to the all too many questions that still remain in connection with the Order. The remainder is here, for my work is done and I can now turn to other and equally rewarding fields of research. Such of those who follow me who are honourable I salute, but I can only shudder at the prospect of the others, most of them would-be magicians, who seek to keep alive the corpse of the Order." The last line here seems to be rather disparaging of modern Golden Dawn magicians. I can’t quite understand why Gilbert jumps back and forth across the fence, praising and insulting in various leaps. While I value his work, as I do all Golden Dawn historians, I can’t help but question his integrity on the matter expressed above.

Revelations of the Golden Dawn, by R.A. Gilbert; Quantum (Foulsham Imprint), 1997

Saturday 23 August 2008

Weekly Roundup: Dangers, Sex, & Rock N' Roll

I decided to "borrow" Psyche's idea at Plutonica.net in regard to her Saturday Signal, which is a weekly roundup of links to interesting occult material. I can't think of quite as clever a title, so "Weekly Roundup" will have to suffice.

Check back next Saturday for another Weekly Roundup. Also check out Plutonica.net's excellent Saturday Signal.

Friday 22 August 2008

Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram Analysis, Part 3

For the first two parts of my LRP analysis, see here and here.

The closing lines of the LRP, before the final QC, have been the cause of much debate and are the only part of the ritual that seems to have changed in the hands of different magicians over the years. Thus, today there are multiple variations of these lines, from the original "Before me flames the pentagram and behind me shines the six-rayed star" to the Crowley version of "For about me flames the pentagram and in the column shines the six-rayed star", and some slight variations of the two. All of them are perfectly valid, and there are justifications, usually in the form of gematria, for them all. This post will explore some of the variations and the reasoning behind them.

First there is the original format employed in both the GD and SM and printed in Regardie's The Golden Dawn: "Before me flames the pentagram, and behind me shines the six-rayed star". On the surface this does not make sense, for the pentagram is not "before" the magician, but rather there are four of them around the magician, including behind him or her, where the hexagram is stated to be. Regardie suggested the visualisation of a pentagram on the chest and a hexagram on the back, indicating that the pentagram here mentioned has no relation to the four already drawn. This refers to the microcosm (the human, represented by the pentagram [somewhat akin to the extended figure in Da Vinci's Vitruvian Man, with the five points of the body relating to the head, two arms, and two legs]) and the macrocosm (the "more than human", the divine man, the Adam Qadmon, represented by the hexagram, symbolic of Tiphareth, where the Higher Self dwells).

But there is no specific indication as to why the pentagram is before the magician and the hexagram behind, although the Ciceros give an interesting suggestion in footnote 20 on page 66 of their annotated edition of Regardie's The Middle Pillar: "The positioning of a hexagram behind the magician alludes to an advanced working in which the magician visualizes the Golden Dawn's Banner of the East within his aura." This does not personally make sense to me, as the magician would be facing East (where the Banner of the East is positioned) and stating "before me flames the pentagram", whereas the hexagram is linked to the Banner, not the pentagram. I would imagine the Banner of the West behind the magician, since the magician faces East at this point of the ritual, but all of this is speculation at present, as I'm not aware of exactly what the Ciceros were describing in this footnote.

The main alternative to the above is the one we get from Crowley: "For about me flames the pentagram and within the column shines the six-rayed star". This is the one that I and most others I encounter prefer, and I think for good reason, as there is more justification behind the use of the words. Firstly the "about me" relates to the very obvious fact that the four pentagrams just drawn are about or around the magician (some alternatives use "around me"). The column is the magician him or herself (symbolism lost in the alternative of "within me"), standing in the centre of the circle surrounded by the pentagrams. This column is an allusion to the Middle Pillar, and thus it subtly affirms a balanced disposition in the magician, who is symbolically identified with the Pillar of Balance. This adds an essential symbolic ingredient to this ritual which falls in line with all Golden Dawn teaching, to avoid the extremes of mercy or severity. Affirming this on a daily basis adds an extra layer to the ritual. Combined with this is the same symbolism of the macrocosm linked to the hexagram, only this time the hexagram is to be imagined within the column that the magician represents, centred around the heart region, which is the area of the body linked with Tiphareth, which, as the sixth Sephirah, is represented by the hexagram and again symbolises the Higher Self of the magician.

But what of the microcosm? This is still present in the ritual, in the pentagrams that are "about" the magician. To try to make this point clear, imagine the circle drawn around the pentagrams - this is the microcosm, the symbolic extension of the aura of the magician. Then imagine a smaller circle contained within this circle, representing the central pillar, where lies the hexagram, the macrocosm. This, therefore, intimates that the macrocosm is contained within the microcosm, just as the microcosm is contained within the macrocosm (the much larger circle of the universe around the personal circle or sphere of the magician). This "inner macrocosm" is the inner spark of Divine Light within each person (As Above, So Below) and this is affirmed in symbolic fashion with this variation of these lines in the LRP.

There is an interesting element to this variation which can be found via gematria. If we take the value of the four pentagrams (4X5=20) and add the value of the single hexagram (6) we get 26, which is the number of the Tetragrammaton, YHVH. Aside from the obvious relation to God, it could be seen as relating, via its four-fold nature, to the four directions, the four Pillars the four Archangels, and so forth, thus tying it further to the LRP, and the East in particular, where this God-name is utilised, and where the Light of the Dawn shines forth into the personal sphere and temple of the magician. But this is not all, for 26 is also the number of the Middle Pillar (Kether=1, Tiphareth=6, Yesod=9, Malkuth=10; 1+6+9+10=26), thus relating to the column mentioned in these lines and the symbolic invocation of Light down the Middle Pillar (and the magician's ascent back up).

There is a variation that suggests a hexagram should be drawn or imagined above and below the magician, thus "sealing" all six directions of the magician's sphere (front, back, left, right, up, and down). While this has merit (including a gematric link [32] to AHYHVH, the amalgamation of AHYH and YHVH, the God-names of West and East), there is no need for this, as the pentagrams can sufficiently seal the personal sphere of the magician, while still allowing the Light of Kether to enter. Besides, the hexagram is not intended here to banish or seal, but to represent the hidden macrocosm, the Higher Self, within the magician.

Finally there is an additional line present in an AO version of the LRP: "And above my head the Glory of God". This was probably added to differentiate it from the rebels in the Stella Matutina and is much more religious in tone (suitable for the prayer aspect of this ritual). In many ways, however, it is not necessary, and one could even argue that it intimates that God is only "above" as opposed to also being present within each of us, particularly as we invoke the Light during this ritual.

Thursday 21 August 2008

Definitions of Magic: Evocation, Illusion, & Vision

"I believe in the practice and philosophy of what we have agreed to call magic, in what I must call the evocation of spirits, though I do not know what they are, in the power of creating magical illusions, in the visions of truth in the depths of the mind when the eyes are closed; and I believe in three doctrines, which have, as I think, been handed down from early times, and been the foundations of nearly all magical practices. These doctrines are:-

(1) That the borders of our mind are ever shifting, and that many minds can flow into one another, as it were, and create or reveal a single mind, a single energy.

(2) That the borders of our memories are as shifting, and that our memories are a part of one great memory, the memory of Nature herself.

(3) That this great mind and great memory can be evoked by symbols."

- W.B. Yeats, Magic (1901)

Wednesday 20 August 2008

The Victorian Vice

Continuing the Yeats theme of the previous post, here's the passage I mentioned earlier about Yeats and his attitude towards sex:

W.B. Yeats described the summer of 1897, when he was 32, as "the most miserable time of my life". He went on to say, "I was tortured by sexual desire and disappointed love... When desire became an unendurable torture, I would masturbate, and that, no matter how moderate I was, would make me ill." Now, admittedly he was taking hashish pills at the time, which may or may not have influenced his feelings of illness, but it seems hard to deny that his reaction to masturbation was extreme, although probably not uncommon for the Victorian era. I have to admit that, as a young Irish man myself, I find these kinds of accounts quite surprising, even to one already aware of the Victorian attitude towards sex. I wonder if Yeats' extreme view, and that of Moina described in a previous post, was shared by other Golden Dawn members of the time?

Tuesday 19 August 2008

"The Mystical Life Is The Centre Of All That I Do"

I recall many times when scholars of Yeats or school and college teachers (including some of my own) have glossed over his occult involvement, sometimes stating that it was little more than a "phase" or some other irrelevant trifle that just happened in his life. I believe the following quote from the man himself should dispel this common (and highly irritating) notion:

"If I had not made magic my constant study I could not have written a single word of my Blake book, nor would The Countess Kathleen ever have come to exist. The mystical life is the center of all that I do and all that I think and all that I write."

- W.B. Yeats

Monday 18 August 2008

Sex & the Golden Dawn

Sex is a controversial subject no matter where it arises, but doubly so when it is relation to a secret society. It is well known, for example, that some of the higher grades of the OTO give teachings on sexual magic, but it is a cause of some debate about how sex is dealt with, if at all, in the Golden Dawn. There has been much misinformation and confusion, partly due, in my opinion, to one modern Golden Dawn order which has included Third Order grades and filled them with sex magic teachings. Some of the confusion may have arisen before this, however, from certain statements and actions taken by some Order members.

But first, let us look at MacGregor and Moina Mathers, the two leading forces in the Order once Westcott had resigned. While they were married, they never consummated the marriage, and never engaged in sexual activity whatsoever (or, at least, so it is claimed). In 1895 Moina wrote to Annie Horniman about her views on sex, the sexual abstinence she and her husband undertook, and the concept of incubi and succubi:

"When I first heard this theory it gave me a shock, but not such a horrible one as that which I had when I was young, about the human condition. Child or no, a natural thing should not upset one so. I remember that my horror of human beings for a while was so great that I could not look at my own mother without violent dislike - and loathing.

I have always chosen as well as 'SRMD' to have nothing whatever to do with any sexual connection - we have both kept perfectly clean I know, as regards the human, the elemental, and any other thing whatever.

I have tried, and I think succeeded, never to allow myself to think of any subject in that direction."

- Moina Mathers

I think it is fairly clear here that Moina was very much ingrained in the prudish Victorian society in which she lived, as were many of the members of the Order (I was recently told that masturbation made Yeats feel ill, for example), while some, such as Florrence Farr and Aleister Crowley rebelled against it. It is obvious, however, that Moina heavily disliked the notion of sex with entities, and, indeed, any sexual relations whatsoever. I think this is rather clear in relation to sex magic. It is not quite certain if Mathers shared his wife's views to such an extreme, but he seemed to respect her wishes, and they both came to a mutual decision to avoid sex. How, therefore, could a couple who refused to have sex espouse sexual teachings in their Order (that is, other than the sexual symbolism of polarities)? I can state with absolute certainty here and now that sex was never a topic for discussion in Order papers, and sex magic was never a practice engaged or taught in the Order, no matter what grade. There are, of course, some Cromlech Temple papers, such as Aura Paper 23, Concerning Sex on the Aura, but these are not technically Golden Dawn material.

Dion Fortune came into conflict with Moina when she published a book dealing with certain sexual principles. Her own account of the conflict states that "[Moina] turned me out for writing The Esoteric Philosophy of Love and Marriage, on the grounds that I was betraying the inner teaching of the Order". I believe that this statement (and the original ones made by Moina, as well as similar letters to Case on the same subject, not to mention the Horos scandal, where the Horos couple falsely claimed to be leaders of the Golden Dawn, thereby associating their sexual deviancies with the Order) has given some people the intimation that sex magic is employed in some of the higher grades of the Golden Dawn, but again this must be refuted on two grounds: 1) the complete lack of any such papers dealing with the subject, in any of the grades; and 2) the attitude to sex taken by the Mathers.

I made the point above that it is unclear if Mathers shared the extremity with which his wife viewed sex, and I believe the following should make it clear that he did not. He was always espousing the belief that one's private life lay outside the temple, and this included sex. He initiated Crowley when the latter was refused initiation by the other Adepts, with one of the causes of the refusal being his sexual promiscuity (and possibly his bisexuality). Crowley is notorious for his attitude to sex, so it seems unusual that Mathers would not berate him on it if he believed it to be an issue. But he did not, as it was Crowley's private life, part of the outer personality that was to be left at the door when one entered the temple.

But there was one person in the Golden Dawn who did receive a berating by Mathers on the matter of sex, and this was Dr. Edward William Berridge (Frater Resurgam). He became entangled in some sexual issues within the Order, promoting the sexual theories of T.L. Harris and making some advances on the female members of the Order while in temple. Annie Horniman and a few others complained about him, and Mathers was forced to demote him from his office as Sub-Imperator and finally to suspend him from both Inner and Outer Orders for a period of 3 months, once he was seen to be gloating over Horniman's prior dismissal.

Waite noted the following about Berridge:

"My information was full of iniquities of Resurgam and told a strange story concerning a Nurse Graham, brought in, I think, by Soror Mystica, whom he visited continually. He boasts of his astral intercourse with a counterpart or affinity in the astral world, by whom he has had three spirit children."

This was not the only reference to such, as there was a curious reference to "elemental marriage" in a letter from Mathers to Horniman, where he stated:

"[Regarding Soror] Amore - she was recommended Elemental marriage because of in her case the extreme danger of invoking an incubus instead of a Fay through want of self-control."

It is not clear what is meant here by "elemental marriage" or what occured with Mrs. Carden (Sr. Amore), but this is one of the very few mentions of sexual practices in relation to the astral world. For the most part, most of the members of the Order progressed through their gradework perfectly happy to leave their sex lives at home, as most of the members of the modern Golden Dawn Orders are content to do likewise. Some will continue to argue that the Golden Dawn teaches sex magic, either as an attempt to discredit the Order or as an attempt to bring sex magic into the Order on a basis that has never existed, but at the end of the day there is no backing to these speculations whatsoever.

Sunday 17 August 2008

Poetry: Doubters Of Divinity

You doubters of divinity -
You see devils in the hearts of all God's people,
Who must, by your great will, come out in straw
With pitchforks ready
To clash, steel on wood, against the sceptres of sure Science,
Held aloft upon the horses of your reign.
If only it were simple,
Adam cast across the rift from Atoms,
An uncrossable Abyss,
A mental chasm where only malice lies.
But where is subtlety in these uncertain times,
Where we, in our doubt, assume we know it all?
There is only red and blue and yellow,
Stark around their corners
Where no meld of hue is seen,
Nor permitted, nor encouraged,
As was once the case
When the brilliant light of art
Merged with the evanescence of the angels
And the candescence of great culture
Saw no contradiction between the art of science,
And the science of art.
There was none of this vile blindedness,
Where the books of chemistry and physics
Cannot rest upon the shelf amidst the classics,
Those epitomes of literature
And the episodes of Man.
Our books are bound more tightly,
And thicker are their covers,
For fear we might somehow contaminate each other
With these opposing truths, these opposing lies.
The incivility of cynicism,
That vast tidal wave of suspicion,
Washes over many, a ravage rampant tempest
Against those "savages" who believe in something more.
And in the shadows of our minds creeps a growing creed:
Turn the other eye instead of cheek,
Afraid to face the possibility
That there are answers in the artistry
That only the humble heart can read.

Inspired by Richard Dawkins

Saturday 16 August 2008

Hermetic Virtues Magazine

Check out this excellent electronic magazine, Hermetic Virtues, which you can download in PDF format. There are four issues a year, relating to the Equinoxes and Solstices, and they usually number between 60-80 pages, with contributions from the Ciceros, Nick Farrell, Donald Michael Kraig, Aaron Leitch, Pat Zalewski, and a number of other well-known esoteric authors, as well as many who are lesser-known, but whose work is of excellent calibre. While not specifically a Golden Dawn magazine, it does tend to focus on G.'.D.'. subjects, and has many G.'.D.'. authors, but there are often essays on other subjects of esoteric note. Each issue costs $6, or you can get a year's subscription for $20. All proceeds go to the HOGD legal fund. This is essential reading for any student interested in the Golden Dawn and the occult in general.

Friday 15 August 2008

"Mathers or Tenebris?"

"The 5=6 ritual appeared. Mathers seems to have taken elements given by this mysterious adept from Liege and fused it with rituals from SRIA. At the same time there came the fantastic Z documents, which superimposed a magical technique over the outer order and gave a formula that turned a somewhat dry masonic ritual into something that could be used to charge a talisman or get a spirit to physical manifestation. There is also the fairly cryptic Man, Macrocosm paper which gives a fairly powerful introduction to the Sphere of Sensation. We also see Book T, which was an inspired description of the Tarot.

But we cannot be sure how much of this material or genius belonged to Mathers, or how much was a cut and paste from Lux E Tenebris. Certainly the 5=6 is nothing like what Mathers had written before, or would write again. Mathers or Tenebris? Or again was someone else involved? We know that other adepts were also inspired at this time. Take for example the design of the Vault. Mathers' rite does not say much about it, other than recount the official material from the Manifestos. Yet the person who seems to be writing the most about the Vault is Westcott. It is his material, based on a lecture, that remains in both the SM and AO."

- Nick Farrell, The Genius of the Golden Dawn
(Hermetic Virtues, Vol. 1, No. 3)

Thursday 14 August 2008

The Mysteries of Daleth

Daleth (pronounced Dah-leth) is the fourth letter of the Hebrew alphabet. It, therefore, has the gematria value of 4. Its Hebrew spelling is Daleth Lamed Tav, which, in turn, has a gematria value of 434 (Daleth=4, Lamed=30, Tav=400). The fully spelled word means "Door".

The letter is drawn by starting with the horizontal "roof", drawing from left to right, and then drawing the vertical line from top to bottom. It is important to ensure the horizontal line extends slightly further on the right, so as to distinguish it from the letter Resh.

Just as Gimel is the charitable letter, Daleth is the poor letter which receives Gimel's charity. This aspect comes from the shape of the letter, which, because it is "bent over", resembles a beggar looking for charity. It is also because of the root word for this letter, which is dalah, to impoverish , which, in turn, gives rise to daluth, meaning poverty.

Daleth is related to Chesed via the number four, and its relationship can be seen through the aspect of poverty, for Chesed is the first Sephirah outside the Supernal triangle, and thus is "impoverished" in comparison to them. There is also a relationship between the just and merciful aspect of Chesed, as the residence of the Chasidim and Jupiter, the just and righteous god, and the notion of poverty, both in the vow of poverty taking by many righteous people, and the act of Gimel, of giving aid to those who are impoverished. Thus, these two letters create a symbiotic process, for the poor need the rich and the rich need the poor.

The number four, being the number of Daleth, is particularly evocative, for there are many mysteries to this number, not least of all the Tetragrammaton. Because Chesed is the first Sephirah outside the Supernal realm, it can be seen as the first proper expression of the elements, and this occurs through the number four, and the Tetragrammaton. It is often said that Da'ath cannot be crossed while in the physical body, and thus Chesed is the last "physical" Sephirah, as it were, although it is very far from the physicality of Malkuth, where the elements find their fullest expression. Daleth is the doorway through which the Light of the Supernals reach the other Sephiroth, and also the passage through which the ascent back to these Supernals is accomplished.

Daleth is also the doorway to Scripture, for there are four levels of understanding such, and they are terms Pardes (PRDS), the orchard, which is a notariqon of Pesheth, the literal understanding, Remeze, the allegorical understanding, Derash, the exegetical or interpretative understanding, and Sod, the mystical or "secret" understanding.

But this is not the only doorway that Daleth hints at, for this is a deep mystery in adding the letter Daleth to the Tetragrammaton. If we add this letter between the last two letters of YHVH, we get YHVDH, which is Yehudah, or Judah, the Jew. Thus it is said that the Jew is the doorway to God, and while this may seem overly in favour of Judaism, it could be argued by Christians that this hints at Christ, who was a Jew, and is the doorway to God. This is also shown in the assignment of Christ to Tiphareth, which must be passed through before union with God in Kether ("No one comes to the Father except through me").

Daleth is a Double Letter, meaning it originally had two pronunciations ("d" and "th"/"dh"). It is also, as a Double Letter, given a planetary assignment of the Sun in the Kaplan GRA translation, as well as Westcott's translation. In the Short, Long, and Saadia versions the planet is Mars, possibly because of its relation to Tuesday in the GRA version, but the other three opt for Monday instead. Its dual nature also relates to "seed" and "desolation".

"He made the letter Dalet king over Seed
And He bound a crown to it
And He combined one with another
And with them He formed
The Sun in the Universe
Tuesday in the Year
The right nostril in the Soul,
male and female."

Sepher Yetzirah (GRA version), 4:10

The path attributed to Daleth is called the "Illuminating Intelligence" in the 32 Paths of Wisdom (Westcott translation), while in Kaplan's translation we have the following:

"Illuminating Consciousness. It is called this because it is the essence of the Speaking Silence. It gives instruction regarding the mysteries of the holy secrets and their structure."

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