Mishkan ha-Echad

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.


Unknown said...

Many thanks for this blog post. It is a theme I have been thinking on for some months now as I feel myself "grow up" and leave childish things behind for higher motives while living on this earth.

Anonymous said...

Dean, I have to say that this is one of the best posts on this I have seen in a very long time. The very post shows a great deal of "maturity" (pun mostly intended)in looking at both a magical career and a personal point of view.

This sort of post is definitely on the right track of thinking and doing the work.


Frater Yechidah said...

Ave Eric & Samuel,

Thank you both for the comments and the kind words. I'm glad you enjoyed the post. It has been on my mind for some time, so it was good to finally write about it here :)


Prenna said...

As someone who is realising that they are possibly one of the most magically immature people around I really enjoyed this piece (I'm enjoying this whole blog in fact). Plenty for me to think about.

I did want to get your thoughts on one section of this:

"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."

I was just wondering if and where the openness to learn from lower grades fits in to the magical maturity of Adepthood, in your opinion.

Frater Yechidah said...

Ave Fr. PAAL,

Thank you for the comment. It's been some time, and I hope all is going well for you.

I'm not 100% sure I understand your question, but I will attempt to answer it anyway. If you mean, should an Adept be open enough to learn new material in grades they've already been true, then yes. If you mean, should an Adept be open enough to learn from those who are in grades below him or her, then yes. Pride is the Virtue of Tiphareth, but it is also the Vice, and it can be a very fine line between the two. One must be proud enough to have the willpower and determination of the Lion, to strive forward without the helping hand of an elder, but they must also be humble enough to accept that they, even if they are 80 years of age (or "old" in grades), can learn from a child (or Neophyte). Many Adepts go through the Outer Order a few times (in different groups), and do not ask to be elevated to their grade in the other group, but use such as an opportunity to fill in the gaps of their knowledge, to come to better and stronger realisations, and to renew and reinforce the alchemical process that we must all undergo in order to grow. Thus, an Adept may be a Neophyte, for example, and there is no dishonour in that, for the Adept learns that all grades are merely signposts, and the outer reality does not reflect the inner in any way.

I hope this helps. If this wasn't what you mean, feel free to elaborate and I will attempt to answer to the best of my ability :)


Soror FSO said...


That is an excellent post! Too many times have I seen new Adepti become overly upset at the notion of having to take the reigns on thier own path. As St John of the Cross says in "The Dark Night of The Soul", there comes a time when the milk must be taken away, and the student must learn to walk on his own two feet. I must say it has been rare to find this quality of posting in the magical community...great job!

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