Mishkan ha-Echad

Tuesday 16 November 2010

The Colours of Malkuth

Recently I was asked about the colours of Malkuth by a member of my Temple and it brought to mind the multiple arguments that are possible over the shades, tones, and vibrancy of the colours we use within the Golden Dawn system, and how often different Temples and magicians disagree, or, in some cases, contest each others' use of those colours in important pieces of ritual furnishings, such as the Vault of the Adepti.

While the Vault itself requires a detailed study and is a Great Work unto its own, I will address how I view the colour schemes for something a little more basic, and that is the four-fold scheme for Malkuth.

The four colours traditionally used for Malkuth in the Golden Dawn system are citrine, olive, russet, and black, representing the four-fold division of the Elements, the Four Worlds, and the other four-fold schemata that are intrinsic to the Qabalistic teachings.

In many instances we encounter pictures of a disc, such as the Earth Pentacle, or the Seal of the Watchtower of the North which are poorly coloured, often in a manner that is so far from the four colours mentioned above as to be completely unrecognisable. This has led to great confusion among many magicians who are trying to work out the appropriate colours for their implements.

To address this we need to go back to basics and not rely on what others have done. We need to think of the reasons behind the choice of colours and make our decisions based on the symbolic and practical result of what we choose, as opposed to what some picture from a faded manuscript looks like after a hundred years of wearing away beneath people's thumbs and fingers.

This has led me to come up with two main schools of thought in relation to the colours of Malkuth: a school of earthy tones and a school of vibrancy.

The former relies on the idea that Malkuth relies upon earthy variations of the standard Elemental colours we are used to within the Golden Dawn system. Instead of red we have russet, which is a slightly more brownish colour. Instead of yellow we have citrine, which is not only a gemstone but a much more earthy orange. Instead of blue we have olive, which is a kind of dullish green. Black is earthy enough and doesn't change.

From the choice of colours alone here it is clear that earthy tones were intended, so this argument relies on that for an overall less vibrant colour scheme for Malkuth, reflective of the subtle variations seen in the soil of nature.

The second argument relies on the impact of strong, potent colours. This one relies less on the philosophical reasoning behind Malkuth's colours, but on the fact that the Golden Dawn system uses vibrant colours throughout its system to great effect, including the ritual tools and regalia which we use in Temple.

This line of thought has strong support in the "flashing colours" necessary for real impact in a ritual surrounding, such as when a Candidate, starved of light beneath a thick black hoodwink, gets his or her first glimpse of the strange world around him/her with its strong, impactful colours, which leave a mark on the psyche (and the aura of the individual) much better than a faded spectrum ever could.

Some people may be inclined to solve the problem by relying on advanced colour technology at our disposal, such as the colour selections available in Photoshop. While this may give us a technical answer to what is really intended by "olive", for example, it does not necessarily solve the problem, as we cannot be certain that what is technically the colour in question was what was intended by the original Golden Dawn magicians.

The intent behind the colour choices is far more important, in my opinion, than what is technically correct by a standard that has no consideration for the magical results of or reasoning behind those choices. In such cases I believe it is more important that we come to understand the why of colour instead of blindly accepting it. If we don't search for the meaning behind all that we do then we are still wandering in darkness, with the true hoodwink yet to be removed from ours eyes.

Thursday 3 June 2010

Corpus Christi

On this Day C, Corpus Christi, may we contemplate the Dark Night of Death that leads to the Day of Life. May we recognise that all strife we have passed through is the necessary pain of the symbolic death. May we renew our oaths and obligations, just as we are renewed through the spiritual rebirth.

Post Centum Viginti Annos Patebo. Ex Deo Nascimur, In Yeheshuah Mormiur, Per Sanctum Spiritum Reviviscimus.

"Buried with that Light in a mystical death, rising again in a mystical resurrection, cleansed and purified through him our Master, O Brother of the Cross of the Rose. Like him, O Adepts of all ages, have ye toiled. Like him have ye suffered tribulation. Poverty, torture and death have ye passed through; they have been but the purification of the gold. In the alembic of thine heart through the athanor of affliction, seek thou the true stone of the wise."

- Adeptus Minor Ceremony

Friday 30 April 2010

The Angelical Language, Vols I & II

Aaron Leitch, author of Secrets of the Magickal Grimoires has just announced the soon to be released (and much anticipated) two volumes on the Enochian language, the first dealing with the history and the second being a very indepth and thorough lexicon. Details from his website are as follows:

The Angelical Language Vol I:
The History and Mythos of the Tongue of Angels

Explores the reception of the language by Dee and Kelley, and the Biblical mythology behind the language as related to them by the Angels. This book begins with an exploration of the mystical traditions that influenced Dee's work (the 50 Gates of Binah, the legends of Enoch and the Book of Soyga), and continues with an in-depth study of the 49 Tables of Loagaeth (Speech From God), the 48 Angelical Keys (or Callings) and the unfolding saga surrounding them in Dee's journals. Special added features include an analysis of the English Poetry (translations) of the 48 Keys, instructions for the magickal use of Angelical characters and a complete Angelical Psalter.

The Angelical Language Vol II:
The Encyclopedic Lexicon of the Tongue of Angels

An exhaustive analysis of the Celestial Speech recorded by Dee. This new work is not just another "Enochian Dictionary." The Angelical Lexicon includes every word from the 48 Keys, all defined or related words from the Book of Loagaeth and every random Angelical word or phrase found throughout Dee's lengthy journals. All of the words have been analyzed and cross-referenced to discover hidden word-elements and root-words - all of which are found in this book.

Every entry in the Lexicon includes:

  • The word in English and Angelical characters.
  • Its "English sense" (definition).
  • For words from the Keys, the sentence(s) in which the word is used.
  • Its location (cross-reference numbers for words from the Keys, page-references to Dee's published journals for all other words).
  • Comparisons to every related Angelical word.
  • Notes about the word's definition, history or usage- both Dee's original marginal notations and new commentary.
  • Dee's own phonetic notations, with new commentary.
  • (Also, a new phonetic pronunciation key has been invented to make reading the words much easier.)
  • As added features, Vol II also includes an Angelical Keys Cross-Reference (containing a fully corrected version of the 48 Keys, cross-referenced by number), an in-depth analysis of Angelical Linguistics and a lengthy English to Angelical section (including tips for translating English texts into proper Angelical).

    The material in The Angelical Language: Vols I and II is based strictly upon Dee's journals and personal grimoire. There are no inclusions from later mystics or organizations. This is the Angelical language in its 'purist' form.

    Thursday 8 April 2010

    Hermetic Virtues, No. 12

    Issue 12 of Hermetic Virtues has been released, containing the following excellent articles:

    + Hypatia of Alexandria by Lon Milo DuQuette

    + The Qualities that Make a Good Magician by Samuel Scarborough

    + Sacred Geometry: Magical Polygons and Polygrams, part 2 by Sandra Tabatha Cicero

    + The Tree of Life Projected in the Third Dimension by Andrew Catero and Darcy Kuntz

    + A Key to Magical Understanding by Anon

    + An Invocation of Netzach by Samuel Scarborough

    To obtain a copy, click here.

    Sunday 4 April 2010

    The Use of the Shewstone

    I have been asked many times about the use of the shewstone, particularly when it comes to Enochian, and I feel it necessary to describe the differences between skrying on the back of your eyelids (au naturel, as it were) and employing a tool such as the shewstone.

    Personally I find I get more out of the former technique, as I am more experienced with it, but there is a problem in that it is very straining. It takes a lot out of the magician. The shewstone, however, acts as a kind of conduit. It alleviates some of the strain on the seer by employing a half-way house for the images, thoughts, and so forth to emerge.

    When it comes to Enochian the more conduits available the better, particularly when the shewstone is placed on top of the Sigillum Dei Aemeth. The Sigillum, when opened (the easiest way to do this is an invocation employing the names within it), provides a vortex which feeds into the shewstone, not only empowering it, but allowing a clearer and more accurate portrayal. One of my "rules of thumb" is that the Sigillum be employed with the appropriate invocation and prayer for truth, as many magicians have been led down the dark alleys of illusion and fantasy.

    Wednesday 31 March 2010

    Magical Literalism

    When did magicians start taking things so literally?

    Recently the topic of the Z-2 Formula for Invisibility came up on Pat Zalewski's yahoo group. It appears that many people have been assuming this ceremony referred to actual, literal invisibility. I was under the illusion for a long time that we were not living in a fantasy novel, but perhaps I've been deluding myself (it wouldn't be the first time).

    Pat mentioned that Regardie, Crowley and many others took this idea of invisibility quite seriously and literally, but I've always sided with the "people won't notice you as much" argument than actually disappearing into thin air. It surprises me a little that people who are otherwise intelligent and advanced in their magicial and spiritual training can be such literalists about any aspect of magic, especially something as fantastical as invisibility. I'm sure I'm not the only one to think that.

    One thing of interest that came out of that discussion was something Alex Sumner posted:

    "The Neophyte Ritual - and the Z2 formulae - is all about moving from Darkness into Light. So the 0=0 ceremony is bringing the candidate from darkness to light; Evocation is about bringing a spirit from being unmanifest (darkness) to manifest (light); talismans are about transforming an inanimate piece of cardboard (=darkness) into a magical object (=light); Spiritual Development is
    about bringing the spiritual nature of the Adept from darkness to light; etc etc etc.

    All of the Z2 rituals are themed about this "from darkness into light" trope - with one exception: Invisibility. Alone of all the Z2 formulae it is the Reverse: going from Light into Darkness."

    Alex makes a very valid point that the Invisibility formula uses the reverse of the normal approach. I'm not entirely sure this renders it invalid, ineffective, or completely at odds with the rest of the material, as the theme of going from Light into Darkness is an important thing to explore in its own right and is something we experience on a daily and yearly basis. It does, however, raise a number of questions about its inclusion with the other formulae and if we can discover other "reverse" formulae within the system we are using.

    Monday 22 March 2010

    Journal of the Western Mystery Tradition, Vol 2, No. 18

    Th latest issue of the Journal of the Western Mystery Tradition has just gone live, focusing on Angelic Magic. The contents of this issue are as follows:

    Introduction: Here there be Angels!
    by J.S. Kupperman

    Olympic Spirits: The Hidden Gods
    by Nick Farrell

    The Orphanic Alphabet: A Search for Meaning
    by Darlene

    John Dee and Edward Kelley's Great Table
    by Teresa Burns and J. Alan Moore

    A number of book reviews, artwork, and poetry are also present.

    Friday 26 February 2010

    Magical Order of Aurora Aurea

    Nick Farrell has just announced the formation of the Magical Order of Aurora Aurea:

    "After laying low on the subject for a few months, I just thought I would tell everyone about the Golden Dawn Order that has been formed after I left the HOGD.

    The Website for the Order can be found here www.auroraaurea.com. The Magical Order of the Aurora Aurea will be a world-wide Golden Dawn group whose main focus is taking a magical approach to the system. There are a few minor changes, but the frame work and initiations are traditional (Whare Ra) GD. The Order structure is slightly different and there is a ritual public face, called an Anticum. There is also a separate correspondence course for those who are not close to a full temple (although we are hoping that the course will draw people together to form Aurora Aurea temples).

    The training material includes the traditional Golden Dawn material along with new teachings that work within the same system. The Order is much more hands on and practical than the pile of papers, traditional knowledge paper plus examination system of the Golden Dawn. It requires daily work and will have a full grade system at least until 7=4.

    We are based in Europe with temples in Italy, Slovinia, Dublin and Wales.

    The Correspondence course is a rewrite of the HCOMA course which was closed down by the former Director of Studies last year. If anyone was on that course and would like to continue then they are welcome to join at their previous level. It is a supervised course but offers no recognised grade other than the spiritual work that the student manages to achieve on their own.

    It has been fun starting an Order from scratch, although my head hurts now that I have been writing the course material. I have nearly finished the 3=8 material! Currently members are flat out translating the material into different languages too.

    Anyway have a look at the website and if you have any questions get in touch.

    Nick Farrel"

    Tuesday 9 February 2010

    A Golden Dawn for All?

    The Golden Dawn was one of the first Orders to accept women as members. Indeed, it was so open to women that they often held the "top jobs". The Golden Dawn also accepted members from all religions. However, this element of equality did not extend to all areas. There is the infamous case of Crowley being rejected for his 5=6 on the basis of his sexual orientation (dealt with to some degree here), though that was clearly not the only reason for his rejection. I wonder how many others were or might have been rejected on similiar grounds in the overly prudish Victorian society in which the Golden Dawn originally grew. And what of other inequalities were there, such as rejection on the basis of age, race, nationality, political persuasion, or disability?

    The reasons why a person should be rejected by a Golden Dawn Order should be more to do with their attitude, their willingness or unwillingness to do the Work, etc. than anything that has little or nothing to do with the occult. For example, despite what some authors on the Qabalah might say about the "corruptions of Netzach" (which has no basis in tradition), a gay man or woman is not hindered by their sexual orientation in either attaining the grades of a GD order, of holding an office, or of climbing the Tree of Life. And while a man or woman in a wheelchair may find it difficult to circumambulate around a small temple, that does not hinder their ability to comprehend the material or be an effective magician.

    Thus it is simply unacceptable for a modern group to reject anyone on the basis of prejudice, and, let's face it, it is prejudice. Trying to find some mystical excuse for one's prejudice does not make it any better. In fact, it makes it worse in many ways, as it then becomes a teaching that is passed onto others, just as all prejudice is. If we are all sparks of the Divine then we cannot afford to reject people on these grounds.

    This is not to say that the Golden Dawn is for all people or that it should open its doors to all and sundry. It is, and always has been, an elitist group. This is not a bad thing, even though the term "elitist" has many negative connotations nowadays. The Golden Dawn is there for those who will benefit from it and for those will benefit the Order. It is a two-way street, as an unpublished SM document entitled "On Recruiting for the Order" (1915) states:

    "It must be constantly remembered that as every Member should receive benefits from the Order, so he should also contribute to its well-being."

    One of the requirements for a member that this document includes is an "average mental capacity" and that they have no "difficulty in assimilating new ideas, or any want of teachableness."

    This is not really asking a lot, but one would be surprised at what kinds of people attempt to join an esoteric Order. Having average or above intelligence is simply a must in terms of being able to learn and undertstand the material, especially considering that ceremonial magic is a little bit more "head-heavy" than some aspects of the occult. More important than this, however, is a certain amount of emotional stability. Accepting unstable people will ultimately lead to disaster as the energies of the grades lead to even further instability and possible breakdown. Not only may this adversely affect the person, but it is the kind of thing that closes Temples and Orders. It is not good for any egregore. It may be difficult to notice such instability at first, of course, or it may develop over time as the person fails to balance the elements within them. Criminal activity is also another reason for rejecting an applicant, depending on the nature and severity of the crime.

    Issues such as the above are the things people should be accepted or rejected on, not on things that do not hinder their ability to grow within the Order nor hinder the growth of other members and the Order itself. The Golden Dawn is not for all, but the reasons for rejecting members often need to be looked at more clearly to see if a prejudice is behind it all.

    If it were up to you, what reasons would you accept or reject an applicant on?

    Thursday 4 February 2010

    A Living Tradition

    The Golden Dawn is a living, breathing, growing tradition. Some people like to suggest it is dead or dying, but they are delusional, for they have either not experienced it or have experienced a corrupted or soulless form of it.

    When the original Order schismed the tradition went in seperate directions, the Current diverging into many different streams. This brought the tradition to more people, just as tributaries bring water to more land. It allowed the system to grow in multiple ways because it unshackled it from its original constraints. The mystical brought it in one direction, the masonic in another, the magical in yet another. The SM and AO developed two different, yet equally valid, streams from which the GD current could grow exponentially more than would have been possible had they all remained together.

    And it is still here, growing, taking new directions. Things are being added and changed, new insights found, new ways of looking at the material of our forefathers, and new material for our children to look upon and discover things we do not know. Tradition is a trade, a give and take, a flux, the intake and outake of breath, for it must be alive or it is a fossil for the eyes of academics. Thus must we not cling to tradition for the sake of it, but help it grow so that it may help us grow in turn.

    For more of my thoughts on tradition (from a Gnostic perspective), check here.

    Tuesday 2 February 2010

    Tests & Grade Examinations

    A recent post by Morgan Drake-Eckstein on the test and grade examinations used by various Golden Dawn orders (itself a response to Fr. AIT's blog on the same topic, now removed) got me thinking about this aspect of Golden Dawn work.

    There are two extremes possible with examinations. They can be upheld very strictly, in an almost academic way, or they can be ignored altogether, as Annie Horniman discovered when she rejoined the Order after Westcott (the man who did much of the administrative work) had left. I don't think either approach is a good one, though I am more likely to lean towards the former than the latter.

    You see, the problem with examinations is that they tend to be entirely intellectual, and, while this is an important aspect of our work, it is not the most important, nor the only part. Some element of practical work and testing on such is vital, as is a general inquiry as to how the grade energies have affected the initiate, if at all; afterall, if we end up the same as we did when we began then what is the point of doing it in the first place? So then we have multiple levels of examination, just as we have multiple levels to the system itself.

    It is very important that our "magical ABCs" be learned. One of the best ways to ensure this is to test them. By committing the material to memory it can then be easily accessed during meditation; even if a Hebrew letter or planetary assignment momentarily slips our short-term memory it can be accessed via the sub-conscious mind. We are effectively building a vault within which we store the symbols of our tradition, a vault which we can access throughout the rest of the grades within the Order.

    But I would encourage the student to do more than simply "learn by rote". Knowing that Aleph is the number 1, the Ox, spelled as Aleph Lamed Peh, etc. is too dry, too intellectual. Regurgitating material onto a page is not the work of a magician - anyone can do it. To know why the letter has these correspondences, and to discover new ones, is what differentiates the average student of occultism from a true magician. But in order to get to that stage the initial correspondences must be learned. In order for the Adept to develop a true and personal understanding of each of these symbols they must be learned in the first place in the Outer Order.

    As for the practical element, this can be as simple as standing in front of people and performing a ritual. It is mind-boggling how many people get to progress through the grades without anyone every seeing them perform a ritual. While we can say "they are only fooling themselves", this is not really true - they are fooling the people who are letting them advance to the next grade. So why be fooled? Why make a mockery of the temple or Order by allowing someone advance beyond 0=0 if they cannot perform even a basic rendition of the LRP? Knowing the Knowledge Lecture is simply not good enough. The Golden Dawn is not an academic institute, even if it provides a very good academic knowledge of occultism along with its practical work.

    There is then the issue of strictness in examinations. I admit that I would be reasonably strict with this, particularly in terms of the practical work. However, it is more important that one be able to carry out the practical work than get 100% in the intellectual examination. Mixing up two Hebrew letters is not as big an error as mixing up the names in the LRP or assigning the officers to the wrong stations. Thus I would be more likely to be lenient on someone who got a few percent (stressing few) under the requirement to pass their written exam, but would have no issue with failing someone who was unable to perform their basic ritual work.

    As with all things in the Golden Dawn, balance is key. A good ritualist who does not know the Knowledge Lectures will be unable to explain their experiences, while a good academic will not be able to experience anything at all.

    Wednesday 27 January 2010

    The License to Depart

    There has been some debate in recent times regarding the importance of the License to Depart, and, if, indeed, it is needed at all. While some make arguments for the latter I personally believe the License to Depart is necessary for good practice of ceremonial magic. Yes, ceremonies can still work without it, but I think they work better with it, and it's included in most grimoires and traditions for a very good reason.

    Sometimes it is not employed due to pure laziness, while other times it is not employed because the magician in question believes it negates the effects of the previous invocation. Others dislike the idea of telling spirits to "get the hell out", but really I believe this shows a lack of understanding of what the License to Depart actually is. A License to Depart is the giving of permisison to leave (i.e. they are required to stay the length of your working for whatever your need is), not a command to leave. If they fail to leave (most genuine entities will not), then follows the banishing to remove them and anything else. Thus a banishing can still be quite essential even after a License to Depart is employed. Usually when a Divine Name ruling the spirit in question is employed in the License to Depart (for example: "depart in peace in the name of [Divine Name]") there should be no issue with the spirit leaving. A general banishing may be appropriate for other stray energy or elementals attracted by the ritual.

    Some form of "closing" is essential for the sanity of the magician. To not close (in whatever fashion) means that the mental state and magical energy raised are being brought into one's everyday life. If a magician opens, then they should close. It would be like not removing one's robe after a working. The initiation ceremonies of the Golden Dawn employ an Opening and Closing for a very good reason, and just as we employ the structure of these rituals (particularly that of the 0=0 in the Z-2 formula) for our ceremonial work, so too should we employ a suitable Opening and Closing (points E and X of the Z-2 formula).

    A general formula for writing a License to Depart is as follows:

    1. Thank the entity for showing up, particularly in the case of Angels, etc.
    2. Ask the entity to depart in the name of a higher power (in much the same way you would have asked them to appear by such a name).
    3. Add a clause for peace between the entity and you ("May there be peace between us").
    4. Add a blessing to the spirit if suitable, particularly depending on one's religious affiliations ("The blessings of God/Yeheshuah/the God and Goddess be upon you").
    5. Close with a suitable phrase or word ("In the name of... Amen").

    Tuesday 19 January 2010

    The Ritual Voice, Part 2

    Frequently I am reminded of the importance of how we deliver our lines during ritual. In addition to the points made in my previous post there is the matter of how we pronounce different words in the ritual.

    I do not mean that we need to employ a certain accent or correct imperfections in our general pronunciation (though such corrections may also help), but more that we pronounce the words with the sound that represents the meaning behind them.

    For example, if the word "whisper" appears in the text, it should be whispered. There should be a softness, a sound of a breeze billowing through the Hall, as if sounded by some ethereal voice. In contrast the word "cry" should be cried aloud, forceful and full of emotion. The word "roar" should be roared (not to say that you let everyone in the city hear, but that you encapsulate the sound of a roar within a smaller setting).

    It helps, therefore, to spend some time considering the sounds that each word makes and what these sounds suggest to you, because sound affects us in ritual just as much as colour, smell and movement do. Harking back to our school lessons on onomatopoeia can pay dividends in this regard.

    Sunday 17 January 2010

    Poetry: A Pale Afterthought

    In these mingled moments when the earth grows cold,
    When all of us yet living watch catastrophe unfold,
    There is a lonely glimmer buried deep beneath the rubble
    Of our colder hearts that led us to this trouble.
    If only we had dared to cast our greedy glances
    Upon the poorest nations who do not get our second chances
    To live a life worth living on this angered earth,
    This little ball of rubble that is our place of birth,
    Then maybe, for a moment, we would make a change,
    A bargain well worth making, a life for death exchange,
    A little bit of offering, a helping hand in need
    Instead of giving only to our hungry friend called greed.
    Then maybe we could give to them when they're still alive
    Instead of this pale afterthought to help a few survive.
    I suppose it clears our conscience, makes us feel real good
    That our aid has reached these people now... instead of when it should.

    Healing for Haiti

    I join with many other mystics and magicians in offering my prayers and magical energies to Haiti, to both the living, the dead, and the dying. Please join your fellow Fratres and Sorores in offering your time, money, magic, or anything you can to aid the people of Haiti and the aidworkers who are struggling to deliver this aid. Monetary donations can be made to a number of organisations, including the Irish Red Cross.

    Let us also take time to remove the veil of ignorance and spend some time and money on preventing such disasters occuring. There are other poor countries around the world who are prone to natural disaster, only they do not have the resources to prevent buildings collapsing, etc. This is the man-made disaster that made things worse.

    Saturday 16 January 2010

    Hermetic Virtues, No. 11

    Issue 11 of Hermetic Virtues has been released, containing the following excellent articles:

    + Basic Alchemy for the Golden Dawn by Samuel Scarborough
    + Temperance by Harry Wendrich
    + The Will or Rotzohn by Olen Rush
    + Sacred Geometry: Polygons and Polygrams, Part I by Sandra Tabatha Cicero
    + The Seven-branched Candlestick and the Angels of the Heptarchia, by Nick Farrell
    + An Exposition on the Infernal Habitations, Part I by Rachel Walker
    + An Interview with Pat Zalewski by Nick Farrell
    + The Story of "Venus Awakening" by Nicola Wendrich
    + The Secret Fire: An Alchemical Study - a Review by Samuel Scarborough
    + V.I.T.R.I.O.L. by Vic Sabljic
    + A Solo Winter Solstice Rite by Nick Farrell

    To obtain a copy, click here.

    Tuesday 12 January 2010

    Monday 11 January 2010

    Notes on Geomancy

    Nick Farrell published a free guide to Geomancy on his website, which can be found here.

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