Mishkan ha-Echad

Saturday 31 March 2012

Enochian Magic in Theory - Free Chapter Sample

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

Wednesday 28 March 2012

Golden Dawn Inner Workings

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

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

Monday 26 March 2012

Material Gain and the Golden Dawn

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Making Tools - Do It Yourself

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday 24 March 2012

Join the Golden Dawn Forum

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

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

Thursday 22 March 2012

Peregrin Wildoak's Interview with Nick Farrell

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

Monday 19 March 2012

Making Tools - Materials

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

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

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

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

Yeats' Tzadkiel Talisman

Yeats' Rose Cross Lamen

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

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

Images © National Library of Ireland

Sunday 18 March 2012

Book Review: The Book of the Concourse of the Watchtowers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday 4 March 2012

Enochian Magic in Theory on Amazon and Barnes & Noble

My book on Enochian magic is now available to buy from Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble, with free shipping.

There are still copies of the Limited Hardback Edition available to pre-order. They will hopefully start shipping next week.

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