Mishkan ha-Echad

Wednesday 18 July 2012

The Password of the Equinox

The Password, like everything in the Golden Dawn tradition, is more than just a word used to distinguish initiates from non-initiates - it has magical reasons and applications that far surpass its mundane purpose.

At each Equinox the Password is changed. The Hiereus explains why this occurs: "The password ... will be periodically changed at each Equinox so that a member who has resigned, demitted or been expelled from the Order, may be in ignorance of the existing password."

This is the practical reason, which makes sense and ties in with the Masonic roots of the practice. It was likely particularly useful in the Victorian era when members may have been travelling long distances and would not have had the luxury of internet groups from which they could get to know people — leaving the Password as one of the primary forms of knowing who was or was not an initiate for those who had not met before.

But magic underscores all that we do, and while much of our ritual technique comes from Masonic convention, the additional layer of magic is what makes it the Golden Dawn.

The Password is, in many ways, a temporary magical motto for the Order, and just as the motto represents the spiritual and magical goals of the initiate, so too does the Password represent the spiritual and magical goals of the Order for the period it is in use. 

The Chiefs of the Order or Temple may choose a Password in a variety of ways, such as a more passive form via divination (like the Ring and Disc), which can be opened with an invocation to the Guardians of the Hidden Knowledge and the egregore of the Order, allowing it to suggest a word that will best suit what is needed at the time.

A more active technique is also possible, where the Chiefs may decide upon a specific short-term goal for the group, depending on the specific issues or aspirations noted at the time.

The ramifications of the Password chosen may also be explored through divination, and a combination of active and passive techniques can be employed to find the most appropriate word to install at the Equinox.

There are many magical applications of the Password for all members as well. It connects them to the egregore of the Order and can be employed on a regular basis as part of a connection rite. It can also be used literally as a password to get into an astral temple.

We are tasked in the Oath to not discuss anything pledged to secrecy with anyone unless "they are in possession of the password for the time being." The Password, therefore, is that mystical word with which we bridge the silence of a primal sleep. It is the lock that keeps the secrets safe, and also the key to unlocking those secrets, for it is the word spoken to the Sentinel on approaching the temple doors, the word that bars and opens.

Monday 2 July 2012

Book Review: Enochian Magic in Theory [Behutet Magazine]

Review by Charles Humphries
(Published in a forthcoming issue of Behutet Magazine)

Enochian Magic in Theory
Dean F. Wilson (a.k.a. Frater Yechidah)
Kerubim Press, Copyright Dublin 2012 
Trade Paperback, Nonfiction, Magick Reference
ISBN: 978-1-908705-03-7
$30.00 US (most websites and retailers)

Dean F. Wilson has offered the first of two of what look to be refreshing and welcome additions to the Enochian Section of any Magician’s library. Meant to be the first of two books, one of Theory and one of Practice, Enochian Magic in Theory is basically a summary of the structure of the extant records of the operations of John Dee and Edward Kelley. There are several accounts of these, with most die-hard enthusiasts having and perusing their own scans of the manuscripts themselves. I myself have spent the better part of two decades going through exactly that process. I know well the mistakes commonly made, the ideas that get merged with but do not originate with the “Enochian” source journals. I have a fairly impressive experience in Golden Dawn related approaches, and was a veteran of the infamous rounds of early Enochian internet subculture under many various screen names and guises.

Upon receiving my copy of Dean’s publication, I was filled with excitement. From the minute this book is in your hands, you see its quality. I have read his blog on occasion, and spoke with him online enough to understand he is very much of a similar mind as me on the fallacy of words such as “right and wrong” and is more liable to use “consistent and sincere” as a complimentary polarity of true use to a magician not crippled by superstition and arrogance. In the six months or so I have occasionally spoken with Dean, I greatly enjoy our conversations which have revealed him as a person well-qualified to write a book expressing his perspective on popular opinions on Enochian Magic.

He spares no expense making such a treasurehouse of opinions from most sources, either. In fact, from printed and electronically distributed perspectives on nearly every source of easily attained Enochian scholarship I have seen, ranging from the best-selling and easily digested to the freely distributed and brain wracking, he pretty much samples a bit of all of them. If you are not sure where or who to start with in Enochian Magic and just want to see a combined outline of the prevalent thoughts on the components, and see their integration, his book is frankly the perfect choice. I could not imagine I have three books on my shelf on John Dee or Enochian that he does not cover, mention, or quote; aside from an obscure textbook translated from Poland. And just as freely, he credits fellow artisans and scholars with their own findings. Unfortunately, in such a book I would expect to see some reinteration, and some misstatement or biased conclusions. One HUGE one is the old conclusion about IAD BALT (Lord of Justice) and Yaldoboath.

There is really no reason to think these two are connected aside from their phonic similarity. There are a few other conclusions I do not share and a few facts I would check about the order of things, and some leaps I probably make that he does not, but all of that is ultimately not really important to know we can agree to disagree. However, even though I disagree with the idea as presented, I do encourage one entertain it themselves. I also like that he mentions several prevailing ideas that even he questions. If anything, Enochian Magic in Theory is a supercharged well-executed effort to bring a magician up to speed on the general variety of influences, opinions, and ideas one might encounter in the broad spectrum of people drawn to this Art.

Dean’s writing style is easy to read, and his treatment of subjects is both speculative and competent. He makes good use of his 356 pages to include a dictionary of the calls, a list of the expansive catalogues of spirits, and to illustrate nearly every table that is diagrammed in Dee’s own work. His writing style is far from formal, but it is certainly more engaging than a casual tone. You immediately sense that Dean not only believes the potency of this work, but that he has experienced it. Furthermore, he encourages that experience to form an opinion of your own. I rather like that approach instead of the “sheltered genius” amassing everyone else’s findings.

The binding is great, the spine does not break from casual reading, and the interlaid textured-blue graphics that form a nice backdrop to an imposed Sigillum many will recognize as a centerpiece to John Dee’s work. But the real gem is the work itself, though I encourage EVERY person who seeks to look into actual practice of this work look back into the diaries of John Dee that we are fortunate to still have. This book provides a quality resource for those who do so, or just want to skip the 16th century and just start working it immediately. This book is written fearlessly, and with little of the stigma or overly cautious tone many books address Enochian in. I would personally be comfortable saying this would be a excellent first book on Enochian Magic, and a invaluable resource in the personal library of even seasoned participants in the legacy of John Dee, The Golden Dawn, Aleister Crowley, and other modern approaches. I eagerly wait this book's companion, presumably "Enochian Magic in Practice" and anticipate being equally satisfied with how he develops such a well rounded understanding of the full spectrum of what is considered "Enochian Magic" into a body of practical work and personal development.

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