Mishkan ha-Echad

Wednesday 23 December 2015

The Provenance of John Dee's Obsidian Mirror

Image Copyright: British Museum

It is widely believed today that the Obsidian Mirror on display in the British Museum was used by Dee and Kelley, a matter that is largely taken for granted, thanks to it being in the same display cabinet as other items linked with Dee, and its attribution to the Elizabethan magician by museum staff.

This Mirror is of Aztec origin, leading some to suggest a possible Aztec link to the Enochian workings. Yet this is all based on the assumption that this device was, in fact, Dee's, whereas there is no real evidence that this is actually the case.

This assumption is primarily based on a claim by Horace Walpole, who received this item in 1771. The note pasted to the accompanying case, believed to be written in Walpole's handwriting and initialled by him, reads: “The Black Stone into which Dr Dee used to call his Spirits.” It was not acquired by the British Museum until 1966, where it continues to be labelled as Dee's “Magical Mirror” or “Magical Speculum,” based solely on Walpole's unverified claim.

Some even believe this was the object that mysteriously appeared by the window during one of Dee and Kelley's workings, but this has no basis. The stone that Dee found was described by Kelley as being “as big as an egg: most bright, clear and glorious,” while Dee said it was “roundish, and less than the palm of my hand.”[1] Given that the Mirror in the British Museum has a height of 22cm (including the small handle) and a diameter of 18.4cm, this clearly cannot be the same object that fit in Dee's hand. Indeed, it is almost as large as the Sigillum Dei Aemeth itself. While Dee later described the stone as being half an inch in thickness, which the Mirror roughly is, the other dimensions simply do not match. I would also argue that Dee's description of the object he found being “roundish,” and the numerous references to it being a “stone” (and not a “glass”) suggest it was spherical, not to mention Kelley's description of it being “bright” and “clear”—in other words, a classic crystal ball, not a black mirror.

Of course, Dee had several objects in his possession for skrying, so it could be argued that the Obsidian Mirror was one of these. However, I have yet to find a single reference to this object in any of Dee's diaries, whereas there are numerous mentions of his various shewstones. One would think that if this Mirror was “used to call his Spirits,” there would be mention of it somewhere, particularly given Dee's meticulous record-keeping, not to mention its origin in the New World.

The authenticity of this object has also been challenged by several scholars, including Christopher Whitby, who wrote about it at length, stating finally “the evidence connecting the mirror with Dee is very circumstantial.”[2]

Further, in an article on the provenance of the items associated with Dee in the British Museum, written by Silke Ackermann, a former curator of the British Museum, and Louise Devoy, curator of the Royal Observatory, they noted that “at the present time, and without further evidence, any suggestion of a direct link between the obsidian mirror and John Dee remains conjectural.”[3]

They also categorically denied a link between the Golden Talisman and Dee, stating, “we have established that the engraving of the Vision of the Four Castles is based upon Casaubon’s erroneous diagram of 1659, and can therefore state that the disc certainly did not belong to Dee, nor was it made during his lifetime.”[4] While they noted a lack of definitive evidence linking the wax seals with Dee, they recognised that the internal evidence (of how closely they match the instructions and diagram in Dee’s diaries) offers “the strongest potential link to Dee.”[5]

Indeed, even the provenance of the crystal ball on display in the British Museum is questionable, and it was not originally associated with Dee by museum staff. It is only one of several devices that have been attributed to Dee over the years. 

For example, there is another crystal ball in the Science Museum in South Kensington, which Nicholas Culpeper claimed was given to him by Dee's son Arthur. Culpeper apparently used this stone, which is of a purplish hue and is contained within a metal frame upon a small chain, until 1651, when he said he encountered within it a lewd and depraved entity. It is difficult to say if this object was genuinely possessed by Dee.

There is also a convex Claude glass in a circular case in the Science Museum that is attributed to Dee and his spirit workings, but this is more likely to be the one that Dee used to display optical illusions to people,[6] including Queen Elizabeth I, if indeed it is Dee's at all.

We see, therefore, that many people have claimed to have received one of Dee's magical devices over the years. Indeed, Francis Barrett noted in 1801 that there were as many as seven people purporting to have one of these illustrious heirlooms:

“Although Dee's manuscripts, and his Magic Chrystal, are to be seen at the Museum, there are six or seven individuals in London who assert they have the stone in their possession; thereby wishing to deceive the credulous, and to tempt them to a purchase at an enormous price.”[7]

Given Dee's popularity (or notoriety), it is not surprising why people would make such claims, but it does considerably muddy the water in terms of scholarship, not to mention leading to unsupported (though evidently very popular) beliefs like that of Dee's alleged Obsidian Mirror.

This is important in a practical sense, because there are many people attempting to recreate the process used by Dee and Kelley, employing a similar black mirror instead of the more traditional shewstone. While there is nothing stopping anyone from using any object they desire in their own personal spirit workings, it seems very unlikely that they would actually be emulating Dee in this regard.

Extracted from Enochian Magic in Practice by Frater Yechidah


1 Joseph H. Peterson, ed. John Dee's Five Books of Mystery, p. 253. 

2 Christopher Whitby, John Dee's Actions With Spirits, p. 141. 

3 Silke Ackermann, Louise Devoy, ‘The Lord of the smoking mirror’: Objects associated with John Dee in the British Museum; Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A, Volume 43, Issue 3, September 2012, p. 543.

4 Ibid., p. 548.

5 Ibid., p. 547.

6 See Dee's The Mathematical Preface to Elements of Geometry of Euclid of Megara, where he describes this object. 

7 Francis Barrett, The Magus, Book II, p. 196 (footnote).

Tuesday 22 December 2015

The Horns of Metatron and Sandalphon

It may seem strange at first when some people encounter the diagram of the Kerubim and the Flaming Sword in the 1=10 Grade, which shows on either side of the Flaming Sword the heads (and only the heads) of the two Great Angels Metatron and Sandalphon, both of whom have horns.

These same angels are also drawn with horns on the Great Seal that is found on the Obligation and Membership Scroll of the Second Order.

Generally when we think of horned entities we think of devils and demons, not angels, so this can be quite a surprise to many, and may even lead some to question the nature of these depictions.

This view of horned beings was not always the case, however. For example, Moses was often depicted with horns, based on a translation of Exodus 34:29 in the Vulgate, where the Hebrew קרן (qaran) became the Latin cornuta (meaning "horned"). The Hebrew word can also be translated as "to display horns" (or, more simply, "horned"), based on its root word qeren (also spelled קרן, but with different pointing), which means "a horn."

This led to many popular renditions of a horned Moses, such as the well-known statue carved by Michelangelo around 1515, as shown below:

In fact, the concept of a horned Moses was very popular, and was replicated time and time again in paintings and statues.

However, there is an alternate (and more popular today) translation of the word qaran as "to send out rays" (or "rayed" or "shining," sometimes taken to mean "glorified"), and this tends to be supported by the Biblical verse itself, where Moses had just spoken with God and received the two tablets on Mount Sinai.

This conception is also depicted in artwork, such as this fresco by Andrea da Firenze:

Here we see the horns have become rays of light, which is a form that many may find easier to accept. Yet these could also be said to be horns of light.

This form of Moses was also tied to some stories about Metatron, where, for example, the angel appeared as a horned youth (see p. 424 of The Faces of the Chariot: Early Jewish Responses to Ezekiel's Vision by David J. Halperin).

Another depiction of the horned Metatron can be found on the First Pentacle of the Sun in The Key of Solomon the King, translated by Mathers.

This design is essentially identical to how this Great Angel is shown in the diagram displayed in the 1=10 Grade, down to the shape of the horns. A similar, feminine form is given for Sandalphon on the other side.

Of course, the above is only scratching the surface when it comes to these "Bovine Horns," but it does show that horns have been used for many centuries to depict holy people or beings.

Sunday 8 November 2015

A Rosicrucian by Any Other Name, Part 2

As a follow-up to my previous blog post, questioning the supposed rule that a Rosicrucian cannot claim to be a Rosicrucian, I have discovered some additional references that really do make it clear that the Golden Dawn founders, at least, did not accept this view (and, indeed, violated it, if there ever was such a rule then to violate), and it was also not (and still is not) held by many others within the wider Rosicrucian community.

1. Mathers wrote an open letter that was published in the public occult journal Lucifer (run by the Theosophical Society) in 1889 (just one year after the founding of the GD), challenging a group called the Order of the Dew and the Light, which claimed to be the true and only descendants of the "Fraternitas Rosae Crucis."

He explicitly stated that he was writing "on behalf of the Metropolitan College of the Rosicrucian Society of England," openly named Woodman as head of that same order, and stated that Westcott was Secretary General. Mathers signed the letter with his full name, rank, and title.

At no point were mottos used here. All three founders were publicly declared as members of the SRIA, and thus were Rosicrucians. While Mathers does not explicitly state "I am a Rosicrucian" in this letter, it is clearly implied, and anyone reading it would have been certain that Mathers viewed himself as a Rosicrucian.

2. In a letter to the same journal, Westcott (signing with his real name) wrote the following (in response to an attack on the SRIA for its alleged focus on dinners and suppers, which Westcott obviously disputed):

"we Rosicrucians confess to taking dinners and even suppers also when we require them ..."

There is no room for ambiguity here. Westcott literally says that he, and other members of the Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia, are Rosicrucians.

3. In 1916, Mathers wrote an article for The Azoth Magazine (published in 1917), with the following title and byline:

The Real and True Rosicrucian Order
by its Head, The Comte de MacGregor de Glenstrae

While Mathers did not use his full name, it was pretty clear who he was, and what he claimed: that he was the head of the real and true Rosicrucian Order, and that, therefore, he was a Rosicrucian.

4. In an obituary for Mathers written by A.E. Waite and published in the public esoteric journal The Occult Review in 1919, Waite describes how he met Mathers around 1883 in the British Museum, and some of the first words Mathers said to him:

"I am a Rosicrucian and a Freemason; therefore I can speak of some things, but of others I cannot speak."

Here we see Mathers literally speaking the very words that some today suggest are forbidden (or somehow proof that the person is not what is claimed). Again, there is no ambiguity here, and no way to interpret this other than to say that clearly Mathers, like Westcott, did not believe in this supposed prohibition.

5. What of other Rosicrucian streams, however? While my focus is obviously on the GD side of things, I have been unable at present to find any other sources of this alleged rule. Indeed, I have found the opposite.

An organisation called the Fraternitas Rosae Crucis was established by Paschal Beverly Randolph in 1858, and one John B. Pilkington wrote about meeting Randolph to a Boston newspaper in 1861, stating these as Randolph's words:

"I am a Rosicrucian, and cannot accept money; keep it."

6. The Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia (SRIA) openly claims to be a "society of Rosicrucian Freemasons," and publicly lists the names and contact details of the secretaries of its various colleges on its website. Again, no mottos. Real names. In doing so, the implication is that they are claiming to be Rosicrucians, and therefore see no problem with it.

Now, it is open to debate whether or not such public presentation is good or wise, or if it is becoming of such a Fraternity long held to be secret, and I can see the merits of such arguments (and counter-arguments). Even Waite wondered this in relation to Mathers' announcement to him.

Yet that debate is beside the point. The focus here is on whether or not it is Rosicrucian tradition that one cannot claim to be a Rosicrucian. I believe the numerous examples given above, and in my previous post, raise some serious doubts about this supposed prohibition.

Friday 6 November 2015

A Rosicrucian by Any Other Name, Part 1

A common view espoused today is that a Rosicrucian may not claim to be a Rosicrucian, that doing so essentially shows that he or she is not actually a member of that Fraternity.

Peregrin Wildoak raised this topic in his recent blog post with a number of sources for this rule, and though the sources may appear initially compelling, there are a number of issues which make me question just how authentic this prohibition really is, and how valid it is in the context of the Golden Dawn.

1. The primary sources for Rosicrucianism are, of course, the Fama and Confessio, and it is the Fama that gives us six articles that the ancient brethren bound each other to keep. The first two of these concern us, given that they are cited as evidence for the aforementioned rule.

"1. First, That none of them should profess any other thing than to cure the sick, and that gratis.  
2. None of the Posterity should be constrained to wear one certain kind of habit, but therein to follow the custom of the Country."

Neither of these state that a Rosicrucian cannot claim to be a Rosicrucian. 

The first states that he or she should not profess to "any other thing" than to cure the sick. This, to me, is a clause about claiming abilities, not names.

The second is about the style of dress, that members of the Fraternity should not be required to wear a particular form of regalia, but rather blend in with the culture in which he or she is operating. This largely ties in with the concept of secrecy.

To my knowledge, neither the Fama nor Confessio say elsewhere that no one can claim to be a Rosicrucian, and, indeed, don't even use the word "Rosicrucian" at all. The concept, therefore, appears to have come much later.

2. The third pivotal text in the Rosicrucian corpus is the Chymical Wedding of Christian Rosenkreutz (and, indeed, it is from here that we get the name of the founder of the Fraternity, it being rendered simply C.R.C. in the manifestos).

This text also does not use the term "Rosicrucian," but we do find the following:

"Now I having replied that I was a Brother of the Red-Rosy Cross, he both wondered and seemed to rejoice at it ..."

It is clear that the protagonist in this text claims to be a member of the Fraternity, and thus, by implication, he claims to be a Rosicrucian.

3. The prohibition appears to be much clearer in the following example, which is from the end of the Third Part of the 5=6 Ritual from the Hermes Temple of the Stella Matutina in Israel Regardie's The Golden Dawn:

“Finally, you must understand that you are never permitted to say to anyone not a member of this Order that you are a Rosicrucian.”

That seems fairly clear indeed, but the problem is that this line is not present in the original Golden Dawn 5=6 Ritual, nor in the AO ceremony. It seems it is a later addition by the Stella Matutina (which did not restrict its changes to the lower grades, but made several alterations to the Adeptus Minor ritual, including completely changing the Grip).

Interestingly, this line also does not feature in a Stella Matutina copy of the 5=6 Ritual from the Amoun Temple from c. 1914, suggesting the insertion of this rule was made after this date (and before the publication of Regardie's book).

Yet it is clear that this prohibition was never part of the original Golden Dawn teachings.

4. The Obligation of the 5=6 Grade does, however, make the following reference in relation to the Malkuth clause:

“Finally, if in my travels I should meet a stranger who professes to be a member of the Rosicrucian Order, I will examine him with care before acknowledging him to be so.”

This is more about the use of discernment and discrimination (the Virtue of Malkuth), encouraging Adepti Minores to test others claiming to be Rosicrucians. It does not prohibit them from claiming to be Rosicrucians, and it allows for someone who claims to be a Rosicrucian to be acknowledged as such if examined first.

5. Mathers and Westcott clearly did not have any problem with describing the GD as Rosicrucian, given that some papers are titled “Hermetic Students of the Rosicrucian Order of the G.D.” Likewise, the AO was sometimes referred to as “Rosicrucian Order of A.O.” More on these names, and the numerous other forms used by the historical Order, can be found here.

6. The Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia (SRIA), to which all three GD founders belonged, and from which some of the structure of the GD was adopted, clearly claims to be Rosicrucian, and Westcott explicitly claims it to be Rosicrucian in numerous places, not least of all the Historic Lecture given to Neophytes in the GD.

It seems to me, therefore, that this "rule" does not have as much basis as previously assumed.

Tuesday 3 November 2015

Lamens of the Golden Dawn, Part 1

For decades, the designs on the Lamens worn by the Officers in Golden Dawn ceremonies has largely been taken for granted, with the vast majority of people relying on or replicating the forms given in Israel Regardie's The Golden Dawn, or other books.

The original source material shows some subtle, and not so subtle, differences, which I will highlight in this series of articles.

To begin, let us look at the Lamens as given in Regardie's book:

Next, let us look at the original designs drawn by Mathers, with his accompanying description beneath them (click the image for a larger version):

There are numerous points of interest here, but for now I will focus on one that I think has been consistently overlooked: the fact that the Lamens of the Inferior Officers (Kerux, Stolistes, and Dadouchos) do not have a white circle (or border) around them.

Of course, it is always possible that Mathers made a mistake, forgetting to add the circles, but the descriptions below them, where the borders for the Superior Officers are mentioned, and none are mentioned for the remainder, makes this an unlikely scenario.

Another possibility is that he altered the designs after drafting these, but evidence elsewhere suggests that this is not the case.

For example, Z1 describes the Lamens in some detail, giving quotations from the previous ceremonies, and the outer circle is explicitly referred to in the case of the Hiereus and Hegemon, and inferred in the case of the Hierophant, while also being drawn in accompanying full-colour diagrams.

Z1 makes zero mention, however, of there being surrounding circles in the Lamens of the Inferior Officers, supporting the form as outlined in the above diagram by Mathers.

Interestingly, those worn by the Hierophant, Hiereus and Hegemon are all referred to as a "Great Lamen," while the remainder are just called Lamens, which also highlights their distinction.

This is further exemplified in a diagram showing these three Lamens on the Tree of Life, with their accompanying circles, a version of which is published in Adept Magic in the Golden Dawn Tradition by Frater YShY.

Further still, there are surviving AO drawings of several of the Lamens, dating from around 1904, and these only show the circles for the Superior Officers.

While some may see this as being a minor point, if we accept that symbolism is important, as evidenced by the Great Lamens on the Tree of Life diagram, then we must in turn accept that errors in symbolism are also important.

Of course, it is always possible that the Stella Matutina changed the design of the Lamens, and Israel Regardie subsequently inherited this change, but I think the above shows that in the case of the original GD, and the AO, the Lamens of the Inferior Officers did not have a surrounding circle.

Tuesday 29 September 2015

Common Errors in the Elemental Implements

A variety of popular books, and the advent of the internet, have created and perpetuated a number of errors in the Elemental Implements, which are being unwittingly copied and promulgated by a new generation of occult students.

Firstly, Robert Wang's The Secret Temple gave the wrong Divine Names for the Elemental Implements, adopting the Sephirothic names instead of the Elemental ones (that we see in the Supreme Ritual of the Pentagram). His errors were duplicated and popularised by Donald Michael Kraig's Modern Magick.

Wang and Kraig give the following:

Fire Wand: YHVH Tzabaoth
Water Cup: Elohim Tzabaoth
Air Dagger: Shaddai El Chai
Earth Pantacle: Adonai ha-Aretz

The correct names are:

Fire Wand: Elohim
Water Cup: El
Air Dagger: YHVH
Earth Pantacle: Adonai

Further, most depictions of the Earth Pantacle are missing a name: Aphar (עפר). This is another name for earth, often translated as "dry earth" or "dust". It goes between Tzaphon and Aretz.

Another common error is the spelling of Madim, the Hebrew name for Mars, which is employed with the Magical Sword. The spelling is often given as מדים, but it should actually be spelled מאדים (with an Aleph). I was informed of this error by a native Hebrew speaker, and I initially thought it was a mistake made by the original Order (as some papers have the missing Aleph), until I found instances in original papers where it was, in fact, spelled correctly.

This error also changes the shape of the sigil drawn from the Rose, and thus is quite significant.

The above is confirmed by numerous extant copies of Ritual G, the expanded consecration instructions by Westcott, notes made by original Order members (George Pollexfen, Yeats' uncle, made lists of all the appropriate names in English and Hebrew, with their sigil from the Rose), and surviving implements (such as Yeats' and Ayton's Earth Pantacles).

Of course, it is important to consider that errors can and will happen. Making mistakes is not necessarily the issue (none of us are perfect). Ignoring or continuing to make those mistakes is a different matter entirely, and I hope the above helps some students avoid these common errors.

Monday 7 September 2015

Pre-order Enochian Magic in Practice

05 September 2015—Dublin, Ireland—KERUBIM PRESS has announced that readers can now pre-order the Limited Hardback Edition of its latest esoteric title, Enochian Magic in Practice by Frater Yechidah (ISBN 978-1-908705-13-6), due to launch in January 2016.

There will be only 100 signed and numbered copies of the Limited Hardback Edition. A paperback edition will follow several months later.

The sequel to the widely praised Enochian Magic in Theory, this book has been in the works for some time, and we are proud to finally bring you this much-awaited volume.

Check out the (preliminary) back cover description:

The second of Frater Yechidah’s eagerly awaited Enochian Magic series, detailing John Dee and Edward Kelley’s magical system in extraordinary detail, from the Heptarchic system to Enochian proper.

This expansive volume goes beyond the theory, giving a detailed, thorough and comprehensive guide on how to put Enochian magic into practice, from skyring and evocation to tools and talismans, and, for the first time ever, a complete method for the binding of Cacodaemons.

This tome gives easy to follow instructions on how to use the Enochian system, both from the original Dee perspective, and also from more modern techniques, such as those employed by the Golden Dawn, Aleister Crowley, the O.’.S.’.D.’.L.’., and other magicians.

The Limited Hardback Edition is priced at €50 (+€15 shipping), and can be ordered through PayPal from the product page here.

Since this is a one time hardback print run, make sure to order early to avoid disappointment. Orders will be shipped in January 2016.

The paperback version (ISBN 978-1-908705-14-3) will release at a later date and will retail for $29.99, £19.99, €24.99, or AU$39.99. It will be available through all major online bookstores, including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and The Book Depository. Bookstores are welcome to contact Kerubim Press to inquire about wholesale options.

(The cover shown is that of the paperback edition. The hardback version will have a slightly different cover.)

Wednesday 15 July 2015

The Name/s of the Order of the Golden Dawn

For some years there has been some debate on what the "true" name of the Golden Dawn was, whether it was Hermetic, Esoteric, Rosicrucian, or something else entirely. Some suggest it was one or the other, and that all other descriptors are wrong, but history says otherwise.

Firstly, if we look at the rituals themselves, the terminology used is "Order of the Golden Dawn in the Outer." This is, to the best of my knowledge, universal in all surviving copies of the original Order rituals.

The Ordinances give: "The First Order of the G.D. in the Outer." The Bye-laws of Isis-Urania give: "Order of the G.D. in the Outer." Circulars issued to members announcing meeting times also use this form. Likewise, the temple warrants use the same.

However, all labels on Order documents contained the title "Hermetic Order of the G.D."

To muddy the waters a little more, the title page of some documents gives: "Hermetic Students of the G.D."

Others say: "Hermetic Students of the Rosicrucian Order of the G.D."

In Westcott's "Historic Lecture to Neophytes," originally delivered in March 1888, he refers to it as simply the "Order of the G.D. in the Outer" (matching the rituals), but then calls it "an Hermetic Society."

Westcott further gives the name of the Order "in the several languages." These are:

"In Hebrew the title is 'Chabrath or Chevrah Zereh aour bokher' which means 'Society of the Shining Light of the Dawn.' [This is given as Chabrath Zerech Aur Boqer חברת זרח אור בקר in the Cipher MS.] 
"While yet Latin was the language in almost universal use amongst persons of culture the name was 'Aurora'. 
"In Greek Hē eōs Chrisē η εως χρυση. 
"In French, 'L'aube Dorée'. 
"In German the title is 'Die Goldene Dammerung.'"

In a response to a query about the group in the journal Notes and Queries, Westcott wrote: "Its true name is only told to initiates, and the few outsiders who have heard of its existence know of the society as 'The Hermetic Students of the G.D.'" He also referred to it by this name in a lecture to the SRIA.

A letter to Westcott in January 1888, purporting to be written by Anna Sprengel, calls the group simply "the Order of the G.D." In a letter to Yeats in 1900, Westcott refers to it as "the G.D. Hermetic Society."

A letter from Mathers to the Editor of the journal Lucifer referred to the Order as "The Hermetic Students of the Rosicrucian G.D. in the outer."

The initial Pledge Forms, meanwhile, gave the name as "the Esoteric Order of the G.D. in the Outer."

For those who rebelled against Mathers in 1900, the name was soon changed, largely in response to the very public Horos scandal of 1901. In the draft rules of reconstitution devised in 1902, it says:

"The name of the Hermetic Society of the G.D. shall be changed to some other title, to be approved by the Council."

The name chosen was Morgenrothe (Morning Red, or Dawn), and the letters "G.D." on most labels were replaced with "M.R." Bye-laws from this time also give: "Der Scheine des Lichtes" (The Shining of the Light) in brackets beneath "M.R. in the Outer."

In Mathers' post-rebellion group, the name was changed to "Alpha et Omega." The rituals describe it as the "Rosicrucian Order of A.O." or "Rosicrucian Order of the A.O." Surviving Bye-laws give "A.O. in the Outer."

However, the labels typically call it "Hermetic Order of the A.O."

Some papers, reproduced by photographic negatives, simply say "Order of A.'.O.'."

Stella Matutina labels appear to be much simpler, with the number of the temple. For example: "H.O. 21" (Amoun) or "H.O. 49" (Whare Ra/Smaragdum Thalasses).

As a matter of curiosity, one copy of a 0=0 ritual from the Amoun temple has "Stella Matutina" crossed out and replaced with "Monocris de Astris" (Unicorn of the Stars), suggesting this was a name being contemplated. It does not appear this was ever formally adopted.

So, clearly there was no single name that was universally used, and all of the above descriptors are correct in their own way. Perhaps the simplest name to use (in the case of the original Order) is "Order of the Golden Dawn," as this is largely consistent throughout the various forms, and the one adopted in both the official rules and rituals.

Sunday 12 July 2015

Age and the Occult

Every so often I encounter some "rules" regarding how old one should be before embracing the occult, or comments that dismiss the role and contribution younger people have made. While some of these have some logic behind them, many of them are based on the presumption that older equals wiser (which, unfortunately, is not always the case).

It is well known that some Rabbis, such as Shabbatai HaKohen, suggested that a man should not study the Qabalah until he is at least 40, and that this gives him time to live life, have and raise a family, and thoroughly learn Jewish tradition and law.

Yet, according to Professor Elliot Wolfson, the Abraham Lieberman Professor of Hebrew and Judaic Studies at NYU, this rule was not widely followed, with many Qabalists starting out before 40, and some not even living to 40 years of age.

“For the most part, I do not see that this was ever taken too seriously until recent times,” Wolfson said, according to MyJewishLearning. “As interest in Kabbalah has spread and the level of Jewish literacy has diminished, some religious authorities have felt the need to emphasize that one should not study Kabbalah until one is 40.”

Indeed, Isaac Luria, widely considered the "father" of modern Qabalah, was only around 22 when he began studying the Zohar, and yet where would the Qabalah be today without him? We owe many of the concepts we take for granted to him.

In recent times, I've seen these kinds of rules and restrictions creep into Golden Dawn circles, and, unsurprisingly, they are unsupported by history.

For example, Mathers was just 34 when he co-founded the Golden Dawn (and 33 when he was writing the rituals), and yet he contributed a vast amount of material to the Order, which has influenced many magicians over the past century. He was also just 23 when he joined Freemasonry, and 28 when he joined the Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia, both of which heavily influenced him.

Likewise, Westcott was 39 when he co-founded the Golden Dawn (turning 40 later that year), and he also had his esoteric start with Freemasonry in his early 20s. Freemasonry was to become a pivotal aspect of his life, and he was, in the words of Waite, "a man whom you may ask by chance concerning some almost nameless Rite and it proves very shortly that he is either its British custodian or the holder of some high if inoperative office therein."

Indeed, Mathers and Westcott not only started young, but became prominent members of almost everything they joined. Both gave numerous erudite lectures while they themselves were still quite young, and some of these papers are still mined for occult wisdom today.

So much for starting at 40.

Monday 29 June 2015

The Sentinel Beyond 0=0, Part 2

My previous post highlighting evidence of the Sentinel's presence in the grades beyond 0=0 sparked some interesting and engaging debate, and has led me to further explore this issue, which has resulted in additional evidence that reinforces the argument I originally made.

To begin with, some questioned the reliability of Crowley's copies of the rituals, despite them being largely identical to other copies made by original members. Of course, what Crowley teaches in the OTO or AA is not a reliable indication of what the GD taught, but his transcripts of the GD rituals are a completely different matter.

Indeed, Crowley clearly opted not to make alterations to the text of the rituals themselves, but rather made notes on the opposite pages. While he may have shown a lack of understanding of the GD rituals (he writes, for example, "Is the Hg [Hegemon] an 'inferior officer'? I think not," despite the fact that the ritual says "I superintend the Inferior Officers..." [my italics]), he was at least accurate in his transcriptions of the rituals.

To put this point to rest, I checked Allan Bennett's copies of the grade ceremonies (made in 1894), which Crowley copied from. Unsurprisingly, they are essentially identical to Crowley, and they reference the Sentinel in both the opening and closing of the 3=8 and 4=7 ceremonies, as follows:

3=8 Opening 
"Hegemon, answered by Sentinel" 
3=8 Closing 
"Hg answered by S" 
4=7 Opening 
"Heg (answered by Sentinel) !" 
4=7 Closing 
"Hegemon rises and knocks at inside of door, answered by Sentinel."

So, clearly Crowley did not make this up, and he has proven to be far more reliable in this case than some make him out to be. Likewise, J.F.C. Fuller made copies from Bennett's rituals in 1906, which contain the same references to the Sentinel.

Another argument I have seen in relation to the Sentinel is that none of the ceremonies mention that the Stolistes and Dadouchos drop out after 1=10, nor do they mention that the Kerux drops out after 2=9. It has been suggested that if we were to follow my logic, that the rituals never state that Sentinel drops out, then we would have to apply the same to these other three officers.

To put this point to rest, let me highlight the fact that some rituals do in fact state clearly that the other three officers drop out, but do not mention the same for the Sentinel. For example, a 2=9 ceremony from the AO, dated 1904, states:

As in the Grade of Zelator, except that there is neither Stol and Dadouchos."

Not only does the above make it clear that those officers dropped out—it also raises the question that if the Sentinel is present in 1=10, as some readily accept, then the above description clearly tells us that all officers in 1=10, bar Stolistes and Dadouchos, are present in 2=9. This must therefore include Sentinel.

Likewise, the accompanying 3=8 ceremony states:

As in the Grade of Theoricus, except that there is no Kerux."

We therefore have evidence that these officers dropped out, but none that Sentinel dropped out after either 0=0 and 1=10.

In some copies of original GD ceremonies, lists of officers are given at the beginning. 3=8 and 4=7 typically list only the three primary officers, while 2=9 lists those plus Kerux, and 1=10 lists all bar the Sentinel. At first glance this can be seen as evidence that the Sentinel is not present. A second glance shows otherwise, as numerous 0=0 copies also do not list the Sentinel, which was largely considered a role outside of the ceremony.

Indeed, many copies of the 0=0 do not even show the Sentinel on the floor plan. By some people's logic, this means the office does not exist. The same logic has been applied to the dais officers, which are most definitely present during all Outer Order ceremonies. They are generally not drawn in temple layouts beyond 0=0, largely because they, like the Sentinel, do not move position, nor take part directly in the ritual (though they contribute in other ways). 

Yet, despite all of the above, we know for certain that Sentinel was present in 0=0.

Of course, we must also consider the practical aspects of the office of Sentinel. If a temple space is being rented, as it was in the original Order, which used one of the rooms in Mark Mason's Hall, then the need for some kind of security is essential. This practical necessity does not suddenly disappear after 0=0, nor does the magical necessity of an Outer Guard (which arguably is needed more than ever in the higher grades).

This practical requirement may be less pressing when it comes to those who operate purpose-built temples, such as Whare Ra, but the reality is that the original Order never had this luxury.

If we accept that Sentinel is indeed present in 1=10 and above, as the evidence suggests, then we must consider how this office is implemented. In 0=0 a Neophyte can hold this role, but the same may not be the case for higher grades, where the specific knocks and admission badges would be known by the Sentinel. The solution, of course, is to appoint a Sentinel of the respective grade, in much the same way that a Hegemon may be 3=8 in 3=8, but must be 4=7 in 4=7.

The above, coupled with the evidence presented in my first post on this matter, should be more than sufficient to show that the office of Sentinel was not abandoned after 0=0 or 1=10 in the original Order, and I predict that further research on this matter will uncover additional evidence of the same.

Monday 23 March 2015

The Sentinel Beyond 0=0, Part 1

In the modern Golden Dawn community, it is commonly believed that the Sentinel is not present after the 0=0 (or, in some cases, after the 1=10), but there is a significant body of evidence that shows that this was not the case in the original Order, that, in fact, the Sentinel stood outside the door of the Hall for all grades of the Outer Order.

Before we explore this evidence, let us consider some of the reasons why the Sentinel "dropping out" has become the status quo:

1. The vast majority of ritual scripts, including the redacted Stella Matutina texts printed in Regardie's book, do not mention the Sentinel in 1=10 and above. In most cases, when the Kerux or Hegemon is asked to check if the Hall is properly guarded, the rubrics simply say "Done," "Does so," "This is done," "Having done so," or something equally vague. In some cases, no rubric is given at all.

2. There is an established pattern of officers dropping out at particular grades (Stolistes and Dadouchos after 1=10, and Kerux after 2=9), and since Sentinel is the only office that can be held by a 0=0, it can be inferred that he or she likewise drops out after 0=0. This inference is even found in footnotes in Regardie's book.

3. There are proposed magical reasons based on the above pattern, one of which I have seen being the idea that the Sentinel is essentially "absorbed" by the Candidate after 0=0, and then Stolistes and Dadouchos are "absorbed" after 1=10, and so forth. Thus, the Candidate essentially takes on these roles him or herself in higher grades.

All of the above may seem quite compelling at first, but there are significant flaws with all three points:

Firstly, the lack of clarity in the rubrics does not, in fact, intimate that the Sentinel is not present, but rather that the process of checking if the Hall is properly guarded is simply done. I would argue that in places where the text does not specify directions, it is expected that the members would follow the previously instructed procedure, which, in this case, is given in the 0=0. In other words, the Kerux gives one knock, which is answered by the Sentinel.

Secondly, the pattern of officers who drop out from the ceremonies already has a major issue, because the Hegemon, whose office can be held by a 3=8, does not drop out after 3=8. That office is kept on for 4=7, and must be held by a 4=7 then. 

This also affects the proposed magical reasons for officers dropping out, because only the Stolistes, Dadouchos and Kerux actually drop out of the ceremonies. If the idea was that the Candidate "absorbs" each office as he or she goes through the ceremonies, why does the pattern suddenly stop halfway through? While I can see potential explanations for this, the point is that the noted pattern is not consistent, and thus cannot alone be used as a basis for the Sentinel following suit.

It is also important to consider the fact that dropping the Sentinel after 0=0 (or 1=10) effectively leaves the Hall unguarded for those higher grades, which is not a good thing practically, symbolically, or magically. This certainly would not follow the protocol established by either Freemasonry or the SRIA (both of which heavily influenced the GD), where the Tyler and Acolyte guard the door for all of the ceremonies.

Now, let us consider the actual evidence for the Sentinel remaining for all five Outer Order grades:

1. Crowley's handwritten copies of the rituals explicitly show that the Sentinel gives an answering knock to that given by the Hegemon, in the case of the 3=8 and 4=7, as shown below:

The Sentinel is also mentioned in the closing of the above ceremonies.

In the case of 1=10, the Sentinel is not mentioned, but then neither is the knock given by the Kerux (the Kerux simply says that the Hall is properly guarded, with no rubrics). For 2=9, the Sentinel is not mentioned, but the knock by the Kerux is. Since the Sentinel is shown to be present in 3=8 and 4=7, however, the logical conclusion is that the Sentinel is also present for 1=10 and 2=9.

2. One copy of the 1=10, originally copied in 1896 and then revised by the rebels in 1901, has the typical "having done so" crossed out, with the knock of the Kerux and Sentinel added in.

While an argument could be made that this is a change implemented by the rebels (there are a number of changes elsewhere), I would argue that, in this case, it is actually just a clarification of the implied instructions.

Further, a typed copy of the 1=10 script, from the Amoun Temple of the Stella Matutina, clearly has the Sentinel giving an answering knock to the one given by the Kerux.

Further still, while my own copies of the Whare Ra (Smaragdum Thalasses) rituals do not mention the Sentinel, Pat Zalewski argues in his Golden Dawn Rituals and Commentaries book that "the Office of Sentinel is not dropped after the Neophyte ceremony," and that copies from both the original Golden Dawn and Whare Ra "clearly state this officer is present." (p. 189, footnote).

3. A lecture given by Brodie-Innes in 1895 on the 1=10 grade explicitly shows the presence of the Sentinel in Zelator:
"But it is the Sentinel, the Watcher Without, who prepares you to enter. Blindfold the King enters upon his Kingdom, blindfold because he must enter in faith. By knowledge he can never enter, by pride of accomplishments and attainments he can never enter; for man may study his whole life, he may attain riches and honour, but he never by these means can attain to the kingship of his own body, but only by faith. Therefore he enters blindfold; and it is not the Hegemon, representative of Mercy and Equilibrium, but it is the Sentinel who keeps and guards the door without, who thus prepares him."

4. If we were to argue that the lack of mention of the Sentinel in most scripts means that the office is not present, the same argument could be made for the dais officers, who are typically not mentioned in the rubrics, and not shown in the temple diagrams.

Yet, we know from Z1 (and, indeed, the Cypher Manuscript) that no meeting can be held without at least one of the Chiefs, and that it is preferable if all three are present.

Further, the same 1=10 paper by Brodies-Innes cited above tells us:
"Now the Hierophant and the Chiefs of the Temple, sitting upon the Dais, represent to you powers recondite and occult powers beyond anything you can know or conceive of at present."

This, therefore, confirms the presence of the dais officers in 1=10, and, by logical conclusion, in the other Outer Order grades. Thus, the argument that they are not mentioned in the ritual scripts, and thus must not be present, has no basis in this instance. While the above is somewhat of an aside, this arguably applies to the Sentinel as well.

5. In the Exordium of the 1=10, a paper explaining the inner workings of the Zelator ceremony, which was given to Theorici Adepti Minores, it states:
"As in the 0=0 Grade, the Candidate is waiting in the care of the Sentinel, and the Hegemon is sent to superintend his preparation. All that was said to the ZAM may be now considered as repeated here."
See the next point for more on this.

6. In all five ceremonies of the Outer Order, the Hierophant instructs the Hegemon to "superintend the preparation" of the Candidate. To superintend something is to supervise, oversee, or administer it. It does not mean to actually perform it, but rather to ensure that it is properly performed by another.

Z3 explains this as follows:
"But the actual Preparation of the Candidate is performed by the Sentinel, the 'Watcher Without,' to show that this Preparation must be first accomplished before the establishment of Equilibrium can occur. Therefore doth the Hegemon superintend the preparation rather than perform it actually." (underlines in original)

While the above text relates specifically to the 0=0, it does highlight the difference between superintending and performing the preparation of the Candidate. Thus, if the Hegemon is to "superintend" in 1=10 and above, someone else (namely, the Sentinel) must perform the actual preparation.

The above should be sufficient to show that the Sentinel was, in fact, originally employed in all the Outer Order grades, and that the modern practice of dropping this office is an error, no matter what arguments may have subsequently been made to justify it.

Thursday 12 March 2015

The Four Elemental Implements, Part 2

For many, making magical tools is a significant challenge, and for some it is even an obstacle. After all, not everyone has woodworking or metalworking skills, so the Elemental Implements can seem quite daunting.

Something that I found interesting when going through Ritual G was the wording for creating each of the implements. There is a subtle distinction between making/forming two of them (the Wand and the Pentacle) and adapting the remaining two from existing objects (the Dagger and the Cup).

For the Fire Wand, we are told that it is "convenient to make the wand of wood," though cane (or bamboo) with an existing hollow and notches presents an easy alternative. Yet either method requires some amount of assembly.

For the Air Dagger, we are told that "any convenient dagger, or knife, or sword may be adapted for this purpose; the shorter the better."

For the Water Cup, we are told that "any convenient clear glass cup may be adapted..."

Ritual G does not use either word in relation to the Earth Pantacle, but a Whare Ra (Smaragdum Thalasses) copy distinctly lists the following titles for each section:

The Construction of the Wand
The Adaptation of the Cup
The Adaptation of the Sword (referring to the Dagger)
The Formation of the Pentacle

This, to me, is rather interesting, because I think the Dagger is one of the primary stumbling blocks for many students in creating their own Elemental Implements. Yet if we can simply adapt "any convenient dagger," then that process is significantly easier.

Yet, when the modern student thinks of the Air Dagger, a particular shape comes to mind, based on the general shape shown in Regardie's book, where the hilt is somewhat curved forward. This appears to have become the most popular design of this implement, but, of course, it is not required.

In fact, the design shown in Ritual G is strikingly different, and much closer to that of the Sword, which is itself based on the design in the Key of Solomon. I provide an example of this below (without the Hebrew, etc.).

The original design of the Air Dagger given in Ritual G

Of course, it is important to recall the actual instructions in the text, which allow for an existing dagger to be adapted. Most daggers will be significantly plainer than the above diagram.

In fact, even for the Sword, which is also depicted like the image above (albeit with a longer blade), Ritual G tells us "the shape of hilt there given is not absolutely necessary." The same instruction clearly applies to the dagger (with historical examples coming in varying shapes).

These tools, therefore, do not have to be overly complex in form, and even the least skilled craftsman can adapt an existing dagger for use. Here is an example of one used by either Yeats or his uncle Pollexfen (it is not clear which, as there are images of another attributed to Yeats, which is very different, and much less crude).

© National Library of Ireland

Saturday 14 February 2015

The Four Elemental Implements, Part 1

The Four Implements (the Wand, Cup, Dagger, and Pentacle) are perhaps the most iconic and memorable set of tools in the Golden Dawn tradition, relating to the four elements, the Tetragrammaton, and the four suits of the Tarot.

Due to their elemental nature, some groups have incorporated their use into the Outer Order, tasking initiates to make and consecrate each particular tool in the grade related to that particular element. On the surface this might seem like a good way to better imbue the tool with the associated element, but the big problem with this, aside from Inner Order teaching not belonging in the Outer Order, is that these four implements are not to be separated (as would be the case if divided by the four Elemental Grades).

Ritual G tells us that these implements "have a certain bond and sympathy between them," elaborating as follows:

"So that even if one only is to be used, the others should also be present. Even as each of the four Elemental Tablets is divided in itself into four lesser angles representing the other three elements bound together therewith in the same Tablet."

Thus, even in the consecration of each implement, the other three are present on the altar, and, indeed, actually employed in the consecration ceremony itself (along with the Sword, which is often used in conjunction with the Elemental Implements).

In Flying Roll XXVIII, Mathers and Westcott reinforce this teaching:

"The four Elemental Implements should be all laid on the table before you for immediate use as required. The whole four must be present to preserve a certain balance and harmony in the sphere of your aura..."

Thus, these implements should be left until 5=6, where they can be constructed and used together, as intended.

Monday 2 February 2015

Nazi Persecution of Esoteric Societies

As we remember the suffering of the Jews, and other minorities, at the hands of the Nazis, let us also consider that members of esoteric societies were also persecuted, and often were seen as a political threat to Hitler.

As many as 200,000 Freemasons are believed to have been murdered by the Nazis, and Hitler issued orders to ban and dissolve Freemasonic lodges, as well as "Freemason-like organisations," including the Golden Dawn and the OTO.

Freemasons were forced to wear an inverted red triangle in concentration camps, marking them as political prisoners.

On a list of almost 50 "forbidden organisations," issued in 1936, we see the following:

Hermetischer Orden der Goldenen Dämmerung

This is German for "Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn." Of course, by this stage the original Order no longer existed, but the name still had a powerful resonance, and there were several temples from the various offshoots still active.

Wherever there is teaching designed to promote the spiritual advancement of people, to encourage them to think for themselves, to forge their own path in life, and to value and protect the diversity among us all, there is likely to be oppression.

Therefore, let us remember those who died, and pledge to never allow, through action or inaction, the persecution of any minority. Let us consider that our fraternal ties not only bind us to our Brothers and Sisters in the Order, but to everyone throughout the world.

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