Mishkan ha-Echad

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and has led me to further explore this issue, which has resulted in additional evidence that reinforces the argument I originally made.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.

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