- Sincerus Renatus made an interesting post on the Divine Names in the LRP. For my own musings on these Divine Names, check here.
- Morgan Drake Eckstein posted the third part of his Roots of the Golden Dawn series, which looks at the different types of lineage. He makes an important distinction between administrative and initiatory lineage which is worth highlighting.
- Yours Truly posted an important quotation from Dion Fortune on Henosis Decanus. It is vital that we recognise the Divine Feminine in some form, and I agree wholeheartedly with Fortune's sentiments on the subject.
Sunday, 28 September 2008
Tuesday, 23 September 2008
At this Autumnal Equinox, when there again arises a moment of balance, when night and day are equal, when there is no dominance of darkness or light, let us turn inward and focus upon the Osirian energies that are now in motion.
Let us turn inward and meditate on the properties of Libra, the sign of the Scales, most symbolic of balance, and most pertinent to us now.
Let us turn inward and think upon the contraction of energies, to the inward-turning spiral of spiritual growth.
Let us turn inward and muse upon the catabolic process, the breaking down of things in order to expose the primal matter hidden within.
Instil within us the qualities of balance, of temperance, of the reconciliation of opposites, and be to us a fervent reminder of the straight and narrow path between the Pillars of Mercy and Severity, the two opposing forces. Bring balance to our lives, that we might bring balance to the world.
Monday, 22 September 2008
Sunday, 21 September 2008
Friday, 19 September 2008
Thursday, 18 September 2008
"From one point of view the officers employed in these Rituals represent just such psychic projections. They represent, even as figures in dreams do, different aspects of man himself - personifications of abstract psychological principles inhering within the human spirit. Through the admittedly artificial or conventional means of a dramatic projection of these personified principles in a well-ordered ceremony a reaction is induced in consciousness. This reaction is calculated to arouse from their dormant condition those hitherto latent faculties represented objectively in the Temple of Initiation by the officers. Without the least conscious effort on the part of the aspirant, an involuntary current of sympathy is produced by this external delineation of spiritual paths which may be sufficient to accomplish the purpose of the initiation ceremony. The aesthetic appeal to the imagination - quite apart from what could be called the intrinsic magical virtue with which the G.D. documents Z.1 and Z.3 deal at some length - stirs to renewed activity the life of the inner domain. And the entire action of this type of dramatic ritual is that the soul may discover itself exalted to the heights, and during that mystical elevation receive the rushing forth of the Light."Israel Regardie, The Golden Dawn
Wednesday, 17 September 2008
I would like to explore some of these elements of fear that a Neophyte might face.
Firstly there is the fear of magic, spirits, and the "occult" in general. To fear such is to cause the journey to cease before it is begun. Fear is a natural human emotion, true enough, but we are to become "more than human", and to do so we must not fear the tools of our growth, which are the occult. To do so would mean that we leave the path, having failed our mission, giving in to the wiles of the ego, and never progressing within the Order.
Secondly there is the fear of change. Magic is, as Crowley put it, change in conformity with Will. Initiation, if successful, causes the beginnings of change. This can be hectic and seemingly catastrophic, as the world of the initiate becomes the athanor of affliction. Alchemy is all about change, of the transmutation of things. And there is no doubt that change is painful, especially for the ego, which fears losing its potent grip on the personality of the initiate. To fear change then is to fail, and is the forerunner of failure, because it stunts the possibility of growth. We must bear the burden of the cross if we are to attain the summit and bear witness to our resurrection.
Thirdly there is the fear of the path ahead, and this is often influenced by the former two points, primarily the second one. This is where people fear what they might become, or where the path may lead them. The fear of the unknown, the nagging splinter of uncertainty. Ultimately this is the ego that fears, for the end is not "unknown", but the only real thing that can be known truly, the inner spark of divinity.
Fourthly there is the fear of exposing our weaknesses. This is the reluctance to embrace the Light, for fear that it will highlight our darkness, exposing the skeletons in the closet. Again, this is linked to the fear of change, but, in the end, if we live a life of comfort ("ignorance is bliss"), we will never embark on this path, never search, and never attain.
Fear is doubt, and the Higher Self does not doubt, nor does it question the path or wonder if the Great Work is worth the effort. Let us, therefore, be without fear and doubt, and embrace the certainty of the Divine, of the Light, and our own place in it.
Seek and ye shall find.
Knock, and it shall be opened unto you."
If we fear we will not ask and will not seek, nor will we knock upon the door, for we will be afraid of who might answer. How then will we ever enter?
Tuesday, 16 September 2008
In a discussion on this topic a while back, Morgan Drake Eckstein mentioned that Francis King and Stephen Skinner, in their Techniques of High Magic, proposed the notion that the traditional attributions, as per Regardie and other earlier sources, were "blinds", and that they should be reversed. He gave the following quote from Skinner's Complete Magician's Tables:
"The only notable exception to Golden Dawn practice is the reversal of the ascription of two magical weapons back to the traditional grimoire ascription of the Sword to Fire and the Wand to Air. In addition, several well known and acknowledged 'blinds' have been silently removed, as we no longer live in the prudish atmosphere of Victorian England."
The problem here is, I feel, self-explanatory. Skinner goes back to the "traditional grimoire ascription", which has the Sword as Fire. But the Sword is not the Dagger, at least not in the Golden Dawn tradition. The Sword is red, without a doubt, but that's a reference to Geburah and Mars, not Fire. It's a planetary and Sephirothic attribution, not an elemental one, and to mix them is to muddy the waters completely, and, I believe, to fail to understand some of the grimoire tradition on the Sword in the first place. But regardless of grimoire tradition, it is fairly obvious that the Swords of the Imperator and the Hiereus, for example, are not related to Fire, but to Geburah and Mars.
I am not sure where the original reversal came from, although Morgan suggested it may have been Gardner. Any thoughts and insights on this matter would be greatly appreciated, as it's one of the most common topics to crop up in esoteric circles, especially when Wiccans join a Golden Dawn group and find the attributions "at odds". Sufficed to say, I have found absolutely no evidence to support the notion that the Golden Dawn papers on the matter contained such blinds, and that a reversal of attributions is warranted. It takes quite a leap, in my opinion, to come to that conclusion.
Saturday, 13 September 2008
- Morgan Drake Eckstein at Gleamings from the Dawn posted the second part of his Roots of the Golden Dawn series, which explores the precise use of language used by certain adepts.
- Sincerus Renatus at Gyllene Gryningen posted on the recent topic of the Secret Chiefs (which I have shared my views on here, as well as Mathers views here). It's a rather lengthy entry, but worth exploring for the facts and the support he lends to the "in the flesh" side of the Secret Chiefs debate, whether you agree with it or not.
- [Edit: This was an automatic post, and, since I was away for the weekend, I was unable to edit and expand it with the "more" that was indicated by the title. Apologies for such. Hopefully my next round-up will be somewhat lengthier]
Thursday, 11 September 2008
"It is possible for you to be word perfect in all the knowledge of the Zelator Adeptus Minor Grade, and to know all its ceremonies by rote, and yet unless you can really and profoundly grasp their inner meaning, an uninitiated person who has a strong will, faith, reverence, self-sacrifice and perseverence, may be more truly a Magician than you."- S. L. MacGregor Mathers, Manifesto (1896)
Wednesday, 10 September 2008
The book spans just under 150 pages, which is relatively slim for a scholarly work, but then this is mainly intended as an overview, and is certainly not lacking in depth in those 150 pages. It has thirteen chapters, ranging from an exposition on groups and beliefs that influenced the Rosicrucians, the general esoteric tradition in Germany prior to the birth of Rosicrucianism, the actual release and effect of the manifestos themselves, and then the spread of Rosicrucianism, to its alchemical emphasis, the Golden and Rosy Cross Order, the King of Prussia's membership, the French revival, the Golden Dawn, the Rosicrucian Adept in literature, and modern Rosicrucian movements, most notably AMORC.
McIntosh cites numerous sources, displaying a wealth of knowledge on the subject that cannot easily be dismissed. The bibliography is also fairly extensive (though McIntosh calls it "select"). Much of the translations of texts quoted throughout are his own, and the reasoning for this is explained by Colin Wilson in his foreword, where he explains McIntosh's love of detective work, "especially when it involved reading in French and German". This adds an extra layer to the book, where the various translations can be compared and cross-referenced with others in the fully-translated published texts.
McIntosh presents an overview of Rosicrucianism that is both scholarly and literary. The facts are there, and are well supported, but this is far from a dry academic tome (although parts of it unfortunately sink to that level). It is clearly evident that the author is partial to the subject at hand, and this is best explained in his own words: "When I began it, I was going through a phase of rather dry, scholarly objectivity in my attitude to such subjects and I intended to examine Rosicrucianism simply as a rather curious historical phenomenon without really expecting to find that it contained a teaching of any real depth or coherence. Since then, not only has my attitude changed - I have become much more pro-occult - but I also found ... that Rosicrucianism goes deeper than I had realized, and does contain something valuable and coherent. ... It has taught me that, sooner or later, anyone studying these subjects from an academic point of view has to make the decision whether they are going to take a personal stance for or against. To turn away from this decision and try to remain neutral is, to me, death."
This is not to say that McIntosh has abandoned his scholarly focus, as that is not true, but this is a book to be enjoyed mainly (though not exclusively, as it has a broad appeal) by historically-inclined Rosicrucians, for they will find that McIntosh really identifies with the powerful mythology that Rosicrucianism has invented. It matters little in the end who created it and where, but rather the many people who felt moved and empowered by it, and the rapid spread of its movements and ideals across Europe and America. The historical questions are answered as best as they can be at this time in this book, but never at the expense of the heart of Rosicrucianism itself.
The Rosicrucians: The History, Mythology, and Rituals of an Esoteric Order, by Christopher McIntosh; Weiser Books, 3rd Revised Edition (1997)
Monday, 8 September 2008
1 9 Junior
2 8 Theoreticus
3 7 Practicus
4 6 Philosophus
5 5 Minor
6 4 Major
7 3 Adeptus Exemptus
8 2 Magister
9 1 Magus
It's interesting to note the numbers given to the grades. Since there is no tenth grade, the Adeptus Major one is "5=5", for example, and that does not fit nicely with the Tree of Life, like the "5=6" does. Sufficed to say, while these are undoubtedly the origins of the grade names of the Golden Dawn, the ones used by the latter seem to have made some major improvements, including the addition of Neophyte and the crown of the system, the Ipsissimus.
Sunday, 7 September 2008
- Morgan Drake Eckstein at Gleamings from the Dawn has started to explore the Roots of the Golden Dawn, with more posts to come, no doubt, given the very tangled and ambiguous state those roots are in. This first part explores the unfinished state of some GD teachings, and
- There are two very interesting diagrams from Ithell Colquhoun's The Sword of Wisdom (which I have, but have yet to read and review here) available online, charting the regular and dissident Orders stemming from the Isis-Urania Temple No. 3. How truthful they are is another story, and so I would welcome any of the historically-inclined readers of this blog to verify some of the details (such as the "Egyptian Lodge" led by E.A. Wallis Budge in 1907, which the website in question has dismissed as unlikely).
- Finally, I am somewhat late in starting this blog, so I missed the 120th (a very important number in the GD) Anniversary of the Golden Dawn earlier this year, roughly at the time of the Spring Equinox. Since we are approaching another Equinox, I thought it might be nice to look back on that anniversary - indeed, before the year is through. An interesting post on such can be found here. It's a pity that blog wasn't updated since, however.
I'm hoping there will be more of interest to share soon, but chances are that I will not be updating this 'til maybe every two weeks or so. If, however, you find anything of interesting on the web, old or new (and preferably GD-related, although anything occult will do), feel free to leave a comment and a link.
Saturday, 6 September 2008
"Concerning the Secret Chiefs of the Order, to whom I make reference and from whom I have received the Wisdom of the Second Order which I have communicated to you, I can tell you nothing.
I do not even know their earthly names.
I know them only by certain mottoes.
I have but very rarely seen them in the physical body; and on such rare occasions the rendezvous was made astrally by them at the time and place which had been astrally appointed beforehand.
For my part I believe them to be human and living upon the earth but possessing terrible superhuman powers.
When such rendezvous has been in a much frequented place, there has been nothing in their personal appearance or dress to mark them out as differing in any way from ordinary people except the appearance and sensation of transcendental health and physical vigour (whether they seemed persons in youth or in age) which was their invariable accompaniment. In other words, the physical appearance which the possession of the Elixir of Life has traditionally been supposed to confer.
On the other hand, when the rendezvous has been in a place free from easy access by the Outer World they have usually been in symbolic robes and insignia.
But my physical intercourse with them on these rare occasions has shown me how difficult it is for a mortal, even though advanced in occultism, to support the actual presence of an Adept in the physical body; and such meetings have never been granted to my own personal request but only by their own special appointment, and usually only for some reason of extra vital importance.
I do not mean that in such rare cases of physical converse with them that the effect produced on me was that of intense exhaustion which follows depletion of magnetism, but, on the contrary, the sensation was that of being in contact with so terrible a force that I can only compare it to the continued effect of that usually experienced momentarily by any person close to whom a flash of lightning passes during a violent storm, coupled with a difficulty in respiration similar to the half strangling effect produced by ether; and if such was the result produced in me, as tested as I have been in practical occult work, I cannot conceive a much less advanced initiate being able to support such a strain even for five minutes without death ensuing."- S.L. MacGregor Mathers, Manifesto (1896)
Friday, 5 September 2008
"Surgeons who practice medicine without a license often end up in jail. Superficial occultists who occasionally manage to open psychic doors without knowing what to do next sometimes end up in mental hospitals."- Chic & Sandra Tabatha Cicero,
Self-Initiation into the Golden Dawn Tradition
Thursday, 4 September 2008
For the latter topic of sex, the relationship of MacGregor and Moina Mathers is an interesting topic of debate, but it seems clear that Mathers, while perhaps choosing a life of sexual abstinence with Moina, did not encourage others to do likewise, and seemed to defend Crowley when others were judging his worthiness on the basis of his sexual promiscuity (among other things).
While there was no official policy on one's private sex life (after all, it was supposed to be private, and Mathers was a staunch defender of such), we may potentially gleam some insight to what might have been considered an "unofficial policy", stemming from the Cromlech Temple, which many of the Golden Dawn members, Mathers included, were members (and leaders) of:
"Thou shouldst call nothing common or unclean. That man or woman who seeks a good or fancied good, be it what it may, even if it be merely sensual lust (which to him or her seems the best thing), is all unknown to himself or herself seeking the Master; the soul is young, the ideal is low and primitive, but nevertheless it is an ideal - by degrees other ideals will be substituted for the lower ones. [...] Nothing is common or unclean - the sacrifice he asks of thee is the sacrifice of thy prejudices, thy limitations, in order that thou mayest feed his sheep, above all his lambs."
The above quotation from one of the Cromlech Temple Aura Papers (via Chic Cicero's article By the Holy Light of the Sun: The Magical Workings of the Cromlech Temple in Hermetic Virtues Volume II, Edition I [i.e. Issue 5]) gives what appears to be a very noble and liberal outlook on matters, asking that no matter, even "sensual lust", be condemned, but that instead compassion be offered to them, seeing those we might dismiss and judge as younger brothers and sisters, less evolved, but not inferior - lambs to the sheep of those who are "in the know" (within the Sun Order and the Golden Dawn).
However, another Cromlech paper (Aura XXIII) discusses the dangers of sex, which include the potential of the formation of astral bodies that certain evil spirits may inhabit. Caution is asked of the Neophytes of the Sun Order, therefore, to ensure they do not unwittingly give rise to this phenomenon.
It seems apparent that ascetic practices in relation to sex, despite the prevailing Victorian attitude (see here for an example), were not a requirement in any form in the original order, and most modern incarnations of the Golden Dawn would agree. I know of no group that currently asks that members abstain from sex, unless only to suggest a period of abstinence (and general fasting) for a few days prior to initiations, and as a form of development of Will. Usually such matters are not requirements, however.
But what of other ascetic practices? When it comes to illegal substances, a member may be asked to refrain from using such, but this will be an individual Order and temple policy. Many will just require that no member show up to temple under the influence of any intoxicating substance, primarily alcohol and illegal drugs. This is a common sense approach, and ensures the safety of all others present, as well as limiting the potential for disruption.
Outside of temple, what one does with one's body is up to the individual, but like all things in the Golden Dawn, balance is key. I can think of no better way to illustrate this than by sharing this passage from Westcott, from Flying Roll No. II:
"Before even strength of will, you will must have purity of body, mind, intellect and of emotion if you hope for magical power.
The spiritual powers will flourish only as you starve the animal soul, and the animal soul is largely dependent on the state and treatment of the animal body. The animal man is to be cared for and protected, kept in health and strength, but not petted.
Be moderate in all things human. Extreme ascetic habits, are to you here, a source of another danger, they may lead only to a contemplation of your own Heroism, in being abstinent. To be truly ascetic is indeed to submit to discipline and to curb unruly emotions, thoughts and actions. But, who is a slave to his animal soul, will practice vice in a Forest; while he who restrains himself among the crowds of a city, and passes through a busy life unpolluted, shows more resistance and suffers severer discipline, and shall obtain greater reward."
It is general health advice in modern times to ensure moderation, and this applies to food, exercise, sex, TV, and many other elements beside alcohol, nicotine, caffeine, and illegal (or, in some countries, legal) substances. In keeping with this, the Golden Dawn generally suggests moderation and balance, and does not advocate asceticism.
For more of my thoughts on asceticism from a Gnostic perspective, check here, here, and here.
Wednesday, 3 September 2008
The way I consider the "Secret Chiefs" at present is that they (and other astral masters) are personifications of the Current of the group in question (in this case, the Golden Dawn). There is a definite "sentience" to a magical Current, which means that there is definitive Briatic consciousness, for want of a better term. However, we would project our own Yetziratic personae onto that Briatic consciousness, and the Current would actively facilitate this. Thus, the heart of the message is transmitted, but the vessel of it, the form it takes (including language choice and grammar) is dependent entirely on the receiver. This explains why grammatical errors of old English and the like show up in channelled works.
So, the Secret Chiefs are, in a sense, metaphorical. They are a way of describing what is a somewhat abstract form of contact with the Current, a kind of magical "collective consciousness", to borrow Jung's terminology. Indeed, I believe the older Rosicrucian groups originated the term "Secret Chiefs" (roughly in the 1700s, from the German unbekannte Oberen), and, like most elements of Rosicrucian teaching, it is meant to be allegorical, not literal. However, there is a reality behind the allegory - except it is much less fanciful, and anyone with a true connection and a receptive vessel can establish this contact with the Current - otherwise known in personified form as the "Secret Chiefs".
Monday, 1 September 2008
Imagination, as any magician will know, is not a matter of fantasy and the idle creations of the mind. Despite its denigration as "childish", as the wilful enactment of fallacy in the playground of the mind, Imagination is one of the key weapons in the magician's arsenal, and without it there would be no vessel in which to pour the power of the magician's Will. Imagination puts us in touch with a more primal element of our being, one that is exemplified in the child, unconditioned by the social limitations imposed upon it by adults who have been drained of this essential ability. It is Imagination that is tapped into by artists and writers, and so too does the magician partake of this art, to result in the creative process that is magic.
But to practice magic, both the Imagination and the Will must be called into action, for they are co-equal in the work; they are a symbiotic process, each empowering and complimenting the other. For the Will is Force, while the Imagination is Form; the Will the representative of the Fires of Spirit, and the Imagination the representative of the Masses of Matter.
The Will unaided can send forth a current, but this energy will dissipate or catapult chaotically about if there is no vessel to contain it, nor medium to channel it.
The Imagination unaided can create an image, a Tzelem, a vessel, a subject in which the current of the Will can operate, yet it can do nothing if it is not thus vitalised and directed, being, as it were, an inanimate golem, or a clay Adam bereft of the vitalising Breath of Life.
Thus, just as Mercy and Severity must be brought together in mystic marriage, and just as the Tree of Life tells the tale of the long voyage of the Light through the Twin-Houses of Force and Form, so too must the Imagination and Will be brought together, the one creating the vessel and the other filling it and setting it assail. When both are properly trained and made to work in harmony with each other, then is magic made.
Note that the above does not contain the examples (or illustrations) contained in the Flying Roll, which can be found, along with Frater Resurgam's original wording of these thoughts on the Imagination and Will, and Westcott's remarks thereon, here.