Mishkan ha-Echad

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Cross Symbolism: Implict Versus Explicit

My article on the "Cross & Triangle in the Golden Dawn" in the latest issue of Hermetic Virtues sparked some interesting discussion recently on the symbolism of the Cross in particular, while also raising the question of implicit versus explicit references to certain things.

The line in question is from the Stella Matutina version of the 0=0:

"The Red Cross above the White Triangle is an Image of Him Who was unfolded in the Light."

In my article I pointed out how I saw the above as referring to Christ, and since this line does not appear in the original Golden Dawn or Alpha et Omega variants it is clear that it represents part of the Stella Matutina's approach to the subject, which was considerably more Christian than the other two orders.

This is also supported by the Stella Matutina variants of the Z-documents. For example, Z1 tells us:

"The Red Cross of Tiphareth (to which the Grade of 5=6 is referred) is here placed above the White Triangle, not as dominating it, but as bringing it down and manifesting it unto the Outer Order; as though The Crucified One, having raised the symbol of self-sacrifice, had thus touched and brought into action in matter, the Divine Triad of Light."

The reference to "The Crucified One" and "self-sacrifice" can easily be interpretted as being Christ, and I would find it surprising if someone did not recognise this as a possible and valid interpretation. It is not explicit, in that it does not literally say "Christ" within the text, but the implication is there, as it is (or can be seen to be) in "Him Who was unfolded in the Light".

For those who would argue that "The Crucified One" here does not necessarily refer to Christ, I believe the next line from Z1 is fairly revealing:

"Around the Cross are the Symbols of the Four Letters of the Name Jehovah - the Shin of Yeheshuah being only implied and not expressed in the Outer Order."

Yeshuah - Jesus - Christ. Now clearly this is referencing an esoteric view of Christ (as one would expect from an esoteric order) which is implied, but not explicitly expressed, in the Outer Order. This is not to say that the Outer Order is suddenly Christian in focus or symbolism, as it is clear that it is not. I see the Outer Order as overtly Osirian and the Inner Order as overtly Christian/Gnostic/Rosicrucian (ultimately I label this "Gnostic"). There is a very clear distinction between the two, and it is not my intent to muddy that distinction or to bring Inner Order material into the Outer or vice-versa. The distinction, however, does not prohibit the potential that the Osirian may allude to the Christian or the Christian to the Osirian, and that the the Outer Order material may allude to the Inner (a bit of foreshadowing, if you will) or the Inner to the Outer. This allusion is, of course, subtle (as all allusion is) and does not reflect the overt nature of the material or each of the two Orders.

The Golden Dawn system is ultimately and quite obviously syncretic in nature, which means that it has merged and reconciled many widely different things into one complete system. In some areas it has done this really well, while in others it is a little lacking. However, it is my opinion that when it comes to the Osirian and Christian mythos they have been merged very well, to the extent that a Pagan may see the Christian references as pointing to Osiris and a Christian may see the Pagan references as pointing to Christ. And they can be both simultaneously without contradiction, as well as being many other things that fit the system. Thus, this is certainly not the only viable interpretation, but one of many, and they are all equally valid, even if we individually prefer one over the other (which is our right).

For more on this topic I would recommend the latest post by Sincerus Renatus on his blog Gyllene Gryningen, which covers some of my points and expands upon them with additional material and insights. It is well worth the read.

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Poetry: Teth

A poem of mine on the Hebrew letter Teth was published in the Vernal Equinox issue of JWMT last year. You can read it here:

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Hermetic Virtues, No. 10

Issue 10 of Hermetic Virtues has been released, containing the following excellent articles:

+ Words of Power by Nick Farrell
+ Death, another new Tarot trump by Harry Wendrich
+ The Cross and the Triangle in the Golden Dawn by Dean F. Wilson
+ The Alchemy and Spirituality of Magick by Donald Michael Kraig
+ Fragmentary Aspects of Philosophy, Occult and Academic, in which the Truth of Reincarnation is Ably Discussed by Dr. Israel Regardie, edited by Sandra Tabatha Cicero
+ Elemental Quarter Altars by Samuel Scarborough
+ An Alternate Method of Prayer: the Middle Pillar as a Group Working by James Wasserman
+ Hildbold of Schwangau, Schwanstein and the Order of the Knights of the Swan by Ian Cowburn
+ An Invocation of Hod by Samuel Scarborough

To obtain a copy, click here. For a very small sample of my article on the Cross and Triangle, click here.

Friday, 25 September 2009


The topic of fraternity has recently come up, and it is such an important issue that it deserves some special attention.

Fraternity is the cornerstone of all organisations, especially those which deal with the occult. It is one of the primary reasons any of us join an Order (or any community) in the first place. To be fraternal is to treat others as a Brother or Sister, and, while this means to do so in the spiritual sense, we need to examine the biological aspect to understand exactly how it works. A physical brother or sister may, for example, be annoying, insulting, or any other denigratory term one wishes to apply; however, they are still one's flesh and blood and a certain platonic love is extended (or should be) even at the worst of times, while the closeness that can occur between biological siblings is a testament to the fraternal bonds that can be formed in the best of times. So should it be for us spiritual siblings.

Thus a basic civility and compassion is required, often more than we would extend to someone not within the Order, for we are bound by oath and mutual aims, and there is a common understanding between us all. This is not to say that we must always agree with one another or blindly obey whatever directions we are given, but rather that if we do have such disagreements that we would attempt to broach them in a way that encourages our fraternal bonds as opposed to straining or severing them.

While ultimately the Golden Dawn is all about magic, it is important to recognise just how valued the aspect of fraternity is, and how, indeed, it acts as the foundation upon which we make our magic, since we work a system that is largely dependant on the coming together of magicians.

The Oath taken in 0=0 is explicit about the fraternal relations required of initiates:

"I undertake to maintain a kindly and benevolent relation with all the Fratres and Sorores of this Order."

While it says "this Order" I believe this "kindly and benevolent relation" should be extended to all people working with the Golden Dawn system, and, dare I say it, to humanity as a whole.

The Obligation of the 5=6 also reinforces the pledge of fraternity in the section dedicated to Hod:

"I further promise ... that I will always display brotherly love and forbearance towards the members of the whole Order, neither slandering nor evil-speaking, nor repeating nor tale-bearing, whereby strife and ill-feeling may be engendered."

Then again in a letter dated 2nd April 1900 Mathers states that "the first duty of an Occultist ... is Fraternity and Fidelity." One cannot get much more explicit than that.

Thus fraternity is one of the basic tennets upon which the Golden Dawn was founded, and it should underscore all other elements of the Work. When we omit this we hack away at the foundations of the Order and of all good human interaction.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Poetry: Zayin

A new poem of mine on the Hebrew letter Zayin has just been published in the latest issue of JWMT. You can read it here:

Journal of the Western Mystery Tradition, Vol. 2, No. 17

The latest issue of the Journal of the Western Mystery Tradition has just gone live, focusing on the Tarot. As one can expect from a system that has been largely used and contributed to by the Order there are two articles there dealing with the Golden Dawn's rendition of the Tarot.

Friday, 18 September 2009

Officers & Grade Sashes

[Edit 2012: I should point out that further research, contemplation, and discussion has led me to believe my prior views on sashes held by officers was wrong. The documents themselves make it clear that they were worn by officers in the original ritual, and many of my other points can be easily argued against. I leave the post intact for the sake of the debate, but I recommend any group wishing to follow the traditional Golden Dawn system keep the sashes for officers.]

In a recent discussion with Nick Farrell on his blog the topic of officers wearing grade sashes in ritual came up. Both he and I are of the opinion that these should not be worn when holding an office, for a number of reasons:

  1. They can be impractical. An officer has enough to wear with a robe, tabard/cloak, collar and lamen, and so forth. Adding a sash to the mix only makes things more cumbersome.
  2. The Initiate may be, for practical reasons, of a lower grade than the office requires. For example, there may not be a 4=7 to take the role of Hiereus, and thus a 2=9 may have to hold this office. In this circumstance wearing the 2=9 sash would clash with the role and teachings behind the role.
  3. When the Initiate enters the Temple they are "Frater Bob", a 2=9, for example, but when they take on an office they are no longer "Frater Bob", but "Frater Hiereus" (and the godform behind the office). Therefore they should be wearing the badge of Hiereus and not the badge of Theoricus (or other grades).
  4. When a Candidate in 0=0 is being led around the Temple and gets his or her brief sights of the regalia, etc. of each officer, he or she should see the regalia of that officer, not their sash. It not only serves to distract from the real symbolism present within the regalia, but may confuse grades and energies, for a 0=0 should not be constantly seeing the sashes of higher grades in the officers initiating him/her.
  5. Ultimately it could be seen as feeding the ego, especially in light of the above magical reasons not to use it. Sashes and grades are notorious for inflating the ego, and to wear them while holding an office could prove disastrous as the energies of the individual and the role (and godform) they are playing are confused and muddled.

Friday, 11 September 2009

The Ritual Voice

Performance of ritual, especially in a group setting, requires a number of things, but one of the most important (and yet frequently overlooked) aspects is the ability to act out the role in a way that creates an impression on all present. This requires firstly that the officer read their part with vigour, not simply a dull recitation. They are no longer Frater "Bob" but Frater Hierophant, for example, and represent forces greater than the physical enactment of the ritual makes apparent. Thus a certain ability to perform is required and one of the most vital aspects of this performance is how each part of the ritual is read. Too many times I encounter barely audible voices of officers or a reading as if the ritual was the most boring thing on earth. It is not boring, and it should not be made to appear that way by a monotonous tone.

Z3 gives explicit instructions on how a ritual is to be read and performed:

"The Ritual should be read in a loud, clear, stern and solemn voice so as to impress the Candidate with the solemnity of the occasion. In this, there should be no foolish nervousness or hesitation, but the Ritual as performed by an initiated Hierophant should become in his hands something more than this."

And further on:

"Let him speak, then, not as if unto an assembly of mortals but as to an assembly of Gods. Let his voice be so directed as to roll through the Universe to the utmost confines of space."

Saturday, 22 August 2009

The Cross & Triangle

The symbol of the Golden Dawn is a red calvary cross above a white triangle, often, but not always, shown upon a black background. This is a very evocative image, which means different things to different people, but what does it mean for the Golden Dawn as a whole?

The Neophyte Ceremony tells us the following about it:

"The Red Cross above the White Triangle is an Image of Him Who was unfolded in the Light."

Another section states:

"Two contending Forces and one which unites them eternally. Two basal angles of the triangle and one which forms the apex. Such is the origin of Creation - it is the Triad of Life."

Z3 refers to "the White Triangle of the Three Supernals formulating in Darkness" and states that the Candidate "may bear that potent and sublime symbol as a link with his Higher Self and as an aid in searching out the forces of the Divine Light"

Z1 states:

"The Symbols upon the Altar represent the Forces and Manifestation of the Divine Light, concentrated in the White Triangle of the Three Supernals as the synthesis; wherefore, upon this sacred and sumblime Symbol, is the obligation of the Neophyte taken as calling therein to witness the Forces of the Divine Light.

The Red Cross of Tiphareth (to which the Grade of 5=6 is referred) is here placed above the White Triangle, not as dominating it, but as bringing it down and manifesting it unto the Outer Order; as though the Crucified One, having raised the symbol of self-sacrifice, had thus touched and brought into action in matter, the Divine Triad of Light."

This clearly refers to an invocation of the Light of the Supernal Triad into the manifestation of the Outer Order, as can be seen in this image:

Of course, the triangle may not be placed as shown above, but may encompass Yesod and Malkuth also, but the above format keeps the form of the triangle consistent with the form of the Tree itself. Perhaps it could be seen to show the delicate link between the Water of Practicus and the Fire of Philosophus, and perhaps it is used to balance these two contending forces with the one that unites them eternally in Tiphareth (symbolic of Air). This also correlates with the placement of the Triangle on the Tree in the Admission Badge for Portal (Hiereus lamen).

Friday, 21 August 2009

To Strengthen the Weak & Purify the Strong

"... in the natural man, the symbols are unbalanced in strength - some being weaker and some stronger. The effect of the Ceremony is to strengthen the weak, to purify the strong, and so begin to equilibriate them and at the same time make a link between them and the corresponding forces of the Macrocosm."

- Z3, The Symbolism of the Admission of the Candidate

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Grade Placement & the Minutum Mundum

There is a continuing lack of understanding regarding the placement of the grades upon the Tree of Life, particularly in terms of their elemental associations. I addressed some of the Golden Dawn reasoning behind the seemingly inconsistent placement of the Air grade of Theoricus in the watery Sephirah of Yesod (Luna) and the Water grade of Practicus in the airy grade of Hod (Mercury) in my article Reconciling An Elemental Inconsistency in Issue 6 of Hemetic Virtues. Here, however, I will highlight another aspect, which sheds light on the placement of the elements with the Sephiroth, or, conversely, sheds light on the choice of colours employed.

Let us skip Zelator for now, which is Earth and Malkuth, and focus on the three primary elements of Air, Water, and Fire (Yesod/ Theoricus, Hod/Practicus, and Netzach/Philosophus respectively). The Sephirah of Yesod is coloured violet (or purple) in the Queen Scale (the most commonly employed of the four Colour Scales). The colour of Air is yellow, which just happens to be the flashing colour of violet. Coincidence? Certainly not. The Sephirah of Hod is coloured orange in the Queen Scale, while the colour of Water is blue, its flashing colour. And then the Sephirah of Netzach is coloured green in the Queen Scale, while the the colour of Fire is red, its flashing colour.

But what about Malkuth? The colour of Earth is black, but the colours for Malkuth are citrine, olive, russet, and black. They're not the flashing colour, which is white. However, this is where one of the mysteries of Malkuth comes in. It's fairly common knowledge that Malkuth is in Kether and Kether is in Malkuth, thus making this earthy-coloured Malkuth the white-coloured Kether of another world. And thus do we have the flashing colours.

It does not end there, however, as the flashing colours are also present on the Tree itself, without the need to apply the elements. The flashing colour of Yesod can be found directly above it in Tiphareth. The flashing colour of Hod can be found diagonally across from it in Chesed. The flashing colour of Netzach can be found diagonally across from it in Geburah. And finally, the flashing colour of the black segment of Malkuth can be found directly above it in Kether.

Anyone with a cursory knowledge of art will notice something else in the above image. The colours of red, yellow, and blue are, of course, the primary colours, while the colours of orange, purple, and green are the secondary colours (made by mixing two of the primaries, such as red and yellow forming orange, blue and yellow forming green, and red and blue forming purple). What is not depicted in the above image is the tertiary colours, but they can be found on the Minutum Mundum diagram and the image displayed below. These are created by combing two of the secondary colours, so that russet is formed from orange and purple, olive is formed from green and purple, and citrine is formed from orange and green. The white of Kether is all colours, while the black segment of Malkuth is the absence of colour.

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

"The Most Exacting Scrutiny"

"But enough has been said, I hope, to show the student not to accept superficially any phase of the Rituals and the teachings, but to subject them to the most exacting scrutiny."

- Israel Regardie, Introduction to the 2nd Edition of
The Golden Dawn

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

The Relationship Between the Grades & the Officers

In the Neophyte Ceremony of the Golden Dawn a total of seven floor officers are required (although one could do without the Sentinel, since he/she doesn't really do much), but as one progresses up the grades one or more of these officers are dropped, until Practicus and Philosophus, when only the three main officers (Hierophant, Hiereus, and Hegemon) are required.

One of the reasons for this relates to the grade that can hold the office. For example, a Neophyte can only hold the office of Sentinel. So, in order to prevent Neophytes from seeing Zelator and above, the Sentinel role is dropped. Some people argue that this is not specifically stated, since the Sentinel traditionally sat outside and can continue to do so for the rest of the grades. However, aside from the possibility of them eavesdropping (the natural curiosities of humanity kick in when vague mumblings of barbaric names sound out from the room next door), this would not follow the subsequent system that is applied to the other officers. For those not familiar with this, I have given the relationships between the grades and the officers here.

Let us explore the relationship between each of these offices and their respective grades.

The office applicable to the Neophyte is the Sentinel, or Phylax, who traditionally resided outside the Hall. He is, effectively, a bit of an outsider, an officer but not an officer, if you will, just as the Neophyte him or herself is a member but not a member (given that the 0=0 grade is probationary). The Sentinel's place outside the Hall has a symbolic relationship with the Neophyte's place off the Tree of Life. The fact that the Sentinel is charged with preparing the Candidate also highlights the intimacy that is between them, for, in many ways, it is the Candidate him or herself that must do this preparation, such as finding out that this is the right path for them and mustering the courage to pursue it.

The offices applicable to the Zelator are the Stolistes and Dadouchos. It might seem unusual that the Zelator can take on two offices, but in many ways they act as one unit, and thus to understand one the Zelator must also work with the other. It also highlights the Golden Dawn's constant emphasis on balance, especially when it comes to the powerful elements of Water and Fire. Thus, these offices are given in one grade, that neither may become too dominant so as to imbalance the initiate. The Dadouchos office has a particularly strong relationship with this grade, given that the Admission Badge of 1=10 is actually a Fylfot Cross, depicted upon the Dadouchos' lamen, and the Dadouchos also takes precedence in the Opening of the 1=10 grade by consecrating before the purifications of the Stolistes, the reverse of which is employed in 0=0. There appears to be a somewhat fiery undercurrent to the 1=10, which can also be seen in the red slippers of the Outer Order (the whole of which is applicable to the Sephirah of this grade) and the link between the placement of the Cross within the Triangle and that of the Banner of the West (an implement of the fiery office of Hiereus).

The office applicable to the Theoricus is the Keryx, whose lamen is a Caduceus and whose wand is also a Caduceus. The Admission Badge into the sphere of Yesod within Theoricus is, of course, a Caduceus. That this grade is linked to Air, while the Caduceus is linked with Mercury and thus also Air, is another possible relationship, but an argument against that would be Mercury's association with Hod, not Yesod.

This is where we encounter some problems, however, as instead of finding the Admission Badge of the grade of Practicus being the lamen of the Hegemon it is the lamen of the Stolistes. Of course, the Practicus grade is related to Water, and thus there's an obvious relationship between that and the Stolistes, but the link between the Practicus and the Hegemon is more difficult to understand. Even the Hegemon Sceptre does not link up, as it represents the Pillar of Mercy, where Philosophus lies (in Netzach) rather than that of Severity, where Practicus lies (in Hod). However, we know that the Golden Dawn system has built in fail-safes to ensure balance, and this especially applies to the outer Sephiroth of Hod and Netzach (since they no longer enjoy the balance of the Middle Pillar, like in the previous two grades). Thus in this watery Sephirah the fiery Sword of the Hiereus, representing the Pillar of Severity, is present, while in the fiery Sephirah of Netzach the watery Sceptre of the Hegemon can be found. This also explains why the Hegemon does not disappear after this grade, as per the system of the previous grades, for both these officers, indicative of the two outer pillars, are important to maintain balance.

This naturally leads us to Philosophus and the office of Hiereus. The same issues as that of Practicus applies, for not only is the Admission Badge not that of Hiereus, it is actually that of the Hegemon. This could, of course, be seen as an attempt to bring the office applicable to Practicus (and thus those watery energies) into the volatile grade of Philosophus, in much the same way as the reversal of implements described above. The balancing role of the Hegemon is particularly an important energy to be brought into the sometimes destructive grade of 4=7. However, the office of this grade is the Hiereus, the sacrificial priest who guards against the Qlippoth in the West, represented by the god-form of Horus the Avenger. This is clearly a very fiery role, and thus works well with the flames of the Philosophi.

So then what happened to the elusive Hiereus lamen? That becomes the Admission Badge of the Portal Grade. While, of course, such a fiery relationship might be seen to unbalance the energies present in this grade, the lamen itself is a white triangle, which has a far wider scope than many of the others. Instead of representing the fiery triangle that it might do with certain aspects of the Hiereus, it can easily be seen as that great emblem of the Light that is pivotal to Golden Dawn teaching. Thus it would represent the Spirit. And, of course, it shows that the Hiereus, in essence, captures a reflection of the Light from Tiphareth (and Kether beyond) to scare away the Darkness in the West. Indeed, this symbol shows the Light hidden in and emerging from the Darkness. "The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it." (John 1:5, NRSV)

Much of the above, barring the seeming inconsistencies (which may simply be mysteries yet to be understood), hints at one further point: on entry into Neophyte the initiate receives the necessary energies and teachings to fulfill the role of Sentinel, and thus in all the grades above 0=0 he or she takes on the role of Sentinel (on an inner, somewhat subconscious, level). Likewise, the new Zelator absorbs the offices of Stolistes and Dadouchos, to the point that his or entry into Malkuth is dependant on his or her possession of the symbol of the Dadouchos (although not Stolistes), and thus the Zelator him or herself takes on these roles in the subsequent ceremonies. And so on as the grades progress, until the Zelator Adeptus Minor becomes a kind of one-man initiating team, having absorbed all of the offices that have gone before. While this is not to suggest that other people are not needed (although arguably they are not), each step up the ladder is not merely a new step, but encompasses the one that has gone before. Frank Salt, a 7=4 of the old Whare Ra Temple in New Zealand, came to a similar conclusion:

"After this Grade [1=10], none of the three Offices [Sentinel, Stolistes, and Dadouchos] appear again. Signifying that now you are responsible for the performance of their Offices, personally. You are ‘on your own’ regarding your personal life in the world. You now, in symbolism, are responsible for everything in your own outward life, while within, the Hegemon, through the Kerux, guides you, under the direction of the Hierophant. We therefore advise you to clarify as far as you are able, just what these Offices represent in your living."

This is, of course, merely a cursory glance at the relationships between these grades and their appropriate offices, but it may help to illustrate that their appointment is not arbitrary, and that, indeed, a greater understanding of the component parts may be gleaned by exploring their relationship with others. There is undoubtedly more to find, and I encourage all students of the Golden Dawn to explore these rituals and their parts in much more detail.

Sunday, 16 August 2009

The Batteries of Knocks, Part 2

In my previous post I commented on the Battery for Theoricus (!!! !!! !!!) as being partly a reference to Saturn. Here's some extra material to support that assertion.

The Grade of Theoricus includes the Advancement in the 32nd Path of Tav, to which the planet Saturn is attributed. This is mentioned as a reflection of the Sphere of Saturn, which would lie in Binah, but I also pointed out how Saturn lies on the opposite end of the Hexagram to Luna, the planet of this grade, and thus this is how it is found reflected in Theoricus.

Some of the Opening of the 2=9 Grade:

"Hierophant: Honoured Hegemon, what path is attached to this Grade?

Hegemon: The 32nd Path of Tav.

Hierophant: Honoured Hiereus, to what does it allude?

Hiereus: To the Universe as composed ofthe Four Elements - to the KERUBIM, the QLIPPOTH and the Astral Plane, and the reflection of the sphere of SATURN."

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

The Batteries of Knocks

One aspect of the Opening and Closing of each grade in the Golden Dawn is the Battery of Knocks, which is unique for each one and represents its own magical formula applicable to the energies of that grade.

In 0=0 the Battery is !!! (3) or ! ! ! (1 1 1) repeated three times to give three rounds of three, albeit in alternating fashion between the three main officers in the temple, while saying a particular word in the formula, as follows:

Hierophant: ! Khabs
Hiereus: ! Am
Hegemon: ! Pekht

Hiereus: ! Konx
Hegemon: ! Om
Hierophant: ! Pax

Hegemon: ! Light
Hieropahnt: ! In
Hiereus: ! Extension

Chic Cicero wrote a short article on the Neophyte Battery as being a representation of the Qamea of Saturn, which definitely makes sense in terms of its 3X3 pattern and the alternation between the three officers. This three-fold pattern clearly references the White Triangle, which is a symbol of the Supernals and the Light therefrom (which is particularly important for this grade), and Saturn is frequently employed to reference these Supernals, being the closest of them to us (and the only planet related to those Sephiroth). Saturn can also be seen as the "three-fold bondage of Mortality" (represented by the thrice-wrapped Cord about the Neophyte's waist), for he is the planet of bondage and limitations, while Binah herself, as Supernal Mother, is the ultimate source of our mortal and material lives.

The Battery for 1=10 is !!!! !!! !!! (4 3 3), employed by each of the three main officers. This enumerates to 10, the number of Malkuth which this grade is attributed to. It again contains a three-fold nature, referencing the Light once more, albeit the base of the Triangle could be seen to be represented by the unique first round of four knocks, symbolic of the four-fold division of Malkuth.

The Battery for 2=9 is !!! !!! !!! (3 3 3), employed by each of the three main officers. On the surface this appears to have similarities with the 0=0 Battery, but all three rounds are given by a single officer before being repeated by the other two. It also lacks the "Light In Extension" formula. However, the 3X3 nature could still be seen as a reference to Saturn, which is the planet opposite to Luna (the planet of the Theoricus grade) on the Hexagram. The enumeration of 9 is also a reference to the 9th Sephirah to which this grade is attributed. The hidden Light symbolised by 3 is still present.

The Battery for 3=8 is ! !!! ! !!! (1 3 1 3), employed by each of the three main officers. The enumeration of 8 is a clear reference to the 8th Sephirah of Hod to which this grade is attributed. Again, the hidden Light is also present.

The Battery for 4=7 is !!! !!! ! (3 3 1), employed by each of the three main officers. The enumeration of 7 references the 7th Sehirah of Netzach to which this grade is attributed. As above it is divided into rounds of three, with the spare knock left over.

The Battery for Portal is !!!! ! (4 1), employed five times in the order of Chief Adept, Second Adept, Third Adept, Hiereus, and finally Hegemon. This emphasis on 5 references the Quintessence, the fifth element of Spirit to which this grade belongs. The rounds emphasise the four elements and then the one that crowns and unifies them all, bringing them and the initiate into balance. Another Battery, with and without knocks, is employed in the Portal relating to the formula Paroketh, where each of the four Hebrew letters making up that name are stated).

The Battery for 5=6 is ! ! ! ! ! ! (1 1 1 1 1 1), with one round per each of the three officers in an alternating pattern much alike the 0=0:

Chief Adept: !
Second Adept: !
Third Adept: !
Chief Adept: !
Third Adept: !
Second Adept: !

Clearly there is a mystery in their alternation that has yet to be unlocked. What is not a mystery, however, is that the enumeration of the knocks equals 6, the number of the Sephirah of Tiphareth to which this grade is attributed. The alternation between 3 officers again intimates the Light, while the single knock employed by both could be taken as a suggestion of the unity the Adeptus Minor must undertake with his or her Higher Self.

These Batteries, and the many others employed throughout the grades, play a vital role in the initiation ceremonies and the Opening and Closing of each grade. Like many elements of the Golden Dawn system they should not be underestimated, for in them lies a key of great magical potency which allows every initiate to access the energies of these grades long after their own initiations.

Friday, 7 August 2009

Renaissance of the Golden Dawn

Many people think that the "lodge system" is dead or dying, and that the Golden Dawn is not as strong as it was in its hey-day, or, indeed, that it too is dying a slow death. I don't believe this to be true. Indeed, while perhaps the lodge system is not as popular as it once was (the decline in Freemasonry being the prime example), the Golden Dawn is thriving, so much so that I wonder if there is a kind of Renaissance occurring.

The Golden Dawn today is served by at least half a dozen orders, with another dozen or more that use its magic or are in some way derived from it (for example, the BOTA and SOL). Many of these Orders have a large number of temples around the world, more than the original ever had, and there are more popping up as we speak. Europe and America, in particular, are well-served today.

Couple this with a number of new developments and publications that have occurred or are on the horizon. For example, there is the GD magazine Hermetic Virtues, only a few years old. Then there are the two new GD Tarot decks coming out, the HorusHathor deck and the Ra Horakhty deck, not to mention the half a dozen other GD decks already published. Then there are also a number of intriguing GD books that will be published soon, such as Nick Farrell and Melissa Seims' King Over The Water (which will include much previously unpublished Alpha et Omega material), Peregrin Wildoak's By Names and Images, a reworked reprint of Pat Zalewski's Golden Dawn Rituals and Commentaries (all his Z4 and Z5 material), and Darcy Küntz's magnum opus Golden Dawn Temple Manual. Add to this the excellent (if I do say so myself) Golden Dawn Forum, not to mention the many GD yahoo groups and dozens of blogs, and it does sounds like those who are interested in the Golden Dawn are enjoying a really good time.

So, is this a bit of a Renaissance for the Golden Dawn?

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

The Value of Tools, Part 2

Brother B.h.D.A. linked me to a few of his posts (here and here) on the subject of magical tools which have raised some additional thoughts. The one I'd like to focus on here is the idea of giving life to an implement. It's not simply employed as eye-candy or a focus-aid, but as a living entity in and of itself, with the power to open and close ceremonies, purify or consecrate initiations, frighten away phantoms, invoke or banish energy, among a myriad of other vitally important tasks. Of course, all of this relies on the magician, but there's no denying that a tool that has seen use by a seasoned magician can easily bring wonders to a ceremony that may otherwise be lacking in a magical spark.

The power that can be invested in a tool can be astronomical, and to demonstrate this I'd like to highlight the Opening or Closing by Sceptre than can be employed by a hasty Hierophant. Z1 states:

"[The Sceptre] represents [the Hierophant] as touching thereby the Divine Light of Kether and attracting it through the Middle Pillar to Malkuth. It is called 'The Sceptre of Power' and invests him with the power of declaring the Temple Open or Closed in any Grade, if time be short, and this is done by saying: "By the power in me vested by this Sceptre, I declare this Temple duly opened (or closed)."

While it is true that this power comes from both the Hierophant and Kether, it still literally states the importance of the Sceptre itself. In fact, the power is vested in the Hierophant by and through the Sceptre, as a conduit for the energy from Kether. This potency is affirmed on a regular basis in the Equinox Ceremony, where the laying down or claiming of an implement symbolises the end or beginning of one's service as the respective Officer. These points alone should highlight the value of the employment of such tools in ceremonial practice.

Monday, 3 August 2009


Use the physical as a springboard for the spiritual.
Use the Night to help you find the Day.

Thursday, 30 July 2009

The Value of Tools

One criticism of ceremonial magic over the years has been its focus on the requirement of various tools, both physical, in the sense of implements and regalia, as well as less corporeal, in the sense of charts of planetary hours and other guides for the perfect ritual performance. Some magicians who are not very tool-friendly have suggested that they are more advanced because they do not need such tools, which, of course, intimates that ceremonial magicians do. This is an error, however, as ceremonial magicians do not use tools because they are needed, but because they are useful. It could be argued that the only neccessities for magic are Will and Imagination, but why make the job more difficult than it needs to be? You can tap a nail in with your hand, but why not use a hammer?

The value of tools is that they serve as an aid in the performance of magic. The wand or dagger serves as an extension of the will, in much the same way as the sword is an extension of the arm in martial arts. All ceremonial tools are designed to accomplish a given goal, and thus, instead of depending entirely on the faculties of Will and Imagination, a certain symbol or colour may be utilised to make the process more natural and effective. At the end of the day even the Will and Imagination are just another set of tools in the toolbox of the magician.

Monday, 27 July 2009

Asceticism in the Golden Dawn, Part 2

Some time last year I made a post on asceticism in the Golden Dawn, which included sources primarily from the Cromlech Temple, with a small passage from Westcott from one of the Flying Rolls. Recently I was re-reading another Flying Roll, also by Westcott, which deals with the matter of asceticism much more thoroughly, further reinforcing the points made in the previous post.

"It has been urged against us that, as a society, we do not preach the necessity for such strict purity of life as do the Theosophists. It may be true that we are not always preaching it, and as we do not hold public meetings, the same opportunities for doing so does not exist. If, however, there is one thing more than another which I would impress upon you as a social sin, it is that of hypocrisy. As to asceticism, the Hermetists have always taught that this necessary purity of mind should and can be combined with the absence of all ostentatious morality and of un-natural habits of life.

The Western Teachers have always recognised the fact that for so long human life has been so painful, that to most people these studies would be denied if they were to insist upon asceticism, and they have found by experience that a very considerable amount of success without attendant danger may be obtained by those who are willing to make strenuous efforts, without the aid of positive asceticism. It seems to me that the chief danger of asceticism in a city like this and at the present time is that even if we succeed, the extra advantage which we shall derive from totally abstaining from these things of the sense, will be counterweighted by a distinct and added danger of falling, on the other hand, into the Scylla of hypocrisy which I have mentioned. What is apt to happen is this, óthat a man is liable to compare himself with his neighbours, and say how much better he is than others. Now self congratulation is second only to open hypocrisy, and we hold that it is just as harmful to spiritual progress. On the other hand if you make strenuous efforts to lead a moral life, if you do this while leading a pure life in the city, if you succeed in doing these things, you may depend upon it that your reward will be grater than his who removes himself from his fellows and shuts himself up in a forest. The reward of a man who can remain pure and yet live in the midst of a crowded city is greater than his who avoids the responsibilities of life by burying himself in a wilderness."

- N.O.M. (Westcott), Flying Roll No. XIX

I agree strongly with Westcott's views here, especially in regard to hypocrisy and how it is much more difficult (and honest and rewarding) to live with temptation and thus resist it than to remove oneself from temptation and pretend that one is resisting it.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009


"The map is not the territory" is an oft-quoted aphorism, and I believe it may need to be quoted again to reinforce the following point: the correspondences of the Golden Dawn are designed around the basis that point A relates or is linked to point B, and point C, and point D. They correspond - i.e. there is a back and forth relationship between them. This does not mean that point A is point B or C or D, which there seems to be some confusion about.

So let's look at an example. The four directions are attributed to the elements. Attributed, not are. The four directions are linked to the four elements - they are not the elements themselves., nor are they distinctly elemental. The Four Archangels may correspond with the elements, but they are not elemental in and of themselves. Enochian words like EXARP and HCOMA correspond with the elements of Air and Water, but any Dee purist will quickly point out how they are most definitely not elemental. Likewise for the hundreds of different correspondences in the Golden Dawn system.

Correspondences are our magical map. They are pins put at two towns to highlight what road to take between them. When Dublin gets confused with New York there's a big problem occuring.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Book Review: Gathering the Magic

When starting up an order, temple, coven, or other magical group in the modern world, there usually is not much in the way of resources. Not knowing how to attract other members, build a system of study and ritual, and deal with the inevitable conflicts that occur when more than one person comes together can spell doom for any start-up magical group. One exception to this lack of resources is Nick Farrell's Gathering the Magic, which attempts to give a would-be group leader some of the advice needed to succeed in this endeavour. While John Michael Greer's Inside a Magical Lodge still has much to offer in this regard, Nick's book is a bit more up to date, dealing with the issues that a group in the 21st Century will have to face.

The book numbers 188 pages and has a number of chapters dealing with the group itself, the leadership, the practical elements, bringing in new people, conflict and crisis, and then growth or death of the group. These are further divided into shorter sub-sections that make for easy reading.

Nick offers some useful insights into the minds of those who join and work with magical groups, including whether someone is a leader or a follower, how they will fit in with the egregore, what to do with grades, and what kind of leadership role (guru, round table, panel, three chiefs, etc.) will work best. This latter section is dealt with extremely well, with a number of advantages and disadvantages given for each possibility.

On the practical side of things essential elements like a name, location, and fee structure are addressed, along with ritual work to be carried out at each meeting, and all of the various tools and regalia that may be required, depending on the nature of the group.

The leadership role is given quite a bit of attention given how important it is (and how detrimental a bad leadership can be), but Nick stresses the importance on spreading the work load and strongly encourages the individualising of each member of the group. The section detailing the "warning signs" when someone is about to individualise (which is a good thing, but not without its own painful and sometimes destructive process) is particularly good, especially considering that Nick is advising that potential leaders aid the individualising person as opposed to simply expelling them from the group because of what seems like trouble-making at first.

One problem with the book is the large number of typos, which shows that the editor did not really give it the attention it deserved. Luckily enough these aren't bad enough to distract from the material. Another obvious error occurs with the citing of a book that has not been released yet. In a footnote on page 157 Nick cites Peregrin Wildoak's By Names and Images (information on which can be found here) as being published in 2004. Unfortunately due to delays at Thoth Publications this book still has not been released. Since the copy of Gathering the Magic that I am reading has been updated to a second edition in 2007 I wonder why this footnote wasn't ammended to be more accurate.

Gathering the Magic is mainly focused on ceremonial magic groups, but the advice is generally applicable to all, whether it's a Freemason lodge, a Golden Dawn temple, or a Wiccan coven. Some of the information and advice is fairly common-sense, but it's the kind of common-sense that only occurs when someone highlights it, while many other guidelines Nick gives will not have occured to most group leaders. It is clear that he does not base these things on speculation but on a number of years experience, and thus this book will be of great benefit to those lacking in the experience required to create and grow a successful magical group.

Monday, 13 July 2009

The Seeker & the Sought

I thought I'd share a Gnostic piece I wrote in 2006:

1. Those who try to lift a boulder will lift a Stone, but as they try they are tried, and when they look beneath the Boulder, they will become troubled by what they see, but it is the strife of their vision that allows them to See.

2. Those who are content to move pebbles like pieces of a boardgame, they will not know Me. If they looked at the board, they would see that I am all lines and no line, and it is the Breath of My Spirit that moves the pieces, not their hands.

3. Let the Movers of Mountains take Comfort and Solace in their Suffering, for only those who Suffer seek, and only those who Seek find. I am the Seeker and the Sought, and all who seek Me without find Me within.

4. I am beneath pebbles and boulders, and I am the creator of suffering and the absolver of strife. All who know Me shall become Me, and I shall become them, and We will walk in the Light together.

5. For he who is hungry shall be filled with the Bread of Life, and she who thirsts shall be filled with the Wine of Spirit; so shall the Famished inherit the Fullness.

Friday, 10 July 2009

Light & Shadow

"The work of bringing people to the light creates tremendous amounts of shadow, and in working with angels our personal demons are evoked."

- Nick Farrell, Gathering the Magic

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Book Review: Earth Divination, Earth Magic

Geomancy is probably the least practiced system taught by the Golden Dawn, and I believe the reason for this is how it was and is continuing to be taught. It is made to seem overly complex, like an elaborate mathematical equation, but underneath it all lies a much simpler system, and Earth Divination, Earth Magic by John Michael Greer exposes this simplicity to great effect.

This book has two sections, the first covering the divinatory aspects of geomancy, which includes a brief history, an overview of the geomantic figures, the method of casting a chart, and then several methods of reading it. What is noteworthy about this section is that it contains many elements of teaching that are absent from the original GD documents on the subject, particularly in terms of interpreting the figures that have been obtained. The shield chart is also an extremely useful method of obtaining the figures which works in a very common-sense way. The multiple examples given bring the theory a little closer to home, and there is also some space given to specific questions (and slightly different methods for obtaining the answers for them) such as how to find a missing person or predicting the weather (still as valid today as they were in the Middle Ages).

The second section of the book deals with the magical application of geomancy, and this becomes a lot more obviously GD. The planetary spirits (or genii) and their sigils are covered, along with basic GD ritual like the LBRP. A consecration ceremony for a geomantic box is also given, and skrying and talismans are covered to some degree. There is not much new here for a GD student, however, as it has been predominantly covered before, but it may be of use to those with little or no exposure to GD ritual.

This is an invaluable text for making the archaic instructions of the GD on geomancy make a lot more sense. It provides additional instruction for those who have already mastered the basics, but are struggling to interpret a full geomantic chart. I think it's time that this system gained more exposure in the magical community and that more people practice it, and Greer's book will aid greatly to that end.

Saturday, 27 June 2009

Invoke The Highest

One of the most pivotal principles of Golden Dawn magic is the practice of invoking the highest divine name one knows before anything else. This is frequently reinforced throughout the Order material. For example, from Mathers' Geomancy lecture:

"Do remember that in one of the Ritual obligations, the aspirant swears that in all his magical workings he will always invoke the highest divine names that he knows. Thus he will always be working under the aegis of the divine."

What is referred to here is the Netzach part of the Obligation in the 5=6:

"I furthermore solemnly pledge myself never to work at any important symbol without first invocating the highest Divine Names connected therewith."

That this principle is actually sworn to as part of an oath might tell the student just how serious it really is.

Regardie also highlighted this principle frequently:

"You are committed by the very nature of this system to invoke the highest divine Names you know when working on any magical topic."

And again:

"The reader should have noticed that in one of the obligations that the initiate into the Order has assumed there is the statement that no matter what type of magical operation he proposes to engage in, he will always invoke the highest divine names within his purview. In this way, his steps will be guided in the right direction and all harm thus avoided. In a major sense this is one of the greatest differences between the initiated and profane points of view. It holds good in all occult matters -- from so apparently a prosaic undertaking as divining by means of geomancy to invoking one's higher and divine genius. It means placing one's workings and one's goal in the hands of the divine -- no matter how one defines the latter."

Friday, 26 June 2009

Methods to Obtain the Geomantic Figures

Geomancy is unique in that there is no one definitive way of obtaining the geomantic figures that start the process of the divination. There are no runes to throw or Tarot cards to shuffle, and thus there are many potential ways we can approach the formation of the four Mother figures in our geomantic readings. In this post I will highlight a few possibilities:

1. Stick & Sand

Poking holes in the sand or soil is probably the oldest and most traditional method, probably originally employed in Arabian deserts. A simple branch or stick and a patch of soil offers the easiest and most cost-effective approach for those who frequent the wilderness often. The connection with the earth that this affords makes this one of the more ideal options. For those who prefer something that can be employed at home then a Geomantic Box can be created to store some soil, and a Geomantic Wand (created from a thin wooden dowel) can be used to poke the holes. An example of this, with instructions to make one, can be found on page 281 of Creating Magical Tools (page numbers from the Llewellyn 1999 edition) by the Ciceros.

2. Pen & Paper

Pen and paper is the most common method used nowadays and was also quite popular in the Renaissance. This simply involves randomly forming dots or dashes on a piece of paper, in much the same way as randomly poking holes in the soil would be done. This process could also, through paper, be linked to earth. A con to both of these approaches is that they give the diviner too much control over how many dots can be formed, and thus it's possible to consciously choose the symbols one wants to see as opposed to what is accurate of the situation.

3. Bag of Stones

A suggestion from John Michael Greer is a bag or bowl of small stones or pebbles, a handful of which could be taken and scattered on the ground, and then counted to find the relevant number. This could be employed out in the wild with random stones (or other small objects), or a more permanent method could be practised at home. Indeed, they could potentially be painted in earthy or Malkuthian colours, or even in elemental ones in order to form the four lines of each geomantic figure in a single throw.

4. Double-sided Runes/Coins/Sticks

Another suggestion from Greer is a set of double-sided runes, with a single dot on one side and a double dot on the other. This is a fairly quick method of acquiring the geomantic figures, and could make a good gift for the magically inclined. These could be made from wood or stone (both of these preferable for their earthy link) and then painted in earthy/Malkuthian colours or elemental ones. Other alternatives include coins (heads for one dot, tails for two, for example) or specially-created throwing sticks, like the ones you can find here (linked by Scott+).

5. Dice

A final suggestion, recommended to me by a friend recently, is the simple use of dice. An odd number equals one dot, an even number two dots. While many dice you can buy nowadays are plastic there are some that are wooden, which would be more ideal. Indeed, I've seen coloured wooden dice, which could be excellent for an elemental set in order to procur a full geomantic figure in one throw.

Do you have any other methods you employ? Why not share them in a comment?

Hermetic Virtues, No. 9

Issue 9 of Hermetic Virtues has been released, containing the following excellent articles:

+ A Hermetic Ritual from the Picatrix by John Michael Greer
+ The Devil, another new Tarot trump by Harry Wendrich
+ Seven Stages of Spiritual Unfoldment by Nick Farrell
+ Initiation and the Four Worlds by Olen Rush
+ Review of John Michael Greer's The Art and Practice of Geomancy by Lauren Gardner
+ Theoi Megaloi: The Many Faces of the Kabiric Mysteries by Sandra Tabatha Cicero
+ Review of Robert Moore's Facing the Dragon by Lauren Gardner
+ In Search of the Lost Colour: Mystical Magenta and the Golden Dawn by Harry and Nicola Wendrich
+ An Invocation of Yesod by Samuel Scarborough

To obtain a copy, click here.

Thursday, 25 June 2009

What is Geomancy?

Geomancy (from the Greek ge, meaning earth, and manteia, meaning divination or prophecy) is the practice of divination by reading the signs of the earth, or more properly by a method relating to sixteen figures made up of a number of points or dots, an example of which can be seen above (they number sixteen because that is the maximum possible permutations of the binary figures over four lines). These figures are given various meanings, good, bane, and neutral, and are associated with a number of other things, such as zodiacal signs, planets, elements, and so forth. It is through these meanings and associations that an interpretation of a reading can be garnered by the geomancer. A chart of these geomantic figures and some of their associations is given below.

The method of practice for geomancy requires that the geomancer obtain fifteen geomantic figures for their reading, divided into four Mothers, four Daughters, four Resultants (or Nieces or Nephews), two Witnesses, and one Judge. The method for obtaining these varies, but the two most common approaches involve randomly poking holes in the soil or randomly marking dots on a piece of paper, which, when added up, will give an odd or even number, and thus a single or double dot for the first part of the first geomantic figure. This process, and further processes or rearrangement and addition, is repeated until all fifteen of the figures are obtained.

Interpretation then depends on a number of factors, but the simplest approach is to check what the last figure, the Judge, means, and also what the two Witnesses mean in relation to it. This is a good approach for simple "yes" and "no" questions. More detailed analyses can be worked out, however, including a full astrological chart reading, where the various figures are entered into a traditional square chart and interpreted accordingly.

A number of genii (the plural of genius, a "guardian spirit") rule the sixteen geomantic figures, and thus this method of divination places a larger role on the ability to work with these spirits than on only the intuitive faculties of the diviner. The Ciceros, in their Self-Initiation into the Golden Dawn Tradition, expand on this point:

"This system of divination is unlike others in that the psychic awareness of the diviner is of less importance than in a system such as Tarot. It is the diviner's ability to evoke the Spirit that becomes the focus of consideration for a successful Geomantic divination. This is the reason why Geomancy is perhaps a better method for individuals who have trouble visualizing or interpreting a reading."

Golden Dawn procedure generally requires that the sigil of a genius relating to the question being asked be drawn within an Invoking Earth Pentagram in a circle (to contain the force). Mathers gave the following instructions in his Geomancy lecture:

"The symbol of a Pentagram either within or without a circumscribed circle should be made at the top of the paper on which the dashes are made. The paper itself should be perfectly clean and should have never been previously used for any other purpose. If a circle be used with the Pentagram, it should be drawn before the latter is described. The Pentagram should always be of the “invoking” type, as described in the Pentagram Ritual. Since the Pentagram concerns the element of Earth, it should therefore be drawn beginning at the top point descending to the lower left hand point, carefully closing the angle at the finish. While slowly tracing the Pentagram, the divine name associated with Earth should be intoned or vibrated ADONAI ha-ARETZ. It could be intoned two or three times before proceeding with the drawing of the Sigil. This will help to concentrate the mind and to elevate it to the highest notion compatible with the method. Do remember that in one of the Ritual obligations, the aspirant swears that in all his magical workings he will always invoke the highest divine names that he knows. Thus he will always be working under the aegis of the divine. Within the centre of the Pentagram, the Sigil of the “Ruler” to which the matter of the question specially refers, should be placed."

Originally geomancy was taught in the 3=8 grade of Practicus, but many modern Orders have employed it in the 1=10 grade of Zelator instead, to tie it into the Earth energies relevant to that grade.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

The Lesser Pentagram and the Earth Pentagram

There is a common confusion in modern times over the Lesser Pentagram employed in the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram (in both its invoking and banishing forms) and the Earth Pentagram employed in the Supreme Ritual of the Pentagram. On the surface the drawing of these two pentagrams looks the same, and thus it's easy to see where the confusion and conflation comes from. But there are subtle and not so subtle differences:

The first pentagram here is the Lesser Invoking Pentagram, to be imagined in white light, or, as seen by clairvoyants, bluish white light. The second is the Invoking Earth Pentagram, to be imagined in black, with a symbol of Taurus drawn in the center. Without the colour differences and the addition of this symbol they appear to be the same. They are not.

Let's look at another example to bring this point home:

The first pentagram here is the Banishing Air Pentagram, to be imagined in yellow with the symbol of Aquarius drawn in the centre. The second is the Invoking Water Pentagram, to be imagined in blue with the symbol of Scorpio in the centre. At first glance, when the zodiac symbols and the colour differences are not employed, they appear to be the same pentagram, but they are not. Likewise for Invoking Air and Banishing Water.

Thus it is important to not make assumptions on the basis of what something is at face value; just because the Lesser Pentagram is drawn in the same manner as the Earth Pentagram does not make it the same.

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

The Role of the Candidate

While some of my previous posts have gone over the official roles and duties of the Officers in an initation ceremony, what about the role of the Canidate?

Some would argue there is no role, in that the Candidate has things "done" to them, as opposed to actively paritcipating. However, this is, in itself, a role.

The passivity and receptivity required of the Candidate is their role. They are to become a Vessel for the energies and symbols implanted in them, and thus they must be made passive and receptive. Much of this is acheived through various dramatic elements of ritual, such as the quite potent one of shock. The not knowing what it happening or what is about to happen tends to heighten the senses to a degree that all things done are magnified in force. If, for example, the sight is removed from the Candidate (via a Hoodwink), then when it is restored there is a huge impact, including the fact that a coloured prop will now seem suddenly more vibrant and alive than it would have had the sense of sight not been heightened accordingly. Much of what the Candidate is to say is also said on behalf of him or her by the Hegemon, further inducing the state of passivity, where they, being their Lower Self, are no longer in control, having handed this over to the Officer symbolic of their Higher Self.

The main place where the Candidate actually actively participates is the Oath, for the Hegemon does not answer for him or her here. This suggests that the Oath is taken by the Lower Self, not the Higher Self, for, of course, the Higher Self does not need to take an Oath, for it lives by many of the principles expressed in the Oath already. Usually the Oath is given towards the beginning of the ceremony, thus freeing up the rest to induce the state of passivity again in the Candidate. Even the Oath can aid in this, for messing up the lines, especially when hoodwinked and kneeling before the Hierophant, can jar the confidence of the Candidate and eliminate any remaining elements of egotism that may have been brought into the Hall; this too aids towards the receptive state necessary for the initiation to be successful.

As the Initiate advances through the grades they become more active in them, capping this with their role in Adeptus Minor.

Saturday, 13 June 2009

The Throne & Altar

"The Hierophant's throne is like a switch to turn the current on, while the Altar is analogous to the light bulb situated in the center of the room to spread light to all areas equally."

- Pat Zalewski, Z-5, Book I (0=0)

Friday, 12 June 2009

The Hierophant

The Hierophant (Greek for "Initiating Priest") is the Initiator, Expounder of the Mysteries, and the Master of the Hall; and is also called Power and Mercy and Light and Abundance. He is represented by the god-form Oursiri (Osiris). His station is on the Throne of the East, the Place of the Guardian of the Dawning Sun. His duties are to initiate the Canidate, deliver the Mysteries, and to govern the Hall according to the laws of the Order, for he is the Master of all who work for the Hidden Knowledge. He wears a red mantle/tabard, symbolising Uncreated Fire and Created Fire, with a white cross on the left breast; and a white collar with a lamen depicting a red Circled Cross on a green background. He carries the Crown-headed Scepter and the Banner of the East.

The feminine form of Hierophant is Hierophantissa, but Hierophant is often used in practice for both sexes.

Thursday, 11 June 2009

The Hiereus

The Hiereus (Greek for "Priest") is the sacrificial priest, the Guardian of the Sacred Mysteries, and the Master of Darkness; he is also called Fortitude by "the Unhappy", and is represented by the god-form Hoor (Horus). His station is on the Throne of the West, symbolic of the increase of Darkness and the decrease of Light. His duties are to guard the Gateway of the West, which is the Place of the Guardian against the Multitudes (Qlippoth) that sleep through the Light and awaken in the Twilight, and also to watch over the reception of the Candidate and the lesser officers in the doing of their work. He wears a black mantle/tabard, symbolising the Darkness that was upon the Face of the Waters, with a white cross on the left breast; and a red collar with a lamen depicting a white Triangle on a black background. He carries the Sword of Judgement, and the Banner of the West, otherwise known as the Banner of the Evening Twilight.

The feminine form of Hiereus is Hiereia, but Hiereus is often used in practice for both sexes.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

The Hegemon

The Hegemon (Greek for "Guide" or "Leader") is the spiritual guide of the Candidate, representative of his or her Higher Self. He is represented by the god-form Thme (Themis/Maat). His station is between the Two Pillars of Hermes and Solomon, which is the Place of Balanced Power, and he is, therefore, the reconciler between Light and Darkness. His duties are to watch over the Gateway of the Hidden Knowledge and the preparation of the Candidate, and to assist in their reception into the Order. He wears a white mantle/tabard, symbolising purity, with a red cross on the left breast; and a black collar with a lamen depicting a black Cross on a white background. He carries a Miter-headed Scepter, symbolising religion which guides and regulates life, and his Office symbolises the higher aspirations of the soul which should guide its action.

The feminine form of Hegemon is Hegemone, but Hegemon is often used in practice for both sexes.

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

The Keryx

The Keryx (Greek for "Herald") is the Watcher Within. He is represented by the god-form Anoup empeIebet (Anubis of the East), and is the counterpart of the Phylax, the Watcher Without. His station is within the portal of the Hall, and his duties are to see that the furniture of the Hall is properly arranged at the Opening, to guard the inner side of the portal, to admit the Fratres and Sorores, to watch over the reception of the Candidate, and to make all reports and announcements. He is also charged with leading all Mystic Circumambulations with the Ever-burning Lamp of the Guardian of the Mysteries. He wears a black collar with a lamen depicting a white Caduceus on a black background, and carries the Red Lamp, symbolic of the Hidden Knowledge, and the Caduceus Wand, symbolic of its directing power.

The feminine form of Keryx is Kerykissa, but Keryx is often used in practice for both sexes.

Monday, 8 June 2009

The Stolistes

The Stolistes (Greek for "Preparer") is the Purifier of the Temple, its members, and its candidates. He is represented by the god-form Auramoouth (Mut), and his station is in the North of the Temple, symbolising Cold and Moisture, which is the Place of the Guardian of the Cauldron and the Well of Water. He is charged with the task of preparing the Robes, Collars, and Insignia of the Officers for the Opening. He wears a black collar with a lamen depicting a white Cup on a black background, and carries the Cup of Lustral Waters. He bears a special relationship with the Dadouchos in the Temple.

The feminine form of Stolistes is also Stolistes.

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Traditional Grade Requirements for Officers

Traditionally the Officers in a GD ceremony were required to be of at least a certain grade, and thus these Officers would be dropped from subsequent initiations (such as the Sentinel, being a Neophyte, being dropped from Zelator onwards) to ensure that such an Officer would not be employed in an initiation above their own grade. The traditional grade requirements for holding office are:

  • Sentinel - Neophyte
  • Stolistes and Dadouchos - Zelator
  • Keryx - Theoricus
  • Hegemon - Practicus
  • Hiereus - Philosophus
  • Hierophant - Adeptus Minor (usually ZAM)

For some interesting alternative perspectives on the suggested or required grade of the Officers in an initiation, check out this post by Morgan Drake Eckstein.

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Broken Vessels

"Divine Light cannot be poured into broken vessels - and we are all broken vessels until we decide to take the steps necessary for our own restoration."

- the Ciceros in the 120th Anniversary issue of
Hermetic Virtues

Monday, 1 June 2009

Is the Golden Dawn a religion?

This is a common query from those new to the Golden Dawn, and the answer is: no, the Golden Dawn is a system of ceremonial practice. It is a teaching and initiating order, designed to promulgate spiritual and occult knowledge in a steady, structured manner. You can be a member of any religion and still be a member of the Golden Dawn or utilise any of its teachings or practices. To best illustrate this, here is a quote from the Hierophant in the Neophyte initiation before the Oath is taken:

"There is nothing contrary to your civil, moral or religious duties in this Obligation."

The above clearly states that there is nothing in the obligation or teachings of the Order that will run contrary to your religious duties (i.e. you will not be asked to pray to or worship any God that is not your own). While the teachings may contradict the teachings of exoteric religion, your inner relationship with the Divine is seen as a personal thing and is never interfered with. Thus the generic term "Lord of the Universe" is often used in reference to the Divine. This term, while masculine and of Gnostic origin, can be taken to represent whatever form of Divinity you personally prescribe to.

There are also the words of the Hiereus in the exhortation towards the end of the 0=0:

"Remember that you hold all Religions in reverence, for there is none but contains a Ray from the Ineffable Light that you are seeking."

This respect and reverence for all religions is also indicative of the fact that the Golden Dawn does not require its members to be of a certain religion, but to merely be tolerant of all religions. This is exemplified in the synthetic nature of the Order itself, drawing here and there from multiple traditions: Christian, Judaic, Pagan, Gnostic, Platonic, Rosicrucian, and more.

It is important to note, however, that the Golden Dawn, given its synthetic nature, utilises terminology from, for example, the Qabalah, which is Jewish at heart. Thus, if you are uncomfortable with Judeo-Christian symbolism, you may wish to read the ceremonies and teachings of the Order to ensure you will feel right about utilising such symbolism and terminology. The Outer Order is primarily Egyptian in symbolism (and thus Pagan), while the Inner Order is primarily Rosicrucian and Gnostic in symbolism (and thus Christian). Members of the Order have in the past and present been of multiple religions, though primarily Christian, Jewish, and Pagan.

Relating to this topic is that of Pagans & the Golden Dawn.

Out of interest, I have started a poll on the new Golden Dawn Forum as a kind of census of the religions upheld by people working with the Golden Dawn system. You can find this poll here.

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Book of the Tomb Published

The Book of the Tomb, an AO document comprising a series of instructions (including a Flying Roll) on the construction of the Vault of the Adepti, has been published online by Nick Farrell on his website and can be found here. Some of it has already been in print, including in Regardie's black brick, but this copy is much more complete, with a number of illustrations to boot. This is a very important document for all Golden Dawn orders, especially those currently attempting to construct a Vault.

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Modifying Into Powerlessness

"Do not be too quick to force a spiritual technique to make sense; otherwise, you may, out of ignorance, modify it into powerlessness."

- Lyam Christopher Thomas

Sunday, 24 May 2009

New Golden Dawn Forum

After considering this for many months I have finally gone ahead with the creation of a new Golden Dawn forum for all people interested in the Golden Dawn, be they initiates, solitaries, scholars, or casual observors. I would like to cordially invite all my readers to sign up and start posting, whether it be questions, comments, discussions, articles, or whatever else comes to mind, providing it is done with respect and civility.

Long has thou dwelt in darkness; Quit the Night and Seek the Day!

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Fear is Failure, Part 2

Recently the topic of fear stopping one's progress has come up, specifically in relation to the use of certain types of magic, but it is an important point for us all in general. I have already shared somewhat on this topic in a previous post entitled Fear is Failure, but I have the following to add, or reiterate, here:

Firstly it is important to post the quote from one of the ceremonies:

"Fear is failure, so be thou without fear. For he who trembles at the Flame and the Flood and at the Shadows of the Air, hath no part in God."

There is also a reference to this in the essay entitled On the General Guidance and Purification of the Soul which is given to the Practicus:

"Humble thyself before thy God, yet fear neither man nor spirit. Fear is failure and the forerunner of failure; and courage is the beginning of virtue. Therefore fear not the Spirits, but be firm and courteous with them, for thou hast no right either to despise or to revile them, and this too may lead thee into sin."

Basically the advice is to neither laud or fear any spirit overly, for too much of either would lead to imbalance. Fear is failure because it obstructs the path of the initiate. Fear of the occult, of the paranormal, of ghosts and entities, will simply serve as a barrier for those wishing to use the occult for their growth. Fear of exploring one's faults or one's "Shadow" (to use the Jungian term) will hinder one's advance. Fear of being considered a "newbie" by the watchful eyes of one's peers will lead to rushing and lusting for results, and thus slowing one down and making those results more difficult to achieve. Fear of advancing to material that might challenge one and expose one's failings, or fear of the change that will come about as a result of such advance, will bring one's path to a standstill. Fear of progress will halt progress; fear of failure will ensure failure.

Monday, 18 May 2009

Continual & Cyclical

"It should be noted that in magic the process of integration is continual and cyclical. The three stages of theurgic integration (purification, consecration, and union) occur over and over again, on a variety of levels, throughout one's magical lifetime."

- Ciceros, The Essential Golden Dawn

Wednesday, 29 April 2009

A Response to Jordan Stratford

Gnostic priest Jordan Stratford made an interesting post on the Golden Dawn lately, to which I'd like to make a few responses to (unfortunately commenting is disabled there).

"Known as the Order of the Golden Dawn, the group attracted some of the greatest artistic and philosophical minds of turn-of-the-century London, including fantasists Arthur Machen, Algernon Blackwood, Dracula creator Bram Stoker, Fu Manchu creator Sax Rhomer, occultists Arthur Edward Waite (creator of the popular tarot deck), Samuel Liddel Macgregor Mathers, überweirdo Aleister Crowley, and famed Irish poet WB Yeats."

Firstly, I love the description of Crowley as "überweirdo". However, the mention of Bram Stoker is perhaps misleading, as I discovered when I inquired about his potential membership on my blog last year. While not all of the membership lists have been published, it seems that Stoker is among none of them, although he was perhaps known to some of the Golden Dawn's members (in real or astral form). See the comments to my inquiry for more details.

"The Golden Dawn taught prophecy,the secret meanings behind Greek, Roman and biblical myths; astrology, tarot, and – ultimately – the promise of enlightenment."

I'd prefer to use the conventional term of "divination" here, as "prophecy" can be misleading, and I recall no use of this word in the GD documents, but plenty of uses of "divination". Also, I'm not sure the GD ever gave "the promise of enlightenment". The aim of enlightenment, perhaps, but I think if any group promises you enlightenment then you need to think twice about them; becoming a member of any spiritual organisation guarantees nothing in terms of wisdom or enlightenment - that you must attain on your own time (although hopefully such membership can aid towards it).

"So busted. Although you've learned more in the chunk above than every GD site on the 'net put together. I deliver. So bear with me."

While Stratford's article is quite good (and humourous), this is a rather arrogant and dismissive comment. There are plenty of Golden Dawn sites that give way more information than the short time-line proposed by Stratford (which is, I garner, based on similar time-lines already published in various books and websites). One example is the history essay written by the Ciceros and published in Essential Golden Dawn. It can be found online here. While there are many unreputable sources out there, there are plenty of excellent ones too. See my blogroll for an example of these.

"1) It takes about a year and change to go through the elemental grades of the "Outer Order". This is a challenging, rewarding, insightful pursuit. Spend a few months learning about your air nature, your fire nature, your earth and water nature. And reconcile them in an intentional way. This really has nothing to do with learning a table of correspondence: it's a metaphor for how all the bits of you relate to all the other bits of you. 5 years of therapy in 18 months, not a bad deal for wearing a polyester robe and mangling Greek and Hebrew beyond recognition. Oh, most of the people next to you are crazy (at least the first time you go through it, you'll learn discernment the hard way) or of the non-bathing variety. Personally I'd take the crazy. Regardless: Persevere. Hey, that's a decent motto right there."

I'll ignore the comments about "the people next to you are crazy [...] or of the non-bathing variety" (?), but it seems to me that's it a long time since anyone went through all the elemental grades in a single year. This used to be the way in the original order, but nowadays it seems that there's an awful lot more to do in each grade, and that 6 months is usual a minimum of sorts. The advice to persevere, however, is good, and has been a motto of sorts for the Order and its members for a long time.

2) Hierus or no, the Adeptship of the Inner Order is a priesthood. It's more about logistics than anything else, and yet there's no room for blinking when a Neophyte shows up and places their journey in your hands. You're a janitor, but a kind of ridiculously important janitor. So step up, or step aside.

Hmm. Could Stratford not have found any other comparison to the Officers of the GD than "janitor"? I wonder if he considers a priest of the AJC to be "a kind of rediculously important janitor". That said, "step up, or step aside" is important. If someone isn't fulfilling their role as an Officer, they should, in my opinion, step down. If a leader is no longer leading, they need to hand the role over to another. Easier said than done, of course, and we all have our egoes to contend with, but there should always be a system in place to ensure that a Temple is being run as efficiently as possible.

"3) You are the Secret Chiefs of the Order. Deal with it. Okay, you're probably not ready to deal with it but you do this enough times you will be."

This may be confusing to some readers, but I can kind of see what Stratford is getting at here. After all, becoming an Adept is all about taking responsibility for one's life and spiritual progress. To hand over that responsibility to a "Secret Chief" would be a bit of a cop-out of sorts. However, the jury still isn't out on what exactly the Secret Chiefs are (if anything). Check out what Mathers thought they were, and then my own views on the subject.

"4) I said there were 3, but I'm all about the giving. You can sell someone something, or you can initiate them. You can't do both. An 800 number or a credit-card-processing form means the former, and never the latter. But you knew that."

Unfortunately there will always be those who treat spirituality as a business, or, worse, try to con people out of their need for something "more", while offering little or nothing for their money. That said, all organisations need money to survive (including Gnostic churches), so do not be put off by membership or initiation fees, which tend to be the norm in esoteric orders. If in doubt, do some research and ask around. There are usually people and places that report the scams out there.