Mishkan ha-Echad

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Golden Dawn Talk at Féile Draíochta

Earlier today (or rather yesterday, since it's after midnight) I gave a talk on the Golden Dawn at the Féile Draíochta magical conference here in Dublin. It was recorded and is now available to view on YouTube. Unfortunately the last five minutes or so, including a brief demonstration of the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram, was not captured, but the majority of it is available.

The talk itself is a basic introduction to what the Golden Dawn is, a brief look at its history, and addresses a few key points relevant to the audience, such as the place of religion (and Paganism in particular) within the Golden Dawn tradition. I hope some of you it interesting viewing material.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Announcing Kerubim Press

DUBLIN, IRELAND – Kerubim Press, independent publisher of occult books, officially announces its existence today, giving the esoteric community a valuable array of texts on topics ranging from ceremonial magic to paganism.

Kerubim Press authors deliver thoroughly researched topics presented in an accessible, yet scholarly format and/or easy to follow guidelines for practical magical work.

Books are published in both a limited hardcover edition of 100 signed and numbered copies, standard paperbacks for a more affordable budget, and multiple ebook formats for the revolutionary digital book age, which Kerubim Press plans to be major mover in.

The first two books in Kerubim Press' lineup are Nick Farrell's King Over The Water and Dean F. Wilson's Enochian Magic In Theory, both scheduled for release in February 2012. Pre-orders for the special limited edition of each will be available before release. Pricing has yet to be decided.

-

(Temporary artwork)

Over the years many myths have built up about one of the founders of the Golden Dawn, Samuel L. MacGregor Mathers. Many of these have been created by those who wish to damn the Golden Dawn and its system of magic or by those who want to naively believe a bogus magical story about the Order and its founders.

In King Over The Water, Golden Dawn magician Nick Farrell paints a picture of the founders of the Golden Dawn becoming out of their depth as the Order began to create magicians. Rather than painting Mathers as an eccentric genius, Farrell sees him as an autocratic fantasist. He sees Mathers struggling to keep up as his students rapidly became better than him at the system he created, and shows how he was unable to raise his game to help the Order develop further.

In what will be a portrait of the problems that could befall any esoteric leader, Farrell (author of Gathering The Magic, a textbook on magical group dynamics) reveals how Mathers' later rituals were an attempt to remove the magic from the system he created so that he could milk it for money.

Included will be previously unpublished papers from Mathers' own version of the Golden Dawn, the Alpha et Omega, including the unexpurgated version of the Tarot manuscript, the full version of the Book of the Tomb (a key document for creating a Vault of the Adepts), the original method for the consecration of the sword, and much more.

King Over The Water is the prequel to Farrell's groundbreaking exposé on the Alpha et Omega, Mathers' Last Secret (2011, Rosicrucian Order of the Golden Dawn), and provides another look into the mind of a magician that helped develop the magic we use today.

-

(Temporary artwork)

The first of Dean F. Wilson’s eagerly awaited Enochian Magic series, detailing John Dee and Edward Kelley’s magical system in extraordinary detail, from the Heptarchic system to Enochian proper.

Wilson provides a unique mix of thorough research with his own experience and understanding from using the system for many years, resulting in a book that is both scholarly and insightful.

He explores the history behind the famous magician and seer, shows how the system was delivered, explains why it is such a powerful magical tool, and answers many of the questions that people have asked about the nature of the angelic beings.

Gain an indepth knowledge of Enochian magic. Learn how to derive the names of angels from the various tablets. Discover the purpose of the tools. Ponder the mysteries of the more obscure parts of the system, with Wilson’s suggestions for what they might mean.

This tome provides a comprehensive overview of the Enochian system for both scholars and magicians, with excerpts from Dee's diaries and insights from a number of Enochian magicians over the last century.

Enochian Magic In Theory is the first of a two part series on Dee's angelic system, with Enochian Magic In Practice providing the practical instructions for how to put the magic into use. The latter is scheduled for a late 2012 release.

-

Like the Kerubim of Ezekiel, Kerubim Press aims to look in all directions to provide one of the most comprehensive selections of occult books on the market, while remaining committed to quality in everything it publishes.

Spread the word about Kerubim Press by telling your friends and colleagues.

Bookmark Kerubim Press' website:
http://www.KerubimPress.com

Like Kerubim Press on Facebook:
http://www.facebook.com/KerubimPress

Follow Kerubim Press on Twitter:
http://www.twitter.com/KerubimPress

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Waite's Fellowship of the Rosy Cross Tarot

Tarot enthusiast and esoteric scholar Mary K. Greer (author of Women of the Golden Dawn) posted an interesting blog on the original Waite artwork for his order, the Fellowship of the Rosy Cross (FRC), which was a derivative of the Holy Order of the Golden Dawn, itself a derivative of the original GD (with many of the more mystically inclined people joining it).

A book featuring the original artwork in full colour, along with Waite's commentaries, should be out before the end of the year, according to Greer. Check out her post, as there's some interesting information there.

Golden Dawn scholar Tony Fuller responded to the revelations with:

"It may be a little bit of a misnomer to say that are ‘discovered’. There are coloured versions of these cards/Keys (including a large version) which are in constant use by the FRC Order in London and elsewhere. The FRC has continued, almost without interruption since Waite established it. The coloured versions are even more dramatic. Dr R.A. Gilbert suggested that some of the cards may have inspired drawings for th original Lord of the Rings – Charles Williams, an influential member of the Inklings (Tolkien, Lewis) was also a member of the FRC for many years. Details can be found in Gilbert’s biography of Waite."

Greer added the following in response:

"The b&w images have been making the rounds for years. And colored versions have been in private hands but rarely shared with others and then usually under strict vows of secrecy. However, these are the original artworks—which seems like a pretty stunning discovery to me. Plus, those involved are willing to share them with everyone else. That’s news!"

Friday, 19 August 2011

Geomancy Figures & Images

When magicians are first introduced to geomancy the geomantic figures can seem a little daunting, difficult to recognise, and hard to interpret. However, there are some good ways to view the figures that make them easier to remember and understand.


Puer (boy) has a relatively easy image to remember: a sword. This is a very masculine symbol and helps relate it to both the meaning of the figure and the planet associated with it (Mars). However, there is another image linked with this that I found through John Michael Greer's work: "a male figure with exaggerated testicles". This is quite a strong image that reveals the meaning without question, and it also makes sense when taken in context of Puella. The aggressive nature of the sword also ties in with Aries, who was a god of battle  and particularly focused on weaponry.


Amissio (loss) is an interesting one, as it looks like an upside down bag, which lets the coins fall out. This can be related to the earthy aspect of its astrological sign, Taurus.


Albus (white) looks like a cup or chalice, which ties in with the idea of white wine.


Populus (people) is pretty much self-explanatory, as it contains all eight dots possible in a geomantic figure, with each one representing a person. They say three is a crowd, so imagine what eight is. Sufficed to say, it's the most populated of the geomantic figures.


Via (way) is also self-explanatory, as it represents a straight road, which guides the way. Both it and Populus share the same astrological sign, Cancer, and planet, Luna. They are the exact opposite of each other in terms of dots, with Populus showing four pairs of two, while Via shows four pairs of one.


Fortuna Major (greater fortune) has the image of a valley through which a river flows, according to Greer, but I don't think this is a particularly strong image. Personally I liken it to a torch or lamp, which guides the way. Since this represents the inner connection with the Divine, the Spark of Light, it is the greater fortune. The link between a torch and fire also helps cement the relationship with Leo and Sol.


Fortuna Minor (lesser fortune) has the image of a mountain with a staff on top of it, according to Greer, but again I don't think this is very strong. Personally I see it as a lever for the Wheel of Fortune, but since this is a game of chance, it is the lesser fortune in comparison to that of the lamp. It shares the same sign and planet as Fortuna Major.


Conjunctio (conjunction) looks like the astrological symbol for opposition, while the symbol for a conjunction is half of this. However, we can also see it like a pair of handcuffs, which conjoins your hands or the hands of two people together. Another parallel is the planet Mercury, which is also the planet for Albus, which has the sign Gemini. The Twins are an obvious sign of two forces conjoined.


Puella (girl) has a relatively simple image: a sword with point down, symbolising the passive element of the female gender. Greer also gives "a female figure with exaggerated breasts", which is self-explanatory, and "a mirror", which is an interesting one, as it relates well to the planet associated with the figure, Venus, in terms of beautifying oneself. It can also be seen as a scales, indicative of the astrological sign linked with it, Libra.


Rubeus (red) is a cup or chalice upside down, representing red wine. The reason this one is upside down is because of its link with Scorpio and Death. I also sometimes see the image as an X with a line underneath it, like a warning symbol. The colour red helps link it with its planet, Mars.


Acquisitio (gain) is a bag of coins held upright, representing achievement. I link this with the arrow of Saggitarius, which I see as hitting a bullseye. I also see the image as an X with a spot beneath it, as in X marks the spot (where treasure lies). Finally, the link with Jupiter, which we often beseech when looking for gain, is obvious.


Carcer (prison) can be seen as a jail, an enclosure. This links pretty well with the earthy aspects of Capricorn, but even moreso with the planet Saturn, which represents the force of bondage and constraint.


Tristitia (sorrow) can be seen as a wooden stake, which we can imagine putting through the heart of a loved one, which links well with its meaning. The waves of the Acquarius sign (even though it's an Air sign) can be linked to tears, while the planet Saturn is heavily linked with sorrow, particularly in the form of melancholy.


Laetitia (joy) is the exact opposite and can be seen as a tower, where we are high in the clouds, away from the troubles of the world. The link with the joyful, or jovial, aspects of Jupiter is pretty obvious.


Caput Draconis (head of the dragon) could be seen as the head, with the line representing the neck. Its link with the north node of the Moon is inherent in the name.


Cauda Draconis (tail of the dragon) is the exact opposite and clearly looks like a tail. Again, its link with the south node of the Moon is self-explanatory.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Dublin Temple



I'd like to officially announce the website of the Dublin Temple of the Golden Dawn.

The Dublin Temple was established in 2009 and has operated quietly since then, but I think it's time now to formally announce its existence to the world so that magicians in Ireland can benefit from another option to the magical consortium here.

Check out the website here.

Monday, 8 August 2011

A Cursory Look At The Vault Walls


Jupiter Wall of Magical Order of Aurora Aurea Vault

Initiation in the Inner Order takes place within the illustrious and mysterious Vault of the Adepts, a Golden Dawn recreation of the mythical resting place of Christian Rosenkreuz.

At first glance at the walls of the Vault it might look like a seemingly random series of mystical symbols, including Hebrew letters, astrological glyphs, and alchemical icons. However, it's really a simple and logical array of some of the most potent forces we deal with as magicians.

First, let's deal with the Hebrew letters, which are found within squares with a border. These are the first letters of the names of the Sephiroth, and their placement mirrors that on the Tree of Life. So, the square in the centre of the second line contains Kaph for Kether, the two on the line below are Beth for Binah and Cheth for Chokmah, and so on.

Above the Kaph square is the symbol for Spirit, which is a fairly common sense placement, given the position of the Ain Aoph Aur, etc. above Kether. On either sides of this symbol are the glyphs of the Kerubim, in order of elemental progression up the Tree from right to left: Taurus (Bull - Earth), Aquarius (Man - Air), Scorpio (Eagle - Water), and Leo (Lion - Fire).

These four symbols are replicated further down on the fifth line from the top, where the more familiar astrological symbol for Scorpio is employed. These represent the astrological powers, compared to the Kerubic forces at the top.

The rest of the astrological symbols can be found on the final two lines, on either side of the Hebrew letters Yod (for Yesod) and Mem (for Malkuth). These are placed in the same elemental order as the Kerubic or Fixed Signs, with all the Cardinal ones on the second last line and all the Mutable ones on the last line.

The planetary symbols for Tiphareth (Sol) and Yesod (Luna) are found directly above their Hebrew letter square. The symbol for Saturn is above Sol, mirroring its placement on the Hexagram and its mystical relationship with Da'ath (which borrows its Divine Names from Binah).

The remaining planetary symbols are found directly to the side of the Sephirothic squares, Mars next to Gimel (Geburah), Jupiter next to Cheth (Chesed), Mercury next to Heh (Hod), and Venus next to Nun (Netzach).

The remaining symbols are found directly beneath the Kerubic ones at the top. On the right-hand side there are the three primary elements: Water, Air and Fire. Note the placement of the Water triangle beneath the Water Kerub and the Fire triangle beneath the Fire Kerub, but also note how Air is placed between the two, not below Fire, since it is the reconciler between these two extremes.

On the other side there are the three alchemical symbols of Sulphur, Salt and Mercury. Note the placement of Salt beneath Earth and Mercury beneath Air, with Sulphur on the next line, which matches the placement of Fire across the way.

For a look at the colours on these walls check out this post by Nick Farrell and, of course, the Book of the Tomb.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Hebrew Pronunciation & Spelling, Part 2

In Part One we covered the often confused issue of vowels in the Hebrew language. Now let's look at some similarly confusing letters that have multiple sounds, along with resolving some confusions over doubled up letters in the English transliteration. We'll save prepositions for a future post.

Division of Letters

Hebrew has 22 letters, but these are split into three different groups: Mothers, Doubles, and Simples (or Singles), which we learn in the Third Knowledge Lecture. 

The Mother Letters are Aleph, Mem, and Shin, relating to the three primary elemental forces. The term 'mother' for these is appropriate since all other forces are born from these elements.

The Double Letters are Beth, Gimel, Daleth, Kaph, Peh, Resh, Tav. These relate to the seven planets.

The Simple or Single Letters are the remaining twelve letters: Heh, Vav, Zayin, Cheth, Teth, Yod, Lamed, Nun, Samekh, Ayin, Tzaddi, Qoph.

The terms 'Mother' and 'Simple' are fairly common sense, but 'Double Letters' can seem very confusing at first, but really it boils down to the simple fact that they have two pronunciations.

Double Letters - Double Sounds

All seven Double Letters traditionally have two sounds, a hard sound and a soft one. These are as follows:

בּ Beth (Hard) - B
ב Beth (Soft) - V (Bh)

גּ Gimel (Hard) - G
ג Gimel (Soft) - Gh

דּ Daleth (Hard) - D
ד Daleth (Soft) - Dh

כּ Kaph (Hard) - K
כ Kaph (Soft) - Kh

פּ Peh (Hard) - P
פ Peh (Soft) - Ph (F)

רּ Resh (Hard) - R
ר Resh (Soft) Rh

תּ Tav (Hard) - T
ת Tav (Soft) - Th

The first thing you'll note is that all of the soft sounds work by adding a 'h'. This softens the sound so it has less impact and becomes more guttural or fricative. 

Technically all of these sounds employ the 'h', including the 'v' sound of Beth. In many languages (including Irish) when something is spelled as 'bh' the sound is pronounced 'v' (a fricative 'b'). The same for Resh - the 'h' helps roll the sound; this can become clearer if you put the 'h' in front of the 'r' - for example, in how you would pronounce 'hroll'.

In English we do this with the letter 'w' in words like where and wheel. Most of us pronounce this with a hard 'w', but the sound is really a fricative 'w', denoted by 'wh'. The difference in the sound is that it tremors, vibrates, or buzzes, compared to the explosive sound of the hard form of the letter. This dual sound for 'w' isn't present in Hebrew, but it might help you get a better idea of where the Double Letter sounds come from.

The 'dh' sound of Daleth and 'th' sound of Tav are very similar, but neither are really used nowadays (we use them in the proper English pronunciation of words like though and there, however).

The soft Resh is pronounced at the back of the throat. It's like a cross between a thrill and a guttural 'r'. Many people pronounce this as a normal thrill, however, primarily because it's easier. In modern Hebrew Resh is always pronounced in its soft form. However, English-speakers who learn Hebrew tend to always pronounce it like the normal English 'r', since it's difficult to pronounce the other variation.

The hard and soft Peh are both used today, such as in Sephiroth (soft Peh - 'ph', pronounced as an 'f') and Qlippoth (hard Peh -'p').

The soft Kaph is pronounced like Cheth, the harsh guttural 'ch' sound found in Scottish loch or German bach. This is why certain words like Malkuth employ the Cheth sound for Kaph and why some people spell it as Malkhut.

The soft Gimel sound is very alien to English speakers, as it employs the back of the throat in a way similar to that of Cheth, albeit with a 'g'. It's almost like a choking sound. This is generally not used in modern Hebrew anymore.

The double sounds that have survived in modern Hebrew are: Beth, Kaph, Peh and Tav, although Tav has become indistinguishable from Teth in pronunciation for the most part. The double sounds for Gimel, Daleth and Resh have faded out, mainly because they were difficult to pronounce (Gimel), somewhat obsolete (Daleth), or became the standard (Resh).

Doubles & The Dagesh

You might have noticed a little dot in the middle of the Hebrew letters above that contain the hard sounds. This is called a dagesh, which is used to help you see the difference in pronunciation. It was not employed in original Biblical Hebrew, since the Rabbis knew the words by heart, including the subtle differences in pronunciation, but the modern language tends to use them. However, you'll generally not see a few of them, such as Gimel and Resh, since the second sound (which would employ the dagesh) has been lost.

[If you have difficulty seeing the dagesh in the letters, try pressing CTRL and + on your keyboard to zoom in on the article. You can make things smaller with CTRL and -. CTRL and 0 will return everything to normal.]

Shin & Sin

Shin is another letter that has two sounds, yet it is not one of the Doubles. Primarily it is pronounced as 'sh', but sometimes, very rarely, it is pronounced 's', similar to Samekh. The letter is sometimes written and pronounced Sin when denoting the 's' sound.

When a dagesh is employed for Shin it goes above the letter, either on the right or left. If it's above the right prong of the letter (שׁ) it's pronounced 'sh'; if it's above the left (שׂ), it's pronounced 's'.

A rule of thumb for Shin is that it's predominantly pronounced as 'sh'. For example, Shalom (שלום), Shemesh (שמש), and Shabbathai (שבתאי). However, in some rare cases you'll see words spelled with an 's' in the English transliteration, but with a Shin in the Hebrew. For example, Seraphim (שרפים). At first glance you'd think this is spelled with a Samekh (the usual letter for an 's' sound), but the Hebrew employs a Shin. These exceptions or irregularities, like those in all languages, simply need to be learned by heart, since they do not follow the rules.

This problem for Shin is exacerbated by some common Hebrew words that have crept into the English language, such as Sabbath (שבת). This is technically pronounced Shabbath, but many modern English-speaking Jews pronounce it Sabbath, since this is the common pronunciation we are used to. This is deceptive, however, and doesn't do us any favours in learning how to spell the language. This is why I always spell the transliterations of these words as they are pronounced in Hebrew; i.e. Shabbath.

Double Letters in Transliteration

You might come across some instances where you see a doubled up consonant in the transliterated form of a Hebrew word. Some examples are: Qlippoth (קליפות) and Tiqqun (תיקון).

It is easy to be tempted into putting two of the same letters in to the Hebrew spelling, but all doubled-up letters in the English transliteration are a single letter in Hebrew. These represent the hard sounds, with the transliteration showing two of the letter to drive the point home that it's pronounced with a strong explosive sound (often called plosives in linguistics).

A rule of thumb is that you never put the same Hebrew letter twice unless there's a vowel sound between them. For example, Metatron is spelled MTTRVN (מטטרון). Teth is there twice in a row, but that's because there are vowels between them. The word is not Mettaron - if it was there would only be a single Teth in the Hebrew, despite there being two in the English transliteration.

In Part Three we'll cover some common prepositions and two very common endings you'll see in many of the words we use in the Qabalah.

Monday, 25 July 2011

Hebrew Pronunciation & Spelling, Part 1

Hebrew is a difficult language for English speakers to grasp initially, as it works very differently, particularly with its lack of vowels. However, there are a number of 'rules of thumb' that can help people considerably with it.

The Holy Tongue

The first thing to note is that Hebrew (Ibrith or Ivrithעברית) was intended as a holy language from the start, called by many the Leshon ha-Qodesh (לשון הקודש), the Tongue of Holiness. It was a language studied by Rabbis and held in great reverence, so much so that it became part of the philosophical and religious teachings of the Jews. It's very different to other languages that we might use in magic, such as Latin and Greek, as it was never intended to be spoken in everyday life. Some people objected to the idea of the language being used in mainstream society in Israel towards the end of the 19th Century, but it is now a spoken language in addition to being used for religious purposes.

Vowels

Hebrew has no vowels. All 22 letters in the Hebrew alphabet are consonants. This is particularly hard for many people to grasp, especially with letters like Aleph and Ayin, but it's an important point that needs to be understood from the start. I'll explain what the letters that people often mistake for vowels really are in a moment,  but for now simply recognise that they are consonants.

Vowels were implied in texts, because the texts were effectively known by heart, and the pronunciations were given orally, so there was never any real need to write them down. Eventually, after many centuries, a method of adding vowels into the text was developed called 'vowel pointings' or niqqud. This is employed in modern Hebrew, but the classical Hebrew that we use in the Golden Dawn does not use these.

Aleph and Ayin

The majority of people who encounter Hebrew for the first time in the Golden Dawn think the letter Aleph represents the English vowel 'a'. It's easy to see why people would think this and it's not helped by the fact that the First Knowledge Lecture puts down 'a' as the power of Aleph.

The truth is, however, that Aleph is a silent consonant, or, depending on the context, a glottal stop, which to most English speakers is pretty much the same thing, since we find it difficult to pronounce glottal stops. So why does it exist? It acts as a place-holder for when a vowel is implied but isn't obvious from the text.

For example, in the word Adonai (אדני) we see an initial Aleph, which doesn't actually represent the first letter 'A', but hints that a vowel precedes the Daleth. This stops us otherwise pronouncing the word as Donai.

You might notice that the second 'a' in the word doesn't require an Aleph. That's because it's not needed, since the vowels are implied between the other consonants of Nun and Yod. Esoteric students have an awful habit of putting in Alephs everywhere they see the letter 'a' in a transliterated word, but generally speaking you never put an Aleph in unless it's unclear that a vowel goes there. Most often it will be at the beginning of a word, but it also crops up elsewhere. There are exceptions to the rule, where an Aleph isn't really needed but shows up anyway, but these are occurrences are rare.

Ayin is similar to Aleph in that it's also a silent consonant or a glottal stop, and it acts as a place-holder for a vowel sound. You'll most likely see it in the middle of a word where you encounter a sharp stop in the vowel, followed by the same vowel, such as in the word Da'ath (דעת). However, you can also find it in other places, such as the beginning of a word, like Aleph.

An important point I'd like to make now is that the glottal stop that we see in Da'ath is very different from the sound we encounter in the likes of ha-Aretz (הארץ). If these were one word, instead of two, it would most likely employ an Ayin for the double 'a', but since it's two words we need to approach them separately, where we recognise a vowel place-holder (in this case, Aleph) doesn't need to follow the initial Heh, but must precede the Resh in the following word.

Yod and Vav

Yod and Vav are also consonants, but they are more unusual in that they can have a hard consonantal sound ('y' and 'v') or can be place-holders for usually very specific vowel sounds ('i' and 'o' or 'u').

Generally speaking if either begin a word they will be pronounced as a voiced consonant, such as in the words Yesod (יסוד) or Vav (וו). When they are found within in the middle of a word they are generally silent, indicating a vowel sound, such as in the words Michael (מיכאל) and Hod (הוד).

The handy thing about these letters is that they tend to allows mark the place of specific vowel sounds. For example, Yod is generally pronounced 'ee', while Vav is generally pronounced 'oh' (long 'o') or sometimes 'oo'. This is why getting the pronunciation of words right is vitally important, as it will tell you if there is a Yod or Vav there. For example, the on part of Metatron (מטטרון) is not pronounced like the English word 'on', but rather like the word 'own' instead. This tells us that there is a Vav between the Resh and Nun. The same applies for the Yod in Michael. We pronounce it Mee-cha-el, not Mick-ah-el, because of this Yod.

There are exceptions to the rule, however, such as in the word Elohim (אלהים). The 'oh' sound is present, yet the Vav is not. If I did not already know what the word was and how it should be pronounced I'd assume it was supposed to be Elhim or Elehim (a shorter vowel sound), but this is something that we just need to learn. This occurence is not particularly common, but irregularities are found in all languages (English is full of them). In Hebrew these words that don't follow the rules usually carry extra significance worth meditating on.

When a Yod is found at the end of a word it is often pronounced as a diphtong (a double vowel), most commonly 'ai' (like in the word Thai). For example, Adonai is not spelled Adoni or pronounced Ah-doh-nee, but rather Ah-doh-nie. Other examples are Chai (חי), which means 'life', and Shaddai (שדי), which means 'almighty'. Note how there's no Aleph before the Yod.

There aren't many words besides Vav that start with the letter Vav, so it almost always acts a place-holder for a vowel. The reason for this is because the letter is also used as a preposition, meaning 'and'. For example,    'light and life' is aur va-chaim (אור וחים). Whenever you see a Vav at the beginning of a word it's usually safe to assume it means 'and', but context is always key. Whenever you see a word transliterated with a 'v', it's usually the letter Beth instead (for example, Levannahלבנח), which can be pronounced as both 'b' and 'v' (more on that in a future post).

One thing that usually throws people is when they encounter an Aleph or Ayin with a Vav at the beginning of a word, such as in the word Olam (עולם). Instinctively we would spell Olam as Vav Lamed Mem, since we're using the Vav to hold the place of the long 'o' sound, but when we look at it logically we realise we cannot do this, as the Vav would be misconstrued as the hard 'v' sound, ending with a word like Valem (which, as far as I'm aware, doesn't actually exist). So we have to add a place-holder, to indicate that the Vav is silent and therefore pronounced as a vowel.

Feel free to ask questions in the comments section. Part 2 will cover letters with two sounds, doubling up of letters, and a few basic prepositions, including why they always join the following word. If there are any particular areas of Hebrew you'd like covered, feel free to ask.

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Hebrew Errors in the Golden Dawn

Hebrew is one of the first things people learn when they initiate into the Golden Dawn, and it crops up consistently throughout all the grades. The problem is many people never look beyond a cursory knowledge of it and take the Knowledge Lectures at face value, but there are many errors in them and various other books that continue to this day.

Sandra Tabatha Cicero covered some of these in an excellent blog post last week, but another one I came across recently was the spelling of Haniel with an extra Aleph. Regardie's book shows the spelling as HANIAL (האניאל), but in the Tanakh, where the name originates, it is spelled HNIAL (הניאל). Generally speaking Alephs are not needed to mark a vowel in the middle of a word, but many people have a habit of putting an Aleph anywhere they see an 'a'. Aleph is not a vowel, it's a silent consonant that acts as a place-holder for a vowel (for example, at the beginning of a word) or as a glottal stop. 

A particular pet peeve of mine is when people spell Shem ha-Mephoresh (שם המפורש) as Shemhamphoresh or any other variation of that. This is what we find in the Knowledge Lectures, but it's an error that comes from a lack of understanding of the grammatical constructs in Hebrew. Shem is clearly 'name', while ha is a preposition that can mean 'of', 'the', and various other things, depending on context. In Hebrew this is spelled with a single Heh, but no letter would ever be left on its own, so it joins the next word, which obviously led to some people thinking the next word began with Heh, not Mem. Sufficed to say, this is a mistake that modern students should try to rectify. Mephoresh means 'explicit', but some people translate it as 'extension' or 'divided', which are not entirely accurate, but give an insight into what the overall phrase means.

I consider Hebrew a vital part of the Golden Dawn corpus which students could benefit from studying in more detail. Not only will this enhance their ability to write, read and speak the language within the context of ritual, but some of the grammar that people dismiss as irrelevant to magical work provides insight into the mysteries of the Qabalah that cannot be accessed otherwise. The Qabalah is entirely built up on the foundation of the Hebrew language. To dismiss it is to dismiss much of the Qabalah itself.

I will be posting a few more things on Hebrew over the coming weeks that people might find interesting. First up will be some pronunciation aides and 'rules of thumb', which will also make spelling Hebrew words a lot easier.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Balance In The Grades

As initiates progress through the Outer Order a number of obstacles can get in their way, which can distract them from the Work and slow or stall their progress. Just as some people try to rush through the grades, others might become stuck in their current grade and end up with too much of that element.

The problem is particularly apparent in the grades of Practicus and Philosophus, which relate to the elements of Water and Fire respectively. These two elements are the extremes and these grades are not on the Middle Pillar, like Zelator and Theoricus, so they are intrinsically more imbalanced.

Dwelling too long in these grades, in particular, but also in any of the other grades, can create an extreme over-abundance and imbalance of that element in a person, to the point of it being potentially dangerous. The paths leading to these Sephiroth, and certain other parts of the Golden Dawn system, attempt to mitigate the intense imbalance of these grades, but ultimately the only way to truly balance Water is to bring in Fire, and then find the tongue of balance between them in Air and Portal.

This idea of balance, which is present throughout the entire Golden Dawn system, can also be applied to the pace of grade advancements. We need to be careful not to rush and not to be too slow, as both create problems, one in not allowing ourselves time to assimilate the energies and learn the lessons of the grade (and to affect real change in our lives), and the other in not giving ourselves the necessary push onto the next stage of our growth.

Personally I have found, working with the Golden Dawn and other traditions before it, that six months is usually the time when the fullness of the element is experienced, and that spending less time means the energy has not yet peaked, while spending more time means the negative side of the element, such as lethargy in the case of Earth, starts to become manifest.

This may not apply to everyone and it is largely dependent on the amount of work a person is doing in a particular grade, along with the amount of change needed in that part of an initiate's life. But I've found it to be a good guideline to follow, both personally and for those who ask me about recommended grade time.

This partially explains why the minimum times for the grades in the original order were so little. Initiates might spend as little as three or even one month in a grade. Things have changed somewhat since then, as there tends to be a lot more in the Outer Order nowadays than in the original Golden Dawn, but there is a time when an initiate, and whoever is in charge of them in their Temple, needs to ask what is holding their advancement back and try to address it before it becomes a bigger problem.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Start Your Own Temple

One of the things I encounter frequently on forums and through emails are requests for information about local temples which prospective candidates can approach. Often these requests are coupled with complaints about there being no Golden Dawn presence in their area.

So, start your own temple. If you think about it, all of the existing temples today were started when someone took some initiative. They got a few people together and made their own temple. Some even formed their own order, others joined an existing order, and others yet decided to remain independent.

It's easier than you'd think. Simply get a few like-minded people together in your area or country, start a study group, and let it develop from there. Some people might not want it to become more formal, in which case you could employ a study group as a kind of outer court to the temple, but ultimately if you want to get things going you have to take some risks.

You cannot wait for the Golden Dawn, or any tradition, to come knocking on your door with an invite. Temples don't simply spring up when and where you need them. They take a lot of work to start and particularly to keep active, but they are extremely rewarding.

You need to ask yourself how much you want a local temple. If you're not prepared for the kind of work involved, then going further afield might be your only option. It does beg the question though - are you only looking to take from a temple rather than give back to it? You'd be surprised at how much you gain when you put the effort into creating or helping to create a temple, and the subsequent running of it.

Some books that I'd recommend for those considering this option are Inside A Magical Lodge by John Michael Greer and Gathering The Magic by Nick Farrell.

Friday, 1 July 2011

Introduction to Ritual of Tiqqun

My Ritual of Tiqqun is in the latest issue of Hermetic Virtues, but the Introduction was left out, so here it is in full for those who might find it useful explaining a bit about what the ritual is all about:

Tiqqun (or Tikkun) is one of the pivotal teachings of the Qabalah, receiving a lot of attention in the original Jewish writings, but it has often been forgotten or barely explored in the Hermetic tradition, despite it being a vital aspect of theory and practice.

Tiqqun means “Restoration” or “Repairing” and is often coupled with the word Olam, referring to the Restoration of the World. This has a particular importance in the Lurianic tradition, where the teaching on the Breaking of the Vessels includes directions on employing prayer and ritual to restore the Tree to its former glory.

A particular focus is the state of Malkuth as a “pendulum” Sephirah, having fallen from its previous position much higher in the Tree. Now it borders on the Qlippoth, in some ways being the crown of the Qlippothic Tree, always yearning to reach up to Tiphareth.

The link between Tiphareth and Malkuth is one of the Qabalah's numerous mysteries, akin to that of Malkuth and Kether, which, when meditated and reflected upon yields many insights into the workings of the Tree, the self, and the world.

The Golden Dawn emphasises this link often, with the balance of forces between the Hierophant in Tiphareth and the Hiereus in Malkuth. Many of the rituals and initiations reinforce this link and even the most basic of rituals, the Qabalistic Cross, has a hidden element in holding the hand at Tiphareth when vibrating “Malkuth”, symbolically and energetically raising the fallen Sephirah up.

The following ritual is intended to bring the concept of Tiqqun more overtly into a Golden Dawn setting, with an aim to restore the Malkuth of the magicians participating and, by proxy, the Malkuth of the world.

It is modelled on the Neophyte Ceremony, using the Z-2 formula as a framework. The Hiereus, representing the world, becomes the Candidate, who must rise from darkness to light. For the benefit of those who want to see how each part of the ritual relates to the 0=0, the Z-2 form is given as an appendix at the end.

Hermetic Virtues - Special Ritual Edition

A special Ritual Edition of Hermetic Virtues is out and it includes quite a few interesting rituals (and some other articles), including a little something from yours truly. My introduction was left out, so you can check that out here instead.

The contents for the latest issue are:

+ Outer Order Ritual of the Seven-Branched Candlestick by Sandra Tabatha Cicero
+ The Magician by Harry Wendrich
+ Lycanthropy in the Golden Dawn Tradition by John Michael Greer
+ The Golden Dawn Bornless Invocation by Aaron Leitch
+ Opening the Temple in Malkuth First Part - Opening Malkuth by Jayne Gibson
+ Practice Ritual for opening the Elemental Grades in the Outer by Frater A.M.
+ The unpublished original GD method of consecrating a sword by Nick Farrell
+ Scrying Mirror Consecration Ritual by Samuel Scarborough
+ The Three Courts of the Seven Sisters; into the Vault of Enoch by Frater L
+ Ritual of Tiqqun by Dean Wilson

Check it out at the Hermetic Virtues website.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Natural Versus Developed Psychic Abilities

There are two ways people can get psychic abilities. They're born with them or they develop them. Some have natural psychic abilities and also develop them further, while others block out any inkling of a sixth sense that might hint that there is more to life than the physical.

The problem for those with natural psychic abilities is that it can be extremely difficult to control them. They are not a skill that has been learned, but something that just is and just happens. Some, through their struggle, learn to control their abilities, while others find them slipping out of their hands at every grasp.

Developed psychic abilities, on the other hand, usually bring a level of control, depending on how gradually they are developed, how much work the student is putting in, and what system they are using. In fact, it's less of an "ability" and more of a skill, a tool that can be taken up when needed and locked back in its box when not. This is important, because sometimes we need to block ourselves off to the other. We need to be able to switch things on and off when needed. Many people with natural psychic abilities do not have this luxury.

As magicians, it's important to develop these skills, not only because they enhance our magic and give us greater insight and connection to ourselves, the world, and God, but because a magician is, by his or her nature, an active player in the universe, who creates and guides his or her life. 

The often chaotic nature of natural psychism can mean that the individual is being pulled along against their will, drifting on an ocean that does not answer to them. This lack of control can be detrimental to the well-being of the person, as they are often unable to close the psychic doors when needed.

This is not to say that there's anything wrong with natural psychic abilities, as there's plenty right with them. Individuals with natural psychism can often become powerful magicians who can tap into forces that other magicians can barely touch upon, and see, hear, taste, smell, and feel things beyond the strain of the developed skills of another magician. These people make particularly good additions to Golden Dawn temples to help see what the others cannot.

Within the Golden Dawn system we learn many techniques that stimulate and heighten our psychic abilities, as well as help us control them. For example, the most "basic" Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram is particularly useful. In its invoking form it brings in the Light, which, over time, opens us to that something other, that part of us that is more than human. In its banishing form it can remove negativity and astral "junk", but it can also seal our Sphere of Sensation when we need to take some time to assimilate and process what we have experienced, or to prevent causing damage when we are taking on more energy than our spiritual vessels are ready for at this time.

I recently had a discussion with someone who cited Blavatsky's teachings regarding techniques to develop psychic abilities. It was suggested that these techniques are dangerous, as it is forcing the evolution of a being who is not ready for it. While I agree that it can be dangerous to begin this process, that does not mean people should not develop their psychic abilities.

In fact, I personally believe it is more dangerous to be naturally psychic than it is to develop these abilities over time, due to the aforementioned lack of control. I have experienced this to some degree and I know many others who have also. I've also seen the effects of learning to control and enhance these abilities on these people. Their life becomes better as they being to master what previously mastered them.

For those who are not naturally psychic, of course it is risky to open the floodgates, especially if all doors are opened at once and the individual is not taught how to close them again. A careful, slow and steady process will not only provide a safer route, it will produce much better results and will enhance the magician so that they are not simply reading speeches and walking in circles around the room.

Indeed, it is important to think about what exactly we are developing. We're not tacking something onto ourselves that is alien; we are not getting a bionic arm that can do wondrous things. We are tapping into that which always is. We are accessing that which was always there.

When a child comes into this world they are much more psychically attuned. Over time this weakens or becomes dormant, because they are discouraged from employing it. Society numbs the child and dulls their imagination, and they become conditioned to fit into the little boxed lives that we are told we are supposed to live as an adult. Some people never lose this, and some people channel it through the medium of art, but the vast majority lose the connection with what is really important beyond the veil.

Therefore, we are in many ways undoing the social conditioning as much as we are enhancing our psychic abilities. Everything is already there. We just need to access it. This is where my beliefs and knowledge as a Gnostic come in, as Gnosis is about the knowledge of the divine that lies within us all. We just have to tap into it. We don't learn - we remember what we already know. This is what we are doing with our psychic abilities. 

Of course, it can be dangerous to remember, which is why humans are so good at forgetting. We have built many survival mechanisms to hide memories that might hurt or destroy us. This is a good thing for our safety, but sometimes in order to grow we need to become vulnerable, just as we do when we open ourselves to love.

It is dangerous to begin the process of maturing, to leave home and enter "the big bad world", to fend for oneself, to make and learn from one's own mistakes, and to experience all that life has to offer, both good and bad. Should we discourage people from embarking on this road of discovery simply because it will involve difficult times? Should we equally discourage people from accessing and enhancing their psychic abilities just because change is a painful process?

Monday, 13 June 2011

Sandra Tabatha Cicero Joins the Golden Dawn Blogosphere

Sandra Tabatha Cicero has joined the Golden Dawn blogosphere, launching a blog for the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn (HOGD), which can be found here.

Tabatha is one of the Chief Adepts of the HOGD and is also Supreme Magus of the Societas Rosicruciana in America. She has co-written and co-edited a number of books with her husband, Chic Cicero, and has written a number of excellent articles on the Golden Dawn and other topics of interest to Golden Dawn magicians.

Check out her blog and welcome her to the blogosphere. She hasn't posted much yet, but there's a sample from her Westcott's Enochian Tablets article from Hermetic Virtues and some thoughts on Osirification which provide some interesting reading.

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Mathers' Last Secret by Nick Farrell



In February of this year Nick Farrell, the head of the Magical Order of Aurora Aurea, released Mathers' Last Secret: The Rituals & Teachings of the Alpha et Omega. The book caused a stir among many people and groups. Some were pleased to see more unpublished documents shared with the wider public, while others saw it as a further profanation of the Golden Dawn system.

It's technically the second book in a three part series, with the first originally intended to be published by Thoth Publications a few years ago. It's almost guaranteed that the other two books will cause further controversy within Golden Dawn circles, but they provide some valuable information about the Alpha et Omega, the order that Mathers established when the original GD split.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

A Mystery of Air

The air is everywhere, all around us. Yet it is only when we concentrate it within a vessel, within the lungs, that there is life. Therefore we must take that which is spread here and there, from all ends of the Universe, and channel it into a vehicle through which we might come alive and bring life to our magical goals.

The enactment of Magic is the exhalation of the breath which leads to Form, but it must be preceded by an inhalation, which sculpts our aspirations in Yesod before they reach fruition in Malkuth.

This is why Aleph, the breath, begins the Hebrew alphabet, and why Beth follows, for the birth of Gimel cannot occur if the divine breath is not channelled into the house. Only with the union of Force and Form can anything truly be achieved.

This relates to Flying Roll No. V, because the Imagination is the Air, ever-present yet lacking in direction. The Will is necessary to guide it, to make the Jack of All Trades a Master.

Monday, 6 June 2011

Hermetic Virtues, No. 16

Issue 16 of Hermetic Virtues has been released, containing the following excellent articles:

+ Westcott’s Enochian Tablets by Sandra Tabatha Cicero
+ The Hermit by Harry Wendrich
+ There is No Part of Me Which is Not of the Gods by Nick Farrell
+ Mathers’ Last Secret: A Review by Samuel Scarborough
+ The First Degree Tracing Board – A Comparative RitualDiscussion by Timothy Walley
+ Modern Magick: Twelve Lessons in the High Magickal Arts: A Review by Samuel Scarborough
+ Raising the Serpent in the Western Mystery Tradition Part III: The Great Work by Harry Wendrich
+Revelation of the Holy Guardian Angel by Jayne Gibson

To obtain a copy, click here.