WHEN I first got involved in the GD I thought I would incorporate some of the material I had learnt from the various schools I have been involved with - BOTA and SOL – as well as what the old Whare Ra people had taught me. My goal was to return the GD to its place as a magical order and do things properly again. It is a sign that I am getting older when I realise that some of that drive was absolutely silly.
I received some good advice at the time which was to do nothing for a while and watch. Try to understand everything that IS done before concentrating on things that appeared lacking. Then it would became possible to see what the impact of some of those changes would be from the perspective of the entire system.
Changes have a nasty habit of gaining a life of their own and can sometimes be justified simply because people think it is a good idea.
Recently someone suggested drawing a symbol at a particular part of the ritual. They quoted an impeccable 'non-traditional' source as evidence that it should be adopted. My first response was why? Closely followed by “but that is silly”. The symbol suggested, while appearing appropriate would have taken people to the wrong place. I said to the person who suggested it. What is the first thing you think of when I say
This streak of conservationism is strange coming from me, so I am forced to look at it hard. Am I saying “change nothing?”. Hell no. There have been slight tinkerings that we have made to the 0=0 which have improved it. Most of them came from Whare Ra or studies within the system rather than ideas from outside groups. Some of the rituals were a bit hacked and need some tinkering just so they were possible to get your tongue around.
But when do you change something? The first thing is you have to focus on that part of the ritual and what is being done at that point. You have to think about the physical, spiritual and psychological state of the candidate. Particularly what they might be thinking. So look at the status quo and justify it. Find things within the status quo that you have not seen before. Ask around for other people's experiences of that particular moment. Then see if your suggested change will effect that.
Recently it was suggested that the Sentinel should go out of the door with the Hegemon to stand in the way of the door and keep it sealed while the candidate is prepared. The logic was that they were magically holding the portal to keep security while the candidate is being prepared. The candidate will see a bloke with a sword and think “hell this means business”. The status quo is that the Sentinel stands inside and the Hegemon goes out alone.
However think about the status quo. The candidate is alone outside the door. Nervously they are trying to remember all the things they are meditating on. They hear noises. In fact in one of those noises their sphere of sensation is dragged off them and spread to the cross quarters of the temple. This has a disorientating effect. Often they lose the ability to speak and are shaking like crazy.
Then in the middle of all this chaos, the Hegemon appears. Dressed in white and wearing a red cross they look angelic. In fact they might be the Candidate's higher self. That shock vision is powerful, particularly as the first thing they do is stick a bag over the candidate's head. The appearance of two officers would unbalance that moment.
So what about inserting symbols which are supposed to do things. Firstly it is important to know that every symbol which is drawn in the 0=0 has an effect on the candidate and their sphere of sensation. Thus if an officer draws a symbol it has to be done in a place that is appropriate and link to all the right imagery. This is a tricky business as symbols can superficially be correct but at deeper levels be way off the mark.
This does not mean that the writers of the GD rituals got it 100 per cent right either. For a while there was a part of the ritual that bugged me. It was when the candidate is being prayed for by the Hierophant. If taken literally the ritual implies that the Hierophant is facing West, toward the candidate when he is making this prayer. In the GD hall, the West is the place which is heavily guarded by the Heirus because it represents the sheds of the dead and the Qippoth. Thus, the Hierophant is praying to the unbalanced forces and dog faced demons that the candidate will be good for the order. While there are some good rationalisations for that (light in darkness and all that sort of thing), it is better that the Hierophant faces East for that prayer. Then they become the Higher Self interceding like a priest on behalf of the candidate. It took years before this change was actually adopted but I think it works.
Alternatively I have just become one of those conservative teachers that I hated when I was younger because they apparently feared change.