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Saturday, 27 August 2011

The nature of the 6=5 and 7=4 Grades in the Golden Dawn

The Golden Dawn is a system of spiritual evolution. People often forget this and assume that it is all about magical techniques and intellectual information.
As far as history goes this state of affairs has been encouraged. Papers on the various Golden Dawn components were written, promoted and demoted in the grade structure often giving the illusion that “more powerful techniques” were given in future grades.
However more powerful techniques seemed to have dried up by the 5=6 grade and no one appeared to be able to provide a system for the 6=5 and 7=4 grades. Felkin came the closest with two very impressive rituals but the actual grade material that went with it was, in theory, a little sparse.
This has lead people to attempt to create new 6=5 and 7=4 grades which are providing “new information” and “powerful techniques”. However more techniques and more intellectual information is not what the 6=5 and 7=4 grades are all about.
The 5=6 grade is called Adeptus Minor. In that grade you are given many practical techniques and magical processes. These are incredibly involved and cover all the major branches of the Western Mystery Tradition. By the time that a person has completed this training they should be a competent magician within the Golden Dawn tradition. They should be experienced in Inner States and practical magical methods. They should equally be able to take magical systems and convert them to the Golden Dawn system. I will give you an example of how you can take something that is outside the Golden Dawn system and make something that fits and appears to give you more information.

Agrippa sigils using planetary squares

One of the incredibly basic forms of magic used by the Golden Dawn was the art of drawing sigils and seals on Planetary squares. The squares produced by Agrippa were basic. Below is a simple Saturn square. (I worked this out in the 1990s  before I was a member of the Golden Dawn and had to redraw the diagrams from an old dot matrix printer)

However if you “enhance” the square using Golden Dawn information, it appears much different and adds considerable teaching to the nature of the square.

From this we can see that the square is centred on the Tarot card The Emperor so we know that Saturn energy sets things in Order. Paul Case would say that the top lines were the initiating energies, the second line where the catalysts and the third line were the results.
More interesting stuff comes when we start to use the planetary square to create a sigil of a spirit or angel. Here we have created the sigil of Zazel by connecting all the letters of the name onto the square. (The lamed is missing but is converted to Gimmel be found by using the Al Beker chart).
What we can learn from this is that Zazel is heavily committed towards communication and Gemini, which is something we would not expect from a Spirit of Saturn. Indeed with the Fool we would think that the spirit is pure air. The only thing that seems to root him to anything would be having his feet in the waters of Luna and the High Priestess. Using the Golden Dawn Talismatic associations we could visualise a crowned being with a thin intelligent face, light hair (you could argue a case for a dual headed Janus). Winged with a swastika lamen, holding a sword standing on waves of water. (note that if you are using the square you do not look up the talismatic image for Lamed, you look up Gimel). There is a lot more information which can be gleened from this method,   you could take it even further by adding the colour scheme from the vault and really sex it up. What would you get? Four points for Gryffindor for coming up with it. What have we really learnt here? We have simply fine tuned something which already existed and it may or may not be more effective. But is this sort of thinking advanced? The answer is no. It is pure and simple intellectualising which may or may not take us somewhere.

The 6=5

The Golden Dawn was apparently very slap dash when it came to the 6=5 and 7=4. Mathers wrote two rituals which were quite simply rubbish and boosed a couple of 5=6 papers to higher grades in the hope that people would leave him alone. Felkin did better with two rather good rituals but weak teaching. Paul Case did not believe it was possible for an order to train people at 6=5 and stopped his chapter at 5=6 (he did issue 6=5 and 7=4 grades. Will Chesterman had a 7=4 grade on his Premonstrator certificate,which was signed by Anne Davies hanging on the wall of the temple at Naenae).
Whare Ra taught that the 6=5 was more of a mystical grade than the 5=6 and the work of the grade was to use the lessons of the 5=6 to find your own spiritual path.
Certainly the approach to this grade was much more transpersonal than the 5=6. In addition to goetic work and some other experimental systems, the focus of the grade appears to be using greater magic for the good of humanity. Through this service, the Greater Adept learnt the humility and sacrifice to pass on to the next grade. In many ways the 6=5 is about the surrender of the personality completely to archive the will of the One Thing. Thus you know that training system has to be geared towards teaching that, rather than more ways that the personality can be agrandised. 

The 7=4

This grade was even more mystical. Instead of working magic, 7=4 was the magic, or at least working to become it. Given this slips down to what your definition of magic is, it is probably best explained by using mine as an example. Magic is the art and science of becoming a co-creator with God. Instead of using that science, you are a living example of it in action. This can be said to be the goal of the grade as the jump between this state and the 6=5 is high. No longer are you a person working magic for the good of humanity, you are the magic working within humanity.
Both these grades depend on the knowledge of the 5=6, but they are not looking for more information. Instead they are looking to apply information gained effectively. So an order teaching new information at the 6=5 and 7=4 grades is barking up the wrong tree. Any new information automatically categorises itself at the 5=6. If it is a system, new or not, it is by its very nature 5=6.
This is not to say that there is no scope for teaching at the 6=5 and 7=4, however it has to be a different order of training than we have seen before and not just systems, and intellectual chewing gum.    The 6=5 is easier in that its goal slightly more familiar – use magic at bigger targets. The training must be how you manage this. Equally the ability to use the system as part of a spiritual quest is not something that the Golden Dawn system has done particularly well up to this point. The 7=4 is the last stab that the Golden Dawn system has of training anyone anything and this is one region which requires serious research from the next generation of Golden Dawn orders. Mathers, Westcott, Felkin and Case failed to manage it. While we work to create more intellectual systems to fill that gap, so will we.  While we teach that all we need is a new system incorporating Alchemy, sex magic, or Macramè, we fall further from what these higher grades mean.


  1. Nick


    This is one of the best articles I've read on the subject of GD 6=5 and 7=4 , if not the best. This is exactly the way I've looked at these grades for years and now for you to come out in favor of this and publish it here makes me extremely happy.
    Of course by my greeting it is evident that I am a Thelemite but like many of us I began my journey on the path in the GD community. And I began it within the Cicero's camp (and in my humble opinion the only serious and competent wing). Of course your writing about these grades don't include Thelemic 6=5 and 7=4 but you do state "GD" in your essay. I hope many GD'ers read this and actually sit back and let it sink in. Thanks for writing this and you should seriously consider putting a book together with a lot of the material you share on your blog. Hell, I'm a Thelemite and follow you. Great stuff. I'm going to share with others if you don't mind. Of course ill cite you as author.


    Stephen Gustat

  2. Great post.

    I agree that we need to open our minds a bit to what these grades are really about. We definitely need new teachings, but more of the same stuff we have in 5=6 isn't going to make the magician any better off or more advanced than an Adeptus Minor.


  3. I think it comes down to beefing up the 5=6 a bit more and then the 6=5 programme becomes a bit more obvious

  4. Tony De Luce wrote:

    Ave Nick,

    Paul Case never said he did not believe one could not be trained above 5=6 - he stated that there were no outer ceremonies above the 5=6 Grade in the Working Chapters of Builders of the Adytum. Paul Case reluctantly opened up the Portal and 5=6 towards the end of his productive career and he either ran out of time or choose not to develop such as there is no Second Order curriculum.

    Paul Case never passed on any grade he did not receive properly so no grades were conferred above the 5=6 though Chiefs did hold "honorary grades" and that may be what Ann Davies choose to place on Will Chesterman's certficate.

    I do agree in part with your interpretation of the 6=5 being that of sacrafice as we find 'The Hanged Man' emanating from such and this idea can be viewed as a "Western Karma Yoga" though I would disagree that this grade is primarily "Mystical". At the 6=5 level, all the Instruments and Work of the Adeptus Minor has become completely internatilzed ( check Mathers's A.O. 6=5 where no props are necessary ) and one works Inner Alchemical and Magical formuala and consequently I view this grade as the most "magical".

    in L.V.X.,


  5. I think I meant that it is not a personal system.... it is magic on a bigger scale. So producing systems that work on a personal scale are redundant. Thus the example of using a magic square would be another personal form of magic. The 6=5 would be looking at using all their 5=6 material for bigger targets. To do that there has to be a sacrifice of self (which is why the path of Mem is an important part of the 6=5 ritual) I dont think Mathers did his 6=5 without props because of any mystical ideas. I think he just could not be bothered to write a proper ritual.

  6. You know something, Mr Farrell - sometimes you make a hell of a lot of sense :) Thanks for such a great post. Now, is there an Order somewhere I can chuck you out of for revealing Inner Secrets? :)

  7. A very interesting article indeed. However I wonder whether the problem is if the master-teacher of a specific temple is capable of creating more advanced teaching?

    In my experience getting stuck at a certain level always means that an unexpected change of attitude needs to be made, and a set of new skills need to be mastered.

    In this case: the attitude of the master-teacher is being tested. He or
    she needs to change, and the advanced teaching is not about producing a new intellectual challenge or advanced magical powers for others. The true challenge is about being able of Transformation of very personal and deeply rooted strengths and weaknesses.

    I think that the higher grades develop not from designing more complex or better intellectual lesson material for others, but whether the
    Adeptus Minor is capable of bearing the burden by passing the Test of the Work, and is capable of continuing the Work.

    Leaving Tiphareth, going to the Hall of Judgment in Geburah, regardless of being bullied by the Oxgoad: the Adept develops by applying magic in
    his or her magical practice; in real life.

    The real test is whether the adept is strong enough to deal with the increasing pressure.

    The test is repeated when the Adept leaves Geburah and crosses the Tree to Gedulah where the Adeptus Major is tested as a person on even deeper levels of his or her personality.

    just my 2c
    In LVX

  8. That is two comments i have posted for other people... all the settings are right now so I don't know why there are so many problems. It seems to effect people who have not posted before

  9. Good post Nick. Your Saturn square ties in very nicely to an article that Chic and I are just finishing up for the next issue of Hermetic Virtues. :)

  10. I'd like to tie this in with what seems to be current for a lot of "this-way inclined" folk at the moment. We are apparently the objet of detailed attention from what we might call "Nephilim", or at least some sort of Enochian Governors. I know I am, and other fok with whom I am currently working testify to this also. We might be a "bit touched" perhaps but it seems widespread. Someone I work with thinks this is likely to continue for about 18 months, the reason being the crying urgency to get the planet - and thus humanity - back to the Wild. The Nephilim story comes in here, remember the ravishing of the "daughters of men"? Apparently there is remorse on their behalf, as the result was the divorce from the Wild (or, the "Fall", as some might have it). This would seem to me to be 6-5 work par excellence :)

  11. Is the AO 6=5 ritual published or in an archive accessible to scholars, and if so where?

  12. Tony Fuller is publishing them soon with Darcy.

  13. Beautifully stated, Nick. I completely agree with your premise and I am glad to see someone expressing it with great eloquence. The growth of our consciousness within the full Unity of the All becomes the evermore application of Magic, with ourselves as the expression of God. Too often we have seen the hoarding and secretizing of documents by those who turn the 6=5 and 7=4 Grades into reflections of Power and Ego, rather than of Self-Enrichment and Love of our Brethren. The entrance into Cosmic Consciousness is thusly made at the 5=6, and the great GD system, properly applied, studied, and expanded at Tiphareth, merges the Operations Manual with our soul. Truly as you say, we can then become "the magic within humanity".

  14. Lenny (Leonard Stevens aka Fr ACAS2 September 2011 at 07:37

    Hi, Nick. When I first read your comment "So an order teaching new information at the 6=5 and 7=4 grades is barking up the wrong tree. Any new information automatically categorises itself at the 5=6. If it is a system, new or not, it is by its very nature 5=6" I thought, that can't be right.. then I thought about and some of the higher GD papers etc I have seen, and yes I cannot think of any new magic off hand that does not have its roots in 5=6 (or earlier) Certainly the magic squares starts at the elemental grades. BTW ... have read your Mather's Last Secret, thanks. Well, though I may not agree with all your conclusions, I cannot fault your reseach. Thanks for making the publication available. Cheers.