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Saturday, 1 June 2013

Flying Rolls book reveals Golden Dawn Community Secret

This week the pre-release of a new book written by the leaders of the Golden Dawn Community was announced.  This book  Commentaries on the Golden Dawn Flying Rolls by the Golden Dawn Community (ISBN 978-1-908705-07-5), due to launch on 14 June 2013.  The book's release is important on a number of different levels.
Firstly the Flying Rolls were instructional papers circulated within the historical Golden Dawn.   They were never released in a complete package before and some of the copies which were circulated publically had missing diagrams.  Israel Regardie had hacked some of the Flying Rolls to fit the publishing constraints of his book. He also missed some very important ones.  Francis King issued some more in the 1980s but also missed some which he did not consider were important.
This list is based on that issued by Wynn Westcott before the split and includes some late ones which were written soon afterwards which were considered official.
In its own right that is interesting, but what makes this book important is that there are commentaries from the senior students and leaders of the Golden Dawn Community.  These explain the flying rolls in modern terms and in some cases place these documents in their historical context.
The writers include:
Frater A.M., Frater AR, Deanna Bonds, Christopher Bradford, Chic Cicero, Sandra Tabatha Cicero, Ian Cowburn, Morgan Drake Eckstein, Nick Farrell, Paola Farrell, Lauren Gardner, Jayne Gibson, Frater Goya, VH Frater IOV, Aaron Leitch, Liza Llewellyn, Joseph Max, Frater Philomancer, VH Soror QQDAM, Samuel Scarborough, Eric V. Sisco, Rachael Walker, Sam Webster, Harry Wendrich, Peregrin Wildoak, Frater Yechidah, Frater YShY
Wading through that list and the wide range of Golden Dawn groups that these people belong you start to realise that the level of cooperation that exists between these different orders must be considerably higher than many would have you believe.
The truth is that the modern Golden Dawn groups have not been at war with each.  While we do not agree with each other, we have enough in common which means that we can, and do, work together.  Many outside the Community do not realise that.
When you think about “Golden Dawn Wars”, and “Chiefs with clashing egos” you might wonder why people say that when the Golden Dawn leadership is getting down to serious work TOGETHER and PRODUCING material.
This takes a lot of effort with no financial reward at all.  This book has been produced by the Golden Dawn Community to raise money for the GD Legal Defense Fund which is a non-profit organisation.
This is the beginning of similar projects which are being worked out by the Golden Dawn Community and we can expect to see some more in the future.   These will include papers by groups who were not able to provide papers for this book, due to time commitments.
There is a lot of material which is available which has been developed by this living tradition based on the original material which never sees the light of day.  This is because many mistakenly believe that the Golden Dawn material was all published by Israel Regardie.
While this is not the case, even if it were, it would just the starting point for what modern Golden Dawn groups are doing and taking their members.
What this says is that the Modern Golden Dawn is fragmented into different groups, which have become increasingly specialised according to the training of their leaders.  Most of these have been keeping their heads down and hardly going on the Internet.  All of us get on and get on well enough to co-operate on projects like this.  This Flying Rolls book is an indication that they are working together for the betterment of the Golden Dawn Tradition.
There are more details on the book here but for a variety of reasons it will be a "must have" on the bookshelves of Golden Dawn Students of all flavours.

Friday, 31 May 2013

Material magic – under the moon

I have had a few questions about the diagram I drew yesterday showing the underworld.  Yes it does mean that I am saying that Dee’s Enochian Aethyers are part of the Underworld and in Christian terms subject to demonic influence.
In many ways this explains some of the problems that Dee had with his angels, something that people like David Goddard and Paul Foster Case blamed on the scrying of Kelly.  However, if the Aethyers were part of the upper underworld, then it would explain the erratic visions of Angels that people get when skrying them.   It would also explain why Chorozon, who is the Devil, in Dee’s system resides amongst them.
It is one of the dangers of having fixed views. Kelly and Dee saw their system through Christian eyes.  They could not understand that they were not looking at Angels, but were most likely looking at Underworld gods and beings.
Their system also lacked one of the more important safety valves which is part of the Underworld and therefore material magic.  In some ways the Golden Dawn made matters worse by recognising that much of the Underworld’s population were elemental creatures and gave adepts the keys to attempt to control them through Elemental Kings and Tablets.
If you look at my second diagram you can see that the next level of magic, that of Solar/ planetary forces has to pass through the lunar levels (ie Yesod in Cabbalah) to have an effect on the material level.
This explains why in earlier magic, most of the Underworld stuff was  conducted under the control of lunar gods and goddesses in particular Hekate and Selene.  The deeper underworld was also further controlled by Dis Pater (Hades or Pluto) and Prosephone.
Ignoring the moon has some fairly dire consequences for magic which requires a material effect.   If you did a solar working to heal someone and did not use the lunar forces, the only way for the solar force to manifest itself is through the path of Hod or Netzach.  These are the paths of Shin and Quof and both are fundamentally unbalanced water/fire mixes which would have difficulty manifesting in Earth.  Yet the same force reflected through Yesod is Tav which is a Saturnian Air/ earth mix and more likely to be a balanced.
Dee, Kelly and the Golden Dawn by not acknowledging that what they were doing was underworld, and not having a lunar contact to translate the solar forces were forcing their visions down these more chaotic and unbalanced paths.  It does not mean that they were seeing corruption, just that you need a translator.
Much of the difficulty that people have with lunar contacts is that much of the teaching about them makes them fairly chaotic.  It is hard to find many people describing Hekate with the same loving terms that they would Demeter - even Selene gets a better press.  But this ambivalence was also common in the ancient period too.  Hekate started off as a semi-benign Great Goddess. She evolved through her association with the dead and magic, to be connected to fear and death.  She was partly redeemed by the Neo-platonists in the Chaldean
Oracles, before her “witch credentials” made her a figure of fear for the Christians.
But it is through this particular contact that magicians will find “power” not only of the astral, underworld and material forces, but also as a reflection of the celestial world.
So how would this work?  For a start it would mean that hermetic magicians would have to acknowledge working in the astral, but it would also mean that they need to have made some contact with an astral force.
In the Greek Magical Papyri there are references to magical helpers who are clearly astral beings who are designed to assist making magic have an effect on the material plane.  These concepts were corrupted as witches familiars before being promoted to magical holy guardian angels, before ending up as simply astral contacts and guides in the late 19th century.  The idea of a magican working to obtain a lunar assistant, perhaps under the protection of a moon god or goddess makes a great deal of sense.  This “familiar spirit” (ie one you know)  might be the missing link that units your underworld with the celestial realm.

Thursday, 30 May 2013

Material Magic

In this blog I am going to get technical, so sorry about that.  It is my spin on the issue of magic which is being chatted about by several magicians who I respect namely Perigrin Wildoak , Aaron Leitch , Morgan Eckstine  and Don Kraig  who have been debating the issue of material magic and if magicians need to be rich or not.
Perigrin takes the view that magic is for service to humanity only and part of a spiritual path which is supposed to connect us to the One Thing.
“ I am very happy that western learned magic was reframed into a more spiritual direction. It makes sense to me. I am also of the opinion that is was the main driving force behind the founders of the major modern western traditions, the two most influential of course being the Golden Dawn (RR et AC) and the Inner Light of Dion Fortune.”
He is quite right, magic was reframed in the 19th century, but in some cases it went in the wrong direction. Since this goes down the line where my head has been for the last few months, I will hit out with some of my thoughts, safe in the knowledge that few will have read this far, or will go much further.

In the beginning there was magic and magicians.  Their role was somewhat dubious and was considered scary to the great unwashed.  Their role is familiar to people interested in shamanism.  They had to deal with an army of spirits that stopped ordinary people having a life, or at least a very short one.  They also had to travel into whatever concept that society had of the afterlife and bring back knowledge. They could do magic to influence material events and to make sure that they didn't need to, they were supported by their communities.
Even Angels can be bastards in the Underworld
Don't Blick
This evolved as societies became more complex and the underworld started to be mapped out in more detail.  The Ancient Egyptians had a crack at it and so did the Greeks.   Initially the underworld was seen as being under the ground, but that slowly changed so that there was an upper underworld (in modern times called the astral), populated by aerial demons and gods while a darker batch of gods and monsters, more closely associated with the dead still lived in an abstract Hades underground.  Humanity lived in the centre.  When they died (unless they were a god) their spirits went to live in an underworld.  Hades was one place, the Egyptians headed through various trials in the hope of getting a place on Ra’s boat (which would sail with the sun).
What it is important to remember that the word demon, or hades, or underworld did not mean evil.   Hades was not more of a bad guy than Osiris (who held a similar rule in the Egyptian pantheon).  The Roman Hades Dis Pater was seen as the person you prayed to for material happiness.
Everything under the moon.... we are all in the Christian hell
or the Pagan earth element... you choose.
What changed was the introduction of Christianity into the mix. Firstly the underworld was equated with Hell, which was the place of the damned, rather than just the dead.  Hades and Dis Pater were replaced with Satan who was supposed to rule all the world, through his various aerial and terrestrial demons.  In essence they created a universe where humanity was between two hells and needed redemption of Christ to escape.  This led to a hatred of the world as being the kingdom of the devil, but it also created a concept of anti-materiality which had been more or less absent from the ancient world-views.  The logic was simple, if the world is “of the devil” then material things must also be evil and controlled by Satan.
In the various flavours of Goetic magic the magician would be calling up demons to get material results.  But this sort of work was frowned upon by the Christian magicians who were trying to sell their idea of “higher magic” among their educated friends.  As Perigrin pointed out a change happened in the Late Victorian period which made magic something you called on only to experience the Celestial realms.  In such a Christian paradigm material magic was not going to get a look in.
All you needed to do for material success is to tune yourself to some celestial spirit, angel or other being and that would bring about change for you.  You would not get cash, but rather the opportunity to earn it, or some similar ethical protestant idea.  But the danger here was that for these Middle Class Victorians money was not an issue.  To pay the fees to be a member of the Golden Dawn you needed a steady income.  Unless you were Samuel Mathers, who was being financed by Annie Horniman, you were independently wealthy or inherited money from your parents.  Indeed lacking wealth was seen as a problem, probably with your karma, or poor breeding.
Nevertheless, this was the model that we adopted, and carried over to the 21st century.  But as magical studies became more commonplace, logical flaws started to come into scenario, particularly as less people became influenced by Christianity. For a while this did not matter as most people who were not influenced by Christianity (such as Crowley) still thought and acted as if they were.  But then people in my generation started asking questions about the magical status quo and it started becoming unstuck.
With me it came down to the fact how it was possible to invoke a good angel to blight someone’s life?  Surely something that was purely good would not do that sort of thing.  Then there was the question about service.  I made a decision to dedicate my life to magic.  It was a personal thing, but I meant it and burned a lot of bridges to do it.  You would think that the universe would be happy with that sort of decision and provide some assistance, given that the work was focused on the good of humanity and selfless.  You would be wrong. In fact the universe punished me for such a decision. I went from being comfortably wealthy to wondering if I was going to make the rent.  Did the celestials help out?  Well no. Doing everything by the old book was not working and I had to come up with something different.
I started to look at the darker magic to see what they were trying to do.  OK, I had no interest in summoning Christian demons but I suspected that there was something missing from the comfortable Victorian models that I had been using.
Readers of this blog will be aware that I recently found the works of Jake Stratton-Kent, who I believe has hit on the missing part of the jig-saw.  He started to look at the transition from Greco-Egyptian ideas to the Christian ones and applied it to the early Grimoires.  The result was that they are fragments of this earlier pre-Christian view of the Underworld.
I think that what has happened is that while we might have found the Celestial side of magic in the Victorian period, we have lost the material and chthonic forms of magic.   We need to find a way to incorporate these in a modern system which embraces the material and the underworld.
It is not an “either or” situation.  We do not have to abandon our Celestial magic to look at the material/ chthonic.  Indeed I think it is a much more balanced world view, one which does not see magic as something extra-terrestrial but rooted in our material lives.
As for a question as basic as “is it OK to invoke for material things?” well the answer to that is that in a society which no longer supports its magicians, it is up to the material universe to work for them to provide them with the means to exist.  It is certainly acceptable for them to call upon whatever agency or god to assist them.  There is nothing different from me doing a magical ritual to have enough cash to pay the rent as it is for me to have the personality or skills raise the cash for the rent.  In fact both things might still end up being the same thing.
We have to live in the world, surrounded by our spirits and reach for the heavens.   We do not need to reject one thing in favour of another anymore.

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

What sort of stereotypical hermetic student are you?

Hermetic groups are packed with lots of different types of people, but you start to notice a few stereotypes.  Here is my list, it is not complete and not to be taken seriously.

The Tourist
The Tourist joins lots of different groups and never settles with one.  They can be trying their hands at Tantra at one moment and crystals the next.  They never get anywhere and would be better off being muggles.  They have strong opinions about the niceness of the world because they never tend to hang around long enough to see its dark-side.

The Pendant
Do not tend to stay long in esoteric groups because none of them match their exacting standards.  Feel that a group is defined by the punctuation in its course material and will often ask questions that they already know the answer too.  Will get pissy if the answer comes back as something they are not expecting.  Most likely to be thrown out of a group by a frustrated group leader fed up with having to explain why when he provided the complete secrets of the infinity he boldly split an infinitive.

The Intellectual
These are people who believe that the esoteric and spiritual path can be understood on the volume of books and intellectual study.  They often do very well in groups until they prove unable to do any practical works of magic.  They will hold onto their “correct way” because it has always been done like that and quote you chapter and verse to back themselves up.

The Grade Hunter
Often masons, they believe that they will somehow be improved by going through the next initiation.  They will often do the minimum work to get them to the next grade as fast as possible. They always fail because grades are a reflection of reality not the reality itself.  Even the best initiations only open doors which it is up to the student to go through.  If you don’t go through them it does not matter how many grades or sashes you have.

The Fundamentalist
This person looks for assurance in the literal interpretations of magic and the teachings of an Order.  They are critical of anyone who they feel do not met the same literal standards.  Often they are looking at occultism for a replacement for the discredited family religion. They get very cross and let down when their teacher challenges them to think out of the box or point out that a system evolves.

The “born leader” 
This person wants to run their own group.  They will join another group in the hope of either taking it over or to get enough members for their own Order who they will stage coup.
They will push for accelerated promotion and will often spend their time undermining the leadership when they think they are out of earshot.   Often they will end up running a group but will lack the ability or training because they have not focused on the necessary self-development work first.  If they do not join another group they will often claim a high grade and hope it is never challenged by their own order.  Unfortunately, like the grade hunter, they will never hang around long enough to get training.

The hewer of wood and drawer of water
These are service oriented people who volunteer their services to build.  They are absolutely brilliant to have from an organisational point of view because they can be relied on to make the group work.  However from a magical point of view this lack of self-confidence makes it difficult for them to progress.

The “eternal student” 
These are another useful person to have, up to a point.  These are the people who study and work very hard.  They always have questions and are considered a “model student.”  But the group has to work to make sure that such a student moves out of this phase otherwise they will stay in it. Their normal state is to fear that they will stop learning if they are placed in a position of responsibly.  Normally eternal students end up being shafted by their order or teachers so that they are forced out of this state and have to find their own contacts and apply what they know.  Teachers often find eternal students difficult to deal with because they always remember what they say and quote it back to them.

The Coaster 
This person shows up, does the minimum of work, hardly contributes, but end up staying for a long period of time.  They can be relied on in so much that a group needs them for the numbers.
The couple
These are people who always show up together and are usually a husband or wife.   Only one of them is really interested, the other one is coming along to keep an eye on them.  If one leaves the other always does, if one is unreliable, so is the other one.  If the couple breaks up, it is rare that either of them stay.  Belonging to the group appears to be part of both of their lives.

The weirdo 
A group usually has a weirdo, who is the outsider’s outsider.  They often bring in some unusual energy and can bring in some odd questions.  However they are usually distant from the group and have their own contacts.  The frequently disappear for long periods of time and never really explain why.  Group members suggest they might have been kidnapped by Aliens or fairies during such periods.

The politician 

This person joins usually because they like the idea of a group to play with. Once inside they get very interested in the dynamics of the group rather than magic and start to form cliques or play off different elements of the group.  They are generally useless from a magical point of view and better off getting rid of.  However by the time that they are revealed, they are usually embedded.  They often work with the “born leaders” but will abandon them if their star sinks.

The self-appointed teacher 
This person is the Paul of Tarsus to any esoteric teacher’s Jesus.  They offer to interpret the teachings, often in front of the teacher, to suit their own leanings.  They are not leaders as such, but like the idea of people listening to their views.  They can be useful, particularly if they have any experience, but they can also have their way of working which is the opposite to way the group, or its teacher works.  They can be incredibly offended if they are not given teaching roles.  Their main problem is that they often do not learn anything new as they are constantly adapting new information to suit what they already know.

The New Ager 
These are the people which get into esoteric groups from the more fluffy end of the market.  They are mostly harmless, often cornering people with interesting cures for imaginary illnesses they have.  Eternally positive about everything, they  don't even mind when people get the giggles when they suggest drinking their own urine.  They last until something deep and hairy hits their unconscious and they suddenly find themselves very busy with beagles to rescue.

The Witch 
All Hermetic groups include several witches, mostly because this is a starting point for many esoteric quests.   On the plus side they believe in magic and take things very seriously.  On the negative side they tend towards the stereotypes of a wiccan circle which are a little different from the hermetic ones.  For example you sometimes the woman who sees herself as a high priestess of the Goddess who is about as tolerant of males as the Taliban are of barbers, or the bloke who acts like he looking for a woman to jam his testicles in a vice. But of course that is not funny.