I wrote this in 2009 and I thought it was time to dust it off now that my new book Magical Imagination, which is reviewed here is out. Since the 1960s the idea of 'pathworking' has largely changed the Golden Dawn techniques of 'Rising on the Planes'.
Recently I have been reviewing the GD
techniques as part of my own work and am starting to wonder if the baby
has gone out with the bathwater.
My own book. Magical Imagination,
uses modern techniques. But my view has been that they are taking place
within the person's own psyche and if they extend into the macrocosm it
is more or less by accident.
This was good and powerful because it
enabled much transformation work to be done on the personality. However
it did lead to the lower aspects of the self overwhelming the
Reading carefully what the GD was up to it is clear that
they wanted to go beyond the personality and into the macrocosm. They
argued that thought when projected with the strength of the lower will,
under the guidance of reason, and illuminated by Higher Will can manage
With this in mind the Adept sends a thought ray,
illuminated by his Higher Self to the symbol which resides in his Sphere
of Sensation. From that point the adept sees the Macrocosmic view and
may step into it.
Boiling down the formula the GD system requires a lot more donkey work before such a Macocosmic pathworking is attempted.
the person selects an objective or destination. This is wide, for
example I will go to the 32nd Path. But it will not be simply throwing
one's self onto the astral and seeing what you get. This is because you
need the focus of an objective to get the sort of information you are
Next the operator would swat up on all the correspondences
associated with the path and review any intellectual knowledge they may
have. There should be some meditation on the various symbols. This makes
the unconscious mind susceptible to the symbols and will open channels
to improve vision. In addition the operator should memorise any names
sigils and other tokens that are connected to the path.
would then write and work invocations to the divine and angel powers
that are set over that path. This could include the pentagrams and
hexagram rituals. This empowers the intellectual learning within the
sphere of sensation and creates a Macrocosmic connection.
operator creates a Gate in his imagination. The most common is the Gate
of the Veil, which is a door frame with a veil with the colour of the
path and a symbol of the path.
This gate is supposed to be at the
edge of the adepts sphere of sensation and forms the link between the
microcosmic and the macrocosmic. It is clear reading the diaries of
those who have used these techniques that there is a link formed in the
process between the individual and the macrocosm and the result is much
Modern Pathworking has kept the gate but removed its real
purpose. A pathworking begins at the gate with little precursor. This
means that the result cannot be beyond the person's own psychological
sphere. The experience is limited because it can only give intellectual
extensions of knowledge rather than Microcosmic bursts of inspiration.
flow of a GD pathworking is connected to the operator's own spiritual
energy which allows the sphere of sensation to be reprogrammed by the
Monday, 19 August 2013
Sunday, 18 August 2013
I read a particularly interesting Kindle book over the weekend called the Seal of the Secrets of the World by Soror ZSD23. The book covers the author’s personal work with the Arbatel and the Seals of the Olympic Spirits.
It is turn cheap and can be found on Amazon here. In the way of a review, the book tells you a bit about the Arbatel and how she used it practically and the effects it had.
What makes this book important is that it tells you what you need to know from someone who has been there. It is the sort of thing that a teacher might pass on to their students, but keep secret from the rest of the world.The reason for this secrecy was that it is an inside look into someone else’s magical practice and is extremely revealing. A teacher often does not allow themselves to be exposed in this way, preferring to keep barriers between themselves and their students.
In the process of reading Seal of the Secrets of the World you learn about what was happening in the author’s life and how this magical stuff created an effect. The book itself pours poison on any possible theory that is popular in the occult scene which says that magic is great for you and will do you no harm. Soror ZSD23 experiences quite a few unpleasant experiences in the process of her experiments, and it is clear that you can’t write these off as her “not knowing what she was doing.”
Commercially this book is not going to do well. That is because most people want to read about magic from the comfort of their armchairs. Those that actually experiment with this sort of stuff will find it invaluable. It gives you clues to how the Seal is supposed to be used, and also the sorts of problems you are likely to suffer as a result. It also reveals a lot more of the nature of the Olympic Spirits, which are forces I personally think are not looked at enough.
This sort of book is the occult equivalent of a science journal where the experiment is available for peers to look at and work with themselves.
This sort of sharing is common in the scientific world but it is not in the occult world. I have picked up diaries from famous occultists before, Dion Fortune’s, Paul Foster Case’s and John Dee’s diaries are valuable insights about how magic is supposed to be practiced and what results you might see. However this unvarnished approach was not meant for public consumption. Dion Fortune’s channelling sessions were more uneven than her followers gave her credit for and in one case Master R slagged off Anne Davies for her lack of cabbalistic knowledge.
Dee’s diaries highlighted the wife swapping incident which has forever blighted Enochian magic’s squeaky clean reputation. But at the same time, using Dee’s diaries has reconstructed whole chunks of the system which were missing and enabled people like Aaron Leitch have a crack and reconstructing what real Enochian sounds like.
When I wrote my own books I put in lots of stories with some of them being about me which are not that flattering. What I did not do was write an effective diary of each of my experiments as Seal of the Secrets of the World does.
While I would argue my books sugar the pill a bit, Soror ZSD23 has made her subject more directly useful for serious magical workers.
As information has become available online in blogs and ebooks I think we can see a lot of this sort of thing happening. If people are up for it, information can be shared that will aid the development of magic generally.
While these works will not see any commercial success they will slowly build into a common body of magical experience.
This sort of material goes above and beyond each tradition. For example Seal of the Secrets of the World by Soror ZSD23 uses a lot of psychological and Eastern terms because of her background and training. Although I don’t personally get on with that approach, I can see what she means it remains useful.
What this approach would also mean is that those systems which are hidden behind a cloud of secrecy cannot really function and remain credible in the esoteric community at large. There will be those who feel that their experiments are too personal to put in the public arena, which is fair enough. But there are equally those who have stuff to share.
I remember when I was in David Goddard’s group, a member of the temple died. We trooped to Glastonbury to scatter his ashes and say nice things about him. Then the teacher also flung the ashes of his burnt diary to the winds.
I thought, the man had gone, even his words have been destroyed and now I have forgotten his name. What were in those words which I might have found useful? He was a nice bloke, I am sure he would have wanted me to know them.
Then I thought of other bonfires – such as those in Whare Ra, where words and teachings were removed from the magical community to protect “memories” of people. Letters from Mathers, Westcott, teachings etc all up in smoke, all because of secrecy.