Comments on this site are welcome but generally I will delete those made anonymously or any posts if they are seen to attack anyone.

Wednesday 9 December 2009

Being quiet

Just a note to say that I have not given up on my blog. I have been run off my feet writing material for the new Golden Dawn Order that is starting soon. I wanted to make sure that the course material was original and much more practical. It has so far involved me writing the equivalent of two large books in two months and I have not got passed the 2=9 grade yet. This has been pretty much a get up, work, write course material life, for the last two months and I have had little time to think about much else.
In addition I have been updating the correspondence course which had been previously released by HCOMA, and was shut down suddenly by its Director of Studies leaving many high and dry and upset.
The new course will now be much improved and be available as part of a distance learning arm of the new Order. Many of the former students managed to get in touch with me and are continuing with the lessons. If any former HCOMA students who have not got in touch with me and wish to continue their studies please email me at info at nickfarrell dot eu.

Thursday 22 October 2009


After much thought I have decided to leave the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. I will continue to work in this tradition, but am currently considering my future direction and working out what will serve better.

Sunday 30 August 2009

Lineage over experimentation

Here is another older essay which I have found and saved for this blog

There is a moment after you have received your 5=6 where you are sitting in your temple, your elemental weapons are consecrated and you are left wondering what to do next. True you might have shed-loads of papers given to you buy your order, but these are practical and experimental.
It is a very lonely feeling. You know that, despite the fact you are in an Order, what you do from now on is your own work.
No longer are you told "you must do this", it is up to you to follow your path alone and as an individual. It is therefore not surprising that once people have reached a 5=6 they duck out of the GD and go and find something else. The strange thing is that "something else" could easily be included within the GD system. The Inner Order is such a wide series of concepts it is possible to hammer in any aspect of the Western Mystery Tradition within it with only a couple of knocks. However this approach is the opposite of the fantasy image of the GD as a physical order with intellectual teachings that take you from cradle to grave.
Anyone who is great in the Inner Order has carved a path of research of their own, usually in the form of a speciality. My take on the Inner Order is different from another Adept in the same Order, let alone others who might be members of other groups. One of the reasons is that within the GD the second order is not as tangible as the outer. True there are people running it within a group, but they are more symbolic in comparison to your own work. The only requirement is that you have to show up once a year to swap notes with others in your group. That is not enough to build a significant egregore on the lower astral, and therefore any group mind is formed at a higher level over many decades.
This is one of the reasons why the search for lineage within the higher grades of the Inner Order is a chimera. It is not simply a matter of 'if you are doing the work it is more important than any grade you might hold'. It is that you are carving your own path through the intellectual information and finding your own spiritual direction within a system. If you are not doing that, you have no grade. There is no one who can really give you a grade, other than your own Higher Genius. Nor
is there anyone who can give you a certificate to tell you are connected enough to the tradition to initiate another. Most grades in the GD are pretty subjective, but often it comes down to what other people in the system will acknowledge you are and what you can do. In the case of Pat Z for example he has rescued information that could have been lost after the end of Whare Ra. But more than that his own personal work has managed to breath new life into it. the fact that he has managed to present that to others, in his books and his own group is an bonus.
However if you read between the lines of his books, it is clear that his own ideas and experimentation with GD concepts have given him the understanding to move the system on in his direction.
The work of the Inner is to make the work 'real'. Lineage is something that is handed from one person to another, but it is a shadow of what it should be. It is a symbol of a spiritual lineage which is not handed
down from one person to another on a piece of paper. It is a connection to the Second Order, which is by far above all that, and links you to the innovators of Magic going back to the dawn of time. This is one of the other reasons I find the search for the Third Order so amusing. It is often carried out by those who have not truly found the nature of the Second Order.

Saturday 29 August 2009

Golden Dawn Spirit Vision over Pathworking

Since the 1960s the idea of 'pathworking' has largely changed the Golden Dawn techniques of 'Rising on the Planes'.
Gareth Knight once told me that he started out using the GD techniques and then discovered they worked well without many of involved details that the older system had.
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 Pathworking, 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 experience.
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 this task.
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.
Firstly 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 after.
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.
The adept 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.
Next the 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 stronger.
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.
The 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 experience.

Friday 28 August 2009

Interview with Pat Zalewski

A couple of years ago I wrote this and it disappeared into cyber space. Anyway I get a few more hits on this blog these days so I thought it might be of interest.

Interview with Pat Zalewski

With his latest book 'The Inner Order Teachings of the Golden Dawn', now in the shops, the Golden Dawn Doyen Pat Zalewski talks to me about working in one of the oldest systems of Hermetic Magic in the World.

In the 1960's Pat Zalewski had his first brush with spirituality. After working as a boatman for an American company on the Meikong River. Though based in Thailand, he did regualr trips across to Laos and occasionaly to Cambodia. He was wounded twice in Laos and after six months found himself suffering from post traumatic stress syndrome in search of some sort of peace in India.

There were many things that Pat had tried to deal with his experiences. Martial Arts, Tai Chi had supplied him with a discipline and a sense of how energy moved, but he was still a mess.

"When I got to India, Tantra was like sipping a cool glass of water on a hot day. " he said.

He studied Tantric master Vivandatta for six months then enrolled in a four day block course in Yogic breathing at the University of Calcutta, which helped shape his view on energy dynamics.

At the time Pat says he got a lot out of his time under Vivandatta, but with a catholic upbringing he found his experiences in tantra limiting. He knew he had to accept a Hindu theology and he was not ready to do so.

"The Hindu Gods tend to get in the way a bit and do not offer much in return," he says.

He returned to Australia in 1969 and became black belt in Karate under Hireo Tanaka, a former stduent of karate master Gichin Funakoshi. He decided move to New Zealand on a whim and stayed there for 30 years, serttling in Wellington. It was > there that the spiritual quest continued, this time in the Western Mystery Tradition.

He was drawen to the Golden Dawn through reading Dion Fortune, and Ithell Colquhoun and Regardie. When he read Regardie's Llewellyn Publications tome it was like being greated by an old friend. . To Pat there was little difference between the East and the West. Both used energy, but the Golden Dawn was ambiguously Christian and didn't require much of a theological jump.

Colquhoun mentioned a branch of the Order which operated in Hawke's Bay in New Zealand and Chris, who grew up there, rang up a few friends to see if she could track it down.

The temple, called Whare Ra had declared itself dead a few years before. The temple had been closed and sold. Older members of the temple were keen to keep their veils of secrecy. When Pat and Chris tracked down the former head of the Order, John Von Dadelson he told them he was not interested in talking. However somehow they managed to find some Whare Ra people who were.

The most important of these was Jack Taylor. Jack had left Whare Ra in the 1960s over a row about the Order's future direction.

Pat says that like many magical orders close to death, Whare Ra had promoted leaders who were shadows of their predecessors. It was crippled by the secrecy that had protected it for so long. While it had meant that many of the members could be high profile community leaders, in the late 20^th century it meant that it could not take advantage of the boom in interest in esoteric thought.

"Those leaders had made it into tight group which could not grow," says Pat. "Some members were more interested in Christian mysticism than magic and much of the teaching material was censored or moved up to higher grades where only the leadership would see them."

Taylor on the other hand had studied under Mrs Felkin, one of the founders of the Order, and was much more interested in practical magic.

Although Taylor was not sure if there was any shelf life left in the Golden Dawn, he showed Pat and Chris a version of the Golden Dawn which could not be found in the Israel Regardie books.

Talking to Pat, this Golden Dawn was about energy and the way God forms work and interact. There is no scope for those who think they can grab the rituals from a book shelf and get the same effect. Nor does it suit those armchair magicians who love to pontificate on intellectual niceties without picking up a wand.

But Taylor's approach does not favour those who think they can skip the theory in favour of the 'intuitive approach' either.

" Theory for me in very important. I go 50 percent practical and 50 percent theory," said Pat. "You can do ritual without knowing all the theory but that is up to the individual. You can’t teach this quality as it is in you to start with, but when you tecah others you must give theory to those who cannot do the practical."

At the same time the Golden Dawn was a living system. This flies in the face of what a number of people say about the Golden Dawn, namely that its language is out of date and its rituals too clunky for the modern era.

Pat says that such critics should look a lot harder and blame the way they have been taught about the Golden Dawn.

"The fault is then in the teacher in not explaining in plain language what is happening… the real depth of the GD has not yet been reached," he says.

After several years of training, Taylor gave Pat the highest grade he could, a 7=4, and chartered them to build a temple in Wellington. Thoth Hermes ran for a number of years and managed to get three of its members into the 7=4 grade before it closed.

Pat started to write down his experiences, mostly to make sure that the teaching that Taylor had given him was not lost. This lead to a string of books and lead him to become a well known GD pundit.

In the early 1980's, Pat wrote to Israel Regardie about a collection of documents called the 'Processes' that Felkin had taken from Rudolph Steiner. These documents were not well known in Whare Ra nor was their influence and direction. This resulted in them corresponding for a year with Regardie, who visited Pat in Wellington in August 1983.

"We gave him an honorary 6=5 in appreciation for his efforts in preserving the Golden Dawn. It was just something we wanted to do in appreciation for how much we admired the man.," Pat says.

However Pat said that there were differences in the way that Regardie saw the Golden Dawn and what Taylor had taught him.

The Modern Golden Dawn groups base a lot of their views on how Israel
Regardie saw the system, what are the flaws in this approach?

"Francis was great friend of mine, but at one point he wanted to strip the GD down to a planetary system, have sheets of coloured plastic over the vault walls and also was to ignore the elemental grades (just using watch tower rituals) because he thought them worthless, " Pat says. Francis had a tremendous intellect but he also was one eyed at the best of times on certain issues- as we all are, he added.

Many of the people who follow Regardie's work never met the man nor knew what he stood for or his personal views on magic.

"They often state a position he took in the 1930’s or when he published the Falcon press edition. I can tell you after he visited us his views changed on the GD in many areas. But the Falcon Press edition was already in final print at that stage or close to it," Pat said.

Many people believe that everything that can be written about the Golden Dawn has been already published. That which has not, the inner order material, should not see the light of day because it can become too complex for uninitiated.
"I have given both the unpublished Mathers papers of the THAM and a great deal of my interpretation." Revealing this material is why Pat's latest book 'The Inner Order Teachings of the Golden Dawn' is likely to stir a fair bit of controversy.

He said he started writing the book nearly 16 years ago turning some scattered notes on temple diagrams in a more systematic structure.

Another 'modern' Golden Dawn student, Tony Fuller managed to find some of the THAM papers written by Mathers and he had a chance to compare them with what he had done himself. Mary Greer also helped by supplying the table of Shewbread paper.

When Pat put all this together it gave a very clear indication of what Mather’s was trying to achieve with his Inner Order, but it was clear that people needed to do more work to bring this to life.

He felt that by publishing the material he would stimulate others follow suit and make the 5=6 grade the 5 level structure it was designed to be and not just the single level ZAM aspect that was published by Regardie.

However he also realised that this would not be a mass market book for those who wanted a simple how to on the Golden Dawn. The Inner Order Teachings of the Golden Dawn was meant to be a book for those who had more than a symbolic connection with the Order.

The material includes unpublished material on the Hermetic cross, Table of Shewbread, Seven Branched candlestick, the GD trumps and a deeper alchemical understanding of their nature. There is also a Mathers explanation of the 1=10 grade.

"There is a hell of lot there that is new. Also I have included my own diagram explanations as well from various sub grades," Pat said.

But this does mean a re-think of the way many think Golden Dawn saw its high grades. Rather than being impossible as BOTA and some other GD off-shoots have tried to claim, or purely administrative, Pat sees them is a continuation and deepening of the training system.

Pat thinks that some of the resistance against some of the higher Golden Dawn grades was that many of the founders of such groups never reached that state, nor got any of the papers.

"In BOTA Paul Foster Case got up to ZAM and not above it in the AO. So In BOTA that is the top level. Case never had the full 5=6 papers anyway. So the BOTA stigma came form that. If Case never got beyond 5=6 then no one else would do so. If you read his book True and Invisible Rosicrucian Order then you will find that what he writes about the mastery of these levels. However the dogma of BOTA tends to ignore this fact." Pat says.

He said that many of them believe that because they have a 8=3 grade they are supposed to be Masters of the Universe who chat to angels. He sees the higher grades as all being in Assiah and the teachings as providing more definition to the elemental rituals and of course more deeper personal studies.

Pat's latest book can be found here

Saturday 15 August 2009

Robes and the Golden Dawn

Doing all the preliminary work for setting up new temple I have been giving some thought to thinks like cloaks and tabards for the officers. For the last decade, like many groups, we have used tabards in leiu of cloaks. These are cooler than cloaks and less likely to make a mess when you walk around. I consulted the ritual however and it specifically talks about the middle pillar officers wearing robes... black, white and red. The advanced documents show drawings of cloaks.
Robes would be better than tabards or cloaks so why were these used?
The problem with modern perceptions of the GD is the belief that they operated much like we do. People wore robes and then a cloak over the top. However it occurred to me that Victorian women would not be allowed to strip down to just a robe and wear it in front of men even with a cloak over the top. This would like wearing your underwear in a ritual and throwing a cloak over the top. To the victorian middle classes a woman in her underwear was naked!
But you could not wear a robe over a victorian dress (see the picture)
What if instead of wearing robes the GD wore their every day clothes with a cloak over the top? This would be very masonic and in keeping with the tradition and the times.
The weak point in my argument is the question about what the non officers wore. The ritual refers to a black 'gown'. The meaning of word gown during this period was two different things. There was a the idea of what we would call 'a dress' and there was also the concept of what the Victorian judges would have worn -- a black shapeless over garment (which could have evolved into the Tau robe but certainly would have looked a lot different.)
Frankly I would not want modern street clothes in a ritual and would favour robes as a modern evolution.
If modern groups were to obey the ritual literally then officers would just wear an appropriately coloured robe with a cross sewn on the breast. These days we dont have a problem with robes so we should abandon the cloaks and tabards completely.

Wednesday 17 June 2009

When do we change things

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 . “Oh that reminds me of the Kerubs guarding Eden, so it is appropriate,” they said. “Fair enough, but to adopt that symbol you are saying that the Temple space is the Guardian of Eden, when it is in fact a temple either of Maat or Solomon.”
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.

Thursday 28 May 2009

When a Tree Falls

My Novel "When a Tree Falls" has been published and can be bought here

Although it is not an occult novel as such it has many kabbalistic ideas and some of my own strange views of the universe. It is pretty silly.

The synopsis is:

Time is slowing down. Andrew, an English programmer, living alone in Bulgaria, finds out he is the next evolution of humanity and has to save the world before a mysterious being slows down time into a single dull moment. Andrew is forced on a quest through time and alternative realities to find God, whose true name is Jeff.
Guided by his Holy Guardian Angel, Tigger, the patron angel of computers and other things that are designed to blow up, his journey goes through Hell and out the other side. He meets demons, the Triple Goddess, finds out the secret of Avebury, Jeff's reason for creating the universe and above all the answer to the question "if a tree falls in a forest and no one is around, does it make a sound?"
It was described as an archaic romp through time, space and philosophy reminiscent of Terry Pratchett, Douglas Adams, or a bloke who has eaten too many strange mushrooms on an empty stomach.

Tuesday 26 May 2009

Book of the Tomb

The Book of the Tomb, which was an AO collection of documents about the vault is now down-loadable on my site.
It is previously unpublished and appears to come from the British AO around 1921. It has a lot of interesting stuff in it. A paper from Westcott which was badly hacked in Regardie's GD and some writings and artwork from Brodie-Innes.
I have laid it out with the original diagrams and retyped it so it is readable. It is now an open source document which means that you can share it about but if you use it you have to quote me... and you are not allowed to use it to make any cash on your own. :-)

Sunday 10 May 2009

Holy Guardian Angels, Demons and Dwellers on the Threshold

IF YOU have read anything on occultism you might find yourself facing terms such as Holy Guardian Angel and sometimes, more rarely, Guardian Demon and the Dweller on the Threshold. These terms have been confused over the years so will try and explain them.

In a system of 16th century magic called Abramelin the first part of the work was to get in touch with your Holy Guardian Angel and it was through it that you learnt the names of Angels and Demons that controlled the universe using magic squares. Protestant commentators on the system did not really know what the Holy Guardian Angel was, and some of them, such as Alistair Crowley, who had a psychological bent, thought it was the same as your Higher Self.

However in the pre-reformation Church it was believed that when a human was born they were overshadowed by an Angel and a Demon. It is the role of both to oversee their work in each life and to act as a messenger between heaven and earth. The Angel is a protector and a guide, the Demon is the force that works against the Divine forces to keep the human from returning to God.

Of the two the Demon was the weakest, yet you would know it not by the havoc it creates. Left to its own devices, the Demon will shut the ears of the soul to the guidance of the Angel and encourage the soul to carry on with its mundane life and give no thought to God. Yet if the Guardian Angel was evoked, the balance between Angel and Demon is restored. As the Priests say on the occasion of your baptism. Anger not your Guardian Angel, for it is that which will lead you to the understanding of the True Christ. The idea of a Guardian Angel or Demon has fallen from fashion although they sometimes appear in Disney cartoons as warring forces of a person's conscious. The Guardian Angel certainly is not your Higher Self.

The term Dweller on the Threshold comes from a Victorian book called Zanoni which was written by an occultist called Lord Bulwer-Lytton. It appears to be a demonic force which appears if someone begins the path of magic before they are ready. It is supposed to scare the willies off them until they decide to stick to a normal life. It is a guardian which stood between the mysteries and the mundane world to prevent those who should not be walking in the immeasurable regions from going there.

Over the years it has come to mean something else depending on which path of magic you use. Alice Bailey in her Esoteric Astrology claimed that it was the sum total of all instincts, and wrong thinking which has built over countless lifetimes. Other occultists describe it as your shadow which must be overcome before you can carry on your esoteric work.

But one thing I have noticed is that while a few people claim they have encountered the Dweller on the Threshold they are the sorts of people who see the world divided into humans and lizard people. They are often the times who say they braved a conversation with the feared dweller and in the same breath tell you that Elvis Presley was a grand adept of their magical order.

If a Dweller on the Threshold existed the way that Bulwer-Lytton described, none of these vegetables would ever get their hands on an esoteric book, let alone find a magical group, or do any exercises. But that does not mean that it does not exist. Like a lot of things in occultism, Bulwer Lytton was not being literal.

It is not, as some commentators have tried to say a magician's Lower Self, although there are some similarities and it uses the same tools. It is that force which keeps people from succeeding in the Magical Path. It leads them on a merry dance through different groups, it might even give them magical experiences, but Real Magic is something that they never really experience. Unconsciously they make all the choices that prevent them being Real Magicians. Tragically this does not stop such types being experts on magic or even ruling their own esoteric groups or orders. A teacher might have all the students in the world who pay a fortune to attend his lectures, but be no closer to the goal of being a real magician. They are stopped by the Dweller on the Threshold and do not know how to pass. It is not the sum total of their animal instincts, but that which protects magic from being misused.

Butler-Lytton says something very odd about the Dweller. After saying that it is the ugliest thing that anyone has ever seen, and yet it says that it contains the wisdom of “countless ages”. In otherwords the path of being a real magician is not all sweetness, light and crystal dolphins. When you step into the Immeasurable Region real magic is protected by your own fears, your own lack of self-belief. Your own fear turns you back and turns you into a pretend magician.

In one magical order called the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, a candidate who is blindfolded meets an officer who represents this Dweller on the Threshold. This officer threatens the candidate with a sword and blocks the path until the candidate can tell him his name. The candidate is prompted to say “Darkness is thy name, thou Great one of the Path of shades.” The officer replies: “Fear is failure, so be thou without fear. For he who trembles at the Flame and the Flood and at the Shadows of the Air,hath no part in God.

In the path of becoming a real magician you have to face your fears and this process is what is known as the Dweller on the Threshold. But it is more than this overcoming lower self fears. Real magic is protected by the collective fears of humanity. Its biggest fear is “what if magic were true”. What if an individual really could change the universe. In this path it is a fear that we all face and all come up with our own answers. When we face it, it is our first real teacher. In most cases it means we will leave the path completely back to the safety of our books.

Saturday 25 April 2009

God and the Golden Dawn

The Internet has been seeing a debate about the influence of religion in the Golden Dawn. One person said she had problems with the Golden Dawn work because she had largely “lost her faith” as a result of her experiences with Roman Catholicism.
The Golden Dawn makes the claim that it is religion non-specific and the second order requires you to be sympathetic to Christian symbolism.

Most of those who followed the Golden Dawn historically have been Christian, although extremely unorthodox, and in modern times there have been those who have been interested in paganism.

One of the main weaknesses of the atheism of people like Richard Dawkins is that it is entirely based on the assumption that religion is comfortably defined by its theology. This makes it easy to rebut because it is entrenched. However I can get through the 'God delusion' agreeing with most of it and saying that Dawkins has not even begun to address what I believe. My 'religion' is different and it will be different tomorrow too.

To prove the existence of God I do not have to accept the dogma of Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism or anything. I can accept the 'big bang', evolution, dinosaurs, all the scientific proof offered, I can deny the literal existence of the flood, chariot wheels in the Red Sea and get on with it.

Although my spiritual path started within Christianity, after many years I have come to the conclusion that I am not even remotely Christian or believe in any religious package that has evolved through time. To me occultism ultimately creates a system that leads to the founding of your own religion based on ideas nicked from many different sources. I am influenced by Kabbalah but that is because the mystical nature of the system is extremely generic. Despite Jewish ancestors (until my Grandfather) I have no wish to follow that spiritual path. I personally think that God has better things to do than monitor my eating habits and anything that is based on unshakeable rules is not really for me (I am currently working on getting around the law of gravity).

So what has replaced exoteric religion for me? Something else. If I were to tell it to you and you believed it would be a exoteric religion too and thus the point defeated. But I can tell you how I got my religion.

Occultism loves the idea of masks. In the GD there are lines like “the priest with the mask of Isis spake and said”. It is one step from masking 'pagan' gods to masking monotheistic ones. “The priest with the mask of JHVH spake and said...” The Gods are many streams flowing to an unknowable sea. You use the masks to understand the nature of the water, but you cannot understand the ocean by looking at a single river. First you look at the different types of streams, rivers and lakes to give you an idea.

Then, one day, you stop looking at these things and go to the beach. Eventually you swim but only after you have checked for sharks, tides and other hazards. Where I am at the moment is standing on that beach and dipping my toes in. The ocean is a big unknown. I have been lead to it by the Golden Dawn and other esoteric teaching, but it does not have a name or a doctrine, or dogma, it does not require worship and I have an inkling about what it is. When I want to focus it, I use one of the masks, but I am careful not to confuse the mask with the reality.

Wednesday 8 April 2009

Material world

Recently I have been looking for an angel with which to do some material wealth magic. For many years I have used the usual suspects of El, and the Archangel of Jupiter and his assorted minions. This generally worked, but in an extremely general way.
However I started wondering why there was an Angel of getting the lids off peanut butter jars, but I could not find an Angel of money. There were plenty of demons and cacodemons I could call up but no good guys.
This creates a problem. If money can only be called up by demons then it means that ALL rich people are evil. Such a concept is stupid and is based on the idea that money is somehow evil and spiritual people don't play around with it.
Unfortunately money is power and there are some cases where money is vital to managing occult goals. I went on a web page and found an expert cabblist who dug me up an Angel to call up and have a chat too. However the Angel in question is extremely obscure.
My thought is that modern occultists are being held up by religious views that are largely out dated. Since there has been no viable replacement for religion for at least 900 years we are stuck with symbols that need a rethink.

Tuesday 17 March 2009

Masters, secret chiefs, inner plane contacts

Contacts and Masters of Wisdom

CONTACTS and secret chiefs have been a mainstay of many different magic systems for ages. Most of my teachers have believed in them in one form or another. In my book Gathering the Magic, I suggested that their use was flawed. This was mostly based on my experience with the likes of Servants of the Light where contacts had a nasty habit of saying what the channeller was thinking, or had just read in a book.
Even the mighty Dion Fortune had some comedy moments with her contacts. Having read through the transcripts you can't but be struck by the level of fantasy, self delusion, utter pomposity mixed with some good solid magical teaching. My favourite has to be when they asked how Dion's Soya Bean business was going to do and being told by Lord Eldon that the “Soya bean will look after itself”. With such sage advice it is a wonder that Fortune never made it across the abyss before tea-time.
Sometimes Contacts do turn up with some good information, which the channeller did not know, so I was aware that the idea was not all pants. They had also turned up in my own meditations and, despite the fact I told them that I was not sure if I believed in them, they stuck around. The information I had was either good or total rubbish and unfortunately there was not a flag up which defined either.
Recently Perigrin on his excellent Blog claims that I have suffered all the effects of 'contact abuse' and that “such abuse, misuse and partial connections with the inner plane teachers and Masters does not in any way stop them existing and functioning.”
However here is my problem. If they function the way that schools teach then the universe is really a rubbish place to be. For those who are not familiar with the contact system let me explain.
When you have died and are suitably evolved you join a hierarchical structure of adepts who work in a medieval system where they serve a master. The more evolved you are the higher your master. These masters teach those below them and those on the occult path are draw to an appropriate master to whom they are expected to give the unreserved dedication.
These begins are supposed to be more than human and will use the dead shells of their previous lives to communicate with the great unwashed.
Those who follow the Master/contact system talk about their master as if he were loving and seem to be happy with the arrangement.
This is where I start to get a bit prickly. I don't generally like the idea of too much hierarchy and think that if you are going to give your unreserved dedication it should be to God and not to another human however esteemed they might be.
The goal of the outer order is to become yourself, an individual. In my view it is not to find yet another father or mother figure to sacrifice yourself too.
In the future I will write about my ideas of re-incarnation, but for now let us say that the Masters are too complex a system to actually work, or need to work.
So what are they really? In my view they are symbols which we contact to help us remember what is really going on. Unfortunately, like any other symbols we misunderstand what they mean, and project information onto it. We read the symbols through the glass of our personal Yesod and make them into fathers, mothers, wise teachers etc. The symbols are real. They don't need to be “characters” but it helps us to communicate with them.
So what of 'incarnate masters'. Paul Foster Case claimed to have met with Master R, Sam Mathers also thought he had. But these stories read like those modern day UFO stories and have one thing in common – the actual meeting did not need to have taken place at all.
Case said his meeting with Master R told him that he had a choice between magic and a musical career. The Master said that if he did Magic he would never starve. This is the opposite advice that Mina Mathers had given him. It was information that Master R could have given Case without having to meet him in the flesh. In fact Master R was to give most of his communications to Case via a ring and a disk in the future.
Mathers was supposed to have gotten the 5=6 ritual from his Secret Chief although it looks like another Mathers/Westcott collaboration. Certainly the vault appears to be the work of Westcott who wrote up most of the paperwork to go with it. Other bits of the GD inner order come from the British Library which Mathers was supposed to have camped out in during his youth.
The online crowd tends to rattle off statements such as “are you saying Mathers/Westcott/Case LIED?” And I have to say, yes. It feels like a story. It might have had a thread of truth in it, but it is a story nevertheless. Occultism is full of stories and generally the higher up you go the more the stories get embellished. Alistar Crowley is one whose story and story telling ended up with him being a new Messiah.
So, my view on contacts is that they do not literally exist. They are symbols of something, but not something to worship or serve. They teach because that is what symbols do, they advise, they can be interacted with, but they are not something to give up anything for.
God calls us to be perfected lamps for the divine light. It does not want us to be servants to astral personae. However if I am wrong I will take down this post if a Master of Wisdom rings my doorbell. However if Master R, Q, or the Purple Adept really do ring doorbells I hope it is to tell me something a little more interesting.
Let the debate begin :-)

New Tarot cards

HARRY and Nicola have finished another swathe of Tarot cards for the Horus Hathor deck, I thought I would preview them here. You will notice that like Chic and Tabatha's deck we will be using both the 'old' and 'new' versions of Temperance in the finished deck. Our colours for the lower arcana follow the Sephiroth colours rather than the elemental ones. Thus this one is black because it represents Binah in the Queen scale.
Harry is currently working on the Hanged Man card while Nicola is beavering away on the fours.
Harry is currently selling the originals of these so it is a good time to buy into a bit of esoteric history by owning an original.
They are quite big. I was at Horus Hathor over the weekend and Harry was distributing some of the originals to members who have bought them. They look really spectacular full size. Harry has been making prints which are the size of Icons on board. These are really good for mediation -- we use them for the grade rituals at the moment. I have all the set that we have done hanging on my wall.