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

Monday 15 November 2010

John Dee Work

I realise I have not been posting for a while, I have been writing like a mad thing and sorting out the portal Material for the Magical Order of the Aurora Aurea.  Portal has required a lot of work.  Not only are the published versions of the ritual hacked about (and in my opinion unworkable) the course material for this important grade is tiny.  Much of the work appears to be writing an essay on your experiences in the Outer Order.
Frankly this is a missed opportunity as I think that the portal should be a nine month pressure cooker with the student looking for connections with their Higher Self in preparation for the 5=6 grade.  When the ritual is restored the Portal is a shadow working for the 5=6 and indeed provides the candidate with important technical information.
I have also been working with Paola to start on Enochian again after a long absence. The first thing to go has been the GD pronunciation system.  Thanks to the work done by Aaron with his Angelic Language book, she has gone through and replaced the pronunciation of the words.  These are actually a lot easier to vibrate and have a lot more grunt.  Paola is better at this stuff than I am.  I don't think that this is an area that the GD came up with anything useful and the Dee system is a lot more natural.
I have also dusted off my Wnochian table and started to work with it using a supreme pentagram environment (I do not like Regardie's Watchtower Ritual).  My seal is a bit knackered and needs replacing,  I also need more red silk to cover the table and the floor. The ensigns of creation are paper (they will be tin soon) and I will make four lesser seals of truth but Paper will do under the four wheels of the cubic altar.
All up, it is a good effect.  If you call angels on the quarters the crystal acts as a balance (much like a rose in the rose cross) and it does not need to be even used to scry.  The tablet of equilibrium is placed on the seal of truth and then the cloth over the top with the gold ring and the crystal.
Anyway this is just an update.

Tuesday 17 August 2010

Pat Zalewski's Antidote to Golden Dawn Bullshit

FOR MANY years now it has been possible to set up a Golden Dawn group based on Israel Regardie's book perhaps supplanted with a few “unpublished manuscripts” picked up elsewhere. If a subject was too high-level you could shove it into the higher grades where few would ever see it.

You could argue that your's was the one real Golden Dawn. Most of these groups run rituals like Masonic orders. Indeed they tend to attract masons who always seem to be on the look out for something new to join. Rituals are read from the Black Book 6th Edition Regardie and the value of the ritual, and the skill of the Hierophant is decided on the basis of how well it was “performed” and the psychological effect on the candidate. There is a very good argument to suggest that the Early Golden Dawn was exactly like this. A sort of hermetic co-masonry where women were admitted.

But for those of use who are interested in magic that is not what the Golden Dawn is all about. Many of us take our Golden Dawn from its more magical off-shoots such as the Stella Matutina and the AO. But how the fact is that the Magic stuff is only hinted at in the papers that have been left behind. I do not believe that anyone could create a truly Magical Order from nothing other than Regardie, however well developed the Golden Dawn Tradition is.

Pat Zalewski was lucky. He met with a bloke who left the last surviving Golden Dawn group in the 1960s before it went down hill and shut down in the 1970s. His mentor was a bloke called Jack Taylor who was raised to the grade of 7=4 by none other than Mrs Felkin. Jack was able to give Pat a crash course in the practical aspects of the Golden Dawn as it was experienced by him.

Pat has written many Golden Dawn books but this one Golden Dawn Rituals and Commentaries is truly the only attempt I have seen to place all of the magic back into the Golden Dawn tradition.

It takes you through the magic used within the Golden Dawn rituals and provides you with a Hierophant's handbook. It uses the complete rituals, provides all the diagrams that were cut from the Regardie version.

Of course there will be those who wish he did not publish this book. For a start it is clear that the Hierophant needs a level of magical expertise and concentration that many don't have. An order needs a degree of practical knowledge that cannot be found by having all the robes right and being able to shout the loudest. A book like this shows how a Order should be and the level of magical sophistication and skill required. It shows the glaring holes that exist in the magical ability of the “play orders” out there.

The question has been raised about how much of the magical information given here is from Pat, or Jack and how much of it was real Golden Dawn. Such questions are usually asked by those who believe that what Mathers or Westcott was doing was the true “fundamentalist” way of the Golden Dawn. These are the types who believe that magical techniques are carved in stone and handed down by god along side demands to stop looking at your neighbour's arse.

The book clearly identifies what is Pat's ideas, and what is Jack's and what comes from elsewhere. I know that most of the ideas contained in this book were also agreed with by some of the Whare Ra adepts I met. Others were not. Jack was a Magus, he was not a fundamentalist follower of any born again Golden Dawn cult. I was equally lucky to see many of the ideas used in this book put into action by those in Whare Ra and feel their effects.

Pat does bring in new ideas. Some I agree with and others I don't. But I have also put them into practice and a lot of what is written in this book not only works, I would actually say that you are wasting your time in the Golden Dawn system if you were not applying them.

Another question is whether this information should be left tucked away from people to see. The point is that it was nearly lost because people followed the traditional way about shutting up over important stuff. Information like this is what makes a spiritual tradition. It is the ritual in action rather the ritual in form. The ritual provides the ingredients, people still need to know how to make the cake. In the Golden Dawn's case magic has been allowed to slip out of the system and needs to be shoved back in.

What I find interesting is that many Hierophant's in the modern Golden Dawn will not be able to run a temple ritual according to Pat's methods. They might pretend they can, but I don't know many who can effectively do what is written here.

But equally I can find few modern Golden Dawn people who can argue with the reasoning. You have to talk from experience to know if something works or doesn't.

Golden Dawn Rituals and Commentaries is really the sort of book every would be Hierophant should write at some time in their life. You have to show people who follow you, what you did, and what you added to the tradition. However it is also the book that every Golden Dawn magician should have and use it as the touch stone for their own magical work. They might disagree with something in it, but they can say “Pat says this, but...” and such a thing furthers the tradition.

Equally, however they will find many challenges to the way they work the system. In short Golden Dawn Rituals and Commentaries tells people to cut the bullshit and do some proper work and sets up a the magical yardstick.

Anyway this is a book you need.  It is very very big and heavy andI am not even going to begin to pick it out here... there is not enough space on the world wide wibble.  However it is well worth the price.

Tuesday 10 August 2010

Book review: The Golden Dawn The Unpublished Lectures of the Hermetic Order of the AO

On the subject of printing secrets, we have this little controversial book which was released a couple of weeks or so ago. The book covers a few of the papers which were stored in the Slater Collection which are later AO.
The information created a controversy when someone who is sitting on a pile of photocopies from the Slater Collection insisted that one of the articles were “forged” and the book was a “fraud” because he didn't have it in his collection. In fact, all 12 papers are real and from the Slater collection and the writer deserves an apology, at least on that score.
For these 12 papers the book the 122 page book is worth the price. But the real problem is that the book shows little effort in presentation.
To produce a book like this you have to do more than simply print the papers. You have to explain the material and place it into context. The author has done little other than defend his actions in publishing "secret material". You really don't know what you are looking at or why, everything has just been chucked together without a theme or a thread linking them.
The diagrams have mostly not been redrawn and have been scanned in. This is actually quite useful because you can work them out for yourself rather than risk something important being missed.
The typeface is ugly and where Greek is used it is not translated. I would have not used the Greek and written the translation out.
According to AO expert Tony Fuller, who actually owns many of the documents printed here, there are a few mistakes and missing information. Judging by the way it is all laid out I would be inclined to believe that is possible.
The enochian papers use enochian lettering, which is unusual. This becomes significant when you consider that it was this material that was injected back into Whare Ra and the other Golden Dawn Groups in the 1920's. However none of the Whare Ra Enochian papers I have, use the Enochian lettering.
There is an interesting paper on the LVX formula which hints at more than it is telling and a 6=5 paper on the Seven Branched candlestick which is useful but you have to wonder why it would be given such a high grade.
Anyone interested in the Golden Dawn tradition should buy this book, but they will be left with a slight feeling that they have been cheated.  It could have been, and should have been a lot better.  As far as secrets go, it proves my point completely.  You can have a 6=5 paper in your hand and I doubt many would even realise its value.

Sunday 25 July 2010

On Secrecy

There has been a fairly interesting debate which has been going on on this blog and elsewhere about secrecy within modern Golden Dawn groups. Please note that I am not saying what oath we take in the Magical Order of the Aurora Aurea. It is similar but not the original. It does have a clause on revealing teachings but it is not the same as the Golden Dawn or SM. The oath of all these groups was different anyway. I think that oaths should reflect the times and not simply parrot phrases that have no meaning. However since all the oaths are similar lets have a look at it and the secrecy thing.

The Oath

The traditional oath was a surprisingly dull thing if you read it out loud and includes many clauses that are almost legalistic in their phraseology.

Firstly the candidate swears to keep secret the Order, its name, the names of its members and the proceedings that take place at its meetings from non-initiates and those who don’t have the current password.
At this point we come to something which belongs to a bygone age.

Why keep secret the name of the Order?

Most Orders have a website with their name all over it. During the recent Golden Dawn wars people were fighting over the name of the Order in court. The name has become a trademark in other words something which is used to make money through marketing. The Name of almost every order is now public domain. It might not have been when the Order was founded, but now keeping the name of your order secret is largely meaningless and indeed for outfits that see themselves as commercial schools, undesirable.

This is not something that is a problem in a consumer culture like our own, however the idea that the name would be made public terrified Mathers. After the name was used in the Horos court case he tried to his order's name secret by renaming it the AO. Even today modern orders have no problem calling themselves the AO on their websites. It is just a sign of the times. BOTA which is a lineal descendant of the AO is very public about its name and Golden Dawn lineage.

Why keep the names of members secret?

The names of the members need to be secret because it is still and always will be a matter of privacy.

People think you are nuts if you belong to an occult order and sometimes this still can be a matter of blackmail, particularly if a member is working in the teaching profession. In court case I heard of, a masonic group was at odds with former members over some land. The former members threatened that if the case against the continued they would go to the local papers with a list of members (some of whom were pillars of the local community).

Some members of my order have been members of other Golden Dawn groups. For a variety of political reasons it is best that these groups do not know that they have ended up in MOAA. Then we come to another silly promise oath....

The retrospective oath

The candidate swears to keep quiet about information they may have gained concerning the order before they took the oath. There is only one situation where I think this is important. If you know the names of members before you join you should continue to keep secret about it. Otherwise it is a clause that is out of date.

Copyright clauses

The oath features copyright clauses… all material has to have the GD label on it. This is to keep the teaching regular throughout the order. Second you are not allowed to copy the material. However some of this material is copyrighted and others are not. The older stuff has long passed out of copyright and is legally public domain.

In MOAA though more than three quarters of the material is copyrighted. It was written in the last decade. This stuff is secret because it defines our group as different from others. While it is still not possible to really work magic with this material, it is still important to be kept secret.

Swearing not to be passive

This is one of my favourites. You should not allow yourself to be placed in such a state of passivity that any initiated person or power may cause you to lose control of my words and actions.

At the time I thought this meant that I would not allow myself to be hypnotised or take part in pathworkings. Indeed some people think this clause of the oath was designed to prevent a hypnotist getting the passwords out of a GD adept while under their control. But they were wrong and that is not what the oath is saying.

Hypnosis does not cause you to lose control of yourself, however passivity does. Passivity is when you turn your will over to that of another. You do it in co-dependant or other abusive relationships, you can also make yourself totally passive to a bully at work. Whenever you surrender what you want to another’s will you lose that vital connection with your higher self and in serious cases the damage can be permanent. Your personality is the chariot you are seeking to perfect in this work you must never hand over the reigns to another in any form.

In this we answer the question... should I obey demands that I conform to the will of another chief who interprets the his tradition in a different way from me? Should I write what they want me to write, in a style they wants to. Should I censor my views to appease that particular Chief or declare that black is white because that chief is uncomfortable with the way I put things? The answer is that to do so is that I am being passive, I am allowing an “uninitiated person” (at least in my tradition) take control of my thoughts and worlds. I must follow way that is set down for me by my traditions and believes. I can be sympathetic, but I must act my self and do things the way I do them.

Keep on studying

The next clause is that you promise to keep on studying. You don’t stop just because you are busy. This is important because in the outer order you are trying to build up the habits that will carry you on the path of return for the rest of this incarnation (and who knows beyond). This oath with me always appears as a sort of feeling guilty that I am not doing enough work! It dogs me like a pack of wolves at times. Finally there is the clause against evil magic which is self explanatory.

So when does being secret become poo?

Most people when they talk about people breaking their oath refer to the publication of materials. They rarely look at the other aspects of the oath and assume that it is all about secrecy. The Oath is about that, but it is much more. It is saying how you will live your life. If you were to sum it up, you would say “I am going to keep my magical life a secret. I will protect other people from being exposed and will help other magical people who I will work with. I will work hard and not allow someone else to take control of me.”

The debate about keeping stuff secret seems to fall into two camps. One one hand you have those who feel that everything should be kept secret even if it is well known or been published, or is only “secret” because someone has not published it yet yet, any anyone could do so at any moment. On the other hand you have those who thing that everything must be kept totally open and there is no point keeping any secrets and any oaths you make should be as general as possible.

That is a jolly nice cigar you have there Mr Freud.
In 1919, in his article "The Uncanny" , Freud thought a lot about secrets. Generally he thought they were unhealthy obsessions in the neuro-psychoses of defence mechanisms of a person. As you would expect with Freud it mostly came down to poo and sex. Parents lied to a child about where they came from and the child had to think about it for themselves. The child became aware that there was a secret and determined to find it out. This starts the child's thinking processes. So in otherwords the positive side of a secret is that it HAS to be found out. The other thing that Freud suggests is that you have to look at OTHER things that are secret. These include sex and poo. Now it is really easy to laugh at Freud, particularly if you are magician who likes to waive their wand around too much in public, but he has a point.

Secrecy is about power.

If you have a secret you have power over those who don't know it. Ultimately people should find out the secret because it is part of their evolution to gain knowledge. But hanging on to the wrong knowledge is eventually emotionally and physically constipating.

I have experienced extreme secrecy in three Magical Groups and I can safely say that all those groups were stunted. The secrecy was used by the chiefs to cover up for the fact that they were fundamentally insecure about what they did know. In the case of Whare Ra for example the chiefs took parts of the teaching which had been in one grade and moved it to a higher one. The reason was that it made that information less accessible to students who might ask them questions about it/ If you shove the difficult, or more interesting teaching in the second or third order, the chance that you will ever get asked about it is that much more remote. If you took outer order teaching which would be seen by 99 per cent of students and shove it in the second order it will only been seen by two percent. If there is NAM teaching and you shift it to the 6=5 it is very unlikely that anyone will see it.

My teacher David Goddard referred to this as drawbridge syndrome and said it happened when a group was dying. The knowledge which should be moving freely in a good group is constipated in a far off grade where the chiefs usually sit on their cushions.

Too much Secrecy can be self defeating

The next problem about a secret is that it can be lost if the person who knows it dies without telling anyone. The only reason we know what was done in the Golden Dawn at all is because people broke their oaths. If you read Dion Fortune and this is confirmed by my meetings with Whare Ra people you can't help but admire their defence of the oath and the teaching they have. But they were also filled with the knowledge that if they didn’t pass on their information it would die with them. So they “got around their oath” by answering what you asked. This meant that you had to frame the question really specifically or you didn’t get what you wanted.

Once I pointed out to one of them who was giving me the run around that the 5=6 oath said that if you meet someone who professes to be a Rosicrucian you must test them and that they are honour bound to find a successor. The idea of a “successor”, even if not treated literally implies that you pass the information on.” They laughed and told me what I wanted.

To avoid this happening within MOAA I am making the copyrighted material public if the order collapses.

A secret made for its own sake is toxic.

It gives a false power to those who should not have it. For example one person who worked in the same tradition as I did spent a lot of time collecting documents, mostly photocopies. If you approached him about them he would say that he would not give them to you because that would break his oath. However used the photocopies to get recognition from other orders about how high level he was. In a debate on something important he could trump it because he had a document that covered the subject. It was not knowledge or experience just a good filing system. He ended up suckering one group into being made a chief without having to to a stroke of meditation in his life. Last I heard he died without actually ever even turning up at a meeting.

Written knowledge is not magic

In the Golden Dawn there is two types of knowledge. The first is the written knowledge which appears in papers. Most of these have been published. If you were to take the published material and try to use it to become a magician you would fail. In fact I doubt there is a single magical order anywhere that can rely on written material to produce adepts.

Secondly there was oral instruction and experience. Like the words say this explains the teaching and places it into a context. If you were to record this teaching it would fill many tapes and pages and pages of transcripts. Even then you would miss important points.

I learnt magic sitting and listening to my teacher. I have read his writings but I learnt a lot more from listening to him than I did from the countless books I read. It was from these talks I got the Golden thread which enables me to connect teachings and understand what they tried to do. To me that is magic. If you wrote notes about the same thing it would be knowledge. The differences is between Hod and the conjunction of Chokmah and Binah. What is interesting is that this teacher was not a member of the Golden Dawn, if he had been the very act of the way he was teaching would have been considered “against the oath” certainly of Whare Ra. I know this because when I last went to New Zealand I ran a workshop in Hawkes Bay and several of the old group of Whare Ra members turned up. At that point I was not in the GD and just talked about what I called the British Western Mystery tradition. I was told later they had not heard that stuff since Whare Ra closed and realised how much they had missed being taught it. But the secrecy even worked against that and athough they were all high level Whare Ra people, they had to find their own source of teaching because of their interpretation of the oath of secrecy.

Can the old written material be covered by the oath of secrecy?

There is no point considering the Regardie material part of the oath because everyone can pick up a book and read it. Material which is sitting in a library or collection is equally considered in the public domain. Any one visiting Dublin can sit down and read all Yeat's Golden Dawn material effectively having access to the same collection as a 7=4 in the SM. Equally the Slater collection gives someone the same status as a 7=4 in AO.

It is my belief that none of the original Golden Dawn, AO, Whare Ra, SM documents can be considered part of the oath of secrecy. They are owned by the tradition and are the bear minimum standard that all orders who choice to follow that tradition need. If I had my way ALL this material would be published on a single website and orders could use the material in their own way.

What is the point of swearing to protect such material from others
when you have no power to do so?

You can argue that it is symbolic, but it is a poor symbol if it is. You could symbolically swear to protect Martin Luther King from assassination. It might be symbolic but it does.... um.... sod all really.

Martin Luther King demonstrates the 1=10 salute in public
Then there is the suggestion that there is power which can be gained from knowing if a group is using some Golden Dawn documents and not others. However the value of this knowledge is small.

Just because you you are chief of a modern order does not mean that you are the chief of an original group. You have no power to moderate other groups who might believe they are following the same tradition.

Oaths to protect material which do not help people master magic, 
or help in the daily running of the group are pointless.

You can say that unpublished original GD material can help people master magic. The short answer is that they can't.

A while back I published the most complete version of the Book of the Tomb as an ebook . I did this because two modern orders were engaged in a pissing contest about which had the “real vault”. By publication of the document the real formula for the construction of the vault was revealed. A potential Golden Dawn flame war was abandoned as both groups could consider their vaults in the light of the real core documents.

Since the several smaller groups have built their vaults using the Book of the Tomb. Some of them look very nice. However then came the crucial point of the story.

One of the people who built his vault asked me how to use it. I told him I could not help and he would have to work it out for himself. As it turned out his group DID sit down and work out a system which I am sure is working for them. The point is that the moment they stepped off the core document then they entered into the bounds of what I consider “secret” .

Oaths to protect core information censor every Golden Dawn magician from writing any books that further the tradition .

What Golden Dawn books did Westcott, Felkin, Mathers or Brodie-Innes write? Even Dion Fortune admitted she could only publish her Mystical Cabbalah book because Crowley had already published the crucial material in 777. The following Golden Dawn members have written specifically Golden Dawn books which by the standards of the secrecy oath should never have seen the light of day. If you consider these books of value, you have to admire the fact that such books fly in the face of secrecy tradition.

Alistair Crowley, R Waite Israel Regardie, Dion Fortune, Nick Farrell, Pat and Krys Zalweski, Chic and Tabatha Cicero, David Griffin, Robert Wang, Francis King, Paul Foster Case, Aaron Lietch, Darcy Kuntz, Donald Tyson, Perigrin Wildoak, Donald Kraig, Gerald Suster,

This list is not exhaustive but gives you an idea. The point is that all these books have furthered the tradition but would not have been possible of publication of the core traditional documents was impossible and could not be discussed.  No one from Whare Ra dared to write anything.

Other things which need to be kept secret

Some things are unique to each order and have to be kept secret at all costs. These are the images of inner plane temples, god-forms and images which are used in the subtle forms of magic. Some groups do not bother with these and personally I don't see how. However that which is built by thought must not be talked about because it can be destroyed by thought too.

The Golden Dawn is changing

This is where running a re-enactment group ends up.
While there are those who want the Golden Dawn to be a re-enactment society. My experience with re-enactment groups leads me to believe that they are not appropriate model for a magical group. The older material should be seen as foundation stones upon which the new order is built. Since all GD orders have the same foundation stones then that stuff should be held in common. If you obsess too much about the foundations then you never get the roof built.

Sunday 18 July 2010

Correct position for the 'L' in the Golden Dawn LVX formula

There has been much debate on the correct position of the arms for the LVX formula of late. Regardie had a perfect 'L' as, it appeared did the original Golden Dawn.
However there is another suggestion that the right hand was held as if lobbing a spear while the left was down while off centre.  This is similar to the position which is shown of the Magician in the BOTA tarot deck (and for that matter the one that Harry is painting at the moment).
All good stuff which seems to indicate that the GD got more detailed as it got older.
However one should perhaps look at the inspiration for the sign of Isis mourning.  Attached is a picture from Wikipedia showing a rare image of Mourning Isis from the Louvre.  It is a pretty good bet that it might have been the inspiration for Mathers in Paris.  You can see a marked similarity between this image, and another of Homer Simpson.  If this is correct we should say L, 'Doh', the sign of morning Isis while hitting the top of our crown chakras.
It is just as well Mathers did not go to a Germany Museum and see this statue of Mourning Isis.

Otherwise we would be sayiing "L,  pardon, the sign of Burping Isis"  (although she could be equally checking if her breath was fresh by breathing into it.   What would have happened next?  V, phooey, the smell of the Armpits of Horus, X, ow, the sign of Osiris with heartburn.  We could be wrong but we think that this is actually Nephysis and not Isis at at all (the throne on her head gives it away).  So we are stuck with 'L, doh, the sign of morning Homer" after all. Just as Mather's intended.

The Muse of History

I have absolutely no problem with other GD groups. The Magical Order of the Aurora Aurea is quite close to other some other GD groups and regularly share information.  Generally until someone has a pop at me I am usually fairly open and trusting (sometimes to a fault).

The issue of historical research can be thorny. A researcher's job is not to act as the propagandist for their own order. They have to be open minded as to what might have happened even when this will lead them away from an official line that their temple chiefs would be happy with.
If the line of reasoning of their temple chief is “Mathers was a god and I am the incarnation of Mathers” a researcher would be in the uncomfortable position of having to point out that Mathers was a drooling looney, if it was true.

Then there is the problem about who “owns” the material. Some groups, as part of their articles of faith, claim that they own the Golden Dawn material and therefore unpublished material is protected either by their oath or moral copyright.

Recently one dusted off the argument that I was an “oath breaker” or some such stuff because I released the 1910 AO's Book of the Tomb which a group which claims lineage from that order said it “owned”.

The question is, does a researcher ignore the protests or strange rulings from other Orders in the quest for “unity”? The issue of secrecy is one that I have thought about a lot as a writer/historian. I see it this way.

Anything that comes out of a modern Order must have a new approach to the material or else it is not a true manifestation of the Golden Dawn. The documents that come out of the GD involve the barest of bones of the system which still need to be interpreted and put into action by the chiefs of the new Orders. New material and new approaches are by nature secret.
If another Chief wants to share them with me, or me with another that is good and interesting. However if I were to publish material which was written by, say Chic Cicero, to explain the Book of the Tomb that would be wrong. Nor would it be right to publish material that has been consistently used by an other group.
For example the Order of the Table Round material, though historically interesting, should not be published because it is being used (anyway the current ritual is still under copyright). It is not wrong to publish the AO rituals from 1910 but it would be wrong to publish the 2010 rituals of a group which claimed to be the AO.

As a researcher it is wrong for me to deny other Chiefs the right to look at the original material and develop their own systems based on that interpretation. Therefore anything I find, that I publish, assists all Golden Dawn orders.

Their chiefs can choice to accept, reject or develop the material themselves. If they adapt the material and provide new approaches to their systems, in the same way that they did with the Regardie book, then the researcher's work is done.

Finally there is the matter of the researcher who “listens to their own chief” as a source. For argument’s sake, if I find a paper that says that Westcott molested small boys yet I ignore this paper, or write it in such a way that the information is obscured, because my Chief tells me it is a bad idea, or was not true, then I lose the right to be a historical researcher. Likewise if another researcher proves that my Chief's historical perspective is wrong, it is not my duty to prove the Chief right. It is my duty to look at the evidence and change views accordingly.

This is tricky when a researcher's role in an order is tolerated by the Chief while they are supporting the Order's official line. This is one of the reason that the best GD researchers have been those, such as Gilbert and Howe, who have been outside the order and are not worried about upsetting anyone.

BOTA insisted that Whare Ra had predicted that a red haired woman would come from overseas as “a messiah”. It is likely that prophecy was made up by members of BOTA in New Zealand who were fans of Anne Davies, who had red hair, in a bid to attract members of Whare Ra to their group.

I tried to track down if there was any truth to the prophecy being made and the only ones who had heard of it at Whare Ra were those who were also members of BOTA. While Mrs Felkin had made a prophecy about a New Zealand messiah, there was no mention of red hair, nor that the messiah was a woman.

Turning Anne Davies into a messiah was a tall order anyway. When she tried to speak to Whare Ra members in Hawkes Bay, Percy Wilkinson had to leave the room because he was laughing too much at her.

A BOTA historian would have had to admit that the prophecy was PR spin. It would be their job to say that the story was made up and not to report it as fact, or say “at the time there were rumours of a prophecy”.

Lastly a researcher knows that there are no absolutes. You can have all the paper in the world to back up your point and still be completely wrong. This is a problem for those who want a more fundamentalist religious approach to the GD.
They quote the Z documents instead of the bible, but they are more or less the same thing. There is a basic insecurity which wants them to see that their view is “written down” by an “authority” which instead of god was Mathers or Westcott. However the GD always was a system evolution with each generation taking it in a different way.

There never was a “right” or “wrong” Golden Dawn. Each order evolved toward the directions of its chiefs. This is normal. Dion Fortune's Society of Inner Light evolved from Christianity, to Paganism, back to Christianity, then to sexual polarity magic, then Scientology(!) then back to Christianity. Whare Ra went though stages of Christianity, Steinerism, Alice Bailey, Christianity and finally fundamentalist Christianity. Charting these developments is the job of the researcher. However saying “The Golden Dawn was this...” is impossible to say.

Friday 16 July 2010

History in the making

Israel Regardie tended to slag off Crowley. After all, the Great Beast wrote a really nasty letter about him which, among other things, said he was a compulsive masturbator so he had a right to be miffed. However, according to Chic Cicero if a younger occultist attacked number 666, Regardie would wade into him and defend Crowley to the hilt. He said that he knew Crowley, it was his right.
I did not really understand that, until someone in an argument had a pop at someone in Whare Ra who was one of the teachers of Pat Zalewski, Jack Taylor but also had a go at the person who was my initiator, a 6=5 called Percy Wilkinson. The person in question was looking that this person from the perspective of history of the Golden Dawn. I didn't know Jack and what I have picked up about him was second hand, but I did know Percy.
Percy was the simply the best initiator I have ever seen. I have tried over the last 14 years to mirror his success and only gained a shadow of it. He was a 6=5 at Whare Ra and managed to do things in that initiation that I would not expecting and would never do so again.
But my reality, based on personal knowledge and experience, had challenged some history that someone was trying to create. This person believes that Mathers and the early Golden Dawn was the bee's knees and Whare Ra was not how it was done in the GD and therefore suspect.
Such an attitude is to be expected. I am a journalist, I have sat in as history of one sort of another unfolded. I have also been around long enough to see what historians have made of the circumstances I have sat through. The experience of reality was nothing in comparison to the story that unfolded.
But when it is as personal as my occult experiences it seems different. When you see your history, merged into the limited understanding of occult historians or even just “stories” you wonder what are the “real people”. Behind the various myths that are described for them. Can documentation mirror the reality of what it was like to be a member of the Golden Dawn or Whare Ra?
I have a clear view on the teachers I have had and the people within various groups I have worked with. I was also present during key pivotal moments in several groups. But the strange thing is that I know that when these same events are described they will be hammered into what ever pet theory that people have at the time.
This person's pet theory was that Whare Ra which was the most successful Golden Dawn temple ever was “less important” to the Golden Dawn tradition.  How thinks were done at Whare Ra was interesting but a footnote to what was done elsewhere.
It was made on the basis of papers... the sort of things that historians consider primary sources.
However Percy, Barbara and all the people I have worked with do not figure in these papers. They are just records of various z documents etc.
With my historian hat on, I can say I am not impressed with the Mathers and Westcott. But based on this incident I can also say I have not got a clue about who they really were. When I wrote King over the Water with Melissa Seim I tried to make them a little more human and understand where they were coming from. My experience in Masonry helped. But really I have no real idea what it was like to live in the Victorian period or what it is like to have everyone you loved kill themselves, such as Westcott, or have an attractive wife who is scared of sex, like Mathers.
All I can do is look at their letters and try and interpret things. To do this it is important to remove what ever bias I have against them. The modern Golden Dawn holds up either Westcott or Mathers as Gods. I came to the conclusion that neither were particularly important to the story. The real “character” and “Genius” of the Golden Dawn was the Order itself. It has evolved into the different Orders you see today.
It is easy to say the Golden Dawn or the AO was better than Whare Ra. But the fact is that no one knows what the AO or the Golden Dawn were like. I picked up what Whare Ra was like by talking to people who are now dead who were there. The stories were far different from the papers. For example you can find a Whare Ra document that says masks could be used for the grade ceremonies. Yet Percy told me they were not used in his life time and he had never seen them. Jack Taylor told Pat the same thing. Since Whare Ra was more Christian than the early Golden Dawn I would think it was possible that the removed them. However there is no real record of the other orders using them either. The point here is that the papers might tell you one thing. The reality will tell you another. When it comes to the Golden Dawn all we have is papers and when it comes to Whare Ra we still have some living memories to play with as recounted to Pat, Chris, Me, Tony Fuller and Mike Burden.
So I will give you a memory... this is first hand... it comes from a person being initiated by Percy Wilkinson who was using the Z formula. You can use it to measure the standard of your own Golden Dawn group and then tell me that Whare Ra adepts did not know what they were doing.

I had been stuck in the chapel for three quarters of an hour. I was bored. I had meditated on the egregore and done all I really could think of doing. I had heard the cars of others arrive at the temple and them getting ready. But I was awake as much as normal.
I could hear the ritual starting up. The “knocks” and then suddenly something physical happened. My consciousness moved so that it was not quite my body, like I was watching the story and being a part of it. I relaxed but at the same time could not move. I was feeling a bit stretched.
There was a knock on the chapel door and a person led me downstairs. He put me in the robe and asked me how I felt. I opened my mouth to speak but no words came out. I tried but couldn't. “Yeah, that is normal I was told.”
He put a black bag over my head... but my consciousness was split I was both looking outside of the bag and inside it. I could not walk properly.
The doors of the temple swung open, but I saw them clearly. There was a blazing light inside the temple and I could see it clearly. I walked forward and suddenly I was barred. What was strange about this was I could not see the “people” just the godforms. As the barring happened my heart centre opened and I could feel it. I felt that part of me was in a different part of the temple watching me being initiated but I was aware of a presence behind me whispering stuff which I understood but didn't. Another part of me was inside the black bag and yet another part was hovering above watching the swirling patterns that the ritual was forming below me....”

That should give you a rough idea. I have never experienced it before or since. There was something similar which happened during my 5=6 but nothing like Percy's initiation which I have been striving to recreate ever since. Sometimes with some success, other times not.
Although I had other initiations before and since, that one is where I feel my serious magic began. It was by this one that the others were measured, and by those that I think about whether or not other groups “have it” or not.
Although it is fun to get caught up in the history, or the correct way to hold a wand, at the end of the day it is the magic that interests me. In that regard I am sure that based on the magic of Percy, Whare Ra “had it.”
I was lucky, however when it comes down to history, it is hard to explain real magic to anyone.

* The Photo of the back end of Whare Ra was borrowed from Wikipedia

Tuesday 13 July 2010

Things you thought were true about the GD but probably weren't.

This article is a bit of fun and the list is not exhaustive. If anyone can think of others put them in the comments box

It is not called the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn

The "Golden Dawn" was never called the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn (HOGD).  That was invented by Regardie for his book.  The First Order was called the Golden Dawn in the Outer (GDO) although on some letterheads it was called the Esoteric Order of the Golden Dawn.  Hermetic Order does appear on some letter heads and course material but it was not the name of the Order.  I pointed this out in my book Making Talismans and one Order immediately changed its name.  Mathers wanted to call the AO the Golden Dawn but decided that the name was profaned by the Horos court case.  In the AO 0=0 he said that the Order was sometimes known as the Golden Dawn but that name has been profaned and we no longer use it.  He looked forward to the day that it was possible to drop the AO name and become Golden Dawn in the Outer again.  We guess once the name has been forgotten and no longer associated with sex scandals, cults, swindlers, law suits and serial liars.... good luck with that.

The Kerux has a Caduceus Wand
This is based on a misreading of Regardie's Golden Dawn during the 1970's by one of his students in the early days of the re-formation of the order. It has ended up in several books and repeated by several orders who claim they had nothing to do with Regardie. The Kerux carried a stick with three colours on it. You need it to be stick because you are barred during the ritual by each of the three colours. If the Kerux staff has a black and white snake on it you will have someone's eye out.

Neophytes are taught the lesser banishing ritual of the pentagram as their primary magical tool
In fact they are taught the invoking pentagram. The banishing pentagram is just a footnote in the original knowledge paper. Modern Golden Dawn orders hardly ever do the invoking pentagram and say that it is safety to banish first, even when they are doing an invoking ritual.
 It is not clear when the banishing replaced the invoking. The last Golden Dawn temple Whare Ra would perform a banishing before doing a working in space which had not been used for one before. It seems likely that that the banishing obsession comes from Wicca. Magically the invoking provides just as much protection as the banishing.  When you invoke you call upon the divine names and angels for protection, when you banish you are asking those names and angels to remove something for you.

The Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram is elemental
The LRP has never been considered elemental by the Golden Dawn. Those who have read Regardie know that the you are drawing the invoking and banishing earth pentagram, but this was not a fact known to a Neophyte, nor indeed any of the outer order. When the information was first taught, the GD didn't have a second order so the Supreme Ritual of the Pentagram system had not been developed. It was always designed to be a positive force (invoking) or a negative force (banishing).  This is more news to groups outside the Golden Dawn who use it to "open and close" ritual space.

The Tablet of the element is a like a talisman and the pentagrams should be drawn on them.
Whare Ra teachers were quite clear on this. The tablets were doorways and you drew your pentagrams through and behind them. In fact I was told that if you tried to invoke onto the tablet you got a belt of elemental force which was unbalanced.

The Golden Dawn ritual is colourful
Other than a few diagrams there was very little colour in the GD. The tablets were either black and white, or white and red lettering. The tarot cards were black and white most of the officers were black and white. This made the appearance of the vault even more memorable. The second order is full colour.

The elemental grade rituals do not use Godforms
While the 0=0 ritual had the Z documents which described the use of Godforms the elemental grades had little or nothing, at least written down in Regardie. This has lead some to believe that either the godforms are not used in the grades above 0=0 or that they were the same as the 0=0.
The 0=0 is based on the Temple of Maat and is therefore pretty specific. The use of those Godforms would not work in the others. It would be a bit like staging Hamlet using the same set and character's from Antony and Cleopatra. Also some godforms are named.
There is no doubt that Mathers intended that there were godforms for the elemental grades. He even wrote a paper on the ones for the 1=10. The others are sort of mentioned by name in the rituals.
What seems to have happened is that the AO and SM and Whare Ra developed their own set of Godforms. These have been lost. Dion Fortune said that the godforms are the missing keys to understanding any ritual. It is fairly clear that each order must develop its own system of Godforms for the outer order.

The Golden Dawn used masks
This is based on a piece of the ritual which says “The priest who wears the mask of....” It has also appeared in a few of the 1980's coffee table books about magic where the fact that the GD used it was a throwback to the magic of Ancient Greece. While masks are a good idea in the two rituals where they can be used, they are a pain in the arse. It requires you to limit your visibility.  It is hard to wear a nemyis.  If you have the masks on sticks you need more hands than Kali to  read a script and hold your elemental weapons and often shove candles or water into a candidate's heart centre. Whare Ra did not use them and there is no indication that anyone else did either.

Wynn Westcott and Sam Mathers were initiates of the Golden Dawn
In fact neither of them is recorded having any form of initiation within the Golden Dawn system. The closest either of them came was to take up the cross of suffering during Corpus Christie. Apparently Mathers did it first and was too scared to do it again, Westcott did it next and he faced the same problem (I can't think why,  it is not so bad once you are up). They off-loaded the job on minions there after. While they may have initiated people into the system they never experienced it for themselves. This makes the second generation of Golden Dawn people more significant than the founders who never experienced it.

Westcott had to quit the GD because Mathers hid some second order papers with Wyn's name and address on them in a taxi.
Westcott did quit (temporarily) because of personal problems (something to do with not working with women for a while). However he did say that someone had been contacting his work and was out to get him but never said what the problem was.
Just before he quit he was “promoted” with a key title by Mathers. This strange and unnecessary if Mathers was going to frame him. The story was coined by Crowley many years after the fact and was probably made up. The quote was that he was “paid to sit on stiffs not raise them” is pure Crowley.
Crowley might have received it from Mathers (who made it up) but it was not true. It is incredibly unlikely that Mathers would have profaned his own material by giving it to the great unwashed. When he joined Mathers's AO, Westcott had his name and address put on the AO labels so that if someone died the material would be returned to him. Hardly wise if his employers had made him choose between his job as a coroner and the Golden Dawn. Anyway at the time Westcott was the head of Soc Ros. Given that masons populated all levels of the establishment it is unlikely that any of them would have objected to a group that met in Mark Mason's Hall.

Mathers was a virgin
Mina Mathers was terrified of sex. Even by standards of Victorian society she was completely frigid. When she discovered that sex was how she was born she could not look at her “parents the same way ever again”.
Consequently she made a bit thing about telling everyone that both her and Sam “kept themselves pure”. The downside was Sam never got the memo. While in Paris, he was poking the maid. It is not being judgemental to say this, the set up was just as hypocritical as the rest of Victorian/ Edwardian society.  Sex with one's wife was supposed to be a chaste experience while your average male was supposed to be out whoring.
Sam's working relationship with the staff  was discovered when a member from London visited Paris and apparently the house was in an uproar because Sam had been caught out. The incident was circulated with some amusement among London members and ended up recorded in the Waite papers.  As far as I am aware no one ever asked Sam "are you a virgin?... if it is not a personal question" and no one would dare to ask Mina.

Israel Regardie was an expert on the Golden Dawn rituals
Regardie said that he only attended seven rituals within the Bristol Temple. It is fairly likely that he was not even initiated into the 0=0, but that the Bristol temple accepted his initiation into an American order which had a warrant from Westcott and was using the 0=0 ritual copied from Crowley's Equinox. Most of the information Regardie learnt from Bristol was through letters and while it was clear he worked very hard on the material he did not get much ritual experience in the system. He never did an officer's role in Bristol. Anyone who has worked the system will tell you that the system is lived in practice. Regardie carried out three 0-0 initiations in the late 1970s as Hierophant. That was the only temple experience he had.
Bristol was using cut down rituals at the time and, according to Regardie, their ritual skills were not up to much. He did not think much of the Golden Dawn rituals and for most of his life advocated doing the 0=0 and then making the student do Watchtower rituals before the Portal and then the 5=6. Many have assumed that Regardie got most of his Golden Dawn expertise from Crowley. Regardie said that the Great Beast never taught him any magic.

Israel Regardie was a 7=4
Regardie only gained a 5=6 when he left the Bristol Temple. Before his death, when he visited Pat Zalewski in New Zealand, Pat awarded him a 6=5 in recognition of his service to the Order. Over his remaining years Pat used to promote and demote Regardie to 7=4 as a joke between them. When Regardie died they gave him an honorary 7=4 and this was published in the Falcon Press Edition. Regardie was not ever a 7=4 in the Bristol Temple.

The Golden Dawn and AO carried out initiation rituals above 5=6
In Whare Ra there were 6=5 and 7=4 initiations. These were rare and even rarer were the 8=3 and 9=2. However at least they existed. Although Mathers appears to have written a 6=5 and 7=4 ritual for his AO there is no proof that it was ever used. Before Sam's death, admission to the 6=5 (at least) was by cheque. The earliest AO ritual mentions 6=5 and 7=4 in the 0=0 but the set of material stops at the 5=6. Although there were temple chiefs that held the 7=4 rank, there were no reports of an initiation ceremony being involved. Indeed some AO members travelled to New Zealand to have an initiation into the 6=5 and 7=4.
In the Golden Dawn and the rebel temples there were no 6=5 or 7=4 rituals. People held these titles but they appeared to have been awarded without an initiation. This is similar to the 5=6 grade which was also “awarded” before the inner order was created.

The Golden Dawn had a tarot deck for divination
Despite the fact that its system has influenced Tarot for nearly a century, the Golden Dawn didn't have a deck of its own. The Trumps for the initiation were drawn in Black and White and adepts were expected to colour them in when they had been given the colouring instructions. But this is only half the Major Arcana.
For divination most used the Marseilles deck for divination until the Waite deck appeared on the scene. Felkin was aware of the problem and asked Westcott to design him a deck. This was done in black and white and was supposed to be coloured. The prototype was on little yellow cards and adepts were expected to draw their own from that template. This appears to have happened in the SM and Whare Ra but not in the AO. When Builders of the Adytum set up in New Zealand Whare Ra members were allowed to join at their existing grades. Since BOTA had a good colourable tarot deck many of them used that. A complete deck suitable for divination didn't appear until the 1980s with the Regardie/ Wang deck. A complete deck for use for everything did not happen until Tabatha Cicero's deck.

Westcott Forged the Cipher Manuscripts
This old chestnut comes up when people have only read people who have glanced at the Magicians of the Golden Dawn. Westcott never forged the Cipher documents although he did translate them. These documents provided the outline for the order with the grades from 0=0 to 4=7. The cipher outline was enough for Mathers to knock together a passable ritual. These ciphers were not forged and have been fairly accurately sourced to a leading mason called McKenzie.
What Westcott has alleged to have forged were the letters between Fräulein Sprengel's and himself which gave him permission to establish the Order based on the Cipher manuscripts and the right to initiate. He was also charged with forging her signature on the Warrant of the Isis-Urania Temple. The evidence from Howe is not bad and enables him to dismiss the entire Golden Dawn tradition as based on forgery.
Of course, to modern non-masonic minds this is total rubbish. An order stands or falls on the ability of its teachers and teachings. It is hard to find a single Magical Order anywhere which was formed in a “correct way”.
However to the masonic mind you need permission from someone above you in the food chain to give you the right to initiate. Howe does have a point that Sprengel was “too convenient” for Westcott.
However Howe is not conclusive in his evidence that Westcott did invent Sprengel. He points to the fact that the letters included phrases and writing which indicated that they were written by an English person who knew German. What is strange then, if it were a forgery, that Westcott made such a pig's ear of it. Surely someone with his connections could have found a better forger? From most sane people's perspective the Cipher documents alone provide enough of a template for the order to be formed correctly. Springel was a minor part of the story. The concept that it needed lineage belongs to a hide bound tradition that should have died out about the same time when the GD admitted women into its ranks.

Fräulein Sprengel's first name was Anna
This is a myth which comes from Dr Felkin's enthusiastic and at times hair brained researches into GD history before the First World War. In all the letters and documents connected with Sprengel she has no first name. Felkin however found the name Anna when he was convinced he found the Secret Order behind the GD. Although his discoveries, along with the real vault of CRC did not pan out to much, the name Anna was forever associated with Fräulein Sprengel. . Amusingly it has even been assumed that Westcott invented the name “Anna” from Anna Kingsford who ran the western hermetic branch of the Theosophical Society. In fact she never was an Anna in the first place.

The publication of Regardie's book caused the GD to close down
The Golden Dawn book hit the shops in 1939 Bristol carried on until the death of the last Adept in the 1970s, although they stopped initiating long before that. Whare Ra closed in 1978. Only the AO's London Temple closed soon after the Second World War and that was less to do with Regardie's book and more to do with falling membership. People are not often aware that although the GD book was important it was a complete flop and suffered from a minimal distribution. It was not until the book was bought by Llewellyn in the 1960s and the occult boom happened that it started to get the attention it deserved.

It would have been great to be in the Golden Dawn or Whare Ra
The original Golden Dawn was nothing more than a Masonic side order that admitted women, radical for its time but nothing to see here move on please. It became more interesting when Mathers provided the Z documents and made the rituals magical. Then the second generation of people who benefited from the system came into their own as Magicians. These were the Florence Farrs, the WB Yeats, Edward Berridge, Crowley and Brodie Innes. However even that dated.
My experience with Whare Ra was that the Golden Dawn was not enough for them. They took the system as far as it could go and then started to branch out into other areas. The temple set up was incredibly secretive and people carried this obsession to their grave. If two Whare Ra people met each other in the street they would ignore each other. If one dared to greet another they would lift their nose up and walk away.
Dr Felkin was famous in Havelock North because of his masonic and medical connections and his strange house. When I first moved to Havelock North I wrote the obituary for the last chief of Whare Ra. I didn't know that of course. I covered his death as if it was the Mayor of Havelock North (which he was). In the process of researching the article I rang through whose who of Whare Ra people to ask them about the guy. No one thought to mention his connection with Whare Ra.
Later when I started finding out about Whare Ra people I rang all these people again. I discovered if you asked a direct question you could “sometimes” get an answer.
While there is no doubt that it would have been interesting to know what they knew about the Golden Dawn there was a reason that the order closed. It had lost touch with the world around it and the sort of approach to magic that was developing. It survived as long as it did in New Zealand because the country was a backwater away from the rest of the world. Even New Zealand had to change and despite a conservative backlash in the late 1970s and Early 80s it changed radically. Edwardian Orders do not work that well in that environment.
I find it interesting that as Whare Ra was closing Regardie was helping Chic Cicero and Adam Forrest form the HOGD. With the books that Chic produced based around Regardie's the Order managed to survive 21st century. Some of the important material from Whare Ra has been saved and this is now coming back into the modern Order. People like Pat Zalewski and Perigrin Wildoak are making new information available. This is keeping the GD refreshed and relevant.
It is fair to say that many modern people who apply to join the Aurora Aurea would not have been accepted in any Golden Dawn Order in any period. Modern students expect everything to be done for them, preferably for free, and if they don't get cosmic consciousness by next Tuesday they will slag you off on the internet. The idea behind the Golden Dawn is that you work and many modern magicians can't do that.

It was impossible for a GD temple to ban women
Although a 5=6 adept swore to keep the balance of sexes in a Golden Dawn temple, masonic sexism still was a powerful force within the early order.  One technique that the misogynists used was to set up temples that had people "pre-trained" effectively this meant only master masons were admitted.  There were a couple of goes at setting this up the most successful was the Bradford Temple.  "You know we never thought that by making a requirement that members being master masons we were keeping women out... never mind.... oath... yes but we have made a requirement that we are all master masons and "The Ladies" don't have trouser legs to roll up and it does not do to bare their breasts"  Fortunately this attitude was rare.  The Golden Dawn still remained a game changer in this regard.

Bram Stoker  a member of the Golden Dawn
No he wasn't. He might have known Pam Coleman Smith but she was not a member of the Golden Dawn either.  So people wanting a place where they can be vampires will probably not find their home in the Golden Dawn.  Besides Dawn is not a good place for a Vampire to be... you tend to be all smoking shoes and dust clouds.

Sunday 11 July 2010

Azrael - Whom God Helps

The idea of death is a key part of organised religion.  This has mostly been because the fear of death has been a method of control for society.  Many occult and religious systems try to place the idea of balance outside the material world of the living.  Thus they make the immediate afterlife a place of balance and judgement.  It meant that you didnt start looking for “evil people” to get their comeuppance in this life and no matter how terrible your life had been if you had followed the religious line you would be “safe”.  However such simplistic approaches to life and death have never really worked.  The biggest problem with them has been that they promise eternity.  Either eternal bliss or eternal damnation.  You might think that Pope John Paul II was a pretty nice bloke, but get saddled with him for eternity the novelty will wear off. Eat enough chocolate and it becomes hellish, imagine what an afterlife of perfection and rest would be like.
Then there is the idea of what makes up an evil person. Most people who are dubbed evil are unlikely to see themselves as such. Monsters like Hitler and Stalin believed that they were acting for the common good.

The eternity time scale is also incredibly unfair. Modern humanity has “three score years and ten” on this planet but the decisions that they make in this tiny period of history is supposed to set them up for eternity.

But the biggest problem for an occultist is “who does the judging?” Obviously religion says “god does it” however if the universe is made up of One Thing, and we are all expressions of it then it is really God judging itself. If you do a crime to yourself, assuming that such a thing is possible, do you condemn yourself for eternity or do you think to yourself “well I will not do that again”. If you do something good for yourself do you continue patting yourself on the back forever?
It is more likely that what happens after death is something we do not know and thus becomes the greatest mystery of all. The Ancient Egyptian religion came up with a very interesting roadmap of what it expected in the afterlife. It even shoved a Lonely Planet guide to the afterlife in people's coffins on the assumptions that they could read it and know which ferryboat to catch if they wanted to get to Amenti.
But these are all fixed systems, created by humanity. Sometimes they ignore the fact that God is One Thing, other times they assume that humanity, or matter is so evil, that it must be escaped.

In my novel Tree Falls, I describe death as being a spark of life beginning a new adventure sailing off into the darkness. It was not bad but I am sure other people would come up with something better. The point is that we need a guide to the afterlife. For those of an Egyptian bent, the God Anubis is a good guide. However for those more interested in Judeo-Christian traditions the best guide is Azrael.
Azrael is the Angel of Death and his name and legend comes to us from the Arab Hebrews who remained in the Holy-land after the Roman genocides.
In one of his forms, he has four faces and four thousand wings, and his whole body consists of eyes and tongues, the number of which corresponds to the number of people inhabiting the Earth.
However in another form “he” is a “she” who is seen as a beautiful compassionate woman dressed in black. It is this more benign form, which is connected to the sphere Binah, the great mother, which we will be using. If you think about it, death is a birth into something new. You are leaving behind the womb of materiality into a new existence.
The way to communicate to her is to enter in your imagination to a triangular temple. The walls and ceiling are made of lead. On the ceiling in polished letters is the name Elohim.

In the centre is an altar upon which burn three candles. Visualise this as clearly as you can and say* :

Listen, all creeping things -
the bell of transience.
In the name Elohim I call upon the Angel of Death
Come forth into thy temple Azrael
Leaves have their time to fall,
And flowers to wither at the north-wind's breath,
And stars to set; but all,
Thou hast all seasons for thine own, O Death!
Is childhood ever long enough, or a happy time, or even
a beautiful summer day? All of these carry the seeds of
the same fierce mystery that we call death.
Through winter-time we call on spring,
And through the spring on summer call,
And when the abounding hedges ring
Declare that winter's best of all:
And after that there's nothing good
Because the spring time has not come--
Not know that what disturbs our blood
Is but its longing for the tomb.

Come forth my Azarel
Open thy mysteries of Death
Show me the secrets of the doors of horn and ivory
Teach me the reality behind the story.

If you want a more cheerful one you can say:

Come forth Azarel
Into thy secret and sacred temple
Show me the secrets of the doors of horn and ivory
Open thy mysteries of Death
Teach me the reality behind the story.
Show me the path from manifestation to the unmanifest
Transform me from the scorpion to the eagle and the phoenix
Write my name in the book of life so that I shall be one of the twice born.
Guide me on the great adventure away from pain to joy
From sadness to happiness
From the fragmented reality to the One Truth
The light behind all colours
You who are the transformer
Transform me with thy mysteries.

Allow a few minutes and then see Azarel appear to you. Since you are not ready to die yet, she will appear as a teacher. She will certainly not appear as something you should be frightened of.
Ask her your questions and see what she says. Remember that some of the answers will be clouded by your fears and preconceptions so they will need to be meditated upon.
When you have finished asking your questions. Thank Azarel and ask her to depart and then do a banishing ritual of the pentagram.

    * This invocation was knocked together from several famous poems by different authors with bits added by me. It should give you the right feeling to call Azrael .

Wednesday 7 July 2010

Thinking about Gods

Gods are very important in the pagan religion but their role in Magic is a little less clear. My personal belief is that their is only One Thing that takes on lots of different roles. Paganism and modern paganism in particular with its Goddess obsession does as much to move me as the Christian idea of a male God. However the question then comes to the idea of worship. How do you worship One Thing? The sort answer is that you don't. It is as vain as worshiping yourself. You are part of the One Thing so you are just saying to another part of yourself how brilliant you really are. This is silly.
But I use Godforms a lot and so the question is what sort of relationship should you have with them?

Terry Prachett said in one of his books Lords and Ladies:

"Once you start paddlin' with the occult you start believing in spirits, and when you start believing in spirits you start believing in demons, and then before you know where you are you're believing in gods. And then you're in trouble."
"But all them things exist," said Nanny Ogg.
"That's no call to go around believing in them. It only encourages 'em."

If you replace the idea of believing in them with worshipping them you get where I am coming from here. I don't believe in worshipping gods any more than I might worship an aeroplane which takes me on holiday. Gods are masks, bits of the One Thing, which I use to get me from one state to another. A god or a bus it is the same thing. Now I can worship the One Thing through one of those fragments but it ends up being the same as worshipping the coffee table.
The Bible is full of references to “not worshipping idols” and what I think is meant here is don't worship fragments. Both you and Gods are fragments you are both equal so kneeling before them is not a good idea unless you BOTH are kneeling before the One Thing.
Gods are creations of the created tools to understanding... you don't want to go around worshipping them it only feeds their huge collective egos :-) .
The universe is made up of stories. When you use a godform you are choosing to look at he universe through one lens and through “one story”. There are many stories but you benefit from understanding the world through many different ones (it is when people think their story is the only one that people start getting burnt at the stake). In Aurora Aurea when we adopt a god form we are putting on a mask to understand a story or an aspect of the one thing which is above all stories.
Magicians are not priests. We do not have the job of bringing one story to others to believe in. We are looking for the story that suits us and living it.
So I see the Godforms as realised aspects of myself with the power to do more than me because they have a bit more history. But I don't think I would ever go around worshiping them.
BY the way the beautiful Green Man picture on the left  is one of Paola's.

Sunday 4 July 2010

Paola and I got engaged

We will get married in Feb when we go on holiday to New Zealand

Friday 4 June 2010

David Williams

David Williamson died on Corpus Christi after a long illness that destroyed him.
David was a doctor where he spend his life working with the dead and performing the function of a coroner's doctor.
This lead him to a relationship with a god form called Anubis. The Opener was an archetype which had a huge influence in his life. He was introduced to magic through Masonry and then joined the Servants of the Light school of magic where he became a supervisor and rose through the ranks quickly. It was there that he meet Krys and the patterns of his life were changed completely.
I was deeply honoured when he and Krys joined the Horus Hathor temple of the Golden Dawn and they were a great asset to me. Both of them could see whether or not magic was taking place in the temple and practically assist with the inner perceptions of the temple working.
David's dedication to magic forced him into a change which estranged him from his family. His daughters, who he deeply loved, rejected him when he left their mother. This deeply affected him and led him in a downward spiral into illness from which he never recovered.
David was a man who was incredibly significant to the magical path. He was intelligent, and inspired in his magical work and there are a large number of students who owe him much for his insight.
With such potential, particularly working with Krys, one can only wonder what he would have achieved for the Order.
His invocations to Anubis in both in the Magical Order of the Aurora Aurea and in its correspondence course, get to the heart of this godform and have bought his understanding to our order.
Personally I will miss him, and I will miss what he provided to me over the last six years that I have known him. It is rare that people dedicate themselves to this work. He had a saying which he provided as an eulogy to his fellow Golden Dawn Frater Brian Thompson when he died over a year ago.

"May he appear before the throne
of Osiris, as a traveller, justified"

As a traveller David has finished his journey too early.

Paola and my own thoughts are with Krys at this time.

"I am the Divine Magician who guides David through the celestial halls,
I part the Veil of the hidden world and clear his vision.
I initiate David into my Secret Mysteries,
I cast for David the Holy Circle of Starry Light.
I enfold thee in my Ka and rejoice in your embrace.
The Ancient Ceremonies are performed,
the chants echo across the temporal halls.
David's Temple is rebuilt, your faith renewed.
We are One, David and Me
twin beams of light entwined,
the Soul-Temple glows as a Golden Dawn,
the Ancient Twilight glows across Space and Time.
We are an Indestructible Star, David and Me
a Power of Heaven.
I indwell in David's Soul-Temple.
And make him complete."

Thursday 6 May 2010

Plato and bright ideas

I wrote this story today which is fairly interesting. The idea is that a symbol of enlightenment can help you have breakthroughs. It is almost a scientific confirmation of Plato