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

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 .