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Tuesday 15 March 2011

Whare Ra and me

There has been a couple of posts on the world wide wibble which seems to imply that I had no connection with the Adepts of Whare Ra.  This is a little surprising as no one has ever questioned me on this before.  Tony Fuller, Pat Zalweski and Mike Burden should be able to back the story up as all of them were there for different parts of the story.

I started out in Builders of the Adytum in New Zealand. At that point it was being run by Will Chesterman. In the middle of the 1980s, Chesterman made it fairly clear that I was going nowhere in BOTA because I was a journalist and he was worried that I would write all their secrets in a book (That book has never been written).   I moved to Napier and met up with Mike Burden through a BOTA study group. Mike had recently become involved with a  Whare Ra side order and was being trained in astrology by Percy Wilkinson who was then the highest ranking person in the Order... the top post had not been filled for many years. Percy was a 6=5 in Whare Ra when it closed and was seen as the Order's astrology expert. Mike introduced me to Pat Zalewski and took me along to Percy's house where the game of finding out things would begin.
At the time I was not particularly interested in joining the Golden Dawn but Percy and I used to talk about magic. Well, I used to ask carefully framed questions and get carefully framed answers back.
Sometimes people used to appear (Barbara was one) for the chats and such was the secrecy it was only by guess work that I worked out that they were in Whare Ra at one point.
After a while Percy suggested I join OTR and I have to say it was the most magical initiation I have ever had. I think that it was from that initiation I consider my magical path really began.
When the blindfold came off there were lots of elderly adepts in the room who I later discovered were Whare Ra.
Some techniques that I was interested in I did get a lot of information about. Sadly I am kicking myself that I didn’t ask more about the inner techniques that the GD used. There were questions that were answered that I only really understood when I became involved with the Golden Dawn. The magical processes that were being used in OTR were a variant of what was being used in Whare Ra. That is not to say they were the same, but the effects were what was supposed to happen in an initiation. Percy gave me a lot of helpful tips and techniques which proved vital when the Nottingham temple of the GD started.
I went to the UK with the aim of finding more about Magic and it was there that I worked exclusively with the Inner Light tradition. It was about that time that Pat's books came out and I got the link between what was happening in the GD and what I was doing with the British groups I was connected to.
The sign off dates for the consecration
 of Percy's tools

However after five or six years I returned and conducted a workshop at Whare Ra side order for the surviving Whare Ra members. Percy had died by then and had handed his tools and book collection onto Mike. Mike got all Percy's astrology, Enochian, side order and other papers. Some ended up with others. While I have copies of that material it is fair to say I have not published any of it.
Anyway although I thought my workshop would be like teaching your grandmother how to suck eggs, but I got on very well with Barbara Nairn who thought that it was good to hear practical magic being talked about again. I picked up a lot from her... she was an incredibly regal woman who had considerable power even though she was ill.
Other Whare Ra members would fill me in on the gossip of the Order and it was from them that I got some of the stories of the old days which have found their way into Gathering the Magic and various blogs.
Needless to say the phrase getting “blood out of a stone” was an apt way to describe getting Whare Ra specific information other than stories. I saw a clipping of an obituary I had written when the former Mayor of Havelock North had died sitting on Percy's desk once. I asked him if he knew him... in a disinterested journalist sort of way... it was a dead mayor obit and I had not been that interested in writing it. Percy laughed and said “You know he was the head of Whare Ra don't you?” What was even funnier was some of the people I quoted in the article were also Whare Ra but I had not known it. Such was the secrecy of the group. However I did meet a lot of them.
There are a couple of them still around although they are very elderly. When Paola and I went to Hawkes Bay we met up with Mike and the members of the Table Round again. We were married on TeMata Peak which is the place where Whare Ra met and the side order still meets.
One of our Wedding presents was Percy's 5=6 Nemis. Mike, who was the best man at the little ceremony, felt Percy would have wanted us to have it. Certainly it felt incredibly symbolic when he gave it to us.
In hindsight I have been incredibly lucky with the people I have met and the teachers I have had. When I wrote the Mathers Last Secret Book I dedicated it to Percy, who I felt was the unsung Magus of Whare Ra. I don't claim any lineage from these Golden Dawn people, but they taught me some valuable things and that is what teachers do.


  1. Care et GH Frater Nick,

    I sincerely hope that this narrative of your personal history is more objective, honest, and free of "spin" than your recently published narrative of Mathers was.

    In any case, let us all recall that OTR is NOT the same as Whare Ra and that Madonna being present at a party does not really make one a personal friend of Madonna.

    Should this article perhaps therefore not have more properly been titled " OTR and me"?

    By the way, I am very curious to know: How far did you actually get in the OTR system? Was it only something superficial like the first degree or was it something of actual substance? I think there are many people who would like more precise detail about this.

    David Griffin

  2. Thanks for this background, Nick.

    I must have missed the posts implying no connection with Whare Ra folk. I'd love one day for someone to write a big, fat book on all the connections and interconnections between various folk and various groups :)

    It is lovely you received Percy's Nemyss. I have heard a few anecdotes about this remarkable man from the late VH Fr Vedim Dedico and his daughter. :)

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  4. 93

    I did choose to look up your biography and blog (in fairness to you) and I must agree (much as I rue to admit it, as I find many of his points ranty if not rude)with David Griffin that you have not really given a background describing your actual background and lineage. You mention initiation into a derived, but not GD order (OTR)and speak about chats with Whare Ra members, but not formal tuteledge in GD magic or initiation.
    I am not out for blood and don't seek to level any animosity towards you (its not unknown so i will add this comment), but what is your specific background, training and lineage. Have you ever worked with an iniatory GD order and passed through the grades thereof? This is not clear to me from any of the biographical material I have read from you thus far.
    Do you claim lineage through working with post GSD orders (BOTA, SOL,OTR) or do you have a specific GD background?
    Feel free to comment privately, but I think a clear answer to this question would also quieten other, more discenting voices,


    Frater Docet Umbra

  5. I don't tend to talk about my lineage because it ends up being a pissing contest with others in he GD and I am not really into that. It is largely irrelevant in many ways.
    It is publicly known that I went through every initiation and passed every test in Chic Ciceros HOGD from 0=0 to ZAM. I would have qualified for the next grade but was unable to play a game of Enochian chess with the chiefs. I ran an HOGD temple in the UK under the Ciceros for nearly a decade. I resigned from that group and remain friendly with them (ie I was not booted out).
    I was also trained in several other GD related traditions for about 12 years before that and received direct training from Whare Ra adepts for a number of years in Hawkes Bay. It was at this groups' invitation that I was initiated into OTR.
    All this is only part of the story of course, but is the only bit I will talk about. Not sure it really even mentions my lineage :-)

  6. 93

    Perhaps not lineage, but background and experience. A persons biography, teachers, experiences and affiliations tell a lot about who a person is. Biography is one of the single most honest forms of magickal work and teaching because it communicates not just knowledge but self and life as an integrated whole. The more one knows about a person, the more one can empathise, and share. I think a person who sets themselves up as a teacher (which i have no qualm with) conveys more than just knowledge, but an example of a magickal lifestyle. Without such, I would find it very difficult to find a connection to such a teacher.
    Thank you for sharing some of your path.


    Frater Docet Umbra

  7. I believe it is up to Nick to write about as much of his past as he wants to, to his close friends and trusted acquantances I am sure all is revealed.

    Like all friendships and relationships, you reveal a little at a time, its give and take and no one is entitled to someones private history without having earned the trust and friendship that should naturally precede such a disclosure.

    I for one found the above article very interesting, but I am not going to forcefully probe and arm bend for further info...that is not my place nor anyones, afterall it is Nicks blog.

    Why not try befriending him and proving yourself worthy first?

    That would be a more appropriate and respectable protocol to follow Frater 93.