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Saturday 5 March 2011

Nick Farrell unfair to cyclists

It has been bought to my attention that there are those who feel that my book “Mathers' Last Secret” is unfair to cyclists. The common thread in the complaint is that I fail to understand the esoteric importance of cycling to the western mystery tradition. By making comparisons between a working magical lodge (good) and cycling (bad) I have understated the importance of cycling generally.
A meeting of Waite's Holy Order
It is well known that it is vital that people are aware that Mathers and Westcott cycled and that to truly understand the Golden Dawn we have to understand cycling. Apparently it is vital that the male bike is used as the ladies bike is apparently irregular and devoid of any mystery what-so-ever. Westcott and Mathers may have formed the Golden Dawn so that ladies could ride male bikes, but this was not mentioned in the cipher documents.
For many centuries male cyclists have directly influenced the Western Mystery Tradition. Anyone who takes part in cycling will find it deeply moving, while those who take part in a Magical ritual will be unable to walk home and will find their lives deeply altered.
Now I want to make this clear. I have no problem with cycling and feel it has a place. Indeed for many years I was in an esoteric cycling group which met at Great Queen Street. However I do not think that cycling is anything in comparison to the magical experiences that I have had. It is not as if I have not seen other cycling groups, but they do seem similar. I always feel that in comparison to a 0=0 or 5=6 initiation, tearing around the block on a ten-speed is simply not comparing like with like. There have been times that I have wondered how the magical tradition of the Golden Dawn emerged from cycling at all as it appears to be two different things.
Critics say that cycling is a vital part of magic. If I had studied continental cycling, or even Scottish cycling (which has 33 degrees depending on what tartan you are wearing) apparently I would be aware how important it all was.
I am not certain however that this is the case. A magical ritual to me is a layered experience. According to the AO and SM you would visualise a temple, packed with appropriate godforms you would then see energy flowing throughout the ritual and symbolic information psychically. With cycling you just sit and peddle on one level.
It is fairly clear to me that Mathers and Westcott believed that cycling was the way forward, (certainly around the block) and they took this into the AO. Waite also tried to enforce cycling in his Isis Urania temple. This later evolved so that his Holy Order even developed more cycling degrees and bicycle clips.
However the likes of Brodie Innes and Felkin considered cycling unnecessarily to spiritual growth and insisted that people learn magic instead. It is from these people that the Western Magical Tradition began and in my view the modern Golden Dawn came from.
Needless to say I have felt no need to adopt cycling within the Magical Order of the Aurora Aurea. Neither do we consider it important that people are able to ride a bike without stablisers as I have seen some GD groups insist. That is not to say cycling has its place, but it is probably a distraction to real magical work.

Monday 28 February 2011

Revolution in an Esoteric Order

YOU GO AWAY for a few weeks and it seems that everything changes. There are revolts in Egypt and Libya and now my inbox is full of news that Robert Zink has been “expelled from his own order”, along with comments from Robert that esoteric orders are not a democracy and you cannot expel a chief.
Unfortunately for those who have rebelled, Robert is right, unlike Egypt or Libya you cannot simply rebel.  When someone forms a school or an order it is an extension of their teaching system. To learn, students have to sign up for it, for better or for worse. The administration of an order can be democratised to a point, similar to the Round Table of Arthur's Knights or the Senate in Imperial Rome. But ultimately the teaching of the order rests on one person's vision and they are the only one which can implement that vision.
However this is not the same thing, as Robert has been claiming, “that there is only one adept” and all must obey. Instead it is more that a leader has created a one universe that all in that universe must work within otherwise they are not doing it “right”.
The question which Robert's rebels have had to face is “what do you do if you disagree with the chief and his universe?” There is only one honourable and respected path here. You quit.
You take those who believe in your ideas and set up an alternative school based around your own concepts. You send back all the course material you have received and write your own. In short you become the Chief with a new school and tradition.
What I will say next will not impress the rebels and will probably break many inter order protocols but will stand as a bit of a warning. For your revolt to succeed and your temples to continue you must form your own order based around the new ideas you have. You must jettison those elements within your Order which made it Robert Zink's vision of the Golden Dawn. Otherwise you will be condemned to repeat all the mistakes of the EOGD and end up much like the pigs in Animal Farm. 
Before anyone evokes the revolt of the adepts in the original Golden Dawn as a precedent, lets be clear that they were all aware that the moment the revolt took place that they had to set up new Orders. Mathers set up his AO, the rebels set up Morgan Roth (after calling themselves the Hermetic Society). The later split into the Stella Matutina and the Holy Order as another rift developed between the Masons and the Magicians.
Firstly the rebels have attacked Robert Zink and made him the scapegoat for all their problems. This was an error. It raises darker questions. Many of them have built their esoteric careers thanks to Robert. They took grades from him and if he was doing wrong, you were willing allies to the Golden Dawn image he created. Comments about Robert's methods have existed for more than a decade and most of them were his loyal lieutenants. No one outside the order believes for a moment that he acted on his own without their  knowledge, help and blessing. If the list of sins against Robert is as detailed as they say, he certainly was not sending out emails, setting up websites, attacking other orders by himself. It seems unlikely that in a hierarchical organisation any of you could have risen to the top by disagreeing with the Chief Adept, so implication in his “crimes” is almost certain.
There are many who left the Esoteric Order who never met Robert Zink who never the less suffered at the hands of the chiefs of his temples. If Robert was behaving badly, his temple chiefs must have, at the very least, been towing the line and obeying orders.
Looking at the list of those who have rebelled, I noticed that three of them have not only kept the grades that they received at Robert's hands but have rushed to take upon themselves his titles. I also noticed that there was the assurance that the temple was going to continue to run “Power Weekends” which are Robert's idea and framed in his “sales speak” language. In short they appear to be keeping the Esoteric Order running in the same manner as it always has. So what was the point of a revolt?
It appears, to the outsider, be a simple power grab from within the order against the leadership, rather than a Geboric attempt to remove an errant leader. If this perception is wrong, then it is unfortunate, especially as there equally appears to be among the rebels those who believed they were doing the right thing in removing a person they thought was doing the wrong things.
The problem is that Robert has been doing these things for a very long time and it seems strange that there seems to be an epiphany that has suddenly become moralistic and clearly unable to see their involvement.
The only way anyone can do the “right thing” is to set up a new order with a completely different egregore. This would give everyone a break from the past and allow a new order to grow from the ashes of the old.
Do not think that I am siding with Robert in all this.  I think the way he has handled the revolt is equally incorrect.   Once a revolt happens on this magnitude the Chief has to hand on the order to a chosen successor or set up his Order, under a new name. Robert should understand that the current situation is an indication that what ever started the Esoteric Order wants a change of focus and the status quo is no longer viable. You cannot say, like I notice Gaddafi is also trying, that there is no revolt and you have lost no territory. If the list is as long as it appears Robert has lost almost all of his temples. However if you have three or four people loyal you can always start again.
Robert needs to take those who remain loyal to him and use them as the nucleus for a new group which follows his direction. He will now be free to run his courses or another order in the way he likes. Unlike the rebels, he does not have to rewrite too much of his material, unless he wants to take advantage of the break to make things work better according to his vision.
The Esoteric Order of the Golden Dawn as we know it is over. If everyone, rebels or Robert, try to maintain the status quo its death will get messy.   There will be legal arguments and copyright feuds, and both sides will attack until they are exhausted. The lessons of the EOGD need to be learned by both sides and the methods not done the same way. Otherwise history will just repeat itself and there will be more revolts from those who believe that it is possible to ascend in an occult order by bumping off the chief. This is a bad thing for any occult order.  It is clear that what ever was being done in the Esoteric Order was not right for the GD egregore and reform was needed.
I wish both sides in this success and that their groups will grow and develop the Golden Dawn tradition. But there is a lot of work on both sides to create new groups from the Esoteric Order and at the moment both sides think they can rule using the old ways. But occult groups do not work like that and it is time for something new.