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

Wednesday 16 March 2011

10 Signs that an occult leader has lost the plot

Leaders of esoteric groups are in a difficult position trying to balance their own spiritual path with helping others. Sometimes it all proves too much and they go off the rails. However there are 10 basic signs that things are about to go pear shaped which followers should react to.
Mathers never went off the rails.  No way!

  1. They start thinking that they, and their group are actually important. Perhaps the most famous esoteric order in the world – the Golden Dawn – had a fewer than 130 members in its history. Whare Ra had much more than that, but significantly not much more. One of the largest Golden Dawn groups in the World is run by Chic Cicero. It has some 20 temples with, on average, 15 members each. All this adds up to being absolutely tiny in the scale of things. Even Wicca (which is huge) has group leaders which can only really claim control of about 24 people at most. In the scale of world such leaders claiming they, or their orders, are important, are worth listening to are fairly pathetic.
  2. They start claiming that they are the re-incarnation of a famous occultist. This means psychologically they know that their personality is not up to scratch and they have to borrow someone else's. What is interesting is that often by nicking the personality of another they end up exhibiting some of that person's faults and life story.  A similar problem to this one is that they start claiming grades which put them above the riff-raff still further.  Often this is done under the authority of secret chiefs (who are never around to sign a certificate or answer questions from other people).  However it is harder to argue against a person who claims that they are a 10=1 because their Secret Chief gave them the grade in honour of their magical ability.
  3. They take a lot of drugs or start drinking. This is a common problem it means that the person is seeking to escape the real world and live in one where they are seen as important.
  4. They decide to pack in their day job and live off their students or their Order. This indicates that they are losing touch with material reality.
  5. They start claiming authority from Secret Chiefs or Invisible beings. The only authority comes from God. All else is advice. Secret Chiefs, or contacts, do not tell people what to do. They provide information and guidance in terms of spiritual principles. Some chiefs claim that difficult or unpopular decisions come at the demand of Secret Chiefs or contact. They can say “It is not me that is refusing you this grade it is “Anubis””. The answer to that is “if Anubis told you to jump off the great pyramid would you do it?” The point here is that Secret Chiefs and Contacts are supposed to help you individualise and that sort of relationship is one of dependence.
  6. They ask you to give you all their money or want to shag you or your partner to assist your spiritual path. Sometimes they will even change their order structure to make sure they get a shag. One OTO group had a habit of promoting young attractive women faster so that they could be used for sex magic by the chiefs sooner.
  7. They start to become incredibly paranoid. This is a symptom of number one. As they start to inflate their importance they start to think that everyone is out to get them. Paranoia is a sign of a weak personality which is often over inflated. One person once accused me of doing black magic against them... this surprised me as I had never actually thought about them. In my universe they were not that important to be bothered with let alone do magic about. One thing that they will do is scan essays, articles and Internet posts desperate for proof that others are talking about them. They will see attacks that are not there and misquote and bend sentences so that they constitute an attack.
  8. They feel the need to attack other orders, personalities and systems. It is a sign that they have nothing, that they will label and attack other groups. In occultism, those who can, do. Those who can't, attack others that can. Such types will not just attack those who are better magicians, but they will attack any group which they see as a threat. If they are dependent on the money from their Order, or the status it provides for their broken personalities, then they will often attack groups that are more commercially successful.
  9. They lose any sense of humour.
  10. They believe their own bullshit. Lots of occult leaders create stories about themselves or their orders. Paul Foster Case and Anne Davies were great at this. Davies once said that Master R manifested a statue of the Madonna on her bookshelf to cheer her up!  However such stories were always presented for the incredulous and it is unlikely that anyone ever believed them. However it is a sign that a leader really has lost the plot when they start to believe such stories, even in the face of evidence (such as they were in the wrong town when the story is alleged to have taken place).
If your esoteric group leader starts manifesting any of these symptoms you have to take them to one side and find out what is wrong. Most likely they will throw you out, but if they fail to listen you should leave. Trust in the universe that you will find new teachers. It is not that they are bad, it is just that they are going through some shit and need to sort it out. If they are not going to sort it out, you need to leave before things turn very ugly. Remember that they are only manifesting these problems because they are a bit broken. The reason they react badly is because they know you are right.

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.

Monday 14 March 2011

List of things that are unimportant to the Golden Dawn Tradition

As an extension to my “List of things you thought were true about the Golden Dawn but weren't”, below is a list of things that huge chunks of Internet bandwidth are wasted on.
These give outsiders and insiders the impression that they are important. Yet the Golden Dawn Tradition can safely do without them.

The myth: That it is incredibly important to have a connection with the original Golden Dawn. It is vital that your group claims some lineage.
The reality: If Lineage had any magical use the GD would be dead in the water as there would not be a Golden Dawn order in existence that could claim it. For Lineage to take place you would require written permission from the Chiefs of the last surviving Orders given to a fully initiated person of at least Tham.
Felkin:  No lineage for you, you
you naughty rebel,
Magically there is no advantage in having your chief received a piece of paper signed by another chief. What matters is the ability of your temple and its officers to initiate. Felkin had no warrant to set up the SM from Mathers or Westcott, but his temple between the 1920s and 1960's was staggering. Later the temple gradually lost this ability. Lineage with Whare in the 1970s was only marginally more useful than lineage to the Westlife fan club.
It is a moot point whether the original Golden Dawn was anything more than a co-masonic group with very little magic on offer. Linking to this might not be as interesting as you think.
In my view it is more important who taught you and what you learnt. This is a sort of spiritual lineage. If your teacher was a barking mad person who knew nothing about magic and insisted you wear a kettle on your head, then your spiritual lineage is less important than if you were taught by Jesus.

Secret Chiefs
Myth: The Chief Adept of every Order talks to secret chiefs and this gives them special powers to teach and initiate.
Reality: Secret Chiefs creates an air of mystery around the Chief Adept and raises them to almost Pope-like status. There are two flavours of Secret Chief: those who are real people and those who are 'contacts'. Contacts are the most common these days however you still find Secret Chiefs popping out of the woodwork. Mathers was so desperate to meet them that he considered Mrs Horos a secret chief until she turned out to be a con-woman.
There is something that happens when you take some responsibility for a group but anthropomorphising this is not helpful. As Chic Cicero once told me that you do not need to search for Secret Chiefs, if you are doing the work they come looking for you.
You certainly do not need to believe in them, or accord yourself status thanks to your connection to them. It is a bit like accord yourself status when you turn on the light switch because you have bought light to dark places.
Secret Chiefs, or contacts, are similar to Platonic Ideas, which the leadership has to bring through into what ever flavour school they are doing. In fact they never need to be mentioned at all. Some Chiefs would think that these would be their own ideas, and no one else in the world could tell them otherwise.

Westcott forged the Sprengel letters
Myth: It is very important that Westcott did not forge the Sprengel documents because it weakens the Golden Dawn if it had no connection to continental magic groups.

Reality: When you are doing your lesser ritual of the pentagram you are unlikely to think about Sr Sprengel or whether or not Westcott had the right to set up the Golden Dawn. You get initiated, you have your magical experiences, you train in it as your path.
The fact that the Golden Dawn system worked is proof of Sprengel's existence was unimportant because the most important changes were done without her. .
Sprengel disappeared long before the Golden Dawn became magical and Mathers wrote the 5=6 material. She also did not help correcting the rituals or writing the lessons. All she did was give permission for the GD to run and it is a moot point as to whether that was required.

The origin of the Cipher documents is vital

Myth: If they were written by one prominent magician or another is vital to the Golden Dawn.
Cipher Manuscripts:  Never seen
and forgotten.
Reality: The Cipher Manuscripts are not particularly important to the over all development of the Golden Dawn. They provided a structure for Mathers and Westcott to build the outer order. They required a lot of fleshing out to be usable. Most members of the Golden Dawn never saw them. While I think they were written by McKenzie, there is little to suggest that it would have made any difference to GD history if they were written by Butler Lytton or Enid Blyton.

Myth: It was important that you believed in re-incarnation to carry out your GD work.
Reality: Some people did and some didn't. Dion Fortune's student William Butler said that it was important to accept re-incarnation as a working theory. For years I did this. Now I don't. As a theory it did not work and lead to silliness. My magical ability did not change a bit and it saved me having to worry about the fate of Atlantis.

Myth: The Golden Dawn was a Christian Order.
Reality: Although there were moves to Christianise the later Golden Dawn groups the template of the Outer Order is not specific. The second order is Christian but in an incredibly wide sense. Jesus is not really seen as the Nazarene, but more of a force of divine forgiveness within the universe. This has meant that it can be seen as Christian, pagan or neutral according to the group minds of users.

Myth: As you go up the ladder of grades you become a better magician thanks to the doors that are opened by the initiation rituals. It is therefore more important to have a chief who is the highest grade possible (7=4 and above).
The grades of the Order
Status who needs it?
Reality: Grades are important to provide structure to the work. But there is no magical status in them.
The grade rituals do have an effect but only at a level that the person is able to receive it at the time. The rituals provide doorways and there is no guarantee that anyone will walk through them.
There is no consistency about what a grade means between different Golden Dawn Orders as grades are given to students for different reasons. Some orders insist that a person receive a grade for sitting a test, others prefer that a person shows signs of magical ability or alchemical changes in their personality. Other people get grades by shagging their initiator, or paying large sums of money. One group can make you spend 15 years to get to NAM while another will stick you through the grades in a weekend.
Real status is your experience and your ability to let the magic change you. If you are 10=1 and spend your days trying to cheat your fellow man, and try to tear down the work of others then you are not even a 0=0.

Myth: The Golden Dawn is an intellectual order and everything has to be seen and understood by the mind.
Reality: No one intellectually understands the Golden Dawn system. It is a spiritual- magic process. Intellect is useful, you can intellectualise experience and write long tomes about it, but at the end of the day it is what you do and your connection to the One Thing that matters.

The name Golden Dawn is important
Myth: The name the Golden Dawn defines the tradition and is important for any Golden Dawn group to have
Reality: In the history of the Golden Dawn, the Order used that name the least (just ten years). It was also called the Alpha et Omega, The Stella Matutina and Smaragdum Thalasses much longer than it was ever called Golden Dawn. No one ever suggested that the name of the order ever changed the work of the order.
Changing the name was a good way of avoiding it becoming public or associated with scandal. It also was a good method of dividing the group mind if your group splintered away from another group.