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Attending Workshops

Writing in his blog, a chief of a modern AO Order,  David Griffin claimed that there were Golden Dawn Orders that had told there members that they were forbidden to attend his Golden Dawn conference later this year. My first thought was “what autocratic Order would be dumb enough to do such a thing?” Then I realised that it was actually possible.
Chic and Tabatha Workshop in the 1990s.  I was in
David Goddard’s  Pharos Group at the time and had hair.
I left New Zealand to attend occult conferences and workshops. Throughout the 1990s I dont think there was a single one that I could have gone to that I did not. Some of them were run by people who were involved with the Order that I was with at the time – Servants of the Light, others were names of people’s whose books I had read. I learnt an awful lot in that time and saw many different approaches to magic. I was also able to form impressions of different Orders and systems.
One of the workshops I actually ran was for Chic and Tabitha Cicero, which was how I actually met them.
When forming my own group it never occurred to me that people would not do the same things. There is a difference between learning from other groups and joining them. Some groups work better with the Golden Dawn tradition than others. The Magical Order of the Aurora Aurea follows The HOGD and Regardie as seeing membership Crowley’s OTO as incompatible with membership with out order. But we do not ban people from attending public workshops or Gnostic Masses. The same thing applies to dual membership of other Golden Dawn groups.
But it would be against everything I stand for to forbid an individual from gaining additional knowledge in any way they can. It is also a sign of insecurity when a group leader forbids anyone anything. If you have confidence in yourself, and your own system you do not need to ban anyone from anything. In fact more often people will go away to these conferences, and come back with stories about how one famous Golden Dawn teacher stuck the pillars in front of the altar in the 0=0 or could not tell the difference between the banner of the east and west.
That being the case there was a mentality in some groups that they were the font of all knowledge and that other Order material was suspect. BOTA, when I was involved with it in the 1980s in New Zealand, had this approach (I am told that this was unique to Will Chesterman). The claim is that it is damaging to the group mind to allow foreign teachings to influence the mind of a student. While this might be true if your Order was perfect and had everything, you are taking away from your student the ability to think, to reason, and to become individualised. If you have read my book Gathering the Magic, you will see that I think that individualisation is the the goal of the outer order. A good order does not act like an autocratic parent, threatening its students with its own insecurities, it lets them learn.
How many people can take the Golden Dawn knowledge papers, as they are written, and form them into something coherent? The point about the Golden Dawn system is that it is a chalice of symbolism in which an adept pours their magic. Telling a student what they can and can’t do might make for a nice shiny chalice but it stops the flow of magic.
I circulated the details of David’s conference amongst my members and left it up to them if they attended, which is what I think all Golden Dawn teachers should do.  Those that do not should really think about what kind of students they are hoping to create.

4 thoughts on “Attending Workshops

  1. Thanks for the post, Nick.

    I am surprised that such things still go on. Back in the darkness of the early 80s many Perth Wiccan covens forbade the reading of certain books, as did our one magical “Order”. I would have thought with the internet and online forums where members of one Order can mix it up with another, this would have stopped. Oh well..

    I do like the idea of simply passing on information and allowing students to judge for themselves. However, being honest there are one or two people in Australia that I do speak out about and would only pass on event info with commentary, if at all. I am talking about people with a criminal history (found guilty in law courts) etc. I would not “forbid” (how could I?) my students to attend, but I would point them to some documented evidence of my concerns as well.

    OK, thanks 🙂

  2. Hey Peregrin,

    I’m not an initiate of Wicca but from what I’ve learned talking to those that are they often straddle the margins when comes to events or activities that might cause problems for people. Personally I think if one can’t endorse or vouch for someone on a personal or professional level they shouldn’t do. This is quite different from telling a seeker or student not to attend or visit them.

    Also when comes to initiated traditions then people often conflate open workshops and events with validation of one’s magical credentials. There are many witches and magicians whom I’d be happy to learn from but not necessarily join in with but sometimes events do splinter and people take sides.

    In regards to Nick’s situation, to the best of my knowledge he’s never prohibited anyone from MOAA from attending David Griffin’s convention. Its a shame David Griffin feels this to be a personal slight on his person.

    1. I dunno he seems to make his members sign an NDA and warns those that break it that they will face a court case. I don’t know if he has ever sued any one.
      I tend to rely on the servants of Maat. They might slay where no man slays but they are cheaper than lawyers :-).

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