Category Archives: Nick Farrell

The new Golden Dawn fundamentalist trend goes no where

In the last few years, a clique of fundamentalist occultists has emerged who claim that they are following the Original Golden Dawn system. They cut off all developments after Mathers was expelled. For those who don’t know, the central focus for this change means that the god-awful portal ritual in which the student is subjected to a boring lecture on diagrams and the Masonic style of giving the passwords and a funny handshake is superior to the longer more magical ritual which most people know about.  The original ritual can be seen in my Mathers Last Secret Book because the AO could not be bothered changing it themselves.

So is there anything in the original Golden Dawn teachings that is better than the off-shoots by the rebels?  The rituals are shorter and less poetic and closer to the Masonic model, some of the elements which most people like about the GD or the AO were not in the original.  The mindset is more of co-masonry or SIRA with a downplaying of the magical elements (in the early GD the second order had not been adequately integrated into the second order…. indeed the moment that the second order was developed (and Mathers delivered the Tham papers) the London adepts started to rebel). It was new wine into old skins, and the Order had to restructure to accommodate it.

There is nothing in human history where the first draft is always better than the final copy. If you write a ritual or paper and it creates something living within you that act will unlock something new in you. You will then see the universe through that new information, and the original information will have to be changed and adapted.  To say that the original Golden Dawn documents and rituals were perfect on their first draft implies that Mathers and Westcott were gods who had a clear perception of what the GD was and what it would do.

However, we know that this was not the case.  When the original rituals were written there were no perceptions of a second order and the vision was a form of SRIA which included women. Information was still coming into the order as late as ten years after.  It implies that not only were Mathers and Westcott gods, but the rebels who followed them were idiots who did not know what they were doing.  If this were the case, then the GD system failed because it did not train anyone who could carry it on.  Westcott and Mathers were not initiated using their rituals, so that means that if the rebels were failures, then it means that the original rituals did not work.

The issue here is that occultism is about time, training, focus and development. The follow-on orders had more time to understand and work with the rituals to know what needed to change and for students to develop parts of the ceremonies unworked by the founders.  More modern students have even more advantages of applying information and teaching which was less accessible to those in the 19/20th centuries.

Claiming that the rebels (or the AO) were stupid for bringing in changes (such as the portal ritual and another teaching) implies a smug superiority born of insecurity. I would rather sit and talk occultism with Yeats, Mrs Mathers, Felkin, Brodie Innes, Taylor or any of the old Whare Ra members than any of these back to the early Golden Dawn types.  All of them followed the GD system for most of their lives

Most fundamentalist quests are based on insecurities and inexperience and a hope that a human document is correct and cannot be changed.

If a single document or collection documents or rituals can be defined as “right”, then it means that others are wrong.  If you follow this perfect document, you are “right”, and that rightness counters any gnawing personality problems.  A fundamentalist must focus their intellect on one set of documents which reduces conflicts and enables a form of intellectual mastery which allows even a stupid person to look good. As a result, such movements are counter-evolutionary and opposed to intellectual development and therefore anti-magic which has been evolutionary from the start. Sure enough one of the standard bearers for this fundamentalist  approach has already lectured me on the merits of a Masonic approach to the GD.

For those who came in late, a masonic approach means doing the ritual without godforms, suppressing magical claims and then having a good dinner afterwards while feeling happy and secure that you have higher grades than the rest of the people in your group.

Fundamentalism is always the swan song of a spiritual system before its collapse and replacement with something more akin to human life. Of course, this is where I get it in the neck for disagreeing with them. Fundamentalists are not a big fan of those who disagree with them.  It implies they are wrong and if they are wrong then the universe where they, and only they, are important is under attack.

 

Beyond the Sun is out

The rewrite of the history of Dr Felkin and Whare Ra, along with the 7=4 and 6=5 rituals is now out through Skylight Press, who also did my Magical Imagination book.

For those who saw the now improbably rare first edition, the book is much larger.  It goes much more into the Whare Ra history from its beginning to closure.  it looks at its involvement with Anne Davies and Paul Case and looks the the reason for its demise.

It also looks at the rituals and recounts some of the experiences of those who went through it and provides some of the teachings that they receieved.   It also deals with some of my own experiences meeting and working with Whare Ra people.

Felkin has been dubbed the fool of the Golden Dawn by those who like to believe that the GD was working along masonic lines and that nothing was being channeled by secret chiefs. However all of the Golden Dawn was doing inner work, and all of them were channelling secret chiefs in some way.  In that respect Felkin was no more foolish than Westcott or Mathers.

Reading of Felkin’s adventures is like something from a Victorian Boy’s Own  magazine. He was a hard bitten missionary who travelled through Egypt during a war zone, met Gordon of Kartoom before he was killed. Avoided marterdom in West Africa and was an expert in tropical medicine.

I have to say the book would have been impossible were it not for the help received from Tony Fuller who helped considerably in providing me with information.  More details can be found here.

 

21ST CENTURY MAGIC – a lecture given at the XVIII Foro ACCE in Nerja

The following is the speech I wrote for the XVIII Foro ACCE in Nerja Spain in 2017. In fact I tinkered with the talk considerably “on the fly” to adjust for the audience. I went over time and was only about half way through what follows. Still it was a great time, and my first time in Spain.

Magicians living in the 21st century are living in a time of transformation where the structures upon which magic is built are changing. Magic has emerged from an effective 2000-year-old slumber where practitioners lived in fear of their neighbours reporting them to the authorities. There was a flowering at the end of the 19th century with the likes of the Golden dawn, Alister Crowley and Dion Fortune, this nearly died out after WW2 until the late 1960s when it resurrected itself again in the 1980s.

But this current situation magic might not remain and in fact the movement might move underground again.  Any current renaissance you might see is doomed unless there are some major changes in the way that magicians see themselves and the society which surrounds them

The 20th century magical revolution failed because of several key reasons.  It was over-laden with baggage from the Christian dark-ages, including masonic and theosophical structures, it watered itself down under the influence of the New Thought or New Age movement and it secularised too much under the chaos and psychological magical models.

The result is a quasi-institutionalised hierarchical system, recycling new age mantras, about self-transformation of the psyche and other things which were once a component of magic but not the main event. It has become light, fluffy and peppered with images of crystal unicorns and rainbows with practitioners who insist on renaming themselves like Rob Wind-Breaker, Melissa Wolf-Spirit.

Many “magicians” are now those who have read a few books and might do a couple of rituals a year while claiming that they are working on their personalities to tackle actual or perceived neurosis.

When you compare this image of the modern magician with those who followed the hermetic current from the dawn of time you see our problem here.

Historically magicians were not nice.  They were often bad tempered distant times who did not play nice with others.  Sure they might have overcome some of their “issues” so that they could function in the real world but the real adepts I have met were not saccharin types pretending to be Jesus or Buddha.

A magical adept is a person who is most themselves. To put it simply.

“I did not choose to incarnate into this form of existence to be Jesus or Buddha. Something else has already done that job – my only purpose is to be Nick Farrell and I have to do that to the best of my ability.”

Life is a story and you are the hero. You cannot steal someone else’s character in this story you must be you, otherwise your story is going to fail. Heroes cannot suddenly say “I don’t want to kill this dragon, I think I will take up origami instead” equally stories are full of the dangers of walking off the path.

Therefore, a magician is one who says this is my path, I am who am and from that the story begins. If I fail at something in my life that is part of the story from which I have climb back. This is the opposite of the New Age self-improvement victim blaming myth which says all things are caused by bad thinking. While the New Ager might say “shit happens to me because I caused it” a magician says “shit has happened I have to change it.”

These two attitudes lead to different life approaches.  A New Ager would say “that person is poor because of the bad decisions in their life, they need to visualise and think more positively.”

The Magician says “this person is in a difficult part of their story, what can I do to help.”

But one of the problems we have with 21st century magic is that it is system of thought which has not been defined. If you ask a modern magician “what is magic” they will confidently quote Crowley that “Magic is the Science and Art of causing Change to occur in conformity with Will” or Dion Fortune that “Magic is the art and science of changing consciousness at will.”

These definitions have one thing in common.  They do not define magic at all.

Magic does cause change to occur in conformity with will but so does flicking a light switch.  No one constructs a ritual to create a cup of coffee, they get water, fill up the coffee machine and put coffee in. If it is my will to have coffee I do not need magic.

Dion Fortune’s definition leans heavily on psychology and implies that magic requires changes of consciousness, but the reality is that it doesn’t, some magical techniques involve changing conscious but not everything involves going to the inner planes or getting into a relaxed state.

Let’s prove it by all doing a really basic magical ritual to get something we really want – something simple.

Before we start the key thing about this experiment is the Divine name IAO – Iota, Alpha and Omega which is pronounced Ee AH Oh.  As a name it is associated with Christ in revelation saying I am the Alpha and Omega… the beginning and end.  But the name is much older than that.  First it was the Greek at-tempt to phonetically say the Hebrew name of god, Tetragramatron, Yod Heh Vav Heh. Before that though it was a divine name of Jupiter and was uttered in the Greek Mysteries.  In Greek Magical Paprii it is one of the names of power for the divine light.  In the Golden Dawn tradition it is the name which brings down the divine light and unites God with Matter… so it is very powerful.

So let’s first have a crack at vibrating it because it is key part of this little ritual we are going to do.

(audience vibrates IAO)

So lets have a think about something small that we might want, it might be that we would like a bit more cash, love, or anything really.  For the purposes of this experiment it does not matter.  Just some-thing you want.

Now think of an image of that thing.  If it is money, like most of you are thinking about now see it as a simple gold coin, if it is general love see a symbol of a valentine, if it is someone specific see an image of them kissing you… you get the general idea.  Now visualise that symbol rising up in the air until it is half-way between you and the roof.

Now look to the ceiling and imagine a sphere of white light.  This represents all you expect from God, just abstracted.

Now vibrate the name IAO three times at the white sphere.

Now I want you to vibrate the letter I and see white light descend from the ceiling hit the image of the thing you want

See the white light hit that image and it comes alive now vibrate the letter A

Now see the image and the white then come down and connect to your aura and vibrate O.

Time will tell if you get what you desire and we would like to hear back from you, after all we just got a theatre full of people doing a magical experiment and it would be rather good to know what happened.

So what is it that you learnt from that ritual?

Firstly, you did not change consciousness, you connected with something to make something happen.  You did not actually change anything, at least not immediately.  There was no divine will you were obey-ing your personal will to get something you wanted and you were effectively negotiating with the divine to get it.

So we get closer to understanding what magic is when we start to think of it as a god. In fact the Ancient Egyptians personified Magic and called it Heka.  He was depicted as a man with his arms in the form of an old pre-digital TV aerial.

If you are a monotheist you can see it as god in action. Either way Magic is the raw energy of God in action which the magician is trying to direct in a way he or she wants.

If you go back through time to the first magicians, who were probably shamans, the central part of what they were doing was working with spirits and gods.

And here we come to the central issue of the 21st century. Most occultists become very uncomfortable when you start talking about God. Most of this is due to a bad experience in their upbringing.  Some mix and match things they like from one religion while rejecting most of the key parts of it. Others adopt all the attitudes and morals of Christianity, but project it on to a new Goddess or God. But the vast majori-ty, like many in the 21st century see themselves as spiritual rather than identifying themselves with a specific religion.

As someone who walked away from Christianity in my late teens, I really understand that, but if magic is an interaction with Heka then it is something we need to overcome.  It might help if we work out what a God is.

Personally I see God as an abstract infinite field of intelligent energy which creates a universe within itself as part of its process of trying to understand itself.  Because humanity is conscious it is dimly aware of its divine nature. So it has some of the same characteristics of that intelligent and conscious divine field of energy.

Before we visualised God as a ball of white light which was total abstract. Humans have attempted to understand that un-unstandable ball of light   through-out their evolution.  Infinity is too big.  So what they did was break it up into different functions and give each a mask.  Because we have some of those divine creative qualities in ourselves those masks became “real.”  Ancient humans terrified by a lightning storm made that aspect of God into Zeus, or Jupiter, or YHVH and started to build up myths and stories about those gods to explain those powers. Priests appeared to regulate the worship of these gods.

However, a magician has a different view of Gods which is not quite the same as religion.  The magician knows that they are masks.  They know that they are bit and powerful, and can be activated by worship, but they don’t worship them.

The fantasy writer Terry Pratchett put it well when he said:

“Most witches don’t believe in gods. They know that the gods exist, of course. They even deal with them occasionally. But they don’t believe in them. They know them too well. It would be like believ-ing in the postman.”

To that I would add that the magician respects the gods and will often stand in awe of them, but the role of the relationship is different.  The Magician works with the Gods.

We can see that in the difference between a magical invocation and a prayer. On the surface, they are similar.  Both tend to start by stating how big and powerful the God is.  For the follower, such statements are simple devotion. To quote Monty Python:

“Oh Lord, oooh you are so big. So absolutely huge. Gosh, we’re all really impressed down here I can tell you. Forgive us, O Lord, for this dreadful toadying and barefaced flattery. But you are so strong and, well, just so super. Fantastic. Amen.”

But for a magician the statements are aligning themselves to those power aspects of the mask which they are hoping to turn into the ritual.  Moreover, they are taking those divine titles and weaving them into the form of a god about them.

So if you take the Priest in the Roman Catholic Eucharist rite, he will take the wafer and ask god to make them into the blood and body of Jesus.  Compare that with the Golden Dawn Magical Eucharist where the “priest” takes on the godform of Osiris and does it himself.

I am Osiris Onnophris who is found perfect before the Gods. I hath said: These are the elements of my Body perfected through suffering, glorified through trial. The scent of the dying Rose is as the repressed sigh of my Suffering. And the flame-red Fire as the energy of mine undaunted Will. And the Cup of Wine is the pouring out of the blood of my heart, sacrificed unto Regeneration, unto the newer life. And the bread and salt are as the foundations of my body, which I destroy in order that they may be renewed.

In a magic ritual then the magician takes on the form of a god to do the work. So today we are going to see what it feels like.  I am going to give you a technique which is stage one in God form working.

So what I want you to do is shut your eyes and relax.  Just hear the sound of my voice and concentrate on your breathing.

Now visualise a small statue of a god or saint or angel which you are familiar with.  See it as about 30 cm.

In your mind’s eye draw it to your groin centre or chakra.

Now imagine your own personal divine light (which is a white sphere over your head)   This is your slice of god which you carry around with you.

Imagine a line of light from that divine source send a line of white gold light down you your back and connect to the statue. Silently say the name of the god you have visualised.

See the statue start to breath and come alive.

With each in breath I want you to see energy come down that line of light into the statue and for it to get bigger

… and bigger

Until it has grown to just below your eyes. The statue’s eyes are shut.

With your mind reach out to the god form inside you connecting with that ancient divine force.

Now allow your consciousness to enter the statue so you become the god.

When I say “now” I want you to open your eyes and see the world as the god sees it.

Now

You are the god looking through the eyes of a human.

Now shut your eyes again.  Thank the god for taking part and with draw from the statue

See the white light withdraw from the statue and see it begin to shrink

And shrink

Until it becomes a tiny dot

Now open your eyes as a human again.

The practical use of this experiment is to take on the divine force of the god in a ritual.   So that when the magician wants something happen it is not them that is asking, but the God itself.

If you think about it, I am too small in the scale of the universe to make anything happen outside my own sphere of control.  But as a god I have the power to negotiate with other gods, or beings.

Throughout the Egyptian Papyri we here this technique constantly used.  The magician says “It is not me that does this but the God who does this.” “It is not Nick Farrell that orders you to change the orbit of the Sun, but it is Helios the god of the Sun who orders this.”

Now one thing you will have realised from your little experiment is that while you might have felt the power of the being you invoked into your Aura there was nothing there which could be remotely called worship.

In fact, the priest of any religion would say that what you had just done was heresy.  You are not supposed to USE the god, you are supposed to reverentially worship it at a distance and, if you are really lucky, that God might not smite you, or may give you a blessing.

Using that technique I just gave you, the magician can stand in sacred space as the God and re-negotiate creation.

A magician works with the Gods, sometimes using one God to order another about. You have a paradox – the magician acknowledges the Gods and their power and yet at the same time is directing them in the same way that someone might turn a stage light onto an actor.

What is more, when a magician uses these divine forces, he or she does not care which is the right religion. Instead of taking a Richard Dawkin’s approach saying all religions are wrong, and god does not exist, the magician says all religions are in some measure true and all Gods exist.

Another important modern magical tool which has been re-discovered and refined under the influence of modern psychology is pathworking.

Pathworking which is broadly the magical use of imagination has been around since the shamanic period. When we look at some of the descriptions of magical events we are very often looking at a pathworking which has been adapted for a ritual.  For example, in the Egyptian Papyri there is process to obtain a divine assistant.  Part of the ritual involves you sitting on your roof until a hawk delivers a special stone which you carve a sacred image upon it. Having tested it both ways I can tell you that the chances of a hawk showing up anywhere let alone with a rock which is capable of being carved is remote.  But, if you invoke Horus and imagine a Hawk coming down from the sun and blessing a rock you have found (which is conveniently flat and is easy to carve) then you get the same magical effect without spending the rest of your life sitting on the roof for a hawk to show up.

Magical journeys to the underworld which are described in myth are clearly pathworkings.  Homer wrote a very vivid description of an underworld magical rite where Odysseus journeys to a specific magical spot does a ritual and then pathworks meetings with the dead.

Pathworking can be a mixed bag. Some of them are just nothing more than barely controlled daydreams but others speak deal truths about ourselves which are more powerful and direct than any oracle or dream.  Still others allow us to interact with divine powers. But magic traditionally had a problem.  While it knew that some pathworkings were real and true, there was no way to separate the sheep from the goats. For example, if a 19th-century magician dreamt of being attacked by a black dog while defending a small girl that since the black dog was a symbol of the Dog Star and the small girl would represent Virgo. Psychology would ask “who is the dreamer and what do they understand by those symbols?” While the symbolic approach would provide a very interesting and esoteric response, the psychological model would give a more practical answer.

As I wrote in my book “Magical Pathworking” pathworking has become more flexible thanks partly to work carried out in the 1970s by psychological researchers. By partly applying the psychological model to pathworking we can see that some of what we imagine is driven by the desires and wishes of the lower self. Sometimes this can be useful, particularly when we are trying to understand our subconscious desires but magically they are less interesting.

The psychological model started to make an impact on magic in the 1930s. It had champions such as Dion Fortune, Paul Case and Israel Regardie. To them, and modern magicians, it provided an explanation of occult processes of the mind. It was especially good at pinpointing those processes which stood in the way of successful living and magical attainment.

If we were doing a ritual and something happens it is vital to rule out any psychological quirks as influencing the working. Divine beings rarely say what we want to hear, so if they suddenly start telling you that you are the new messiah and are going to be the prophet of a New Aeon, and people for generations will be looking to you as the way shower of a new religion then you know that is your ego talking.  Likewise, if you have sudden visions of a past life where you were a high Tibetan Lama, or High Priest of Atlantis and are now some sad alcoholic who can’t get a partner and is doing the same sort of magic you did 30 years ago then you are desperately wanting to be superior so are projecting it back to an imaginary time when you might have been.

We can now define two different types of pathworking the first is subjective which works within a person’s inner kingdom and tells a magician all about themselves and their complexes and wishes.

For example, it was not possible to identify that some esoteric experiences might be fulfilling important, repressed, unconscious desires rather than being an objective spiritual experience. As WE Butler pointed out, a modern psychologist would see some of the experiences of Christian saints as neurotic complexes often based on sexual repression.

The psychological approach also provided an excellent explanation of the processes that a student suffers during the beginning of their training. Teachers with some understanding of what their students were dealing with could help them overcome psychological issues which might have otherwise been misidentified as magical ones. Magical methods could be applied to these psychological processes, like the ones I described in my book Magical Imagination.

But as psychologists started to enter in the magical arena and define or dismiss all magical experiences in psychological terms they started to undo the important parts of magic.  Magical spirits, contacts, gods suddenly became complexes. The complex, and problematic, work of mediation with divine entities was effectively written off as a form of elaborate talking to yourself.

Nearly 50 years after the event, Regardie dismissed the channelling of the Golden Dawn secret chiefs in the Bristol vault as a pointless sub-conscious masturbation, even if they correctly said it was his mission to seed the Golden Dawn current in the US.

But the writing off all occult experiences as subjective and therefore open to psychological interpretation is dangerous. If it is “all in your head,” esoteric experiences are reduced to a nihilistic horror where perception is everything, and there is nothing other than what you experience in your own mind. It is unsurprising then that rather than tempering ego, the psychologically minded occultist has become a basket case of narcissism.

These pathologies of psychology attempt to place the study into the spiritual realm where it does not belong. While useful for mapping the lower aspects of Yesod, it has started to comment on Tiphareth and beyond. It has crossed the line of being helpful and become something to be discouraged. If occultists do not believe in a subjective occult experience, where there are spirits, angels, and gods out there, then they certainly will not have one.

Now let’s look at the role of the occult training in the 21st century. Occult Order in the 21st century which is certainly past its sell by date.  Many occult orders were based on a German book called the Crata Ropia which carefully arranged the grades of the Egyptian mysteries for different groups to follow. It showed the transformation that a magical student had to undergo as part of their magical path.  I published a translation of it because it was important to understand some of the spiritual processes found in the Golden Dawn, which used it as a background document.

The only problem was that we know that Egyptian society and the mysteries were never like Crata Ropia suggested. The book was a hugely influential 18th century masonic fantasy. While the book was forgotten, its teachings remain in the orders it influenced.

Formal Occult Orders are still around, particularly in the United States, but those in Europe have suffered badly simply because the premise that they were founded upon – the ability to impart secret information and wisdom appears to have faded due to the mistaken belief you can find all occult information in Google.

This is unfortunate because an occult order would take a student through a step-by-step process through the information while at the same time doing magic upon them so that they could take the load of the levels of information. Magical experience is not the acquiring of information.

The modern internet magician lacks that realisation and often thinks that they can do magic at a level which is impossible for a beginner because it has become accessible. It is a bit like saying I can be a brain surgeon because I have read a few books on it.

But magical training is a slow unveiling where you get better and better until you have got the hang of it, have a few short years of being useful and train someone else and then you die having advanced the path one step on.

These seven stages are 1. A basic intellectual understanding of the concepts. 2. Practicing the basic concepts. 3. Obtaining and working with your spiritual guide or contact. 4.Obtaining and working with your divine self. 5. Developing spiritual techniques for yourself. 6 working for the good of humanity or your community.  7. Preparing yourself to meet the infinite.

For this to work you need a human teacher – often several. This is another part of the tradition which has suffered from the fact that in the 19th and 20th century esoteric teachers were presenting themselves as being gods and therefore their words were set in stone. So if Dion Fortune, or Alistair Crowley had a daft idea about the nature of reality then their students were expected to believe it. A student who was dependant on the intellectual knowledge their teacher imparted to them was not going to get much in the way of other information so believed it completely. If you read some of the ways Crowley treated Victor Neurenburg you can see how dangerous this situation was. This deification of esoteric teachers in that period continues even today.

I wrote a biography called King over the Water about one of the founders of the Golden Dawn Samuel Mathers. In the book, I did not exactly say he was “as mad as a box of frogs” but I did hint that he was a lazy, eccentric, autocrat with right-wing leanings who had proto-nazi friends. One esoteric Golden Dawn group which claimed descent from Mathers launched a huge public campaign against the book, demanding it be burnt because it did not show Mathers as the occult messiah it saw him.

But this occult image making has become incredibly difficult to pull off since the Internet arrived. In fact, few modern occultists with an internet connection see their teachers as gods. An occult teacher who writes a book, or sets up a group will find themselves with followers and people who will make it their life’s work and hound them for the slightest perceived offence. The modern Golden Dawn, which started in 1979, was destroyed as a practical esoteric movement because two internet literate people decided to form Golden Dawn orders and obliterate all the competition.  This created the internet perception that the Golden Dawn is fractious and groups fight all the time. It is false, but that is the sort of perception that will stain the Golden Dawn as a working group forever.

All this caused students to be hyper-critical of their teachers.  In many ways this  is fair enough – discrimination is one of the most important early lessons on the magical path. In fact, in the early days of magical history you tended to stick with your teacher because, although he might have been a complete idiot.  finding a magical group or individual was nearly impossible.

Now the internet gives students the illusion that there are a lot of good teachers out there and they are competing for students. If a teacher challenges a student too much (and all the good ones do) the student just leaves.

Another issue is that there is very little financial support for teachers any longer.  Many students are so worried about falling for confidence tricksters they view any payment to a teacher for a course or workshop with suspicion.

In the 20th century teachers got around this by writing books.  It was possible to make a living from the occult book market with many occult books managing to sell 10-20,000 copies.  Now an occult writer is lucky to sell 4,000.  It can take two years for someone to write an occult book and if they are lucky they will make 3,000 euro from the exercise.  To make matters worse that 3,000 will be spread over a decade.

In the 1980s another method of teaching appeared – the workshop. These too were a way of supporting teachers while providing a very good method of learning techniques.  However, these dried up completely as students did not want to pay.

So now we have a situation where teachers train a smaller number of students who they train as a service. Very few write books and fewer train people in workshops. Sadly this also means that the chances of there being other Dion Fortunes, Samuel Mathers or Alistair Crowley’s being ever discovered is remote. I will give you an example. Donald Kraig wrote one of the most influential training manuals of the 21st century. I might not have agreed with a lot of it but it was influential. He died two years ago and his wife could not even afford his funeral expenses, Hermetic Golden Dawn leader Chic Cicero was dragged through the  courts by one of his students who trademarked the Golden Dawn name and was insisting that he run the order. When most have retired he is still working to pay his court bills because most of his students would not help out.

All these changing attitudes mean that Occult orders have also changed.  The big public groups such as BOTA, AMORC, OTO and the Golden Dawn are still there, but they are not the forces they once were. They have been replaced by much smaller groups centred around the ideas of one teacher. The good ones are a lot harder to find and even harder to get into. This is because although occult information has become easier, real occult training is just as hard as it ever was.

On the plus side, Occult groups are however much better networked.  A group like mine is connected to lots of other groups and we talk often to other occult leaders.  There is a sharing of information, training and techniques.  Suddenly as a teacher I can ask another teacher for help if I don’t know the answer to a student’s question. Unlike many 19th century occult teachers I don’t have to pretend to know everything.  I also do not have the problem of having to stop my own spiritual path because I teach. I can remain learning and developing my system.

So where does this leave magic in the 21st century?  The truth is that it is entirely in the hands of students.  There does need to be some changes. Firstly we need to find religion in magic again, we need to understand better what magic is and finally we need to support those who have the skills to teach, instruct and write better.

Then rather than the weakened new age flavour of magic we can create magic with an edge which fuses the historical and other data which we have found in the 21st century about the magic of the past, and develop a spiritual magic system which helps humanity develop.

 

 

 

Golden Dawn evolves

Evolution of the Golden DawnThe Golden Dawn is evolving and there there is no right or wrong as it changes into what ever direction its teachers take it.

When we look at the Golden Dawn system there appears to be a big pile of papers. Indeed so called “bible” of the group “the Golden Dawn” is huge book.  However the pile of papers is just the tip of an iceburg of material which has been generated by Golden Dawn people since 1888. All these documents offer the work of people at the time who were working through the system and some took the system into some interesting directions. It is fairly clear that for all the amount of paper that exists on the Golden Dawn system, the system is never meant to be finished, or its various pieces fit into a neat and complete system. Even its structure is not perfect. While the SM fixed a few problems (such as the terrible portal ritual and the missing 6=5 and 7=4 ritual) it missed others (such opening the barred paths of the portal grades).

Some people relish this challenge.  They go through the system and overlay symbols and systems over that which is existing, creating new detailed paradigms which are intellectually satisfying.  Others find this a curse. The holes in the system create anxiety and while they know they are there they insist that some documents as being “correct” and others “wrong.” They set a period in Golden Dawn history which in their head must be perfect and call anything else a “mistake.” There is another group of people who take the documents as a starting point for whatever goal is in their head. They take those parts of the system that work within that paradigm (yes I really used that word) and leave aside those things which don’t fit for now. I once asked one of her biographers why Dion Fortune never taught Enochian. She obviously knew about it but it never featured in her work within Inner Light. He said “her contacts never told her to include it.”

Golden Dawn is big enough to change

The Golden Dawn system is big enough and ugly enough to handle a wide range of approaches. Although it needs a certain amount of experience to run a group, it is adaptable to new thoughts and new ideas. M.O.A.A. for example adds more Ancient “pagan,” Magical and Inner approaches without getting rid of a whole lot of other material.  I have seen other GD groups shape themselves around the more Thelemite ideas of their leaders, still others move to emphasis the Christian or Rosicrucian side of the Golden Dawn.

Sometimes this means that a Golden Dawngroup appears different to others.  I felt that it was easier for me to say that M.O.A.A. was not Golden Dawn because it was healthier to build an egregore away from the modern system.  However its rituals are distinctly GD as are a big chunk of its lessons. Sure we are a little more hands on and our approach to the Godforms is deliberately more literal than some would like, but it does not make it “wrong.”  We use Enochian, but at the moment it is not something we develop – not because there is something wrong with it, but because I do not see it as the all-powerful jewel in the Golden Dawn crown and there are more interesting avenues to go down. That might change.  M.O.A.A. is designed to encourage students develop different parts of the GD system which interest them and provide tools and research for others who are interested. It might be that Enochian will become a big deal for someone and help M.O.A.A develop the system past what I have already sketched out.

Of more interest to me at the moment is the development of the Second Order rituals and teaching materials. Once that is done, then perhaps I might look at fleshing out other systems.  But my point is that a living, breathing magical system like the Golden Dawn is not fixed, nor can it be the work of one or two people, it is in a continual state of evolution.  It is at the whim of those who live the system and get carried along with its tide.

HOW PHILOSOPHY HELPS MAGICAL DEVELOPMENT

Humans are extremely bad at learning from the past, yet at the same time they cling onto concepts which are long out-of-date. This is caused by the way we learn.

For evolutionary reasons humans had to learn a lot of things very quickly and our brains are hardwired to accept the first idea we are told from a “perceived authority” without question. This is logical as we do not want to distrust everything and most things we will need to understand the first time. Besides much of what we learn will not be used again for some time.

When a solution turns out to be wrong it takes effort to remove it. This why we often continue to believe things which are not true, even when intellectually we can see it is rubbish.magical imagination cover
What is more dangerous is that we make associations based on these unchallenged false premises and build up complex association patterns of belief around them.

In my book Magical Imagination I use the example from my childhood.

I was a child a Christian teacher told me that they had found chariot wheels in the Red Sea and this proved that Moses had crossed it, closing it on Pharoah’s chariots. It was an important point for me because this little bit of knowledge covered all manner of flaws in fundamental Christian philosophy. The information was given by someone whom I deeply respected as a teacher and who at the age of 11 was a role model for me. I reasoned that if Pharoah’s chariots had been found then Moses had a fixed place in history and there was an obvious element of literal truth in Bible stories. Through-out my teens I carried this ‘literal’ image of biblical history and its obvious association with the literal theology of fundamental Christianity.

All was well until my interest in Ancient History turned towards archaeology in the Biblical period and I discovered that the chariot wheel statement was complete fiction. My universe was shattered. Everything that I had been told by this teacher was now in doubt. I applied research to everything that I had accepted as fact and found it wanting, finally abandoning fundamentalist Christianity entirely in favour of a personal revelation. Some years later I found a friend from that period of my life to whom that brand Christianity remained important. He asked me why I had ‘abandoned my faith’ and was told about the teacher and the chariot wheels. He looked at me as if I was stupid. But they have found chariot wheels in the Red Sea,” he said.

Initially he thought he had read it somewhere, but like me he was able to trail the information to the same teaching session. Unlike me, the information did not break his faith.

Occultism’s main problem is one of baggage. Over the years so much has been added to it, particularly in the 19th century which probably did not need to be there. Ideas which were shoved under the bonnet of Western Magic do not really need to be there. However they remain and people managed to get extremely obsessed with them.

dion-fortune

Regular readers will know that I am not that impressed with incorporating Eastern ideas like Karma and re-incarnation. This happened in the 19th century and in my view blinded Dion Fortune’s tradition completely. Fortune was a truly great magician but her system spends a lot of its time trying to drag past life magical information out of Atlantis. It is not her fault, in fact in her books she warned against it, but side issues such as Lord of Karma and other necessary inner plane autocracies needed to prop them up, are a strong feature of her work.

So how do we know what is good and what isn’t and how do we get rid of past baggage?

plato_bust

The Western Mystery Tradition is bedrocked in Plato. You would not really know it, because few modern magicians can be bothered studying philosophy. (Get your paws on a used copy of Understanding Plato, by David Melling  and you will see how much).
Plato learned a technique from his teacher Socrates which was designed to weed out rubbish from philosophy and get to the heart of the truth.

The Socratic method looks at commonly held truths that shape beliefs, and looks at them alongside other ideas. It does this by forming a system of questions as logical tests.

Elenchus, as it is called, is also a feature of Jewish belief and is one of the things that is seen that keeps it from getting silly. If you have to argue your religious ideas before those who are also capable of ripping your logic to bits, you tend to think before you speak.

The first stage is to take an idea that you have about magic, occultism or anything and make it into a thesis. Then you see similar ideas are also true and finally if any of these ideas negate your original thesis (this is similar to the scientific method).

To do this you look at the implications of your ideas and see how they will affect other concepts. For example, my simple chariot wheels in the Red Sea concept was the heart of a belief which said the Bible is literally true. If I dismissed the “archaeological evidence,” then I was also saying that “the Bible is not the perfect word of God.” The Red Sea chariot wheels was easy to disprove, therefore I had to look at a more important thought about how I saw the Bible.

But that is only looking at part of the Socratic method. If you pull apart your ideas ruthlessly and carefully you will finally come to a point where your pre-conceptions give way and you have to admit that whatever you were told about a subject was wrong. In other words you are ignorant.

From this position of ignorance you can actually find out the answer (if one truly exists). Ignoring for a moment that Socrates believed in a concept of re-incarnation lets apply his method to looking at that question. A is the holder of the belief and B is “Socrates.”

A: Reincarnation exists because I can remember past lives.
B: How many lives can you remember?
A: About half a dozen.
B: How much of this life can you remember?
A: Pretty much all of it.
B: Can you remember pretty much all of your other lives?
A: No, only flashes of important moments. Some lives more than others.
B: Do these memories feel like the memories of your current life?
A: They sometimes feel more intense.
B: So it is fair to say that you remember incidents of previously lives which were important or emotionally intense?
A: Yes.
B: So a future you is going to remember only the important or emotionally intense parts of this one?
A: I guess so.
B: So those lives you don’t remember, they are dull and had nothing happen?
A: That would be a good explanation.
B: So what happens when you remember anything?
A: Like anything I think about it and a memory appears in my head.
B: So how is a memory different from a daydream?
A: That is easy, it has emotion and a feeling of reality.
B: So when you work with Gods, Angels or dead spirits what do they feel like?
A: Actually they are the same. I see an image and it is packed with emotion and power.
B: So would you say then that your ritual and pathworking experience is memory?
A: No it is happening now.
B: If you feel an emotional experience now is that a memory?
A: No.
B: So it is fair to say that there are circumstances in the current moment which feel the same as your past life memories.
A: Yes.
B: So these “past life memories” could be actually a response to what you are experiencing now.
A: But no they are memories of the past.
B: But they equally act in the same way as psychic experiences, or memories of the present. So “being in the past” is not a pre-requisite for you having them.
A: mmmm
B: In fact the debate has suggested that past-lives could be explained by other magical methods that have nothing to do with re-incarnation.
A: I suppose
B: So the existence of re-incarnation cannot be dependent on you remembering past lives.

If it exists it would have to be proved by another reason.

By applying these sorts of methods and reasoning (plus Occam’s razor) to magic and occultism we can free it from all the sorts of baggage that has trapped it.

This includes an over dependence on ideas which come from a particular source. One of the things you learn very quickly is that Bardon, Mathers, Westcott, Crowley are no more authorities is as you are. This is marvellously liberating as you move closer to your own idea of Truth rather than someone else’s.  From there you can experience what is rather than what someone else thinks should be there.

Mixing religions in Magic

 

When I was first training it was drilled into me that you should never mix the godforms of different traditions.  I saw the concept in a Ritual 101 book written by Murray Hope.  Some godforms could be mixed and Hope helpfully gave a list.

You could for example mix in Cabbalistic Angels with any Godform system as neither side seemed to mind. Greek and Roman pantheons tended to work ok, but others should be kept apart as mysteries within their cultural tradition and if you mixed Roman with Egyptian you would get a jarring of energy.

At the time it made absolute sense and any rituals I wrote were geared to being either totally Egyptian, Celtic, Babylonian etc.  However as my magical researched focused on ancient Alexandria  and I started adapting the Greek Magical Paprii for my own use I appear to have thrown that idea out of the window.

It was not a conscious decision, it was just that I started working that way.  It was then someone pulled me up with a comment about a written ritual which switched between Roman and Egyptian Gods several times in a single rite and she (quite rightly I had over egged the pudding a bit in that ritual) used the word “jarring” which bought back memories  of rules about mixed traditions.

Now I have been mixing godforms in rituals for several years and I have not seen the jarring effect shown by Hope.  I have seen a dynamic shown by having two conflicting gods in the same space, which could be seen as jarring (it wasn’t really) but since they were gods from the same tradition that did not really apply.  It also does not explain one important fact.

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Historically magic mixed religious traditions.

The Greek Magical Papryii with are collection of magical scrolls from the Roman era show Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Sumerian, Babylonian, Syrian Jewish magical systems and gods all tossed into one melting pot.

Take for example this phrase of power which is connected to Typhon.  ANLALA LAI GAIA APA DIACHANNA CHORYN

A-lai: could it be Eloah / Eli / Elu, which are variant forms for El, the Jewish God, sometimes linked to the Stars.

Gaia-a: the Greek Earth Goddess.

Pa-dia: it could remember the accusative of pais, which means “baby, child”

Channa: In Hittite the word for mother is Hanna, and this word was so widespread and used that today it is still used by the Turkish: they call “mother” as “anne”. This word was fundamental to me. I thought to the Greek living in the ancient Anatolia: from there there were a lot of mystery cults, and a lot of Hittite gods were used in the Greek theogony. So, there was a link between the Hittite and the Ancient Near East and the Greeks.

Choryn: this word remember the greek word for girl, maid. But it can also be linked to Kyrios, which means Lord.

So, here could be invoked the God of Heaven and the goddess of Hearth, who is child, mother and girl. Not much to do with Typhon…. But Typhon was a child of Gaia he was seen as an air Daemon   (so Enlil makes sense). His story was similar to that of an Hittite monster called Ullikummi. So this text could be a hacked Greco-egyptian version of some ancient Anatolian magic.

The ancients believed then that Gods were pretty much the same (even the Jewish YHVH was seen as an aspect of Jove so the idea of mixing them was not alien or wrong.

So where did the idea of mixing traditions being bad come from?

Looking back I can’t find anything like it being mentioned until the 19th century Theosophical movement . There was an idea of root races.  The believe was that there were different waves of humanity each representing different degrees of evolution.

The last root race is the Ayran one  which his split into  subraces, the Hindu, which migrated from the “City of the Bridge” on the white island in the middle of the Gobi inland sea to India in 60,000 BC; the second subrace, the Arabian, which migrated from the “City of the Bridge” to Arabia in 40,000 BC; the third subrace, the Persian, which migrated from the “City of the Bridge” to Persia in 30,000 BC; the fourth subrace, the Celts, which migrated from the “City of the Bridge” to Western Europe beginning in 20,000 BC (the Mycenaean Greeks are regarded as an offshoot of the Celtic subrace that colonized Southeast Europe); and the fifth sub race, the Teutonic, which also migrated from the “City of the Bridge” to what is now Germany beginning in 20,000 BC (the Slavs are regarded as an offshoot of the Teutonic sub race that colonized Russia and surrounding areas. The Jewish race is from the fourth root race and therefore much less developed.

Needless to say this is all bollocks and discounted by modern science, however it was hugely influential on the 20th century occult movement. If these root races existed, then it makes sense not to mix traditions because you are mucking around with different evolutionary currents.

As I have said in my Making Talismans book, all gods are probably anthropomorphic expressions of seven basic divine energies (which the Greeks expressed in vowels and I am inclining towards using colour)  so Set will be part of the same ray as Typhon and Mars and any of the Babylonian war gods.

Mixing them to do the same things makes no difference.

However There is SOME truth in the idea.  Swapping gods too often in one ritual can cause a headache if over done but it should still be seen as something natural and not jarring.

THE SUMMER EDITION OF THE HERMETIC TABLET IS OUT

The Hermetic Tablet is a bi-annual Journal of Western Ritual Magic where people, from all traditions, share their experiences. Some of the contributors are well known names in the occult field, while others are just those who want to share knowledge and experiences with the public. This issue includes articles written by the following writers: Jake Stratton-Kent, Mike Magee, Chic & Sandra Tabatha Cicero, Aaron Leitch, Christine Zalewski, Nick Farrell, Paola Farrell, Jayne Gibson, Tony Toneatto, Michael Straw, Samuel Scarborough, Tony Fuller, Wynn Westcott, Ina Cüsters-Van Bergen , Morgan Drake Eckstein, and Carman Lawrick. The Journal covers a wide range of different subjects all related to Western Ritual Magic, including Goetia, Golden Dawn, Wicca, Theurgy, Angelic Magic, Ancient Egypt, and pagan ritual. There is something for anyone, from all spiritual traditions who wants to know about practical Western Ritual Magic.hermetic cover(final)

hermetic cover(final)2

 

 

 

contents

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WHARE RA AND THE MODERN GOLDEN DAWN

A debate is starting to happen on whether or not the New Zealand Whare Ra order, which was the last Golden Dawn group with a direct lineage to the original order was better than the modern versions which have emerged since the 1970’s. The danger is that both sides can see themselves as better than the other, which would be completely untrue.

Whare Ra Temple Building
Whare Ra Temple Building

For those who came in late, Whare Ra’s existence was first made known in a book published by Pat Zalweski in the 1980s.  Zalewski, and his wife Christine were not a members of Whare Ra but was exclusively trained by one of its best Heirophants Jack Taylor. Later it emerged that Tony Fuller was also trained by a Whare Ra demonstrator Frank Salt and others have since appeared.  As I have said here  I had some training and connection with Whare Ra before and after I left New Zealand.

Pat Zalewski
Pat Zalewski

The modern Golden Dawn owes its existence to the publication of Israel Regardie’s book Golden Dawn.  The book was largely ignored until the 1970s when established magical orders started to be based on it.  The phenomena was American and the modern Golden Dawn is entirely an American movement and is more heavily influenced by the psychological ideas of Regardie than Whare Ra ever was.

The book which launched a thousand orders, most of which failed -- Regardie's Golden Dawn
The book which launched a thousand orders, most of which failed — Regardie’s Golden Dawn

However Regardie’s publication was not enough. Numerous people had tried over the years to form orders based around his book and had largely failed.  But the Modern Golden Dawn would not exist without the work of Chic and Tabatha Cicero, who were personally trained by Regardie. Through their own researches and by collection original Golden Dawn papers took their order far beyond what Regardie could have imagined and provided all the missing training and paperwork that their teacher never had.

Chic Cicero and Israel Regardie
Chic Cicero and Israel Regardie

Regardie’s own Golden Dawn temple experience was limited, something that those who have which to attack the Modern GD have exploited.  He only ever attended seven rituals (his own initiations) and his notes seem to indicate that the whole lot went over his head.  He believed that it was possible to recreate the outer order rituals by using the shortcut of doing the Watchtower rituals and yet he never produced an adept using that approach.

One of the things that I have always said about Chic and Tabatha Cicero is that that they overestimate the impact and ability of Regardie and under-state their own genius.  Chic and Tabatha would be leaders of any Order – something that can be put down to the fact that they went through their own system without short cuts and worked damn hard.  Remember this because it becomes important to the story later.

In my forthcoming book Beyond the Sun I looked at the history of the Order in New Zealand.  It is, and always will be the best and most significant branch of the First Golden Dawn lineage (and no, I do not count BOTA) in that it archived a magical community with the best training possible.

High Noon for the Golden Dawn

However reluctantly I have to admit that in its last decade of existence it was unable to function because it had become weighed down by its own history and was out-of-date. Put simply it was a conservative dinosaur it needed a radical up-date but it lacked the contacts or the talent to make that happen.

It is my theory that the Golden Dawn contacts moved on. When Whare Ra closed a new Golden Dawn opened in the United States under the control of Chic and (later) Tabatha Cicero.

Chic and Tabatha Cicero
Chic and Tabatha Cicero

The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, which was centred on the Cicero’s was created much more flexible and liberal model which could adapt to the late 20th century.  Its lack of a particularly autocratic structure made it possible to spread quickly without downgrading the standards set. New orders could basically spin off from it as its leaders found their own contacts and approach. This standard is that everyone has to go through the grades, do the tests and there are no short-cuts.

Chic and Tabatha did not have any short cuts in their path.  They started at 0=0 and worked their way up.  This is a marked contrast between other Modern Golden Dawn groups whose leaders start claiming a 5=6 or 7=4 without doing the work and then initiate others without ever going through the grades themselves.

It is worth pointing out that after I had taken my 5=6 and returned to what was left of the Whare Ra circles they recognised me at that grade.  So it meant that Chic and Tabatha had done something right.

Now we come to the people who have emerged from Whare Ra training. Remember none of the current people actually were members of Whare Ra.  Pat and Christine Zalewski have valid initiations to the 7=4 grade and the link as does Tony Fuller (via Frank Salt) – all of them I admire and respect.

Pat has gone on to add more material to the mix (which I think is a good thing and well in line with what his initiator Jack Taylor would have done) Tony’s approach is more conservative – following Frank Salt’s more measured approach but lacking the latter’s more caustic reputation. (Some of Frank Salt’s writings about Regardie are a little like me writing about Apple).

All three have been fundamental in filling in gaps which the Modern Golden Dawn lacked.  As such I see them as the bridge between the past and future and extremely important. They are modernisers but have come from a different route.  Their approach is not American, but uniquely that of New Zealand.

Fighting factions

Where it will all go pear shaped is when the students of the Modern Golden Dawn and those of the Whare Ra lineage square up to each other and the problem here is that they will end up arguing over who right or best is based on an imagined history.  Because someone had a Whare Ra teacher, or their teacher did, it does not give them a papal authority over the rest of the Golden Dawn groups.  Jack and Frank both made cock-ups in their time and were not infallible. Even if they had been perfect communicators, there is no guarantee that their students will get it right – or indeed that new understandings or teachings are not required.

Chic and Tabatha Cicero connected themselves to the Golden Dawn tradition through a lot of hard work. They then adapted that tradition to a modern environment.  It is not completely “authentic” because it should not be.  The original Golden Dawn was formed in 1888, have a look at the television drama  Penny Dreadful and you will understand why that is a bad thing.

Look it took me two hours to get into this dress, do you really think I am going to take it off and put on a robe!
Look it took me two hours to get into this dress, do you really think I am going to take it off and put on a robe in front of all these men?

Those descended from Whare Ra might have “lineage” but were not initiates of that Order (in one notable case one of the New Zealand Whare Ra advocates would never have been initiated in that system.)  This is quite important because part of Whare Ra’s power was its community — something which continued to exist even after the Order closed.

They might have the documents, but they were never true Whare Ra members.  Tony and the Zalewskis never made that claim, but it is the nature of things that one day their followers might just stick their nose up in the air and say “you are wrong because Whare Ra did it different.”  They might equally seek to discredit new Golden Dawn ideas because it might not have come from “official Whare Ra sources.”

Sometimes things which I think were Whare Ra mistakes (such as some of the vault colours and the flipping of the cartouches on the pillars) have been intellectually justified (thus embodying the inflexibly of the later Whare Ra order).

On the US Golden Dawn side there is the danger that they might react badly when a Whare Ra teaching destroys something which was held as an assumption turned out to be untrue.  An example of this was the Kerux wand with serpents going up it.  In Whare Ra (and the original Golden Dawn) this was simply a stick but a mistake in reading Regardie turned it into a real impliment.

It is pretty but it is wrong
It is pretty but it is wrong

What is interesting is that both camps are producing good work and both have much to learn from each other.  What might stuff this process up is if one side starts saying it is superior to another’s or hinting that the other has no right to exist.  It is not happening yet, but it could easily go that way.

Imperious put-downs will be the indication that the student or whatever lineage has lost the thread, because both in the eyes of the gods will be seen as valid.

Fence sitting

Fortunately I can sit on the fence.  I have my Whare Ra connection and history and my training and Grade work with the Ciceros. The Magical Order of the Aurora Aurea is “modern” and “experimental” and most people would describe it as Golden Dawn however it is also connected to Whare Ra and incorporates what I was told by those people. To me this means that I have the best of both words, which probably means that I can be stoned by both sides.

Magic is not for those who want to escape

A magician who would approach the throne of the Most High, must perfect a temple on the earth which has its roots in the underworld and the roof below the moon. This is the purpose of a magical life. You are not trapped in earth, you were sent. You are not imprisoned by life; it is your mission. The fates have spun their net for you and you must use it to be the best you can.

One does not reject or demolish the temple that is built by the One Thing, to spit in the eyes of his Aeons and expect it to be pleased to see you.

mani
Mani with his all matter is evil idea

 

One of the great sins of the Gnostics, which was picked up by some flavours of Christianity, and from there into 19th century esotericism, is a flawed belief that matter is evil.  Ernest Butler called this the Manichaean heresy. Manichaeism was a religion in which the world was a war zone between a good, spiritual world of light, and an evil, material world of darkness. Through an ongoing process light is gradually removed from the world of matter and returned to the world of light whence it came.

You can see how such an idea became popular with occultists who make a big deal about aspiring to the light, god and heaven. To be fair to the tradition too, Butler did use the general definition of the Manichaeism to describe those who see black and white as absolutes and equate matter with evil.

What becomes important is that the terrestrial gods, angels, spirits and the underworld all fit into those sorts of things that people are supposed to be escaping from.

One of the more snooty aspects of “esoteric masonic” systems, particularly of Rosicrucianism, is to adopt a similar worldview. The idea being that instead of using terrestrial gods for magic, they use “higher” gods for something called “theurgy.”

Theurgy is supposed to be a higher and spiritual process where a person invokes the highest divine being and then merges with it. Magic on the other hand is dismissed as dealing with those “tainted forces” of matter and gods which are nothing more than demons.

However this concept of Theurgy, which is a legitimate magical technique, was developed by the Neo-platonists and rather than dismissing life and the earth it was pretty much life affirming.

Iamblichus
Iamblichus

Iamblichus and Proclus the late fifth century philosophers who intellectualised the system as a spiritual technique felt that it was vital that, while we are alive, we honour the terrestrial gods and spirits. Their students were instructed to be devoted followers of the gods and attend religious functions. Theurgy was used to contact these beings as much as it was used to contact the much higher ones.

As such, a true Theurgist has to honour the material world and not see it as something evil where divine sparks have become trapped.

Hatred of the material world, along with a fear of the underworld, has unbalanced the magical systems of the west.  Instead of providing a base for a person to remember their divine aspects, it has become a cesspit to be escaped from. Instead of honouring those connections with our ancestors in the underworld, we attempt to disconnect ourselves with the same enthusiasm as avoiding a Christmas dinner with the in-laws.

As a result, we have lost the thrusting base to ascend to the heavens and literally trip over our own spiritual feet.

The One Thing manifested the universe out of itself. It did not make a mistake; it did so because it wanted understand itself. Our consciousness is part of that reflection and helping it to understand. If we think our universe is evil, nasty and something to be fled from; then we are saying that the One Thing that created it is evil, nasty and something from which we need to flee. It is no wonder then we cannot reach the throne of the most high, when its feet are in the matter which we see as a mistake.

Modern magic is starting to realise its mistake. Realms such as the underworld and humanity’s relationship with matter are starting to be explored and integrated back into magic. In the Magical Order of the Aurora Aurea students are expected to work with the underworld forces and explore matter. Rather than reviling matter, we attempt to work with it as co-creators of the One Thing.

We are not the only ones. Writers like Jake Stratton-Kent has been looking at the real meaning of the Goetia and has found that work so spiritually satisfying he has not felt the need to propel himself out into the super-celestial realm. Aaron Leitch has been integrating underworld aspects into his Solomonic works. Josephine McCarthy has been working on a similar approach in the British tradition.

All this is a tipping point for serious magic. The underworld and sub-lunar magic is becoming something which, after centuries, is returning to the mainstream current.  It is already being dismissed as a black magic revival by those desperate to keep the Manichaean heresy alive, but it is not.  In fact is the complete opposite.  One of the more stupid aspects of 19th and 20th century magic was the idea that there was such a thing as left hand and right hand paths of magic.  Followers of the Golden Dawn magical system should tell you that the concept of a left hand or a right hand way of working is always going to destroy you (have a look at the 1=10 ritual if you want to see what I mean).  Sure there are extremes in the universe but to quote Babylon Five: “ I take the place that has been prepared for me. I am Grey. I stand between the candle and the star. We are Grey. We stand between the darkness and the light.”

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ESOTERIC CODE BROKEN

I have a new book out:
From the blurb 
In the late 18th century two prominent German esoteric masons wrote a fantasy about an Ancient Egyptian Magical Order called the Crata Ropea.  The tiny book was based on classical sources and was taken literally, particularly in France. 
It was influential in the development of many masonic and esoteric groups through-out the 18th and 19th centuries and its influence can be indirectly seen on modern groups such as the Order of the Golden Dawn, the Ordo Templi Orientis and even modern Wicca. As the knowledge of Egyptian history developed, Crata has become disregarded by those who had taken it literally and it has been largely ignored.
What Nick Farrell sets out in this book is that Crata Ropea was an example of an esoteric allegory written by two adepts to explain the path of initiation and goal posts to other esoteric experts. It sets out what happens on the path within the Western Mystery Tradition and what should happen to each individual as a result.  Once you have broken the symbolic code behind the book you can see advice, guidance and direction for various points of your esoteric life.
It will be one of my limited 100 copies things and available from Lulu here http://www.lulu.com/shop/nick-farrell/hidden-path-behind-initiation/hardcover/product-21652868.html