Category Archives: occult

It is not your fault

There is a harrowing feature of New Age thinking which is a spin-off of the idea that you design your universe in your head. The concept touted in the Kybalion is that if the universe is mind and you are mind, then you create your universe with your thoughts.  You can be anything you want to be if you visualise and think positively.

But the converse of this is also true – if there is something wrong in your universe New Age thought is that it is because you put it there.

A psychologist friend of mine once said that while he rather liked New Age people, he did notice that there was a strong element of self-blame amongst them. When trauma counselling he had to overcome the belief that they were somehow responsible for the terrible things that happened to them.

No-one wants to be raped

One woman, who had been raped by her boyfriend, could not accept that she did not cause the problem by unconsciously choosing such a person in the first place.

She told him: “If I am the author of my own story, I must have chosen him to be in my life.  It is my negative thinking that created him.”

New Agers will apply that concept to other people and turn themselves into victim shamers. A poor person is only that way because they are not positive. They could leave that situation if they choose – they do not desire it enough.

Westcott appeared to be visualising everyone around him dying – including himself

This concept manifests in the judgement of some significant magicians who died in poverty or terrible illnesses. The idea is that they could not have been good magicians if they had such terrible lives. Had Wynn Westcott been better at visualising his family would not have killed themselves and he would not have died of Bright’s Disease. If Samuel Mathers had been a good magician, he would not have always been poor and survived the Spanish flu epidemic.

Like many things New Age, it is all propped up by a little bit of truth surrounded by overly simplistic thinking which ultimately drags down the whole idea. It is true that some people are so limited in their thinking that they cannot escape the patterns they have created for themselves. People do pick the wrong people in relations (normally due to a poor relationship with their parents). While it is true that visualisation is part of magic it is NOT the main game, but one of many limited techniques.

Bloody Kybalion

One of my first problems with the Kybalion, which annoyed my BOTA seniors, was the system depends on it all being about you. If my universe is the creation of my thinking, then other people are not involved.

If a murderer enters my life, it is due to MY visualisation and not his. This narcissistic view of the universe encourages you to only care for yourself. Other people, if they exist, are just bit players, but they are centre stage. But if everyone is visualising then somehow all these narcissistic worldviews must mesh together into a model which provides everyone with what they want.

But it doesn’t. If there is a lottery for a million dollars, there will only be one winner and many hopeful, positive thinkers. What is more, the winner is unlikely to be a positive person who knew they were going to win.

No-one asks to be raped, wants to be murdered, shot by police or die in a fire.

So what goes wrong?

The universe is not an expression of one human mind but that of the One Thing. The objectives of the One Thing are to learn about itself. Within its big created universe it built a humanity program in which it could experiment with stories involving more abstract qualities within itself like love, hate, war, online-shopping etc.

Each human has been given a story to live out with specific events which must happen for the One Thing to understand that point.

What is important to understand here is that the One Thing is doing this to itself. There is not a single thing you have experienced in your life which is not the One Thing experiencing it. Equally, there is nothing which could bring about these experiences in your life without some coordination from the One Thing. Since you are part of the One Thing, you are doing this to yourself to learn something. Once you have learnt that lesson, you may, or may not move on from it.

The easiest way for this story to happen is to be born into a family, country or social group. No New Age visualiser can claim that they were visualising on the astral and were responsible for their family.  Your first acts as a child are to adapt to that environment. So, a poor person’s attitudes are not negative thinking, but an evolution, or adaption to the situation they find themselves. It enables them to survive the terrible circumstances in which they find themselves.

That family will arrive with all the psychological baggage and genetic illnesses and pre-dispositions of its ancestors.  Something else that the child can do nothing about other than live through it and adapt.

Stories are not entirely written by you

On top of this, the child must resolve the story that the One Thing wants to learn in that life.

However, that does not mean that a person cannot use magic or visualisation to escape that life. There are many “rags to riches” stories where that happens. All of them require a person to fight their way out of their social status and DNA. But such stories are not for everyone. Some stories involve making the best of a bad situation; other stories include living your life no matter what it throws at you.

One of the things I have noticed about magicians is that all the good ones have had interesting lives. Even those who have had successful muggle lives (family, job, mortgage) have interesting stories beneath the surface.  Mathers might not have been that successful as a human or as a money maker, but he certainly lived. Aleister Crowley was a spendthrift, sexist, racist, bastard but no-one can deny that he had a life packed with exciting events and stories.

The sort of life I am describing is not entirely deterministic. Your response to those situations are what interests the One Thing.  A bad thing might happen to you which you choose to handle in a way that resolves it better. A person who deals with her rapist by facing him in court might lose, but her choice to take him on might help her deal with the pain and prevent her attacker doing it to someone else.

However, it does mean that the Kybalion is wrong. Bad things do happen to good people because the evolution of humanity and the divine spirit depend on it.

The One Thing is doing it to itself

But there is also an important social side to all this. If harming others is the One Thing inflicting pain on itself, doing “good” is also the One Thing helping itself.  When you help another person with their story, you are effectively helping yourself.  When you receive help from another, you are receiving it from the Universe.

If you don’t receive support from the One Thing, then chances are your story is to sort it out on your own and you have the ability and resources to fix the situation. For the same reason, you cannot judge another person for resolving their story in a way or failing.

The Magician is a specialist

The other question then is what is the role of the magician in this story? A magician is a specialist who uses spiritual forces and rules to create a change in the pattern or the story. They are there for when all else “rational” has failed. When the doctor or police can’t or will not help, when a situation needs to see the bigger picture or to call in gods and spirits.

A magician is no more important than anyone else in the story they are just the One Thing brings in more specialised functions. Not every story needs a Gandalf any more than it needs an Achilles. In Lord of the Rings, Gandalf was vital, in the Iliad he would have been useless.

A magician has their own story. It generally starts with initiation, balancing, contact with higher forces, testing and then service. During that process, a lot of shit will get thrown at them because it is part of their training. If nothing happened, then there would be no magic rituals to try out and nothing to learn.

Either way, the stuff which gets thrown at you, it may not be your fault.

Why whitewashing Crowley is a bad idea

Crowlyite followers are celebrating some anniversary of Aleister Crowley at the moment and there seems to be an effort to whitewash some of the Great Beast’s darker aspects.

It is well known that Crowley was anti-Semitic, misogynistic, bully who tortured and exploited his students. However, there is now an attempt to paint him as a “man of his time” who was nevertheless attempting to push back the boundaries.

This is the pop-culture Sergeant Pepper’s view of Crowley which has nothing to do with the real person, who would look with much contempt at those who see him as a counter-culture icon.

One of the more obvious things that people have been doing is scouring what Crowley has written for “proof” that he was none of the things people said about him. For example, the anti-semitic label can be dismissed because he once wrote: “No people can show finer specimens of humanity. The Hebrew poets and prophets are sublime. The Jewish soldier is courageous, the Jewish rich man generous. The race possesses imagination, romance, loyalty, probity and humanity in an exceptional degree.”

However what needs to be set against this are more damning quotes like: “A similar case is presented by the Jew, who really does only too often possess the bad qualities for which he is  disliked; but they are not proper to his race” and “In the previous spasm she had rushed to the registrar the most nauseating colopter that ever came under my microscope. It was a Whitechapel Jew.”

What is more dangerous is that this racism leaks into his teaching. For example he identifies the “evil” form of Aries rising as Jewish: “One must further remark that each sign governs two main types … the active and the passive. Thus Aries: the high brows, long face, aquiline nose, tall thin muscular figure, shows the fiery and martial qualities of the sign. But there is an evil and averse counterpart corresponding to the ovine nature. We have the gross, hooked, pendulous proboscis; the thick, flabby, moist lips; the patient stupid eyes, and timid, hunted gait of the bad type of Jew.”

Crowley was also a conspiracy nut believing in the Protocols of Zion and repeat some of the allegations as fact. In his “Preface to Sepher Sephiroth”, originally published in Equinox 1:8. Written in 1911 he wrote:

“Human sacrifices are today still practised by the Jews of Eastern Europe, as is set forth at length by the late Sir Richard Burton in the MS. which the wealthy Jews of England have compassed heaven and earth to suppress and evidenced by the ever-recurring Pogroms against which so senseless an outcry is made by those who live among those degenerate Jews who are at least not cannibals.”

For those who came in late, Jews were frequently accused of ritual sacrifice, murder, and cannibalism in Eastern Europe since the Middle Ages is called “the blood libel against the Jews” — a malicious falsehood (libel) that claims that Jews drink the blood of human victims as part of their rituals — that ritual human sacrifice is part of Jewish religion.

Those seeking to white wash Crowley quote him saying this about the Chinese: “I realised instantly their spiritual superiority to the Anglo-Saxon, and my own deep-seated affinity to their point of view.” After meeting the consul of Tengyueh: “We met with a warm welcome at the consulate from Litton’s Chinese wife, an exceedingly beautiful woman with perfect manners. They had five charming children.”

Compare that to the following: “One cannot fraternise with the Chinese of the lower classes; one must treat them with absolute contempt and callousness.”

What we see in these conflicting quotes, and there are many, that Crowley might respect individuals but hate the race in general. For example, the Solicitor-General of Ceylon, the Hon. P. Ramanathan, was a “man of charming personality, wide culture and profound religious knowledge” yet the people were “idle irresponsible people, purring with placid pleasure.”

So, what about the concept that Crowley was just a “man of his time and class.” There was nothing unusual about being a racist bigot then, everyone was.
However, that is historical re-positioning of the type that gets on my tits. Sure, you can find evidence of backward racism in that time, but in the style and to Crowley’s level you should start reading racists condemned by both mainstream conservatives and liberals alike. It is important remember that Crowley was not American, and the racism of the UK was different, and less obvious, from that of New World. A US clansman would be as unwelcome among the English aristocratic far-right of Crowley’s time. For Crowley to write that sort of stuff crossed too many lines.

This blog cannot deal in detail with Crowley’s obvious hatred of women which are often white washed with long quotes from the Book of the Law about how important women were. However there are darker quotes which suggest that is largely meaningless:

“… morally and mentally, women were for me beneath contempt. They had no true moral ideals. They were bound up with their necessary preoccupation, with the function of reproduction. Their apparent aspirations were camouflage. Intellectually, of course, they did not exist. Even the few whose minds were not completely blank had them furnished with Wardour Street Chippendale. Their attainments were those of the ape and the parrot. These facts did not deter me. On the contrary, it was highly convenient that one’s sexual relations should be with an animal with no consciousness beyond sex.”

Unless Crowley were a southern back-woodsman, this sort of mindset was long out-of-date and completely out of keeping with the equality suggested by both the Golden Dawn and his own magical teachings.

What most people do not want to understand when they read Crowley is that they are not looking at a 1960’s love guru with progressive views. Just because someone takes drugs and sleeps around with different genders does not make them progressive. There are many gay right-wingers (usually full of self-hate)

In fact, Crowley wanted a new aristocracy which could pursue long-range goals without the encumbrances of pandering to democratic whims. Crowley described a government following a Thelemic course as one in which, far from a hedonistic free-for-all, “set[s] limits to individual freedom. For each man in this state which I propose is fulfilling his own True Will by his eager Acquiescence in the Order necessary to the Welfare of all, and therefore of himself also.”*

Victor Neuburg bullied

My view of Crowley is not that he was an evil black magician, but someone who did some good stuff but failed to deal with his own stuff. This unbalanced before he started to deal with the heavy stuff. While it was wrong for him to be blackballed from the GD for being gay, I am not really sure that was entirely the reason. He was a young arrogant twat, who developed without guidance to be an old autocratic arrogant twat who knew a bit about magic. His inherent anger and violence against students like Victor Neuburg, coupled with his messianic megalomania undid a lot of his cleverer stuff. What Crowley was doing was not hedonism or free thinking, it was compulsive and destructive.

Whitewashing this out of Crowley, presumably to keep him as the 1960’s guru image does him no service. Not only do we get an incorrect assessment of the person, we are unable to fix his mistakes.

Indeed, while justifying him, you repeat his mistakes. There are Thelemites who think it is ok to treat women like sex slaves because Crowley did it. I have a friend who suffered appalling at the hands of the Canadian OTO for the crime of being a strong woman.

Fashionable fascism is now a thing worldwide and Crowley’s teachings are a magnet for those who consider themselves hedonistic libertines. Unless Crowley’s fascist, white-superiority and backward leanings are shown for what they are, then there is a danger they will corrupt and contaminate any chance of a spiritual awakening from those who follow that way. Crowley could become the justification for every right-wing autocratic bullying occult leader to give in to their psychology.

* Crowley, The Book of Wisdom or Folly, Samuel Weiser, 1991, Liber Aleph Vel CXI, De Ordine Rerum, clause 39.

 

Summer edition of the Hermetic Tablet is out

hermetic cover(final)The latest edition of the Hermetic Tablet it is out and it is a rather interesting issue.

For those interested in the Golden Dawn Tradition there are loads of previously unpublished works by prominant Golden Dawn leaders and a complete correspondence course from a defunct modern Golden Dawn order which was established in the UK in the 1970s.  There is a review of the new edition of Israel Regardie’s Golden Dawn book by Tony Fuller. And an analysis of the Golden Dawn’s Coptic system, which required me to download a new typeface.

There is a strong goetic current with essays from Aaron Leitch and Jake Stratton-Kent and some rather interesting ancient magic from Jayne Gibson, João Pedro Feliciano and myself.

Here is the table of contents

tablet

The paperback can be found here Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.

While the limited edition hardback can be found here Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.

At time of writing this the hardback (which was limited to 100 copies was heading towards being sold out.

Review: Sephirothic Odyssey – a Journey into magical Tarot

flip_COVER_webReviewing a book, which describes a project you were involved in for seven years, is a bit like reviewing one of your own books. You are naturally going to be biased in favour of it and most of your readers are going to think you are in favour of it even if you are being objective. However A SEPHIROTHIC ODYSSEY: A Journey in Consciousness with the Golden Dawn Temple Tarot  by Harry and Nicola Wendrich [click on the link to buy it]  is important for anyone following the Golden Dawn system and Tarot in particular, so am going to have a stab at it.

For those who came in late, Harry, Nicola and I were involved in creating the Golden Dawn Temple Tarot. When I say I was involved, my influence extended to ideas and a desire to keep the keys in line with the Golden Dawn “Book T,”  Harry, as the artist, worked hard to incorporate my ideas and his own research into the deck. His wife, Nicola, worked on the minor keys. For Harry and Nicola creating the Tarot was part of a seven-year transformative experience. The Tarot images came through them and inspired them to paint.

Tarot colours in the vault

Central to that work was the colour system of the Golden Dawn, later this became important when Harry started building a vault for the Nottingham Temple of the HOGD. In my view these two experiences created a similar experience in Harry that I had also seen in Chic and Tabatha Cicero. They become that raw species of magician – a master of colour. Artists are supposed to understand colour, but few can work out its magical and transformational aspects. Harry, Nicola and the Cicero’s do, and this reflects through the work they created.  It was what made the Golden Dawn Temple deck truly magical.

Sephirothic Odyssey captures the intellectual and magical processes that Nicola and Harry went through when creating the Golden Dawn Temple deck.  The book describes the images of the deck and the paths and sephiroth attributed to them.  But this book is not just repeating standard Golden Dawn teaching. It features Harry and Nichola’s own ideas and responses to the symbols.

Those who use Tarot for divination over a long period will find that the meanings they associate with each card slowly develop their own meaning. This meaning is part of their own understanding, but also reflects their spiritual path. Just imagine then the effect that creating your own cards, using symbols built on your own mediation on the traditional Golden Dawn system would have on that meaning.

fool tarot Tarot and the Fool

Take for example the Fool card. The Whare Ra Golden Dawn deck shows a child reaching up for a fruit chained to a Wolf while the Waite deck shows a fool about to walk off a cliff.  My feeling was that it was important to get a harmony between the two cards. Central to that was the wolf. In the Whare Ra deck the instincts, or intellect, which the wolf represent are powerful and frightening in comparison to the small child. I felt this was a bad symbol. I also liked the idea of a “foolish” god falling into manifestation to learn from the Waite deck, but thought it was too tied to the traditional concept of the Fool which had no method behind its madness. What I liked about Waite though was the fact that the fool carried his knowledge lightly in his knapsack

The key to harmonise the two ideas, I felt was to make the child a little older (seven years because that represents the completion first cycle of a human life) and make him wear the wolf-skin so that the instincts and the intellect where made into something useful for the lower self to wear. The knapsack became the knowledge papers of the outer and second order, which had been discarded because the Fool had finished his studies and the knowledge was a part of him. Like in the Whare Ra deck he reaches for more fruit, even if it means starting over from his new position (foolishly falling to start over).

Harry then worked his magic on that outline and we ended up with something much more. The Fool becomes more definite. He is not accidently falling, he is striding to the edge of the cliff with a childlike fearlessness. He is reaching for the highest fruit (Kether). In addition to the books there is an outer order sash which represents the superficiality that intellectual understanding of the Golden Dawn system appears to confer.

In Sephirothic Odyssey Harry writes that the wolf-skin gave the Fool a shamanic energy indicating that the Fool has acquired a sixth sense, an natural faculty of the wolf kingdom.

“The wolf-skin is invisibly connected to the serpent of desire that pulls against a spiritual long. It represents the flesh or the animal self, which is no long a focal point,” Harry writes.

The symbols on the fruit are the geometric shapes connected to the spheres and the one he is reaching for is connected to the Ace of Wands.

Harry and Nicola show that the Tarot has become the teacher and some of the gems in this book really do shine.

Tarot colours

Another important part of this book is Harry and Nicola’s development of colour theory. Superficially this differs from the Golden Dawn theory by being more specific in the definition of primary colours. The Golden Dawn was limited in its use of colour by the technology available in 1888 and so primary colours (ie colours which cannot be created by mixing) were set as Blue, Red, and Yellow.

Pigment technology finally settled on the true primaries, which were Cadmium Red (in 1909), Cyan Blue (in 1935) and Quinacridone Magenta (in 1970). While this does not change the planetary colours (mars remains scarlet) it tints some of the colours of the Sephiroth and the paths. This book carries fascinating information on this process and what it means. It is based on the ideas of Don Juskco, but Harry and Nicola explain the process in Golden Dawn terms.

Tarot and the Serpent

Around the same time that Harry was working on the Tarot he was also getting information on Serpent Power which has worked its way into this book. In my view this adds to the Tarot revelation and shows the new directions in which Tarot can take you.  Other ideas contained in this book you will either agree or disagree with. It does not matter really. Harry and Nicola are showing you their magical world based on art and magic. Owning this book certainly does help you unlock the mysteries of the Tarot, which are part of the Golden Dawn Temple Tarot and no doubt your response to those symbols, and colour will take you on your own Sephirothic Odyssey.

That is the thing about Odysseys – they do not end. The Golden Dawn Temple Deck takes you on a magical Odyssey and this book provides you with a description by those who intimately navigated it.

I would rank this as a vital book for anyone using Golden Dawn Tarot, or anyone interested in magical tarot generally.

 

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

 

 

 

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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.

USING PLANETARY HOURS

time-managementPlanetary hours have been mostly seen as a restriction in modern magic rather than a tool which can focus and strengthen a ritual.

It is said that you should not do a ritual if you are going to end up doing it on the wrong day. The best time to do a Saturn ritual would be the hour of Saturn on Saturday.

However this is a simplistic and inflexible approach.

What you need to work out is what your ritual is really doing and what planetary powers are involved.   So for example you might what to do a binding spell to prevent someone taking a certain course of action.  Logically Saturday would be a great day for a binding spell.  But would we want to actually use Saturn to do the job?  If you look at binding spells within the Greek Magical Paprii Saturn is not used in this role. That is usually left to Seth-Typhon to create a more “active” and aggressive binding.    So if you did a working in the hour of Mars on Saturn’s day you would have a strong formula for a traditional binding spell.  Effectively you are making Typhon manifest within the sphere of Saturn.

What if you wanted to invoke to cure yourself from smoking?  Tobacco is ruled by Mars (set again) but the habit is lunar.  So you wold invoke Set on Monday.

If you wanted to write a book?  Well the question there is what sort of book?  If you were writing a romance you would invoke Venus (romance) in the hour of Venus on Mercury’s day (Wednesday). A Book on magic would be done on the hour of Mercury, a psychology book on the hour of the moon.

A love spell would make some interesting hours decisions.  If you want to have sex with a person, you would be done in the hour of Venus on Tuesday (mars) because you are focused on the act of sex itself (which is mars).  If you want your love to grow you would use the hour of Jupiter (expansion) on Friday.  If you want to meet some you would use the hour of mars in Venus (if you were a woman or gay guy wanting a bloke). If you were wanting a girlfriend you would use the hour of the moon, or Venus on a Friday as these planets represent a woman.

Planetary hours give us the ability to tune our rituals to planetary force to help it become more specific.

They can be helpful in emergencies too.  If you need to do a ritual which has to be done straight away, you can use the appropriate planetary hour of the day to try and bring about a result.  This is not desirable, and might give a strange result but it is better than nothing.  Say you hear on Friday that your best friend has had a heart attack and is in hospital.  Waiting until Tuesday (mars surgery, or Sun healing) is not an option.  To help the operation you do a mars ritual on the hour of mars on the Friday.  The odd result you might expect is that the operation is successful because the person turns out to have a surprising amount of  natural regenerative life force, or the surgeon has a sudden blinding flash of creativity.

Failing to use planetary hours also might be one of the reasons why rituals fail or we get odd effects.  For example we do a ritual for Money using Jupiter (Thursday).  If we do it during the hour of the moon the money will be taken away the moment we make it.  If we do it in the hour of Mercury it will be gained either by trickery, gambling or writing… through Venus we might get a loan from our partner. Through Saturn it would be hard work etc.

This means that we need to meditate carefully when we are doing the ritual and what its effects might be using the planetary hours as a clue.

Planetary rulership of Days of the week

Monday is ruled by the Moon.

Tuesday is ruled by Mars.

Wednesday  is ruled by Mercury.

Thursday is ruled by Jupiter.

Friday is ruled by Venus.

Saturday is ruled by Saturn.

Sunday ruled by the Sun. ”

 

Planetary hours

Planetary hours take a little calculating.  Fortunately there is software and you can find help online.   If you want to work it out by hand, take the hour of sunrise and the hour of sunset and divide the time by 12 and then look on the following chart

Planetary Hours of the Day

Hour Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
1 Sun Moon Mars Mercury Jupiter Venus Saturn
2 Venus Saturn Sun Moon Mars Mercury Jupiter
3 Mercury Jupiter Venus Saturn Sun Moon Mars
4 Moon Mars Mercury Jupiter Venus Saturn Sun
5 Saturn Sun Moon Mars Mercury Jupiter Venus
6 Jupiter Venus Saturn Sun Moon Mars Mercury
7 Mars Mercury Jupiter Venus Saturn Sun Moon
8 Sun Moon Mars Mercury Jupiter Venus Saturn
9 Venus Saturn Sun Moon Mars Mercury Jupiter
10 Mercury Jupiter Venus Saturn Sun Moon Mars
11 Moon Mars Mercury Jupiter Venus Saturn Sun
12 Saturn Sun Moon Mars Mercury Jupiter Venus

The same method applies to the hours of the night.  Take the hour of sunset and the hour of sunrise and divide the time by twelve.

Planetary Hours of the Night

Hours Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
1 Jupiter Venus Saturn Sun Moon Mars Mercury
2 Mars Mercury Jupiter Venus Saturn Sun Moon
3 Sun Moon Mars Mercury Jupiter Venus Saturn
4 Venus Saturn Sun Moon Mars Mercury Jupiter
5 Mercury Jupiter Venus Saturn Sun Moon Mars
6 Moon Mars Mercury Jupiter Venus Saturn Sun
7 Saturn Sun Moon Mars Mercury Jupiter Venus
8 Jupiter Venus Saturn Sun Moon Mars Mercury
9 Mars Mercury Jupiter Venus Saturn Sun Moon
10 Sun Moon Mars Mercury Jupiter Venus Saturn
11 Venus Saturn Sun Moon Mars Mercury Jupiter
12 Mercury Jupiter Venus Saturn Sun Moon Mars