This started out as a reply to Perigrin’s Magic of the Ordinary blog, but it got a little too big. To understand what I am banging on about you should look at his blog here which appears to be an answer to my blog here and the subsequent debate on the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn group.
Actually I am fairly conservative too… I do not want wholesale changes within the rituals, just an ironing out of trouble spots. MOAA has not changed its rituals in any way that most people would notice… yet. However I do not consider it a GD group but rather an off-shoot of Whare Ra.
The overly conservative approach has one incredibly obvious flaw. It assumes that Mathers and Westcott in the GD tradition knew what they are were doing, or had had good reasons for what they did and were incapable of making any mistakes. This allows those of an intellectual bent to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear by taking a random text and coming up with a very good reason for it being there. The justification becomes more important than the original reason for it being there and no one wants to look at changing the original because they will lose the later meaning. What I have been suggesting is a review of chunks of ritual (or ideas) by trying to work out what should be going on. So lets look at the issues to maintain the status quo that you have bought up.
The issue of mastery of the rituals has to apply to the original writers of the rituals just as much as it does those who seek to review them. No one in his or her right mind would claim mastery of any system, but it is fair to claim experience of that system. Experience is obtained by doing. In my case that is on average one initiation a month for 20 years — most of them in the very conservative HOGD. When McKenzie wrote the skeleton outlines of the rituals he had never seen them performed and when Mathers wrote the complete versions we know and love he hadn’t either. The fact that they are in such a good state is a testimony to their brilliance as magicians – however it does not make them masters of the ritual. Mathers was never initiated into the Golden Dawn and never experienced its energies OTHER than being a Heirophant. When Mathers/ MacKenzie wrote the rituals they were masters of them, nor did he have much of a clue to where it was going at times he defaulted to masonic structures and sometimes just filled out bits with nice sounding padding. If he truly were a master of the ritual, he would have stuck in something better.
This angle to the Golden Dawn is especially of interest to me as it is one of the things that I am emphasising in MOAA. The idea that Inner Work would be disrupted by any changes is partly true but could also be incorrect. When the original GD ritual was written, there was little or no inner work. It started to be added with the introduction of the Z documents as Mathers got his contact with the Archangel Raphael (LeT). My guess is that it took a while for the material body of the order to be ensouled. As this Inner side took over the GD we see evidence of changes – some being left for the rebels to push through with the most changes to the ritual taking place in Morgan Roth. We also see changes being experimented with (I come in the Power of the Light speech appears to have been part of the ritual of the later GD, which was dropped by Morgan Roth and Mathers, and re-instated by SM). The nature of inner work is that it demands improvements to its material vehicles to manifest better. We have seen that it changed dramatically for the SM with the Portal being redone (twice) and with the edition of two grades (6=5 and 7=4). This was the inner fitting itself into the period (there was not a lot of difference between Edwardian London and WW1 New Zealand). Logic would suggest that a modern GD order would find a push from the inner to adapt its material format to suit ideas and knowledge found within the 21st century and if the group was truly contacted on the inner they would not make changes that would break something important. While I agree the that the egregore might be furious, there is a slight problem in that the majority of Golden Dawn groups use the Bristol temple rituals which cut out most of the diagrams phrasing anyway (no one died).
EVIDENCE OF RESULTS
MOAA has made changes and in most cases so far our results have been the same or better as they were in the HOGD (Bristol rituals), the early days of the Group (pure Whare Ra). The results were significantly better with the changes that we made to the 1-10 and 5=6. The 1-10 while stick focusing on the material does not case a total financial collapse as it did with the Bristol ritual (which I felt was unbalanced). These have mostly involved inner work with the godforms rather than much changes to speeches (The 1-10 changes were based on a paper by Mathers which made sense) However I am yet to tackle the “padding” issue. So far my only changes to the Oracle speeches have included changing the translation to something more modern.
Please note this is not a scrap between me and Perigrin…. we are mates… this is a debate about how the GD could be improved for the 21st Century and not a manifestation of the so called Golden Dawn Wars which were actually just two businessmen having a turf war using the GD as their business model.