The latest issue of Watchers of the Dawn brings up an interesting issue of what happens when you tell other people your Grade.
This week both Martin Thibeault and David Griffin announced that they held high Golden Dawn grades. Martin said he was a 9=2 and David said that his order offered teaching up to 10=1 (which implies he holds that grade).
Normally no one ever talks about their grade outside their order. There are two reasons for this. One is that people, like Watchers, will say that you are claiming to hold a grade which you cannot remotely have the spiritual experience for and they would equally question your motivation for claiming it.
Martin points out that the grades are “administration only” and such a practice was common in Whare Ra and he would be absolutely correct. However I doubt anyone in Whare Ra knew that the high grades existed. They were shown a plan of the third order in Portal, but the Third Order was seen as being packed with secret chiefs and gods.
Given the status of those grades and the climate of secrecy that existed within Whare Ra it is incredibly unlikely that anyone knew that John Von Dadleson was a 9=2 and he would have been the last person in the world to post that fact on Facebook.
This gets to the core of why people do not publically talk about their grades. People have no reference point. BOTA, for example only goes to 5=6 and gives an administration grade of 7=4 to its supreme chief. In his book True and Invisible Order Paul Case makes the 9=2 a supreme being. HOGD stops at 7=4 and leaves the candidate to find their own way to 8=3, which it does not acknowledge.
We are not comparing like with like either. A 5=6 in the HOGD has gone through a different system of experiences, testing and training that someone in MOAA. That is not saying that one is better than the other but it means that we both have different ideas about what the word means.
So me telling you what grade I am will not give you any indication of what I am or what true grade I hold. However it might allow you to project your own fantasies about what that grade might hold onto me. Thus me telling you is either ego or a marketing tool.
Martin denied he released this information for egotistical reasons, it was just to show that he was Pat Zalewski’s appointed successor and held all the appropriate grades. That would be fair enough, however it is not quite how I would have done it.
Watchers are right in this respect – it smacks of the people who used to scream “look at me” on alt.magick in the 1990s. Grades and declarations do not cut it anymore than that old bugbear — lineage.
What was crucial for Pat’s 7=4 grade was not just that he was given it by one of the greatest Magicians that Whare Ra produced, or even that that grade was acknowledged by other Whare Ra people, but the books and papers he wrote that proved he was worthy of holding those grades.
With respect to Martin, no one outside of his own group knows him beyond these pronouncements of high grades. To outsiders his “achievements” are not his own but someone else’s. Until we see books, web postings, from Martin which are the same calibre of Pat’s we will assume that he is a Mina Mathers to succeed Samuel.
This is not a criticism of Martin at all, but a statement of fact about the way the occult community works. It is a community packed full of people who say things and very few who do things. Those who do things get more respect than those who say stuff.
The only way you can get around this is by releasing material to the esoteric community that shows where you are coming from.
It is fine if you don’t want that, but you can’t advertise your grades and special privilege if you don’t, because people like Watchers will be there with hobnail boots on.