Greetings again Egyptophiles!
James Clark has decided to wow us with another example of his Egyptian iconography from the Neo-Enochian (that is post-Golden Dawn) portion of the Essential Enochian Grimoire. This is another of the godforms that rule the “Truncated Pyramids” of the Watchtower squares:
The Greek name “Harpocrates” comes from the Egyptian Heru-pa-Khered, meaning Horus the Child. As the story goes, Osiris had impregnated Isis just before he left the realm of the living to govern the Underworld. Osiris’ brother and murderer Set, who had usurped the Throne of Egypt, was unaware of the pregnancy, and Isis did everything in her power to keep it that way. She went into hiding in a field of reeds to have and raise the child – who she named Horus - in secrecy. (As it happens Set did eventually find out, and made several attempts to assassinate his infant nephew, but all without success.)
Eventually, Hrous came of age and confronted Set to reclaim his father’s Throne. After 80 years of battle (on the field and in court), Horus achieved victory and became the ruler of Egypt. From that point forward, every Pharoah was considered a living incarnation of Horus.
The Child Horus became a special figure in Egypt, much as the Baby Jesus would become his own figure in later Christianity. (In fact, it is quite likely that images of the Madonna and Child are descened from older Egyptian images of Isis and Harpocrates.) Horus the Child represented the newborn Sun (in the morning, but especially after the winter Solstice) and the first appearance of crops and vegitation.
As Nick Farrell pointed out in his most recent blog post, our association with Harpocrates as a “God of Silence” was due to a misunderstanding on the part of the Greeks. They saw the young boy figure holding a finger to his lips, and assumed he was making the common gesture for “be quiet.” Thus, they associated him with their own God of Silence and Mystery – and that is exactly how he is viewed in the Golden Dawn system to this day.
In fact, the particular gesture being made by Harpocrates is simply an imitation of the Egyptian Hieroglyph for “Child.” I suspect this had something to do with children sucking on their fingers, or even making a non-verbal request to be fed.
Egyptian Hieroglyph for “Child”
Of course, even if Harpocrates is not specifically a “God of Silence”, there is still deep significance in the mythos of his being raised in secret by the Mother Goddess, and prepared for his eventual confrontation with Set. In the Golden Dawn’s Neophyte initiation ceremony, the candidate is presented as likewise raised in darkness and obscurity, protected and finally guided to seek spiritual wisdom by the Great Mother so he can someday reclaim his own spiritual Throne and govern his personal Kingdom.
In the Neo-Enochian system, Harpocrates represents balanced Air and Water. Two sides of his pyramid are Air (yellow with purple characters) and two are Water (blue with orange characters). His image is a youth wearing a yellow and blue tunic, a yellow pectoral collar, and a blue headdress. He also wears the double-crown of Egypt, colored yellow and blue. He holds a blue ankh and stands in the “sign of silence” – meaning his left fingertip is pressed against his lips. Sometimes he is depicted kneeling upon a Lotus blossom. He rests upon a yellow and blue base.
So James Clark has finally released some new artwork from the Essential Enochian Grimoire - and this time he’s drawing from the Neo-Enochian half of the book, where we find the Golden Dawn’s version of Enochian magick. And, in the Golden Dawn, they used Egyptian godforms as talismatic images to represent the “Truncated Pyramids” formed of the Watchtower squares:
Hathor – Goddess of Passion
Hathor is the Egyptian Goddess of Fertility and Passion – much like the Goddesses of neighboring countries: Astarte, Ishtar and Inanna. Also like these other Goddesses, Hathor is also a Goddess of War.
Egyptian mythos tells us of the time Hathor overheard some humans planning to assassinate her father Ra and overthrow his kingdom. In her rage, she assumed the form of the Eye of Ra (the disk of the Sun) and flew across the Earth burning and destroying everything in her path.
So complete was her destruction, the other Gods became afraid she would exterminate mankind for good. So, they quickly chose a valley in Hathor’s path and flooded it with beer dyed red to resemble blood.
Sure enough, when Hathor saw what appeared to be a lake of human blood, she waded in waist-deep and began to drink her fill. The beer eventually took effect and Hathor, her rage finally spent, fell into a deep sleep. What was left of mankind rejoiced at being spared, and learned to never again plot against mighty Ra.
In the above picture, we see Hathor as she appears in the Enochian system. (It’s a shame the Essential Enochian Grimoire couldn’t reproduce these images in full color!) She represents balanced WATER and EARTH. Two sides of her pyramid are Water (blue with orange characters) and two are Earth (black with white characters). Her image is of a woman wearing a blue and black dress, a blue pectoral collar and a black horned headdress. The headdress is surmounted by a blue disk and blue feathers. She carries a black ankh and blue lotus scepter and stands upon a black and blue base.
James really outdid himself on these Egyptian images. When Llewellyn first told me they wanted to have an artist re-draw the traditional GD Godforms, I was skeptical. I pictured some kind of modern fantasy-style depictions of the gods – which would have been nice, but would not have carried that “Golden Dawn” tone or feeling. Thankfully, James happens to have Golden Dawn experience, so he knew exactly how these images should look. I am proud to have these new images in my book – I have no doubt they will be used by practitioners again and again!
Thanks goes to Chic and Tabatha Cicero for lending me the original versions of these Godforms.
Greetings Angel Workers!
James is not only an accomplished graphical artist, but he also has practical knowledge of and experience with the subject matter. (That made working with him on these images *much* smoother. Not to mention it means he is as dedicated as I am to getting every detail just right.) The following is an image James is particularly proud of, from the upcoming Essential Enochian Grimoire:
The Seal of the True God.
“And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God ” [Rev 7:2]
The Seal of God appears in the Book of the Revelation of St. John, carried by an angel from God’s Kingdom (of Light in the East) to the Earth. It is then used to mark the foreheads of all the world’s faithful who serve the Light. (See Rev 7, and 9:4.) And this isn’t a religious concern, as even St. John clearly states the Seal was received by “a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues.” (Rev. 7:9). (The only catch was that 144 thousand Jewish guys got to receive it first.)
Personally, I suspect such a mark would be upon one’s aura – a spiritual mark. Consider the mark is places “in the forehead” in Revelation, the common location given for one’s “third eye” or psychic awareness.
The above Seal is probably familiar to most of you as the “Seal of Truth” – and Dee did refer to it by that term once or twice. However, its full and proper name is given in Dee’s journals as Sigillium Dei Emeth, which translates literally as “Seal God Truth.” In other grimoires that have versions of this Seal, it is called the “Seal of God.” Thus, I tend to refer to this image as the “Seal of the True God.” (However one could suggest other translations such as the “Seal of God’s Truth”, “Seal of the God (of) Truth” or even the “True Seal of God.” Plus “Seal” can also be “Signature”, so we get titles such as the “True Signature of God,”)
In any case, what you are seeing above is, in fact, a very unique image. Back in the old Enochian-L days (circa late 1990s), we dissected the numbers and letters of the Seal in minute detail – and we became aware of three problems in the available images of Dee’s Seal. The above image addresses these problems:
One appears to be a mistake (either of Dee’s or of some later copyist). A circumference character “y/15″ (see above) is rendered as “y/14″ in all published images of the Seal of the True God. The problem is that “y/14″ makes it impossible to decrypt the Angelic Name that contains that y. If you look on p. 103 of Joseph Peterson’s John Dee’s Five Books of Mystery, you’ll see the angels actually gave him “y/15″ (There is also a mathematical mystery having to do with the numbers in the Seal’s circumference that requires this to be 15.)
Interestingly, this letter is only used in the eighth “hidden” name Aborymon, which is associated with Antichrist and the End Times. (The name is likely related to Abaddon and Apollyon.) If one wanted to be completely ridiculous, one might even suggest it was a deliberate blind Dee introduced into the Seal so dabblers wouldn’t find Aborymon’s name…
The second and third problems were deliberate blinds on the part of Dee, so dabblers wouldn’t stumble onto Aborymon’s name. Really.
In most published versions of the Seal of the True God, you’ll find in the circumference a capital letter “A” without any numbers in its cell. That’s the first letter of Aborymon, and it doesn’t tell you where to go to find the next letter of the name. Dee originally recorded a “666″ in this cell, and noted that one was to move counterclockwise six spaces to find the next letter. Later, the Archangel Michael (in a vision) erased the “666″ in that cell to illustrate dominance over the Antichrist. Dee followed suit by leaving only the “A” on his own Seal. Most have followed suit, but a few practitioners are starting to put the “666″ back in place in order to repair the mathematical integrity of the circumference itself.
Finally, the last problem is a certain character “13/r” that also blocks the decryption of Aborymon. (This is why I suspect the “y/15″ was an honest mistake.) If you move thirteen spaces clockwise from “13/r”, it just takes you back to the capital “A” that started the name. However, this number 13 is necessary for that mathematical mystery I cryptically mentioned previously, so it has to stay. You just have to know that to decrypt Aborymon properly you have to remove the “1″ from “13″ and only move clockwise three spaces.
This image is really a joint effort of several people. First I drew up a sketch of a corrected Seal. Then Carrie Mikell took that sketch and turned it into something I could actually scan and submit to the publisher. (lol) James then had Carrie’s large and clear picture to work from to create the final version you see above.
Greetings Angel Workers!
James Clark, the artist behind the diagrams and images in The Essential Enochian Grimoire, has released a second image from the book:
And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. – Rev 21:2
This is a very important diagram from Dee’s journals (though this one has been elaborated from the original), as it reveals the basic cosmology of the Enochian system. The Holy City (representing the physical universe – see Reveltation 21) has twelve gates through which the Sun enters and exits – each one designated by a sign of the zodiac. Interestingly, these 12 Solar Gates are described in detail in the Ethiopic Book of Enoch, a text which was lost for thousands of years – including Dee’s lifetime.
Dee’s original diagram did not include the zodiac signs, only the names of the Hebrew Tribes and the numbers 1-12. If we look in Agrippa’s Three Books of Occult Philosophy, the “Scale of the Number 12“, we find Dee’s numbers relate to zodiac signs: 1 = Aries, 2 = Taurus, 3 = Gemini, etc. Thus, we see in Dee’s diagram that the Tribe of Dan (in the east) is given the number 1, and sure enough Agrippa tells us that Dan relates to Aries. Dee gave the number 2 to the Tribe of Reuben (in the south), and Agrippa tells us that Reuben relates to Taurus. And so on for the remaining Tribes and zodiac signs.
Once we add in the 12 signs, it becomes apparent that Dee did not intend the zodiac in this diagram to run in proper order. Instead, he grouped them by Elemental triplicity – Fire in the east, Earth in the south, Air in the west and Water in the north. (This is the zodiacal ordering of Elements, based upon where the Cardinal signs naturally fall on a horoscope: Aries in the east, Capricorn in the south, Libra in the west and Cancer in the north.) This is a completely different association of Elements to directions than would be used in the later Golden Dawn Enochian system.
It is interesting to note that this grouping by triplicity is a traditional method of classifying the Shem haMephoresh. – and through it the 24 Elders of the Apocalypse. Those Elders figure into Dee’s Watchtower hierarchy of angels – and I’ve discussed the links between all of these things in a previous essay.
Greetings oh Patient Ones!
James Clark is the artist behind the diagrams and images in The Essential Enochian Grimoire. (He worked mainly from sketches made by me and Carrie Mikell.) Just for fun, and to tease the hell outta you guys, he has decided to let a bit of artwork from the book “leak” onto the interwebs every once in a while. And, for the very same reasons, I’ve decided to make a series of blog posts about each image.
James’ first release is:
The Eagle – Kherub of the West
This is the symbol of the Western Kherub in the Golden Dawn traditions (and many traditions that followed). His name is Nesher. He is a form of Scorpius, the fixed sign of Water, though he truly embodies all three signs of the Water triplicity. He is always one of four – the others being angels in the forms of a Lion (Fire triplicity), an Ox (Earth triplicity) and a Man (Air triplicity). You can find these angels in the first chapter of Ezekiel and the fourth chapter of the Revelation of St. John.
You will only see this guy in the second half of the grimoire, dedicated to Golden Dawn-style Enochiania. You won’t see him in the Dee-purist half of the grimoire.
Greetings, Faithful Readers!
Since I got caught up in the blogosphere, I’m afraid I’ve been sorely neglecting my old Writings webpage. (How old is it, you ask? Check the link below and you’ll see the URL is called “indexaol.html” – because it was originally my old AOL homepage! LOL Now it’s on Tripod, where it has been for what seems like eons…) That is where you can read most of my published essays and book reviews, listen to/read my interviews, find links to my books, etc.
Today, I finally took the time to do a massive update to the page – bringing the list of published material pretty much up to date. I think I included everything that has been lacking – but if you know of anything I’ve missed, please don’t hesitate to let me know!
Greetings, Dear Readers!
The Four Philosophical Elements
Most of you are likely familiar with the four Elements and their association with the four cardinal points of the compass. The usual pattern in most modern traditions places Air in the east, Fire in the south, Water in the west and Earth in the north – an arrangement often attributed to the “four winds” of the earth-plane. A more stellar arrangement (based on astrology) places Fire in the east, Earth in the south, Air in the west and Water in the North. (See later in this post for more on that.)
I just had Ravin Digitalis ask me if I was aware of any tradition that assigns Air to the north and Earth to the east – and if such a tradition could be traced back to 5000 BCE. In my response, I cover many different associations of Elements to directions and where they (or where they likely) came from. I think you might find it interesting:
To my knowledge, there are no systems of correspondences of Elements to directions that go back to 5000 BCE. The earliest such correspondences could have arisen would have been in cultures that developed astrology – likely going back no further than Babylon. Not even Egypt had such correspondences that I know of – though they did have the four Sons of Horus as the pillars of the four directions (associated with the arms and legs of Nut), I’ve never seen any Egyptian text that associates them directly with four Elements.
From astrology we have Fire in the East (Aries), Earth in the South (Capricorn), Air in the West (Libra) and Water in the North (Cancer) – an arrangement that still existed when Agrippa wrote his work (see Three Books of Occult Philosophy – Scale of the Number Four). Another, perhaps sidereal, version would use the fixed signs: Leo in the East, Taurus in the South, Aquarius in the West and Scorpius in the North.
I’ve never found anything definitive on where the Air in the East arrangement – common in the Golden Dawn, Thelema and thus Wicca – came from. However, the GD was very into Ezekiel’s vision – which shows God’s Throne supported by the four Kherubs whose faces are Man (Aquarius) in the front, Eagle (Scorpius) behind, Lion (Leo) to the right and Bull (Taurus) to the left. If you face the Throne Eastward, and assume that “right” and “left” are from the perspective of the Throne itself, that gives the usual arrangement of Elements to the directions: Air-East, Water-West, Fire-South, Earth-North.
However, there is some ambiguity here. In Ezekiel’s vision (approximately 600 BCE), the Throne is not facing the East – he describes it as coming out of the North and facing/moving Southward. That would put the Man (Air) facing South and the Eagle (Water) facing North. If we still assume Ezekiel’s mention of “right” and “left” are from the perspective of the Throne, that would put the Lion (Fire) facing the West and the Ox (Bull) facing East. That would give you Earth in the East, but not Air in the North.
BUT – if we assume Ezekiel was referring to his *own* right and left, the two Kherubs would be reversed so the Lion would face East and the Bull would face West. But that doesn’t give you Air in the North or Earth in the East…
The only other example I know of (off the top of my head at least) is from the Key of Solomon, where directions are given for the construction of a magick carpet. There, one is told that Michael (Fire) is in the East, Raphael (Air) is in the North, Gabriel (Water) is in the West and Muriel (Earth) is in the South. This one gives you Air in the North, but not Earth in the East. lol
So I don’t see any traditional source for the arrangement [you mention] – and sure as hell nothing going back as far as 5000 BCE! lol Good luck!
If anyone knows of other associations and their origins, feel free to reply below and share with us.
UPDATE: Looks like Alex Sumner can tell us where the Golden Dawn got its “Four Winds” (aka Seasonal) attribution of the Elements to their directions. In the same blog, he reveals something fascinating: the “ADNI Formula” (as opposed to the better-known “YHVH Formula”). Awesome!
Well it looks like Carrie and I had a bit of a schedule mix-up. We thought the Fall 2013 Classes were due to start the first Sunday of September. But, instead, they began on the first Sunday of August! (I.e. – yesterday!!)
So we gave the first class yesterday to a small audience. But if you want to join us, it is not too late! Today was mostly a history lecture, and we start the practical stuff (with the LBRP) next Sunday. If you want to sign up, just follow the instructions below:
Ceremonial Magick uses ritual and invocation to get closer to the Divine Self. Come learn the basics of Ceremonial Magick from initiated ceremonial magicians, Carrie Mikell & Aaron Leitch – adepts of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. If you want to experience Ceremonial (or “high”) Magick, this class is for you!Course Topics include the following:
•Class 1: Basic Terms of Ceremonial Magick – Diagrams & the Qabalistic Cross
•Class 2: Basic Rituals & Correspondences
•Class 3: The Four Philosophical Elements
•Class 4: Hexagrams & Invoking the Planets
•Class 5: Talisman Creation & Consecration
•Class 6: An Angel Evocation
Class starts Sunday August 4th and continues over the next five Sundays, 1-3:30pm. Cost is $20 per class with a $60 deposit that will pay for the last 3 classes in the series.
Please call Mystikal Scents at 813-986-3212 to register. Limited to 12 students.
9545 E. Fowler Ave
Thonotosassa/Brandon, FL. 33592
And for those of you who are not local to us, we STILL intend to create a Skype version of these classes soon. I’ll let you know when those are ready for sign-up.
Welcome back, Aspirants!
In my last post, I shared with you an “anti-secret society” manifesto posted by Jake Stratton Kent to my Solomonic group, along with rebuttals made by myself, Nick Farrell, Peregrin Wildoak and others. In case you are just joining us, I want to make it clear that Jake and I are friends who each have a deep respect for the work and scholarship of the other. So this isn’t any kind of in-fighting or conflict – it’s just a healthy fraternal debate that has brought up all sorts of interesting points. If you haven’t read my last post and followed all the links I provided, I urge you to do that now before reading on…
You all caught up now? Good, let’s continue:
In this post, I’m going to share Jake’s Open Message to the Golden Dawn Community, which he wrote in response to the rebuttals he received to his manifesto. But before I do that, I want to offer a few more introductory paragraphs about the work Jake and I have been doing over the last several years.
Jake and I have never actually collaborated on any joint projects. We are simply two guys with similar interests/goals who know one another via several internet forums. Some of our work appears together in an anthology or two from Scarlet Imprint, And Jake has told me that he received some amount of inspiration for his Geosophia from my publications about the grimoires’ relation to shamanic vocation. (I wonder if he was mostly being nice when he said that. lol)
The goal that Jake and I share goes somewhat beyond merely redefining the Solomonic grimoires and the concept of goetia for occultists. Our true secret conspiracy is to plant seeds in what we believe to be the modern age’s fertile soil for a new kind of occult revival.
When you look at indigenous cultures around the world – native America, Africa, South America, the Caribbean islands, etc – you will quickly discover they all possess occult traditions and folk magick that dates back hundreds and thousands of years. We can point to examples in the ATRs (Santeria, Palo-Mayombe, Voodoo, etc), Mexican Brujería, Native American Shamanism, and even syncratic folk traditions like Hoodoo and Hexcraft – just to name a few. While all of these traditions have been influenced by outside sources (such as Christianity), all of them have persisted in their cultures without a historical break. Their brands of occultism are true living traditions, with relevance to the entire host culture – not just a few isolated scholars and religious sub-cultures.
Western culture, on the other hand, does not enjoy this reality. Our occultism and folk magick developed naturally for thousands of years, and then hit the massive brick walls of the Roman Catholic Church and (later) the Age of Enlightenment. During these periods magick was first outlawed, and then ridiculed, so that it finally became a relic of the past. Western culture moved on without its shamans and lost its connection to its native spirits – leading us ultimately to the world of corporate rule and rampant consumerism we all suffer from today.
Of course, this is not to say that Western occultism was successfully stamped out. Throughout the centuries, the Light has been kept alive by a few obscure individuals and several mystical groups – but the common “man on the street” either doesn’t know any of this exists, or is vaguely aware that “some wackos” engage in strange religious practices. For most Westerners, occultism has zero impact on their daily lives.
By the time we got to the late 1800s and early 1900s, Western occultism was literally starting from scratch. As Jake has pointed out, the modern occult revival launched primarily from a masonic model. And it pieced together what it could from dusty old books found in nearly forgotten archives, a few early archeological digs in Egypt, a largely watered-down understanding of Buddhism and heaping doses of psychology and Jungianism. They did the best they could with limited information (and an overwhelming Christian bias) – and they really did achieve a lot under the circumstances. It was the birth of the modern lodge-style systems of magick.
But what the Golden Dawn, Thelema and even Wicca have never achieved is the re-establishment of an occultism that is relevant to the day-to-day life of greater Western culture. We remain obscure sub-cultures. How rare is it, for example, for a layperson to seek out their neighborhood Golden Dawn wizard or Wiccan when they are facing hardships in their lives? For healing or exorcism? For rituals related to birth, marriage or death? For that matter, how often does a Western layperson even consider the Gods and spirits who share and govern their world, or think even once about how to strike a balance and harmony with such entities?
What Jake and I – and a good many others – see in the grimoires are manuals to accomplish all of the above. They contain catalogs of the native spirits of the West, and the shamanic methods of interacting with them. True shamans don’t learn their art in university or lodge-style settings – they learn directly from the spirits. And the Solomonic system is designed for the very purpose of showing us how to contact them and re-establish the Western Goen.
The magickal lodges aren’t designed for this purpose. I’ll return to that thought shortly – but for now I want you to keep all of the above in mind as you read Jake’s Open Message to the Golden Dawn Community:
An Open Message to the Golden Dawn Community
Various sources inform me that some of the Golden Dawn groups recognise their past failings and are ‘moving on’ now or soonish – that’s fine, even credible.
Meanwhile we have all sorts of attitudes and misconceptions in the occult community, originating precisely from the Golden Dawn, plus some help from Crowley and Grant. It doesn’t matter whether Crowley is/was popular with this or that faction of the current Golden Dawn community. If it is a community, it has a lot of work to do helping folks unlearn a lot of bullshit, and make space for better information. Sure, some Masonic tendencies in the occult community are not entirely Golden Dawn related, but some very unhelpful and generic problems DO originate in that area.
Particularly as regards traditional Goetia – to which the ‘standard bearers of the Occult Revival’ have done an immense collective disservice. This in several ways, and I need not emphasise Mathers’ editing and attitude flaws in his Key of Solomon or the still near universal semantic problems stemming from the Mathers/Crowley publication of the Goetia of Solomon. Waite’s ironic dismissal of the grimoires is also a comparatively minor matter. Aaron and others are quite capable of clarifying these details if need be. There is a more serious philosophical matter, which should alarm Western occultists across much of the traditional spectrum. It requires measured, reasonable but effective action, and cannot be avoided.
Mathers introduction of the Qliphoth into modern occultism has resulted, against considerable precedent, in an ‘anti-cosmic philosophy’ as one of the main features of modern Western Occultism. This is a disaster for Hermeticism and Neoplatonism, to which the Golden Dawn current among many Western schools essentially belong. These are positive philosophies, even with the inheritance of the ‘spirit/matter dichotomy’ inherent in Plato – which to a large degree Iamblichus resolved. The involvement of the premier occult ‘Secret Societies’ in Gnosticism – with its own pessimistic undercurrents – is also something Magical Orders need to clarify very firmly indeed.
The role of the Qliphoth in neo-occultism is also a greater disaster to understanding and reclaiming Goetia as a major formative ancestral current within Western Magic. Spirit work as a central part of western magic, long ‘demonised’ and driven underground, involves a spirit pantheon, traceable as early as the second century AD, and with older elements. These ‘Aerial spirits (demons or ‘third order angels’) have no real relation with the qlipoth whatever. The ‘fall out’ from the early revival as now represented in some quarters represents essentially a whole new layer of demonisation, for which the legacy of the Golden Dawn bears much of the responsibility. This has social and philosophical ramifications which have to be considered, by would be Hierophants and Orders alike. Again, Grant’s contribution to this fiasco does not absolve the Golden Dawn legacy of responsibility for the ‘clear up’. I stress also that an ‘anti-Satanic’ crusade would not be constructive, what is required is due acknowledgment of the authentic goetic tradition. The ‘anti-spiritualist’ clause in the Magical Obligation is an additional obstacle to true progress in the ‘spirit work’ aspect of traditional magic. Methods involving states of passivity and loss of control should not be subject to an ideological taboo at the very base of the Pyramid.
Additionally, the Secret Society model has had a major impact on witchcraft, another aspect of my original statement. The ‘bogus history’ and resistance to change inherent in this model has not been useful there. Other strands of the modern ceremonial community have also inherited problems (such as antipathy to spiritualism) from the GD/AC legacy. One influential secret society has only added one book to their curriculum since 1947 – that’s not a good precedent for an occult vanguard. This all results from the self referential tendencies in the Secret Society model. A closed door to stop knowledge getting out eventually stops it getting in. To repeat, its all very well you guys moving on – but you have a hell of a job catching up and clearing up, not only your own act, but the semi generic mess your past mistakes have encouraged.
Don’t just set up shop with some shiny ‘new improved’ labels. Occultism doesn’t need a new flavour in an old package. It needs to encourage self education regarding its traditions, from authentic primary sources and up to date research. It needs to understand the Western Tradition as a continuum, not a series of consumer niches and disjointed re-enactment styles with no inter-relationships or mutual influences. Rather than letting occultism get dumbed down and commercialised through their neglect, the Mystery Schools must exemplify Magic as an important formative aspect of Western Culture and be worthy of their Calling.
Otherwise what’s the point of them?
First in my response, I’d like to address Jake’s comments about the Qliphoth. I don’t want to spend much time on that here – since a really awesome discussion about the Qliphoth in Western occultism was already held on the Solomonic Group, and I highly recommend you check that out.
Moving on from that, I want to focus upon what I see as Jake’s misunderstanding of the proper role of secret societies in Western occultism. (Derived, I suspect, from his negative experiences with some lodges from his past.) While he makes several worthwhile points in his manifesto and open message, I still believe he is “conflating apples and oranges” in his feelings toward secret societies vs. folk magick.
As I said in my last post, I agree with Jake on several issues. The old magickal lodges did get several concepts wrong, and many of those concepts ended up permeating the whole of Western occultism. Work needs to be done to correct this: hence books like Secrets of the Magickal Grimoires, Geosophia and others. Western occultism does not begin and end with the Golden Dawn.
Where I disagree with Jake is in his overall dismissal of the lodges themselves, and his suggestion that their continued existence is holding back the current Western occult revival. Sure, as I stated previously, the lodges are not going to revive the Goen or make his services accessible to the standard Western layperson the way the Santo is available to his people. But this doesn’t mean the lodges don’t have an important role to play.
In Secrets…, I devoted chapter three entirely to the subject of shamanism and the role it plays in society. I then devoted chapter four entirely to the subject of the “temple faiths” and the social role played by the priest. From there I argued that the Solomonic tradition was a melding of these two roles – an inherently priestly art that also requires one to fulfill the role of shaman to the community. In other words, it involves all of the spiritual rectification and purification required to elevate oneself closer to God, but then asks one to turn back toward the world and use his new-found wisdom and power to help others with the most mundane issues.
As an illustration of this, I point to the Key of Solomon the King, which suggests one should “acquire the rank or degree of Exorcist” before attempting its spells. That meant ordination in the Church and appointment to the Order of Exorcists. And the Order of Exorcists wee doubtlessly the most “shamanic” of the priestly cast, being in charge of healing and dealing directly with the everyday problems of the people.
Acquiring the ordination is simply a method of gaining the spiritual authority necessary to be taken seriously by the spirits and angels. (This is a subject I cover in some depth in Secrets…) In this light, here is the response I posted to Jake concerning my involvement in both the Golden Dawn and Solomonic magick:
You are correct that the orders are not going in the direction that you are pulling. Even my own Solomonic work (which you know is pulling in pretty much the same direction as yours) is done outside the confines of my order. But I just can’t see my work in the order as some sort of detriment to my Solomonic work.
In fact, my work in the order plays a rather important role in my Solomonic practice. No, I don’t blend the systems – I don’t use Golden Dawn rituals and techniques as a basis for the grimoire magick. However, the grimoires *do* happen to mention in places that some sort of ordination is helpful in performing the magick. In other words – it helps if one undertakes some form of initiatory process.
I’m not a Catholic, so becoming a priest in the Church isn’t going to happen. However, I am a Gnostic and a Hermeticist – and as such I became “ordained” by working my way through the Golden Dawn’s Outer Grades and into the RR et AC. I have sat as Hierophant – which you could translate as “High Priest” – in my Temple and initiated others into the Tradition. (Currently I am a past-Hierophant, but I will sit as Hierophant again when my turn comes back around.)
In fact, I joined the Golden Dawn entirely on the orders of my Guardian Angel. For me, this is how I gained the spiritual authority necessary to hang out with the angels and spirits of the grimoires. When they say, “John Dee we know, Agrippa we know, but who are you?”, I reply, “I am Aaron Leitch, Frater Odo Caosg of the Isis-Urania Mother Temple of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn” – and it does indeed carry weight.
I’m certainly not saying that is the *only* way to gain the necessary spiritual authority. But it was the way for me, and it works. And I see just as much relevance in the order as I see in what you and I are doing with the Solomonic material outside the orders. The fact that they are different does not make them mutually exclusive.
In essence, I believe what we are seeing in the current expansion of Solomonic and other systems of folk magick (including hoodoo, hexcraft, fam-trad witchcraft, etc) is the revival of Western shamanism. What we are seeing in the growth of the Golden Dawn and other secret societies is the establishment of the priestly side of the occultism coin.
Sure, we’ve got plenty of priests in the Church, but they are largely divorced from and hostile to occultism, and thus cannot play a relevant role in the return of a shamanic culture. (Crowley may have been correct when he suggested their day had passed.) Today, a new kind of priestly caste is required for that to happen – and such a priesthood, in the form of secret societies like the Golden Dawn , is currently in its infancy.
If you look at ancient civilizations such as Egypt, Sumeria, Babylonia, Greece, early Rome, etc. you find examples of Temple priesthoods and common folk magick co-existing in harmony. Each had its role to play in the daily lives of the greater community. The two were not mutually exclusive and in fact supported one another in many ways. I don’t believe either side of the coin – priestly or shamanic – must be abandoned in order for the other to prosper.