Greetings again, fellow Angel-workers!
Mars is certainly in the air. We just passed through a prime period for Martial magick – when Mars passed through Scorpio. (Apparently it is only in the first degree of Sagittarius as I write, which is hardly out of Scorpio at all, so it is still flush with Scorpio’s energy.) Plus we are fast approaching the period when Sol will go into Scorpio – which can be a major pain (ever notice how things tend to start to suck right before Halloween?), but is also a good time for Martial magick.
And so, with all of this in mind, this is a great time to make our yearly offerings to Samael, to both thank him for the protection he offers our house, and to empower him to protect it for another year. As house gods go, Samael is unique in my home. My relationship with him is fairly new (compared to Iophiel and Michael), and I approach him with quite a bit more caution. (I strongly urge you to do the same, if you have cause to work with him at all.)
Archangel Samael – the Adversary
Samael is the Archangel of Mars – prince of the fifth heaven, lord of war and pestilence, and angel of death and destruction. He is the Sathan (Adversary) who visited wrath upon Job, slew the firstborn in Egypt, and (as the Guardian Angel of Easu) wrestled with Jacob. As the Sathan he accuses men of their wrongdoings in the Divine Court. Samael should not be confused with the modern Christian concept of Lucifer or the Devil. Samael is not the source of all evil, nor did he ever wage war upon the Throne of God.
He was, however, cast down to Earth when he refused to bow to Adam as the Image of God. (He had previously sworn to never bow to anything less than God Himself.) Once here, he took Lilith as his wife and has acted as the Divine Accuser, Enforcer and Angel of Death ever since. While he is still very much in the employ of God, he persecutes and seduces mankind when he is ordered to do so.
(Some sources equate Samael with Shemyaza, the leader of the fallen Watchers from the Book of Enoch. This is likely due to both Samael and Shemyaza being punished for disobedience, yet each retaining their positions as celestial angels. However the angels share no other characteristics, and this similarity does not prove the two angels are one and the same.)
The ancient Gnostics elevated him to the position of Demiurgos (the Creator) and interpreted his name to mean “Blind God.” They also called him Ialdabaoth and Saklas. His form was described as a lion-headed serpent. He and his angels (called archons) had created the world as a prison where they could feed upon mankind’s suffering. Later forms of Gnosticism, however, did not equate Ialdabaoth with Samael.
Samael was at one point regarded as the Patron Angel of Rome – and it is likely in this aspect that we see him (as the Dragon with Seven Heads) engaging in single combat against Michael (the Patron Angel of Israel) in the Revelation of St. John.
More recent tradition has given him the name Khamael (Camael, Camuel, etc) – the result of mistranslating a Hebrew Samekh (S) as a Kaph (Kh). In this form he is regarded primarily as the Angel of War and Divine Severity.
Offering Ritual for Archangel Samael
It is best to choose a Tuesday when Mars is well aspected in the heavens, and he should be above the horizon at the time of working. Dawn is best. The most powerful times of year to do this ritual are when Mars resides in either the sign of Aries or Scorpio. The Moon should be in increase.
On Monday evening, cover a table or altar with a red or white cloth. Place a talisman and/or image of Archangel Samael upon the altar. (If it is a talisman, place it in the center. If an image, set it toward the east facing westward.) You will need a censor and an incense of Mars:
I use three ingredients: 1 part Pipe Tobacco, 1/2 part Cinnamon, 1/8 part Crushed Red Pepper.
WARNING!: Martian incense is one of the most dangerous substances I’ve worked with! It is, quite simply, tear gas. If you make this, do not add too much red pepper. And when you burn it, do it in small quantities. Never, for any reason, lean over the censor and inhale or draw in breath! Too much pepper or direct inhalation can burn your throat and lungs.
Also prepare all elements of the offering to Mars: Five red candles, five glasses of water, a bottle of whiskey, five pieces of bread covered with honey. Five hot red peppers. Five steel nails. Red meat (cooked well done, no blood!) – this latter is being offered only because this is a once-a-year offering. Animal flesh (especially red meat) is very very powerful, and shouldn’t be used for usual day-to-day needs.
The meat should be grilled over cherry- or bay tree-wood. Otherwise grill it over natural wood or wood charcoal, and add cinnamon, tobacco and red pepper to the fire. You can also season the meat with the cinnamon and the red pepper.
On Tuesday just before sunrise, wash yourself and don a white or red robe. At sunrise, set the offering to Mars upon the table. Place four of the red candles on the four corners, and one in the center – directly upon the talisman if there is one. Set a glass of water beside each candle. Around this arrange the food offerings. You may also add any gift offerings for Samael, or items you wish for him to touch – such as steel jewelery or trinkets, talismans, stones, oils, weapons, written prayers or petitions, etc.
Light the censor with the proper exorcism, and add fresh incense to the coal. Then exorcise and consecrate the offerings with holy water and the censor.
Then move to the eastern side of the working space, facing outward. If you have a consecrated bell or trumpet, sound it and recite the following call (or one similar to it):
In whatsoever place ye may be, ye spirit(s), who are invited to this feast, [NNN] come ye and be ready to receive our offerings, presents, and sacrifices!
Move to the south and repeat – first sounding the bell or trumpet, then the call. Do this again in the west and the north.
Finally, return to standing west of the altar facing eastward, and recite the following invocations:
Prayer to Elohim Gibor
Elohim Gibor, God of Severity and Might, who ruleth the heavens with a rod of iron, who shatters the enemy. Thou Lord who keepeth the city with the watchman. You shelter us beneath your mighty wings, and punish severely those who would harm your prophets! You visited the plagues upon Egypt, drown Pharaoh’s armies in the Sea, blasted the foundations of Sodom and Gommorah, cast down the Kings of Edom and protected Daniel in the lions’ den. You cast down those who would oppose you. Your name causes the spirits to quake with terror and give obedience. Thou art Gevurah, thou art Pachad. I ask that you bless and sanctify this offering, that it may be pleasing unto You and Your Angels.
I ask, also, that you send to me the holy Archangel Samael: who walkest to and fro upon the Earth. The Adversary, Angel of War and of Death, the bringer of your Wrath. May he look with favor upon me and my household. And, to that end, may he also enjoy these offerings, and be pleased with them, and bear our prayers of thanksgiving unto Thy Celestial Throne. Amen + Amen + Amen + Amen + Amen +
Five Martial Psalms
Psalm 3 (“Lord, how are they increased that trouble me! many are they that rise up against me.“)
Psalm 2 (“Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?“)
Psalm 110 (“The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.“)
Psalm 91 (“He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.“)
Psalm 35 (“Contend, Lord, with those who contend with me, fight against those who fight against me.“)
Invitation to Samael
I invoke thee, Samael! Holy Archangel of the Martial sphere! I call upon thee within thy realm of Severity and Fear!
Samael, Powerful, Bloody, Sword-bearer, Bold, Untamed, Terrestrial Fire, against whom none can defend himself, thou who destroys the strong and powerful, Lord of fiery heat – and of the planet of blood!
Samael, who art the Adversary, accusing men of their wrongdoing. Fearsome warrior and divine enforcer! You who inflicted Job with sorrow, who slew the firstborn of Egypt, and wrestled with Jacob. It is you who bears the wrath of God unto the Earth! You who overthrow nations and cast kings down from their thrones!
O Samael, we have called upon you [here list the reasons you have called him in the past, if any, and the positive results that came from those workings]. For all of this we thank you!
Come thou forth and partake of these offerings, which we have prepared in thy honour and to the glory of Elohim Gibor. May you find them pleasing and empowering. I ask that you offer your blessings to my home and family, and bear our offerings and prayers of thanksgiving to the Divine Court. We petition thee for strength and protection in all of our undertakings, for defense of our home, and that the light of thy wisdom should guide and keep us at all times. In the name of Elohim Gibor. Amen.
Repeat the Invitation five times. Then, share in the feast you have offered to the Angel – taking bites of each food item, sips of the liquids including a sip (or shot) of the whiskey. Leave the offerings in place until the red candles burn completely away (and no less than five days). Place the remains in a natural place, into running water or at a crossroads.
- End -
Ritual of Samael Journal Entry
I wanted to perform this invocation a week earlier, while Mars was still firmly in Scorpio and the Moon was waxing, but it just wasn’t practical. And it is not possible to wait until the Sun goes into Scorpio either; it had to be done now (Tuesday, September 16, 2014). Perhaps next year we’ll time it better to take place when Mars is in Scorpio (or Aries might be even better) and the Moon is waxing.
I began by fasting from about 7pm on Monday evening (approximately 12 hours before dawn on Tuesday). We went out on that same evening and gathered all of the offerings for Samael (see the list above). Myself and a friend then started the grill with natural wood charcoal; adding cinnamon, tobacco and crushed red peppers to the fire. I seasoned the meat with salt, black pepper and garlic – then added more of the cinnamon and red pepper. We cooked the meat until it was entirely well done (no pink in the center), then covered it and set it aside for the next morning.
After taking a simple ritual bath, I cleaned and prepared our temple – re-consecrating it and everything in it with holy water and the recitation of King Solomon’s prayer of dedication of the Holy Temple. I then erected the Samael altar. I used a new red altar cloth, placed three of my favorite classical images of Samael, his name and Heptameron sigil in the center, along with the candles, censor and dishes that would be used the next morning.
At dawn on Tuesday morning, I washed up, entered the temple and put on my white robe. I first approached my Guardian Angel’s altar (in the east) to pray for her help and guidance in the coming work. (I would never approach Samael without her at my side!) Then I laid out the food offerings on the Samael altar: the steak (freshly warmed and sizzling) cut into five pieces, five hot red peppers, bread, honey, five glasses of water and a small bottle of Jack Daniels whiskey. To these I also added seven steel nails. (Note that five nails would be standard – but since this ritual is being done to empower the seven protective talismans buried around my property, I decided to include seven nails as I had done before.)
I followed the ritual mostly as I have it written above. I opened the blinds to let the morning sunlight into the room. I lit the censor with the proper Solomonic exorcism and used it and the holy water to consecrate everything on the altar. I then made the calls in the four quarters, then returned to the altar to light the candles with their proper exorcism. Then I performed the invocations, burning even more incense. (Maybe too much, in fact, as it became hard to continue the invocations. I slightly maced myself. But it is vital to never show weakness to the spirits – especially spirits of Mars! So I completed them without stopping.)
Due to Samael’s heavy chthonic associations, I considered not sharing in his feast. However, he is an archangel (a celestial being) and I felt during the ritual that he did want me to share. So, I decided to follow his lead and partook – wanting to avoid offending him in any case. I took a bite or sip of everything offered, making sure to bite off enough of the red pepper to burn my mouth, and to take a healthy swig of the whiskey (not something I normally drink!). I lit one of the cigars and blew five puffs onto the altar, then turned it around and “shotgunned” a large amount of smoke.
Samael indicated to me that he wants the offering left on the altar for five days, and/or until the candles burn out. Then the remains are to be taken outside and left where the last offering was left – on the ground directly over where the easternmost talisman is buried. There is no need to carry the leftovers to a river.
I’ll be making two lecture appearances this fall – and the first will be this Saturday at GreenSong Grove’s Samhain Festival. Make sure to click the link to register! Or you can write to them at Council@greensonggrove.org. Or give them a call at (727) 804-9370.
This year, I’ll be giving two lectures:
1) Secrets of the Girmoires:
Explore the history of the “Old Magick”, from anceint shamanic traditions, to the medieval Solomonic grimoires and into the modern occult revival. The Old Magick – a line separate from the Golden Dawn, Thelema and much of the modern Neopagan movement – has been a lost art in the West for hundreds of years. But now it’s coming back, and this lecture will explore how it got from its primordial origins to those of us following the same path today.
We will cover topics associated with famous grimoires such as the Key of Solomon the King, the Goetia, the Heptameron and the Book of Abramelin. We will disucss related systems of folk magick such as Witchcraft, Hexcraft and Hoodoo – as well as various African Traditional Religions. We will talk about the people and places that gave rise to the Solomonic grimoires, and we will talk about how the Old Magick is enjoying a massive resurgance in today’s occult communities.
Bring your thoughts, as this will be an open discussion!
2) The Old Magick in Today’s World (or ‘How to Make Your Magick Really Kick!’):
The term “Old Magick” is a blanket term to describe ancient and indigenous forms of occultism and folk magick around the world. Many cultures, such as those in the East, the Mid-East, Africa and South America preserved their old folk traditions even after Christiainity moved in. But here in the West, we lost touch with the Old Magick sometime around the Age of Enlightenment.
But the Old Magick isn’t gone from the West! It has survived in writings on tablets and parchment and early books. It has continued in New World folk practices like Hexcraft and Hoodoo. And it is currently enjoying a revival in today’s movements of Solomonic practice, conjuring, sorcery, etc.
Most students of magick are well versed in the material descended from the Golden Dawn, Aleister Crowley and Gerald Gardner. But it has become more important than ever for us to look beyond these uniquely modern forms of occultism and revisit what the ancients knew. This class will talk about some aspects of the Old Magick that are sorely lacking in most modern traditions, and how we can incorporate the ancient secrets into what we are doing today. Take this class to heart, and watch your magickal results increase significantly!
At the moment I am unsure what times these lectures will be held, but they will both be given this Saturday, October 12. Come on out and enjoy a day of Samhain fun, and we can have a chat! :)
Stay tuned for the announcement of my next appearance (at Florida Pagan Gathering), in just a couple of weeks!
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!
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.