Archive for the ‘golden dawn’ Category

The Elements and the Four Cardinal Directions   44 comments

Greetings, Dear Readers!

The Four Philosophical Elements

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!

LVX

Aaron

Posted August 24, 2013 by kheph777 in golden dawn, paganism, solomonic

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Ceremonial Magick Classes (Fall 2013)   5 comments

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:

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Lesser Banishing Pentagram

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
813-986-3212
www.mystikalscents.com

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For more info (map, directions, etc) see the Facebook Events page.
 
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.  🙂
 
 

Jake Stratton Kent vs Magickal Lodges pt 2   19 comments

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.

LVX
Aaron

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.

Posted July 27, 2013 by kheph777 in golden dawn

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Jake Stratton Kent vs Magickal Lodges pt 1   17 comments

Greetings Aspirants!

JakeKent

Jake Kent reads from Geosophia

It looks like good old Jake Stratton Kent has created a bit of a stir in the ceremonial magic communities. It started with a sort of “manifesto” that he posted on the Solomonic Yahoo Group – explaining the reasons for his opposition to the secret society (or quasi-masonic lodge) model of occultism. It was quickly followed by my own defense of such occult lodges.

This has made for a fairly interesting debate, and I’ve spent the last couple of days considering whether or not I wanted to bring it over here to my blog . But since in that time the entire matter has gone viral – and even Jake has found it necessary to post an Open letter to the Golden Dawn in response – I suppose it would be helpful for me to continue the discussion here.

To bring you up to speed I’ll be posting Jake’s original manifesto here along with his Open Letter to the Golden Dawn. Then I’ll share my thoughts on the subject. But first let me give you a brief explanation of who Jake Kent is and where he is coming from.

Jake is a goetic magician, but that doesn’t mean what you probably think it does. When Jake uses the term “goetia” he’s not talking about the Renaissance grimoire of that name (which we will refer to as the Goetia of Solomon) – nor about something so simplistic as “working with demons”. Instead he is referring to one of the most primordial foundations of Western occultism: the ancient Greek Goen.

Jake explains all of this incredibly well in his seminal work Geosophia – which I highly recommend in my review which you can read here. But for our current purposes I’ll attempt to give a very short and simple explanation. “Goen” was the word for shaman in Greece before the Olympian cults existed. The Goen presided over healing, initiation, magical protection and, most famously, funerary rites. When a person died the Goen were called in as professional mourners at the funeral. (Their ritualized wailing for the dead is why the word goetia is said to translate as “howling.”)  And, of course, these shamanic duties necessarily required the Goen to interact with a host of underworld and “sub-lunary” entities.

These guys were at the very heart of what eventually became the Western Mystery Tradition. Whether it is Orphism, the Eleusinian Mysteries, the Greek Kabiri, the early Christians worshipping in catacombs and tombs or the Golden Dawn’s Hall of Ma’at – you’ll find the Goen in their distant past. Plus, as the Goen we’re quite famous for working with underworld spirits, the term goetia (the craft of the Goen) became synonymous with “witchcraft” (i.e. – working with spirits) and formed the foundation of the Solomonic grimoire tradition.  (Hence the Goetia of Solomon.)

Now, if you have read my books and essays on the subject of Solomonic magick, you know the shamanic roots of the grimoires have been a major focus for me. I have done much to reintroduce Western occult students to the Solomonic system as a form of “urban shamanism” or folk-magick divorced from the trappings of the later lodge-style systems of magick.

And I am proud to say that Jake, with his attempts to redefine the modern misconception of the goetic tradition, has been a co-conspirator with me in these endeavors. I dare say that each of us considers himself a modern incarnation of an obscure type of Western shaman.

Where Jake and I differ is that I am also a practitioner of Golden Dawn lodge-style magick. Jake has his own roots in Thelemic lodges. But where I find beauty and relevance in my order, Jake did not have the best of experiences in his involvement with secret societies.  For him, the lodge was something that he needed to cast off in order to progress in his own quest.  (I’ll save what my lodge has meant in relation to my quest for later.)

I don’t know if I have successfully gotten all of us on the same page, but at least try to keep the above in mind as you read the following manifesto recently published by Jake:

Goetia versus secrecy, Masonry & bogus history

opening remarks

This is close to an outline manifesto, relevant to the POV of my writings and distilled from over 4 decades of involvement in magic, public and private. I’m sure many will reject it out of hand, or mount a defence of aspects of occultism it attacks – but nothing said here is unconsidered; while the unquestioning retention of what it opposes desperately requires critique. Some of it explains why I’m a controversial figure, who many traditionalists find too radical, and ‘post moderns’ consider old fashioned. These easy dismissals are neat ways of avoiding important issues, when in fact the similarities between the extremes are more extensive than the differences, which is part of the problem, as I outline below.

*Goetia versus secrecy, Masonry and bogus history in modern occultism*

The historical links between goetia and shamanism are very strong. If you are familiar with the ‘Greek shaman’ thesis of Burkert et al, ‘goes’ was originally the Greek for shaman, especially as psychopomp. Funnily enough the same word, in its later devalued sense could also mean ‘witch’. Properly understood goetia is – essentially – the one authentic and continuous link the modern Western tradition has with the past, and that includes modern witchcraft (as I believe Hutton pointed out, and he is certainly right historically speaking).

There are various reasons I find the ‘Masonic’ model a dead loss in the many, many areas of modern magic where it applies. I see two reasons for Masonry in magic, one good enough, the other p*** poor. The good enough one was as a cover for free thinkers in an age when – for example – non-attendance at Anglican church was an imprisonable offense in England. That time is over. The other I will come to later.

The whole Secret Society model is not only unhelpful, but actively counter-productive. It is the principle reason why so much energy is expended fighting tiny little wars between factions (between witch groups, between rival Golden Dawns, between thelemic groups etc etc). Energy that could be better spent elsewhere – like incorporating the real advances in recovering our tradition made possible by *non-secretive* sources like academia. Indeed, one reason parts of the grimoire community are advancing faster than any other area nowadays is that it doesn’t automatically include this model! Which, whether in Magical Orders or Witchcraft leads to infighting, stagnation and parochialism. I also have no more time for ‘invented history’, which the entire occult world seems to rely on to an alarming extent. But lets start with secrecy.

Nothing I’ve heard from witch groups or magical orders in the last forty plus years has led me to feel they possess *any* privileged information – let alone insights – regarding goetia. Its been more of the same for decades, indeed since the C19th it has hardly moved at all – at least, not among occultists.

From my perspective, what I’ve learned about goetia in the occult world as manifest since the C19th is very unimpressive. Even if someone is jealously guarding material from deeper into the C18th/C19th it still lacks a lot of context, info and insights now available from modern scholarship, the papyri etc. Things have stood still for so long that modern research has got further along without them, and they don’t want to catch up! Where magic is going is not like where it has been since early modern times, but very few have caught on to that.

Which brings me to the Bertiaux/Grant end of the spectrum, what I call ‘dark fluff’, a major epidemic in recent modern occultism. There are so many ‘darker than thou’ types out there playing silly games with the Qliphoth, Necronomicon, Atlantean initiations and such. The grasp of the roots of magic in this ‘niche’ is even more bogus than the ‘occult establishment’ of the C19th and its offshoots. Indeed, they are much more similar to that establishment than they imagine. Spookying up the Golden Dawn, Crowley and modern witchcraft with a dash of Lovecraft and Qliphoth etc is no more informed about the real roots of Western magic in goetia. Its just more of the same in all but the most superficial details.

Which brings me to the other aspect of ‘why we used masonry’. It was as a *substitute* for elements of the magical tradition we’d either lost, or felt uncomfortable with in a more orthodox religious environment than currently exists. Virtually every western school has relied on Masonry to fill in the gaps for so long that they are no longer very interested in recovering what it was substituting for. There is so much Masonic bathwater that has to go to make room for real babies in the bath, and change frightens people. Hence bogus history and Masonry predominate, even though there is much better information and different structures available.

The *real* roots of what has been called ‘black magic’ by later philosophies and religions, is in fact an incredibly rich tradition distinct from them, *not defined by opposition to them*, or even reliant on similar terms (qabalistic or neoplatonist).

In short, through clinging to bogus history and the secret society model, we are selling ourselves very short indeed as Western magicians.

ALWays

Jake

 

I quickly responded to this manifesto with my own defense of “secret societies” and the lodge-style systems of magick – as you can read here, and here.  (Really, the entire thread is worth reading.)  To summarize some of the major points I made:  I do not find the magickal lodges to be outdated or irrelevant in the least.  I personally see them as going though something of a Renaissance.  They are sharing information with one another as well as opening themselves to what outside traditions have to teach – in effect overcoming the very shortcomings Jake describes in his manifesto.  While such mistakes have certainly been made in the past, and even some groups may continue to cling to them, they are not intrinsic to the very structure of magickal lodges as Jake suggests.

Before long, this story was picked up by the enigmatic “Watcher of the Dawn” (Goetic magician slams out of date “secret masonic” magic), and even turned up on Nick Farrell’s Blog (Purging masonry from the Golden Dawn).  The comments over on Nick’s blog are worth checking out – with folks like Peregrin Wildoak and even Tabatha Cicero speaking up.

If you do look into the responses made by me and other Golden Dawners like Nick and Peregrin, you might be surprised to discover most of us agree with a good bit of what Jake has to say.  Secret societies that close their doors and their minds to cross-fertilization with outside sources do become stagnant and drift into irrelevancy.  We (well… most of us) are fairly unimpressed with the bogus histories and lineage claims that were popular a century ago.  We are equally unimpressed with what Jake is calling “dark fluff.”  And, yes, those old 19th Century occultists did get a heck of a lot wrong where it came to subjects like goetia.

I think Jake may have been surprised (pleasantly so, I hope) to hear from so many Golden Dawners who did not fit his idea of stodgy close-minded tradition-hoarders.  Contrary to what he thought, we are open to new ideas, new scholarship and new ways of doing things.  Take for example this gem I shared with him on the Solomonic group:

For example, when we do angelic invocations in the G.D. Temple my wife and I (with our funky ATR background) bring food offerings. When we first did this, it was quite shocking to the other members of the Temple. They didn’t know what to make of it. But once they saw it in action, they got it.

One time, we drew up an astrological chart for a summoning we intended to do, and discovered that one Planet was in direct opposition to the Planet we intended to work with. No one was sure how to handle the problem – except for me and Carrie. We came to Temple that day with *two* food offerings. We opened the Hall, then went to the West, made an invocation to the opposing Planet and laid out the offering for those spirits. Then, we went to the East and did the same for the Angel we intended to invoke and made our offering there. Then we went on with the summoning without a hitch. Everyone in the Temple was floored.

And this, my friend, was happening in the *Mother Temple* of the HOGD. And that is the kind of thing I’m trying to get across to you. According to your view of my tradition, this could never have happened. Carrie and I would have been restricted from doing it, or asked to leave if we attempted it. And, yes, 30 years ago that might have been the case. But we were in fact given full lee-way to do this, and everyone there learned something from it.

It *is* happening, Jake. Things are not as stagnant in the orders as you think they are.

LVX
Aaron

It was in response to this kind of thing that Jake penned his Open Letter to the Golden Dawn.  For now, I’ll give you a break (and some time, if you’ve a mind to, go read the other blogs and forums I’ve linked in this post).  In the next post I will share Jake’s Open Letter and my responses to it.

 

 

Posted July 27, 2013 by kheph777 in golden dawn

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Initiation – Temple, Self or Astral?   5 comments

Greetings Initiates!

An interesting discussion has arisen on the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn Yahoo Group concerning initiations.  Once again, we are seeing the old debate about Temple Initiations vs. Self Initiations vs Astral Initiations.  You can find the entire thread here.

I have written a moderately lengthy response outlining my own views on the subject, and I think you folks might just find it interesting.  So read on and enjoy, and feel free to post your own comments either below or at the HOGD Group.  🙂

From:  http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Hermetic_Order_of_the_Golden_Dawn/message/811

Greetings!

My take on this issue is as follows:

First, I agree that *all* initiations begin as self-initiations.  Whether you make a conscious decision, or the Gods find a way to call you or drag you kicking and screaming, something must happen in your life to set you on this path.  But this is not the same thing as taking a formal initiation (group or self) into a specific System, Tradition, Order or Temple.

Second, I agree that *all* initiations involve an astral process.  If it didn’t, it wouldn’t be anything more than a passion-play walk-through done merely to say “welcome to our group.”  (Like being hazed into a college frat.  Or, sadly, like many Masonic initiations.)  The astral is where the magick of the initiation happens.  But this is not the same thing that is meant by groups who claim to offer “astral initiation.”

In a full Temple Initiation performed by initiated and experienced officers, there is a lot going on.  The above-mentioned astral process is there – with the officers calling down LVX onto the candidate, various symbols and patterns being implanted in the aura and psyche via visual contact, the patterns of the ritual, the established Godforms (along with the very real Gods and spirits), the positions and actions of the officers, etc, etc.  It involves the candidate astrally and physically, employing all five outer senses and several inner ones.

It is the best way to go when you’re talking about a Tradition like the Golden Dawn which is designed for Temple and group work.  It doesn’t apply so much to folk traditions like Hoodoo, or even the Solomonic system – which are intended as personal practices from the beginning, and often involve the natural talent of the practitioner over an official “initiatory process.”  (Though even those systems can be empowered by undertaking such an initiatory process.)

A Self-Initiation (as given in the Cicero’s book) gives you the visual contact with the symbols and the ritual patterns.  But it does not include the drawing down of the LVX onto the candidate by experienced officers.  Instead the candidate has to entreat the Gods to send the LVX and to help him *eventually* incorporate the necessary energies into the aura and psyche.  As Frater SR stated, it’s not impossible but it is a harder row to hoe due to lack of community support and guidance.  These can be supplemented with social networking, but it’s still harder than having direct face-to-face access to those with experience.  You’ll never come away from it with “the same thing” you’d get from a Temple.

Also, keep in mind that a Self Initiation can often lead one to a full Temple Initiation.  I “self initiated” with Don Kraig’s “Modern Magick” lessons, and it put me on a path that ultimately led me to the Mother Temple of the HOGD – and I wouldn’t exchange any aspect of my path from its start to its present for anything.  😉

Finally, an Astral Initiation (meaning a full Temple initiation performed by officers for a candidate “in absentia”) does not include the full impact of the symbols and ritual patterns upon the aura or psyche – outside of one or two symbols you might be asked to “meditate upon” while the work is going on elsewhere.  It only involves the drawing down of the LVX upon you by officers who are not in direct contact with you.

Personally, I find this to be rather dangerous.  I’ve seen how taxing a Neophyte Ceremony (and its aftermath) can be on any candidate, even with access to a full Temple and all the guidance and support that comes with it.  Blasting someone with a massive bolt of LVX and then expecting them to sink or swim on their own is… well, not something I’d do to someone myself.

(In fact, I’ve often said that if you know someone who is ruled by darkness and doing harm to others, a great way to nuke them would be to consecrate a Talisman in their name and then Neophyte the hell out of it.  Send a good thunderbolt of LVX at them to fry them from the inside out.)

Besides, say what you will about the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of an astral initiation, but I still never recommend an aspirant go that route – simply because most organizations who sell “astral initiations” aren’t doing anything of the sort.  All too often, the candidate sits at home meditating his well-intentioned heart out while the “Order” does nothing more than head out to cash his check.  Those who say they took such an initiation and it worked are, in fact, enjoying the results of their *own* Self-Initiation.

I am by no means suggesting that *all* groups who offer astral initiations are doing this.  But the odds are just not in your favor in this area, so I can’t in good conscience recommend that path for anyone.

Frankly, I’ve never understood why even honest groups have their long-distance candidates just sit and meditate during their astral initiations.  For Gods’ sake – have them get up and perform a Self-Initiation ceremony *in tandem* with the officers who are working for them elsewhere!!  How could that possibly do anything other than facilitate and empower the process?  An at-home ceremony could be written specifically for the purpose – yet I’ve never encountered a single “astral initiation” group who even suggests such a thing.  Doesn’t that seem a bit odd to you?

So that’s my buck and a half on the subject.  To each, of course, their own.  🙂

LVX
Aaron

Posted July 9, 2013 by kheph777 in golden dawn, students

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What Exactly do You Mean by “Golden Dawn Community”?   7 comments

Greetings Golden Dawners!

Apparently, a little bit of controversy has been stirred up by the new Commentaries on the Golden Dawn Flying Rolls – specifically over the “author” of the book:  the “Golden Dawn Community.”

Commentaries on the Golden Dawn Flying Rolls - Front Cover

Commentaries on the Golden Dawn Flying Rolls – Front Cover

Our choice to use this particular phrase has given rise to some questions, such as what exactly makes up such a community.  That is, how are we defining this “community” as opposed to any other community, and what makes one either a member of it or an outsider to it?  Nick Farrell recently addressed this issue rather well on his blog.  So, if you’ve been asking yourself these same questions, I recommend you head over there and see what he has to say on the issue.  🙂

Meanwhile, a somewhat different question has come to my attention via a private email.  It would appear that a few people out there feel the Commentaries book is a political move to define its contributors – and only its contributors – as members of the Golden Dawn Community.  In other words, if you are a member of an Order or private Temple that is not represented in the book then – according to this view – you are being subtly informed that you are not invited to our little party.  (Sadly, the author of that email expressed that he would not be interested in similar projects in the future due to what he felt was the “political” nature of this one.)

Nick also covers this to some extent in his blog post – where he outlines the criteria he used when inviting authors to contribute.  To summarize that portion of his post:  you were not invited to participate in this book if you were A) hostile toward the Golden Dawn or other members of the community or B) if your Temple or group is so secretive that we simply don’t know you exist.  Plus, of course, there were only so many Flying Rolls to cover, and only so many Golden Dawners who are also authors – so even if you don’t fall into points A or B we still might not have found room for you in this particular project.

Still, I find it concerning that anyone would view our use of the term “Golden Dawn Community” as intended to limit or define that community to strictly the good folks who contributed to the project.  When we all decided to use that term as the “author” of the book, I was among those who gave it a “yay” vote, so I feel I can rightfully speak for what we truly intended by it.

While the project was in its infancy, we cast our net as far and wide as we were able to.  We wanted to include representatives from as many Golden Dawn Orders and independent Temples as we could manage – within the above-mentioned criteria.  And it was in this same light that we decided the author should be listed as “the Golden Dawn Community.”  The message we hoped to convey was that this book was not written by a single individual or even a single Order.  It was a pan-GD effort intended to highlight both the diversity of the various Orders and the fraternity that exists between them.  It was intended to be inclusive rather than restrictive.

Any concept of defining the community as “only” those who contributed was the furthest thought from our minds!  In fact, it was our hope that those who couldn’t (or wished not to) contribute to the Commentaries… book would be inspired to contribute to later projects – thereby expanding the very notion of the “Golden Dawn Community” further and further which each subsequent event.

To put all of this very simply, consider that the Commentaries on the Golden Dawn Flying Rolls is a book both by and for the Golden Dawn Community.  If you’re a Golden Dawner, then this means you.  😉

UPDATE:  Check out this great blog post from Eric v. Sisco.  🙂  I also posted a comment there that you might enjoy reading.  (At the moment it is waiting for approval, but it should appear shortly.)

Posted July 1, 2013 by kheph777 in books, golden dawn

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The ‘Golden Dawn Wars’ – Or ‘Much Ado About Nothing’   5 comments

Greetings Faithful Readers!

Nick Farrell recently posted a blog about the upcoming Commentaries on the Golden Dawn Flying Rolls anthology.  He called the post Flying Rolls Book Reveals Golden Dawn Community Secret.  The big secret he believes has been revealed can be summed up in this quote from the post:

Wading through [the list of contributors to the anthology] and the wide range of Golden Dawn groups that these people belong you start to realise that the level of cooperation that exists between these different orders must be considerably higher than many would have you believe.

If you’ve been around the various communities of the Western Mystery Tradition for the last 20 years, then you likely know what Nick is talking about.  I am sad to say that all too many people outside of the Golden Dawn have the impression that our Tradition is overflowing with arrogant jerks who would rather call each other names and accuse one another of outlandish crimes than concentrate on the Great Work. 

I’ve personally run into any number of dedicated occultists who proclaim they wouldn’t give a Golden Dawner the time of day.  Or even that there must be some something flawed in the G.D. system because it “keeps producing spiritually damaged people.”  Perhaps you even feel this way youself.

And that is a very sad thing – becaue the reality of the Golden Dawn is so much different than what you might have seen on the internet.  (Is that really a surprise?)  I’ve been involved in the greater Golden Dawn Community now for the better part of 20 years – and I have yet to see any of the hateful in-fighting that has been proclaimed so loudly on the ‘net.

Oh sure, there have been disagreements.  There have been expulsions.  There have been groups that split up due to irreconcilable differences.  I’ve even known individuals that flat out decide not to work with one another ever again.  All of this is expected from any movement of this size and scope.  But, what is the overall reality of the movement itself?  Is there really something “wrong” with the Golden Dawn?  Does it really produce an endless parade of overblown egos?

Not that I’ve seen in real life.  While the hate gets spewed around by a few trolls on the internet (most of them from outside the Tradition), I’ve seen the various Golden Dawn Orders and independant Temples quietly getting along, and largely ignoring what is going on in the cyber-world.  As Donald Michael Kraig recently posted on Facebook:

I’ve had the honor of knowing some of the people who have written for this [Golden Dawn Commentaries] book. It’s true. There really are no “Golden Dawn wars” today. There will always be those who try to invent them in order to develop an us-vs-them mentality—a common method used to create cults. There will also be disagreements—that’s why there are different GD groups. I take that as a sign of the vitality of the tradition and the passion of those who participate. But most real GD people I’ve met look at those trying to spark controversy and wars that don’t exist and think of what Puck said in Midsummer’s Night Dream: “What fools these mortals be.”

So Don feels the same way Nick and I feel – and we aren’t alone either.  Over the last couple of years, I’ve noticed that the true fraternity of the Golden Dawn community has been slowly seeping onto the internet.

Take, for example, the 30th Anniversary of the Consecration of the HOGD Vault of the Adepti  that took place last year.  A document was drawn up to offer congrats and thanks to Chic and Tabatha Cicero for their work and dedication to the Golden Dawn Tradition – and it was signed by dozens of folks from a host of different Orders, Temples and some unaffiliated individuals.

Later, a Facebook event was created for the same Anniversary – and what started out as dozens of well-wishers turned into hundreds as people from all walks of life added their names and thoughts to the list.  (Click on the link, and you can add yours as well!)

Most recently, the Commentaries on the Golden Dawn Flying Rolls anthology was announced – a book created by members and leaders of several different Golden Dawn groups, all working together to create something worthwhile for students everywhere.

And it isn’t going to stop there, either!  Even now there are projects in the works that transcend all Order affiliations and philosophical differences and illustrate that the Golden Dawn Community is working together in harmony toward the Great Work, with all of you in mind.  🙂

So the next time you run into a Golden Dawner, before you jump to any conclusions about what kind of person he or she might be, consider the old addage:  “By their fruits shall ye know them.”

Commentaries on the GD Flying Rolls – New Anthology from Kerubim Press   1 comment

Greetings Fratres et Sorores!

Ok, so it must be the right time of year for new anthologies containing brand new essays from yours truly.  😉  Kerubim Press has just announced an upcoming book entitled Commentaries on the Golden Dawn Flying Rolls by the Golden Dawn Community:

Commentaries on the Golden Dawn Flying Rolls - Front Cover

Commentaries on the Golden Dawn Flying Rolls – Front Cover

This new collection contains all of the original Golden Dawn “Flying Rolls” – which are extracurricular lectures and essays on a variety of occult topics that circulated among adepts of the original Order.  These Flying Rolls were written by adepts like Wynn Westcott, Samuel Mathers, Moina Mathers, Edmund Berridge, Florence Farr, Annie Horniman, J.W. Brodie-Inns and Percy Bullock.

But Waite!  There’s more!  😉  Each and every Flying Roll is followed by a brand new commentary intended to elaborate upon the topic of the Roll itself.  Some of them serve to clarify what is in the Roll, while others add to it with updated modern views.  And the authors included here are no less impressive than the Flying Rolls’ original authors.  You’ll find plenty of recognizable names like Chic and Tabatha Cicero, Peregrin Wildoak, Sam Webster, Joseph Max, Nick and Paola Ferrell, Samuel Scarborough, Eric V. Sisco, VH Fra IOV, Frater Yechidah, Ian Cowburn and Morgan Drake Eckstein.  And many up-and-coming authors such as Deanna Bonds, Lauren Gardner, Jayne Gibson, Christopher Bradford, Liza Llewellyn and Rachael Walker.  Plus, of course, me.  🙂

And that merely scratches the surface of the good folks who contributed their time and work to this anthology.  This book is the end result of one of the most massive inter-Order cooperative projects in the history of the Western Mystery Tradition.  Almost every major Golden Dawn Order – and a few smaller groups and private Temples – came together in a spirit of community and fraternity to make this book a reality.

Click here for the full announcement from Kerubim Press.

I have made two contributions to this project.  The first goes along with Flying Roll XX: The Elementary View of Man.  However, what I have written is not a mere commentary upon the Flying Roll, but is in fact an updated re-write of the original Golden Dawn lecture Ritual U: Man – Microcosm (which is necessary to read and understand in order to grasp the concepts of Flying Roll XX).  Man – Microcosm is an often-overlooked lecture that was part of the original adept curriculum, and contains some of the Order’s most important teachings on the human soul, qabalistic psychology and the Great Work itself.  My hope is to revive interest in this particular lecture, and re-establish it as a foundational study for all students of the Golden Dawn.

My second contribution is a commentary upon Flying Roll XXXV: On the General and Particular Exordium of the Z Documents.  The General and Particular Exordium is an introduction of sorts to the Z Documents – the secret wisdom and symbolism of the Golden Dawn’s Magick of Light revealed to Mathers by his spiritual contacts known as the Secret Chiefs.  They are possibly some of the most profound and useful pieces of received knowledge in the entire Western Mystery Tradition.  However, few Golden Dawn students understand what the Exordium is supposed to mean.  It is essentially a Gnostic poem intended to “set the stage” for all the mysteries revealed in the Z Documents.  Therefore, I break down the Exordium and explain what it means in Gnostic terms, and how it reflects on the mysteries of the Golden Dawn.

Fratres et Sorores, you do NOT want to miss out on this one!  🙂 🙂 🙂

So another round of classes comes to an end…   2 comments

Greetings, students!

So the Ceremonial Magick course is over until the fall.  I’m *very* proud of all my students, as we seemed to have a pretty powerful and synched group of people by the end of it all.  🙂  It was awesome seeing you guys go from the very basics (this is the Tree of Life… this is the Hebrew alphabet…)  all the way to consecrating talismans and finally calling down angels.  And several of us will definitely be doing more work together in the future.

I am heartened to learn that everyone seems to have gotten something worthwhile from the Jupiter talismans we consecrated last week.  Given that I had simplified a few things for the sake of the class and time restrictions, I was prepared to be satisfied just to have shown you how to do that kind of work.  I think the fact that those talismans appear to have brought real results for each student (and all within a single week, no less) says a lot of good things about you guys.  🙂

As for yesterday’s evocation of Gabriel:  WOW what an experience!  The last time we did this, the class just had a nice skrying session with Gabriel.  That is not to say it wasn’t a powerful and moving experience, but this time around was especially intense for everyone.  I suspect it had much to do with the fact that Carrie and I made sure more of the students took an active role in the invocations – where the previous group had been more content to just let me and Carrie do the rituals.  So this time, the students were much less passive observers.

Archangel_Gabriel

Some present experienced a kind of waking “sleep paralysis” coupled with a rush of images that will take some time and meditation to decipher.  All very Lunar.  Others were taken on astral journeys into the sphere of Yesod.  And then, even I was shocked when Gabriel *physically* stepped in and kicked some ass.  lol  That, my friends, is REAL magick.

I’m no stranger to being “ridden” by angels, but I certainly wasn’t expecting it to happen during a class like that.  To be honest, Carrie is usually the one more likely to be ridden.  Regardless, I’m sure everyone benefited from the experience.  🙂  I hope you will all stay in touch with me and let me know what unfolds for each of you over the coming days, weeks or months.

To everyone who couldn’t attend the course this round, we will be doing it all over again in the fall.  Plus, for those of you who are long distance, we are still working on converting the classes into a Skype format so we can include you as well.  🙂  Stay tuned!

Posted April 15, 2013 by kheph777 in events, golden dawn, magick, students

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Ceremonial Magick Classes (Spring 2013)   7 comments

 Sorry for the short notice, folks!  This one kind of snuck up on me.  lol  We are already filling seats, so make sure to reserve a spot today!

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Lesser Banishing Pentagram

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 March 3rd and is on Sundays through April 14th, 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
813-986-3212
www.mystikalscents.com

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For more info (map, directions, etc) see the Facebook Events page.
 
And for those of you who are not local to us, we DO intend to create a Skype version of these classes very soon.  I’ll let you know when those are ready for sign-up.  🙂
 
 

Posted February 25, 2013 by kheph777 in events, golden dawn, hermetic, students

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