There has recently transpired a highly interesting discussion or exchange of opinions regarding Magic and Compassion on Peregrin Wildoak’s excellent blog called Magic of the Ordinary. This short essay is a response to the main question which has become crystallized there: Is there any relationship between Love and Compassion and with the practice of Magic?
My view on what constitutes the greater aim of Magic this is quite simple. Rosicrucian Magic should always be under the auspices of Theurgy, even when one does works with so called “Thaumaturgy” (magical miracle working). Thus, we should always see magic as a working tool which helps us to accomplish:
- Union between the Microcosm and Macrocosm.
- Union between Heaven and Earth.
- Union between Man and God.
- Energetic manipulation of the body (physical and subtle).
- Transmutation of the body and soul.
- Healing sickness (both in our selves and in others).
- Self knowledge.
- Study of nature and her works.
I remember once having a discussion with a good Frater of mine, who I loved deeply and shared my initiatory process with but who eventually went on with his own projects several years ago, who shocked me with these words: “Magic has nothing to do with spiritual unfoldment”!
I didn’t accept this premise then, and I still cannot accept it now, and I never will in the future. I ask myself this question: What is Magic and Alchemy at all about, if there is not any higher purpose with it?
I hold that from magical practice must follow the evolution of soul. I further hold that Love and Compassion is the true sign of spiritual unfoldment. If it is not, this must be a sign of a failed practice or initiatory process having nothing to do with the actual goal of initiation and Magic. Thus this has nothing to do with Magic and Alchemy being a neutral science and art with which to do as one likes, according to one’s whims and personal desires.
It’s true that Magic may be used for evil purposes or else this wouldn’t become necessary to admonish the candidate for initiation into the Golden Dawn that he or she: “Neither will...use my Occult powers for any evil purposes...”. Thus if our desires aren’t in harmony with our higher divine intentions, i.e. being impure, the Magic performed will become impure, debased and an expression of blasphemy. Instead of evolution we will experience the downfall of soul.
Thus in the Golden Dawn our Magic or Theurgy may be divided into three main parts or phases with their own peculiar aims, which must be conducted in succession:
- The purification and equilibration of the Sphere of Sensation or Aura.
- The invocation of the Higher Divine Genius or Holy Guardian Angel.
- The final integration of our inner “demonic” or Qlippotic powers or complexes of the unconscious.
The Alchemical Marriage is the true aim and in this process we are guided by the principles of Love; this is the power that binds together the disassociated aspects of our self, and also between us and the world outside of us. But before we may truly “unite” ourselves with our neighbour and fellow man, through Compassion and Love, we must first mend ourselves into a harmonious whole.
Thus in my opinion as a initiate we must focus upon the different processes that we are taught in our tradition to achieve the preliminary stages as represented by points “1” and “2”, i.e.:
- The process of initiation.
- The processes of magical invocation.
- The processes of alchemy.
- The processes of meditation.
Thus true Love and Compassion cannot be learned from or fostered by any outside authority, be it from any spiritual teacher or from any Good Book, nor from our parents. That is not compassion; that’s adaptation for fear of punishment and shame – trough the construct which we call “superego”. True Compassion has to come from within; it must be awakened in our heart, the centre within ourselves which we call our “Sun” or solar centre, or soul.
When we make ourselves as pure and unrestricted vessels for the L.V.X., Love and Compassion will naturally follow. The L.V.X. force will thus purify us, relieve us from our blockages within our soul and body, burn away the dregs of our being (“calcinate” the caput mortum), and root out our base and petty impulses from our hidden compartments of the subconscious. It will make conscious our repressed shadow (the Dweller on the Threshold) and relieve us from its dominion. It will make us whole....or holy. Thus will Love and Compassion naturally show forth.
Therefore one cannot expect to much Love and Compassion coming from an Outer Order member. They have to focus on these processes that I mentioned above. When they become duly crucified and thus become conscious of the radiant sun-force within them, they will become true Adepts and walk the path of Love and Compassion. Through the agency of this innate and driven Light Force they will heal the sick and that for gratis.
Paul Foster Case even had the opinion that it is only on the level of Exempt Adepthood and the Sephira of Chesed (Mercy) that one is able to truly show genuine Compassion. So it takes hard work with oneself and travel trough a long and suffering path of initiation to reach to that level of attainment. But Compassion doesn’t just come down to the initiate in a grand flash of enligthement on some exalted Grade, but unfolds gradually; spiritual unfoldment is always a gradual process. This is even experienced to some point in the more early stages of initation, but obviously cannot be compared to the full influx of L.V.X. in the later stages of Adeptship.
Thus true Love and Compassion is an attainment of a spiritual state, and not something one may learn from somebody else (i.e. from a person) but from Life itself, from Light (L.V.X.), from God. This is true Love and Compassion as opposed to the transferential processes we designate as “love” and “compassion”, as aptly described by psychoanalysis. Likewise true Conscience is the voice of God in contrast to the “conscience” of the superego.
This is also the big difference between the Golden Dawn and Freemasonry. Basically Freemasonry is a school of spiritual development by leading a virtuous life and proper eithical conduct, amongst else compassion and charity. The reception ceremonies are replete with lessons with which to learn the Mason the good conduct of life. In the Golden Dawn there is a wholly another emphasis. This emphasis is on self-knowledge and the learning of esoteric principles.
The only virtues in the Golden Dawn worth mentioning is “To Will” (Velle), “To Dare” (Audere), “To Know” (Scire) and “To Keep Silence” (Tacere), corresponding to the Four Elements thus: Fire (Will), Water (Fortitude), Air (Knowledge), and Earth (Silence). These are the virtues to be acquired through initiation into the Elements (i.e. Outer Order), with which to reach spiritual attainment that will show forth, amongst else, true (as in divine) Love and Compassion.
So I would say that Magic and Theurgy has everything to do with Love and Compassion, as it has to ultimately lead to this exalted goal. Theurgy is, like in mysticism, basically a “love story” between the practitioner and God. Alchemy is likewise a “love story” between the alchemist and Godhead manifest as mother nature. Alchemy is by its innate nature fuelled by Love, especially in its more advanced and internal paths. The “secret fire” of the alchemist is basically Love.
I have personally witnessed the miracle of transformation and how one initiate and close acquaintance of mine through the work of Rosicrucian Magic and Theurgy, within the framework of the Golden Dawn tradition as the hermetic vessel, could evolve from being a schizoid and paranoid misanthrope into being a passionate and compassionate “melancholic”, who now simply feels himself being in love with not only his wife and children (which comes naturally for most of us) but also with God, with himself, with the world, with his fellow men, with his professed tradition (who has brought him to this point in life), etc., in short with the All. He has made amends and reconciled himself with life. He hears the voice of God when conscience speaks to him.
He of course still experiences relapses into primitive states of splitting and projection, sometimes even on most of the days of the week. Sometimes he again suffers through regression into the schizoid-paranoid state for longer periods when going through trial, mourning and grief. But in most cases he hasn’t have to fight and persuade himself into feeling Love. When he is with himself and centered within his self, and feels relaxed, silenced and composed, Love and Compassion follows naturally, which duly flows from within.