One of my recent essays on this blog has stirred quite some debate lately on one of the Golden Down fora. A voice has been raised against my portrayal of the ideal spiritual state of the Adeptus Exemptus (7°=4°). Basically I consider this Grade representing one who has emancipated himself from the passions of the body after succeeding in subjugating the Animal Soul (the Nephesh) under his conscious will, or the Ruah. This, I assert, is to be accomplished through the Great Work of the Major Adept, or 6°=5°, which undergoes a process in which he evokes and make conscious his own repressed and unconscious Qlippothic complexes. Thus the actual meaning of the emancipation, as expressed by the title of Exempt Adept, is that the Adept has succeeded in transcending his egoic consciousness originally centered in Yesod unto its rightful place in Tiphareth, and “made the former into the throne of the latter.”
The critical voice makes us aware that the first two Adepti Exempti of the Golden Dawn, S.L. MacGregor Mathers and W.W. Westcott, surely never reached that lofty ideal in their life time. Again he tells us that being a 7°=4° is only about mastering one’s understanding of the system, ritually and theoretically. According to this voice, the basic personality is never transformed by doing ritual or study. The ultimate goal of Apotheosis is only reached through an understanding of our relation to the world in which we are living in the here and now through symbol and analogy, and has nothing to do with what I have described. But I ask: what’s about mastering the understanding of one’s own self? Shouldn’t there also be an internal spiritual development following being raised to a particular Grade?
First of all I want to address the supposition that neither MacGregor Mathers nor Westcott reached what I have described is the essence of the 7°=4°. This may very well be the case. But we have to remember that even if the original Theurgical system as presented by these gentlemen surely has a strong potential I hold that it hasn’t been used to its optimal capacity previously. Thus it is possible that the 1888 reformation (at least in the majority of cases) cannot bring an Adept to this end as I have described. But since the 1999 reformation the Order curriculum has been adapted to bring about this transformation in gradual steps. One big change between the years 1888 and 1999 is that the former taught Ceremonial Magic (proper) only after reaching the Adeptus Minor Grade of 5°=6°, while the latter teaches that in full force already in the Juniorus 1°=10° Grade and partly so even in the Neophyte 0°=0° Grade. Thus the energetic evolution of the initiate and his energetic body, or Sphere of Sensation, begins at the very early stages of the Work, in gradual and systematical steps, which in the sub-grades of the 5°=6° goes into even more detail in the anatomy of the subtle energetic body.
One other detail which has great relevance to us is that while evocation of the averse forces was already taught after the 1888 reformation (or more properly after the R.R. et A.C. was reformed in 1892), this was done in a haphazard and unsystematic way as with most of the Magical requirements of the Golden Dawn system of Theurgy. Following the 1999 reformation the formula of evocation is systematized and methologically applied at the level of 6°=5°, where all the forces (of an angelical character) which previously has been invoked from 1°=10° to 5°=6° now are subjugated to evocation of their Qlippotic aspects. This is aimed at bringing about not only a closer union and knowledge between the micro- and macrocosmic forces of the matter (prima materia), but also to make conscious the unconscious complexes of the subconscious. This knowledge and resolving of conflicts of the subconscious will ultimately lead to liberty of the kind that I have described. It will perhaps not make you a “perfect” Adeptus Exemptus (if there even is such as a perfect thing below the Abyss), but at least make you a “good enough” one.
Thus the concerns that has been raised in the criticisms against my article only applies to the old Order according to the 1888 foundation and superstructure. What I am describing is the Order and tradition following the reformation anno 1999, and the new foundation (outer order process) and superstructure (inner order process). Ultimately what we see in the reformed Order is an entire new house, using the stones and bricks from the old and demolated building that used to be the Golden Dawn. Thus rituals in themselves has no fundamental transformative effect upon the initiate, at least not to reach the ultimate goal of Apotheosis, but rather it is how we actually apply them and to what end we use them in our gradual steps to perfection. Perform rituals in a haphazard way and without a clear long term orientation, and you will get haphazard results which can lead you astray from the ultimate goal. Alchemical processes requires pre-ordained steps and formulae taken in an exact order of sequence and according to certain cycles which has to be adhered to. The same goes for initiation and personal Ceremonial Magic. Theoretical studies have only a purpose to facilitate the practical application of certain formulae, they surely won’t change your personality other than the outlook on life on a intellectual or conscious level. Ceremonial Magic and Alchemy changes your entire being (including the unconscious) if done properly.
Furthermore, and in harmony with the above statements, attaining the Grade of 7°=4° doesn’t necessarily mean that one has become a full master of the Saturnian and Animal self. As an Adeptus Exemptus one has the time and means to gain this mastership. Often one will become conscious of one’s own shortcomings, in social interactions, and thus do further workings with evocation and integration if the need arises. But to be truly able to cross the Abyss, one has to rightfully earn the title of Exempt Adept. Thus to reach a Grade is but only the beginning of a process which ultimately leads to the mastery of that Grade. Compare this with being a Neophyte Adeptus Minor and becoming an Adept Adeptus Minor. The same applies also the the Adeptus Major and Exemptus Grades, and even the Grades beyond that.