It is of course good and dandy to know several languages and be well versed in archaeology, history and contemporary religious research, etc. S.L. MacGregor Mathers was a perfect example of this, so was W.W. Westcott; they often find themselves in leading positions of orders, as being a leader implies by its very innate nature to create a working curriculum for your initiates. What I AM criticizing is that this type of knowledge ought to be the major measuring stick for Adepthood. It is NOT. True Adepthood has nothing to do with any intellectual qualities per se, but instead that of succeeding with the Great Work and discovering the Stone of the Wise, and thus realizing Immortality. This is the original meaning of the term “Adept” which was invented and used by alchemists in the past. You won’t get immortal and god-like by reading a good book.
Granted, intellectual abilities and study of textbooks can aid you in this alchemical endeavour. But it requires so much more than that; reason alone and intellectual knowledge can not take you there – that is realizing the Stone – but more so faith, devotion, passion, reverence, humility, compassion, desire, discipline and will. I recommend a thorough study of G.H. Fra. Sub Spe’s (John William Brodie-Innes’) paper on the Zelator Ritual in this respect; he has some interesting things there to say concerning the importance of faith in the Work.
Intellectual knowledge creates distance and dispassion. To become an Adept you must merge yourself with that aspect of reality with which you are currently working and researching. The intellect can only take you that far; there is a time and place upon the Path of Return where you must set aside the intellect to gain the true vision of the Universe – Gnosis. Mystics all over the world know all about this. Why is it so hard for occultists to get this into their thick heads?
Theory is always the emphasis in the early stages of the training of the initiate, whereas the Work itself becomes the main concern after a while. Thus theory is the foundation of future Work; however not the Work proper itself. The only quality that can make you persevere through this Herculean Work is that of faith and devotion to it, and a true belief in Divine guidance and providence. There are to many sceptics amongst post-modern Adepts, to little with faith. Many are ambivalent and not truly shure why they are called to do the Work. Looking at the written words of some, I sometimes wonder if they even believe in magic; if they believe in miracles; if they belive in the Philosopher’s Stone and its supposed qualities of transmuation. What they do belive in is their own intelligence and discrimination. They also love to show off their large book collections!
But I say that intellectual endeavour may even become a distraction from more important practical work after a certain point. A large library is not the key to discovering divinity and immortality. The task is rather to find the truly important and handful of books that you should read and re-read, and re-read, and re-read, while working around the clock applying what you have understood from the source texts, until the message reveals itself through a Gnosis.
Discrimination is needed to weed out the puffers from the true alchemist authors. Remember that there are three major categories of occultists; the true artist, the puffer and the charlatan. The puffer is often well meaning and serious, but has lost his ways in the maze – the labyrinth (the convolutions of the brain) – and cannot distinguish between analogy and literal meanings. The charlatan knows that he is a fake but has developed his deceptive abilities enough to get away with pretending to be an artist. But there is of course a thin veil between the true artist and the charlatan, especially from the perspective of the student seeking a teacher. Would you prefer to read books by puffers and charlatans, before that of true artists? I guess not. But the problem is that our community is flooded with works written by puffers and charlatans. Thus the task to find the right literature – that is quality before quantity – is Herculean in its own right.
The Good Book (or Bible) is of course one of these important titles and souce texts, for us Westerners, but there are a few more that can help you in the early stages of the work. The Emerald Tablet is of course a requirement and should be put into a frame and hung onto the wall of every would be alchemist’s home, and meditated upon – daily. There are several other titles, of course. One which comes to mind is the Sepher Yetzirah, from the Qabalistic lore. But the tendency amongst real Adepts however is to cut down the amount of books in their library, at least after a while. Remember, quality before quantity. I once heard about a renowned Alchemist who purportedly only owned two or three books in his shelf. Interesting, huh? I wish I knew which titles. But I mustn’t digress any further…
Consider for a while the two Trees in the Garden of Eden that man was prohibited from eating; the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, and the Tree of Life. Man was lured by the Serpent to eat the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge, not that from the Tree of Life. After being caught in the act man was consequently condemned to a perpetual Diaspora and the path of a re-entry back into Eden barred by the Flaming Sword placed in the hand of the Kerubim, to guard the Tree of Life from being plucked by man who then truly would become as one of the gods as he would also gain immortality.
But as initiates we are told to ascend the Tree of Life and thus to quit our exile; alchemy concerns itself solely with the Tree of Life and its golden fruit. Enoch walked with God, thus man was given a promise of a way back into the Garden. Why then, I ask, do so many students of the occult and initiates treat the Tree of Life as it was the Tree of Knowledge instead? Why this sole emphasis on either theoretical knowledge or knowledge gained through astral scrying techiques (that is gaining information from dubious astral entities as sources)? We are very quick in invoking a force to use it as a gateway into hidden realms, and potential treasure house of knowledge, instead of infusing its powers with that of our Sphere of Sensation.
Now, only because of what I just wrote, some individuals will claim that I now told you to stop scrying. I did NOT! What I said was that you cannot gain true Gnosis only by scrying on the astral plane. The astral plane is a treasure house of illusions and presents yet another maze. Do you really believe that by only scrying more you will gain more true visions? Think again; you will probably only end up being a astral junkie instead. It is true that you will gain a more clear and true vision from the true Work; a true clairvoyance. But that is not from searching for astral knowledge per se; it comes from entirely different techniques. True vision is the outcome of more important work than that.
I am of course referring to purely energetic work. You must learn to infuse your Sphere of Sensation with the Powers of the Universe, with its Energies. You must learn to merge the microcosm with the macrocosm. You won’t do that by scholarly endeavours or communing with entities in the astral. It takes something else. Besides, there are other utilites and advantages from traditional scrying work than simply using a questionnare before an encountered entity. I am talking about astral scrying as a means to receive initiation and undergo transformations, which in turn also may have energetic consequences.
The Tree of Knowledge and the Tree of Life are deceptively alike. They are almost as twins. Thus it is easy to mistake one for the other. For instance, they both have two opposite paths – darkness and light about them. But they are not the same. They have different natures. Eating a fruit of Life will grant different qualities to your being compared to that of eating the fruit of Knowledge. Surely you must suspect this?
May we gain Gnosis trough eating the fruit of Knowledge? I doubt it. The fruits of the Tree of Knowledge has given man his discriminative faculties – his ability to analyse, that is to separate. That is needed in the Solve Phase. But you cannot reach to the Coagula without knowing how to unite the two principles. This uniting principle may only be granted to you by eating the Fruit of Life, plucked from the Tree of Life – that is the Tree of Love and of Light. Gnosis – that is True Knowledge of the nature of things – can only be granted by the Tree of Life (Light and Love). With Immortality comes also Cosmic Consciousness. Enough said. Please feel free to misinterpret and misrepresent me as you wish.