TO THE GENTLE reader. In this short essay I will reveal some concepts which are normally the prerogative of initiates. However, what I will say is only a bleak shadow of the true oral transmission and may take you nowhere without a proper initiation and consequent tuition. I have decided to lift up just a small part of the veil so that you may be able to better distinguish the true teachers from the false ones. I will discuss the nature of initiation and why it is emphasised in Traditionalist bodies of initiates. Of course, “Adepts” with prejudices and issues with killing darlings will find my words alien or extraterrestrial. But let the one who has eyes to read, read my words throughly. To the ignorant puffers I say: “Talk not of matters that you do not comprehend.” Hekas, Hekas, Este Bebeloi!
What truly distinguishes Traditionalist fraternities from post-modernist reconstructions is the former’s emphasis that the Grades of the Rosicrucian Order are not mere symbolical or administrative but more so real in a spiritual and physical sense. The Tree of Life (as distinguished from the Tree of Knowledge) has as its aim to transmute the initiate, in a factual sense which have immediate spiritual, psychological and physical results. My own experience of the initiations of the Golden Dawn is that they indeed have this potential, especially in the Grades of the Second Order. I haven’t been the same man after I have walked out from such a initiation when properly performed.
Another big difference between Traditionalist Orders and that of reconstructionist is the emphasis on the initiatory path. Many reconstructionists regard “initiation” to be a general term for magical and spiritual development. It is not. Granted, there is a initiatory process but this is only facilitated by the adjacent initiation ceremonies. And yes, it is true that initiations by themselves won’t facilitate the necessary transmutation for each Grade; they must be complemented by the personal work of the initiate. And this last rule also applies to the Outer Order Grades, which is the reason why the Rosicrucian Order of Alpha et Omega® reformed the First Order or the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn® into a truly magical Order.
That said, the personal magic may only be unlocked magically through the primary and preliminary initiation ceremony. The ceremonies activates or ignites certain powers within the Sphere of Sensation of the initiate which are subsequently used to optimally perform the corresponding personal magical and alchemical operations. This is done through the intermediary of the Initiator and the forces active in the Hall in which the initiation ceremony is performed. This is traditionally referred to as the “yeast”.
Thus the concept of Self-Initiation falls flat on the ground. Individuals espousing Self-Initiation have no clue of what it means to administer proper initiation; they only regard the Grades to be symbolical and administrative (i.e. providing temporal power and building hierarchy in a fraternity). This is the view which espouses the attitude that a Grade within a Fraternity only is relevant to that peculiar fraternity, even within a Golden Dawn context. Thus a Grade is nothing more than a badge and the proof that the initiate has mastered a certain level of occult knowledge and a basic (as in minimal) level of magical experience appropriate for that Grade. It doesn’t say anything about the spiritual and energetic level of that person.
A Traditionalist Order on the other hand holds that an initiation properly administered and performed creates an entirely different human. This outcome or state of being cannot be simply understood in the context of the fraternity which granted the initiate this unfoldment but should be able to be observed phenomenologically by anyone who has the eyes to see. A clairvoyant person is able to detect the correct symbols and colours of the Sphere of Sensation of such a initiate. Paul Foster Case (which was a initiate of the Alpha et Omega) stated that if it was possible to gauge the blood in a sufficient way the blood sample of a Adept would greatly differ from that of a Neophyte.
However, this also implies the concept of “apostolic succession”. This yeast is transmitted from initiator to initiate, which in turn will through a future initiator be transmitted further to the next generation of initiates. Thus it can be likened to an Olympic Torch which is passed on from athlete to athlete. This fire, a internal fire, is the yeast that I am referring to here. This yeast is also transmuted further through the initiation ceremonies, each ceremony adapting or calibrating that transmitting power of transmutation from the Hierophant in accordance with the corresponding Grade.
What the Traditionalist Orders also profess is that this kind of initiatory process is in need of this kind of yeast or transmuting power throughout the Grade system, i.e. from the level of 0°=0° Neophyte to that of 10°=1° Ipsissimus. This means that initiation ceremonies are needed for all of the Grades on the Tree of Life, also those beyond the Abyss. So contrary to what certain self-proclaimed expounders of the Alpha et Omega tradition asserts, the initiatory system doesn’t end after the Adeptus Exemptus 7°=4° Grade. After reading this essay you will understand why.
Let me give you a tentative answer to why such false notions may have infested the Golden Dawn community vis avi the Alpha et Omega. I will give you two well respected names, quite well known authors in the occult communites: Paul Foster Case and Dion Fortune (aka Violeth Firth). Both of these persons were former initiates of the Rosicrucian Order of Alpha et Omega, both during the 1920’s. Both became advanced to the 5°=6° Grade of Adeptus Minor and were relatively short lived members, being expelled soon after reaching that minor Grade of Adepthood.
Granted, both of them were close friends with the Chiefs of their respective Temples and apparently received private tuition from them. However we must also remember that both were members of the Alpha et Omega several years after the death of S.L. MacGregor Mathers, who during his last remaining years had lost contact with his Secret Chiefs. These were also the times when Theosophy was in vogue and who by then through Annie Besant and C. W. Leadbeater had developed the concept of Mahatmas on the Inner Planes (or “ascended masters”) which differed from the original concept of physical Mahatmas of H.P. Blavatsky.
Now what did these two former Alpha et Omega Adepts state regarding the highest level possible of ceremonial or physical initiation? Let us start with Paul Foster Case who says the following:
In the ceremonials of the Chapters of Working Builders of the Adytum, there are no ritual presentations of Ageless Wisdom beyond the grade corresponding to Tiphareth, the sixth Sephirah. All initiations beyond this point are interior. (The Master Pattern, Lesson 7.)
Surely enough, during and after the Adeptus Minor 5°=6° Grade, a Knowledge and Conversation with the Holy Guardian Angel is a necessary prerequisite to fully integrate the senior Grades and properly perform their required personal work. But this personal relation with one’s own Guardian Spirit is not enough. There also has to be performed the external ceremony and the further cooking of the yeast (transmission of current from initiator to initiate), so to speak. As a matter of fact the Adeptus Minor 5°=6° Grade is only the first step of a entire cycle of initiations which is “ended” in that of the Adeptus Exemptus 7°=4°.
This initiatory cycle or process of the Adepti Grades is already foreshadowed in the Neophyte 0°=0° Grade and is based on a ancient initiatory formula, drawning on the classical tales of the Egyptian pantheon, in particular that of Osiris, Isis, Set and Horus. The short version of this (I already told you that this would be one of my “shorter” essays) is that the Adeptus Minor 5°=6° Grade concerns the passion of the Adept, through pain and suffering (the Death). The Adeptus Major 6°=5° Grade ceremony takes off from this and depicts the loosening of the Soul’s shackles from the dead body and its descent into Hades or Hell; the post-mortem Journey of the Soul (the Separation). While the Adeptus Exemptus 7°=4° Grade seamlessly expounds upon the mysteries of the re-animation of the body after the re-uniting with its Soul (the Resurrection).
As you can see, there are actually not three distinct initiations but rather One Great Initiation in three parts. So can you now see the futility in regarding any ceremonial initiations beyond that of the gory death process of the Adeptus Minor 5°=6° Grade to be superfluous? It can be compared to only initiating someone to the “Earthy” Zelator Grade of 1°=10° and denying the initiate to experience the other three Elements. In a way the so-called “Elemental” Grades of the First Order are likewise interlinked and should be regarded to be but One process in four parts instead of four different stages.
Let us now turn to the words of our second source behind this fallacy or delusion of no physical initiations beyond the Abyss, that of Dion Fortune in her discourse on the Sephirah Chesed (which corresponds to the 7°=4°):
A very important and very imperfectly understood part in the Mysteries is played by those beings who are generally called the Masters. Different schools define the term differently, and some include living adepts of a high grade among the Masters; but we consider that it is advisable to make a distinction between the incarnate and disincarnate Elder Brethren because their mission and mode of function are entirely different. The title of Master should therefore be given only to those who are free from the wheel of birth and death. In the terminology of the Western Esoteric Tradition the grade of Adeptus Exemptus is assigned to Chesed, the term Exemptus, or exempt, indicating that freedom from karma which liberates from the Wheel. […] such persons, if the grade be a functioning one and not a mere empty honour, are karma-free and will not reincarnate. Such persons might justly be termed Masters, for their consciousness is of the grade of a Master, but as it is so necessary to make the distinction between incarnate and disincarnate adepts, it is better to qualify the classification by this minor distinction than to allow to humans a prestige which human nature is not fitted to bear. As long as an adept is incarnated he will be liable to human frailties in some degree, and to the limitations imposed by old age and physical health. It is not until he is free from the Wheel, and functions as pure consciousness, that he will escape from human bondage to heredity and environment; therefore the same reliance cannot be placed in him that can be placed in the true, disincarnate Masters. (The Mystical Qabalah, Chapter XVII.)
However, an Adeptus Exemptus is neither a Master nor a Bodhisattva. He is “merely” someone who has persevered through the initiatory ordeal of death, separation and resurrection. He is someone that has become a new-born human who are freed from the limitations and shackles of the animal and emotional self. Although he is not part of ordinary humanity in this capacity, he is also still a human as he has yet not transcended beyond the manifest and temporal world of the Microprosopus in the Macrocosm and the Ruach of the Microcosm. Thus he still partakes of the Wheel of Samsara.
Mastery belongs to the three Supernal Grades or the Magisteria. It concerns the final stage of the initiatory process whereby the three subtle bodies are finally prepared in the alchemical process. The Magister Templi 8°=3° Grade concerns the final development of the Lunar (astral) body, the Magus 9°=2° Grade the development of the Mercurial (mental) body, and finally the Ipsissimus 10°=1° Grade the development of the Solar (spiritual) body of light. It is at the level of Ipsissimus that we may speak of the true equivalent of the Bodisattvas of the West and the final liberation from reincarnation.
Finally, if looking at the initiatory process through the Tree of Life as a continuous process (which it truly is) of alchemy you will easily correspond them to the three or four Alchemical Stages, the entire First Order (corresponding to the Black Pillar and the Banner of the West) to the Black Stage or Nigredo, the Neophyte Grade serving as a preliminary preparation of the Matter prior to the process proper (which by the way doesn’t include sub-stages of “black of black”, “yellow of black”, etc., as suggested by a recent puffery book on Golden Dawn Alchemy), the entire Second Order (corresponding to the White Pillar and the Banner of the East) to the White Stage or Albedo, the passing of the Abyss (the Babe of the Abyss) to the Yellow Stage or Citrinas, while the entire Third Order properly would correspond to the Red Phase of Alchemy or Rubedo.
Considering this perspective, gentle reader, does it seem logical to you to cut off the initiatory process and thereby the alchemical process of transmutation just prior to the Yellow and Red Stages, when you have gone through the entire ordeal to purify your body and soul through the washing work of the White Stage? Doesn’t it seem reasonable to you that this entire process may be performed while you are incarnated and “alive”? Doesn’t it seem plausible even that reaching that final and desired stage of “becoming more than human” actually requires you passing the Abyss while still living on Earth? No? Think again.
Since writing this blog yours truly is no longer affiliated with the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, Outer Order of the Rosicrucian Order of Alpha Omega® (H.O.G.D./A+O®). However, my general view on this subject stays firmly unchanged, as expressed in the above written text, and what I have authored previously on the Gyllene Gryningen blog still represents my overall opinion. Any practices referred to in reference to the H.O.G.D./A+O® also apply to the Order that I am currently affiliated with, namely the Hermetiska Orden av Den Gryende Morgonrodnaden (“Hermetic Order of the Nascent Aurora”) or H∴O∴G∴M+R.