Fama Fraternitatis - 1614

Wiewohl wir nun wohl wissen, daß es umb ein ziemliches noch nicht an dem, da wieder unserm Verlangen oder auch anderer Hoffnung mit allgemeiner Reformation divini et humani, solle genug geschehen, ist es doch nicht unbillich, daß, ehe die Sonne auffgehet, sie zuvor ein HELL oder dunkel liecht in den Himmel bringt und unter dessen etliche wenige, die sich werden angeben, zusammen tretten, unsere Fraternitet mit der Zahl und Ansehen des gewünschten und von Fr.R.C. fürgeschriebenen Philosophischen Canons, einen glücklichen Anfang machen oder ja in unserer Schätz (die uns nimmermehr aufgehen können) mit uns in Demut und Liebe genießen die Mühsamkeit dieser Welt überzuckern und in den Wunderwerken Gottes nicht also blind umbgehen.

Vi vet dock att det enligt vår åstundan och andras förväntningar efter någon tid kommer en allmän reformation av både gudomliga och mänskliga ting. Ty innan solen går upp, upplyses himlen av
MORGONRODNADENS ljus. I väntan på denna reformation församlas några få som med sitt antal skall utöka vårt brödraskap, höja dess anseende och stärka dess förhoppningar och ge de av Fr.R.C. föreskrivna Filosofiska Canons en lycklig begynnelse. I all ödmjukhet och kärlek skall dessa nytillkomna tillsammans med oss dela våra skatter, som aldrig skall förgås, och så lindra denna världens möda och inte längre vandra ovetande om kunskapen om Guds underbara verk.

Howbeit we know after a time there will now be a general reformation, both of divine and humane things, according to our desire, and the expectation of others: for it is fitting, that before the rising of the Sun, there should appear and break forth AURORA, or some clearness, or divine light in the sky; and so in the mean time some few, which shall give their names, may joyn together, thereby to increase the number and respect of our Fraternity, and make a happy and wished for beginning of our Philosophical Canons, prescribed to us by our brother R.C. and be partakers with us of our treasures (which never can fail or be wasted) in all humility, and love to be eased of this worlds labor, and not walk so blindly in the knowledge of the wonderful works of God.


Det brittiska ordenssällskapet Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn och den tyska Frimurarlogen L'Aurore Naissante, vilket grundades i London 1888 respektive Frankfurt-am-Main 1807, delade på samma hebreiska namn Chevrah Zerach Bequr Aur, förevisat i gyllene gult vid bloggens huvud, vilket ordagrannt kan översättas till “Stigande Gryningsljusets Sällskap”. Denna tyska Rosenkorsiska Frimurarloge i Frankfurt, vilket måste anses vara det ursprungliga modertemplet till GOLDEN DAWN, kallade sig på tyska även Loge sur Aufgehenden Morgenröthe, vilket kan översättas till “Gryende Morgonrodnadens Loge”. Detta skiljer sig åt från den engelska seden att översätta orden Bequr Aur till “Golden Dawn” eller “Gyllene Gryningen”. Med anledning av Rosenkorstraditionens tyska ursprung är en mer korrekt översättning av Bequr Aur, genom franskans L'Aurore Naissante och tyskans Aufgehenden Morgenröthe, inget annat än GRYENDE MORGONRODNADEN. Denna hänvisning till ett stigande gryningsljus, morgonrodnad eller aurora är en klar hänvisning till den allmäna reformationen omnämnt i det ovan citerade stycket från Fama Fraternitatis. Denna blogg har dock valt att behålla den försvenskade anglo-saxiska termen GYLLENE GRYNINGEN för att denna, invand som den är, lättare associeras med den Rosenkorsiska tradition som här ämnas att framställas.

Licht, Leben, Liebe

onsdag 31 december 2008

Golden Dawn lineage and esoteric transmission: some prudent conjectures

One has to make a distinction, I believe, between lineage and esoteric transmission. The optimal way is of course to have them both, i.e. with authentic lineage should follow a genuine esoteric transmission, and vice versa. But that is not always the case of course. In theory there can be a genuine 7°=4° with the right to initiate anyone into the tradition and found Temples, etc. but as an accident has lost all of his documents or donated it to a library years ago, etc. In this case we have a lineage without the esoteric transmission, with the exception of the oral instructions held within the 7°=4°. On the other hand we have the document collector who can buy a substantial esoteric transmission at an auction, or copy it from some microfilm archive at one of the libraries holding these documents.

Which one is the better? Lineage or esoteric transmission? To be honest,
I don't know for sure. But I wouldn't like to have been without any of them. But perhaps lineage starts with esoteric transmissions in the first place? I will return to this question soon.

Today both lineage and esoteric transmissions within the Golden Dawn community generally are on shaky ground, perhaps with some few exceptions. It is at least obscured and cannot be officially confirmed to the public eye. Often the lineage is carried at the level of 5
°=6° as in the case of the students of Regardie, Crowley, Case and Fortune. Some are carried on the level of 6°=5°, but not even that is formally sufficient as it is – in fact – at the level of 7°=4° that authentic lineage is given and received. But most of the Adepti Exempti came from the Stella Matutina and A.E. Waite currents. Strictly speaking, these currents are at the level of 5°=6° as the London adepti who rebelled against S.L. MacGregor Mathers (one of the original founders of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn) were only 5°=6°.

So the 7°=4° grades of both Robert Felkin (the founder of one of the schismatic G.D. offshoots) and A.E. Waite (the founder of the other schismatic offshoot called “The Holy Order of the Golden Dawn”) was "irregular", i.e. acquired without any prior conference from a genuine Adeptus Exemptus (7°=4°). William Wynn Westcott (the other original founder of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn) was a true 7°=4° so perhaps he regularized the current of the S.M. or Waite? I don't know beyond speculation. But it seems unlikely as he mostly was interested with the S.R.I.A. after the schism of 1900.

So, to look upon the matter very strictly, lineage was only carried through the Rosicrucian Order of the A+O, the organization created by MacGregor Mathers after the schim in 1900, as he was the only acting Chief with that controlling Grade (i.e. that of 7°=4°), and also claimed and received recognition for the connection with the 3rd Order. And in the A+O the Adepti Exempti were very few indeed.

When the original A+O were closed down in the 1940's, some of the few high ranking senior Adepts of both 6°=5° and 7°=4° were conferred with the right to grant lineage to posterity. But the whereabouts of the post A+O era is very obscured and polemized by scholars. There are modern initiates that claim that orders like Tamara Bourkoun’s Order of the Pyramid and the Sphinx (O.P+S.) received such permission to carry on the A+O lineage, but there’s no consensus in the Golden Dawn community about this claim. Others, like the renown scholar Tony Fuller, claims that some of these senior A+O Adepts began to collaborate with the existing Stella Matutina Temple in England during the early 1950's, i.e. with the Hermes Temple in Bristol, and also to a lesser degree with the Whare Ra in New Zeeland some decade later.

So perhaps the Stella Matutina current finally became regularized after the death of Robert Felkin, including its 7°=4°? It's hard to say as the matters are obscure regarding this possibility to the say the very least. But if we are to trust the words of Tony Fuller (which I personally would like to) the Hermes Temple started to use the A+O rituals up to and including the 7°=4°, and also that the rituals eventually found their way to New Zeeland, albeit not used within the Whare Ra. So the conclusion that I can draw from Fuller's statements is that at least the S.M. in Bristol, England, received the esoteric transmission of the A+O if not the initiatic lineage.

Personally I hope the S.M. also received the lineage and had its 7°=4° regularized as both the Bristol and Whare Ra Temples has left an important imprint on the Golden Dawn community of today, because of the reletively late closure of them both (the latter in 1978 and the former during the 1960's) and because of the publications of authors like Israel Regardie and Pat Zalewski. But in doing this assumption one is prone to strech the imagination quite beyond what is reasonably safe to assume. Therefore, in using occhams razor, one must assume that the lineage formally broke with the schism of 1900, even though there were esoteric transmissions passed back and forth between the Orders of S.M. and A+O.

But then again, were did Mathers and Westcott receive their 7
°=4°? We don't know, can only speculate. What we know is that Westcott (through the Cipher Mss) and later Mathers (through his supposed continental R+C connections) both claimed that they carried with them esoteric transmission. Perhaps Mathers was initiated, i.e. received lineage (i.e. regularized his 7°=4°) from his Secret Chief Lux e Tenebris? We don't know. But we know it all started with the Cipher Mss. i.e. through some papers which was handed to Westcott coming from Kenneth MacKenzie and Fredrick Hockey. So here we can se a possible example of how an esoteric transmission became the basis of a lineage. So to answer my question above, I believe that esoteric transmission is the most important part; it is with documents and instruction that everything starts.

Regarding the esoteric transmissions of today they are scattered, to say the very least. I don't think that any Order of today holds all documents that were once produced in the G.D. and the later A+O, especially considering the senior Adepti Grades (at least a page is missing here and there). Not even documents coming from the S.M. and the Whare Ra, even considering the relatively late closure of the latter. Some in the know of what transpired in New Zeeland during the late 1970's claim that most of the documentation of the Whare Ra went up in smoke, so to speak, when it closed down.

So there we have it, a lineage that in most cases probably don't reach any higher level than 5°=6° and with fragments of esoteric transmissions, most often not reaching beyond the Zelator Adeptus Minor level. This is the general state that the Golden Dawn community suffers from today.

There are perhaps one or two Orders that (a) have a considerable collection of original Golden Dawn documentation and a solid enough lineage to make the operation considered as tentatively "regular" and "authentic", considering the conditions that we are living under today. But the majority of the so called Golden Dawn based orders have (b) neither initatic lineage nor esoteric transmissions beyond the published litterature. On the other hand there are also orders who either (c) have some sort of initiatic lineage but non or very little original documentation, i.e. esoteric transmission beyond the published litterature, or (d) no confirmed initiatic lineage but who have managed to gather a more or less substantial library of original handwritten documentation, i.e. a esoteric transmission which somehow transcends published information in both variety and in depth.

Of these four categories of Orders I would place them in the following order of priority:

  1. a. Both lineage and esoteric transmission
  2. d. Esoteric transmission but no lineage
  3. c. Lineage but no esoteric transmission
  4. b. No lineage nor esoteric transmission

Of course both (c) and (d) may switch places, considering the level of lineage (i.e. 5°=6°, 6°=5° or 7°=4°) and the actual amount of unpublished documentation gained and from which of the branches it was received (original pre-schism G.D., or post-schism S.M., A+O or Holy Order of the G.D./Fellowship of R+C), as they both approximate each other in general importance.

Regarding the source of esoteric transmission I would say that old documents from the original pre 1900 G.D. must be considered as much desired, as is the documents stemming from the later A+O because of the later expansions that Mathers did to the system (i.e. of the levels beyond Th.A.M. of the 5°=6°, and the levels of 6°=5° and 7°=4°), well aware of the fact that the pre-schismatic G.D. didn't reach any higher level than that of Th.A.M. The later S.M. stayed rather traditional to the pre 1900 G.D. up to and including Th.A.M., with the exception of minor expansions, but in New Zeeland (i.e. with the Whare Ra H.O. 49) it carried the traditon in its own direction for the levels beyond that, and here it becomes a matter of taste of which tradition or current one preferes, the S.M. or A+O. Personally I prefer the A+O, mostly for the fact that the original lineage continued with MacGregor Mathers and that he was the originator (or rather the receiver) of most of the 5°=6° material prior to the schism in 1900.

In my opinion A.E. Waites "Holy Order of the Golden Dawn", because of the many changes he did to the system (i.e. the removal of Ceremonial Magic and substantial changes to the initiation rituals), and because of the further reformations implemented with the creation of the later Fellowship of the Rosy Cross, isn't at all as much interesting or rewarding as the G.D., S.M. or A+O for someone practically oriented student as me. This is so, even considering the fact that the original Isis-Urania "mother" Temple No. 3 survied and was closed at the hands of A.E. Waite as late as 1914, when he decided to create his new Fellowship.

So today fragmentation and obscurity is the curse that besets the Golden Dawn community. At least, that's how it looks from my limited perspective. But it seems like the flow or traffic and exchange of G.D. documentation between Adepts and Temples has increased during the last 5 years or so, which could mean that the scattered esoteric transmissions, both individually hand copied documents and remnents of circulation documents, of the G.D., S.M. and A+O are in the process of slowly being gathered up and perhaps some day the collected works of the G.D. will be assembled into a harmonious whole. Or perhaps I'm just being unrealistically naive in my assumption. Probably so. Be there as it may but is my strong conviction that documents of this dignity don't just fall into the hands of someone by accident, especially not into hands of those who are able to implement them.

Let me give you one faschinating and inspiring story of one such acquirement of esoteric documentation, which I have extracted from a French article by Jean-Pascal Ruggiue and Nicolas Tereshchenko (the former being the current Imperator and the latter the past Praemonstrator of the Ahathôôr Temple No. 7 of l'Ordre Rosicrucien de l'Alpha & Omega® - the French branch of the Rosicrucian Order of the Alpha et Omega®), called An historical introduction to the Ahathoor Temple No. 7 of Paris. It is an interesting account as it is fairly illustrative of the intricacies of that path that documents of great spiritual significance sometimes can take (which also can be said of other manuscripts of high significance such as the Nag Hammadi or Qumran collections) before they eventually find their hands into those who are fit and able to use them properly:

The second Book of Minutes of the Ahathoor Temple covers the period from 1909 to 1923. These records were preserved by George Slater (Frater Vincit Qui Patitur), an American living in Paris between 1920 and 1930 and whose father was a member of Isis-Urania Temple in London. George Slater was initiated on 25 October 1919 to the rank of Neophyte at Temple Ahathoor Paris, and he became Sub-Cancellarius in 1921. After the death of Moina Mathers in 1921, George Slater remained in France until at least 1931. At an unknown date, he returned to live in New York where several Temples of the Alpha et Omega had been founded under the auspices of the Rosicrucian Order of the Alpha et Omega. Upon the death of George Slater in 1962, his widow bequeathed all his archives to a private institute in New York. The librarian of the Institute, rather embarrassed by the nature of these documents, store them in a trunk that was locked in a cellar. In a move in 1990, these forgotten papers were rediscovered by the new librarian of the institute who tried to visit the Ahathoor Temple and came into contact with Mary Greer and Robert Word, head of a branch of the American Order, the AOMR (August Order of the Mystic Rose) and official representative of the Ahathoor Temple present in the USA. Robert Word decided to forward a copy of these valuable archives to the current leaders of the Ahathoor Temple at Paris, and, because of historical affiliations united the original American Temples of the Alpha et Omega with the Ahathoor Temple in Paris, Mother Loge of the Order.

So on one hand you have some kind of divine intervention or guidance from angelic wardens who sees to it that documents find their way into the right hands. But on the other (and this is more important) you have Adepts who won't just infuse their egos with owning these documents but more so, and instead, implement what they contain. For historians like Ellic Howe and R.A. Gilbert, they (i.e. the words in these documents) are just senseless dribble or a interesting curiosity, but for Adepts like Jean-Pascal Ruggiue and Nicolas Tereshchenko they are the living entities of a spiritual tradition which are animated even further by their implementation of these instructions. In short, esoteric transmission.

People possessing this kind of original documentation have to sense the awe and importance of having been entrusted with the grace of receiving these esoteric transmissions, and take their responsibility to implement them to the highest possible level. With having this documentation follows a great responsibility.


Le Grand Maîtres Kabbalah-serie

Jag brukar inte göra så värst mycket reklam om andra bloggare och deras bidrag i diskussionen angående de västerländska mysterierna, om det inte finns goda skäl för detta. Ibland har jag varit indragen i en diskussion med någon annan bloggare eller forummedlem och då lyft fram detta och skrivit genmälen här på min blogg. Sällan har jag lyft fram en annans bidrag i dess egen rätt. Idag tänker jag göra ett undantag, av tre anledningar:
  1. Författaren skriver väldigt bra essäer som både är innehållsrika och genomarbetade; han vet vad han pratar om.
  2. Han skriver på svenska; det behövs fler svenska författare och de få som finns inom detta ämne behöver lyftas fram.
  3. Han är någon jag har stor respekt för både som medmänniska och som författare; det är en trevlig kille som jag har haft många givande samtal med både på forum och privat.
Jag pratar om Le Grand Maître som blog. Le Grand Maître är en svensk historieforskare, bosatt i Malmö, som tillika är praktiserande sufisk mystiker med förkärlek till Qabalah och Hermeticism, i synnerhet den franska Martinistiska och Rosenkorsiska traditionen. Han är en av de mest kunniga i området som jag har haft förmånen att prata med och jag har lärt mig mycket av honom angående den franska traditionen. Han har givit mig många fingervisningar som jag har följt upp, vilket bl.a. resulterade i min något långa essä om den franska esoteriska traditionen.

Le Grand Maîtres blog är fylld med intressant information som spänner sig från Sufism, över ämnesområden såsom Gnosticism, Rosenkorstraditionen, Golden Dawn och Qabalah, vidare över religion, traditionalism, psykologi och mycket mera. Kort och gott ämnen som jag själv vurmar för.

Vad jag i synnerhet skulle vilja lyfta fram här är hans mycket välskrivna och oerhört informativa serie om Kabbalah, i synnerhet de essäer som avhandlar dess syn på Ondskan - Sitra Ahra och Qlippoth.

Vad jag vet så håller Le Grand Maître på att skriva en avhandling om den esoteriska traditionen, utifrån ett svenskt perspektiv. Jag ser verkligen fram mot att få läsa denna. Sverige är ju tämligen svältfödd på seriösa avhandlingar om esoterik. De få vi har sett kommer från Susanna Åkerman och Henrik Bogdan, som båda är verksamma inom universitetsvärlden. Jag ser fram emot att se en ny stjärna tändas på denna himmel.


söndag 28 december 2008

A testimony of my life as an initiate


The Golden Dawn has alone been the most important thing in my life – besides my wife and my children – during the last two decades and has been the single factor that has changed me most as a person. I have difficulties now imagining a life without the Golden Dawn; my life prior to the discovery of the tradition is quite uninteresting and irrelevant for me today. I would even dare to say that I died and was resurrected as a new personality after I received my first spiritual “salvation”. I discovered the true tradition a year later and it was only then that everything started to become clearer, and I finally began to come out of the initial confused state which often follows the embracement of a spiritual worldview, in contradistinction to the secular and materialistic.

I have been a student of the Golden Dawn tradition since the early 1990’s and prior to my formal membership in the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn® became a member of an organization called B.O.T.A. (Builders of the Adytum), which was created in the 1920’s by the Golden Dawn Adept Paul Foster Case. He has written a brilliant and quite extensive correspondence course that teaches a developed form of the Golden Dawn tradition. My time in this organization, which spanned between the years of 1993-1999, gave me a basic understanding of the Western Mystery Tradition and was an important preparation for my later and more advanced studies. A few years later I began to practice Ceremonial Magic, which constitutes an important part of the Golden Dawn tradition, as a result of my initiation into the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn® in 1995. It was only then, after my first ritual initiation and the subsequent magical work, where I began to see that my life changed around me in synchronicity with my internal development. After that there was no longer any turning back to what had been.

My whole worldview and outlook on humanity are affected by the teachings as taught in the Order, which consists of a amalgam of much older traditions stemming from the Middle East, including Hermeticism and the Holy Qabalah. Hermeticism represents the alchemical view that matter can be refined by humans for it to express the divine spirit more fully. Qabalah teaches more or less the same thing, but as expressed through Jewish-Christian religious notions and magical techniques.

Nowadays I organize a considerable part of my thinking after the main symbol or glyph of the Holy Qabalah, the “Tree of Life”. It helps me to structure my though processes and analysis of what is happening around and within me. On the whole it is, however, restricted to mentality. There are no stringent rules that are forced upon me by the Order of how I should conduct my mundane life, so often seen in religious movements or sects; rigorous diet, blind obedience and service, sexual abstinence (or promiscuity), etc. None of the latter rules can be found in the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn®. I myself, as a magician or alchemist, am the sole person who decides which attitudes I choose to use in my dealing with the world around me. There are certainly some fundamental beliefs and values that are shared by all or most members of the Order, but the ultimate interpretation is left up to the individual. But despite this, I must say that a considerate part of my attitude towards life, towards my environment, and towards myself, is influenced by the teachings that I have studied and learned since I was initiated into the Order. In the long term one develops a personal conduct of life that is harmonious with what the Order stands for and teach.

I would like to stress the fact that my attitude and approach towards the outer world and my fellow men have been affected as a consequence of my membership in the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn®. I strive to improve myself as a person and make myself a more adequate mediator of Light, Life and Love, something that I desire to extend to my fellow men. I have since I started to study the Golden Dawn tradition had an urge to contribute to the mitigation of the world’s suffering and of the ailments in the individual. This profound wish of alleviation of suffering has prompted me to having undergone training in social works at the University and afterwards sought after professions in treatment, rehabilitation and counselling, with the ultimate aim of eventually becoming a psychotherapist. I am currently undergoing training in psychoanalysis as a consequence of all this, as I, besides the obvious connection between magic and psychology, want to help my fellow men to alleviate psychic illness but also to help them find their inner strength and manifest more spirituality in their lives. Therapists are our contemporary curers of soul.

Furthermore, I have become very eager to learn as much as I can as a part of my studies. I have in periods sought after and absorbed a wealth of knowledge, not only within the Golden Dawn tradition or the Western Mystery Tradition but also in sociology, behavioural sciences and psychology. I possess greed to know how and what it is to be a human and how human mentality actually works, what it is that drives or inspires her and where her unfoldment (or evolution) potentially can bring her.

It is my strong belief that the Golden Dawn tradition, and membership in the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn®, eventually and gradually makes man a more transparent channel of the divine. I believe that its initiates become more sensitive to their environment, both physically and spiritually, and that they become more capable of interpreting the more subtle impressions of life. I believe its initiates learn to see a greater context of the seemingly contradictory events in their own and others’ lives. I believe that we as initiates are increasingly starting to converse with God through the daily events that we experience in life, “the oracle of life” as I usually call it. In short, I believe that the initiate becomes a more sensitive instrument and optimised vehicle for the divine.

All this has given me a purpose in life. Everything has a purpose and I rarely feel alone, even if I in periods isolate myself from my environment. I have gained an increased confidence of my own and humanity’s future, although I realize that we all have a lot of trials to go through. Nowadays I usually are able to see the broader context of these sometimes arduous trials and setbacks (at least after a while, then my negative feelings has died off), after which they suddenly gain a completely different meaning. It is these experiences of a larger context that gives me understanding and strength instead of negative feelings of defeat.

Thus out of necessity there is also a dark side to all this. The spiritual attainment of the initiate will come very costly. Following the initiation into Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn® a greenhouse effect of growing is initiated. What an initiate normally achieves during a decade can in many cases be equivalent of several incarnations of the ordinary man. Naturally, all this must be associated with lots of “growing pains.” It is not at all uncommon to feel one’s life falling into chaos. It is also not entirely rare that some choose to cancel their initiatory process and completely end with all magical practice, and even leave the Order. The path of the initiate requires a great deal of perseverance and patience, mental strength and valour, and not least willpower.

For the initiatory process to lead into a positive development and completion the member must pass through what we in the tradition have come to call “the Dark Night of the Soul”. This is a complex process but in short this means a thorough examination of oneself and a direct encounter with the darkest aspects of one’s soul, often aspects that one previously have not been consciously aware of. One can compare the initiatory process with psychotherapy. It is necessary for therapy, to be able to permanently change the patient’s outlook on life and be curative, to have a phase that can be described as painful for the soul. This also and not least applies to the initiatory process caused directly by membership to this Order.

While the many painful moments of a initiate’s life is raging, it is nevertheless comforting to know that one is part of a larger context as a member, of a greater whole, that there are brothers and sisters that one can entrust oneself to and even senior members who have travelled the path before oneself, and who can give consolation and some good advice on the road. The path is something we by ourselves have to tread though, without any exception; we each have to carry our own cross.

Sometimes I wonder if one doesn’t need to be a little bit insane if one desires to embark on this difficult path. In my own case I have evolved from being a fairly dispassionate and insensitive person to become a passionate being. I can wholeheartedly and with the fullest of dedication venture into that which interests me at the moment. My emotional life has awoken to its fullest potential and sometimes I oscillate quite a lot between my emotions. After a while it is only normal to become very sensitive to one’s environment and easily be caught up in various emotions which perhaps doesn’t even originate in oneself, but thanks to the enhanced susceptibility one is easily pulled in anyway.

Thanks God there is practical work that can counterbalance and mitigate excesses in this. But even if I in times are able to experience the greatest of happiness, which I didn’t dream of having prior to crossing the threshold of the Temple, I similarly also feel periods of great darkness and sometimes depression. This is naturally to experience however, and is something you have to go through over and over again. The pain experienced (and certainly also the glimpses of happiness) is proof enough that the process of progress is very much alive.

So what I want to say with all of this is that the path of the initiate is not “a dance on roses” but instead a path of melancholy. Since I became initiated I have during a relatively short time been forced to go through a divorce, become a single parent left with a small child, with all that comes with this great responsibility, in periods had troubled relationships with people which are close to my heart, been compelled to break up unrewarding relationships, changed employment a number of times, had painful experiences at work and in general experienced a high level of stress that sometimes has been on the verge of what I am capable of handling, etc.

Often, I wonder how much influence I really can exert in all of this; if I do not wave to and fro like a reed in the wind without being able to do something about my condition. But all of this suffering has been worth all the tears. I regret nothing. On the contrary; nothing has been done in vain. The initiatory process has given me much insight about myself and my environment, in a growing sense of a meaningful life, in my periods of close communion with the sacred and divine, in the quickening of my soul; all this have been the outcome of all these trials.

I have also realized that this process, with all its painful tribulation, has led me to various crossroads where I have been compelled to make important choices in life; where the alternatives to the choices that I have made would have resulted in living a life of falsehood and spiritual or personal misery. I have gained a good deal of life experiences as a result of all this, and my personal crises has forced me to examine myself and my place in life, which has contributed to an increasing self-knowledge. This in turn has helped me to make the right decisions that are in harmony with what I have perceived at the moment to be my personal road to destiny or the purpose with my life.

Parallel to this, I have also met the love of my life, my soror mystica, and together with her conceived and raised three wonderful children, which in itself is proof of a miracle. I am working towards a career that feels more dignified and meaningful for me. I socialize with new friends brothers ans sisters on the path who give me much in return, people who I probably never would have met had it not been for my initiatory process and membership in the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn®. So the Golden Dawn has brought me many riches in life, even if the stakes certainly have been high.


måndag 22 december 2008

Conversations with a Master Alchemist: Regarding the two paths of Alchemy


Between november 15 and 16 there appeared an interesting exchange of discussion on the International Golden Dawn Forum between some students of alchemy, including yours truly, and a genuine Master Alchemist belonging to a secret fraternity continuing an unbroken link of succession counting back to the times which predates that of Master Jesus, and which preserves the ancient wisdom of the Egyptians and Chaldeans, today referred to as Hermetic Alchemy and Magic. I have been granted permission to publish these commentaries of the Master Alchemist on my blog by the G.H. Chiefs of the R.R. et A.C. I have edited the text somewhat, besides correcting typos, while in the process tried to preserve the words of the Master in their original form as much as possible. It is well worth its reading as it in a very erudite and candid manner explains the differences between the two paths of Alchemy, the Internal and External Ways. The original text is written in a unknown European language and was translated by David John Griffin into plain English. The words of the Master has been thought provoking and evoked some questions from several students of which I have inserted some below - S∴R∴
In alchemy there are actually two paths and ways of processing. One path is the “voie externe” or external way, which is the way of powders and filters, and the other way uses inner substances. Each initiate follows one path or the other and each arrives at the same goal, although the way of Inner Alchemy is faster and more effective.

It is not, however, true [...] that [in] acting symbolically upon symbols [...] analogical, outer, lunar alchemy arrives at the same result as the solar, direct way in virtue of the laws of Hermes that must be understood very differently and not so simplistically as [...] non-initiates understand them. The Hermetic maxim “As above, so below” is principally applied in the practice of the alchemical art and occults an important alchemical key, which can not be revealed to the profane and the uninitiated. It is a true operative key and thus there is little that I may reveal to you about this publicly. In any case, [...] alchemists [in general] ...spoke ENTIRELY IN CODE AND CIPHERS THE KEYS TO WHICH ARE HELD BY US AND FEW OTHER ORDERS. Thus you should also bear in mind the other alchemical maxim found so frequently in the works of... [alchemical] authors..., that “where we have spoken most clearly is exactly where we have misled you.”

Alchemy has nothing to do with chemistry and the alchemy... [one often] refer [to] ...is nothing but Spagery, which is something else and not to be confused with alchemy itself which is ENTIRELY DIFFERENT AND UNDER PERENNIALLY SEAL, WHICH MAY ONLY BE REVEALED UNTO THE MINDS OF THE ELECT. NOT EVEN AN ALCHEMICAL MASTER MAY TEACH UNLESS THE SOLAR INTELLIGENCES ILLUMINATE THE MIND OF THE DISCIPLE. Alchemy speaks of the union of nature and its processes give application to the HUMAN BEING and its nature and the PRODUCTION OF INTERNAL SUBSTANCES, THE NAMES OF WHICH HAVE BEEN TAKEN FROM VULGAR CHEMISTRY. You should read the introduction of Dom Antonio Pernety to Greek and Egyptian myths and perhaps you shall find the correct road to begin to understand that true alchemy has nothing to do with tantric or sexual yoga or Crowleyan Sex Magick. A mere study of this one text should prove enough to dispel the theses of the head of an ass.

These somewhat ambiguous words from the Master prompted some questions on my behalf:

1. What is the difference between the “voie externe” of alchemy and the way of mineral spagery, both being outer experimental or laboratory paths?

2. Can outer ALCHEMY (as opposed to spagery) gain the same results as the way of Inner Alchemy? I.e. can the Philosophers Stone be produced in either of these two ways, the external and internal?

3. What is meant with “acting symbolically upon symbols in analogical, outer, lunar alchemy”? Does the Master refer here to “spiritual alchemy” or laboratory? I get the sense that he refers to using descriptions of analogical or outer processes in a symbolical way, i.e. not direct and operative - S∴R∴

(Translators note: Below please find the response from RC to Frater SR. I have attempted to render a faithful translation throughout, yet I have no doubt that certain subtleties of meaning may have been lost along the way. In those instances where I have been uncertain of the best translation of a certain word, I have provided alternatives following in parentheses.) - L.e.S.
Dear Sincerus Renatus,

I am pleased to answer your questions, albeit constrained by tradition to speak in cipher and in veiled terms as has always been the rule with the Sons of Hermes. I can assure you, nonetheless, that I speak the truth and I am not in any way misleading you down a false path.

The are two principle alchemical paths (ways), which follow two methods of alchemical action, active and passive (called Solar and Lunar by the ancients). These two principle paths may be practiced either in an “external” (outer) or “internal” (inner) manner. When I speak of “internal” or “Hermetic Inner Alchemy”, I do not make reference to so-called “Spiritual Alchemy” (as has been misunderstood or mistakenly implied by [...] others), which is but a form of mysticism and of little interest to the true alchemist.

In contradistinction to mysticism, including the mysticism mistakenly and confusingly called ‘Spiritual Alchemy’ in certain modern circles, Hermetic alchemy is an operative (practical, experimental) practice and a true technique that has no need of “morality” or “habits” (qualities, attributes) to be practiced or to reach the greatest of attainments. In fact, a disciple of the Royal Art can achieve alchemical attainment equally along a positive or a negative (black, sorcery) path, which is one important reason why true Hermetic alchemy, unlike magic, has been at all times guarded under a veil of strictest secrecy!

Magic functions according to the ability (quality) of the magician. In Hermetic alchemy, on the other hand, results are obtained independently of the skill of the alchemist, according to laws and principles as impersonal and inexorable as those of chemistry, whether for good (positive) or for evil (negative). Thus the ancients have called alchemy a precise practice (technique), which in modern terms one might call a science.

Hermetic alchemy is based entirely on physical principles and alchemical doctrine has nothing at all to do with spirituality in the mystical sense.

ALL IS ONE and thus neither ‘matter’ nor ‘spirit’ (energy) exist, but only one unique stuff (fabric, matter), which through alchemical elaborations in various stages be transmuted from gross to subtle and vice versa.

Hermetic alchemy does not only wash (purify) material substances rendering them subtle (spirits, alcohol), but may also by inverse process incorporate or densify spirits (alcoloids, subtle essences of plants, or oils of metals) so much as to produce a minimal particle (or “powder of projection”).

All of this may always be done, is repeatable, and may be accomplished either externally or internally. When I speak of “Externally”, I specifically mean spagerically or chemically in a properly equipped laboratory. When i speak of “Internally,” I also mean spagerically or chemically, yet entirely “within the human being.”

This yields the following formula:

The transmutation is possible of one’s own “inner” matter (“Inner” in the sense of the dense and material human body) to the point of reabsorbtion into its subtle principles in two manners:

1. either using external agents, spagerically or chemically elaborated in an external and well equipped laboratory and applying these to the human body, or

2. by using the precise correspondences of these external agents, but produced entirely within the internal laboratory of the human body, likewise transmuting the physical body using alchemical processing.

The end result is the same.

1. The first, “Hermetic Outer Alchemy” is the way of the external laboratory and uses filters and powders.

2. The other way, “Hermetic Inner Alchemy”, is completely corporeal, using the human body of the alchemist itself thorughout.

To avoid confusion and dispel the clouds of those who would deceive you as to the true nature of Hermetic Inner Alchemy, I must repeat that it has nothing to do with the mystical, so-called “Spiritual Alchemy” of Martinist and New Age derivation that has caused so much confusion regarding the true nature of alchemy in modern times.

Fulcanelli in his works speaks of the way of Hermetic Outer Alchemy, that is to say, the way of alchemical processing in an external, well equipped laboratory.

Philalethes, on the other hand, speaks, for example, in his works of the means of processing of Hermetic Inner Alchemy, which uses the human body itself exclusively throughout the processing.

I sincerely hope that I have shed light to further clarify this matter to the extent that it is to me permitted. Indeed, I have spoken here more clearly than most Hermetic philosophers who have spoken out before me.

Although the Master is much generous to honour us with this information, I still have some comments and questions yet to be answered:

The Master does clarify many issues that I have had regarding the differences between Outer and Inner Hermetic Alchemy, and the nature of each.

He speaks of two ways, i.e. of the Active and Passive or the Solar and Lunar paths respectively. He also confirms that BOTH paths can be practiced as an Internal OR as an External Way. But some of his comments raises further questions.

I have hierto come to understand the difference as:
Active and Solar = Inner, or direct

Passive and Lunar = Outer, analogical
But the Master says that the Solar way can be practiced as an Outer Alchemy and the Lunar as an Inner. As the Solar Outer Way is yet to be figured out my understanding of the Lunar Inner is that spagyrical and alchemical elixirs are supposed to be taken internally to provide and enhance an inner transmutation of the body of the alchemist, which will render it of a quality which can be compared to the production of the Internal Solar Body.

The Master also speaks of the Hermetic Alchemy as a “science,” i.e. that certain practices inevitably will have certain results, regardless of the purpose and the spiritual maturity of the Alchemist.

In my opinion this rule is more applicable to Inner Solar Alchemy in contradistinction to the Outer Lunar Path in virtue of the high innate potencies of the substances used with Inner Alchemy. Outer Alchemy, requiring much more manipulation on the subatomic levels for its substances and matters to be truly potent, in this respect is more similar to Theurgy or Magic, of which the Master speaks is dependable on the inner attitude and moral maturity of the Adept. Therefore Outer or Lunar Alchemy requires an inner spiritual development as well as a true understanding of the operations and processes for results to manifest in the Outer Laboratory. This notions are confirmed both by older and contemporary Masters such as Paul Foster Case, Frater Albertus and Jean Dubuis, of which I have great admiration, but also by my own personal teachers or mentors of which I have much respect.

I remember one of my early Alchemical teachers within my own school (R+C Order of the A+O) recalling a fascinating anecdote about the Nigredo state of Putrefaction. The Apprentice took the flask and showed the lack of result and asked the Master how he could acquire the Nigredo state. The Master then took the flask in his hand and the matter immediately started to putrefy. The Master said: “You have to experience Nigredo in your own life and being before you can expect it to happen in your flask”.

I strongly believe that my early teachers were correct and that there is truth to these kind of stories, i.e. that the Outer Alchemical Process actually requires a corresponding psycho-spiritual mental state within the Alchemist. So, in a sense there exists a true spiritual alchemy, as there exists a true spiritual Theurgy; the processes in the laboratory as in the oratory creates an environment for the spirit to gestate and cook within the bowels of the soul, or perhaps even the brain. There does not, as the Master R.C. has pointed out, exist a real diffusion between matter and spirit; everything is the All. I personally have experience of this kind of parallel processes between what is happening in the flask and what is happening within my soul. Outer Alchemy is the perfect form of meditation. And as Paul Foster Case has pointed out throughout many of his writings, meditation creates physical and real changes within the body and the brain. This makes the process of Lunar Alchemy both Internal as well as External, excluding the taking of Alchemically manufactured end results of these processes, i.e. the elixirs and stones.

One question that still lurks within my mind is if the administration (i.e. taking) of an Outer Alchemical Elixir or Stone is able to enhance the Inner Alchemical Process. Or should the two paths perhaps be kept strictly separate? Personally I don’t think they should be kept separate. In my own work I combine both paths (i.e. taking both external and internal elixirs) and to this day I haven't experienced anything that works contrary to this assumption.

Let us now turn our attention towards two very interesting questions (showing deep and initiated knowledge of the Royal Art) posed by “Ormus” which eagerly was answered by the Master R.C. of which I find interesting enough to reproduce here - S∴R∴
Ormus: What is Mercury in the Human Body, and where can we find it IN and where OUT?

RC: I may only point you towards the keys of the Mutus Liber in your quest to understand where the “raw Mercury of the Gods”, for the Opus may be found. Observe, however, that Mercury is the volatile part of the created composition; alcohol in the vegetable kingdom as oil in the mineral. Now what could this be in the animal kingdom and specifically in the human body?

Ormus: What is the secret of the Diamond of the Sun?

RC: I invite you to meditate upon the following words: from carbon the diamond arises as well as from carbon arises the skeletons of all things. There exists in the human being a part that is indestructible, which is the most noble part once transformed.

From black, white. From soft, hard. From carbon, diamond. From the Moon, the Sun. From Mercury, Sulphur. From the thin, thick.

Remember that in alchemy the Sun is always understood with duplicate meanings, be it as analogy to the Sun as well as to the light. It is symbolical as well as physical and therefore manipulatable by proper alchemical techniques. For alchemy the diamond is nothing else but the Sun on Earth, or “obdurate light;” in the human body as well as externally in minerals.

Please excuse me and grant understanding, as both vows and Hermetic tradition proscribe me from expressing myself more clearly on these matters in public.
And now I feel compelled to present some final words of wisdom and pertinent questions from the Master R.C. addressed to all students of Alchemy which may feel sceptical to his words or perhaps find them overly controversial - S∴R∴
In an attempt to avoid further misunderstanding, however, please excuse me for once again presuming to admonish you not to further conflate Hermetic Inner Alchemy with either Tantra or Crowleyan sexual magick.

Aleister Crowley was never a Hermetic alchemist and what is practiced by the OTO is not Hermetic alchemy, but rather something else.

The practices of the OTO comprise an Occidental interpretation certain Oriental Tantric notions filtered through a particularly Western filter. This is certainly not Hermetic alchemy, however, which is something else entirely.

Might I further presume to ask you a couple of elementary questions, on which subjects a well educated practitioner of the Hermetic arts [...] ought be pleased for the opportunity to expound upon for the edification of us all.

I therefore respectfully submit the following two lines of inquiry to you in aspiration of further illumination for us all.

To begin with, would you mind to please explain to us:

1. Where are the fires located inside the human being and what are the athanors, in both Internal and External Hermetic alchemy?

Also, please bear in mind, that it is written in the entire world that the mysteries are divided into Lunar, or external and analogical and Solar, internal, and direct.

To this, I would like to add that in the various temples everywhere of the Golden Dawn, all of the arrangements made for the various grades are made in such a way as to carry the symbols into the mind of the initiate so as to speak directly to the subconscious in “symbol” suggesting “immediately” the true meaning of the “internal” mysteries.

My second, directly relevant question [...] therefore... [pertains to one of the] ...Grade[s of] ... [the] Golden Dawn.

2. Would you therefore please illuminate us regarding the “true” meaning of the symbol presented [...] during... [the] Zelator grade advancement known as the “Hermetic Cross”? I am not referring to the “symbolical” meaning that has always been given in the lower, “Lunar,” “symbolical” grades [...] of our order but rather its “true,” higher, operative meaning as directly relevant to the practice of Hermetic alchemy?

I eagerly await your answer for our further edification as I am certain do many other of the readers of this... [blog].

Should you by chance, however, feel humbled by these sincere yet simple lines of inquiry, might I respectfully suggest that it would be most unwise for any of us to remain imprisoned in the prejudice of our preconceived notions about Hermetic alchemy and the Golden Dawn.

Would it not be far wiser to diligently continue with our studies and to aspire to Hermetic wisdom with genuine humility and a pure and noble heart, rather than to harshly judge the expositions of others based merely on an “as yet” incomplete and imperfect understanding of both Hermetic Alchemy and the Golden Dawn?


torsdag 18 december 2008

Agnosticism - den sunda skepticismen

Idag hör man ganska ofta människor påstå sig vara agnostiker, som för att betona att de inte tror på något gudomligt eller en andligt metafysisk tillvaro. Många människor blandar ofta ihop detta begrepp, eller anser det vara synonymt, med ordet ateist. Detta anser jag vara ett misstag, ty begreppen eller ståndpunkterna är inte de samma till sin natur. Men vad är då agnosticismen om den inte är det samma som ateism, dvs. inte representerar gudlöshet?
Låt oss först analysera ordet i detalj. Ursprunget är det grekiska ordet a-gnostikismos eller α-γνωστικισμός, som betyder (a) "utan", och (gnosticism eller gnosis), "kunskap" eller "vetande", eller med andra ord om någon som är "ovetande". Det står till motsats till ordet gnosticism eller gnostiker, eller med andra ord någon som har vetskap, oftast om Gud eller det gudomliga. Begreppet myntades år 1868 av Thomas Henry Huxley och i sin ursprungliga betydelse avser det en insikt om att människan inte har någon vetskap om livets yttersta tillvaro. Sedermera omdefinierades begreppet något och fick betydelsen att man inte kan veta något om Guds natur eller om "Han" överhuvudtaget existerar.
Förvisso finns det dem som anser sig vara "agnostiska ateister" som menar att de inte tror på en Gud, samtidigt som de inser att de inte kan bevisa sin ståndpunk. Enligt min mening är dessa argument motsägelsefulla eftersom ateismen för mig innebär ett klart ställningstagande mot föreställningar om Gud. Sannerligen kan man med logiska argument varken bevisa eller vederlägga existensen av en Gud. Således är det för mig helt uppenbart att ateismen är en världsåskådning som i vissa läger har närmast "religiösa" eller åtminstone ideologiska undertoner. Vem har inte stött på den missionerande ateisten?
Det existerar även en agnostisk teism som menar att Gud existerar men att "Han" är outgrundlig och därför undanflyr det mänskliga förståndet. Denna ståndpunkt menar alltså att det för det mänskliga medvetandet är en omöjlighet att nå "gnosis" om Gud. Detta är en transcendent Gud som inte är närvarande i sin skapelse; en upplysningtidens teism eller (snarare) deism.
Personligen tycker jag att agnosticismen är en betydligt mera rationell ståndpunkt än både ateismen och teismen (teism får här tjäna som ett utvidgat samlingsnamn för alla former av religiösa och andliga trosföreställningar), ty båda utgör en övertygelse och tro. Agnosticisimen representerar å andra sidan en sund skepticism som varken avfärdar eller anammar några förutfattade meningar. Ty hur många religiösa är inte troende av ren vana och indoktrinering snarare än av en fri, innerlig och ärlig längtan i sina hjärtan, eller med andra ord hur många troende har egentligen erfarit en sann frälsning - gnosis?
En del ateister anser att agnostikern "fegar" när han eller hon vägrar att ta ställning, men i mina ögon är det rationellt sätt helt acceptabelt och mer berättigat att avhålla sig från en slutgiltig slutsats om man anser att man saknar tillräcklig information; det är upp till personen att avgöra mängden information som krävs för att välja när man skall dra en slutsats och det är något man bör respektera. Dessutom är det ett uttryck för en betydligt mer sympatisk livsinställning i jämförelse med ateismen då man därigenom fortfarande är öppen för möjligheter och en potentiell frälsning.
Sålunda är agnostikern mer förnuftig än både ateisten och teisten, som båda drar slutsatser om tillvaron på betydligt vagare rationella grunder. Den mest sunda utgångspunkten borde vara att anamma ett agnostiskt förhållningsätt tills den dag nåden tillåter hjärtat bli upplyst och helgat av Helig Ande, av sann vederkvickelse, av gnosis. En tro på det gudomliga och heliga kan inte frammanas av blott intellektet - i cerebrum - ty den enda logiska slutsatsen hos intellektet ensamt är ett anammande av agnosticismen. Hos människan är det blott hjärtat som kan erfara en gnosis; fram tills dess måste studenten avvisa intellektets alla vindningar och spekulativa excesser med en god portion skepsis - agnosis.
Saken är den att den moderna formen av hermetisk-qabalistisk magi faktiskt går att tro på och tillämpa som agnostiker. Förutsättningen är dock att man tror på människans dynamiska psykologi och åtminstone Freuds psykologiska anatomi eller topiska modeller, men helst de förklaringsmodeller som återfinns hos de Jungianska eller transpersonella skolorna. Man bör således arbeta utifrån ett humanistiskt förhållningssätt och en hypotes om själsliga dynamiska processer. Utifrån ett Hermetiskt och Qabalistiskt synsätt kan man alltså inte betrakta människan genom ett behavioristiskt filter såsom en biologiskt maskin som blott reagerar mekaniskt på yttre och inre stimuli; man måste tro på subjektet och den mänskliga själen.
Men även om man har ett Jungianskt förhållningssätt kan man faktiskt utgå ifrån och begränsa sig till ett rent materiellt och mekaniskt universum, där alla själsliga fenomen kan reduceras till cerebral biokemi, och att alla "magiska" processer egentligen inte är mer eller mindre än ren psykologi och helt inre subjektiva processer. Man kan alltså använda sig av magi för ren personlighetsutveckling och en storts egenterapi, att nå självkännedom och bota sig själv från psykiska åkommor.
På samma sätt kan man välja att se på alkemi som en metafor för rent psykologiska processer och individuationsprocessen, enligt Carl Gustav Jungs skola. Eller med andra ord såsom psykets projektioner på yttre para-kemiska processer. På samma sätt kan man betrakta religion och den esoteriska världsbilden som blott en projektion av rent inre arketypiska symboler. Eller att Gud är en projektion av överjaget-jagidealet (Freud) eller Självet (Jung). Trots dessa epistemiska begränsningar kan man få mycket ut av den rika symbolläran och de elaborerade teorierna, för att inte säga den initiatoriska processen och de andliga övningar, som erbjuds hos en traditionell Hermetisk-Qabalistisk skola.
Det går faktiskt att ha ett sådant materialistiskt förhållningssätt även om de flesta esoteriker och ockultister ändå har en andlig och esoterisk inställning till livet, eller åtminstone över tid erövrar ett andligt och metafysiskt förhållningssätt som ett naturligt led i den initiatoriska processen. Dock har alla plats i magikernas och alkemisternas stora "familj", gnostiker, agnostiker, teister, såväl som ateister. Den omfattar alltså en stor bredd av olika människor med olika inriktningar och övertygelser som samsas under ett och samma Tempeltak.

lördag 13 december 2008

Ithell Colquhoun - the forgotten Adept

Ithell Colquhoun (1906-1988) is best known today for being a painter and author of great prominence on the British surrealist scene. She studied at the Slade School of Art in London and soon also studied the arts in France, and there met the master Salvador Dalí which made a great impact on her artistic expression. She made her debut at a exhibition in 1936 and by then already had developed her style which she herself described as "magic realism", showing strong influences of Dalí. One such example is provided below (Scylla from1938).

From 1939 and onwards Ithell often used a technique which can best be described as "automatic painting", i.e. the artistic equivalent of automatic writing, not uncommon amongst surrealist painters such as her mentor Salvador Dalí. It was also used amongst certain symbolist painters and writers, such as the Golden Dawn Adept William Butler Yeats. This is also a technique which naturally can be found in some occult circles, which leads us to Ithell's connections with the occult community, in which she was known as Soror Splendidior Vitro (see monogram at far right for this magical motto). Ithell in fact took part in the movement today commonly known as the Golden Dawn. There she used her artistic abilities in full bloom to express its occult worldview, especially connected to the Qabalistic glyph of the Tree of Life.

In the Golden Dawn community Ithell is best known to us for her seminal work and personal interpretation of the history of the Golden Dawn, called The Sword of Wisdom: MacGregor Mathers and the Golden Dawn. This book, which basically is a biography on S.L. MacGregor Mathers, was published by Spearman in 1975 and is currently out of print. Compared to the more academically rigid and hence dispassionate works of authors like Ellic Howe and R.A. Gilbert, the work of Ithell Colquhoun is written with love and passion for the tradition and from the perspective of an initiate. This makes the work the more interesting as it draws from many sources not strictly speaking legitimate from the academic angle, such as word of mouth traditions and gossip amongst initiates, etc.

Ithell also wrote one more occult work, the hermetic-surrealist novel Goose of Hermogenes, published by Peter Owen in 1961. This work was probably developed under the influence of automatic writing, or so Steve Nichols asserts us, and can be best regarded as a modern oracle. In short Ithell's heroine finds out, while visiting her uncle at his island that exists out of time and space, that he actually is in search of the philosopher’s stone. Goose of Hermogenes can best be described as an esoteric fantasy novel which draws from scenes and imagery mostly derived from medieval occult sources. Each chapter title is also correlated to different stages in the alchemical work. It is a reading worth while for any student of the Golden Dawn or of Hermeticism.

The official history according to The Sword of Wisdom informs us that Ithell Colquhoun applied for initiation into the Golden Dawn in the 1930's but was rejected, and as a consequence instead later joined the O.T.O. in 1952 and Kenneth Grant's Nu Isis Lodge in 1955. The truth of the matter is however that while it is correct that Ithell later became a member of the O.T.O. she prior to this in fact eventually were initated into the Rosicrucian Order of the Alpha et Omega (the legitimate heir to the GD∴), though she never reached beyond the 2°=9° Grade of Theoricus. Why she didn't attain any higher Grade is yet a mystery to be solved, but one probable reason is because of the closure of the Temple in the 1940's in the wake of Israel Regardie's publications of the Stella Matutina materials included in his The Golden Dawn. It is also a well established fact that her cousin Edward John Langford Garstin (1893-1955) was a prominent and senior Adept of the AO∴, and personally supervised and tutored Ithell well above the material contained in her Grade. She often made drawings and paintings of the teachings contained within the R.R. et A.C. (or Inner Order of the AO∴).

Ithell also became a prominent member of Countess Tamara Bourkoun's Order of the Pyramid and the Sphinx (O.P+S.), after its founding in 1963, together with other Adepts like Marquis Nicholas Tereschenko (1920-2001), the latter which later in 1992 would resurrect the old MacGregor Mathers Paris Temple of Ahathôôr No. 7, together with his student Jean-Pascal Ruggiu (who also was a member of the O.P+S.). Some sources claims that O.P+S. received a valid lineage from the AO∴ through Miss Tranchell-Hayes, the last Imperatrix of the AO

From 1964 and through to the 1970's Ithell was a dedicated Adept and teacher of the Inner Order of the O.P+S., called the Ancient Order of the Phoenix. The fact is that Bourkoun needed Ithell Colquhoun's assistance, as Ithell was one of the very few Adepts left initiated into the oral traditions of the AO∴, in comparison with Israel Regardie which had provided Bourkoun with her training in the United States prior to her arrival to England in 1963. Unfortunately Ithell's supervised AO∴ training wasn't completed as her cousin Langford Garstin, according to initiated sources, suddenly withdrawed all his support and tutorship of her. The reasons for this sudden change of heart is unknown, but perhaps it could have had something to do with the fact that Ithell was in communication with both Tamara Bourkoun and Israel Regardie, well before the founding of O.P+S. And E. J. Langford Garstin's sentiments towards Israel Regardie, who by most initiates of the old school was considered to be an oath breaker and profaner, is a well documented fact.

Much of Ithell Colquhoun's lectures and writings for Bourkoun's O.P+S. has finally been published in 2007 by Steve Nichols in his The Magical Writings of Ithell Colquhoun. Nichols has also been kind enough to publish some of Ithells paintings and sketches, of which one of these - the occult meanings of the Hegemon's Lamen - is presented on the cover of his book.

The dynamics of Ithell's style is obvious just by looking at this image; the main field of work of Ithell was the magical theories and uses of colour, one of my own fields of interests. Overall her occulted paint works, under Langford Garstin's supervision, is strikingly beautiful and powerful, ranging from dissections of the crosses of the Outer Order admission badges, to the Tarot and the Sephiroth of the Tree of Life, amongst other yet unpublished material. It is obvious that Ithell Colquhoun was a very creative and productive painter on both the surrealist and occult scenes.

But also her occult writings bears the mark of lucidity, which is evidenced by the lectures contained within The Magical Writings of Ithell Colquhoun. I really recommend any serious student of the Golden Dawn to purchase this book by Steve Nichols, and above all the electronic downloadable version as it contains colour diagrams and photographs which does justice to Colquhoun's works. Nichols also presents a erudite and interesting account of the life of Ithell Colquhoun and her involvement within the Golden Dawn (of which I have drawn somewhat to write this biography), even though it lacks some information which I have received from initiated sources and now provided here for your erudition.


lördag 6 december 2008

Conversations with a Master Alchemist: On Secrecy in the Hermetic Tradition


This message was originally published in the International Golden Dawn Forum on November 19th, 2008. The original text is written in a unknown European language and was translated by David John Griffin into plain English. It is written by a genuine Master Alchemist of a secret fraternity continuing an unbroken link of succession counting back to the times which predates that of Master Jesus, and which preserves the ancient wisdom of the Egyptians and Chaldeans, today referred to as Hermetic Alchemy and Magic. I have been granted permission to publish this exposition on my blog by the G.H. Chiefs of the R.R. et A.C. I have preserved the text in its original format without any amandments. It is well worth its reading as it in a very erudite and candid manner explains the principles of secrecy from the traditional Hermetic perspective - SR

[Translators Note: The following exposition is delivered to our readers from RC, faithfully translated by your brother in the Great Work, Lux Ex Septentrionis (Light From the North)]

RC - On Secrecy in the Hermetic Tradition

Thank you for inviting me to comment on the role of secrecy in the Hermetic tradition.

The primary function of secrecy in esotericism is not to manipulate others, which has unfortunately been done and continues to be done in bad faith by persons who are not Hermetic Masters. A true Hermetic Master never causes his students to suffer, but maintains secrecy of the more advanced practices rather to protect the body, soul, and mind of the Apprenctice not yet prepared to assimilate these techniques, which when practiced by individuals not yet evolved enough would certainly destroy them.

Let us take a simple example. Let us say that one of my students tries to convince me to give him or her an advanced alchemical technique. I observe in the behavior of the student that they are not yet ready to have and practice this particular processing as they have not yet reached the necessary degree of spiritual maturity. Because the disciple is insistent, however, I allow myself to be convinced, give in, and give the technique to them anyway. The student diligently begins with the practice and as a consequence either goes mad or dies, which, by the way, are very real dangers with Hermetic alchemy.

Now why did this tragedy occur? It occurred for the simple reason that the Apprentice used an instrument much larger than themselves that requires a profound level of spiritual maturity for its use, for which the student was unprepared. No true Master Alchemist would, of course, ever give such a dangerous technique to an unprepared Disciple of the Art.

This same line of reasoning is followed today by more advanced nations in the sense of superior democracy in regard to, for example, smaller nations still ruled by dictators that, if were they to possess atomic weapons, would use them to destroy others and themselves. Can you imagine if Osama Bin Laden were in possession of the secrets of how to build atomic weapons? This is why nations like the USA protect the secret of the creation of atomic bombs...in order to protect an infantile humanity from self-destruction.

No Hermetic Master who is a true Master would ever give everything all at once to an Apprentice. It is the proper development and spiritual maturation of the Disciple over time that determines their capacity to assimilate more advanced spiritual techniques with their attendant higher states of awareness and realization.

If we plant an apple tree, we accept that five long years will pass before the tree will ever bear fruit. Why then should we expect it should be different with the Secret Hermetic Science?

Moreover, alchemical processes are not truly “secret.” On the contrary, all of the secrets of true alchemical processing are described in alchemical works very clearly. It is the infantility of or their laziness to study which prevents aspirants of alchemical wisdom from discovering for themselves the secrets of the Royal Art.

Aspirants today are unwilling to sweat on the books and in the laboratory as have done all true Children of Hermes and thus have discovered the true significance of every term and all of the sequences to put into operation the secrets of the Great Work.

But today, in the age of the Internet, aspirants want easy, immediate, and complete access to information. Above all, they do not want to sweat and work!

Of course not. They want to be able to go to a bookstore and buy a book like they do with Regardie's Golden Dawn, or even better yet, Google a website and voilà ... to become a Hermetic Alchemist reading in clear text all of the secrets of the Royal Art!

Such is the mentality of the 21st Century.

But with Hermetic Alchemy, alas, this is not possible.

To explain why, let me give you an example from modern physics. There exist in libraries books with the knowledge to build nearly anything, either good or evil, explaining all of the accumulated science of man.

But how many people dedicate themselves to a profound study of the matter?

Likewise many aspire to the light but only the fewest obtain it because it is “difficult” to study and to practice.

No...aspirants of today want to have everything clearly written and readily understandable.

And even the Hermetic Masters are accused today that “we keep secrets only to manipulate others,” merely because, as we have done for countless Centuries, we speak, write, and discourse with you using the very symbols of the Sacred Science itself.

But were I to reveal to you the deepest and most profound secrets of alchemical processing, how many of you would understand?

How many of you would have eyes to see?

How many, ears to hear?

How many would succeed to perceive the naked truth in itself?


In fact, only the fewest of the few.

I repeat to you once again, as has been written and said over and over by the Hermetic sages of all ages, in words that are as true today as they were in ancient times:

“Everything is clearly revealed, but not perceived.”
“Eyes behold but they do not see!”
“Ears listen but they do not hear!”

Therefore I repeat:

Just as there exist symbolical languages for physics, chemistry, and philosophy, without which you can not truly understand these sciences, so in alchemy there also exists a symbolical language that since millennia has been beneath the eyes of all in books, in cathedrals, and in every construction of the ancients. Even the fables of storybooks are full of these symbols!

Thus you can not accuse the Hermetic alchemists of hiding things from you or speaking in riddles. It is only that we are speak in a different language, known in alchemy as “The Language of the Birds.”

How can you expect to understand this language any more than Sanskrit unless you likewise learn its rules and symbols with great effort, and to study, study, and study more?

Thus it is not we, the Sons of Hermes that you should accuse of speaking in riddles and of keeping secrets from you!


You should blame yourselves instead for not having studied enough and researched enough!

In fact, the alchemical maxim is quite clear and enough to come to an understanding of the entire Opus:

“Lege, lege, lege, et Inveniens.”

For those of you who have not applied yourself to understand Latin, this means in terms that even limited understanding might yet grasp:

“Read, read, reread, and you will find.”

Thus you may understand the truth that I speak to you as all of the Sons of Hermes who have come before me have also said, that everything is already written and it is only the ignorance and the intellectual laziness of those who approach the Sacred Sciences that serve as "natural selection” to screen out the undeserving by their own work from the truly deserving that are committed to and conquer the mysteries.

In the Sacred Science, not everything can be given to everyone even if it is revealed because:

the Science can not be given, but rather...it must be conquered.

It is not enough to have faith to become a true Initiate, but one must above all study, work, and engage oneself to the very depths.

How many are capable of this?


This is why true Initiates have “always” been few...

and today are even fewer.

And everything not successfully conquered on one’s own remains shrouded in mystery waiting to be discovered, and becomes “secret” only to the degree that it does not become conquered and discovered by hard work and research.

It is like as if I should enrolls to study Physics at the University. During my first year everything that the researchers of Theoretical Physics are doing will certainly remain “secret” to me. But if I apply myself I can unlock their secrets, as they are already revealed but in a language that I must first learn. Unless I learn this language, however, theoretical physics will always remain a mystery for me.

But to return once again to your original question:

You asked me:

“Why do you speak in a veiled manner, and why have the alchemists always spoken like this as well?”

I do not speak in a veiled manner. I have always spoken forthright and clearly with you.

The problem is rather with your understanding.

I speak with symbols that you do not understand only because you have not studied them.

Study the symbols of Hermetic Science and you will understand me completely.

Then you asked me: “Is this not only a manipulation?”

I have already explained to you that unfortunately there are others who do use this science to manipulate others.

I do not manipulate anyone, however. In fact, I am not even interested in having Disciples.

...and like me, there “are” others, even if they are few.


tisdag 2 december 2008

Kreationism eller evolution, eller både ock?


Sedan några år tillbaka rasar ett ordkrig mellan två diametralt olika syner på materians och det biologiska livets uppkomst, de som tror på evolutionsläran och de som tror på kreationismen. Kreationiserna anser att det bakom den biologiska mångfalden, naturens skönhet och livets olika komplexa uttryck döljer sig en intelligent design, en skapare, ergo en Gud. Man har försökt underbygga sina teorier med ansatser till vetenskapliga bevis för att försöka övertyga det naturvetenskapliga samhället och gemene moderna människa. Evolutionsförespråkarna menar att kreationismen inte är något annat än ett uttryck för den gamla tron på den kristna skapelsemyten presenterad i en ny och modern pseudovetenskaplig förpackning.

Jag håller med evolutionsförsvararna att den kristna skapelsemyten såväl som kreationismen känns föga trovärdig, ty min övertygelse är att man måste göra skillnad på historisk fakta och myt; de är båda olika former av sanningar men på olika plan, det ena utifrån en materialistisk synvinkel och det andra utifrån ett själsligt. Men å andra sidan köper jag fullt ut evolutionsteorin samtidigt som jag tror på en gudomlig skapare. Detta kan kanske verka paradoxalt (och det kanske det är) men låt mig göra en ansats till förklaring innan ni dömer ut mig som hopplöst vankelmodig.

Esoteriska läror såsom hermeticismen (vilket inte skall förväxlas med det etymologiskt besläktade begreppet hermeneutik) anser att evolutionen är en fundamental verklighet. De anser för det första (till skillnad från kristna teologin) att skapelsen inte är ex nihilo. Den är en graderad och utvecklande process, genom olika "verklighetsled" kallade emanationer, från den högsta och rena gudomen ner till det fysiska universum. Man måste komma ihåg att allt detta är metaforer som förleder oss att tro i termer av tid och rum. Men det är så vi kan föreställa oss det för att rationellt förstå teorin. Nu har vi alltså den fysiska skapelsen färdig såsom det yttersta ledet i en lång process av graderad utveckling. Naturvetenskapens "Big Bang" markeras av denna sista emanation som skapar den fysiska världen.

Men enligt den qabalistiske (Kabbalistiska) mystikern Isaac Luria gick skapelsen inte riktigt så lätt och smärtfritt. Något hände på vägen vid skapelsen; en katastrof infann sig halvvägs (innan den fysiska emanationen kunde inledas) vilket fick stora delar de emanerande och graderade verklighetsleden att krossas och falla ner i en avgrund. Gud, skaparen, var tvungen att börja om från början och denna gången gick allt väl; Big Bang kunde till slut inledas med den sista emanationens (det s.k. "rikets") fullbordan. Denna skapelseprocess kallas i Qabalah partzufim.

Så långt allting gott. Märk väl att hermeticismen inte har skapat ett färdigt jordklot med fauna och människa i och med Rikets skapelse. Det är nu den av naturvetenskapen observerade evolutionen tar vid. Hermeticismen postulerar: "Så som ovan, så ock nedan". Såsom hela skapelsen genom emanationer var gradvis så tänker man sig att utvecklingen på jorden också den måste vara gradvis.

Hermeticismen säger att skapelsen är en ständigt aktiv process. Varför det? Jo, svaret ligger i Parzufim-teorin. Om du läste essän som jag länkade till ovan så har du vid detta laget förstått att materian som vi känner den är sammanblandad med fullkomnad, evig eller ren materia och förgänglig, korrupt eller ofullkomlig materia (symboliserat av det demoniska). Naturen strävar dock efter att fullborda sig själv; världen är ämnad att fullborda skapelsen och återföra materian till dess ursprungligt tänkta form, en process som har kommit att kallas materians återställelse - Tikkun ha-Olam - som dels omfattar makrokosmen men även involverar mikrokosmen. Eller rättare sagt, återställelsen sker genom förmedlingen av mikrokosmen - människan. Sålunda ser en Qabalist inom denna skolbildning (den tidiga Lurianska och dess senare efterträdare, den Sabbatianska och senast den Frankistiska) inte andlig utveckling som en personlighetsutveckling eller förlösning av det egna jaget utan som en återlösning av Gud. En annan Qabalistisk teori säger att såsom Skaparen andas ut skapelsen så kommer allt att dras tillbaka till Honom. Evolutionen är här resultatet av att materian strävar tillbaka till skapelsens källa.

Alkemisterna trodde (naivt kan man tycka) att all materia i naturen till slut skulle evolvera till Guld, den absolut renaste formen av materia. Guld är alltså den fullkomnade, eviga och rena materian. De andra metallerna symboliserar den korrupta och orena, s.k. grova materian. Hermeticismen säger vidare: "Du skall separera det fina från det grova". Det är vad alkemin syftar till; att genom en speciell reningsprocess rena materian från sina grova och korrupta element, genom en separationsprocess (som omfattar sublimering och förbränning) av de tre "principerna" – Svavel, Kvicksilver och Salt – och sedan återförena "principerna" till en ny och renare helhet. Detta är transmutationens väg i ett nötskal. Människan är sålunda satt här på jorden med den gudomliga uppgiften, inte bara att undersöka naturen utan även förbättra den; att fullborda skapelsen.

Sammanfattningsvis har jag personligen alltså en annan syn på skapelse och evolution. Jag tror att världen är skapad och jag tror på evolutionen. Måhända är detta en paradox....?

Tillvaron och livet är fyllt med paradoxer. Idag har vi två stora vetenskapliga teorier (empiriskt bevisade) som ännu inte bevisligen går att förlika; allmänna och speciella relativitetsteorin på den ena sidan och kvantmekaniken på den andra. "Strängteorin" är här en teori, en hypotes som har skapats ur ett behov av att förena dessa två teorier som är paradoxala och verkar "ta ut varandra". En annan paradox är teorin om ljuset som å ena sidan är en vågrörelse och å andra en partikel, diametralt motsatta fysikaliska fenomen trots att de beskriver samma fenomen, ljuset.

I denna diskussion (eller debatt skulle jag hellre kalla det) har vi ytterligare en paradox, föreställningen om en andlig tillvaro å ena sidan och föreställningen om materian å den andra. I våra studier av materian (biologin) har vi genom empiriska studier kunnat bevisa att det är en hög sannolikhet att evolutionen är en riktig beskrivning av hur livet utvecklar sig. Å andra sidan har både vanliga och relativt obildade människor, men även bildade filosofer och teologer (och faktist även en och annan naturvetare), en grundövertygelse som säger att det finns en Gud, en skapare. "Intelligent Design" verkar här tjäna samma roll som "strängteorin", en hypotes som försöker att sammanlänka vårt biologiska universum med föreställningen om en skapare.

Nu är jag inte särledes påläst på Intelligent Design men i mina ögon verkar det vara ett tafatt försök att förlika naturvetenskapen med Gudstron. Dock tror jag att detta faktiskt är möjligt, alltså att förena evolutionen med en tro på en Skapare. Men den traditionella och naiva bilden på Gud och hur han skapade världen måste ersättas av en annan. Det är här vi kan damma av den gamla Qabalistiska föreställningen som utvecklades av Isaac Luria (vilket även inspirerade Chassidismen i östeuropa på 1800- och 1900-talet), där världen i teorin hade kunnat ha skapats som en fulländad och perfekt skapelse från första början men inte gjorde det i och med en katastrof, vilket föranledde att materian "föll" och blev imperfekt och ofullbordat. Den gudomliga gnistan (ljuset) blandades således med den korrupta materian, slaggen.

I materian finns således två huvudsakliga krafter: (a) en kraft som splittrar (centrifugal), och (b) en kraft som håller samman (centripetal). Evolutionen utvecklar sig i spänningsfältet mellan dessa båda krafter; evolutionen är den gudomliga ursprungskraften som drar skapelsen eller världen mot dess ursprungliga tänkta tillstånd av fulländning. Skapelsen är således kontinuerlig.

Alkemisterna hade en liknande föreställning eftersom de erkände evolutionen (långt innan Darwin) när de ansåg att alla mineraler utvecklade sig från ett lägre och korrupt tillstånd till ett högre tillstånd; de kallade detta transmutation. Nativa som de var trodde de som sagt att all materia till slut av sig självt skulle utveckla sig till guld. Alkemins processer går ut på att skynda på evolutionsprocessen i en experimentell situation; alkemisten följer dock naturens processer så som han uppfattar dem.

En annan liknelse som hermetiker (alkemister) gärna använder sig av är korrespondensen mellan världen (makrokosmos) och människan (mikrokosmos). Processer inom människans biologi och de tillväxtprocesser som agerar i den mänskliga kroppen och dess livscykel måste kunna överföras på världens processer i stort, likaså som människans psykiska processer kan ge oss en förståelse för den andliga tillvaron. Eftersom människan genomgår en biologisk mognad så måste även livet ha gjort det. Detta är beviset för evolution. Människans utveckling i fosterstadiet rör sig från ett encelligt djur (amöbaliknande) till en amfibie, etc., etc., till däggdjur, primat och till sist människa. Vi har i oss en sammanfattning av hela evolutionen. Alltså kan vi inte bortse från evolutionen (som man gör i Intelligent Design) när vi skall skapa en "strängteori" som skall försöka förlika denna med Skaparen.

Men denna teori som jag har presenterat här hör mer hemma inom filosofin snarare än hos naturvetenskapen. Själv tror jag att naturvetenskapen kan fortsätta att söka svar i naturen enligt den vetenskapliga metod som den redan tillämpar (eftersom evolutionen är en giltig premiss att utgå ifrån) samtidigt som jag vill uppmana forskarna att odla en mer ödmjuk och öppen syn, och inte vara främmande för filosofiska spekulationer som även tillåter föreställningar om en Gud och skapare beblandas med vedertagen empirisk forskning, i alla fall på en förståelsenivå. En kunskapssökare bör odla kvalitéer som utmärker honom eller henne såsom både konstnär och matematiker, filosof och experimentell forskare; han bör vara vis såväl som kunnig. Kunskapssökande bör vara ett uttryck för både vetenskap och konst.