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

torsdag 19 mars 2009

The Emerald Tablet and its relation to initiation


This essay has the ambition to analyze and relate the function of initiation with the sayings of the Emerald Tablet of Hermes. The case here is to prove that physical initiation is superior to the practices of so-called “astral initiation”. The reason why I invoke the authority of the Emerald Tablet of Hermes in this instance is motivated by the often use of this fundamental Hermetic text by the defenders of astral initiation.

First of all, let me make clear that it is everyone’s right to do his or her own interpretation of this truly sacred text. Its nature is very obscure and its axioms open to interpretation. This has its advantages, but also naturally disadvantages. One such advantage is that it can evoke a creative discussion and debate, something I hope this essay expresses. But on the other hand it is my firm belief that the true interpretation of the Tablet was and still is reserved for advanced initiates of the Hermetic Arts and Sciences. But as I don’t count myself to this latter category, I have to resort to my own personal understanding of it.

The most cited and renowned axiom of the Emerald Tablet is its first line, which in my opinion is the most important, and also the axiom used by the astral initiation camp to rationalize its use of long distance initiation. According to Paul Foster Case’s rendition of that first sentence, which was the first translation that I learnt, it reads:

True, without falsehood, certain and most true, that which is above is as that which is below, and that which is below is as that which is above, for the performance of the miracles of the One Thing.

The Neophyte Ritual of the Golden Dawn in the Outer reads:

The things that are below are a reflection of the things that are above.

Recently the esoteric community was blessed by a fresh translation from the Arabic text of Apollonius of Tayana and his Book of Causes. The full translation of the first four pages of Apollonius’ Book can be read here. Please read the second paragraph of the Tablet for comparison. In my opinion they all concur with the notion of the necessity of uniting the heavenly spirit with that of terrestrial matter. It connects to the old Qabalistic saying of:

Kether is in Malkuth, and Malkuth is in Kether.

Now, the astral initiation camp contest against this and claims that the axiom of the Tablet actually confirms the notion that the mental precedes the material – of Spirit over Matter. Now, in my opinion both interpretations are “true”; one perspective doesn’t necessarily contradict the other. But one often forgets the last line in that axiom, namely that Spirit (the “above”) and Matter (the “below”) are both manifestations of miracles or wonders of the One. The Tablet clearly states that both matter and spirit are manifestations of a third or casual principle, or at least this is how the words of Hermes speaks to me. Or rather, both matter and spirit are parts of the One; there exist no real distinction between above and below, as it’s all just one fabric or substance – the One.

Again read the new translation of the works of Apollonius of Tayana. It clearly states – that which is above is from that which is below, and that which is below is from that which is above. It also states that all works of wonders is from the One.

This incredible sentence actually states that neither spirit nor matter is in a causual relation to each other. The true causual principle is the One, which is neither spirit nor matter, but manifest as both.

In this instance I remember the words of an anonymous and contemporary Master Alchemist:

ALL is ONE and thus neither “matter” nor “spirit” exist, but only one unique stuff, which through alchemical elaborations in various stages be transmuted from gross to subtle and vice versa.

To underscore this sentiment the Emerald Tablet further states (according to Paul F. Case):

And as all things are from One, by the mediation of one, so all things have their birth from this One by adaptation.

The new translation from Arabic (according to Apollonius) instead says that the One is the essence and that all things issued from this essence through projection. It also further states that the One is the “principle part” and “custodian” of the world. So, the true essence is not spirit. Actually, spirit is part of the world and the One is its custodian.

Perhaps this is the actual meaning of the axiom of spirit over matter? Perhaps this is what is implied by the Pentagram surmounted by Quintessence? Is this Quintessence the essence spoken of in the Emerald Tablet? I believe so. The principle of Quintessence (symbolized by the wheel with eight spokes) is the uniting principle, in the same manner as the One is described in the Tablet.

So, does all this contradict the Hermetic axiom of “mentalism”, of which New Age philosophies like the newest hype “Law of Attraction” is based upon? No, not actually. But, reading the seminal work of The Kybalion, which clearly formulates this principle of “mentalism”, everything is a manifestation of the mental projection of the One. Both “matter” and “spirit” are part and contained within the “thought-form” of God.

In my opinion, the promulgators of astral initiation are nurturing sentiments which reflects Gnosticism rather than Hermeticism, i.e. the extreme dualism between matter and spirit which is a great fallacy. Let us remember that the Emerald Tablet of Hermes, clearly is a Hermetic text, not Gnostic.

I started off this essay with the rendition of the Tablet by Paul Foster Case. I did that on purpose. Paul Foster Case is said to have been the co-author of The Kybalion, together with William Walker Atkinson (a.k.a. Yoga Ramacharacka) and Michael Whitty. According to tradition these three personages were the real identities behind the pseudonym “Three Initiates”.

Now, William Walker Atkinson was the most prominent force behind the movement during the early 20th Century called New Thought, the forerunner to New Age. Atkinson is according to some the father behind the principle of “mentalism”. He was also, according to others, a Rosicrucian initiate and it’s therefore no surprise that he under the pseudonym of “Magus Incongnito” also wrote the classic work The Secret Doctrines of the Rosicrucians, which again is permeated by the mentalist attitude of The Kybalion. Actually these two books are very alike, or almost like two different versions of one and the same text.

Now, I also believe that Atkinson was a Rosicrucian initiate, but all of this is very obscured by a veil of mystery. This is however not the case with Paul Foster Case and Michael Whitty. They were both initiates of the Rosicrucian Order of Alpha et Omega (the 20th Century version of Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn). As a matter of fact, Whitty was the Chief-Adept of the Alpha et Omega in America, and later for a short time was succeeded by Paul Foster Case. Case however soon started his own rendition of the Rosicrucian Order, called The School of Ageless Wisdom, later renamed as Builders of the Adytum (B.O.T.A.).

The principles of the Emerald Tablet of Hermes and Mentalism permeate Cases writings he did for the B.O.T.A. As a matter of fact I was taught its principles myself through B.O.T.A., which starts off with the correspondence course called “Seven Steps in Practical Occultism”. Watching the movie “The Secret” I was baffled by the many similarities between the teachings of Paul Foster Case and The Secret.

But one big – and I mean BIG – difference between the New Age notion of “the Law of attraction” and the Hermetic view on “Mentalism” is…that there is no actual difference of importance or hierarchy between matter (or physical action) and spirit (or mental action). Paul Foster Case often speaks in his B.O.T.A. courses, and also in his published works, about the Superconscious, Self-conscious and Subconscious. This kind of esoteric or occult psychology is also present in The Kybalion and The Secret Doctrines of the Rosicrucians, but in the former case it speaks of the objective and subjective minds – the objective mind being analogous to Self-consciousness and subjective to the Subconscious.

Now, how the Law of Mentalism actually works is more or less like this: Everything that the mind focuses on becomes imprinted in the mental universe and soon manifests in the world of action. This is because of the receptive nature of the Subconscious to Self-conscious suggestions; the work of Self-consciousness is to focus on perceptions and ideas and to implant them as seeds in the womb or matrix of the subconscious, which in turn will work them out and manifest them in everyday life. But Paul Foster Case further states – and this is highly important – that physical action creates the most strongest of suggestions.

Basically, if you wish for something to happen and then act contrary to it in everyday life, the subconscious matrix will follow the lead of your actions, not your mental intentions. Well this is of course no news for everyone prone to introspection and honest self-analysis. Sigmund Freud, who himself was a master of self-analysis and honest self-scrutiny, had opinions about the psyche which are very reminiscent of the Hermetic principles of consciousness as proposed in the above two mentioned works by Atkinson. Freud speaks of the conscious and unconscious, and in his later works about the ego and id. Now, to simplify matters, ego belongs to the conscious realm and id to the unconscious. Freud further clearly states that ego-consciousness in the early beginnings within the infant practically is a consciousness of body. This notion later follows the adult person, who very much and intuitively identifies himself with his body.

Basically, according to psychoanalysis, the five physical senses belongs to the realm of the conscious self. It is the self, not the subconscious, which interacts with the world of action. So, both Paul Foster Case and Sigmund Freud clearly states that one cannot separate the self from the world of action, i.e. matter.

Now, please don’t misinterpret me. I of course also believe that it is possible to transcend the outer manifestations of matter and to experience mystical states of eternal bliss with the One or Source of All. But for a magician to experience true magical manifestation it requires action on his or her behalf; not simply making action through magical ritual but also in everyday life. Also, I am not saying that creative visualization doesn’t work. It does. Believe me. But for an inner and passionate intention to manifest, this also involves the body and matter, and conscious actions in daily life. On this point, Paul Foster Case is very specific. Again, let me reiterate: Inner notions must be reflected by bodily actions, and vice versa. The inner and the outer must be conjoined, united.

This is, or so I assert, the very essence of the doctrine of the Emerald Tablet. This is the Alchemical Marriage, the joining of the King with his Queen. This is the marriage of Heaven and Earth, the Hieros Gamos.

Now we must study the principles of Alchemy to fully understand initiation, as Alchemy is the applied science and art of Hermeticism. Now what is Alchemy all about? Again the Emerald Tabled gives us the answer:

Thou shalt separate the earth from the fire, the subtle from the gross, suavely, and with great ingenuity.

This of course is a reference to the Solve et Coagula principle of Alchemy and Spagyrics. In my personal experience of both outer or spagyrical Alchemy and internal Alchemy, the process is very much concerned with the material aspect, the Salt-principle. In the spagyrical operation the alchemist separates the essence or Sulphurous and Mercurial principles of the matter through sublimation or distillation, while letting the Salt-principle remain in the cucurbit. This Salt is then calcinated with fire and purified with water, as the Child of Earth is duly purified and consecrated with lustral water and fire in the Neophyte Ritual. So basically, the candidate is the Salt-principle – the Child of Earth – which is purified and calcinated within the crucible of the Temple.

This calcination and purification of the Salt separates the fine from the gross. In matter it is very easy to discern what parts are the gross and what are of the finer nature; in spagyrics you simply combine the residue from the calcinations (the ashes which remains) with distilled water. This water-salt solution is then filtered. That which remains in the filter is the part that cannot be dissolved in water, the gross particles which has to be discarded as the Caput Mortum. I personally compare this Caput Mortum, the gross matter, with the Qabalistic notion of Qlippoth. Hence the alchemical process is no other than the Qabalistic notion of “restoration” – Tikkun ha-Ohlam.

So, during the Neophyte Ritual, there is a cleansing of the body from the Qlippotic gross elements, the raising of vibrations of the physical and energetic body of the candidate. This has to involve the candidate being physically present. Astral initiation can be compared to the manipulation of a substance without taking care to purify the Salt-principle properly. Alchemy always involves matter. Likewise in initiation.

So what we again sadly see in the New Age market is a diluted version of and misunderstanding of old Hermetic principles, which – as I see it – has spilled over into some modern representations of the Golden Dawn. So in my opinion, astral initiation sadly lacks the true and older, or traditional, understanding of Alchemy and Hermetic principles. This is mainly due to the modern interpretations of so-called “spiritual” alchemy, which discards the physical body and solely focuses on the spirit. I contest that this is a fallacy, likewise as materialistic disrespect for the spiritual within man is a fallacy based on ignorance. In Hermeticism, at least how I have interpreted the old texts and axioms, one has to involve both “matter” and “spirit” and regard them as two aspects of the One.

So, in conclusion, I partly concur with the astral initiation camp that initiation involves the astral. But contrary to them I say that initiation likewise, and perhaps more so, involves the physical (and etheric) or the Salt-principle within man.

So let me reiterate my views from my previous essay,which deals with the question of astral initiation, in the light of this alchemical understanding:

  1. Initiation simultaneously works on several planes and affects the spirit (Mercury), soul (Sulphur) and body (Salt) of the candidate. According to the Emerald Tablet one plane also affects the other. But most of all, the etheric energy body (Sphere of Sensation), the more subtle aspect of the physical body, is affected during initiation. This body will not take the full impact from Astral Initiation as it also requires the impact of the physical forces akin to the etheric plane. This also involves letting magical current flow through the body, which is most readily done in physical proximity.
  2. The invocation of magical forces and current is the main purpose of hermetic ritual initiation, which is done by the collective efforts of the initiating team lead by the Hierophant. This magical current directly manipulates the energetic and astral subtle bodies of the candidate, who is - as it were - trapped within a sphere or crucible, created by the Temple, where the subtle is separated from the gross. Not being inside of this magical sphere of the Temple the long distant candidate cannot benefit entirely of its potential ability to adjust the energy levels and alignment between the subtle bodies, or constituent parts (i.e. body, soul and spirit), as the Salt-principle or body isn’t involved in this process. Astral Initiation can, through the magical link created, only affect the Mercurial and Sulphurous.
  3. It is imperative that the Hierophant is physically present with the candidate as he projects current through his energy body towards or into the energy body of the candidate, which in turn affects the separation of the subtle from the gross within the Sphere of Sensation and body of the candidate. This Sphere of Sensation of the candidate can be likened to a microcosmic crucible, and one of the tasks of the Hierophant is to kindle the secret fire of the candidate to create this calcinatory process within him or her for the separation of the subtle from the gross.
  4. When the candidate is physically present during the initiation his or her senses observe everything with a heightened awareness. This creates a psychological overwhelming sensation. This also opens up his or her psyche to the magical influences of the ritual. But it also creates an altered level of consciousness, affecting both mind and emotions, imparting a though form or idea into the candidate.

So, to summarize my point of view, I regard the physical body or the Salt-principle of man to be the main object of focus in the early stages of the initiatory path, as the first steps makes dramatic readjustments to the physical body and its energetic counterpart. It therefore comes as no surprise then that the initiate starts off his or her ascension on the Tree of Life on the first and lover level of Malkuth, i.e. the terrestrial Zelator Grade and its Earth Element. All in accordance with the axiom of the Hermetic Tablet – the separation of the finer from the gross.

But let us again come back to the first sentence of the Emerald Tablet, i.e. “that which is above is as that which is below, and that which is below is as that which is above”. These principles of “above” and “below” can easily be translated to “outer” and “inner”. This takes us to the equal important aspect of the initiatory process, i.e. the blending of existential and psychological phenomena or the Jungian concept of “synchronicity”. According to Carl Gustav Jung synchronicity deals with outer events or material phenomena which has a psychological significance and a direct bearing to inner processes, without there being any actual causual relation between these two.

So what the Emerald Tablet also speaks about is the correspondence between the microcosm and macrocosm. This is greatly enhanced in the modern translation of the book by Apollonius of Tayana, where it specifically speaks of the microcosm as being created in accordance with the creation of the macrocosm. My own experience of initiation is that the border or wall between the microcosm and macrocosm are weakened; suddenly the initiate experiences a conversation with his or her own God through life’s experiences.

I believe that the actual manipulation of body and sphere of sensation, both by the forces invoked in the ritual, and the projection of energy between the energetic bodies of Hierophant and candidate, are crucial for this process to occur. Create a change in the microcosm and you will create an equal change in macrocosm of the candidate. I also believe that the ritual in the hands of an experienced initiator actually seals a covenant between the macrocosmic forces invoked during the ritual and the corresponding microcosmic energetic and astral bodies of the candidate.

As I have said before, all levels of the microcosm (Mercurial, Sulphurous as well as Salty), needs to be manipulated during the alchemical process of initiation, especially the Salt or Body, if we are to believe the Emerald Tablet when it admonishes us to “separate the subtle from the gross”. An astral initiation will only affect the even subtler aspects of the candidate, i.e. the Mercurial and Sulphurous, and therefore fails to create the optimal conditions for a synchronistic initiatic situation to occur.

Furthermore, considering the above mentioned hermetic principle of “mentalism” this also gives a new meaning to the dramatic aspect of ritual that serves to “program” or manipulate the psyche of the candidate to conform to a cognitive and emotional idea within him or her. This idea will then imprint on the macrocosm and create a corresponding synchronistic event in the life of the candidate.

So in conclusion, there exists no contradiction or paradox between the old Hermetic beliefs of mentalism and the belief that All is One. On the contrary, the one notion necessitates the other.


onsdag 18 mars 2009

The Sabbatian roots of the Golden Dawn

It is my strong conviction that the two parts of the Golden Dawn tradition, as it exist today, the Qabalistic and the Hermetic, didn’t originate solely through the scholarly research of William Wynn Westcott and Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers, as is often asserted today and by historians of the Golden Dawn as Ellic Howe, R.A. Gilbert, Nick Farrell, Ian Cowburn, et al.

I do however acknowledge that some of it was originally created by the collaborated efforts of Westcott and Mathers, as for instance the Enochian magical system, which I believe is truly unique. Some other parts were probably brought in by Westcott and Mathers from earlier order affiliations, such as Societas Rosicruciania in Anglia (S.R.I.A.). The connection with the S.R.I.A. can superficially bee seen in:

  1. The threefold order structure of 1st, 2nd and 3rd Orders.
  2. The office of Chief-Adept.
  3. The general design of the cloaks of officers (see image below).
  4. Some of the designs of the wands – look especially for the ceremonial wand of the Supreme Magus, with colored bands, which seems to be a blend between the Lotus Wand and Fire Wand of the Golden Dawn (see image below).
  5. The cross design of the Supreme Magus surmounted by the crown, which bears striking similarities with the cross design on the Lid of the Pastos of the Adeptus Minor Grade (see image below).
  6. Some basic designs for the Vault of Adepts, even though the S.R.I.A. version is not at all as detailed as that of the Golden Dawn.

W.W. Westcott dressed up in his Supreme Magus regalia

Although I also believe that Mathers actually received much of the Second Order material through the hands of Lux Ex Tenebris, such as the Adeptus Minor Ceremony and Z-documents, amongst other material, I also don’t contest the possibility that he, perhaps in collaboration with Westcott as Nick Farrell asserts, also developed parts of that material further, as the design of the Vault for example. It is however very hard to establish exactly how much was developed from the material Mathers received from L.E.T. for someone not being in possession of archives of the old Rosicrucian school behind the Golden Dawn.

I can also see some influences from Sigismund Backstrom’s Rosicrucian Society in England, mainly in the Adeptus Minor oath and the design made by Moina Mathers on the Second Order Membership Roll. So, Golden Dawn of course received some influences from the anglo-saxon esoteric tradition, because of its close proximity with that esoteric community. But these influences I consider to be of a minor significance. As I already have stated, the very foundation for the Second Order was received through Mathers’ continental sources. But it is an established fact that the First or Outer Order, at least in part, was founded on that mysterious Cypher Mss. which Westcott received from either Woodford’s or MacKenzie’s estates, a document which I also believe likely has a continental origin.

Seal on the membership roll of R.R. et A.C.

So I basically acknowledge the fact that the Hermetic tradition within the Golden Dawn has a continental origin, as shown through the Cypher Mss. and its initiation rituals, and the Second Order material. According to Jean-Pascal Ruggiu some of the rituals and wand designs of the Second Order actually derives from the German Gold- und Rosenkreutz Orden. Lately there has been developing an interest of the origins of the Qabalistic tradition of the Golden Dawn, which as it turns out has strong Sabbatian connections which probably derives from the Gold- und Rosenkreutz offshoot Asiatic Brethren or Brotherhood of St. John the Evangelist from Asia in Europe.

But it was actually Jacob Frank's version of Sabbatian Qabalah in Poland which found its way into the Asiatic Brethren during the 18th Century. Jacob Frank was regarded by his followers as the next avatar, the reincarnation of the Messiah Sabbatai Zevi of the 17th Century. One can easily see a development or lineage here from Isaac Luria, through Sabbatai Zevi (and Nathan of Gaza) to Jacob Frank. This lineage continues to this day through the Golden Dawn!

Now what can be said about the Qabalistic Schools of Sabbatai Zevi and Jacob Frank? Sabbatian Qabalah is very antinomian in its nature, i.e. it revolts against organized religion, especially amongst the teachings of Jacob Frank who regarded religion (as Hebrew, Christian and Islamic) as the Shells (Qlippoth) who entrapped God. It was the task of the Jewish Qabalist, according to Frank, to convert to Christianity (who he referred to as the sons of Esau; i.e. the Edomite Kings) and free God from its bounds, as they already had done with the Hebrew religion. Hence Frank's followers converted to Catholicism en masse. The cult of the Virgin Mary in Poland was also an important ingredient in Frank's teachings.

Sabbatai Zevi did the same with Islam when he was forced to convert to it in 1666, by the Turkish sultan, comparing it to the descent into the mouth of Samael (Satan). Later, Sabbatai Zevi created a following amongst the Turks, called the Donmeh (Turkish for convert), who seems to exist even today as a ethnic minority, although fully integrated with the Turkish population. Jacob Frank was in fact initiated into the Sabbatian Qabalah by the Turkish Donmeh, before he later entered his missionary life in Poland.

The Frankists, who had a large following in Poland and other eastern European countries, engaged in sexual practices. They embraced sin, not as sinners but as saints to free the sin (the spark of God from the Qlippotic Shell) through indulgence or integration. Obviously the Frankist Qabalah was highly controversial and it’s no surprise that it was branded by the Jews as heretic, and also later banned by the Catholic Church.

I have written on the subject of the Qabaljstic roots of the Golden Dawn elseware on by blog, which I recommend for further reading, the essays on the origins of the Qabalah of the Golden Dawn and the followup Frankist Qabalah. I further recommend reading the book on the subject by Gershom Scholem called Sabbatai Sevi - The Mystic Messiah, which deals with both Sabbathai Zevi and his successor Jacob Frank, and the antinomian nature of their teachings. One can read extracts from Scholem’s text here.

Actually, it was Gershom Scholem who first identified the Jewish freemasonic lodge of Frankfurt-am-Main called Lodge L'Aurore Naissante or “Chevrah Zerach Bequr Aur”, the latter name also in part found imprinted on the Cypher Mss. of Golden Dawn as the Hebrew name for “Order of the Golden Dawn”. It is a well known fact that prominent members of the Asiatic Brethren was involved in the creation of this Jewish lodge, and that it became the heir to the tradition of the Asiatic Brethren (and the Gold- und Rosenkreutz, from which the Asiatic Brethren emerged).

I personally concur with the theory proposed by some Golden Dawn scholars and researchers, that the tradition of the L'Aurore Naissante instigated the later Golden Dawn and was behind the contents found on its Cypher Mss. I believe the most plausible link and transmitter between Frankfurt-am-Main of 1807 and London of 1888 to be non other than Kenneth MacKenzie. It is more or less an established fact that the Cypher Mss. were written in MacKenzie’s handwriting. He was also one of the few men in England who was up for the job, in the same way as Mathers was the only man for the job of receiving the Second Order material from the continental Adept referred by him as Lux Ex Tenebris.

Be there as it may, but there obviously exist a strong connection between the Qabalah of Jacob Frank and the Golden Dawn. Reading the Sabbatian doctrine I have found many references to the diagrams of the Golden Dawn, most prominently in the Garden of Eden diagrams. As some of you already know I have written about my findings extensively on my blog, namely on the subjects of the left and right hand paths, the divine ambivalence, antinomianism and the middle pillar path, texts which all were written by me as a part of an ongoing discussion/dialogue with another Swedish Qabalist, Thomas Karlsson, a follower of the left hand path or "Klippothic Kabbalah".

In short, the truly unique aspect of Sabbatian Qabalah is that it acknowledges “evil” and “demonic” as equal parts of God as the “good” and “angelic”. It speaks of a “divine ambivalence” (as I call it) even on the level of Ain-Soph. Ain-Soph, according the Nathan of Gaza (who was the actual brain behind the Sabbatian doctrine), consisted of two kinds of light, the “thoughtful” and “thoughtless”. The former was in favour of creation, the latter tried to hinder it and conserve the original state of blissful “nothingness”. Personally I compare these original impulses with the “life” and “death” drives of Sigmund Freud, the latter manifesting as an atavistic drive of regression into the blissful state of the womb, the former the drive of individuation and progress into adulthood. These two conflicting divine intentions of the Macrocosm, as also reflected in the Microcosm, later followed creation and manifested the two Pillars of Qabalah, the black and white.

There actually exists a modern incarnation of the Sabbatian antinomian movement called “Donmeh West”, one of the few traditional Hebrew Qabalistic centres which can be of interest for Golden Dawn students. Its website contains much information on the Sabbatian and Frankist doctrine, blended with some Jungian depth psychology; highly interesting material indeed written by the antinomian Kabbalist, Reb Yakov Leib HaKohain. I really recommend reading his essays and also the yahoo group forum which he runs. I personally have learnt a lot by reading the teachings by HaKohain, remembering in the back of my head that it is a modern development of the Sabbatian current – the next natural step after Jacob Frank if you feel comfortable in the (un-) ortodox Hebrew tradition. But for a Christian-Rosicrucian Hermetic-Qabalist, the most natural step is of course the Golden Dawn.


söndag 15 mars 2009

The delicate matter about historical research into the roots of the Golden Dawn

There is a common misconceptions being spread, even amongst occultists, that academic historical research somehow are able to present the facts or truths about esoteric lineage, currents and transmission. Personally I encourage academic research into this field, and would like to see more of it, but at the same time one has to acknowledge its limits. Western esotericism is a very concealed business for obvious reasons. It has not become such an open matter until the early 20th Century, but even this openness and contemporary research cannot bring everything into public light. Obviously the most guarded secrets concerning these matters are concealed for all but the initiates, and oftentimes of very high grades.

The turn of the millennium has seen a new phenomenon of the occultist doing historical research meeting academic criteria. This phenomenon is not at all new in Freemasonry, whose most ardent historical researchers have been Freemasons, mostly because of Freemasonic libraries often being off limits for non-initiates. Academic research into the history of the Golden Dawn has also mainly been reserved to Freemasonic authors, because of its ties with so called “fringe masonry”, most prominently Ellic Howe who wrote the classic The Magicians of the Golden Dawn: A Documentary History of a Magical Order 1887-1923, and his successor R.A. Gilbert. The latter is also a former member of the Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia or S.R.I.A. (which can be regarded as a Masonic research lodge into the roots of Rosicrucianism).

These two authors has laid down the foundation for the later “liberal” stance amongst Golden Dawn Adepts in regards to the historical roots and the question of lineage, i.e. that it was solely concocted by W.W. Westcott and S.L. MacGregor Mathers. This liberal faction has been further advocated by Golden Dawn Adepts, with historical ambitions, like Pat Zalewski and lately Nick Farrell.

The other stream of Golden Dawn occultists with historical leanings has met quite some opposition from the “liberal camp” as not meeting the rigid academic criteria for research. The most noteworthy Golden Dawn Adept who started this “traditionalist” stance was in fact Ithell Colquhoun, who wrote the classic The Sword of Wisdom: MacGregor Mathers and the Golden Dawn. Contrary to academic researchers as Ellic Howe and R.A. Gilbert, Colquhoun was an integrated part of the living tradition of the Golden Dawn and met several prominent Adepts of the 20th Century, amongst them Edward John Langford Garstin, a senior Adept of the Rosicrucian Order of Alpha et Omega, who also were her cousin. She also knew former Golden Dawn Adepts, as for example Aleister Crowley and Israel Regardie. She had the unique opportunity to know the word of mouth teachings of the Golden Dawn tradition, as regards its historical roots and lineage.

Actually it was Israel Regardie who first came out with a book giving an account of the rumours and oral tradition of Golden Dawn history, called My Rosicrucian Adventure, which came out one year before he started to published the corpus of the Golden Dawn in 1937. When New Falcon Publications printed a new and expanded edition of it, renamed as What You Should Know About The Golden Dawn, they appended Suster's Answer to Howe, by Gerald Suster. Suster was one of the very first to make the connection between the Golden Dawn and the Frankfurt-am-Main Freemasonic Jewish Lodge of Chabarath Zereh Boqer Aour (L’Aurore Naissante) and tying Kenneth MacKenzie as a possible link between the continent and Britain and the plausible author of the Cypher Mss. It is a well known fact that Israel Regardie himself was very displeased by Howe's presentation of the historical roots of the Golden Dawn; the last edition of his own historical account tried to remedy this fact. Hence, Regardie himself cannot be described as a liberal, even though he did breach his sacred vow.

Other contemporary authors of the traditionalist camp are Jean-Pascal Ruggiu, Dr. Robert Word and Anthony Flemming (aka Tony Fuller). This camp advocates the presumption that the Golden Dawn has earlier historical roots and lineage that goes further beyond either Westcott or Mathers. This research has found very interesting links to 18th Century Germany and the Gold und Rosenkreutz Orden and Asiatic Brethren, and also strong and convincing ties to the Frankist-Sabbatheian Qabalah of Poland. The traditionalists refute the liberal opinion that the Golden Dawn tradition just fell down from the sky and was invented through scholarly library research of Westcott and Mathers, who felt they had to take things further than the S.R.I.A. and create an western alternative to Madame Blavatsky’s Theosophical Society. The traditionalist stance also presupposes that Kenneth MacKenzie in fact was the important link between the German rosicrucians and The Golden Dawn, between the general reformations of 1777 and 1888.

Personally, while I do belong to the traditionalist camp, I also hail any academic research in this field. But we cannot put any hope into this field as esoteric libraries are even more difficult to penetrate for any researcher other than the initiate himself, who happens to be bound by oaths of secrecy.

The sad thing about any historical research made by Golden Dawn Adepts today, regardless of camp, is that this research oftentimes are highly contaminated by political agendas because of the inflamed situation within the Golden Dawn community today, as many of these people are either leaders of Golden Dawn orders or belong to the higher echelons of one of these orders, and therefore are bound by loyalty to their leaders. Often people with purely political agendas pose as serious academic researchers to further the stance of the order that they belong to and vigorously defend. As an example, the planned publication of the initiation rituals of the Rosicrucian Order of Alpha et Omega in Nick Farrell's upcoming King over the Water the history and rites of Mathers' AO, mixed with the personal and biased opinions of the author about MacGregor Mathers' person, is in my opinion such an attempt to undermine the current manifestation of that Order.

Another such and recent example is the so-called research of Ian Cowburn, who attempts to conceal his order affiliation, but serves as moderator for the forum of a well-known, modern Regardie Golden Dawn group. I take this as an example as yours truly has been falsely associated with another blog, just by proxy, by Mr. Cowburn. Here is what Mr. Cowburn wrote yesterday on the Robert Zink forum, trying to refute the MacKenzie Rosicrucian connection:

Kenneth Mackenzie was born in 1833 and died in 1886, leaving his papers in the hands of his widow where Westcott putatively got his hands on the Cypher MS. For Mackenzie to have been initiated by a Count Apponyi in Vienna, he would have had to have been at least in his early twenties, which gives us a starting point of around 1853.

Bingo, we find our chronicler "Sincerus Renatus" on his blog
http://hermetic-golden-dawn.blogspot.com/ supporting this supposition :

"The famous Freemason and scholar, Kenneth MacKenzie, was initiated into the Hermetic Arts by Hungarian Count Apponyi around 1850 in Austria."

Now, what are we to suppose about a person claiming academic rigidity in historical research who cannot even get such facts straight, mixing up his sources in this manner? He has obviously mixed up that English speaking blog (which definitely wasn't created by me) with the one you are reading right now, which mainly consist of Swedish entries.

Mr. Cowburn has for years been spreading rumours and false allegations about the order that I represent in Scandinavia, which he again exemplify in the following quotation:

Long ago it was the enigmatic "FAR+C" which was cited as the hidden root of this wrangle, until it was sufficiently widely demonstrated that the FAR+C business was entirely dreamed up by Roger Caron, a French mythomane in the 50s. So this "Apponyi" business took its place.
The Rosicrucian Order of Alpha et Omega has never claimed any Golden Dawn descendance or lineage whatsoever from the Freres aines de la Rose-Croix. It has claimed esoteric transmission from it, which is of high interest and import for anyone interested in true alchemy, as it does with the Gold und Rosenkreutz and Asiatic Brethren, but like with these German orders it has never ever claimed initiatic or other lineage, directly or indirectly, from F.A.R+C. Obviously, people from the liberal faction like Mr. Cowburn cannot see the difference between esoteric transmission and lineage. Cowburn even doesn’t get the spelling right of the latest Imperator of the F.A.R+C. – Roger Caro.

Regarding F.A.R+C., and regardless of its high significance as an operative tradition, it is probably true that the historical claims of the French
Freres, which claims Templar origin dating from 1317 and listing luminaries such as Eliphas Levi, W.W. Westcott, S.L. MacGregor Mathers and Rudolf Steiner as its Grand Masters, constitutes somewhat of a romantic myth. But on the other hand I highly question the supposition that it was all dreamed up by Roger Caro. Anyone who has had first hand experience of the Wet Way of the Red Dragon cannot believe it all originated in the mind of one person during the 1950's, i.e. Roger Caro a.k.a. Kamala Jnana; it must have an older origin. This is also the view of the prominent Portuguese Alchemist Rubellus Petrinus. Instead of listening to Mr. Cowburn why not read the words about this subject of someone actually initiatied into the tradition of F.A.R+C.? I believe the difference of perspective between these two gentlemen most amply illustrates my point of view and what this essay is all about.

Now I don’t refute the fact that historians like Nick Farrell and Ian Cowburn are able to do objective and enlightening research, as they have in the past, letting go of political and loyalty bias. But let us examine the method of choice of Mr. Cowburn in his research into this particular subject about the MacKenzie-Apponyi connection:

We even find other sources echoing this assertion, adding the crucial forename of the Apponyi concerned : http://homeopathy.wildfalcon.com

"MacKenzie was instructed in his Occult studies and his Rosicrucian initiation by Count Albert Apponyi de Nagyappony."

Let's go find our Albert. Wikipedia will do to start:

"Apponyi is a Hungarian surname. It may refer, among others, to the following people:

* György Apponyi de Nagy-Apponyi (1808-1899), Count, Hungarian chancellor (1846)
* Albert Apponyi de Nagy-Apponyi (1846-1933), Count, Hungarian statesman, son of György Apponyi de Nagy-Apponyi
* Geraldine Apponyi de Nagy-Apponyi (1915-2002), queen consort of King Zog I of Albania (1938)

Count Albert Apponyi de Nagyappony (May 29, 1846 - February 7, 1933) was a distinguished Hungarian nobleman and politician from an ancient noble family dating back to the 13th century. He was born on May 29, 1846, in Vienna, where his father, Count György Apponyi, was the resident Hungarian Chancellor at the time."

Vienna, yes; but born in 1846, our Albert? Conducting initiations in the early 1850s? Impossible.

So either this putative initiation took place much later, or we are talking about the father, George. Wikipedia goes on to relate :

"After World War I, Apponyi's most notable public office was his appointment in 1920 to lead the Hungarian delegation to the Versailles Peace Conference to present Hungary's case to the Allied and Associated Powers assembled there to determine the terms of the peace treaty with Hungary, which subsequently became known as the Treaty of Trianon on account of it having been signed in the Grand Hall of the Palace of Trianon. In the event, Apponyi's mission to Versailles was in vain as the Allies refused to negotiate the terms of the peace treaty."

As Count Albert was in such high office, it is no surprise to find that:

"M. Berthelot addressed, in the name of the French Freemasons, a letter to Count Albert Apponyi asking the Hungarian Government to withdraw its ban on Freemasonry. Members of the English Diplomatic Mission at Budapest and Vienna made similar advances but the Hungarian Government made it clear that so long as Freemasons carried on their activities in secret, they could not be re-established with their old privileges."

A Rosicrucian regretting the ban on Freemason activity unless they ended "secrecy"?


Hungarian statesman, the most distinguished member of an ancient noble family, dating back to the 13th century, and son of the chancellor Gyorgy Apponyi (1808-1899) and the accomplished and saintly Countess Julia Sztaray, was born at Pesth on the 29th of May 1846. Educated at the Jesuit seminary at Kalksburg and at the universities of Vienna and Pesth, a long foreign tour completed his curriculum, and at Paris he made the acquaintance of Montalembert, a kindred spirit, whose influence on the young Apponyi was permanent."


"Masonic criticism of Emperor Joseph II caused a restriction of Masonic activity to county capitals crippling Masonic work. Emperor Francis dissolved the Lodges in 1792. The suppression of Freemasonry in Hungary continued until Hungary became a constitutional kingdom as part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1868. Lodge "Unity in the Fatherland" and six more Lodges were formed and the first Symbolic Grand Lodge was formed in 1870."

So, on the one hand we have a Count Albert Apponyi born in 1846, educated by the Jesuits, and a prominent later conservative politician in a country where Freemasonry ("continental" Freemasonry, please remember) was outlawed from 1792 until 1868, and who later "regretted" that Freemasonry would remain forbidden after 1920 unless it came out of secrecy ; and on the other we have a Kenneth Mackenzie born in 1833, already a "tutor of English" in Vienna at 18 and taking a Rosicrucian initiation from his pupil aged 7? (Because we know from Howe that Mackenzie was back in London in 1851 for a long period of time).

It being fairly obvious that Albert cannot be the Apponyi of MacKenzie, Mr. Cowburn now turns his attention toward Albert's father.
The father, George, was born in 1808 and died at a ripe old age in 1899. Surely a better "candidate" for our initiator....

A concise biography here :

"IV. Gyorgy, cousin of the preceding and grandson of Gyorgy Antal, born in 1808, was a conspicuous member of the conservative party at the diet of Presburg in 1843-'4, and became Hungarian court chancellor in 1846. He lived in retirement during and after the revolution of 1848-'9, and accepted in 1859 a position in the wider Reichsrath of Vienna, where he furthered with great energy and ability various schemes for the restoration of the constitution of his country. In 1860 he was made judex curiae, in 1861 opened as royal commissioner the diet of Pesth, and by his mediatory position was in the following years, next to Francis Deak, the most influential person in bringing about the reconciliation between Hungary and the court of Vienna, which in 1867 culminated in the transformation of the Austrian empire on the basis of nationality and constitutionalism. A leading conservative, Count Apponyi is esteemed by all parties as a patriot and a statesman."

Was George a Rosicrucian? A quick google search reveals nothing. We can only take note of Howe's remarks in "Fringe Masonry in England" on the Ars Quatuor Coronatorum site :

"Westcott is also the source of the information that Mackenzie received his Rosicrucian initiation in Austria, 'while living with Count Apponyi as an English tutor'. (W. Wvnn Westcott, Data of the History of the Rosicrucians, London, J.M. Watkins for the S.R.I.A., 1916, p.8.)

Westcott's, and by inference Little's [i.e. Robert Wentworth Little
, the grand architect of the S.R.I.A.], acceptance of Mackenzie's alleged authority should be noted. It does not appear necessary to take Mackenzie's supposed Rosicrucian affiliations very seriously. Firstly, no contemporary Austrian or German 'Rosicrucian' group of which he might have been a member can be identified. Secondly, it can be established that, although he was abroad during his late teens, he was in London from early in 1851 onwards, namely at least ten months before his eighteenth birthday. It is unlikely that a mere youth would be admitted to any initiatory society, hence his own later claim to be a 'Rosicrucian adept' probably owed more to invention than truth. Waite observed, seemingly not without reason: 'On Rosicrucian subjects at least the record of Kenneth Mackenzie is one of recurring mendacity.'"

The whole paper last quoted is worthy of interest, bearing in mind Howe's bias. We at least have a detailed account of Mackenzie's movements in the 1850s from the paper, which leave no window of opportinuty for our putative initiation in that decade.

Or so according to the “academic” research of Ian Cowburn. What it amounts to is solely using sources from the internet, even the notoriously inaccurate Wikipedia. Pehaps it’s o.k. to use these kind of sources for a layman like yours truly, who doesn’t have any fantasies about being a serious historian, but for a historian with academic pretentions like Mr. Cowburn?

But to be honest, the information gathered by Mr. Cowburn through his computer, amounts to quite interesting information and is why I have quoted it in full here. But some of the conclusions made by him are quite naive, like the one saying “Was George a Rosicrucian? A quick google search reveals nothing”. Well, people in these days took the vows of secrecy by the letter, contrary to many initiates today. In those days there wasn’t any traditionalist and liberal camps amongst the initiates; the latter can only occur in our laissez faire age of modernity.

Another point of contention is the opinion that no contemporary Austrian or German 'Rosicrucian' group of which MacKenzie might have been a member could be identified. Well according to some sources the Lodge L’Aurore Naissante was still active in the 1850's, and it is widely asserted that this very lodge had strong ties with the 'rosicrucian' society called Asiatic Brethren or Fratres Lucis (or in full Brotherhood of St. John the Evangelist from Asia in Europe).

Samuel Robinson (Frater Maui) recently stated the following regarding the L'Aurore Naissante, which probably goes against the agendas of many so called Golden Dawn scholars and historians, in response to the notion that this Lodge in 1807 became the refuge for many of its Jewish brethren when the Order of the Asiatic Brethren fell into abeyance:
For what's its worth this lodge is still active here in Germany, I found them a few months ago. Somebody in the SRIA also contacted them and said it has become normal masonry, however such is not the case, all the Nascent Dawn papers are circulated for study in a hermetic kabalistic masonic lodge here in Frankfurt.
To which Dr. Robert Word gave his confirming response:
A number of years ago a prominant member of AMORC, Irwin Wattermeyer (actually a member of the german speaking Grand Lodge of AMORC) traveled to Germany, and obtained initiation into the same Nascent Dawn kabbalistic masonic lodge in Frankfurt, gaining access to the arcane papers that you refer to. Wattermeyer resided in the S.F. Bay Area and was involved in many arcane societies of this type, both foreign and domestic.
Contrary to the liberal stance the traditionalists don’t attempt to reduce the importance of the Golden Dawn tradition. Contrary to the liberals, it tries to put the Golden Dawn on the map of continental Rosicrucianism. Liberal reductionalist tendencies of this kind has the political agenda of giving free reign to liberal leaders of the Golden Dawn to do whatever they please with our beloved tradition, not bound by any historical or traditional hallmarks; if the original founders of the Golden Dawn could dream up our tradition, then the current reinagurators surely can do the same – and in fact do make up entirely new meanings to even traditional concepts like initiation and lineage.

Contrary to this, an traditionalist attitude toward Rosicrucianism in general and Golden Dawn in particular, nurtures a deep respect towards our Tradition, considering its roots and taking new directions into the future knowing where one comes from. This can be compared to the attitude of any healthy person; being conscious of one’s personal history gives meaning and purpose to the one’s behaviour today, and also gives identity and integrity, liberates energy or force in leading a conscious and mature life as projected into the future.

And now I would like to end this essay with a somewhat amended quotatation from Tony Fuller in response to Ian Cowburns address as quoted above:
There is an awkward fact which should not be overlooked. Westcott stated repeatedly that he received the Cipher Mss. ("old MSS information of GD 0=0 to 4=7") from the Rev. A.F.A. Woodford, and not from MacKenzie. Indeed, as late as April 1912 he stated this clearly in a letter to Gardner. Is it really plausible that he lied repeatedly over this? Certainly Mathers never suggested otherwise and Waite comments that Westcott was a person of integrity, whose word he would not doubt. Woodford and MacKenzie were known to each other, of course, and apparently both students of [Fredrick] Hockley [a student of the famous alchemist Sigismund Backstrom which evidently had some influence on the Golden Dawn and R.R. et A.C.], who has also been cited as a possible source.

Another awkward point is
[Edward John Langford] Garstin's claim (which I personally think has a degree of plausibility) that Westcott told Brodie Innes that the rituals were compiled before either he or Mathers had seen the cypher Ms. Garstin says that Brodie Innes states this in two letters. Garstin notes also that Mathers stated that Westcott never showed him a cypher MS until after the corresponding ritual had been written. Is Mathers and/or Garstin also lying? Waite also entertains the possibility that the rituals were written independently of the ciphers (in his autobiography).

The simplest answer in this context is surely that Westcott was telling the truth: i.e. that he got certain material (from which the Rituals were written) from Woodford and that this material may or may not have been the Cypher MSS. If the latter then he may have indeed has also received the Cyphers from MacKenzie, that is to say, that both Woodford and MacKenzie possesed material relaring to the GD, although to some this may seem too conveniently coincidental.
This is very interesting information which points to the eventuality that rituals were probably made from different sources, perhaps even in part written by others than either Mathers or Westcott. This information actually gives credence to the notion that there existed Rosicrucian societies predating the Isis-Urania No. 3 Temple, i.e. Hermanubis No. 2, etc.

Regarding Woodford as the source of the Cypher Mss., Ellic Howe already pointed this out in his The Magicians of the Golden Dawn (and which I also find plausible) that the Cypher Mss. could have found their way into Westcotts hands through the testament of Woodford. But this doesn't refute the proposition that the Mss. were in fact written by MacKenzie and later fell into the hands of Woodford after the death of the former. Hockley, Woodford and MacKenzie were all buddies, and probably were behind the enigmatic Hermanubis Temple Nr. 2. or The Society of Eight (also referred to as Fratres Lucis).

chronicler S.R.

söndag 8 mars 2009

Traditional Golden Dawn initiation and its relation to Freemasonry and distance initiation

There is currently an ongoing discussion or debate regarding the nature of initiation according to the Golden Dawn Tradition. Lately the Archon Basileus of the Rosicrucian Order of Alpha et Omega, G.H. Fra. L.E.S. (David J. Griffin), has made some illuminating contributions which I would like to reproduce here in an amended and re-edited form, because the attached text in part was written as a response or complement to my own essay on the subject and otherwise reflects the topics of the general discussion, which compares regular freemasonic initiation with that of the Golden Dawn, and also between these and the popularised deviant forms called “astral” or long distance initiation, and “self-initiation”. As the discussion mainly revolves around the so called “Outer Order” rituals of initiation, mainly because “astral” and self-administered initiation in general has become limited to the Golden Dawn grades proper designated as Neophyte (0=0), Zelator (1=10), Theoricus (2=9), Practicus (3=8) and Philosophus (4=7), G.H. Fra. L.E.S. also tries to put the Outer Mysteries in perspective to the overall scheme of the Three Orders structure of the Golden Dawn – S.R.

The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn was brought into full manifestation in 1888 and thus is a child of the Victorian era in the United Kingdom. This, of course, was during the period of intense Freemasonic activity. Its founders of the Golden Dawn, MacGregor Mathers, Wescott, and Woodman were all Freemasons, as was the progenitor of the Golden Dawn, Kenneth MacKenzie.

The contention that there is no theurgical element in Freemasonry is correct in regard to Blue Lodge Freemasonry, which is thoroughly humanistic in its approach. It is not completely correct, however, in regard to fringe masonic rites, the which the above named founding fathers of the Golden Dawn belonged to not a few. For example, there were clear theurgical elements in the Egyptian Rites of Freemasonry at the time as there were in the Swedish Rite.

Additionally, the Golden and Rosy Cross Order, considered by scholars not only as a Rosicrucian Order, but also as a Rite of High Grade Freemasonry, was thoroughly alchemical in its approach and activity. It should be noted that the Golden Dawn borrowed its grade structure and more than a few other elements from the Golden and Rosy Cross.

To anyone who has been through the three degrees of Blue Lodge Freemasonry, it is obvious that the Craft had a profound influence on the structure of the rituals of the First or Outer Order of the Golden Dawn. This similarity is not limited to the actual structure of the rituals, but also includes the didactic method.

Both the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn in the outer and Blue Lodge Freemasonry may be classified as "Symbolical" orders, as both teach spiritually primarily through symbolism encountered by the aspirant during the rituals of initiation themselves. This essential aspect of Golden Dawn initiation can on no way be reproduced in the so-called "Astral Initiation".

Let us consider the true purpose of Golden Dawn initiation, which is ENERGETIC EVOLUTION, which is also the true aim of all of the spiritual practices of the Hermetic tradition, including the rites and practices of all three orders of the original Golden Dawn. The three orders of the original Golden Dawn were designed to accomplish energetic evolution in a gradual and gentle way; appropriate to the psychic preparedness of candidates in 1888.

It is not until the Third Order projected for the original GD that that Solar mysteries and true practices of Hermetic Inner Alchemy and Alchemical Theurgy are finally revealed. These practices have always been reserved for the highest grades of the order because they are so powerful they would be extremely destructive to the energetic bodies of initiates not properly prepared.

All of the practices of the Golden Dawn's Third Order are right there already in the outer order - enshrined in the symbols contained the rituals and knowledge lectures. In the Hall of the Neophytes, you are given an explanation of the symbolism of the grade, but this is merely an explanation appropriate to the understanding of a Neophyte - for example, the true meanings of the colors of the robes of the principle officers, of the black and white pillars, of the lamens of the officers, and of the lamps on top of the pillars.

The same is true for the Second Order with the addition to the analogies contained in its magical system. What is, for example, the true meaning of the Vault of the Adepti? What is the true meaning of entering the Vault for the first time and encountering the Chief Adept rising from the Pastos? These things are likewise explained in the ritual, but only in a way appropriate to the understanding of a Minor Adept. And these things likewise refer by analogy directly to spiritual disciplines practiced only at the Third Order level.

The magical system of the Second Order, the R.R. et A.C. is specifically designed to strengthen and differentiate the energetic bodies of initiates to prepare them for the Solar Mysteries of the Third Order. The First or Outer Order was created as a symbolical order, which like Freemasonry produces extremely gentle energetic evolution by impressing symbols on the psyche of the candidate while PHYSICALLY present in a temple.

Robert Zink argues that Astral Initiation works because it affects the astral body of a candidate at a distance, according the maxim from the Emerald Tablet of Hermes. This argument fails on two grounds. Firstly, this argument is based on a superficial and incomplete understanding of the Emerald Tablet, which I will deal with in an upcoming paper wherein for the first time a direct translation from the original Arabic into English has been made.

And secondly, this "astral" argument completely overlooks that the nature of the Golden Dawn's outer order is symbolical. It is impossible to effect energetic evolution by impressing symbols on the psyche of initiates during the ritual when they are not physically present in the temple but rather meditating on the other end of the world.

Finally, there is an actual transmission of energies from the physical body of the initiating Hierophant to the physical body of the initiate. To fully transmit these energies and fully awaken the LVX current in the energetic body of the candidate is extremely difficult to fully accomplish even under the best of circumstances - with the candidate physically present in the temple. To argue that this can be accomplished equally as effectively at a distance merely reveals an incomplete and superficial understanding of the true, physical nature of the LUX current.

The initiatic rites of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn in the Outer diverge from Blue Lodge Freemasonry in three essential ways. Firstly, the Golden Dawn in the Outer has from its inception required the study of certain esoteric teachings outside of the initiatic rituals themselves. Blue Lodge Freemasonry does not.

Secondly, there is an "Astral" or "Yetsiratic" element of the Rite. This is enshrined in the building up of certain Egyptian God Forms in the Hall of the Neophytes using techniques originally known only to Second Order members, but that have "in part" been meanwhile published. This does not mean, however, that a candidate does not need to be physically present in a temple, and this is one important way that, so-called "Astral Initiaton" breaks down.

Finally, and most essentially, the Golden Dawn's 0=0 Neophyte initiation is based on the Egyptian Book of the Dead, wherein the heart of the aspirant is weighed against the weight of a feather and judged. During this initiatic rite, using techniques that have not been published, the constituent parts of the candidate's physical body, psyche, and soul are spiritually separated during the ritual and manifest located at certain visible and invisible stations of the Golden Dawn Temple. If all goes well and the initiation is successful, these parts are later reconstituted in a more balanced and higher spiritual form within the candidate.

This process is fraught with danger even under the best of circumstances. At the most delicate point of the Golden Dawn's Neophyte Initiation, for example, when the candidate is most vulnerable, extremely destructive forces arise from the foot of the altar. These destructive forces in the Egyptian Book of the Dead are called Ammit, the devourer, and the candidate is in very real danger danger of being spiritually devoured! In the Golden Dawn, this conglomerate of destructive forces is called the Evil Triad, Ommoo-Szathan-Aphophis, the slayer of Osiris, the tempter, accuser and punisher of the brethren, that in Egypt is represented with the head of a Water-Dragon, the body of a Lion or Leopard, and the hind-parts of a Water-horse.

The Hierophant, at this crucial point in the ritual, intervenes on behalf of the candidate, subdues the destructive Astral forces and recoagulates the constituent parts of the candidate. When True Golden Dawn Initiation is successful, it reorganizes the constituent parts of the initiate into a more spiritually evolved and balanced form, liberated from the domination of the lower Astral forces, and gives birth to greater spiritual awareness for the initiate. Thus we see that both the physical presence and the skill of the Hierophant are essential to the success and safety of True Initiation.

Moreover, the Astral plane is not without its dangers. Golden Dawn and occult literature are filled with warnings of the dangers of the Astral plane for the unaware and for those who are not properly prepared. These dangers include not only self-deception, but also exposure to destructive Astral forces and possession by low Astral entities. Thus Astral Initiation is not only ineffective, but downright dangerous. The same may be said of Self Initiation, wherein the same danger of exposure to destructive Astral forces and of possession by low Astral entities exists, yet the dangers of self-deception and ego-inflation are even more pronounced.

Let there be no doubt about it. There are no short cuts and even True Golden Dawn Initiation should not be undertaken lightly, as True Golden Dawn Initiation involves the ritual separation and reintegration of a candidate's physical, psychological, and spiritual aspects to give birth to a higher and more balanced spiritual form and awareness. Granted, there is always an Astral element in any genuine Golden Dawn initiation in the limited sense that the energetic or Astral body of the candidate is always ultimately impacted by the initiation. Initiation works on many levels and affects not merely the physical body of the candidate but also the Astral body. This does not mean, however, that the physical presence of the candidate with an initiating Hierophant is not necessary.

On the contrary, there is an actual transmission of energies from the initiating Hierophant awakening magical forces in the Astral body of the candidate. Contrary to the spin of "Astral Initiation" groups, this can only safely occur in the physical presence of the initiating Hierophant, and certainly not with a candidate sitting on the other end of the world! In fact, it is this aspect of Golden Dawn initiation, which derives directly from the Hermetic tradition rather than from the Neo-Platonic tradition, of fully "igniting" the LVX current in the energetic body of the candidate that is the most difficult to achieve, even for the most experienced of Hierophants! And to argue that this can be done with equal effectiveness with a candidate sitting on the other end of the world, merely demonstrates a lack of complete understanding of the Hermetic tradition in general, and of true nature of the subtle bodies and of the LVX current in particular.

Finally, on the subject of lineage, I must raise one important point. Unlike Freemasonry, the Golden Dawn is an embodiment of both the Hermetic and Rosicrucian traditions and as such is a "Spiritual" tradition. Lineage in the great spiritual traditions of both the East and West, additionally involves the transmission of certain sets not only of spiritual exercises, but also of actual states of consciousness attained by the great Adepts of the past. In this way, the initiate does not have to start over at square one, but in terms of actual spiritual attainment, is able to stand on the shoulders of those who came before him or her.

The Rosicrucian Order of Alpha et Omega, for example, today is a manifestation of a Hermetic spiritual lineage that can be traced all the way back to ancient Egypt and beyond! The importance of this is not merely some sort of legitimacy, but involves the actual transmission of states of "spiritual attainment," that have been passed down from Hermetic Master to Hermetic Disciple not for Centuries, but for Millennia!

This phenomon of the transmission of techniques and states of spiritual attainment is not unique to the Hermetic tradition, but is known in all great spiritual traditions of the world, as in the Kaula Tantra sects of medieval India and in the Dharma transmissions of Tibetan Buddhism. Initiation in all of the great spiritual lineages of the Earth carries with it the transmission of very specific spiritual practices and states of spiritual attainment.

In the case of the Golden Dawn, these are the lineages of the Hermetic and Rosicrucian traditions. The reason why the higher practices are kept secret and given out only grade by grade is so that the initiate may develop his or her subtle, energetic body in a safe and gentle way. The practices of Hermetic Inner Alchemy and Alchemical Theurgy enshrined in the Golden Dawn's Third Order are extremely powerful, but also extremely dangerous if practiced by those who are not properly prepared by many years of practicing Second Order magic.

Sub Umbra Alarum Tuarum, Yeheshua
G.H. Frater Lux Ex Septentrionis
Imperator Ordinis, Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn
Chief Adept, R.R. et A.C.
Archon Basileus, Rosicrucian Order of Alpha et Omega

"Ex Deo Nascimur.
In Yeheshua Morimur.
Per Sanctum Spiritum Reviviscimus"

torsdag 5 mars 2009

A case for traditional and physical initiation

For the last couple of weeks there has been an ongoing and heated polemized debate between representatives of the Order that I represent in Scandinavia and one other Order who calls itself “Guardians of the true Golden Dawn Mysteries”. I believe that the crucial point in this polemic revolves around what constitutes a valid initiation and initiatory process of the Golden Dawn.

The Order that I represent, and who has initiated me through all the Grades, has always represented the classical and traditional stance that initiation always must be performed physically and by a present Hierophant (i.e. initiator). Other organizations within the Golden Dawn community doesn’t at all regard physical initiation as mandatory or even necessary. Instead they recommend either “Self-Initiation” or “Astral Initiation”, so called, as equally valid as its physical counterpart.

I have been inspired by this latest debate as there has been an attempt to draw a line between “slander” and “difference of opinion”. This essay definitely consider itself to be of the latter category. I will try to define and compare the three different initiatory systems which are worked and practiced today within the Golden Dawn community.

Let me start off with the so called “Astral” category of initiations. The foremost representative of this method is Rober Zink’s Esoteric Order of the Golden Dawn (E.O.G.D.). While I’m no fan of this organization, nor particularly found of its current Chief, for several reasons, today I will only confine my criticism to the practice of Astral Initiation. While the E.O.G.D. actually does perform physical initiations as well, and even recommends it as superior to the astral category, it still regards Astral Initiation as a valid and recognized way to receive Grades in its Order. It also professes that Astral Initiation actually creates magical current which involves the astral counterpart of the initiate in the initiatory process.

Obviously I dispute this as a fact. But before I will venture into explaining why I will shortly describe this process of Astral Initiation. The ritual is actually performed physically in open Temple with all Temple assembled and with full staff of Officers. But the physical presence of the candidate is not required. Instead the ritual makes use of a exemplar, i.e. of a body double. Someone else – a Temple Member – will take the place of the candidate in his or hers stead. A sympathetic magical link is established between the exemplar and the actual candidate. At synchronicity with the ritual the candidate sits in meditation, dressed in robes and regalia, in a receptive state and tries to observe what is happening inside of him or her.

First of all, I want to make clear that I don’t dispute that this technique actually has some merit or effect. There are several eyewitnesses who will testify that they have felt something, experienced some kind of sensation, or have experienced something of a initiatory process, despite the fact that they are not present in the Temple and never has set their foot inside one. In my Temple we have also worked with rituals of distant healing, using the frame of the initiatory rituals, according to illness and Element. I know for a fact that the subject has experienced a change, a difference. So I find it plausible that one can manipulate the astral body of a subject through this kind of sympathetic magic. All this is just a proof that magic actually works, on the astral plane.

But on the other hand, I’m convinced that the subject of our healing ritual would have experienced even greater healing qualities had he or she been inside the circle or physical sphere of the Temple. I’m also fully convinced that Astral Initiation is lacking in effect to the point that it cannot be regarded as a valid method of either conferring Grades or manipulating the energy body and subtle bodies into the required initiatory state. The main reasons of contest are the following:
  1. Initiation is supposed to affect simultaneously the spirit, soul and body of the candidate. It is also supposed to work parallel and from each of these three planes. Most of all, the etheric energy body (or aura; Sphere of Sensation) is affected during initiation. This subtle body resides on a plane somewhere between the physical and the astral. Hence it will not take the full impact from Astral Initiation as it also requires the impact of the physical, or properly physical forces akin to the etheric plane. Also each of the three planes of existence affects the other two planes, i.e. the physical (sensational) also affects the astral (emotional or soul) and the causal (Self or Spirit), as well as the two latter affects the physical and etheric. This can also be explained further in alchemical terms. All genuine alchemical processes involves all these levels, i.e. also the physical. I’m not only referring to outer laboratory processes but Inner Alchemy as well; the Prima Materia is always some physical object. Alchemy is about raising the vibratory pitch of matter. Hermeticism always involves the physical matter. All spiritual evolution has as an object to evolve the body – matter. This also involves letting magical current flow through the body. This is most readily done in physical proximity. The prime matter of the initiation is the physical body of the candidate. Contrary to this, the rationale of Astral Initiation reveals a Gnostic worldview of distaste or at least disregard for the body which is foreign to Hermeticsim. The Emerald Tablet teaches us “as above, so below”, which means “in spirit as well as in body”.
  2. The invocation of magical forces and current is the main purpuse of hermetic ritual initiation. This invocation is done by the initiating team collectively lead by the Hierophant. The Hierophant is the main invoker and controller of magical current, but he is significantly assisted by this team of officers and also by the Chiefs of the Temple. This magical current directly manipulates the energetic and astral subtle bodies of the candidate, who is - as it were - trapped within a sphere, created by the Temple, where energetic manipulation, growth and transmutation occurs, as in a womb. Not being inside of this magical sphere of the Temple the long distant candidate cannot benefit entirely of its potential ability to adjust the energy levels and alignment between the subtle bodies, or constituent parts (i.e. body, soul and spirit). The only way of doing this manipulation in Astral Initiation is to create a magical link, with the astral cord, and issuing current through it. It's obvious that the effect cannot be the same as in traditional physical initiation, even if there can be some limited effect to this method.
  3. The main conductor or conduit of energies during the initiation ritual is the Hierophant - the initiator. It is imperative that he is physically present with the candidate as he projects current through his energy body towards or into the energy body of the candidate. This projection requires eye contact and even physical contact in transmission of current. Hence, there is the important aspect of laying hands. Compare this to Reiki, who teaches long distant healing while it also administers physical initiation with initiator present laying hands and projecting current. Something equivalent happens during traditional hermetic initiation. This requires that the Hierophant has himself gone through the initiations in physical, and awakened the forces in his aura, to be able to confer the same to the candidate.
  4. The sensational aspect, which is a psychological aspect as well. When the candidate is physically present during the initiation his or her senses observe everything which is possible to discern (being partially blindfolded and all). This creates a psychological overwhelming sensation. This also opens up his or her psyche to the magical influences of the ritual. But it also creates an altered level of consciousness, as it affects him or her psychologically, both in mind and emotionally. It gives him or her a true experience which is a learning experience and which can give great incitement of psychological development. I have seen this abundantly and it is a beautiful thing to observe in candidates. The ritual is a drama, a play, which also has as a function to impart a though form or cognitive structure into the candidate, a theme so to speak, which gives a tone or atmosphere for the Grade. This has to be experienced live and in person, not read through or imagined in the inner eye. Compare this to reading a novel and watching a stage play; two legitimate artistic expressions but quite different in nature and quality. Full and physical initiation is a stage play of old Greek dramatic proportions.
  5. The intellectual and pedagogical aspect, i.e. the actual instructions which are imparted during ritual. This can of course be learned by reading to a certain extent, but as Pat Zalewski has pointed out in his Ritual Commentaries, looking at diagrams isn’t just a ocular sensation. The Tablets are also conductors of magical current. I have watched this happen during ritual, even to the point of candidates fainting when exposed to diagrams of particular strong current. The diagrams of the Elemental Grades are not haphazardly placed in the ritual; they serve a certain purpose, both magically and intellectually. But in Astral Initiation the magical current aspect of the diagrams are lost; you have to be physically exposed to them as they act as magical mirrors and infuse the energy body of the candidate.
  6. The transferential aspect, which of course is a psychological one. This is a process which was discovered by Sigmund Freud during his therapeutic sessions, where he observed that his analysands were prone to projecting the parental images or phantasies on the analyst. This has always been a fact in initiations in the past, but now we are able, thanks to Freud and his school of psychology, to recognize and understand this phenomenon during the initiatory process. It often starts off with a kind of idealization of the Hierophant, turns into a demonization and hopefully ends with a “object constance”, i.e. the integration of the dark and light in the inner and introjected image of the initiator. There can of course be different variations of the transferential phenomenon, similar to psychoanalysis, but it has always to do with the inner images or “objects” of the parents of the candidate. It has to be resolved in the final phase for the initiatory process to work out in a positive way. This is part of the growing experience, and important at that. This psychological aspect of inner and dynamic drama is totally lacking in Astral Initiation, as the candidate never meets the Hierophant in person; you have to meet the initiator to be able to project on him.
  7. And lastly the conferrance of formal Grade. It is according to the hallmarks of the hermetic traditon to confer Grades formally in person, whith the candidate peresent. Compare this with collage graduation. The ceremony is also a formal ritual of conference of stature or social (hierarchical) standing in an organization.
These last six points can also be held against the method of Self-Initiation, but on some points not as severe as in the case of Astral Initiation. Regarding the fist point, Self-Initiation does in fact involve the physical plane, which makes it a superior practice compared to Astral Initiation. The self-initiator also invokes magical current into his own Temple or Oratory, creating a magical sphere of his own in the chamber. But the case I hold against Self-Initiation in this respect is that the current raised individually seldom can surpass the current collectively invoked by the Temple. Self-Initiation also sadly lacks in the third point as much as Astral Initiation; there is nobody to transfer current which goes back in succession to the ancient Adepti. This apostolic succession is sadly lacking in both Self and Astral Initiation, as genuine initiation requires the laying of hands, i.e. the actual physical contact to be both initiatory (i.e. formally) and energetically effective.

Self-Initiation also lacks in the fourth aspect as the self-initiatic candidate must know everything before hand; there is no element of surprice which is imperative for the psychological aspect. But a self-initiatory ritual can still create an atmosphere and a sense of awe and mystery which again makes it superior to Astral Initiation. Regarding the fifth point I believe that the self-initiator can recreate most of that aspect, that is to say, if he is proficient enough to create current and activate the diagrams properly. There is no way of telling this for sure. But still, the chances are higher to success compared to Astral Initiation. As I already have mentioned above, the purely intellectual aspect of the teachings of the Grade can of course be learnt through reading a book or paper.

Regarding the sixth point, both Self- and Astral Initiation is lacking in the transferential aspect as there is no screen to project the inner “objects” of the candidate. The only substitute for this is of course psychotherapy. As for the last point, there is no way a Grade formally can be conferred either by Self or long distance Astral rituals, at least not according to the hallmarks of the Golden Dawn Tradition.

So, in my final analysis, I prefer the Self-Initiatory path to the Astral Initiatory. Mainly for the reasons that the self-initiator actually invokes forces by his or her own hand and into his or her energy body. Piece by piece he or she can manifest and place the different forces and their images in his or her energy body. But the outcome of this process of course relies on the ability of the individual magician, or rather talent, as a self-initiator per definition is a rookie of ceremonial magic. At least in Self-Initiation the physical aspect is recognized. But of course, neither of these two paths under discussion can give the full benefits of physical initiation in Temple, for obvious reasons.

Regarding the physical body it is more important than ever and the object of focus in the early stages of the initiatory path, as the first steps makes dramatic readjustments to the physical body and its energetic counterpart. Compare this to the Zelator Grade and the Earth Element, as well as Malkuth (i.e. matter). In my opinion, physical initiation is less important in the higher Grades compared to the lower, even though it never fully looses in importance, even in the highest mysteries, i.e. that of Inner Alchemy which very much involves the physical body as the Prima Materia.

Self-Initiation also uses different and complimentary methods, often in combination. A Self-Initiatory ritual can involve both a physical movement and invocation in combination with a later astral “path working”, i.e. guided visualization. Contrary to some Adepts in my Order, I actually embrace “path working” as a legitimate working in both magic and self-development. I have for example always held in high esteem Dolores Achcroft-Nowicki’s book The Shining Paths, which presents guided meditations or pathworkings for the Tree of Life. I even created some pathworkings myself while in the Outer Order, inspired by the ritual drama of the Outer Order rituals and Tarot Trumphs, to use as my own “self-initiatory” rituals which I practiced in my personal Grade Work.

So, Self-Initiation has its natural place, or so I claim, as a complement - not isolated to - physical and legitimate initiation. I even daresay that self-initiatory work is required for traditional and classical initiation to be optimally and continually at work within the initiate. The very word “initiation”, which translates to “beginning”, indicate that the ritual initiation in Temple just marks the beginning of the initiatory work. In the Order that I represent in Scandinavia we actually use “self-initiation” as Grade work, as we require from our initiates to work with invocations of Elemental, Zodiacal and Planetary forces corresponding with each of the Elemental Grades. For example in the Grade of Theoricus, as a member of our local Temple, one is supposed to invoke and work with the forces of Air, Libra, Aquarius, Gemini, Luna och Saturn as a part of the required practical curriculum of that Grade.

Hence a book like David Griffin's The Ritual Magic Manual: A complete course in Practical Magic, may be used as a manual for Self-Initiation, systematically working with all forces of the 5 Elements, 7 Planets, 10 Sephiroth and 12 Zodiacal Signs in succession. This was also one of the purposes of this book, to present the solitary magicians with a ritual framework for Self-Initiation, besides being the main text book for initiates of the Order that I belong to. The book actually encourages solitary students to work first with basic rituals, then perform Elemental Theurgical workings, then Planetary, Zodiacal and Sephirotic, before venturing into Practical or Talismanic (Taumaturgic Magic) and finally working with the averse forces or Demonic Evocation (not invocation as some biased critics continue to falsely state about this book).

The Ritual Magic Manual

Not being bound to the traditional Rosicrucian Grade System of the Tree of Life, this may be one way to deal with the hiearchical forces of nature. But initiates likewise use this book but in so doing extrapolate the forces corresponding to each of the Elemental Grades, as I have mentioned above, which of course also may be the most optimal solution for solitary students trying to emulate the initiatory system of the Golden Dawn. Note the word “emulate” or “simulate”, which is all that the self-initiatory path are able to do compared to legitime and full physical initiation in Temple.

But the main point I am trying to sell here is that “self-initiation” not only is an important complement to regular initiation, but also is required for the current of the Temple initiation to be alive and working during the entire time at Grade; to be fully integrated into the energy body the member must work with further infusing the forces and images activated in the aura during inititation. Astral Initiaton is however redundant either way; it doesn’t do its job as it is suppose to in and by itself, and absolutely has no function at all if Grades has been taken prior traditionally and present in Temple.

Now, up to this point I have only discussed what is happening at the moment of initiation. But there is also the equal important aspect of the initiatory process, i.e. the blending of existential and psychological phenomena which can be defined as “synchronicity”. This mystical side of life has been quite elaborately researched by the Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalysist Carl Gustav Jung, and I recommend reading his works regarding this subject. To summarize this briefly synchronization deals with outer events or material phenomena which has a psychological significance and a direct bearing to inner processes, without there being any actual causual relation between these two.

My own experience of Golden Dawn initiation, as compared for example to Freemasonic initiation, is that synchronicity is very much active in the initiatory process. This manifest as events in everyday life, of minor and major importance, which is in correspondence with the actual Grade the initiate has been advanced into. In this respect the famous axiom from the Emerald Tablet, which I quoted above, once again comes into mind; it’s the correspondence between the microcosm and macrocosm. In initiation the border or wall between these two principles are weakened; the process of projection of inner and introjection of outer becomes entangled. Suddenly life’s themes express the inner condition of the initiate.

The principle at work here is that life’s experiences, together with inner transmutation of vibration and energy, will create the necessary conditions for evolution of soul. While the forces at work a the time of the initiation actually makes changes in body (both physical and etheric/energetic), soul and spirit directly, which transmutes these principles alchemically, the outward experiences of life makes a profound change in the initiate’s psychological make-up, which in turn enhances the transmutation process of body, soul and spirit. All this blended together constitutes the initiatory process.

This of course has an equivalent in personal magical work, in invocation of forces, Elementary, Astrological and Sephirotic. When the magician invokes one of these forces he has to observe the events of everyday life to see the magical workings in progression. I myself call this “the oracle of life”. This fact of course makes Self-Initiation valid in this respect, but again it relies on the individual proficiency of actually setting these forces in motion, both within the magician (microcosm) and in the corresponding outer world (macrocosm). The chances are much higher that a initiatory team, especially if it is much experienced and lead by an Adept (which is required by the old codex of the Golden Dawn), will do this work more efficiently than the individual and inexperienced would-be magician.

But what about Astral Initiation as regards the initiatory process? As I already have stated above, I don’t doubt that something of this kind of phenomena of synchronization between inner and outer may come into effect. The question still remains if this at all is comparable with traditional physical initiation in Temple? For us to tentatively answer this question we must analyze how this initiatory process of synchronization actually occurs and works. To be honest, we cannot know for sure as the correspondence between the microcosm and macrocosm probably is one of the greatest mysteries of life. But if one is permitted to speculate I suspect that all first six points of ingredients in ritual initiation, which I already have discusses above, are at work here.

The actual manipulation of body and energy body, both by the forces invoked in the ritual, and the projection of energy between the energy bodies of Hierophant and candidate, are most important for this process to occur; create a change in the microcosm and you will create an equal change in the candidate's magical universe (macrocosm). Also, the ritual – under the guidance of the initiator – seals a covenant between the macrocosmic forces invoked during the ritual and the energetic and astral bodies of the candidate.

As an energetic body may be manipulated by the astral double this gives some credence for Astral Initiation, but as I already has said, the physical manipulation is as much important, not to say the direct proximity between the energetic bodies between the Hierophant and candidate. This makes Astral Initiation very doubtful as an optimal solution compared to its physical counterpart. As the self-initiated candidate also lacks the initiator and the raising of energy by the Hierophant’s manipulation, Self-Initiation also lacks some in effect, but not as much compared to Astral Initiation in general. But on the other hand I don't doubt that a very proficiant Hierophant and his highly trained initiatory team under best of conditions may create a strong magical link and project astral current through it wich will create a potentially greater change in the energy body of the candidate compared to a rookie in Self-Initiation and under worst of conditions.

But neither of these two unorthodox methods of initiation has as great potentiality as traditional physical initiation in an authorized (i.e. “quality certified”) Temple. And also, how can a candidate who sits at the other corner of the world be certain that there actually occurs a ritual in his or hers name or by a experienced initiating team, if he is left to nothing more than his own inner sensations and fantasies? I'm not saying that the E.O.G.D. doesn't perform the rituals – all I am saying is that the surest way to know this is to see it for yourself. Being physically present also can give a certain immediate sense of the experience and efficiency of the initiating team. Personally, if I hadn't the ability or the means of travel to a Temple, I would resort to Self-Initiation. At least I would know if the ritual was performed properly or not.

Furthermore, the dramatic aspect of ritual, in combination with diagrams and symbols, also programs the psyche of the candidate and creates, as I mentioned above, a cognitive and emotional tone within him or her. Considering the old hermetic principle of “mentalism”, i.e. that the world is a though form of God and that man’s imaginatory faculties can create change in the fabric of mind or consciousness – which transcends individual consciousness – in correspondence with the intention of the individual, one can easily understand how this impact of ritual is very much important. This old hermetic principle has become the new age hype called “the law of attraction”. One can call it whatever one wants, but it is this principle which is the raison d’être of magic. This aspect is of course totally lacking in Astral Initiation but obviously may be recreated in Self-Initiation.

Then there is the transferential aspect of initiation which, I believe, also gives an important incitement to synchronicity. It is not at all uncommon during psychotherapy and psychoanalysis that the analysand projects the therapeutic process, and transferential relation to his therapist, on the outside word. There is plenty of case histories to substantiate this fact. I also know for a fact, both as an analysand and analyst, that the therapeutic process is very much alive between the sessions in everyday life. As I have mentioned earlier, Carl Gustav Jung acknowledged this phenomena of synchronicity as an outcome of therapy. So the relation between the candidate and the Hierophant is of great importance, both in an inner psychological and outer existential sense. In this respect, both Self- and Astral Initiation lacks in effect.

Now regarding the hallmarks of the Golden Dawn tradition the E.O.G.D. often claims that the practice of Astral Initiation in fact was institutionalised by the old Rosicrucian Order of Alpha et Omega, and non other than Moina Mathers herself - the wife of the founding member of the Golden Dawn, S.L. MacGregor Mathers. This has yet to be proven, but it seems to me that this premise has been deduced from a letter by Paul Foster Case to Francis Israel Regardie where it says that:
V.N.R. [Moina Mathers], supposedly 7=4 in fact, then began to display extraordinary misunderstanding of the American situation. She encouraged a Frater in Chicago to initiate anybody possessed of $ 10 (by mail), and soon the country was flooded with Neophytes who had never seen the inside of a Temple.
But as several people has already pointed out, this letter by Case cannot be taken for granted as a historical account of the situation of Alpha et Omega. Case had an axe to grind towards Moina Mathers, who previously had expelled him for several reasons as a disciplinary measure (of which I won’t venture into here, as it is irrelevant to the current discussion at hand). Besides Case’s words doesn’t substantiate any Astral Initiation, just that some members were conferred with the power to grant Grades by mail.

What it all amounts to we cannot actually tell; as the renowned Golden Dawn scholar Tony Fuller has pointed out before there is no evidence at all that substantiates Cases claims, besides a similar statement by A.E. Waite (who had an even bigger axe to grind toward S.L. MacGregor Mathers) which even is more ambiguous and open to interpretation and speculation. Be there as it may, but there is no proof to the claims of E.O.G.D. that they are continuing a long standing A.O. tradition in this respect. And even if Case was describing an actual Astral Initiation scheme during the 1920’s, it obviously wasn’t popular amongst the Adepti as many voted with their feet when Case left the Order. There is no reason to perpetuate a practice which was ill advised in the first place, if it ever was practiced in the Alpha et Omega, which I highly doubt.

Regarding Self-Initiation, there is of course no evidence at all that it has ever been used in the Golden Dawn prior to Israel Regardie suggesting its use in his The Complete Golden Dawn System of Magic. But one has to remember that there almost were no active Temples when he made that suggestion. Regardie was the originator, but out of pragmatic reasons, not idealistic. At least this is my understanding of it.

Regardie was however the right man for this invention as it is a well known fact that he didn’t think highly of the Elemental Outer Order Rituals, something he inherited from Aleister Crowley who disposed of them all when he created his A.A. Hence Regardie used Self-Initiation as a method of training for his students, disposing the Elemental Grades and personally only conferred the Neophyte and Adeptus Minor initiations. The E.O.G.D. and their Astral Initiation scheme is also motivated by this deep lack of understanding of the importance of the Elemental Grades. For admission into their Inner Order, the candidate must have passed through the Neophyte, Portal and Adeptus Minor rituals in physical form – but no Elemental Grades.

While I concur that the Neophyte, Portal and Adeptus Minor formulas take precedence in importance over the Elemental Grades, this doesn’t mean that the latter are unimportant. On the contrary. The Alchemical process of separation must involve these four Grades of Zelator to Philosophus to be able to occur. Without them, the Portal Grade Ritual loses a great deal of its significance, and the candidate is extremely ill prepared for the Higher Initiation of the Adeptus Minor. So, basically, you cannot take away some little piece of the overall initiatory scheme without changing the whole traditional initiatory system.

It makes me sad to know that so many people and serious students of the Golden Dawn are lacking in these important steps on the way to progression and Adepthood, something that many of us initiates are taking for granted. It is also of significant importance that many of the dignitaries of today’s Golden Dawn, as for example Pat Zalewski, Cris Monnastre, as well as Robert Zink, hasn’t gone through full rituals, i.e. that they are good examples of self-initiated Adepts.

Unfortunately, many Golden Dawn students of the 1970’s and 80’s was force to resolve to Self-Initiation as there were no other option. But today the situation has changed dramatically. There are many different Temples within the Golden Dawn community, under several different denominations, both independed or belonging to a greater fraternity; the chances are much higher today that there is an initiating Temple in your vicinity. Luckily, both Zalewski and Monnastre reinstituted the phsysical intitiatory scheme. I wish that Robert Zink would follow suit, for the sake of his students who deserve the benefits of full form of the classical Golden Dawn initiatory process.