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

lördag 13 februari 2010

Melancholia and initiation


Today there is a wide spread opinion amongst both laymen and professionals, such as physicians and psychologists, that depression is the result of bad chemistry in the brain. Or to be more specific, the result of the depletion of serotonin. There has been proven that there is a relation between depression, feelings of aggressiveness, impulsive behaviour, and addiction, etc., and a low serotonin level in the brain. On the contrary, having a high level of the said transmittor substance is supposed to create moods of the opposite end of the spectrum, i.e. feelings of happiness, fulfilment, joy, accomplishment, etc. It is known that a bad diet and reduced sleep has a depleting effect on serotonin. It has also been proposed that it may have a biogenetic origin, which is transmitted genetically.

According to this extreme materialistic attitude or paradigm on the human soul there is simply this biological, either biogenetic or somatic, cause to depression. Therefore there is no significance or meaning at all attached to feelings of melancholy or depression. Therefore there is no point in therapeutic methods of the psychoanalytical or psychodynamic variety that interprets the symptoms. As we are dealing with a medical condition, according to the psychiatrists, it must be remedied with medicine or psychopharmaceuticals. In this case antidepressants.

The latest generation of antidepressant medicine is of the so-called SSRI variety, the most well known being Prozac. SSRI stands for Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors. As the name indicates these kinds of medicines inhibits the reuptake of serotonin after it being released in the brain’s synapses. This produces the effect of raising the level of serotonin in the brain, and hence alleviating the depression. Thus in this simplistic view the symptom (the depression) is but a malfunction of the chemical balance in the brain; the chain of causation is thus very short between the cause and effect.

On the other hand, according to Sigmund Freud and his later followers melancholy has its origin in the superego, the aspect of our psyche that accuses us and punishes us, it being the internalisation of the father’s law as an outcome of the Oedipus complex. This means that melancholy is a trait acquired from the interaction with one’s parental figures and the fear of breaking against the morality of society, as represented by the patriarchy.

Later psychoanalysts expanded upon Freud’s thoughts and in my opinion Melanie Klein was the one who took it to its greatest heights. She introduced two major “positions” of the individual, the schizo-paranoid and the depressive, by later authors re-defined as “integrative”. I personally call the second position the depressive-integrative. According to Klein we all are born into the schizo-paranoid position because of the traumas associated with birth and frustrations in the early phases of life.

Basically the child cannot cope with a mother that frustrates it while also providing it with the most gratifying of satisfactions, which the child attributes to evil and good qualities respectively. Thus the child is forced to split up these two aspects of the mother, and of itself, to be able to cope with it, ere it would fall into a total confusion and psychic disintegration. Hence the terms “evil breast” and “good breast”. The child copes with its own “evil” desires, such as gluttony, sadism, etc., by rejecting it through splitting and projection out of its own system. Thus the child within the schizo-paranoid position divides the world into clear-cut aspects of evil and good, within airtight compartments. This also creates an anxiety related to persecution and paranoia, because of the projected evil persona which the child sees in “the others”.

But in due time, as the child matures, it starts to see both evil and goodness inside of the mother, and thus also inside of itself. It starts to see that it itself has had destructive intentions and behaviours, such as fantasies of killing off its mother or its father. This creates a bad conscience or guilt, which in turn leads to depression. Here we see a child who has entered into a state of integration of the opposites and of depression resulting from that integration. This in turn leads to an urge to reparate that which has been damaged; to make amends for the hireto aggressive and destructive behaviour.

The natural outcome of all this is that the symptom (i.e. depression) is but a sign of an internal conflict between the superego and the ego, and between dynamic conflicts residing in the unconscious caused by the early interaction between the child and its parents. Therefore there is always a meaning to a depression as it can lead you to understanding the underlying dynamics of your soul. According to Freud there is no actual chance to psychological processes and phenomena; everything is determined by earlier experiences and therefore has an important meaning. Contrary to this, the bio-chemical paradigm believes in randomness and chance, depleted of any meaning.

As a magician and hermeticist I of course don’t recognize any chance or randomness in any aspect of the existance, neither of the microcosm nor of the macrocosm; that everything is determined by higher causual factors beyond the material, and that everything has a true meaning. So personally, both as a psychotherapist and as a magician, I adhere to the paradigm of psychoanalysis regarding the origins and nature of depression and melancholia. Thus I am strongly against this general view or attitude that the origin of mental “illness”, of whatever kind, solely resides in the brain, in matter. Mental “illness” properly belongs to the realm of spirit but has its effect upon the body in the form of feelings of anxiety and depression.

Sadly enough however, I have recently watched and participated in discussions where occultists are defending the attitude of modern psychiatry and the extreme materialistic view upon “soul” and its “illnesses”, as the by-product of bio-chemical processes in the brain. Contrary to them I adhere to the psychodynamic view that the true origin of mental “illness” resides in the social context of the individual and how each particular individual chooses to deal with the existential facts of life and that unique context experienced by the individual. This especially is relevant for all kinds of depressive or melancholic states, but also holds true of very severe mental “disorders” such as schizophrenia.

Thus depression is not a malfunction of the brain; it is a reaction or a way of coping with existential issues, as are all “mental disorders”. This means that the same may be said about schizophrenia and psychosis. What we undisputedly do observe in the brain (the serotonine level, etc.) and the body is a reaction to these experiences and reactions to trauma. This fully confirms the hermetic axiom of “spirit over matter”.

However I agree with the observations made that some physical (somatic) disorders may change consciousness and the emotional state. But we are not talking about chronic depression (as a psychiatric diagnosis) in these few instances, so it’s not actually relevant to our discussion here. But I do acknowledge the fact that there is no real differentiation between body and spirit. And it is of course correct that the body produces hormones which also are related to emotional states; “as above so below”.

But I want to point out that I don’t actually believe in the concept of mental “illness” (that’s why I have written the word “illness” within quotation marks). Our behaviour and mental attitude, regardless of type, is our personal way of adequately coping with life and our life’s experiences; a survival strategy. Sometimes this strategy can be very hindering indeed. That’s why people seek out therapy. But it has to be remembered that each and everyone’s strategy always is adequate according to the limits of one’s maturity, experience, knowledge and understanding.

I also nurture a spiritual view upon melancholy and depression. In my opinion depression gives a rich opportunity for spiritual progress. How can it be otherwise? How can any soul develop if there are no pains, sufferings or frustrations allowed? How can there be any progression without an urge to better one’s condition and self? I hold that depression is a key to enlightment. There is the term “dark night of the soul” coined by S:t John of the Cross, the renown Carmelite monk, which basically is a depression induced by spiritual practices, such as contemplation, meditation and ritual.

Depression forces you to look into yourself and revalue your life. In this instance taking antidepressants would seriously harm this great opportunity of self-knowledge and spiritual progress. I have seen this at close hand in one of my students so I’m talking out of experience here. So in my opinion you cannot combine antidepressants and other psychopharmaceuticals with initiation. Allow me to develope this further.

Initiation is about “knowing yourself” and I know for a fact that even our modern antidepressants make you more insensitive to your emotional life, as that is the point in taking medication. They effectively put the lid on you subconscious and emotional life, at least in part.

Your doctor will tell you that SSRI medication doesn’t numb you emotionally at all, and that you will feel more and different emotions. I have heard from people taking SSRI medication that instead of feeling just that one constant feeling of depression they now can feel a wider spectrum of emotions that they couldn’t feel before, because of the depression laying its shadow over whole of the soul.

I can appreciate this kind of descriptions and do respect this attitude in a patient, but cannot help thinking that there is a danger spiritually speaking in cutting off the darkest levels of emotion. While it is true that SSRI antidepressants don’t take away your emotional life it does in fact level out your depression. It is also true that one is able to feel other emotions instead of melancholy, but this has not that much to do with emotions being silenced by deep melancholia. Instead it has more to do with the fact that this kind of antidepressants induces other emotions artificially in place of the melancholia.

The wanted effect of SSRI medication is to induce “positive” feelings instead of the “negative” feelings associated with depression, the rationale being that a high level of serotonin gives feelings of comfort and happiness, while depleted or low levels of serotonin induces depression, destructive behaviour, addiction and aggressiveness.

So what SSRI medication basically does is to effectively cut out or inhibit one important aspect of life, and of especial spiritual significance, the dark side of the soul and of existence. It bars away a person from experiencing grief, sorrow and melancholy. I therefore ask how anyone may develop and mature as an individual and spirit if one is made insensitive to respond to the real hardships of life?

From a psychoanalytical or psychodynamic perspective depression gives you the opportunity to descend into your unconscious (or subconscious to use occult nomenclature). I have seen this myself in my own therapeutic process, in my clinical observations and experience, and in the experience of my colleagues; this is a typical trait belonging to these kinds of psychodynamic therapeutic methods.

There is a phase in psychotherapy when the patient experiences depression, the equivalent of a “dark night of the soul” of the mystic, magician or alchemist. But the patient must perservere to be able to reclaim his or her life, as the esoteric student is to experience the new dawn rising within his or her soul. Thus the same may be said of intiation as of psychotherapy.

Massive clinical experience (of the psychodynamic variety) says that SSRI medication actively hinders this necessary therapeutic process of the descent into darkness. Much research points out to the fact that psychodynamic psychotherapy (i.e. which takes the unconscious into account) is more successful if not combined with antidepressants. But this means that one have to accept to suffer from a period of worsened symptoms.

Regarding the numbing effect of SSRI medication I had a talk the other day with a quite well known psychotherapist in Sweden. He confirmed my thesis with his own clinical experience, without me mentioning my position. He litterary said that one of his patients, who happens to be on SSRI medication, cannot sink down into the level of the emotions necessary in trauma therapy. Since taking her medication she cannot work with the process of emotionally dealing with her original trauma; she is only able to work with it on the superstratum or middle level of the unconscious, and levels belonging to higher cognitive functions. This effectively inhibits the therapeutic effect, which needs to process the deeply buried emotional content to be able to release it.

With SSRI medication you effectively make it harder to feel deeper feelings (“deep” as in dark, frustrating and depressive, etc.) but are instead induced to feel higher feelings (“high” as in feelings of happiness, well being, etc.). If you want to work with your self – with your own demons so to speak – you have to be able to sink down into your deeper emotional layers. This applies both to psychotherapy and initiation.

Thus I really have no problems with depressives or melancholics in my Temple. But I expect of the melancholics to be prepared to deal with their emotional issues and surpressed contents. If any melancholic lacks the guts to deal with his emotional issues the G∴D∴ is not for him. And if a candidate has a biological (i.e. materialistic) view upon mental illness, instead of the psycho-dynamic or spiritual, he or she has no place in a G∴D∴ Temple or in any hermetic Lodge for that matter.

And if a applicant cannot be without his antidepressants, even of the relatively gentle SSRI variety and of the lowest dose, I would say that it definitely categorizes someone as emotionally unstable which practically hinders them from being admitted for membership. Thus persons diagnosed with a severe mental illness have no place in the G∴D∴. And in my experience lots of mentally disturbed people seek out the mysteries, for a help of a remedy.

A Temple must bar away mentally and emotionally unstable persons of the severe kind, both for the sake of the Temple’s egregore and for the sake of the applicant. My experience tells me that initiation into the Golden Dawn creates a severe artificial disintegration of the soul, a process which may be likened to the Alchemical phase of Nigredo or putrefaction. This creates quite some hardships and turmoil for the average neurotic and emotionally functional initiate. Imagine what would happen if a person with severe cronical depression or even worse mental states would be admitted for initiation. In my opinion it is unethical to admit such a person as it definitely will lay its karmic burden upon both the initiator and the egregore.

Simply speaking, you cannot substitute initiation for psychotherapy. And if you prefer your medication instead of psychotherapy – i.e. dealing with your problems and getting to know yourself – you have no place in a G∴D∴ Temple.

You may find my words severe and harsh. Perhaps they are, but believe me they are said in the best of meaning and interests for all parties involved in an initiatory process, the initiate, the initiating team and the Temple egregore. My words that I have spoken are based upon almost two decades of experience of G∴D∴ initiation and individual initiatory processes. Today I have a quite severe selecting process for my Temple that takes one year, at least. And in my selection I use my professional knowledge of psychotherapy to spot the unprepared.

So, I have no prejudice at all against melancholics. On the contrary I prefer them as they often are of the reflective and aware kind, not to say sensitive, compassionate and emphatic. But if diagnosed with clinical depression and considering initiation they have to choose between their medication (if any) and being initiated. Sometimes taking psychotherapy before initiation is recommended to better prepare a candidate for initiation.

Regarding finding a good therapist many occultists are afraid of prejudice against the occult, afraid of being diagnosed as psychotic or mentally disturbed because of their interest in the esoteric. I don’t know how the situation is in other countries, but in Sweden a psychotherapist isn’t allowed to intervene in their patient’s religious or political convictions, or sexual orientation for that matter. It is unethical, according to the code of professional psychotherapists in my country, to try to “cure” their patients from religious, political and sexual preferences. I guess the situation is the same in other countries.

There is much misconception about psychotherapy. Psychotherapy isn’t about curing “disease”. It’s about broadening your perspective and deepening your understanding of yourself, to emancipate you. The patient defines what the problem is and what should be worked upon. The therapist uses himself and his experience to assist the patient in this process of emancipation and self-knowledge. It can truly be likened to an initiatory process.

But if someone resorts to taking medication as a solution, instead of taking psychotherapy, that’s fine by me. I’m not in a position to judge anyone’s character or choices in life. But when it comes to initiation I have to look at certain criteria, and this particular strategy is not what is to be expected from someone seeking initiation (at least not in my Temple).

Now I expect people to start refute my position and start to defend the bio-chemical-materialistic view upon man and his soul. Sadly enough I even expect this from some of my fellow occultists. This topic is very sensitive and I understand that I may have stepped upon someone’s toes, or evoked the feelings of severe and unjust judgement against their decisions in taking medication. I beg your apology in being so uninhibited in my discussion. I mean no harm. But I have to state my opinion and share my experience, both as a professional therapist and as an initiator into hermetics. And besides this, now you also know what to expect of my Temple if you decide to apply for initiation into it.

Someone will probably bring up the diabetes and insulin analogy. But I don’t particularly like this analogy, nor do I accept it as relevant. I have heard that argument before, especially by people taking antidepressant medication (it more sounds like their doctor speaking). It’s a very easy and comforting way of not dealing with one’s existential issues. And that is not becoming of an aspiring initiate.

Someone will perhaps bring out the question of menopause and estrogen medication. But this is another not particularly relevant analogy. Women applicants should of course be allowed to take estrogen pills. It cannot be compared to taking antidepressant SSRI medication. So it’s no real issue here. Again, estrogen cannot be compared to psychopharmaceuticals proper even if it affects one’s emotional life (but it doesn’t put the lid on it). Meno-pause is a natural state of a woman, and cannot be regarded as a disease as pregnacy cannot be. Therefore I would recommend someone experiencing a menopause not to take estrogen medication and to deal with this natural phase of one’s life, but I definitely wouldn’t bar anyone from initiation resorting to this medication if their symptoms are to severe.

But both of these examples are more attributed to somatic conditions. I am addressing psychiatric diagnosis in this essay, not somatic ones. And my experience tells me that you cannot fully take the advantage of initiation and magic if you are on psychopharmaceuticals or on sedation.

I am also mainly addressing the diagnosis of clinical depression here, not of a bi-polar disorder. I would definitely bar anyone from initiation having this severe psychiatric diagnosis. In psychoanalytical terms the bi-polar or manodepressive disorder is the melancholic’s equivalent of schizofrenia in the schizoid character; i.e. it properly belongs to the range of psychosis.

Besides, psychiatrists use different kinds of medication for these two diagnoses. I don’t know the situation in other countries, but here in Sweden they have started to give bi-polars epilepsy medication, as recent “research” has “discovered” that this kind of medication also has a levelling effect on mood swings.

This is quite a strange move to take in my opinion, but on the grounds of biological inexpertise I’m not in a position to decide what medicine is good and what is not good for any diagnosis, as I am not a doctor nor a pharmaceutic scientist. But I do know what forces are behind this kind of selection processes. I do know who are behind all of these new “therapies” and diagnoses, and who gives the funds for this kind of “research.” In fact I know that it is the pharma companies, who incidentally produces the medicine and earns a lot of money in the process.

You probably won’t believe my following words as it goes against all logic. I know it does, and this makes it even more tragic. Now, normally one identifies a symptom and then tries to find a remedy for it through research; the demand comes prior to the supply. When it comes to the sordid history of the development of the SSRI medicine, the situation was in fact the reverse. Researchers suddenly discovered this new serotonin inhibiting effect through an experiment and afterwards the company started to ponder on what kind of ailments it could be used against; what new markets could be profited upon and exploited.

After resolving to engaging and mobilizing their sponsored doctors a new mental disorder was invented, called “panic anxiety”. Voalá! The company created a new marked with the help of their doctors, which of course got a good compensation in their wallets. And the company’s stockholders laughted all their way to the bank.

This isn’t all. The patent for SSRI medication have just expired a year ago or so. Suddenly other companies in third world countries could produce SSRI medicine very cheaply. Loss of profits for the original company of course resulted. But soon someone discovered that the company could profit more from the fact that the patent for this particular kind of epilepsy medicine had not yet expired. So what new “diagnosis” do you think soon was about to be invented? Bi-polar light of course!

History repeats itself. If you would care to look into the dirty business or abyss of pharma industry you would soon come to fear the dark. And this is not a “conspiracy theory”. It is all well documented and accounted for. But if I am allowed to descend even deeper into the mire of the subject of conspiracies, I wonder what higher motives or forces there is behind these pharmaceutics companies?

If this development is allowed to continue I can foresee (without resorting to my crystal ball) a dystopian society similar to the one pictured in the movie Equilibrium, starring Christian Bale. This is not a particularly good movie but it has a great motif, that of a government and society that resorts to mind control by drugging their population with a sedative that effectively takes away their emotions. This is also the theme of one of my all time favourite movies THX 1138, starring Robert Duvall. In both cases we have a totalitarian system that manages to exhort mind control over their population by controlling (or taking away) people’s ability to feel – to effectively feel alive.

The rationale behind this is that feelings of depression, of frustration, or dissatisfaction, etc. create opposition, revolution or evolution. Take away the deeper and darker feelings in any human, you will take away his incentive for individuation. Thus we will have a society that basically stops evolving, with a working force who doesn’t ask for any major improvements of their working conditions. We will effectively level out the dynamics and conflicts of our society, which lays the basis for development. We will all become one happy family of consumers making the stockholders richer while being depleted of our right to a full existence as living beings. Basically we will create a dead society.

In this context an esoteric lodge or G∴D∴ Temple poses a serious threat to such a system, as its main goal is to emancipate its members. Another category of subversive elements is of course the psychoanalysts and psychotherapists. Today we se a choir of detractors which calls themselves “sceptics”, mainly physicians and scientists sponsored by pharma companies, who runs a campaign which may be likened to a crusade, not only against all forms of alternative medicine and occult theories, but also against well proven and effective psychotherapeutic methods stemming from psychoanalysis. Anyone who doesn’t conform to the new biological gospel runs a serious risk of being branded as a quack and impostor.

In my opinion, what we see here is a serious case of projection. The occult community in general and the G∴D∴ community in particular mustn’t be allowed to compromise anything of their sacred tradition, their hermetic teachings, against these forces. On the contrary the G∴D∴ must stay put and prepare some few good men and women who will become a vanguard to lead our human society towards the new era marked by the age of Aquarius, a reformation, both of divine and humane things.


fredag 5 februari 2010

Alchemy and the Golden Dawn


One of the greatest tasks of the Golden Dawn tradition and Order today is the integration of Alchemy and Spagery to its corpus. As I perceive it this almost total absence of Alchemy and Spagery is truly the greatest lack within the traditional Golden Dawn system, as presented in published litterature.

Now some of you may react against this last sentence and say: “Hey mister, wait a moment! There’s lots of references to alchemy throughout the Knowledge Lectures of the Outer Order.” Yes, obviously there is. But it is sadly restricted to a mere theoretical knowledge, and very superficial at that. For example in the Second Knowledge Lecture (pertaining to the 1°=10° Grade) you will find some scarce information about the Three Alchemical Principles, who they are and how to draw their symbol, but almost no information as to their nature.

The only flying roll dedicated to Alchemy from a practical point of view, the very early written Flying Roll No. VII - Alchemy by Dr. W.W. Westcott, is quite interesting in its own right but unfortunately doesn’t delve anywhere beyond the historical, theoretical and speculative. It clearly shows that the author has much knowledge of Alchemy, but very scarce or non laboratory experience.

Then there is the Z – 2 section on Alchemy which shows the only trace of External Alchemical or Spagyrical processing. However this process is very curious and unique and follows a rationale distinct from most other Alchemical processes I have encountered. It is a so-called “Wet Path”, as it concerns moderate heat and uses cucurbits and alembics. However it doesn’t concern the creation of the Philosopher’s Stone but instead is more of a Magico-Spagyrical preparation of a Matter or Subject, creating a magically charged tincture and powder in the process.

The most interesting aspect of this Golden Dawn process of Alchemy as presented in the Z – 2 is its emphasis on the integration of Theurgy (or Magical techniques) and Alchemical processes. This, in my opinion, is the greatest contribution of the Golden Dawn to Alchemy which is unparallel anywhere else, at least to my knowledge. It is the natural or logical outcome of the old Alchemical adage of Ora et Labora – to pray and to work.

The Z – 2 process of Alchemy involves the so-called Trivium Hermeticum, the three hermetical disciplines of Magic, Alchemy and Astrology. The binding link between Alchemy and Magic being Astrology and with its common symbology appealing to both Alchemy and Magic. This multiple use of these disciplines should be spilled over into all other categories of Golden Dawn Alchemy.
There is also another practice which over time did develop within the Golden Dawn tradition, prominently by Israel Regardie, called the Ritual of the Middle Pillar. This is based upon a practice which is found in the Z – 1 called “the vibratory formula of the middle pillar” which later was developed (presumedly by Dr. Robert Felkin) in the Stella Matutina into the technique referred to as “the formulation of the Tree of Life in the aura”.
Regardie took this exercise and developed it into the gem it is today, which constitutes perhaps the foundation exercise together with the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram. He also incorporated a special technique attached to it called “the circulation of the body of light”, reminecent of eastern hatha yogic practices, where basically the magician circulates the light (or L.V.X.) created by the formulation of the Middle Pillar around the aura at the sides and front and back, terminating with a fountain raised through the Middle Pillar. This circulation is partly also reminecent of a technique found in the Z – 1 called “the formula of the Four Revolutions of the Breath”.
Now how this ritual or exercise of the Middle Pillar is performed today by Golden Dawn students and initiates clearly makes it into a true internal alchemical formula, quite reminecent of those performed by the tantrikas of the Nath Siddha or Rasa Siddha orders of India. And it is my opinion that it should be recognized as such, even though it is based upon the Holy Qabalah and by almost all, including Regardie, is considered to be a magical or Theurgical exercise. The effect it produces upon the energetic body or aura (in the “Ritual Z” referred to as “the sphere of sensation”), the energetic manipulation it creates, is truly a alchemical transmutation of the saturnine body. This also includes the awakening or raising of the Serpent Power, the Kundalini of the yogis, one of the Secret Fires of Internal Alchemy. With this consideration in mind I must conclude that it probably is the most important Alchemical formula existant today in the Golden Dawn community. While in the Stella Matutina it was taught at the level of the Portal of the Vault of the Adepti, i.e. in between the Outer and Inner Orders, it is today taught in the Outer Order in most G∴D∴ style Orders. I teach it already to Neophytes, as I in turn was taught by my Order.

But beyond the Middle Pillar Ritual, the Flying Roll No. VII and Z – 2 there is nothing else in the old Golden Dawn documentation which goes beyond the speculative view upon Alchemy, which is quite common today and usually being referred to as “spiritual alchemy” but unfortunately also to often as “inner alchemy”, creating a confusion of what Inner or Internal Alchemy actually is all about. This is the view that regards magic and initiation as “Alchemy”, and refers to everything occult as “The Great Work”.

In my opinion this almost amounts to nothing when it comes to advanced practical application of Alchemy, as the Z – 2 Alchemical formula probably is the least used of the Formulae of the Magic of Light throughout the history of the R.R. et A.C. and the Middle Pillar Ritual constitutes but a basic exercise. And also there is no Alchemical processes present in the original Golden Dawn documentation that involves the Great Work proper, i.e. as defined by Alchemical Masters of old as opposed to Golden Dawn magicians.

This lack of understanding of Alchemy in the original inauguration of the Golden Dawn is strange considering that the two main currents which were behind it, the German Order Gold und Rosenkretuz and the English Societas Rosae Crucis, were both Rosicrucian organizations with a heavy lean towards operative Alchemy. Remember that Fredrick Hockley, one of the close associates of Kenneth MacKenzie and probably the source from which W.W. Westcott got hold of the Cypher Manuscripts of the Golden Dawn, were a pupil of the teachings of Sigismund Bacstrom, the founder of the Societas Rosae Crucis.

Furthermore, according to most historians on the Golden Dawn the only person seriously involved with Alchemy was the Rev. W.A. Ayton. There is nothing in published sources that hints to any profound erudition or understanding of the actual rationale of Alchemy in either of the founders of the Golden Dawn, W.W. Westcott and S.L. MacGregor Mathers. It have been proposed however that MacGregor Mathers later through his continental Rosicrucian sources, i.e. the Third Order, received some basic instruction on Inner Alchemy which may account for the rather vague references to the Sexual teachings of the Rosicrucian Order of Alpha et Omega.

So, unfortunately I have to conclude that we won’t find anything of value in the original teachings of the Golden Dawn that may shed some light upon the Alchemical Great Work. And sad as I am to say, this tradition of a magical or spiritual understanding of Alchemy has been perpetuated through the modern disseminators of the Golden Dawn tradition yet to this day, leaders and authors alike. One such example is Israel Regardie and his book The Philosophers Stone, which basically uses a Jungian interpretation of Alchemy.

Other more recent suggestion has been the effort to attribute the 22 Keys of the Tarot to Alchemical processes corresponding to the Mother (3), Single (7) and Double Letters (12), or even the notion that the 22 plates of the Splendor Solis somehow corresponds to the Major Arcana through this letter association. In fact it was Ithell Colquhoun who first suggested this association in her book The Sword of Wisdom, and that MacGregor Mather supposedly had written such a document associating the Major Arcana of the Tarot with the Splendor Solis. But to date no such document has surfaced for scholarly study.

Many also attribute the initiatory process to the Spagyrical principle of solve et coagula, and to the stages of the Alchemical process of the three (or four) colours of blackening, whitening, (yellowing) and reddening – nigredo, albedo, (citrinitas) and rubedo – and also to that of the Philosopher’s Stone actually being the metaphor for the realization of the True Self within man, the divine spark within.

Now, there is nothing wrong per se with a purely spiritual and psychological interpretation of Alchemy to understand the processes of the human soul and mind. In my opinion there even is certain validity or merit to this level of application of Alchemical symbolism, especially to the initiatory process of the Golden Dawn. Alchemical symbolism is archetypal, and in this instance Jung actually was right. It can be used to describe all manners or level of existence, not mere the material. This is also hinted at in the Cypher Mss. and the Fourth Knowledge Lecture (pertaining to the 3°=8° Grade) when it is stated that Alchemical language may be religious or philosophic or natural (of the Sun), meaning that it may explain spiritual, psychological (psychology being a discipline of philosophy) and material processes alike.

The one also bleeds over into the other, a fact which also is clearly expressed in the above-mentioned Z – 2 manuscript. This means that the prerequisite for material success of the Great Work in the laboratory is a corresponding spiritual maturity within the Alchemist him- or herself. In the hermetic teachings of the former Golden Dawn Adept Paul Foster Case we will also find a very interesting blend of spiritual and material Alchemy, in that he describes the Great Work as involving changes in the physical body of the initiate, for example in the composition of blood and to the extent of creating outgrowths in the brain (however not malignant!)

But the dangers in Jungian psychological and spiritual or mystical alchemy, so popular in today’s Golden Dawn community, is that it may suffer a reduction to Alchemy, nurture a attitude that there is nothing more to Alchemy than being a analogy to spiritual and psychological processes, if it becomes one sided. And there is definitely more to Alchemy than “Theurgy being the Great Work”, etc. So basically Jung is wrong when he reduces the Royal Art to the projection of the archetypes of the Alchemists. This shows that he was no true initiate of hermeticism.

So, in my opinion, the Golden Dawn tradition is sadly lacking in its fundamental understanding of Alchemy. And in this instance students of the hermetics have to turn their attention elsewhere if they desire to learn about true Alchemy. But it is also my firm belief that even the Golden Dawn student should be offered the opportunity to learn actual Alchemical processes, without entering into other and more Alchemy oriented organizations in their search of the Philosopher’s Stone. It is also my firm belief that the teachings of the Golden Dawn should become more Alchemical in nature as the initiate proceeds upon his or her path.

But as one cannot develop something out of nothing, the Golden Dawn tradition needs its nourishment from an outside tradition to complement its arsenal of teachings. However in our search we should retain or restrain our focus upon the Rosicrucian current, of which the Golden Dawn always has been a part, and from which context it emerged. As the Golden Dawn tradition has its distinctive historical end esoteric roots there we must also search for more information in the same line as the original founders, but dig more deeply into the soil of Rosicrucian hermeticism than our forefathers were able to.

I have already mentioned two important sources predating the Golden Dawn in the Gold und Rosenkreutz and Soceitas Rosae Crucis. Whereas the German Order presented lots of different processes and used a plethora of Matters or Subjects, and both the External and Internal Ways, the English Soceitas mainly focused upon one particular process and on the subject matter of Antimony, in the tradition of Nicholas Flamel and Eirenaeus Philalethes. But another important historical source is also Egyptian Freemasonry, especially its highest mysteries comprising the Arcana Arcanorum of Internal Alchemy.

But we may also find good sources in the contemporary works of Frater Albertus and his now defunct organization the Paracelus Research Society, and in the author Manfred M. Junius, as well as in the works of Jean Dubuis and especially in his correspondence courses on Spagyrics and Mineral Alchemy which he wrote for Le Philosophes du Nature (or Philosophers of Nature). Albertus’ and Dubuis’ materials blends particularly well with our tradition as they both have their foundation in the Golden Dawn Qabalah, especially Jean Dubuis who were a student of the Golden Dawn before he created Le Philosophes du Nature.

But there is also a direct reference to the Golden Dawn with Frater Albertus. Many years after he wrote his book The Philosopher’s Stone Israel Regardie met Frater Albertus and took some instruction from him. As a result of this he abandoned his former spiritual and Jungian outlook upon Alchemy and fully embraced the material form, which he apparently practiced until the end of his life span. Unfortunately he suffered a accident while working upon a Alchemical process and inhaled poisonous fumes, which lead to him acquiring asthma. When Regardie died he testamented all his magical regalia and paraphenalia to his only beloved pupil, while he gave away his Alchemical laboratory to someone else, as he feared injury if she took upon her the path of Alchemy.

Finally we have also the important works of Roger Caro and the particular Alchemical Way of the mineral Cinnabar, with its roots in the Eastern Masters and as transmitted to Caro from Kamala Jnana. This comprises the teachings of the Frères Aînés de la Rose Croix (or Elder Brethren of the Rosy Cross), commonly abbreviated to F.A.R+C. Regardless of the quite brief and late existence of the F.A.R+C, at least in the form as presented by Roger Caro, there is great value in this particular path of Alchemy as it uses a more noble and evocative process compared to most other Alchemical traditions.

Now, regarding the integration of Alchemy with the Rosicrucian structure of initiation, according to the Golden Dawn tradition, we mustn’t stare ourselves blindly upon how our elder brethren did things several centuries ago. For example in the Gold und Rosenkreutz Orden advanced alchemy were taught already from the Grade of Practicus. Only after the production of the Philosopher’s stone the Rosicrucian initiate were taught the Magical arts of Theurgy at the very last stage of his initiatory process, i.e. as a Magus. In the Golden Dawn the initiates were, on the other hand, taught Theurgy relatively early, already as Adepti Minori when it came to advanced formulae. But even Neophytes of the Golden Dawn were taught the basic Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram.

As the particular Alchemical perspective of the Golden Dawn always involves a combination of Theurgical techniques, or at least should be, it follows naturally that Theurgy should be taught and practiced alongside with the instruction on Alchemy. I hold that the initiate of the Golden Dawn even should master certain basic magical formulae of invocation of Elements, Planets and Zodiac, prior to him or her venturing upon an advanced Alchemical process, such as the production of a Plant Elixir, as these magical formulae are crucial for the success of Golden Dawn style Alchemy. Therefore I suggest that initiates of the Golden Dawn should begin with the invocation of the basic Elements, Planets and Zodiacal Signs already as Outer Order members from the very first Elemental Grade and onwards.

When it comes to the purely Alchemical work I suggest the following arrangement: For the senior Grades of the Outer order some very basic and introductory alchemical processes which doesn’t require any lab experience nor advanced equipment, such as Alchemical workings with water and the production of spagyrical (vegetable) tinctures using simplified processes and substances.

For the sub-grades of the Adeptus Minor the Golden Dawn style Order should introduce advanced processes of Plant Achemy and Spagery, or Paracelsian medicine, i.e. the Lesser Circulation or Lesser Work, such as the production of the vegetable Alkahest, of tinctures and elixirs, of the Circulatum Minus of Urbigerus, and finally the production of the vegetable stone and the vegetable Aurum Potabile.

For the sub-grades of the Adeptus Major the Mineral Workings according to the Dry and Amalgams Paths of the Black Dragon should be ventured upon, i.e. the Greater Circulation or the Great Work according to Nicholas Flamel, Eirenaeus Philalethes, Basil Valentine, Sigismund Bacstrom and Fulcanelli; the production of the Red Powder or Philospoher’s Stone.

For the sub-grades of the Adeptus Exemptus the Mineral Work according to the Wet or Humid Way of the Red Dragon should be taught, in other words the Greater Circulation or Great Work according to Kamala Jnana and Roger Caro, and the production of the mineral Aurum Potabile, the White Power and the Red Powder, or Philosopher’s Stone.

When it comes to the final and exalted part of the Tree of Life, the Supernals and the Grades of Magister Templi, Magus and Ipsissimus, also referred to as the Magisteria, as well as the preliminary stage of the Babe of the Abyss, we must finally leave the purely external processes and turn our attention towards Internal Alchemy, it constituting the highest arc of the Great Work. Here we must search for our sources on the European continent and amongst the highest arcanas of the hermetic tradition, the Arcana Arcanorum being but one such example, remembering that Inner Alchemy also were practiced amongst the German brethren of the Gold und Rosenkreutz as well as the Masters of the Third Order, which gave MacGregor Mathers all the information necessary to create the Second Order of the Golden Dawn, or the Ordo Rosae Rubeae et Aureae Crucis (R.R. et A.C.).

So, in fact when it comes to the actual essence and source of origin of the Golden Dawn, it has everything to do with Hermetic Alchemy! Besides, all true initiation and spiritual practice should result in the energetic evolution of the body of the initiate. In this both Magic and Alchemy serves its purpose. Combine these two hermetic disciplines together, with the aid of Astrology, and you will create a very potent formula of evolution of body and of soul. This, in my opinion, should be the project of today’s Golden Dawn.