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

söndag 4 april 2010

Initiation and the Four Worlds of the Qabalah


There has been an interesting discussion between Adepts over at the Rosicrucian Garden regarding the initiatory structure and nature of the First and Second Orders, or the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn (GD) and Ordo Rosæ Rubeæ et Aureæ Crucis, in which yours truly has partaken. What follows is an edited version of my contribution to this discussion. However, an understanding of this essay requires a basic knowledge of the Hermetic Qabalah and the initiatory system of the Golden Dawn, equivalent of a Neophyte Adeptus Minor of the 5°=6°.

First off, in my book initiation through a Grade system, such as the Golden Dawn, may only occur in Assiah, the plane of humanity, at least if we limit ourselves to a pure Golden Dawn style initiation. I believe both the Ritual “Z” and Ritual “U” points to this direction. I have written at length regarding the initiatic system of the Golden Dawn before on this blog, although I have modified some of my conclusions there as will be seen below.

The Grades of the Golden Dawn
as attributed to the 10 Sephiroth

Some consider the Outer Order to be associated with Assiah, while the Second Order is believed to be at the level of Yetzriah. Proving this model they use the often-quoted passage found in Israel Regardie’s books, referring to “the Four Grades of the First Order, which in one sense, quitteth not Malkuth, being the Grades of the Four Lowest Sephiroth of Malkuth in Assiah.” This quote is taken from the Ritual of the Portal of the Vault of the Adepti as presented by Regardie.

But it soon becomes obvious that this is a later development made by the Stella Matutina (SM), and the major reason for the SM to revise their Portal Ritual in the first place. Looking at the version of the Portal Ritual of the Rosicrucian Order of the Alpha et Omega, or the AO∴ of S.L. MacGregor Mathers (which follows that of the original GD), you won’t find any references to “Outer Order not quitting Malkuth” and therefore being a “First Degree”, Portal being Yesod and a “Second Degree” and Adeptus Minor (as Tiphareth) being a “Third Degree”. This arrangement was made to better align the original GD structure of Grades to that of Rudolf Steiner’s “Misraim Service”. I of course don’t agree with this development and consider it as foreign to the original intent of the GD. For a more in depth analysis in this matter, may I please refer the reader to my essay on Ruldolf Steiner.

So in my book the “Elemental Grades” are assigned to the Sephiroth Netzach to Malkuth inclusive, on the Three of Life in Assiah, the “Portal Grade” being attributed to the Veil of Paroketh and the Path of Samekh. Also, I don’t agree with the notion that the “Elemental Grades” are purely Elemental by nature, as they also are of a Sephirotic and Planetary nature. The full glory of the Planets are of course awakened in the Adeptus Minor Grade, but these forces are clearly also at work in the Outer Order. But I do agree that the main focus is upon the Four Elements. What I don’t agree with is that the Elemental Grades are but the sub-elements of Earth. They are not, as sub-elements doesn’t come into the work of the initiate until one reaches the Adeptus Minor Grade.

But one could of course problematize this statement from the Stella Matutina Portal Ritual, as it is somewhat ambiguous. If one looks upon the 1 x Tree of Life Model, where Malkuth corresponds to Assiah, I actually agree with it. But then again I also agree that no Grade of the Golden Dawn system of initiation, not even Ipsissimus, “quitteth Malkuth” in this respect. But if we look upon the 4 x Tree of Life Model where Assiah constitutes one entire Tree (and what Felkin-Meakin probably were referring to), I emphatically disagree with this statement.

As I already have stated, the entire “Elemental Grades not quitting Malkuth” idea stems from the fact that Robert Felkin and Neville Meakin needed to transform or translate the GD initiatory system into the Freemasonic Three Degrees model (Apprentice to Master Mason), to fit it with Steiner’s system of 10 Degrees in his reformed Misraim Rite. I.e. Zelator to Philosopus being the “First Degree”, Portal the “Second” and Adeptus Minor the “Third Degree”, and thus Adeptus Major the “Fourth”, Exemptus the “Fifth”, and so forth.

The Degrees of the Misraim Service
as attributed to the Tree of Life

If one accepts the Elemental Grades being only Malkuth, one must also accept the Portal being Yesod. I don’t agree with either designation. The Portal isn’t associated with any particular Sephirah. It is properly speaking associated with the 5 Paths (that is the original name designated this ceremony) associated with Paroketh, and in particular the Path of Samekh, the archer rendering the Veil asunder. Thus the Ceremony of the 5 Paths more represent a dynamic force compared to the static Sephirothic Elemental Grades.

But one could choose to focus on the part of the quoted sentence ”...in a sense...quitted not, etc.” One could then of course see this as referring to the One Tree Model of the Universe. But with this the Portal and Adeptus Minor would find itself in Yetzirah. I disagree with this proposition, as I believe that all initiation (regardless of model, system or rite) only may occur in Assiah (the world of action and of differentiation) and thus in the 10 Sephirothic Grades corresponding to the Tree of Life in Assiah.

But if we look upon the 4 x Tree of Life model, corresponding to the four Qabalistic worlds, do we really need “initiation” at the level of Yetzirah at all? On the level of Assiah, yes of course, but of Yetzirah? I mean, Qabalistically speaking (primarily looking from the angle of Isaac Luria and the prophet Nathan of Gaza, and that of the Golden Dawn) the world of Assiah is intimately related to the Qlippoth. It is in a fallen state, only the Supernals of Assiah (i.e. Neshemah) being protected from the Red Dragon with 8 heads by the aid of the Flaming Sword.

The Red Dragon upon the Tree of Life in Assiah

In my book hermetic initiation concerns the “alchemy” of separating the fine from the gross, i.e. the divine sparks from the shells. If we speak of the prime world of Yetzirah, the world of the Angels (and of our Holy Guardian Angel), access to this exalted plane is hindered only because of the imbalances and impurities within our Assiatic bodies, i.e. the Guph, Nephesh, and Ruah (physical, etheric, and astral). Thus initiation is all about equilibration and aligning of our physical and subtle bodies, at the level of Assiah.

But again I must emphasise that it is hard to neglect the fact that this entire concept and quoted sentence actually occurred in a revised version of the Portal Grade Ceremony after Neville Meakin had met Rudolf Steiner in Germany and Robert Felkin accepting the latter as the true “Secret Chief”. Thus do I see it as a different (if not foreign) model forced upon the GD structure. Thus do I reject the proposition that the Adeptus Minor Grade is corresponding to the Master Mason Degree, however “esoteric” form it may have taken in Steiner’s mind. I am convinced that the Blue Lodge system of Freemasonry (also referred to as “Craft Degrees”) is the equivalent of the Neophyte Grade of the GD. For a somewhat deeper analysis on this relationship between Grades and Degrees, may I refer the reader to my essay on the Golden Dawn and Freemasonry.

So these later Qabalistic interpretations of this Felkin-Meakin invention, construed in the minds of modern Adepts, looks to me more as being rationalizations to Golden Dawn-ize this forced upon model. I also believe that we all have a hard time of letting go of this concept because of it being the only version of the Portal Grade that have been known to us for so many years.

Arrangement of the Temple in the Neophyte Grade

But then there is of course the reference in the Ritual Z-1 (from which the image above is taken):
The Temple, as arranged in the Neophyte Grade of the Order of the Golden Dawn in the Outer, is placed looking towards the YH of YHVH in Malkuth in Assiah. [...] Like the other Sephiroth, Malkuth hath also its subsidiary Sephiroth and Paths. Of these Ten Sephiroth, the Temple as arranged in the Neophyte Grade, includeth only the four lower Sephiroth in the Tree of Life, viz: Malkuth, Yesod, Hod, and Netzach, and the Outer side of Paroketh, the Veil.
One may perhaps see this as a confirmation of the Felkin-Meakin deviation. But notice that is says “as arranged in the Neophyte Grade”. Now in the original GD (and later AO) version of the Portal Ceremony the diagram of the Paths and Grades are shown, contrary to the later SM version. Here it is said:
You will further note that the First Order includes: Malkuth, answering to Neophyte and Zelator, and the element of earth. Yesod to Theoricus and air. Hod to Practicus and water. And Netzach to Philosophus and fire.
Note that it actually does say: “Malkuth, answering to Neophyte and Zelator”.

Paths and Grades

So it’s easy to see why the Neophyte Hall only concerns the Malkuth of Assiah as it clearly is linked to the Grade of Zelator (and of Earth) where the initiate yet again meets this Sephira anew, but now in its entire (including the 6 subsequent Sephiroth beyond the Veil). Seen in this light it is understandably why this reference was removed from the SM version of the Portal Ritual, as Felkin and Meakin gave a totally new interpretation of the Elemental Grades as instead representing each Sephirah present before the Veil in the Hall of Neophytes. This latter concept is a deviation.

Furthermore, the Portal Ceremony and 5°=6° should be regarded as two parts of a greater advancement ceremony into the Inner Order, the Portal Ceremony being the equivalent of the “Path Ceremonies” of the Elemental Grades of the Outer Order.

In the AO (and GD) version the Portal Ceremony is clearly a part of the Second Order, the culmination of the Elemental Grades into a synthesis only hinted at. But in the SM a first part were added (i.e. the ceremony became splintered into two) where more emphasis were laid on the union of the Four Elements and culmination of the Outer Order, while the second part concerned the actual entering into the Second Order or rendering of the Veil. So in the SM the Portal is a “Grade” standing somewhere in the middle between the First and Second Orders, being neither or both. This is even more emphasised with the use of the “Three Degrees” model, attributing the Portal Grade to Yesod, in between Tiphareth (Second Order) and Malkuth (First Order).

This “in the middle position” between the First and Second Orders is also hinted at in the GD and AO, as the advancement ritual introduces the initiate into the Second Order while at the same time retaining the Grade title of Philosophus for the initiate. Thus the Portal cannot be regarded as being a Grade in its own right in its original intent, but more properly being a “Senior Philosophus” level. This is contrary to the SM where the Portal is given its own degree status, referred to as the “Second Degree”.

My personal position in this respect is somewhere in between the GD/AO and SM interpretations. I regard the Portal Ritual as raising the Philosophus into a Senior Philosophus level, completing the Outer Order process with the balancing out of the Four Elements with the introduction of the Fifth, and making him or her formally a Second Order member; both versions of the Ritual grants the Philosophus the right of being a Hierophant of the Temple, a Office properly belonging to a Second Order member. Thus I do regard it as a preliminary “path” ceremony of the advancement into Adeptus Minor, attributed to the Path of Ayin, Samekh, and Nun. But I also regard it as the ceremony which facilitates the union or synthesis of the Four Outer Order Elements activated in the Sphere of Sensation of the initiate. As I said, this is already hinted at in the original GD and AO version.

But this emphasis on the Four Elements by the Fifth, or Tablet of Union, also attributes it to the Adeptus Minor formula, in my opinion, Tiphareth being attributed to the Fifth Element. Furthermore the consecration ceremony of the Vault of the Adepti also concerns the invocation of the Four Elements by the guiding Fifth Element, the Tablet of Union having a prominent place upon the Door of the Vault. So in this respect even the invocation of the Elements echoes the Adeptus Minor Grade, even though the Philosophus rehearses his or her Elemental process in the Outer Order.

The Door of the Vault of the Adepti

But I must admit that I like the emphasis on the Outer Order Grades in the SM Ritual. This means that I don’t discard or disregard the SM (Felkin-Meakin) version of the Portal Ceremony in its entire. There are some good innovations, some really good even. Besides the already mentioned rehearsal of the Outer Order Elemental Grades in the initial part of the admission, we also have the use of a curtain and the Rending of the Veil, as well as the alchemical emphasis on the Officers, etc. Some of the diagrams introduced by Meakin and Felkin also have their value. What I am opposing is the Three Degrees Model inherent in this version.

I believe it is more constructive to use a composite Tree of Life model in Assiah, i.e. Malkuth representing Assiah of Assiah, Chesed to Yesod being Yetzirah of Assiah, etc., involving the different souls of the Qabalah. But as this may be confusing when we talk about man I personally prefer to use only the names and designations of the Qabalistic Souls when it comes to attributing the Three Orders of the Golden Dawn and discussion regarding the microcosm of Assiah. As the Souls in my book also correspond with the “sub-worlds” I have been referring to, this may be somewhat of a uniting principle between the seeming paradox of initiation taking place in Assiah as well as representing an ascent along the Planes and Worlds.

Thus, in the Outer Order the Grade of Zelator (Malkuth) mainly concerns (a) the physical body, or the “Guph”, of the initiate, while the Grade of Theoricus (Yesod) reaches (b) the etheric body, or the “Nephesh”, while the Grades of Practicus (Hod) and Philosophus (Netzach), as well as Lord or Lady of the Portals or Senior Philosophus (Paroketh), concerns (c) the lower astral, or the lower “Ruach”. The Adepti Grades of the Second Order concerns (d) the higher aspect of the astral body, or the higher “Ruach”; Adeptus Minor to Tiphareth, Adeptus Major to Geburah and Adeptus Exemptus to Chesed. This makes the Third Order concerned with the exalted levels of the mental and causal planes of the microcosm, as represented by the Supernals, or the “Neshamah”. Here (e) the “Neshemah” proper (Binah) and “Chiah” (Chokmah) represents the Briatic or mental body, at the level of Magister Templi and Magus respectively, while (f) the “Yechidah” (Kether) involves the Atziluthic level of Assiah or causal body, the end result of Inner Alchemy being that of Divine or Cosmic Consciousness at the level of Ipsissimus.

So what I am advocating is a 4 x 4 model, i.e. to divide each of the Four Qabalistic Worlds into four sub-worlds each, making a total of 16 levels. What we commonly refer to as ”physical”, “etheric”, “astral”, “mental” and “causal” are parts of the lowest primary worlds, i.e. Assiah, and may be attributed to the four sub-worlds (“ether” composing the lowest aspect of Yetzirah of Assiah). I believe the Ritual “U” (Microcosm) points into this direction, as it clearly assigns the Qabalistic Souls to Assiah, the Souls of Qabalah being the microcosmic equivalent of the macrocosmic sub-worlds.

So for all practical purposes I’m trying to limit the amount of the total Sephiroth to 40. However, it has been suggested to me that each sub-grade of the Adepti-grades should be assigned to individual Sephiroth. Although I don’t see any real practical worth in this kind of arrangement, from a purely theoretical consideration I do agree that one could see the Zelator Adeptus Minor Grade (Z.A.M.) as being “Malkuth of Tipharet”, etc.

Here it is wise to ask oneself the question why MacGregor Mathers created the sub-grades of the Adeptus Minor Grade in the first place. My answer to this is that I believe he did this so that the Adept him- or herself could thoroughly investigate the Elements (and Elemental Grades) he or she had been introduced to while in the Outer Order. The cycle of initiations as represented by the Outer Order is consummated in the Neophyte Adeptus Minor (N.A.M.) and restarted yet again at the level of Zelator Adeptus Minor (Z.A.M.), to make a further in depth personal study without the aid of the Hierophant.

It’s like with the philosophy of alchemy. You perform the operation again and again, and yet again and...., etc., until you have successfully purified the matter. Thus I believe this process likewise is yet again repeated on the level of Adeptus Major, which thus also should have its set of subsidiary Grades, and yet again repeated on the level of Adeptus Exemptus. But each cycle of operations takes the initiate into a yet higher arc or purer form of sublimation, like in a spiral movement, until the Adept traverses the Abyss.

Thus in my opinion initiation (regardless of level or Order) primarily works upon the Elemental nature of man (Assiah), the Materia Prima. Though the Planetary and Zodiacal nature is also involved by the nature of correspondence to the Elements.

We already know that Mathers made the Adeptus Minor study the Neophyte Grade at the level of Zelator Adeptus Minor (Z.A.M.), the Zelator Grade at the level of Theoricus Adeptus Minor (Th.A.M.), and the Theoricus at Practicus Adeptus Minor (P.A.M.). Why he didn’t synch the study of the Outer Order Grades with the corresponding sub-grades of Adeptus Minor I cannot surmise. Still he did have the Adept study the Elemental Grades in detail through the sub-grades. Personally I believe that the Elemental Grades should be rearranged to be studied in synch with the corresponding sub-grades, i.e. Neophyte at the level of N.A.M., Zelator at the level of Z.A.M., Theoricus at Th.A.M., etc.

Finally, there is also the composite (or extended) Tree scheme to consider, such as described in Z’ev ben Shimon Halevi’s Kabbalah: Tradition of hidden knowledge, also referred to as ”The Jacob’s Ladder” of the Spanish Toledano School, where Tiphareth of Assiah interlocks with Malkuth of Yetzirah, and the Tiphareth of Yetzirah interlocks with Malkuth of Briah, etc. In this model the Kether of Assiah interlocks with the Tiphareth of Yetzirah and Malkuth of Briah (see diagram at far right).

I must concede that this is a very neat system. And looking at it I can see how it opens up to interesting interpretations. But does this have any longer history in the Hermetic Qabalah of the Golden Dawn? If we limit ourselves to a strict Golden Dawn paradigm we will find that it explains a system which goes against this “Jacobs Ladder” system, as documents such as the Ritual “P” clearly demonstrates, i.e. that Malkuth of Yetzirah transforms (through a time glass cone model) into the Kether of Assiah, etc. This may be due to the fact that the Qabalah of the Golden Dawn has its firm roots in the Eastern European School, in particular with the Polish Sabbatian School of Jacob Frank.


3 kommentarer:

Frater YShY sa...

Interesting, I love the 4 tree theory, something I have been kicking around myself. I think it explains the 5 = 6 sub-grades, which sit at Vav of YHVH, i.e. Yetzirah.

As far as sub-elements of Malkuth goes, you mentioned the AO doesn't have them, which sounds like a good hunch. I am curious. What are the sources you used to confirm the sub-elements and degree phrase was not in the original GD rituals, as well as the source that Meakin and Felkin changed the Portal Ritual?


Sincerus Renatus... sa...

Care et V.H. Fra. YShY,

I have read a original document from the 1920's coming from Mathers own Ahatoor Temple. Realible sources tells me that there are no changes between the original G.D. and A.O. version.

I remember looking at the A.O. Ritual for the first time 10 years ago now, and I was stunned how much shorter it was compared to the one in Regardie's books. My first tought was that the A.O. had shortened it, but it was soon pointed out to me in my Order that the A.O. version simply continued the one that was in use since the original G.D. days.

As a matter of fact Mathers changed very little between the G.D. and A.O., except parts of the Neophyte Ceremony, and some expansions and commentaries added to the original curriculum.

If you compare with the description of the Portal Ritual as described by Aleister Crowley in the "White Equinox" (http://hermetic.com/crowley/equinox/equinox-Iii.pdf) you will see that it confirms the A.O. version 100%. You won't find any references to "Outer Order not quitting Malkuth" there.

The description of the Outer Order as being part of the sub-elements of Malkuth (the quote in question) is extracted from a description of a diagram which isn't part of the original G.D./A.O. version. This diagram (of Malkuth) was inserted in the 1910's by the S.M.

There is a common consensus (amongst Adepts connected to the Whare Ra tradition) that Felkin and Meakin (and especially the latter) was the originators of the S.M. version of the Portal. Felkin was the Chief of the S.M. and Meakin was the primary "liason officer" under Rudolf Steiner's supervision. May I please refer you to my essay:


You also said that "the 4 tree theory....explains the 5 = 6 sub-grades, which sit at Vav of YHVH, i.e. Yetzirah."

Do you really believe so? Howcome? I cannot see this myself. The 5=6 is associated with Tiphareth of Assiah. Though I agree that each Sephirah (and Grade ) in turn may be divided into its own Tree (i.e. making a total of 400 Sephiroth), and that sub-elements may be attributed to the lowest 5. But that is a intellectual mind game which has no practical value. It's better to regard the sub-grades simply as Elemental instead, from a practical perspective (which of course may be attributed to the "Elemental Sephiroth").

In Licht, Leben und Liebe

Frater YShY sa...

Thanks, interesting perspective.