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

fredag 28 maj 2010

What is the real purpose of the R.R. et A.C.?


Readers of this blog should be aware by now of my position regarding the projected future of the Golden Dawn, which in my opinion should have an alchemical theme to balance the prevalent magical contents of its first and second Orders. To be able to do this I propose the use of already existent and traditional formulae of alchemy outside of the standard G∴D∴ box. I refer any new reader to my essay Alchemy and the Golden Dawn for more information.

Now, an issue has been raised lately against the use of “foreign” traditions into the Golden Dawn. Instead of this these who oppose a blending of older Hermetic and Rosicrucian traditions with that of the Golden Dawn assume that the Inner Order of the Golden Dawn or the Ordo Rosae Rubeae et Aureae Crucis (R.R. et A.C.), and its Grades of Adepti, is supposed to primarily be an in depth analysis and extrapolation of the Outer Order, its Rituals and diagrams, etc., as contained there.

Reading some adherents who oppose this inclusion of other Hermetic and Rosicrucian existing alchemical formulae I interpret them as laying to much emphasis upon a intellectual analysis of these subjects to compensate for the lack of magical formulae beyond the sub-grade of Theoricus Adeptus Minor, as presented in the original work of S.L. MacGregor Mathers and W.W. Westcott. Their form of “alchemy” amounts to nothing more than speculations (although interesting in their own right) regarding the Tarot Keys and its relation to alchemical processes and stages, etc.

However I want to make it clear that I do share the opinion that the Outer Order rituals have a great potential to be used in personal work, in the same venture as the Ritual ‘Z-2’ as drawn up by Mathers. Thus I have no problem at all with the notion that the Adeptus Minor should study the Outer Order in detail, and use these formulae of the Outer Order Grades for his or her personal development in Theurgy, in the same venue as with the Z document and the 0°=0°. On the contrary it is my opinion that the Outer Order Rituals should be analyzed in the sub-grades of the R.R. et A.C.

Those of you who have followed my blog for a longer time will also recognize that I have suggested the alignment of the sub-grades of the Adeptus Minor 5°=6° to the study of the Outer Order Grades, i.e. to study the Neophyte Ritual and its practical application as a Neophyte Adeptus Minor (N.A.M.), the Zelator Ritual and its application as a Zelator Adeptus Minor (Z.A.M.), likewise the Theoricus Ritual as a Theoricus Adeptus Minor (Th.A.M.), etc. Would I be hostile to this kind of study if I had suggested this arrangement? No, of course not.

But that being said, I ask if this is all that is to the R.R. et A.C.? Is it even the most important aspect of the work of the Adepti? Is it primarily supposed to be an intellectual and speculative mind game (i.e. anal-ysis of Outer Order Rituals and attached diagrams), or is it supposed to be an operative Order providing transformative formulae of Theurgy and Alchemy?

Thus what I’m against is the emphasis laid upon Outer Order analysis suggested by some modern developers. There is lot of important work to be done by the Adept which doesn’t involve the Outer Order at all, but introduces different and even more potent formulae of Magic and Alchemy. The Golden Dawn should be placed in a wider context, especially on the Inner Order level, which interlinks with other sub-traditions of the Hermetic and Rosicrucian current.

Thus I represent a current that sees a great benefit in the use of traditional techniques, which has been widely in use by different Orders older than that of the Golden Dawn. Why should it be regarded as “foreign”, just because it originally didn’t use the label “Golden Dawn”? Why create something new and potentially speculative where there is such a wealth of Hermetic tradition already existing in Europe, which has been used since many centuries? The problem doesn’t lie in that there is a lack of a Rosicrucian tradition (that needs to be invented and developed), but on the contrary, that there is so much already existing which has a very high potency, but that lies there unused and collecting dust.

18th Century Europe was ripe with esoteric formulae taught through lodges or circles, based upon Hermeticism, the Holy Qabalah, Rosicrucianism and Martinism. Lots of it went dormant in the early 19th Century but in its latter part some was revived and further developed, or resurfaced, such as through the Golden Dawn and the R.R. et A.C., and the traditions revolving around and evolving from Papus in France. Some was preserved through the rites of Misraim and the Rose-Croix d'Orient but in most cases vehicles became diluted or corrupted.

Although one must remember that the emphasis in the 18th Century were on Alchemy, both External and Internal. Today lots of documents are collecting dust in private collections, and in public, semi-public and freemasonic libraries. I my opinion modern research should focus upon that rich but “lost” tradition.

Thus I ask you: Why re-invent the wheel when it already has been invented and just waits to be re-discovered?

Some Organizations has the benefit of being guided by guardians who sits on the true Keys to this tradition. Most however don’t. But that doesn’t mean that there is nothing to do, and only try to compensate with new developments without any guidance but the foundation already laid out in the old and published material.

Now, I’m not at all against new developments, but I’m seriously concerned if that is what it all amounts to. Speculations regarding the possible relation between the 22 Tarot Trumps and the stages of alchemy, or the 22 plates of the Splendor Solis, is nice, at least to stimulate the intellect. But it won’t get you very far in applying actual alchemical formulae. But an even greater danger in all of this lies in the inevitable influences received from modern conceptions of science or worse, the “New Age” market.

Well, I myself like to be influenced by psychoanalysis in my interpretation of the Qabalistic and Theurgical tradition. But this doesn’t necessarily mean that I have lost the traditional perspective. It’s more that I see patterns of similarities and like to broaden the perspective. At least that is my ambition, and I hope that I don’t get lost to easily in the seductive constructs of the modern mind. Thus, new developments should complement, not compensate the lack of, tradition.

But I do understand where this suggestion of analysis of Outer Order Ritual comes from. It is true that S.L. MacGregor Mathers extrapolated the 1°=10° Grade Ceremony in the Theoricus Adeptus Minor sub-grade. Thus he introduced the Th.A.M. to study of the Fylfot Cross, the Table of Shewbread and the Seven Branched Candlestick, as well as the diagram of the Flaming Sword of the Kerubim.

So it is logical to continue with this in the development of the higher sub-grades. However, even in Mathers’ system that was not the only task expected of the Th.A.M., nor was it the most important as it seems. This may be easily inferred from a study of the ‘List of Studies appointed for the Grade of Practicus Adeptus Minor’ (as published by Ellic Howe in The Magicians of the Golden Dawn).

Out of a list of 15 points only 4 concerns the actual 1°=10° ritual. The other points concern completely different formulae of Theurgy which takes off from the Zelator Adeptus Minor study, such as the Ring and Disc, development of clairaudience, further Telesmatic work, an elaborate system of prayer with the use of Egyptian God-Forms, Geomancy, Enochian Chess, etc.

So for me it is obvious that there should be room left for completely different formulae of Magic and Alchemy not having anything to do with the Outer Order Rituals, and it is here (as it was in the original Z.A.M. and Th.A.M. curriculum) where the emphasis should be. And here it becomes quite problematic, as it definitely needs much more creative effort and knowledge of the ancient traditions on behalf of the Chiefs, to create challenging instructions. I suspect this is why there is such emphasis laid on the intellectual analysis of the Outer Order in some schools in the first place.

What I do have a problem with, in this instance, is the notion that the use of alchemical formulae and processes, originally used in other and older venues than that of the G∴D∴ has no place there. What these people miss is the fact that the highest formulae of alchemy is and has always been independent of any outer freemasonic style “Rites” or particular traditions such as the Golden Dawn.

All of the true outer vehicles of the Hermetic and Rosicrucian Tradition are but preparatory schools to prepare the initiate to this true Ageless Wisdom contained in what we call the “Third Order” in our Tradition, but other modern authors has referred to as “The Great White Brotherhood”, but we in the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn/Alpha et Omega nowadays simply refer to as the “Alchemical Masters”.

Thus the ancient form of Hermetic Alchemy is the core-source behind all other more modern and legitimate Rites in the Rosicrucian tradition, such as Egyptian Freemasonry (or the “Misraim Rite”). Its Arcana Arcanorum or “Secret of Secrets” of Internal Alchemy was never extrapolated from the actual Rite of Egyptian Freemasonry. It was the other way around; the True Keys to unravel the Alchemical Process was placed in this repository, around which was to be created the Rite of Egyptian Freemasonry as inspired by this “Secret of Secrets”.

The same must be said regarding the Golden Dawn tradition as presented in the Cypher Mss. Its knowledge of Hermetic Inner Alchemy never was nor could ever become extrapolated from the actual Outer Order. Thus it is the other way around; from Hermetic Alchemy was developed the Golden Dawn in the Outer and over all its symbolism is placed the True Keys to unravel the Alchemical Process.

The initiate is prepared subconsciously and energetically in the Outer Order and its hidden alchemical symbology, to receive the advanced alchemical teaching later in his studies. But the initiate needs the true Keys to see their actual meaning. On the other hand, his due preparation makes it easier for him to grasp the alchemical doctrine intuitively after reception of the Keys. But it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to fully understand the alchemical implications of the symbology of the G∴D∴ in the Outer, from the operative angle, without this missing Key.

This may also be said of external Alchemy. You normally won’t understand the actual process of Internal Alchemy just by mere performance of the outer processes. For this you need the Keys as given by an Alchemical Master. But on the other hand you will easily grasp the Internal Process after long work with the outer, when you eventually are given these Keys from the hand of the Master.

So, unfortunately, there is no other way than a dead end to be found if one tries to extrapolate advanced alchemical formulae from the Outer Order without the possession of the Keys to unlock Hermetic Alchemy, as the entire Golden Dawn tradition depends from it. Mathers obviously possessed some of these, as may be judged from the Th.A.M. material that he created to explain the diagram of the Flaming Sword of the Kerubim.

This is also a position often held in alchemical circles that it is only few practitioners of the Royal Art who, by the Grace of God, unravel the code as contained in the ancient texts, without the aid of an true initiate of Hermetic Alchemy. The same may be said regarding the creation of a curriculum of the R.R. et A.C. I truly hope, for the sake of the students if not the teachers, that the latter has received this Divine Grace in their work.

Another point. There is often in the Golden Dawn held the opinion that there exists a natural connection between effectiveness and complexity put into a formula. Thus the Golden Dawn often created very complex ceremonial containing several parts extrapolated from the Neophyte Ritual, as suggested in Ritual ‘Z-2’.

Now it is imperative that the Adept must prepare himself duly before starting with the powerful processes of Internal Alchemy. But there are more powerful (and simpler) processes to be learned while in the Inner Order compared to the suggested analysis and implementation of Outer Order Rituals.

However, one formula doesn’t contradict or make unnecessary the other. Personally I like the idea of using a ritual based upon the 1°=10° to make a Geomantic divination, or even alchemical operation. I just recently read John Michael Greer’s Circles of Power and I really like what he suggests with the Equinox formula (that’s a topic for another essay).

But in my experience, what really started to get my secret fire to awaken (got my juices going so to speak) wasn’t any 3 hour long ceremony performed every one or two weeks, but a much more simpler rite (taking approx. 15 minutes) performed daily for a prolonged period of time, involving the activation of my internal Planets, and another even simpler meditation. But of course, the major invocations may have contributed or rather did contribute to the whole picture of my magical process in a subtler and indirect way.

And now I wonder: Why cannot these kind of exercises be allowed to be integrated with the R.R. et A.C. curriculum, or be counted as valid from a G∴D∴ context? These simpler exercises are definitely valid from a purely hermetic and rosicrucian context. And here I was assuming that the G∴D∴ and R.R. et A.C. actually was a Hermetic and Rosicrucian organization… Well isn’t it?

The problem is that people treat the G∴D∴ as a totally separate and self-sufficient organism, separated from the rest of the Hermetic and Rosicrucian community or body. We shouldn’t forget where the G∴D∴ came from. I also am strongly convinced that these isolationist tendencies were completely foreign to the minds of the founders Westcott and MacGregor Mathers. What they did was to integrate several existing traditions into a new and coherent whole. This assimilating quality of the G∴D∴ tradition is one of its strengths and should be utilized even today to further develop the tradition.

What many readers of English occult literature are missing, simply because of the Tower of Babel, is the vast richness of the continental Hermetic and Rosicrucian traditions of Europe. Thus it’s not easy to look outside of the G∴D∴ box when so much information is still waiting to be translated into English. I myself, as a Swede, count myself to this unfortunate category, Sweden having turned its back towards the French culture during the 19th Century in its search for Anglo-Saxon influences.

During the “Gustavian era” (i.e. during the reign of the Swedish King Gustav III in the late 18th Century) Swedish intelligentsia and nobility was ripe with the Hermetic and Rosicrucian currents of Germany and France, during a phase where French was a second language to Swedish. Freemasonry was already imported from France and initially followed its Scottish system. Most women and men of the upper class were involved somehow in secret societies. We had active Lodges here of both the Gold- und Rosenkruetz Order, the Asiatic Brethren and E.L.U.D. During the patronage of the King Swedish Freemasonry was developing and took its peculiar esoteric form as it is renown for today. King Gustav III himself was a Freemason and his younger Rosicrucian brother, the Duke Carl (later King Carl XIII), reformed the Swedish Rite into a form it has retained until today. During this era Sweden was definitely on the map of European Rosicrucianism. But during the Victorian era all we had left here was Freemasonry.

Someone told me once that to learn about alchemy I had to learn to read French and German. I can think of yet another language. A quick google on French book titles or retail sellers of occult literature confirms this assumption to be right. English literature can only get you that far. To find the true Holy Grail of the Hermetic Tradition you have to search in different places outside of the Anglo-Saxon culture sphere.

Most European occultists know that the Hermetic tradition, as well as later Rosicrucian, is composed of the triad of disciplines, the Trivium Hermeticum of Magic (Theurgy), Alchemy and Astrology. Even if the Anglo-Saxon tradition went very far with the magical side of this tradition through the Golden Dawn, it lost track almost entirely when it approached alchemy – the ROYAL ART. In my opinion the alchemical tradition has been very much more alive on the European continent since the occult revival of the 19th century.

I believe that an “alchemical wedding” is needed today between the splendid G∴D∴ magical and qabalistic tradition, and its initiatory system, and that of continental Rosicrucian alchemy. Contrary to some, I do see a real benefit from this conjunction to create a living and traditional Rosicrucian tradition composed of the Trivium Hermeticum. Contrary to some, I don’t see this unification as foreign to the essence of the Golden Dawn.


torsdag 20 maj 2010

A testimonial from a solo practitioner of the Ritual Magic Manual


The other day, a year after the publication of my review of David Griffin’s The Ritual Magic Manual: A Complete Course in Practical Magic, I received a mail with a testimony of someone’s personal experience with the magical formulae revealed in that book. It is a fascinating tale that needs to be told, and I have also received the permission by the author to publish it here on my blog. For me it was a true inspiration to read as I hope it will be also for you, and thus I publish his letter almost in its entire:
I wont give you a long boring biography, but I wanted to say that I agree with your review 100%.

I spent almost 20 years studying all aspects of the occult from the armchair. At some point my teacher
...gave be a copy of ISIS UNVIELED by H. Blavatsky, and jokingly instructed me to read that and someday maybe we could have an educated conversation.......approx two years later, I went to visit my old teacher who had since moved away.

While I was visiting him we caught up on old times, and had an educated conversation...lol. When I was leaving he stopped me and asked me to hold up a minute....he disappeared into the back room for a few minutes....when he came out he was holding a book.........he looked at me sombrely and stated; “this has been authorized” and he proceeded to give me a brand new hardback of David Griffin’s
Ritual Magic Manual. To this day he will not talk about the gift or what he meant with his cryptic words.......

That was about 5 years ago. Again I wont give the entire biography, but in brief:

I started using the manual much like you described.....With the knowledge of the generations of research that went into this system, I just simply put full trust in my predecessors and like the path of the Moon, I followed the footsteps very carefully. I didn’t understand at all what I was saying or doing....I just went for it.

The elemental phase was gruelling as each element that I invoked, would put me through about a three week wringer....it was tough....but I learned more about the elements in each of those three week period than all 20 years combined.

Then finally the Greater ritual of the pentagram [Here I suppose the writer actually means the Supreme Ritual of the Pentagram –
S∴R∴]. Wow, after the ritual, I was intensely buzzed for about 6 hours.... I would go into fits of laughter every so often, it felt much like a psychedelic.

I’ve been working with Planetary forces for almost 4 years now, and I love it. I just started working with the subtle, cool, starlight of the astrological realms. The reason I decided to move on to the Zodiacal was instructed to me in Gnosis.

One day while after invoking Venus and Jupiter (as they were in the sky above me), Lady Venus swept me up in her arms and introduced me to Jupiter, he laughed and said that he knew me well. I was between them, wrapped in love as they delivered me to The Emperor. He was much nicer than the image on Crowley’s Thoth deck. He told me it was time to start on my astrological theurgy.

So there you have a transformation story of a solitary practitioner. David Griffin’s
Ritual Magic Manual has transformed me totally.

When I started I was in my 30s and overweight, starting down the other side. Now I am almost 44, and in the best shape in my life. Health wise, Mental, Emotional, and even intellectually transformed. I actually feel and look younger than 5 years ago. Some people tell me they want to be ready before they do ritual.... I laugh to myself because I now know the secret....you really don’t start to understand the ineffable mystery until you actually start ritual.
He ends his letter by saying that he nowadays is confident enough to regularly write articles for the front page of Realms of Magick on the subjects of Tarot and Magickal Forecast.

In my opinion if
The Ritual Magic Manual has made such a dramatic transformation in one of its readers it already has served its purpose. But I bet there are numerous silent practitioners out there all over the world, both solo and in Temple, both outside and inside the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn/Alpha et Omega, that has had beneficial results from the ritual instructions in that book. There clearly is a reason for why this book is so sought after today, judging from the amount of money people are prepared to invest upon a second hand copy; there simply are no other instructional manual on Rosicrucian Theurgy out there of this magnitude. I believe that in the decades to come it will be remembered as a true companion to Israel Regardie’s The Golden Dawn.


tisdag 18 maj 2010

Hovalkemisten August Nordenskiöld


En mycket intressant personlighet som ofta dyker upp när man studerar den svenska ”Gustavianska mystiken” är August Nordenskiöld, den finske alkemisten. Nordenskiöld har skaffat sig en fotnot i historien såsom självaste konungens personlige hovalkemist. En annan intressant aspekt hos denne fascinerande karaktär är att han också hade tämligen radikala och revolutionerande idéer om att omstörta samhället och dess penningsystem, genom att göra guldet ”värdelöst”. Detta hade Nordenskiöld tänkt sig skulle ske som ett resultat av finnandet av de Vises Sten – som ju sägs kunna transmutera oädla metaller till guld – och så att säga skapa en dramatisk kvantitativ ökning av guldtillgången.

Intresset för den ”Konungsliga Konsten” fick August Nordenskiöld från sin farbror Magnus Otto, som också var en praktiserande alkemist. Brorsonen August var en stor beundrare av sin farbror och studerade i sin ungdom ivrigt dennes efterlämnade manuskript. Ur Nordisk familjebok (från 1887 och 1913) kan man utläsa följande intressanta levnadsbeskrivning:
August Nordenskiöld, alkemist, f. 6 febr. 1754 å Eriksnäs i Sibbo socken, Finland, d. 10 dec. 1792 i Afrika, blef 1770 student i Åbo och snart känd som mineraliesamlare. Från Åbo, där han 1772 under Gads presidium utgaf en disputation Om tennets och dess malmers beskaffenhet, begaf han sig till Stockholm, där han inskrefs som auskultant i Bergskollegium och fortsatte sina mineralogiska och kemiska studier. Han började redan 1771 de försök att af guld framställa ”de vises sten” och öfvergick allt mer till alkemistiska studier. Med sitt guldmakeri [och] sina alkemistiska åsigter förenade han äfven svedenborgska och åsyftade, enligt egen försäkran, förnämligast att omintetgöra penningtyrraneriet eller genom järnets förvandling till ädla metaller undergrefva den jordiska rikedomens herravälde och bana vägen för en social reform i filantropisk anda. 1779 begaf han sig på tillstyrkan af riksråden von Höpken och Liewen samt med undestöd af Gustav III till London för att fullborda sina alkemistiska kunskaper. Han lät där trycka början till en avhandling A Plain system of alchemy, hvilket arbete dock synes afbrutits och aldrig spridts. Därjämte utgaf han Swedenborgs epilog till ”den sanna kristna religionen”, men upplagan blef belagd med kvarstad, då han sökte införa densamma i Sverige. 1780 återkom N. ”på konungens uttryckliga order” till Sverige och föreslog Gustaf III att på Drottningholm tillsammans med en Gumpertz-Levison göra guld i hemlighet. Anbudet lär antagits, och N. inrättade i största hemlighet en liten alkemistisk verkstad på Drottningholm, där elden brann natt och dag. Konungen tröttnade dock snart vid att bekosta det lönlösa företaget. 1782 utnämndes N. till bergshauptman i Finland. Men något ”arbete” synes ej blifvit af under de närmaste åren, då N. mest egnade sig åt svedenborska församligens ökande och 1784 blef en trägen medarbetare i den starkt svedenborgska tidningen ”Aftonbladet”, som utgafs af hans trosfrände J. G. Halldin. 1785-87 vistades N. i Finland, där han i Nystad anlade en ny guldmakarverkstad då alkemistiska försök för konungens räkning lära företagits, och till medhjälpare fick en ung ingejör V. F. Bergklint, likaledes svedenborgare. När äfven denna fabrik gick under på grund af bristande medel, inrättades af Gustav III:s bekante gunstling baron A. F. Munck en ny hemlig verkstad på Drottningholm för N:s och Bergklints räkning under baron Muncks uppsigt. Då Munck beredde honom hvarjehanda obehag, begaf han sig 1789 åter till England. Sina återstående år tillbragte han mest på resor mellan detta land, Frankrike och Sverige samt med utgifvande af åtskilliga skrifter, såsom Plan for a free community upon the coast of Africa (1789). I Jan. 1792 afseglade han till Sierra Leone, i egenskap af bergsman deltagande i en på samma gång vetenskaplig och filantropisk expedition till denna kust. Meningen synes äfven varit att där upprätta ett svedenborgst idealsamhälle. På en färd till det inre Afrika blef N. så illa misshandlad att han vid återkomsten till kusten afled.
Historien förtäljer inte om Nordenskiöld lyckades med det Stora Verket att framställa de Vises Sten, men av texten att döma levde han ett kosmopolitiskt och vagabonderande liv typiskt för den tidens Adepter.

Frugårds exteriör

Vad som omedelbart slår en när man läser detta citat ur Nordisk familjebok är vilken oerhörd förlust det är för oss idag att Nordenskiöld aldrig hann färdigställa sitt verk A Plain system of alchemy. Vad som dock inte nämns i beskrivningen ovan är att Nordenskiöld de facto lämnade en text efter sig, skriven på engelska med titeln Spiritual Philosophers’ Stone. Detta är ett traktat som försöker att förena alkemins idéer med swedenborgs lära. Texten finns att läsa i sin helhet på Alchemy Website. En originalkopia finns att läsa på Helsingfors Universitetsbibliotek.

Frugårds interiör

Swedenborgaren August Nordenskiöld verkar sålunda ha vunnit sin största ryktbarhet såsom alkemist i vårt land (som då också omfattade Finland). I sina försök att förädla oädla metaller till guld för att därigenom få bukt med fattigdomen och ”guldets och ädelstenarnas tyranni” i världen anlade han inte bara ett laboratorium på Drottningholm år 1788, utan också på Frugård i Finland (se bifogade bilder ovan). Där lät han uppföra ett litet laboratorium och denna plats är sedan 1983 öppen för allmänheten som ett museum. På det finska museiverkets hemsida kan man sålunda utläsa följande:
På Frugård använde August Nordenskiöld två alkemiugnar, av vilka den ena på 1880-talet skänktes till Nordiska museet i Stockholm medan den andra, bevarats på gårdens vind. På Finska fornminnesföreningens femte konsthistoriska expedition sommaren 1892 under ledning av Emil Nervander på sin resa till Mäntsälä dokumenterade ”antika saker och kuriositeter” på Frugård, avritade arkitekten Selim A. Lindqvist även alkemiugnen.
I den guidade vandringen på Frugård (Alikartano på finska) visas i ”Herrns kammare” bl.a. August Nordenskiölds alkemiugn och mineralskåp. Frugård ligger i Mäntsälä, strax norr om Helsingfors. Tyvärr har jag inte lyckats att finna någon bild på Nordenskiölds alkemiugn. Har man vägarna förbi i Helsingfors är det väl värt att göra ett besök i museet. Kanske något för mina finska läsare att göra? Den av er som lyckas föreviga denna alkemiungn på bild får gärna skicka denna till sverige@golden-dawn.eu så skall jag lägga upp den här på bloggen.


lördag 8 maj 2010

The importance of Fire in Alchemy: A case for alchemy and spagery in the vegetable kingdom


Recently certain strong voices in the occult community, and especially in the Golden Dawn community, has been raised against plant alchemy and spagery. These voices holds that ordinary herbal tinctures are far more effective than spagyrical ones, as the heat used in the latter destroys the healing virtues of the plants. One well known Golden Dawn Adept have for some time claimed that his wife did hundreds of alchemically prepared tinctures with absolutely no effect. He holds that alchemically prepared vegetable tinctures have no effect beyond the placebo. Recently others have followed his suit, both on the fora and in private correspondence.

The process of creation of herbal tinctures, as well as homeopathic ones, is identical with the creation of spagyrical or alchemical tinctures in its first phase of Solve, or separation. This is the so-called maceration process where the plant matter is placed in a vessel filled with alcohol. Well, almost identical, the big difference being that in alchemy one only uses alcohol that comes from wine grapes (having more noble virtues), the so-called “spirit of wine”. Herbal tinctures are often created from (more vulgar) grain alcohols, i.e. vodka.

But here the relative likeness ends, as the material residue is discarded with in the creation of the herbal extract – after the separation through filtering. Contrary to this, in spagery and alchemy this only marks the end of the first or beginning phase. In spagery and alchemy alike the material residue is not discarded with but instead purified through an arduous process of calcinations and leachings, after which it is re-united with the extract in the last phase or Coagula.

According to alchemical theory the extract, which is a compound made of alcohol and essential oils of the plant, constitutes the Mercury and Sulphur respectively. From the material base, which in herbalism and homeopathy is discarded with, is finally extracted the Salt, completing the family of the so-called “three alchemical principles”. Thus the maceration or Solve concerns the separation of the three alchemical principles of Mercury, Sulphur and Salt, or rather the former two from the last principle when it concerns creation of tinctures.

Now, to be honest, I cannot really follow the reasoning behind the critique against alchemy in favour of herbalism, at least not thus far. If the Salt is to be discarded with in the herbal tincture but calcinated, leached and rejoined with the essence in the spagyric, I cannot see how the “sulphur” is destroyed by the heat being used.

The Sulphur (essential oil) and Mercury (alcohol) is exactly the same in both herbal tinctures and in spagery. The only difference being that the Salt is calcinated and leached/evaporated, and finally rejoined with the essence (Mercury & Sulphur). But this process doesn’t affect the essence as it is contained in another flask while the Salt is getting purified by leaching and evaporation to crate salt crystals. These white crystals are later put back into the solution in the digestion phase of Coagula.

Thus nothing is taken away from the spagyrical operation in the way of sulphurous properties; instead something is added. The only thing being subjected to any real heat that could destroy anything from a plant is the Salt, not the Sulphur. But the body needs to be killed for it to be able to resurrect.

Granted, in the second part of Coagula the liquid actually is subjugated to “heat”. But the thing is that in spagyrical tinctures you only use moderate heat, not more than that of normal human body temperature. Thus modern alchemists still base their practices on the old masters, such as Paracelsus, who gave us the old tradition to use moderate heat in the coagula phase, i.e. body heat, or the proper temperature used to hatch chicken eggs, or even to place the flask in a heap of putrefying dung, etc.

Also you may use the rays of the sun to heat the compound during the latter digestion, but for other reasons than the mere heat created. Nevertheless, this moderate heat creates a species of gentle circulation of the matter in the sealed flask; it looks as if the liquid matter is “sweating”. Thus heat is extremely important in the digestion phase, the Coagula, after the three alchemical principles has been rejoined. The gentle heat used here “opens up” the matter and helps re-joining the principles into a new whole. The continuous gentle circulation inside the hermetically sealed flask also sublimates the matter, according to alchemical theory, even to a point where it may create a “stone”.

But what basically boils down to in this critique is the theory that heat supposedly destroys the active healing properties or ingredients in vegetable sulphur, or the essential oils, even at very low temperatures, if it is continued prolonged over a longer time period.

I won’t argue against that straightforward chemical analysis of the process. But in alchemy (and spagery as it uses alchemical theory) we are not talking about strict chemistry, even if there of course is the material aspect to consider as well. There are also etheric and astral components to alchemy. That is why there is such great emphasis laid on synchronicity with the astral currents and with astrology. And furthermore, the process of Solve et Coagula itself, I believe, has this manipulating effect of several levels parallel to the purely material.

Alchemy is basically about building the subtle bodies, at least in Internal Alchemy. I believe this also applies to all bodies, i.e. plants as well as minerals. Thus alchemy, as well as spagery, cannot be compared to herbalism, even if it may be some value in comparing these two disciplines, and a possible learning experience for both.

Cooking is sometimes used as a metaphor. We all know that overcooked food taste bad and that valuable nutrition are effectively killed with too much use of heat. Thus a chemist may know in theory how to apply optimal heat to create food of the finest quality. However, I prefer the food of a chef any time before the food coming from the kitchen of a chemist. Now, what am I saying with this? But isn’t it obvious?

Alchemy, as well as cooking, is an art besides being a science. Likewise the alchemist is an artist as well as an scientist; alchemy belongs to the realms of both Hod (Mercury) and Netzach (Venus). Thus it’s not about having the exact ingredients or following cookbooks to the letter. You will never be a proficient alchemist if you don’t develop fingertip sensitivity. It’s more about feeling and timing. It’s about becoming one with the subject matter. Thus in my opinion, alchemy more properly belongs to hermeneutical science rather than natural science, the latter being based upon distance and the dispassionate attitude towards the subject matter.

Alchemy is about what subjective effect is has on a particular individual (which will vary according to his spiritual stature or status), not whatever effect it will have on a population being given a universal panacea, objectively measuring the level of health or alleviation of sickness. Thus you cannot use the same measuring stick on alchemical tinctures and elixirs as you would with herbal tinctures, or classical medicine for that matter.

Furthermore this critique against the use of heat goes contrary to old alchemical philosophy backed up by millennia of teachings and operative laboratory practice. This long standing tradition states that heat actually is the actual agent behind the transmutation process.

This is aptly resumed in the alchemical interpretation of the letters I.N.R.I., or the Key-Word as it is called in the Golden Dawn tradition. According to the alchemical masters it is rendered as Ignis Natura Renovatur Integra, which translates into “Through fire nature is reborn whole” or “All of nature is renewed by fire”. All of nature, human, animal and mineral, as well as vegetable. Thus alchemy is the Path of Fire.

Alchemy in all forms, both dry and humid, both internal and external, lay great emphasis on Fire or Heat. So to properly transmute the matter it must be subjugated to heat. In spagery or plant alchemy this heat is relatively moderate, as has already been stated, compared to the mineral work as an example; the fire in the former is used sparingly. But it must nevertheless by necessity be applied also to the vegetable realm. As above, so below. Thus from an alchemical perspective Fire or Heat is crucial to the process.

The most common method in creating alchemical and spagyrical tinctures and elixirs is to use moderate heat, normally not exceeding 40° Celsius. When creating a “magistry” the heat is increased as the matter is subjugated to a distillation. But on the other hand, the process of distillation subliminates the matter even further. But even in these cases the temperature is kept relatively moderate, normally not up to a violent heat and intense boiling; the traditional way is to create steam without to much boiling of the liquid.

Only in calcinations of the Salt is “violent” heat to be applied, but even here it doesn’t take as high levels as in the dry way of Antimony, for example. In calcinations of the Salt fire is never taken to the fullest potential – but on the other hand it is prolonged for many hours, even days. It is also here that the herbal critique against alchemy may have some actual merit.

Furthermore, in herbalism the matter is discarded with as it is seen as useless as a healing ingredient after it being leached dry from its essence. Granted, it’s true when only considering just after separation and filtering. In this raw state it contains the Caput Mortum or “dead head”; the parts which is not soluble. Hence the Salt is subjugated to heat and calcinated to ash, and in this process taken through the three (or four) stages; nigredo, albedo, citrinas and rubedo. After which it is purified further with water and leaching, which is then evaporated.

In this last process again moderate heat is used, usually the flask being put upon a radiator, mantle piece, or something similar. Now it must become crystallized and optimally should transform into a white salt crystal. So there is no ash being used in the liquid but actually real Salt being produced. In this the Caput Mortum is separated, or the fine from the gross.

This latter process of purification of the Salt with leaching in water and evaporation to create Salt crystals has been a guarded secret of the Alchemists for very long. I was taught it orally from one of my earliest alchemical teachers. Even Frater Albertus refrained from revealing it in his modern classic Alchemist’s Handbook, even if he is very open with the rest of the process. Thus the purification of the Salt is perhaps the most crucial aspect of the work. But after Frater Albertus publication it has been openly laid out by later authors such as Manfred M. Junius in his Practical Handbook of Plant Alchemy. Later also Jean Dubuis revealed this method in his Spagery correspondence course; even if it was limited for members of the Philosophers of Nature that course is now widely spread all over the internet.

Thus I decided a while ago to reveal it also on my blog in the essay Spagyrics – The Alchemy of Plants, as it is no longer a secret. Besides, I believe that the Salt is crucial to the alchemical property of the tincture or elixir. This directly translates to the body as being the primary subject of the Great Work. Salt is the material base which grounds the subtle forces in play. But to be able to do this the Salt or body must first be transmuted – the subtle must be separated from the gross (Caput Mortum).

Compared to herbal tinctures spagyrical and alchemically prepared tinctures attracts the subtle forces better. They become as “magnets”, so to speak. This is because of the universal principle of Solve et Coagula and of Fire. Thus alchemically prepared products affects the etherical and astral as well as the physical. This is contrary to herbal products. Although foods or nutrition internalised affects the subtle in a greater or lesser degree, this is supposed to be perfected in alchemically prepared products.

I hold that alchemy primarily works upon the subtle bodies through a material base, much like talismans do in thaumaturgy. Thus alchemy is primarily a spiritual science and art, more properly akin to thaumaturgy than to chemistry. Moreover, alchemical or spagyrical tinctures and elixirs are supposed to be taken primarily for initiatory purposes, not to simply heal an ailment of the physical body. The goal is to transmute the energetic or etheric body, and even more exalted bodies beyond that.

But my guess is that spagyrical and alchemical vegetable tinctures mostly reach the etherical in their effect and that the effect on the higher or subtler bodies is more limited as compared to mineral elixirs. The so-called “Plant Stone” certainly is limited in its effect compared to the Mineral Philosopher’s Stone. But it does clearly affect the etheric body, or energy body, or aura as well as the physical.

On the other hand I speculate that the etherical properties of ordinary herbal tinctures are much more limited because of the fact that the process of separation and reintegration (solve et coagula) and the use of heat is absent, as well as astrological considerations disregarded. The alchemical process on the other hand opens up the plant to these higher levels of existence because of this difference of perspective and the particular modus operandi. This is the actual essence of transmutation. Thus only a truly transmuted matter may affect a subtle body.

Now some state that alchemical and spagyrical products have no effect, other than placebo. But what some call placebo others call energetic manipulation. It is sad to see that such materialistic notions has crept in into the hermetic teachings, or rather a few modern hermetic teachers.

If we would only limit ourselves to the criteria of strict evidence, as it is normally defined in natural science, then we also can discard ordinary herbal tinctures as there is no conclusive evidence in today’s scientific research that it has any remedial effects at all other than that of placebo. This may also be said regarding homeopathics. But personally I don’t believe the word of this “scientifical” research.

Now, I’m not actually that driven to upholding conspiracy theories. But on the other hand I’m also not native. It is a well-known fact that the actual forces pulling the strings in all kinds of modern medicinal research are non other than the pharma companies. They hate herbalism and all other kinds of alternative healing methods, such as homeopathy, as it makes their steady income threatened. It’s that simple. So get rid of that notion once and for all that science is neutral or unbiased.

Thus you may prove anything with “research” if you have the money to fund the work of the scientists. But to be just, the question must be raised of how much comparative study that actually has been done in a controlled environment, between herbal tinctures on one hand and spagyrical or alchemical on the other? People simple base their judgement from what normally occurs in physical matter with essential oils if subjugated to heat, not at all considering what alchemical processes actually may do to the whole person.

I wonder what opinions these occult teachers criticising spagery and plant alchemy have regarding homeopathy? It is a well-known fact that many homeopathic medicines has been potencified to the level of taking away the last molecule of the original plant’s extract. Thus there is only water left and using strict natural scientific criteria, there shouldn’t be any remedial effects beyond that of placebo. Still, homeopathy is much more popular compared to herbalism, at least in Europe. People really feel helped by it where no other help can be found in classical medicine.

I wonder if the potencification of homeopathic extracts actually may gain etheric effects not previously known to alchemists? I know that some of them potencify their tinctures and elixirs using homeopathic principles, especially when using toxic matters. But using the same line of thinking as that against spagery there shouldn’t be any other effect other than that of placebo.

Again, it is sad to se how materialistic instead of holistic ideologies has crept in through the back door of occultism. Instead of looking at matter from the spiritual perspective, suddenly even occultists that I truly respect start to view spirit from the perspective of matter. This is the reversed pentagram formula and the principles behind the 15th Key of Tarot, the Devil.

© Tomas Stacewicz

Contrary to this attitude or onlook on life the occultist and aspiring alchemist should nurture the philosophy which is behind the principle of that Tarot Key which precedes the previous one, the Temperance Card. If one watches these two symbols together it will become obvious that they are closely related but at the same time express diametrically different ideologies.

In the 14th Key the angelic figure is also the alchemist performing an alchemical operation. He holds in his hands Water and Fire, representing the principles of the Lion (Sulphur) and Eagle (Mercury) respectively, which he unites together (Water is poured upon the Sulphurous Lion and Fire upon the Mercurial Eagle). This is symbolical of the principle of Solve et Coagula, the separation and unification of the contrary elements. In the background we see the true agent behind this uniting principle in the form of an erupting volcano, i.e. the Fire of the Athanor. However here the symbolism has been veiled and taken the form of a radiant Crown; in the esoteric version it should be depicted as a volcano.

© Tomas Stacewicz

Now these two versions of the Tarot Keys comes from the deck created by Paul Foster Case, once a Adept of the Golden Dawn, and I recommend reading any works by that author regarding these two cards. In the original version of the Golden Dawn, on which these two pictures are based, the symbolism goes even further in its alchemical contents. On the Temperence Card is depicted a cauldron under which burns a fire, representing sublimation or distillation and circulation. This is also the occult principle behind this card and the Hebrew Letter to which it is assigned; Samekh and the 25th Path attributed to Sagittarius the Archer.

On the Temple Floor of a Golden Dawn Temple, which occultly depicts the diagram of the Tree of Life, this is the point of the rendering of the Veil of Paroketh, the transiting principle which sublimates the Soul from the Outer world of the Elements to the Inner Realm of the Planets, or the Astral. This also represents the transition from the Outer Order into the Inner Order, or from being but an Initiate into being a Adept. In this work the interior Fire is essential and here we have to remember that Saggittarius is a Fiery Sign.

In the version as created by Aleister Crowley, another former Golden Dawn Adept, this symbology is even more true to the original Golden Dawn Card. Understanding the alchemical significance of this Key Crowley also renamed it as “Art”, as in the Royal Art, an original term used for alchemy. Thus in the central crowned figure of the Card we see a Royal Artist.

Looking at the card we see behind the Artist the famous alchemical axiom of Basilius Valentinus, “Visita Interiora Terrae Rectificando Invenies Occultum Lapidem”, which translates into Visit the Interior Parts of the Earth; by Rectification Thou Shalt Find the Hidden Stone.” From this is made the word V.I.T.R.I.O.L. With Rectification is meant a repeated distillation, again alluding to fire and heat. In Crowley’s version the alchemist , in the form of a Hermaphrodite, unites the two Principles together over the cauldron to emphasise the last phase of the Work, the Coagula.

As can be seen, the evidence for the use of the modus operandi of separation and reunification – Solve et Coagula – and that of the transmuting agent of Fire is abundant in the symbolism of occultism and alchemy. The end result of both the Lesser Circulation, or Lesser Work of the plant kingdom, and that of the Greater Circulation (the Great Work) is the creation of the Universal Androgyne or Hermaphrodite. This symbol represents the sucessfull unification of the previously separated principles of the Sun and the Moon, or Sulphur and Mercury respectively, and its subsequent incarnation into the ressurected body or Salt.

Now, I have personal experience of taking alchemically elixirs for at least one decade. Both me and my wife (and Soror Mystica) have taken an alchemical elixir partly using vegetable matter. I know for a fact that the effect goes beyond that of placebo, as it has had a direct detrimental effect when taken in to much dosage (even if it was quite minuscule). After learning to use the proper dosage through experimentation I was instead relieved from sickness for a long period of time, not typical of me.

This is how alchemical and spagyrical tinctures and elixirs primarily should be used; by the alchemist him- or herself. Only seldom is it to be given to others, especially non-initiates. Traditionally in Rosicrucian circles the initiate were forbidden to administrate any alchemical remedies without the expressed permission of the Chiefs. As an typical example, in Sigismund Bacstrom’s Society of the Rosy Cross one swore not to:
encourage wickedness and debauchery, thereby offending God, administer the Medicine for the human body, nor the Aurum Potabile to a patient or patients infected with the venereal disease. [And also] …never [to] give the fermented metallic medicine for transmutation, to any Person living, no not a single grain, unless the person is an initiated and received Member and Brother of the Society of the Rosy Cross.
This may be compared to the Obligation of the Adeptus Minor who promises not to “make any symbol or Talisman in the Flashing Colours for any uninitiated person without a special permission from the Chiefs of the Order”.

Thus elixirs and tinctures are primarily to be used for self-healing and initiation, as stated above, to facilitate the purification, strengthening and development of the subtle bodies, using a outwardly material substance which is highly charged through a process of transmutations, using the principles of Solve et Coagula and that of Fire, to create virtues and healing properties on the levels of the ethereal and beyond.


tisdag 4 maj 2010

Who is an Adept?


What is the criteria for Adeptship? This is a good question which has arisen recently on the blogosphere. I will try (for a change) to answer it briefly, using the model of the Golden Dawn system of initiation.

First of all, one has to remember that in the very word “Adept” there is contained a vide range of levels of spiritual attainment. In the Inner Order of the Golden Dawn, or Ordo Rosae Rubeae et Aureae Crucis (R.R. et A.C.), we have three distinct levels of attainment; minor, major and exempt adeptship. The preceding Grades, the so called “Elemental” Grades and the preliminary Grade of Neophyte, all serve to prepare the initiate for the minor level of adeptship. Thus “adeptship” often only follows after the entering of the Inner Order.

Thus the first step or level of attainment of adeptship is of a lesser nature, properly attributed to the 5°=6° Grade of Adeptus Minor. This grade is associated with Tiphareth and involves the “Vision of the Mystery of Crucifixion”. Spiritually this means a species of sacrificial death to facilitate a later spiritual rebirth or regeneration.

Another important criterion for being an Adept is that it designates a person who fully has committed himself or herself to the Great Work, which has its goal of “purification and exaltation of the Spiritual Nature so that with the Divine Aid the Adept may at length attain to be more than human, and thus gradually raise and unite himself to his higher and Divine Genius”.

Furthermore there has since the publications of Aleister Crowley and Israel Regardie been understood that this minor level of attainment of adeptship also involves the so-called “Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel”, a term which lately has been heavily questioned by certain Adepts of the Golden Dawn community.

Personally I do agree that a good criterion for the full attainment of the level of Adeptus Minor means a conscious rapport with the Holy Guardian Angel and I also, contrary to some contemporary Golden Dawn Adepts, agree with Israel Regardie that it is the equivalent of the Higher Self or Divine Genius of the Magician.

I do believe that there are ample evidence contained in the Ritual “U” (The Microcosm – Man) that substantiate the notion that MacGregor Mathers & Co. actually did believe in the possibility of a conscious union with a Guardian Angel as being part of spiritual attainment, and the Angel in turn being associated with the Higher and Divine Genius.

Thus the specific term “Knowledge and Conversation...” may have been coined by Crowley (if this actually is true), but nevertheless he got the philosophy behind it from his teachers in the Golden Dawn. One must understand that Crowley in many of his works and attitudes were heavily influenced by his experiences of the brief encounter with the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn and its Adepts. Regardie viewed his old teacher as being above all a Golden Dawn Adept.

But to return to our subject matter of adeptship we have to remember that we also have several levels even of this Grade of Adeptus Minor, called “sub-grades”, ranging from Neophyte Adeptus Minor (N.A.M.) to Adept Adeptus Minor. These sub-grades serve to repeat the Outer Order process anew but on a higher spiritual level, as a part of a continuous alchemical process of Solve et Coagula.

Thus even a N.A.M. is an Adept – as every level has its beginning phase and ending phase; there are beginners of adeptship and there are fully fledged Adepts. Still both kinds belong to the same Collage of the Adepti, and they all meet together in the Sancti Spiritus as one Rosicrucian brotherhood.

So one properly cannot use the spiritual attainment equivalent of the “Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel” as an absolute criteria for designating or recognizing an Adept per se. But a minimal requirement is the mastering of the Outer Order level teachings, both in theory and practice, and a basic level of Elemental equilibrium in the Sphere of Sensation (aura or energy body), and finally the commitment and devotion to the Great Work as stated in the clause above.

My own personal contribution to all of this, based on my own and other’s experiences, is that a fully fledged Adept also is someone who has gone through and successfully come out of a Dark Night of the Soul. With “successfully” I mean meeting and dealing with the unconscious contents which arises during the Dark Night, and finally experiencing the Golden Dawn of spiritual awareness which arises from that.

This Dark Night of the Soul syndrome may be experienced any time during the Outer Order process, but often occurs at the level of Lord or Lady of the Portal of the Vault of the Adepti, or in the early phases or sub-grades of the Adeptus Minor Grade. As in all alchemical processing, it is also a recurring phenomenon and will recur as many times as it takes to relieve the Soul from its dark unconscious contents and finally lead it to the level of Exempt Adeptship.

Now, some have objected to this notion of having this criteria and how it should be gauged by the Order in question. Some even assert that there is a danger in associating any interior states with an outwardly conferred grade. But my experience says to me that it is quite easy to detect if one experiences the a Dark Night of the Soul, and thus also if one has come out of it and spiritually matured in the process.

The “Dark Night of the Soul syndrome” is the easiest detectable, at least by persons whom themselves has experienced it, and one of the earliest encountered in the initiatory process. It is not the equivalent of such lofty spiritual states as “illumination” or “knowledge and conversation..”, but it surely is a prerequisite to it.

Of course there have to be some kind of basic relationship between the tutor and student (initiator and initiate) to be able to spot it. There also has to be some sort of structure in a Temple where “spiritual (or initiatory) counseling” is provided with. Thus, just getting together in Temple meetings won’t be enough to spot this, besides being absent from participation if it has come to that.

In my Temple I have regular meetings with my students to keep track of their initiatory progress. In this I use my understanding of and experience of counseling and psychotherapy.

Thus I don’t agree with the notion that there shouldn’t be any relationship between spiritual advancement and grade advancement. As an example, there is a huge difference between the initiatory process in the Outer Order and that of the in the Inner, from a purely spiritual perspective. The themes are completely different. This for me is evidence enough that there is a real spiritual initiatory process going on in initiation and theurgical work.