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

tisdag 27 juli 2010

Speech is Silver, Silence is Golden (Dawn): An addendum to Secrecy and the Golden Dawn


1. In the light of the recent discussions concerning secrecy and vows of silence I feel that there has arisen the need for me to address this issue again, although I confess that I feel very reluctant to do so. First of all I’m reluctant because anything I may say in this matter may be interpreted as an attack on other branches of the Golden Dawn Community which whom I don’t share their view on Secrecy. But if we ought to discuss the implications of Secrecy and Silence we have to be bold enough to follow this course to its end, even though some conclusions may be seen as provocative. But provocation isn’t my objective at all. To be honest I would rather had remained silent than provoke.

2. But the main reason for my reluctancy is that in this modern laissez faire age I sense that it is futile to try to defend the traditionalist view on magical secrecy. Thus I don’t express my views here primary to engage in a debate anyone, or to prove anyone wrong. My primary motive is to provide information for my students and potential students so that they know what to expect from me or of any membership in the Temple that I head. Thus I’m not writing these words to gain any sympathy for any cause, as it’s a lost cause.

3. The Golden Dawn Tradition, since Aleister Crowley’s and Israel Regardie’s breech of their vows, is in the hands of the armchair or solitary magician (not that I equate these two). Some Temples today, although the Chiefs have noble ambitions, are noting more but meeting places for solitary occultists who seek only to gratify their own spiritual urges before the collective needs of their Temple or the Tradition itself. Few members of the modern Golden Dawn Community knows the meaning of the words “service” and “dedication” to their Temple and the preservation of the integrity of the Tradition. To be honest, I don’t like what has become of the Golden Dawn Community.

4. Although I still love the Golden Dawn Tradition immensely – and let there be no doubt about that – and even more so the Rosicrucian Current of which the Golden Dawn is part, I often find myself being a stranger in a strange land when I try to orient in this community which calls itself the “Golden Dawn”.

5. Reading suggestions by two well known Golden Dawn leaders, whom I happen to respect and like, that it would be “swell” if any yet unpublished documents ever written by the original Temples, belonging to the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn (G∴D∴), the Rosicrucian Order of Alpha et Omega (A∴O∴) and the Stella Matutina (S.M.), were all scanned and put up on a central data bank on the internet, makes me truly appalled. Honestly I don’t know what to say. It fells senseless even to try. It’s Futile. So I won’t try.

6. Still there are some other notions that have been more moderately suggested by one occult author and Golden Dawn Adept who made everyone a “service” in publishing a particular G∴D∴ / A∴O∴ document, that also concern me. This author has made it clear to everyone that he felt compelled to do make this document available in the wake of one of my essays; we both have one equal cross to bear. But before venturing to read any further I suggest the reader to check out my previous essay on Secrecy and Golden Dawn, as what follows is an addendum to my original statements.

7. First off there is the question regarding “public domain”. It has been suggested that any document, either in a library or in a private collection, must juridically be considered as “public domain” if it is old enough, which basically amounts to all material of the original inaugurations of the G∴D∴, A∴O∴ and S.M. I’m not a lawyer or solicitor but do raise the question if this is actually correct? Private collections are as the word implies “private”, i.e. the possession of a private individual. I haven’t heard anything yet which would suggest otherwise. And even some libraries, such as the Warburg Institute (which houses some Golden Dawn related materials) are only open for scholars, i.e. not for the public. Thus “public domain” in this context is in reality just an empty and meaningless word.

8. In the original G∴D∴, and the A∴O∴ (and I believe also the S.M.), all Order documents were part of private collections. People like W.W. Westcott and S.L. MacGregor Mathers practically owned the G∴D∴ corpus. This is the case with many Orders even today. Most independent Temples are private and the property often belongs to one or some few individuals. So according to this reasoning, anything which I write and have on my computor will become public domain in about 50 years, which means that everyone has the right to access my private files in the future to come and after I have left my earthly husk? I doubt it.

9. It is one thing regarding finding an old manuscript document in a library, although I personally would argue against publication even in these cases or at least be extremely prudent. I know of one Order in Europe who found a version of the Arcana Arcanorum in a public “freemasonic” library. But instead of publishing it they had the good taste of implementing it in their higher mysteries instead – where it properly belongs. Following the above logic, they should instead have made it public in a book, for the greater benefit of the masses. I say definitely no! Especially not material of that particular kind.

10. I once received a document with similar contents as the above-mentioned Ms. from a Frater who had unearthed it from a inaccessible library in my home country in the hope that I would partake in an project of writing a Swedish Rosicrucian anthology. Of course that project never materialized, as was expected. Some documents simply have a way of protecting themselves. Instead of resorting to publication these kind of materials should be utilized within a traditional lodge setting, for which they were designed in the first place. It neither has a place in the bookshelf of a library nor a bookshop.

11. But public libraries aside, I hold that it is outright unethical to publish anything originally belonging to a private collection without the consent of the owner, regardless of it being appropriated as a 3rd, 4th or 5th hand copy, etc. Parts of unpublished collections are known to be improperly floating around between the hands of document collectors and occultists alike, against the consent of the original owners, because of people being disrespectful of their oaths, or because of inappropriate appropriation (i.e. theft).

12. Now, some people believe that I am an all secrecy fundamentalist of some sorts when they read the above paragraphs. I may be rightly categorized as a traditionalist but fundamentalist? I don’t think so. If I were I wouldn’t have had this blog and written so openly about a diverse array of subjects regarding the Golden Dawn and the Western Mysteries. Some Adepts of the really old school views what I’m doing to be a sacrilege and a breach against my vows. They hold that it is better to never utter a damn thing about it, i.e. keeping everything secret, even the published material. On the other end of the spectrum we have the other kind of fundamentalism who often accuses everyone else of being a oppressive fundamentalist, the “open source approach”.

13. Although I wish none of this material were published in the first place, in truth I propose a middle position where you openly and freely discuss the materials published by Aleister Crowley, Israel Regardie, R.G. Torrens, Francis X. King, R.A. Gilbert, Darcy Kuntz, et al, i.e. information which now is “public domain” in the truest sense of the word as it sits in the bookshelves of most occultists already. I am not referring to privately printed and limited editions which turn up on e-bay or amazon from time to time; the contents of this material I don’t discuss openly as it is not widely distrubuted. Thus I speak of anything but the unpublished or limitedly available material regardless of secret manuscripts being written yesterday or one millennium ago.

14. Time is absolutely not a factor here. In my opinion worldly laws of “public domain” do not nor could ever apply to esoteric material, something true initiates are expected to be conscious of. Hence the function of the oath of secrecy which truly goes beyond any laws or rights concerning public domain; I’m talking about spiritual laws here. When the candidate stands in the Hall of Maat in the presence of the Holy Ones, any oath taken reverberates not only in the Temple Egregore of one’s own Order but on a universal and cosmic level as well. The oath goes beyond any spoken words said but also touches the intent and meaning behind these words. Silence and secrecy is a universal spiritual concept.
15. So it follows that even if Regardie or Torrens, et al, did publish different versions of the G∴D∴ rituals and documents, if I would acquire an original document I would never publish it even if it was a 100% match of any of the public versions (although there in my experience seldom is a 100% match in reality).

16. Thus I will have no part in this newly found tradition of profanation. You will never see a book in the bookstore with my name appended to the cover which reveals hieretho unpublished “Secrets of the Golden Dawn”. I won’t compromise the integrity of the Tradition for any personal fame, fortune and glory or for my self-gratification.

17. Contrary to what most believe, neither Crowley nor Regardie did the Golden Dawn Tradition any greater benefit. It is a myth that the Golden Dawn wouldn’t have survived without the publication of its curriculum. That was Regardie’s own psychological rationalization which has become a truism of the new millennium of Golden Dawn students. Surely, it wouldn’t had been as popular as it is today. But on the other hand we would be spared from the merchandising and commercialisation of our Sacred Tradition. We wouldn’t have had to watch it being forced into the “grand” New Age market of fast food spirituality.

18. Thus the popularity of the Golden Dawn tradition is a double-edged sword. Like G.H. Fra. L.E.S. has stated elsewhere, suddenly we see Golden Dawn magical formulae being used by chaos magicians, Satanists and neo-pagans of different denominations. What consequences has this brought to the Golden Dawn current? What unwanted forces do we actually bring in into our Sphere of Sensations when we perform a simple LBRP? This is an interesting question to ask from the occult perspective.

19. On the other hand I personally am still ambivalent towards the publication made by former Golden Dawn Adepts like Aleister Crowley, Dion Fortune, Israel Regardie and Paul Foster Case. Hadn’t it been for them, I probably wouldn’t have had the chance to encounter the Golden Dawn Tradition and experienced my enamorement at first sight of it looking in a Swedish book on the paranormal. Thus on the one hand I’m mighty grateful to Regardie for breaching his vows for my own selfish sake. But on the other, after almost two decades of living with the Tradition and teaching it to other students in a traditional Temple setting, I really can see the damage being done to it since Llewellyn decided in 1969 to republish Regardie’s The Golden Dawn in its a second edition two-volume format. Up until then the Golden Dawn Tradition had just been a curiosity and had a limited exposition through small editions of Crowley’s The Equinox and Regardies The Golden Dawn.

20. But the truth is that it was the profanation by Israel Regardie that almost destroyed important lineages of a living Golden Dawn Tradition working within the Temple context. The last official A∴O∴ Temple closed its activities in the 1940’s in the wake of the publication of the first edition of The Golden Dawn, which was published in four volumes between 1937-1940. But it didn’t destroy the living Golden Dawn Tradition in its entire. The two Temples of the Stella Matutina, the Whare Ra in Havelock North, New Zeeland, and Hermes Temple in Bristol, England, survived. Hermes closed its activities in 1972 and Whare Ra in 1978, perhaps in the wake of the second edition of Regardie’s The Golden Dawn published by Llewellyn in 1969.

21. But by the time of its closure the Hermes Temple was fully immersed in the A∴O∴ current as the remaining Chiefs of the A∴O∴ were in full co-operation with the S.M. Chiefs since the 1950’s through Hermes Temple and the (Solar Order) Cromlech Temple. The fact is that the A∴O∴ and the Solar Order simultaneously also became established in New Zeeland by one immigrant A∴O∴ and Solar Order Chief. Thus the A∴O∴ current never died but found new forms instead. Other remaining A∴O∴ Adepts (often in co-operation with English S.M. Adepts) created independent Temples to preserve the Golden Dawn Tradition intact according to its original intentions as envisioned by the founders MacGregor Mathers and Westcott. One such group run by Apollon Leontas and Desmond Bourke was the London based Serapis Temple, which survived the turn of the millennium.

22. Then we have the Orders created early in the 1920’s by former A∴O∴ Adepts, most prominently the Builders of the Adytum (B.O.T.A.) of Paul Foster Case and the Fraternity of the Inner Light of Dion Fortune (a.k.a. Violeth Firth). Dion Fortune, who is probably the second best known Golden Dawn author after Aleister Crowley, was also a member of the S.M. after she had been expelled from the A∴O∴. Both these derivative Orders preserved the Golden Dawn Tradition quite intact in their lodge work. We also have A.E. Waite’s Fellowship of the Rosy Cross, which has Temples still active today in England, although that particular tradition deviated far enough not to be properly labelled as Golden Dawn Tradition. Still it has its heritage in the Golden Dawn, which shows in its rituals (which also has been profaned quite recently). Crowley, although stemming from the Golden Dawn family tree, deviated even further and thus cannot be considered in this present discussion.

23. Furthermore, early neo-Golden Dawn Orders, or Golden Dawn derivative Orders, such as the Order of the Cubic Stone, founded by David Edwards and Robert Turner, and Countess Tamara Bourkoun’s Order of the Pyramid and the Sphinx, relied on unpublished documents belonging to private collections such as that of Gerald York. We also have the Servents of the Light (S.O.L.) of W.E. Butler, who was a direct successor to Dion Fortune’s Fraternity of the Inner Light although it worked with different rituals but within the “Western Mystery Tradition”, with its roots firmly planted in the soil of the Golden Dawn. Thus my point is that the Golden Dawn Tradition would have survived without the publication of Regardie’s editions of The Golden Dawn. I further hold that the secret Golden Dawn Tradition, as it once were preserved in its original Temple format, would have had a better chance of survival into the 21st Century wouldn’t it had been for Israel Regardie’s breach of his sacred vows.

24. The last point which I would like to bring to attention in my follow up essay on Secrecy is the curious opinion that one should make a clear distinction between the oral tradition and that of written documents. While old documents in private collections are of “public domain” and ought to be readily accessible for the uninitiated, as suggested earlier, the Oral Teachings are an entirely different matter. This is an entirely new spin on this matter and one of the clearest cases of rationalizations to justify publication. Traditionally there has never been any distinction made between teachings of a Hermetic Order, neither between “oral” or “written”. The oath of secrecy applies to both without evasion, equivocation, or mental reservation of any kind whatsoever.

25. Furthermore the next logical leap in this kind of rationalization is that there is no harm in publication of old manuscripts as they are not able to be unlocked without the necessary keys, which is given orally. Perhaps this is the case in some traditions, but not in that of the Golden Dawn. Thus I don’t agree with the opinion that one cannot properly apply the published G∴D∴ corpus without the help of “oral” traditions. Much of the Golden Dawn Inner Order material is straightforward and has a practical approach, at least when it comes to individual formulae. Many solitary G∴D∴ students have based their work solely on the written material of Crowley and Regardie quite successfully. Thus if you perform a certain Golden Dawn ritual according to the instructions, there will be obvious effects.

26. Besides, who says that an “oral” tradition encountered is necessarily a beneficial one? With so many Temples around which bases their existence on Crowley, Regardie, Torrens, King and Kuntz, there are lots of opinions and diverse experiences regarding the Golden Dawn tradition held by people irregularly initiated into the tradition. Although I do believe there exist sound oral traditions and experiences that may be shared which greatly may enhance the workings, some “oral” traditions can be a deviation to the original intent of the material and create noting but a stumbling block for the aspiring student. There are so many Golden Dawn students and teachers alike eager to share with their experience, often contradictory when compared, which has created somewhat of an inflation of “oral” traditions today.

27. But even amongst regularly initiated students there are diverse opinions of how to properly apply the “canonical texts” written by MacGregor Mathers and Westcott. Most Temples in the original G∴D∴, A∴O∴ and S.M. were quite independent and thus developed their own “oral” teachings, for better and for worse. Even here amongst chartered Temples teachings started to deviate in some quarters and develop in others. Even rituals were rewritten, as all who have compared the different publications or unpublished versions are well aware of.

28. Then we have the fact that the Stella Matutina was the offspring of a schism that separated a great body of Adepts from their original source of teachings, i.e. S.L. MacGregor Mathers who possessed the connection between the Second Order and that of the Third Order. Even Westcott seems to have supported the continuation of the A∴O∴ rather than S.M. after all dust and smoke had cleared away. Cut off from the Third Order source the Chief of the S.M., Robert Felkin, started to look for a new Secret Chief and finally found Rudolf Steiner. Through this contact some Steinerian concepts were introduced and the outlook upon the initiatory system reformed to adapt the G∴D∴ scheme to that of Steiner’s Misraim Service. Thus although the S.M. is properly an integral part of the Golden Dawn Tradition, and even made some very interesting developments on its own, it is also clear to me that it in parts deviated substantially from the original G∴D∴ and stood in contrast to the contemporary Rosicrucian Order of A∴O∴ which faithfully continued the original Golden Dawn Tradition of the G∴D∴, until it’s English branch became somewhat of a hybrid Stella Matutina-Alpha et Omega Tradition four decades after the demise of MacGregor Mathers.

29. But not even the “true oral traditions” of the Golden Dawn, who have found themselves in print, may be fully trusted to be part of the Golden Dawn Tradition proper as they emanated from a spin-off Order to the Whare Ra Temple in New Zeeland, called Order of the Table Round (O.T.R.), which continued its work after the closure of the last S.M. Temple. Thus many modern Temples, created from published works of both Crowley and Reagardie, and that of more modern authors, project their diverse visions of what the higher Grade teachings are supposed to be based on material which never takes off from the Adeptus Minor 5°=6° Grade. This material they use as a base to extrapolate teachings belonging to the Adeptus Major 6°=5° and Adeptus Exemptus 7°=4° Grades, and even to their vision of what the Third Order beyond the Abyss should properly look like.

30. But this situation is not unique to the Golden Dawn tradition. If one looks at the Rosicrucian system called the Misraïm Rite, one will find a veritable mess when it comes to the highest mysteries of Egyptian Freemasonry. There are countless of Lodges chartered, some regularly, some irregularly, and many in between. But everyone at least knows on the European continent that the highest mysteries of their Tradition are referred to as the process of internal alchemy called the Arcana Arcanorum (A.A.) mentioned above. But very few of the operative Misraïm Lodges actually possessed the A.A., which also implies that they weren’t regularly chartered in the first place, i.e. lacking in authentic lineage. Thus many Lodges invented their own A.A.:s which substantially deviated from the actual A.A. Thus there is now a dozen of false A.A.:s being administrated through initiation but only one true A.A. What happens to you and your spiritual development if you receive one of the false A.A.:s and implement it? What would happen to your Magic if you received an “oral tradition” that was in error or had little actual connection to the Tradition which it tries to explain?

31. Thus my advice is, whenever in doubt regarding any “oral” tradition received, always go back to the published corpus and check with scrutiny. If there is a contradiction between the document and any advices that you have received from your teacher or any modern author, you may be sure of that this “oral” tradition he or she represents is a deviation or later foreign incorporation. The only thing that most G∴D∴ students may be sure of is that the original documents as published through Crowley, Regardie, Torrens, King, Gilbert and Kuntz, when viewed and compared together, do constitute the canonical texts and thus are closer to the true Golden Dawn Tradition than anything else published, while books coming from the 1980’s and onwards, who purports to be the “secret oral teachings” of the Golden Dawn, must be regarded to be “apochryphical”. But as with the Christian apocrypha they sometimes may enlighten the canonical texts immensely, but sometimes not. So use your scrutiny wisely.

32. Besides a good teacher often hands out a document without any comments and sees how their student will apply it in practical work. The old Gold- und Rosenkreutz Order used to do this as part of a standard protocol, handing out curious alchemical Mss. who weren’t always easy to interpret. Those who could crack them were worthy of receiving additional instruction. Those who didn’t were hopelessly lost in the labyrinth. Now, we are a little bit more humane in my Temple. But when the student asks questions, sometimes the tutor may answer the questions openly, but sometimes only give a hint or pointer, or even suggest to “meditate” further. I.e. it is always good for a teacher to bring the student into a rapport with his own intuition (inner tutor), and check him against any deviating practices.

33. Thus, not revealing information immediately to a student isn’t at all necessary, as has been suggested, a way of wielding power over the lesser fortunate. On the contrary, more often than not, this is a sign of a truly good and experienced teacher. Inexperienced teachers are like inexperienced therapists; they are way to active and “serviceable”. Thus taking the role as teacher often entails strong temptations to hand out one advice after the other. Often it hurts not to. But the oftentimes best service a teacher may give to his student is to be silent and simply listen to the student, and see what develops in the process contained in that silence. But as they say, the hardest thing is to be a prophet in your own home village; one day I hope I will listen to my own advice better in my wish to become a good teacher and a good listener.

Addendum 2014-03-27

Since the publication of this blog post it has been sanitized and any direct references to particular individuals still living have been removed, in respect of keeping harmony and peace in the Golden Dawn Community.


fredag 23 juli 2010

Fräulein Sprengel and the Licht, Leben und Liebe Temple


One of the now long standing “myths” or “tentative facts” that has been prevalent is the assumption that the Golden Dawn is based upon a forgery – that it basically is a hoax. This was the central idea behind Ellic Howe’s now classical but highly biased book on the history of the Golden Dawn, The Magicians of the Golden Dawn. Since the publication of this book in 1972 it has been commonly held in the Golden Dawn community, me included, that William Wynn Westcott, one of the founders of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, forged the correspondence with a supposed German Adept, referred to by Westcott as either “Fräulein Sprengel” or by her motto ‘Sapiens Dominabitur Astris’ (abbreviated as S.D.A.).

In these letters claimed by Westcott to have been written by Fräulein Sprengel, which have survived to this day in the Gerald Yorke collection, she claims to be a member and Chief Adept of the German Lodge Licht, Leben, Liebe. Although it is never mentioned in the Sprengel correspondence, Ithell Colquhoun in her book Sword of Wisdom: MacGregor Mathers and “The Golden Dawn” attaches the city of Nuremberg to the Licht, Leben und Liebe Temple No. 1. This German Rosicrucian circle was held in the original Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn to be the “Mother Temple” of the Golden Dawn tradition, giving Westcott the authority to operate its Grades up to and including the Adeptus Major 6°=5° Grade, and even conferring him, Dr. William Robert Woodman and Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers the rank of Adeptus Exemptus 7°=4° Grade. Even the early charter of the Isis-Urania Temple No. 3 was signed by S.D.A. in 1888 (see top image), or rather Westcott wrote in hear stead as she couldn’t be present for the consecration ceremony. From reading Sprengels letters she apparently was acting on her own initiative in corresponding with Westcott, against the advice of her fellow Chiefs of the Licht, Leben und Liebe Temple, who closed all communication with Westcott after the death of Spregel in 1890.

One original leaf from the Cypher MSS.

Westcott started his correspondence with Sprengel after finding a note attached to the Cypher MSS., both believed to be genuine documents today (i.e. not made by Westcott himself) and written in the cipher alphabet of Johann Trithemius. This note has an contact address to a Fräulein Sprengel in Stuttgart, Germany. It also identified her by her motto and that she held the rank of 7°=4°. According to Howe, if Westcott didn’t invent the identity of S.D.A. entirely by his own accord, what at least must have happened is that he wrote to Sprengel but didn’t receive an answer and started to forge the correspondence instead. According to Howe, being a Freemason Westcott placed much value in receiving genuine charters and authorizations so as to convince the initiates of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn their fraternity being a genuine Hermetic Order based on continental Rosicrucian sources.

The key of Trithemius used to unlock the Cypher MSS.

Ellic Howe bases his conclusion mainly, if not solely, on the premise that the letters “written” by Sprengel couldn’t had been written by a German as they contain curious spellings and odd uses of the German language, concluding that the author (who according to a graphological analysis couldn’t have been Westcott) must have been an Englishman posing as a German. Therefore they must have been a forgery, according to Howe. Ellic Howe invokes the “authority” of one Herr Oskar R. Schlag of Zürich, Switzerland, who according to Howe is “an eminent graphological and suspect documents specialist,” to prove his thesis. But recently new discoveries has been unearthed regarding the contents of these letters which I would like to bring to the attention of my readers.

Greatly Honoured Frater Lux Ex Septentrionis (David John Griffin) wrote a rather interesting blogpost yesterday over at the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn Blog which addresses the alleged forgery of the letters from Fräulein Sprengel. It seems as Ellic Howe’s assumption was premeditated, as we read G.H. Fra. L.E.S. words:
Ellic Howe, who did not like the Golden Dawn, introduces into his study of the Golden Dawn the…sensationalistic speculation that the letters written from “Fraulein Sprengel” to Golden Dawn co-founder were “forged by Wescott.” To support this sensationalistic claim, Howe cited a Swiss named “Oskar Schlag,” in whose “expert” opinion the letters were written by an English speaker.

Golden Dawn historian, R.A. Gilbert, who, like Howe, is hostile towards the Golden Dawn, repeats Howe’s assertions as though they were established historical facts. This has led to a whole generation of magicians today believing that “the Golden Dawn is based on a forgery.”

Dr. Robert Word of the August Order of the Mystic Rose brought this problem to my attention several years ago, after showing the Sprengel letters to a native German speaker who disputed Howe’s and Schlag’s claims. This aroused my curiosity as a professional linguist with a degree in Germanic languages. I therefore examined the Sprengel letters myself, which I confirm are written in Suterlin German script consistent with the Suterlin German script prevalent at the end of the 19th Century.

Moreover, I find nothing whatsoever that in any way indicates that the Sprengel letters were not written by a native German speaker. We must therefore conclude that Ellic Howe and Robert Gilbert’s assertions that the Golden Dawn was based on a forgery are unsupported by any historical facts.
In an attached addendum G.H. Fra. L.E.S. concludes, again using Dr. Word as a source:
Florence Farr headed a Second Order committee that investigated allegations of forgery. In regard to the Sprengel-Wescott letters, the committee found no forgery. This did not prevent 70 years later, however, Ellic Howe and Oskar Schlag (the head of a Swiss occult order) attacking the Golden Dawn with renewed, Tabloid-like allegations of forgery.
This is really interesting information, especially coming from Dr. Word who I sincerely respect both as a scholar and as an initiate. But then there is the letter dated 1900, 16 February, written by S. L. MacGregor Mathers to Florence Farr, the then Chief Adept in Anglia, heading the Isis-Urania Temple No. 3 in London, in response to her asking for her resignation and the closure of the Temple. This letter states in part:
Now with regard to the Second Order, it would be with the very greatest regret, both from my personal regard for you as well as the occult standpoint, that I should receive your resignation as my Representative in the Second Order in London; but I cannot let you form a combination to make a schism therein with the idea of working secretly or avowedly under Sapere Aude [Westcott] under the mistaken impression that he received an Epitome of the Second Order work from G. H. Soror Dominabitur Astris. For this forces me to tell you plainly (and understand me well, I can prove to the hilt every word I say here, and more) and were I confronted with S.A. I would say the same, though for the sake of the Order, and for the circumstances that it would mean so deadly a blow to S.A.’s reputation, I entreat you to keep this secret from the / Order for the present, at least, though you are at perfect liberty to show him this if you think fit, after mature consideration.

He was NEVER been at any time either in personal or written communication with the Secret Chiefs of the (third) Order, he having himself forged or procured to be forged the professed correspondence between him and them, and my tongue having been tied all these years by a previous Oath of Secrecy to him, demanded by him, from me, before showing me what he had done, or caused to be done, or both. You must comprehend from what little I say here the extreme gravity of such a matter, and again I ask you, for both his sake and that of the Order, not to force me to go further into the subject.
It obviously seems that MacGregor Mathers is referring to Westcott’s written correspondence with Fräulein Sprengel in his last paragraph. What we must ask us now, as there is no documented evidence any more based upon the letters themselves allegedly being written by Fräulein Sprengel that they are any forgeries, why Mathers wrote as he did? Did he honestly believe they were forgeries or did he just say so being motivated by his fear of being overthrown by Westcott as the Chief Adept of the Order?

It is clear that Westcott during the inception of the Isis-Urania Temple No. 3 placed the highest authority upon himself using this correspondence with S.D.A. After MacGregor Mathers claimed he had received his own link to the Third Order in Paris, in 1892, through the Secret Chief ‘Lux E Tenebris’, Westcott suddenly found himself standing in the shadow of MacGregor Mathers. Although it seems that Westcott was content with his new role it is likely that MacGregor Mathers never felt secure and feared that Westcott somehow would reclaim his former position, especially with them two living on both sides of the British Channel.

Thus all we can do unfortunately is to speculate regarding this highly dynamic and intricate phase of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, just prior to the great schism by the London Adepti. But it is seems that either Westcott or MacGregor Mathers lied about the authenticity of the Sprengel letters. The question is who? Now with this new facts coming to our attention, the case speaks for Westcott being the one who was honest. But frankly I cannot decide as both had reasons for either lying or speaking the truth in this matter. When Westcott was confronted by the London Adepti he asserted that he was telling the truth in the first place but at the same time was very reluctant to defend his case referring to his witnesses all being dead.

But there are some other points which needs to be addressed in this context. Frater Olen Rush has recently shown us through his scholarly research that there actually was a Lodge in Germany which had the name “Loge der Licht, Liebe, und Leben” attached to it. According to Die Bauhütte: Zeitschrift für deutsche Freimaurerei or “The Lodge: Journal of German Freemasonry”, Volume 10, 1867, there is one Brother Carl Fr Mayer, a member of the lodge “Light, Love, Life”, who make a report about a Lodge called “Lebanon” and other bodies in the town Erlanger in Bavaria, within 10 miles of Nuremberg. Frater Olen gives us yet another reference in the Allgemeines Handbuch der Freimaurerei or “General Manual of Freemasonry”, Volume 1, 1900, where one Frederick Mossdorf writes:
Leutbecher, John, schoolmaster, born 2nd March 1801 in Weimar in Wohlmuthausen Chen, died 30th June 1878 in Erlangen, […] was received into the freemasonic Lodge of the Three Cedars of Lebanon in Erlangen. […] L[eutbecher] founded in 1864 in Erlangen (qv), the Lodge Licht, Liebe, und Leben, but because it was not recognized due to substantial deviations from the general rituals, it was only received after 1874.
Thus, as Fr. Olen has pointed out, there did exist a Lodge with bore the same name as the “Mother Temple” of the Golden Dawn in the town of Erlangen, very close to Nuremberg which is reminecent of the Fräulein Sprengel Lodge of Licht, Leben, Liebe. Is this a coincidence? And what about the fact that freemasons regarded the Lodge operating with rituals that “deviated substantially” from the general rituals? This suggests that it wasn’t a regular freemasonic Lodge at all. Was it Rosicrucian or Hermetic perhaps? Was one of its deviations that it made allowance for women to be members, at least for a time? Becoming “received” in 1874 into the fold of freemasonry suggests it was an all male operation by then.

Furthermore, his quoted letter aside, it is also clear from reading the “Horus couple affair” that MacGregor Mathers actually believed that there existed a Fräulein Sprengel. I also found a reference on the Internet that Moina Mathers had told W.B. Yeats in 1926 that S.D.A. was an American, not a German. This may though have been a reference to Mrs. Horos who came from America to visit the Mathers couple in Paris, with her husband, and staying there in early 1900 after having convinced MacGregor Mathers that she was Fräulein Sprengel. This happened while he was writing his letter to Florence Farr, where he ended the letter by stating:
I may further remark that ‘Sapiens dominabitur astris’ is now in Paris and aiding med with the Isis movement.
Aleister Crowley later corroborated this statement in The Equinox, where he recalled that MacGregor Mathers believed that Fräulein Sprengel had lived but died, as suggested by Westcott, only to surprisingly find her being alive through the Horos woman. Thus I don’t believe it was a mere chance that MacGregor Mathers wrote his letter to Florence Farr when Mrs. Horos was staying with her husband at his house. If she was the real S.D.A., and from American descent, surely Westcotts German Sprengel couldn’t had been real in the minds of S.L. MacGregor Mathers and his wife Moina; the opinions of Westcott and MacGregor Mathers were mutually exclusive.

Perhaps both Westcott and MacGregor Mathers were being honest? Be there as it may, but I sense that the last and final chapter has not yet been written on the history of Fräulein Sprengel or Soror S.D.A., and of the mysterious German “Mother Temple”.


tisdag 20 juli 2010

Scholarly research and bias


Since the last occult revival of the 1970’s, and especially the latest generation of Adeps being initiated in the 1990’s, we have watched the phenomenon of initiates also being historical researchers. I have addressed this question before in my Swedish essay regarding the traditionalists and liberal factions of the Golden Dawn community. That essay is two years old almost exactly today, but I still stand by my opinions as I then expressed them.

In short liberal researchers and initiates sees the Golden Dawn as a historical phenomenon which must be scrutinized using academic standards, while traditionalist and initiated researchers live their tradition and expose it from the angle of personal experience, and by using anecdotes and rumours. But in particular they base their research on oral and written tradition. The latter also considers the Golden Dawn tradition to be a late and genuine manifestation of a yet older Rosicrucian and Hermetic tradition. Thus they express views which may not always be corroborated as this would entail publication of secret documentation, while liberal historians try to limit their theories based on solid documentation which may be corroborated. But contrary to traditionalists, liberals wouldn’t hesitate to publish older and still secret documents to corroborate their theories. But what may be said regarding historical research may also be said of scholarship in general.

Now, traditionalist researchers, like myself, are sometimes accused of expressing the official policy as set by the Chiefs of their Order. But I ask if we aren’t all biased when we address the history and material of the Golden Dawn? Is it even possible, as a magician and active member of the Golden Dawn community, to be un-biased? The fairest thing is to be conscious of the bias and be open about it when one writes something.

There is also the thing that complicates this subject a bit when it comes to receiving oral instruction and teaching direct from a “Chief” or an advanced initiate. You tend to adapt the viewpoint of the Chief or teacher because of the pointers you receive from him. What others may see as expressing loyalty to a teacher may by the student be perceived instead as the current yet humble understanding which has been brought forward by receiving instruction from the teacher in the first place.

Thus can a student ever be un-biased taking training in a hermetic lodge? His worldview will be heavily affected by both the teachings received and by the initiatory process provided by his Temple. Hence a paradigm is developed, or to use occult parlance an “egregore”, which each individual or initiate is being a part of. For better or for worse.

Thus one cannot compare initiated research with that of the academic. I believe it is impossible to follow the standards of the academic world as an initiate. When you live what you are taught and teach in this way as an initiate you immediately loose your objectivity or un-biased attitude necessary to meet the criteria of academic research.

But that is how it works in esoteric circles, both in the occident and orient. Look for example at the chain of Qabalistic Rabbis, as in the Lurianic Qabalah. Most later teachers pays homage to Ari (Isaac Luria), or to Nathan of Gaza, or to Jacob Frank, etc. This doesn’t mean that they are exact replicas of the earlier teachers, but that they feel an honest gratitude towards the privilege of have been granted the wisdom of the past masters. Then it is to the task of the student to evolve the system further, within the tradition, within the system, being conscious of past history and paying respect to the foregoing brethren and sisters who has been beneficent enough to enlighten the student/researcher in the arts.


lördag 17 juli 2010

En dag på British Museum


För drygt en vecka sedan var jag och min familj (de syns på några av bilderna som följer) på besök i London under en dag och då passade vi naturligtvis på att besöka British Museum för första gången i mitt liv. Eftersom museet är så stort, och med tanke på små barn och ett i övrigt hektiskt schema där allas önskemål skall förverkligas – där pappa (undertecknad) endast fick ett par timmar till sitt förfogande – bestämnde jag mig tidigt att endast besöka den egyptiska avdelningen och John Dee-montern (givna attraktionsmål för en ockultist som mig). Vad som följer är de bilder jag tog från vår lilla runda, något som jag skulle vilja dela med mig med mina läsare. Bilderna presenteras i den följdordning som de uppenbarar sig för besökaren när denne går igenom den egyptiska avdelningen. Texterna som bifogas innehåller information som jag har hämtat till största del från British Museums hemsida.

Den inledande bilden (Bild 1) förevisar själva ingången till den stora salen där delar av den egyptiska avdelningen är samlad. De två stora granodiorit-statyerna förevisar Amenhotep III, en farao som figurerar ganska ofta i utställningen (Bild 2 & 4). Bild 2 förevisar en närbild på den vänstra av dessa statyer som är hämtad från Amehotep III:s gravtempel i Thebes, från 18:e Dynastin runt 1350 f.v.t. Bild 4 förevisar ett huvud av samma farao tagen från en jättestaty av granit som (uppenbarligen huvudlös) fortfarande står kvar i Egypten vid ett Tempel vigt åt gudinnan Mut. Engelsmännen hade tydligen inte möjlighet att ta med sig hela statyn utan tog med sig huvudet istället.

Bild 3 förevisar en mycket vacker attrappdörr tillverkad i kalksten från en gravkammare tillhörande översteprästen Ptahshepses. Denna präst var en av de kungliga barnen till Menkaure och Shepseskaf, de sista två stora konungarna av den Fjärde Dynastin. Det verkar som att Ptahshepses levde från cirka 2490 till cirka 2400 f.v.t. Falska dörrar av detta slag var vanligt förekommande i kungliga gravkammare.

Bild 5 förevisar en exemplar på en mycket vacker lotuspelare, vilket är ganska talande för nivån på den storartade arkitekturiska byggnadskonsten som var förärskande i antikens Egypten.

Vad som följer i Bild 6 är fyra statyer i granit föreställande gudinnan Sekhmet, hämtade från Karnak i Thebes, från den 18:e Dynastin runt 1360 f.v.t. Dessa gudagestalter upplevdes som mycket kraftfulla och verkade som en magnet både på mig och min fru. Medan jag koncentrerade mig på att ta mina bilder på denna del av avdelningen satt min Soror Mystica i meditation och upplevde en starkt attraherande kraft från stayerna på Sekhmet. Även jag kände mig hela tiden attraherad av dem. De är helt makalösa exempel på Egyptiskt konsthantverk och utgjorde det ensamt starkaste objektet i hela museet av det som jag hann att se på rundvandringen. Mot slutet av den egyptiska avdelningen fanns ytterligare en vacker staty på Sekhmet från samma tidsperiod (Bild 16), men denna gudagestalt gjorde inte alls ett lika kraftfullt intryck på mig, även om den var estetiskt tilltalande. Vad som är särskilt attraherande med samtliga av dessa statyer på Sekhmet och de på Amehotep III (Bilderna 1 & 2) är det mörka stenmaterialet och den oerhörda detaljrikedom hantverkarna har lagt på att skapa de stilrena linjerna och den perfekt släta ytan.

Alldeles intill statyerna på Sekhmet stog en mycket vacker staty i kalksten av Amenhopet I i formen av Osiris, från den 18:e Dynastin runt 1510 f.v.t. Den hämtades ursprungligen från ett Tempel i Deir el-Bahari troligtvis helgat åt Hathor som inte existerar längre. Denna gudagestalt hade också en stark attraktionskraft på mig personligen. Tyvärr är bilden (Bild 7) taget på denna staty något oskarp.

Bild 8 förevisar en liten staty av brun kvartsit av den heliga egyptiska babianen, helgat åt visdomsguden Thoth från Hermopolis. Den är tillverkad någon gång under Amenhotep den III:s regeringstid (1390-1352 f.v.t.) under den 18:e Dynastin, troligtvis runt 1350 f.v.t. och har antagligen hysts i hans gravtempel. Denna staty var också en av de mer attraktiva objekten under utställningen. Tyvärr förevisas här extra tydligt mina bristande fotografiska färdigheter.

Bilderna 9 och 10 förevisar Rosettastenen hämtad från Fort St Julien, el-Rashid (Rosetta), i närheten av Alexandria. Stenen är 112,3 × 75,7 × 28,4 cm i sina dimensioner och väger 750 kg. Den tillverkades under den senare ptolemaiska perioden år 196 f.v.t. och hittades av franska soldater år 1799 under Napoleons egyptiska fälttåg. Det som är så speciellt med denna sten, och som har gjort den till de mest intressanta arkeologiska artefakterna, är att den råkar hysa tre texter med samma innehåll på två olika språk, fornegyptiska och grekiska. Egyptiskan är skrivet dels med hieroglyfer och dels demotisk skrift. Detta faktum gjorde det möjligt för den franske egyptologen Jean-François Champollion att år 1822 till slut efter mycket möda dechiffrera hieroglyferna. Sedan dess har egyptologer kunnat uttyda de fornegyptiska texterna, såsom den Egyptiska Dödsboken, etc. Dess glasmonter, som stog halvvägs längs den egyptiska avdelningen och avgränsade dess första och andra sektion, var den ensamt folktätatste delen av museet och det tog ett tag innan jag kunde ta mig fram för att ta dessa bilder. I närbilden (Bild 10) kan man tydligt se de tre typerna av skrift, de Egyptiska hieroglyferna längst upp, den demotiska skriften i mitten och grekiskan längst ner.

Bilderna 11 till 19 förevisar den avslutande sektionen av den egyptiska avdelningen. Här förevisas tre stensarkofager (Bilderna 11, 12 och 15) och egyptiska pelare, förutom en massa mindre statyer och andra artefakter. I Bild 11 förevisas Merymoses sarkofag. Merymose var vice-regent i Kush (Övre Nubien) under Amenhotep III:s styre. Endast sarkofagens lock har kunnat rekonstrueras. Avbildningen visar att den avlidne identifieras med Osiris, dödsguden. Sidorna är täckta med magiska formler för att hjälpa Marymose på hans hädanfärd. Sarkofagen återfanns år 1940 i Qurnet Marai.

Bild 12 förevisar ytterligare en granitsarkofag, denna från Alexandria och tillhörande Nectanebo II, vilket var den siste infödde Egyptiske konungen som regerade åren 360-343 f.v.t. Sarkofagen återfanns under Napoleons Egyptiska expedition i Kairo. En pelare från Templet i Heryshef, Herakleopolis, syns i bakgrunden, såväl som en liten staty av Horus, den solara falkguden, vid dess sida. Bilderna 13 och 14 visar två närbilder på samma falk.

Bild 15 förevisar den vackraste av sarkofagerna som fångade mitt stora intresse under denna sektionen av den egyptiska avdelningen. I synnerhet insidan är faschinerande och vacker att beskåda. Sarkofagen tillhör en Hapmen från Kairo, som levde under den 26:e Dynastin eller senare, någonstans mellan åren 600-300 f.v.t. Det går knappat att se på bilden (och endast om man klickar på den och ser den i förstoring) men om du tittar på sarkofagens botten kommer du att se en avbildning av en person som ligger med armarna utsträckta, på samma vis som i Tecknet för den Dräpte Osiris i Golden Dawn-traditionen.

Hapmens sarkofag användes senare för rituell tvagning i en moské i Ibn Tulun. Därav avtappningshålet som syns vid den bortre änden. Även Nectanebo II:s sarkofag (Bild 12) hade flera avtappningshål och hade använts på samma sätt i moskén vid Attarin, Alexandria. Nectanebo II:s sarkofag var också mytomspunnen då den sades ha varit självaste Alexander den Stores kista, något som vederlades efter att hieroglyferna lyckades att uttydas. De innehåller istället delar från texten Amduat, eller ’Boken om det som finns i Undervärlden’ (dödsriket).

Bild 17 förevisar en jättelik skarabé stort som ett modernt badkar, ca. 1,5 meter i diameter. Skarabén är Egyptens helige skalbagge, eller pillerbagge, betecknande för solen under sin nattliga färd under jorden eller solen just innan eller under sin uppgång på himmelen. Detta exemplar av diorit beräknas ha tillverkats under den ptolemaiska perioden mellan åren 332-30 f.v.t. En faschinerande pjäs som förtjänade att bli fotograferad. Tyvärr är detta kanske mitt sämst tagna fotografi.

Bild 18 förevisar en vacker och mystisk granitartifakt som jag först trodde var en symbolisk portal av något slag. Den var inbjudande och jag stog länge och försökte förstå mig på den. Det visar sig att det egentligen är ett naos, den centrala helgedomen i ett Tempel vari kultfiguren hystes som utgjorde medelpunkten för den dagliga kult-ritualen utfört av prästerskapet. Detta exemplar är taget från ön Philae under Ptolemaus VIII regeringstid, runt 150 f.v.t. Den återfanns senare återanvänt i en koptisk kyrka på samma ö.

Det är typiskt hur ofta egyptiska religiösa artefakter har återanvändts av både kristna kyrkor och muslimska moskéer efter den antika egyptiska religionens utslocknande. Uppenbart hyste människor stor respekt för det gamla Egyptens reliker, även under vår tideräkning. Som jag har redogjort för ovan så är dessa artifakter högt laddade med kraft som har fortsatt att attrahera och faschinera efterföljande generationer.

Den sista bilden (Bild 19) tagen i den egyptiska avdelningen är den på en av de vackra sfinxerna tillverkade någon gång under det romerska styret av Egypten, allt enligt informationen bredvid statyerna. De har en tydlig grekisk eller hellenistisk utformning. Där fanns två sfinxer som stog i varsin monter (den andre kan ses i bakrunden på Bild 19) och de flankerade den bakre utgången från den egyptiska avdelningen.

Några avslutande ord om gudagestalten på Sekhmet (Bilderna 6 & 16). Denna gudinna associerades av egypterna med förgörelse. Enligt myten symboliserade hon det eldiga ögat hos solguden Ra vilket han sände gentemot sina fiendet. I en av myterna sätts hon iväg att straffa mänskligheten och hinner nästan i sin blodtröst, likt syndaflodsmyten i Bibeln och andra liknande myter över hela världen, att förgöra mänskligheten men stoppas i sista stund genom att gudarna lurar henne att dricka ur en sjö som är fylld med öl som har fåtts att se ut som blod, varmed hon förvandlas till Hathor, kärlekens gudinna. Sekhmet är en mycket stark gudinnekraft och feminin kraft som även sades härska över menstruationen. Hennes namn betyder ”hon som är kraftfull”. Hon var en av faraon Amenhotep III:s favoritgudinnor som lät bygga många statyer av henne under sin regeringstid.

Avslutningsvis tog jag min familj till den s.k. King’s Library på andra sidan av British Museum, vilket förevisas på bilden vid huvudet på denna redogörelse. Det är nämligen i denna sal där John Dees monter är förlagt. Montern med John Dees utställning kan ses på bildens vänstra sida, precis bortom det stora ljusgråa stenfatet. Detta förevisningsobjekt var egentligen det huvudsakliga målet för detta besök på museet. I vanlig ordning skall man spara det bästa till sist!

Den engelska texten i skylten innuti montern tycker jag presenterar karaktären och fenomenet John Dee bättre än jag själv hade kunnat göra, så jag återger den här:

This group of strange objects is associated with John Dee (1527-1608/9), mathematician, astrologer and magician during the reign of Queen Elisabeth I. A respected if controversial figure in his own lifetime, Dee is now best remembered for his experiments in conjuring up divine spirits using some of the objects displayed here.

A number of Dr. Dee’s materials came to the British Museum via the antiquary and collector Sir Robert Cotton who aquired them after Dee’s death. The large disc, called the ‘Seal of God’ is engraved with magical names and symbols. Dee used it as a support for his ‘Shew Stone’, in which his medium allegedly saw visions of divine beings unveiling the secrets of the universe. The two smaller discs are said to have supported Dee’s ‘Table of Practice’. The golden disc is engraved with the so-called ‘Vision of the Four Castles’. The black obsidian mirror originally a Mexican Aztec cult object, was used for conjuring up spirits. Its fitted case bare a label in the hand of Horace Walpole, the famous 18th century author and collector who once owned it.
Bilderna 20 till 24 förevisar sålunda självaste John Dee-utställningen, eller det som är kvar av den. Obsidian-skivan med tillhörande fodral, som det refereras till i texten ovan, är borttagen sedan ett tag tillbaka. När min fru besökte British Museum 1999 hade hon förmånen att få se denna. Jag vet inte hur länge den har varit frånvarande från utställningen men det kan knappas ha varit så länge med tanke på att skylten fortfarande är oförändrad. Vi har dock fortfarande det stora vaxsigillet kallat Sigillum Dei Aemeth eller ”Sigillet för Guds Sanning” (visat i närbild på Bild 23) varpå kristallkulan placerades, vilket syns till vänster på Bild 20 och i närbild på Bild 21. Det stora Sigillet placerades på ”Det Heliga Bordet” var vart och ett av de fyra benen vilade på var sitt vaxsigill i miniatyr (vilket var en kopia av det större). Två av dessa förevisas i montern och ett av dem kan ses i närbild (Bild 24). Vi ser också den gyllene skivan som förevisar de fyra Vakttornen, och även denna kan ses i (tyvärr tämligen suddiga) närbilder i Bilderna 21 och 22.

Jag är ganska så nöjd med bilden (Bild 23) på det stora vaxsigillet eller Sigillum Dei Aemeth. Något som gjorde mig tämligen förvånad var hur stort detta sigill egentligen är. Jag bedömer att det är runt 20 cm i diameter, större än jag har fått det beskriven för mig tidigare eller efter att ha sett moderna återskapningar av det på Internet. Vissa individer måste har blandat ihop det stora vaxsigillet med de mindre vaxsigillen, varav ett förevisas i närbild (Bild 24), då de senares storlek (runt en decimeter i diameter) mer motsvarar vad jag trodde att Sigillum Dei Aemeth var.

Nu när jag sitter och skriver om detta och tittar på bilderna igen så känns det lite surrealistiskt att ha sett dessa magiska redskap som brukades av John Dee och hans skådare Edward Kelly, ett magiskt system som jag själv har haft nytta av under de senaste två decennierna i den omarbetade form som framställdes av Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn.

En annan religiös artefakt förevisades också i samma monter som John Dee-utställningen (monterns tema var magiska artefakter), ett sistrum (Bild 25) eller en rituell skallra av brons helgat åt egyptiska gudinnan Isis. Efter Romarrikets erövring av Egypten år 30 e.v.t. spred sig Isis-mysterierna över hela det Romerska Europa och Tempel till Isis ära restes som ofta avbildade henne med detta redskap, och just detta examplar är hittat utanför Rom. Jag tänkte jag skulle ta med denna bild då den bl.a. brukades av S.L. MacGregor Mathers och hans fru Moina Mathers vid deras uppsättningar av Isis Mysterierna i Paris vid början av det förra seklet. Om någon skulle få för sig att återuppföra dessa så kan denne se hur ett sistrum borde vara utformad.

Efter det tämligen hastiga besöket på British Museum passade vi på att besöka det legendariska Atlantis Bookshop, som ligger precis utanför Museet, lämpligt beläget på 49a Museum Street. Många ockultister finner det naturligt att avsluta en tur på British Museum med ett besök på Atlantis, så också jag och min fru. Bokaffären är ovanligt välsorterat på ockult litteratur och är befriad från de vanliga New Age-attributen. Men affären är i synnerhet av intresse för en student av Golden Dawn eftersom den hyser två intressanta ”artefakter”, av vilket den ena är en samling med magiska redskap i original från första hälften av det förra seklet (Bild 26). Ägarinnan Geraldine Beskin gav mig efter viss övertalning tillåtelse att ta ett foto på redskapen, efter att jag hade låtit henne avsluta sin föreläsning om redskapen och en viss annan Golden Dawn-relaterad målning hon hade för utställning.

Enligt Geraldine Beskin utgjorde Lotusstaven och det Magiska Svärdet en del av den samling som hittades på Brightons strand 1967 i en kista. Enligt Francis King i boken Ritual Magic in England så hade dessa redskap låsts i en kista och begravts på en klippa vid havet efter ett Tempel i Rosicrucian Order of Alpha et Omega hade stängts på 1940-talet. Enligt King hade klippan till slut givit efter och kistan kastats ut i havet, varpå det sköjdes upp på stranden och återfanns av förbipasserade. Tydligen har en del av dessa redskap hamnat i Atlantis Bookshop om vi skall tro på ägarinnans utsago. Hon sa till mig att Lotusstaven (längst till vänster) och Svärdet hade ett motto från en Golden Dawn-adept inskrivna. Eldstaven längst till höger på Bild 26 visste hon dock inte vart den härstammade från eller vem den hade tillhört då den inte utgjorde en del av samma samling som de föregående redskapen. Men i mina ögon såg de samtliga tämligen autentiska ut, även om jag inte hade möjligheten att granska dem närmare. Ett fotografi tog jag i alla fall som jag bifogar nedan för läsarens nöje.

Avslutningsvis vill jag be om ursäkt för den dåliga bildkvaliteten i vissa av fotografierna. Tyvärr är jag inte speciellt bra fotograf (även om jag har tagit en fotokurs för några år sedan) och kameran jag hade fått med mig var lånad och därför lät jag endast per rekommendation av ägaren kamerans autofunktion styra skärpa och bländare. Av någon anledning använde jag heller aldrig kamerans blixt vilket delvis förklarar den dåliga skärpan i några av bilderna. Jag hoppas ändå att mina läsare skall få något nöje och nytta ut av bilderna och de bifogade texterna, den dåliga bildkvaliteten till trots.


torsdag 15 juli 2010

Golden Dawn, Paganism and Christianity: Polytheism vs. monotheism


One of the most recurring topics concerning the Golden Dawn, both as an Order and Tradition, is that of it either being Christian or pagan in its nature. I recently had a discussion with some persons on a forum, both of a neo-pagan and Christian bent, and what follows is my thoughts on this matter, as I stand today. It must be clear though that these words express my own personal views and sentiments on the matter which doesn’t necessarily reflect any traditional or official policy of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. When it comes to religion the Golden Dawn has always expressed a quite liberal attitude to the personal profession of the member. Although my views are largely the result and expression of my own experience with the Order and Tradition, and my particular initiatory process within its context, they still reflect my own personal revelation and attitude.

Personally I don’t see any conflict between Christianity and Paganism, or that of monotheism and polytheism, within the Golden Dawn. In my opinion the Golden Dawn may best be described as a pagan version of Christianity. It does use the symbol of Christ in its symbolism, but simultaneously it places this symbology in a wider and perennial context. It recognizes that the image of the Christ is a later development of the Osirian mysteries, as well as that of other mystery religions involving the formula of the dying god.

Being a Rosicrucian fraternity the Golden Dawn thus doesn’t represent a traditional or exoteric form of Christianity, but more properly an Esoteric Christianity which also gives acknowledgement of pagan deities such as the Egyptian and Greek pantheons. Thus it both uses the names of Osiris and that of Jesus (Yeheshuah) in its rites, often in the same context.

Upon entering the Inner Order, or Ordo Rosae Rubeae et Aureae Crucis (R.R. et A.C.), the initiate should find himself comfortable with using Christian symbolism in his magic, in combination with older and pagan symbolism. If one cannot touch Christian symbols or utter the holy name of God through the Pentagrammaton (i.e. Yeheshuah), or the Tetragrammaton (i.e. Yehovah) or any other Hebrew holy name, one will have problems as one advances through the system.

Thus open-mindedness is required both ways, towards both the Judeo-Christian and the pagan contents of the Golden Dawn tradition. As a neo-pagan one could believe in a pagan “Supreme Being”, such as Amen-Ra, Helios, Shiva, or any other, as a member of the Golden Dawn, but it would still require from the member to also invoke the IHVH (Yehovah) and YHShVH (Yeheshuah), and other Hebrew names for God. Likewise as a Christian one must feel comfortable with the fact that one put on Egyptian and other pagan god-forms in magical workings.

But this apparent paradox may easily be resolved. Every part belongs to the whole. Everything is a expression of the mysterious ALL. Regardless of symbol system, it and the particular god or goddess being used is only a mere vessel of the true mystery which cannot even be fathomed by the human mind nor realized through ordinary or extraordinary thought processes. One may or course argue if an earlier or more ancient religion is “purer” than a later one, or if a later development is a more natural progression or adequate “distillation” and sublimation of the Materia Prima, discarding the Caput Mortum.

The main point is: if it does the proper and adequate work it has a place in the system. Golden Dawn is a Hermetic Order and this means Alchemy is the very foundation of its philosophy and system, even if it is implicit. Now, I of course acknowledge the fact that Hermeticism and Magic stems from a blend of Egyptian and Greek religion and philosophy during the Hellenistic era. However, Alchemy has developed since then and taken a Christian form since the middle ages, perhaps even earlier.

Thus to unravel many of the Alchemical texts written since then, by most Alchemical Masters, you have to be able to decode the use of Christian symbolism which is prevalent in Alchemical textbooks. Regardless of the Ways used – the Dry or Wet – the Great Work or Alchemical Process is described using the analogy of the life of Jesus as expounded in the Gospels, especially concerning his Passion. Blood and sacrifice, in the context of the crucifixion of Christ, is something beautiful and intimately charged with esoteric significance when interpreted in a Alchemical context. The exception to this is the tradition of Internal Hermetic Alchemy which doesn’t use Christian symbolism, to my knowledge, but original Hermetic-Hellenistic concepts. But you won’t find any of these processes in a book shop or library.

One position held regarding the assimilation of Christian symbolism into Alchemy is that the alchemical tradition was compelled to adopt its Christian guise as otherwise practitioners would be burnt as heretics. Thus the need to use the specific Christian mythos for its imagery as to hide it from the persecution of the Church. Personally I find this explanation to limiting, even though it does give a partial explanation. However, I believe that the factual explanation is much more simpler than that. Much of our scholarly knowledge of alchemy mainly stems from the Arabs, who wrote from the Islamic viewpoint but was heavily influenced by the Hellenistic Hermetic texts. Then during the renaissance Christians translated these texts into Latin and through that process Christian symbolism became blended with the original Hermetic teachings.

Thus alchemy always takes its form from the cultural context in which it is living. Compare for example with Hindu Alchemy of the Tantrikas – Rasa and Nath Siddhas – where they explain similar processes but by using different mythos and cultural symbols. Our western Alchemy has taken its influences from the pagan Hellenistic culture, as well as that of the Islamic and Christian on its journey to the 21st Century. But regardless of the original cause the fact is that Judeo-Christian symbolism veils alchemical processes and if one wants to understand many of the important masters one have to acknowledge this fact and have a profound understanding of Christian mythology.

Furthermore, I don’t regard Christian symbolism and mythology as a “distorted” form of more ancient mystery religions, as well as I don’t regard that it currupts or dilutes the alchemical teachings. The Gospels and the Book of Revelation are quite straight forward and speaks to the heart (at least to mine). It is the Church interpretation of the Gospels and Revelation of John that is distorted. Christian symbolism has a profound effect upon the soul, as have any good mythology. Besides, alchemy also uses lots of Greek mythology in its symbols, which is a heritage from its ancient roots. Thus to grasp modern post-renaissance Hermeticism you have to have an understanding of both the Greco-Roman and of the Judeo-Christian mythos, as well as that of the ancient Egyptian. This is one of the factors which makes a good Golden Dawn Adept.

But personally I don’t believe that mythology only is about “decoding” a message so that the uninitiated won’t understand your texts. There is that part of course, but in my opinion mythology also delivers a message straight to the heart, the soul of man, by-passing the analytical mind. Alchemical symbolism is archetypal (i.e. speaks about universal principles at work both in the microcosm and macrocosm, both on a spiritual and material level) and may bring about an insight and flash of inspiration about a process from a purely intuitive angle and therefore also superconscious level.

If decoding was the only intention, the old alchemical masters surely would simply have used a secret alphabet or a cipher, like in the Steganographia of Trithemius. Even if they sometimes used that for open and plain texts, they also had the tendency to describe the processes using mythology, and also the play with words which Fulcanelli called “Cabala” and the “language of the birds”. All this implies a language directed to speak subliminally to the unconscious (or subconscious), which will plant seeds and grow and to create new though patterns in the automatic consciousness of man. Thus many alchemical books should be meditated upon, not simply read as a cook book. But there are also straightforward “cook books” as well, but these originally being reserved for initiates only.

In my opinion, the actual mythology used to explain the processes are irrelevant. The important fact is that mythology is used as it conveys archetypal truths in a more direct way without the interference and corruption of the analytical mind. And as I have already said, medieval and renaissance alchemical text books widely use both Christian and Greek mythology, sometimes in the same manuscript. Both mythologies serve their purpose well.

Thus mythology is of high import in the Golden Dawn. Now, I personally don’t see any great difference between Egyptian or Greek religion and that of Judaism or Christianity. That’s why I’m able to use both Egyptian God-Forms and invoke the Holy Name of God as interpreted by the Hebrew or (esoteric) Christian.

Most “polytheistic” religions, such as the Roman, Greek and Egyptian for sure, believed in a supreme godhead or deity. You will find this belief in both American natives and in the belief of the Ancient Egyptian Deity, such as Amen-Ra. The supreme Solar deity created lesser hierarchies of gods and goddesses to do lesser work, in the same manner as IHVH in the Judeo-Christian mythology created Archangels and Angelic Choirs to fulfill His will. There is a clear correspondence there. Just different designations. Only religious people, and perhaps academics, think and acts in such absolutes as “polytheism” and “monotheism”.

The prohibition in the Torah of having no other gods before IHVH is clearly a confirmation of a belief in the minds of the ancient Hebrews that there exists other gods besides their own in the first place, thus monotheism (i.e. the belief that there is only one true God which can be named and that all other gods are nothing but superstitions) apparently is a post Old Testament (as in post Torah) paradigm. Many scholars agree that the monotheistic concept of the Hebrews grew out of a early phase of monolatrism, i.e. the belief in many gods but that IHVH is the superior one and only worthy of worship. Thus what we see here is a gradul change of paradigm from a more “pagan” concept in the Torah to the belief in the one and only God of the psalms.

Nothing human created can be outside of a paradigm. In the individual this is referred to as “thought patterns” and in the cultural context as “paradigm”. Any image of God or a god or goddess is the product of the human mind and follows the social consensus. Man creates God into his own image so that he may comprehend the incomprehensible. This is only natural, and as all magicians know, works splendidly. In the Golden Dawn we create God-Forms to be able to attract real archetypal and spiritual forces. “They” can meet with us as we create though forms for these forces to incarnate and communicate with us. Still the essence of these forces transcends anything created by us, though it helps us being inspired by these forces and lift our spirit.

Thus I don’t care much for designations such as “monotheism” or “polytheism”. Any reader is free to categorize me according to this academic paradigm if he or she wants; the reader probably would place me in the fold of polytheism. I don’t mind, nor do I care. However, I wouldn’t call myself a neo-pagan as they seldom embrace the Christian mythos from several reasons.

Some neo-pagans resent the use of Christian symbolism in the Golden Dawn because of the narrow minded nature of many of its followers. Given the cruel history of Christianity and the attitude of Christian fundamentalists, I can understand their resentment. But the ancients believed in religious tolerance. These neo-pagans should be aware of the fact that Esoteric Christianity has very little to do with most exoteric expressions. The only thing that I share with ordinary Christians is the same Scriptures, mythology and symbology. The interpretation, i.e. the philosophy trying to decode these, is fundamentally different.

Another issue that many hold against the Judeo-Christian religion is that it is hostile to and prohibits the use of Magic, and therefore as a magician one should abandon Christian mythology for a neo-pagan religion. But I hold that the Bible is contradictory in its prohibition against the use of Magic. Most of us already know the part in Deuteronomy which says:
There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch. Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer. (Deut. 18:10-11)
But suddenly the New Testament goes contrary to the old laws, when it says in Corinthians regarding how the Spirit of God (Holy Ghost) may act differently in men:
Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will. (1 Cor. 12:4-11. My emphasis)
Personally I believe Theugy never is addressed in the Old Testament. What the Torah seems to be against is the use of “low magic” or sorcery and necromancy while the New Testament seems to consider Theurgy as an integral part of the Holy Spirit. Many Ceremonial Magicians today regard Christ as the foremost example or prototype of a Magician of Light. Others consider Thoth-Hermes to be the great example. Here one may choose between them or even better use both!

Furthermore I regard Thoth-Hermes and Jesus Christ as more akin to being “avatars” or “prophets”, i.e. individuals highly gifted by the Spirit of God. They are similar to divinely inspired mythic and real men such as Hermes Trismegistus, Melchizedek, Eliah, Mohammed, Sabbatai Zevi, Christian Rosenkreutz or whatever. These are personages who teach humanity about the ALL.

Now, I’m aware of the fact that it is highly difficulty to make a clear distinction between “high” and “low” magic. But my point is that the writers of the Bible probably did make a implicit distinction and to interpret what they meant you have to understand the world view of the writer. This approach is referred to as Hermeneutics.

Now, regarding the prohibition against sorcery in the Torah, Yakov Leib HaKohain of the Donmeh West has provided this interesting quote regarding Jesus, taken from one Gemara of the Talmud:
On the eve of the Passover Yeshua [i.e., ‘Jesus’] was hanged [on a cross]. For forty days before the execution took place, a herald went forth and cried, ‘He is going to be stoned because he has practiced sorcery and enticed Israel to apostasy. Any one who can say anything in his favor, let him come forward and plea on his behalf.’ But since nothing was brought forward in the favor he was hanged on the eve of the Passover! R. Ulla retorted: Do you suppose that he was one for whom a defense could be made? Was he not a Mesith [sorcerer, enticer], concerning whom Scripture says, ‘Neither shalt thou spare, neither shalt thou conceal him.’ With Yeshua [Jesus], however, it was different because he was connected to the royalty. (Tr. Sanhedrin 122a)
One interesting note is that Jesus, as YaLHaK points out, is acknowledged by the Jews to be an heir of King David. A interesting note is also that some people were exempted from penalty for the practice of “sorcery”, obviously a reference made to his ministry as an exorcist and miracle maker, and most probably to the miracle of raising the dead - Necromancy. We all know about the references to magic in the Grimoires attributed to King Solomon, a tradition which seems to be prevalent also in the Arabic culture (as Nineveh Shadrah has pointed out). Thus Theurgy or Magic seems to have been reserved for the Royalty and the Priestly chaste, but prohibited for the common man.

So obviously there were Magicians and there were magicians in the eyes of the Jews. King Solomon, as was Jesus, was regarded to be the vessel or hand of God. Therefore their magic was considered to be pure in the eyes of some Jews. Obviously this quotation lays bare the inherent conflict or ambivalence in the Jewish minds regarding the “messiah” Jesus, who was a political trouble maker on one hand by the ruling class, but on the other was considered by not so few Jews to be the real McCoy.

Also the tale of the Magical battle between Petrus and Simon, which often is brought forward as a argument against the use of magic in the Judeo-Christian scriptures, in my eyes in nothing more than a classical tale of “the Grand Master of our Order is much more powerful Magician than yours”. Eastern traditions are replete with these kinds of tales between competing Tantrik schools and Nath Orders. For a reference, may I please refer the reader to David Gordon White’s excellent scholarly research as put forth in the book The Alchemical Body.

Furthermore, Simon the Magician is tied by some to the Gnostic movement, or rather a proto-Gnostic sect called the Simonians. Gnostic references are often made in the Golden Dawn tradition, a fact which also ties it to Christianity. Valentinus, who led his own Neo-Platonic Gnostic group, was almost elected to be the Pope of the Christian Church. How wonderful and glorious wouldn’t that have been!

After the 3rd or 4th Century most orthodox Christians would consider Valentinus as a heretic. But prior to that Christianity was no homogenous movement. The Valentinians clearly were part of the Christian faith prior to the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD. Furthermore Valentinus was not the only Neo-Platonist in the Christian Church. There were many also during the medieval times, such as St. Augustine and Pseudo-Dionysius. Neo-Platonism also had a great influence on the later Scholasticism.

The battle between Petrus and Simon is however a reference to the fact that different sects were developing within Christianity which was competing for power. The Church Council of Nicaea took upon it the task to purge Christianity from all “heresy” and to amend (i.e. censor) the New Testament so that it would conform to the new anti-Gnostic theology. Hence the need of a separate and “unauthorized” collection of books, called the Apocrypha with texts like the Gospel of Thomas and the Valentinian Gospel of Truth, etc.

One tradition of Gnosticism refers the Tetragrammaton to the Demi-Urgos. But here is where the Pentagrammaton actually becomes relevant. Through the insertion of the Shin (or Spirit) the Tetragrammaton (or Elements) becomes salved as YHShVH; the Demi-Urgos (or Adam Kadmon) becomes the vehicle of the True and Highest Divinity. This also occurs in the Microcosm when the Ego (Tiphareth) becomes the True mediator between the lower Self (Yesod) and the True and Higher Self (of Divine Genius) in Kether.

In the Gospels the greatest heresy made by Jesus was him claiming to be God incarnate. But I ask if this isn’t the very essence of Theurgy? To be fully identified with God or Godhead, to become Him incarnate? That is the very essence of the negative theology of Meister Eckhart, who assured us that we all could become a Son of God. Thus the aim of the Esoteric Christian is to become like Christ, or as the ancient Egyptians said in the Book of coming forth by day, to be an “Osirian” or one of the immortals.

But with “God” I actually am referring to our own Divine Spark, the Higher Self, the Divine Genius, etc., our Microcosmic God within. This is of course not a Macrocosmic “God” but nevertheless it is the point of connection which we have with the ALL. This is not the same as worshipping ourselves. Or rather it depends on what part of ourselves we are worshipping; the little self or ego, or the True Self, the Divine Spark within which we must raise to be united with God and thus restore God.

Theurgy, as I see it, is the result of man being aware that he has a Higher or True Self but that it isn’t fully incarnate. It is distinct from his personal or lower self but he recognizes it as his True Self, the lower self but being a dull reflection of it. Thus he sets out to create exercises and rituals to induce a more complete incarnation of this Higher Self, to make it take the place in his personality and centre (Sol - Tiphareth). To restore (tikkun) himself to his formal glory before the Fall. To become the King, the New Adam (the YHShVH), which will rule his Kingdom with an Iron Rod.

This complete identification with the Self is the very essence of “doing the will of one’s Father”, etc. In this context Christ is the ideal that we seek to become as – to become true vessels or vehicles of our “Father”, when “His Will truly becomes ours”. This process of course entails the true Transmutation of the body. The raising of the sparks, etc. This, in Esoteric Christianity, is symbolized by the insertion of Shin in the Yod He Vau He – the Tetragrammaton becoming the Pentagrammaton.

Thus I don’t think that many Golden Dawners believe Jesus to be the actual son of God or God himself, although there are some few and I respect their view. Like Gnostics, most Golden Dawn initiates interpret the Bible as an allegory. Golden Dawn is a Rosicrucian tradition which uses esoteric interpretations of Christian symbolism. Like in all Esoteric Christianity, such as Martinism, it places a high import upon the Pentagrammaton. According to it, using a Qabalistic framework, it is the true deliverer which creates the New Adam Kadmon out of the ordinary man and his persona. This is the process called Restoration, Tikkun.

However I’m not promoting Valentinus theology or anything. That said, I adhere to the Rosicrucian Manifestos in my personal belief system. And the Rosicrucian Manifestos I regard to be Esoteric Christian in content, as well as Hermetic. I’m not a Valentinian, nor am I a Gnostic. I’m a Hermeticist. Thus I also adhere to the Emerald Tablet of Hermes and the Corpus Hermeticum, etc. Although I find it to be an interesting though system, in my book there are too many discrepancies between Valentinian Gnosticism and that of Hermeticism. At least this is my current understanding. I might change my mind in the future regarding Valentinus and Gnosticism.

And then there is the question regarding Queen Elizabeth’s court magician Dr. John Dee and of his magical system referred to by him as “Angel Magic”. Dee was an important influence to the Golden Dawn tradition, as well as a possible prominent figurehead in the Rosicrucian movement, the former adapting parts of his angelical magical system to create the system known today as “Enochian Magic”.

Now, John Dee was a professed devout Trinitarian Christian and dedicated to the newly-formed Church of England, under his Queen which reformed the Church. The Enochian Keys are very reminiscent of the Book of Revelation in their tone to the extent that I must conclude that they more belong to the Christian esoteric tradition rather than the purely Qabalistic. Some magicians shares my view regarding its Christian flavour, others don’t.

Most of my readers know that Dee’s magical system was delivered or revealed to him through Edward Kelly’s scrying into a shewstone. And even though classical Hebrew Angels such as Gabriel and Michael do appear to deliver the system to Dee most Enochian Angels such as Ave won’t be found in any Hebrew or Christian Holy Book. Still they were regarded by Dee to be angels, called by their true names and through a divine language that was considered to be lost through the fall of Adam from the Garden of Eden. Dee variously called this language as “Angelical”, or as the “Celestial Speech”, the “Language of Angels”, the “First Language of God-Christ”, the “Holy Language”, or “Adamical”, all intimately referring to a fundamentally Christian outlook.

But on the other hand Dee was also a student of the Renaissance and of Neo-Platonism, Hermetic magic, angel summoning and divination as well, and even necromancy, his most known work being the hermetic text Monas Hieroglyphica or “The Hieroglypich Monad”. But I ask if this isn’t typical of the renaissance philosopher, to be syncretistic? Perennialism has been part and parcel of Hermeticism since the renaissance, the Golden Dawn being but one such example. A renaissance magician and/or alchemist such as Agrippa, Dee and Paracelus, could invoke pagan deities as well as going to mass each Sunday and invoke the Holy Name of Yehshuah. In their minds there wasn’t any contradiction.

I have never thought of Dee as a typical Christian though. He wasn’t typical about anything, but that is the trait of a true initiate. The initiate seeks beyond religion and mythology and seeks the inherent truth behind these symbols through personal gnosis. He doesn’t need any priest; he is his own priest. He doesn’t need any human to confess to; he confesses to his own Divine Genius.

I nor anyone else in the Golden Dawn are part of nor represent the faith of the Christian Church, or any of it’s branches, although some of us are regular churchgoers. We are Esoteric Christians who make allowance for other deities. Thus we cannot be compared with fundamentalists or with Christian Exotericism. As a initiate I’m not following a religious path (although I often evoke a feeling which may be described as “religious”) and thus don’t regard the Golden Dawn to be a path for the many, not even the few.

I have more in common with the ordinary “Thelemite” that I have with the ordinary church-going “Christian”. But even within the “ordinary church” there are very uncommon people of a mystical bent which I call my brethren or sisters in the Work. I would go to a Catholic Mass with a Franciscan or Carmelite anytime, as I would with a Thelemite to a Gnostic Mass. But most of all I prefer to meet my Fratres and Sorores in the Hall of Maat. Why? Because we have a common language which means we don’t have to define basic concepts of faith or consensus notions and terms. This means we can take the discussion to an entirely different level.

It’s important to be able to discuss these topics on several levels. Theological discussions with fundamentalists and exoteric religious people, or atheists for that matter, are good as this forces me to define or redefine my own basic concepts for myself. But to advance my own concepts I have a need to discuss them on a level which transcends theology and reaches philosophy. But to transcend it further I can only rely on my own internal gnosis which makes redundant any intellectual discourse.

And I ask, how may intellectual discourses ever replace one’s own gnosis? I try to be a Magician, Alchemist and Mystic. Intellectual mind games are amusing and stimulating, yes, but Truth may only be revealed on a level beyond the “little ego” or “analytical mind”. As a Christian Esotericist and initiate I base my understanding of the world and myself as part of the ALL purely on direct experience. My own experience, my Soror Mystica’s, the experience of other Golden Dawn initiates, and the experience of mystics through millennia.

So contrary to Exoteric Christianity, the Golden Dawn isn’t a religion but inherently a Spiritual Path. I wouldn’t call myself a “polytheist” nor a “monotheist”. I personally don’t like these analytical and intellectual boundaries being made between “polytheism” and “monotheism”, as they don’t express any spiritual truth, thus I don’t do this broad categorizing. That’s why I sometimes enjoy defining myself as a “Pagan Christian” or “Christian Pagan”.

Some argue that the Golden Dawn does hold a theological position and counts as a religion (or as an organization that espouses religious beliefs). I’m also aware of the fact that my view is more biased than the opinion of a neutral outside observer. But contrary to the outside observer I have the advantage to have a far better understanding of my tradition. But what defines an expert? Who defines him?

Personally I don’t care much about modern academic or outside definitions on a movement that I am a member of. I still claim the right to define my own tradition. Thus for me it is not a religion; it is a Spiritual Path. Spirituality often incorporates a cosmology of sorts which includes a “Creator”, “Divine Architect”, “God” or “Higher Power” or whatever – a principle which transcends ordinary human nature and has a conscious and intelligent intention or Will.

The original Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn stated that it did require acknowledgement of a “Supreme Being” in the same fashion as Freemasonry. But is Freemasonry a religion? No, it is not; it is likewise a spiritual path which doesn’t stand in contradiction to any religious faith or moral conscience. Exactly the same may be said about the Golden Dawn. I must add though that MacGregor Mathers later changed this requirement to say “Belief in a God or Gods”. I prefer this later requirement.

Some other people make comparisons between Buddhism and Golden Dawn. Some hermeticists and even a few Golden Dawn initiates are Buddhists. But Buddhism doesn’t believe in a “Supreme Being” or personal “God”. I do believe in one, which I call the Lord of the Universe, and most Golden Dawners do as well. But in the same manner as the Golden Dawn Buddhism is more of a spiritual path than it is a religion. Also, both the Golden Dawn and Buddhism represent examples of spiritual psychology. So there are similarities to be found. But I cannot embrace the non-divinity concept of Buddhism. If anything Eastern, I’m more of a Tantrika as that tradition resembles Hermeticism most of all the Eastern spiritual systems.

Thus I am a Hermeticist. I also consider myself being a “Esoteric Christian” or (would-be) Rosicrucian. Thus I’m not a theologian. I’m a philosopher (or rather try to be). As a philosopher I don’t accept absolutes. On the contrary I prefer contradictions. Reality is confusing. Thus I often express myself confusingly and contradictory. I don’t overly differentiate and thus may appear confused, this essay being but one example.

One may argue that the early Hermetic texts are “theological” rather than “philosophical”. But I regard Hermeticism as a continuously evolving tradition and thus also recognize the Alchemical Masters since medieval times. They repeatedly refer to themselves as “philosophers”. One may here also consider the term “Philosophers Stone” or the word “philosophical” attached to many chemical terms throughout the alchemical texts.

One may exchange the word “philosopher” with “sage”. A philosopher or sage may also be a priest, thus a philosophy may also be a theology. But being a priest doesn’t necessarily make you a philosopher if you base your paradigm upon blind faith. Thus much theology of the Christian Church doesn’t qualify being a philosophy. Ancient theology was inseparatable from philosophy. In this essay I’m addressing the more modern theology of exoteric Christendom.

Contrary to this, in ancient Egypt different deities represented particular traditions or different branches or the arts and sciences. But there were no water tight compartments between them as is the case today, and members of one didn’t scorn or ridicule the other. As deities represented different branches everything was tied up in Egyptian religion and magical philosophy, regardless it being pure daily cult ritual, or physics, or mathematics, or architecture, or astronomy, etc. It was all interrelated and belonged to the same pantheon, ruled by a supreme deity and creator.

Thus ultimately it is the fallacy of the modern mind, in its interpretation of terms, to place “Philosophy” here, “theology” there and “science” over there in compartments. In the mind of the ancients there was no such division. Ancient philosophy embraced the concept of spirituality, destiny and divinity, at the same time as it did scientific research. This should be the paradigm of the new era to come.

Instead of religious (or theological) on one hand and philosophic on the other, I prefer the terms exoteric and esoteric. Esotericism does have parts which correctly may be attributed as “religious” in quality. But the main difference between the esoteric interpretation and the exoteric is that the former doesn’t mistake mythology for historical or material facts. Thus even if I use Christ as a symbol for my salvation, I don’t regard him as the only God for all. That fundamentalist position is for me a blasphemy.

Therefore I prefer to define esotericism as a “spiritual path” instead of religion, as religion implies a species of fundamentalism – the “my God is the only true one, and everone else’s gods or goddesses are false” attitude.

Christ wasn’t the first and only, or even a “prototype”. On the contrary, he is the latest form taken to represent the formula of the dying god in a modern context. This also makes the Christian mythos so interesting. The fact is that Christians hit levels in their mythos, theology and worship that are much more reminiscent of the older pagan religions rather than Judaism or Islam. Jews consider the notion of a “Trinity” to be a pagan blasphemy.

I consider both Judaism and Islam to be more “monotheistic” than Christianity, in that they only se one person in God (although with different attributes) and doesn’t use any idolatry or images of the transcendent deity. Christianity, on the other hand, see three personages (or hypostases) – The Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost – as an expression of One God, besides praying homage to the “Mother of God”. The image of Christ crucified upon a cross is very reminiscent of the old pagan and “polytheistic” practice of god-form worship. Christ being the “son of man” or “god-man” divinity is not that separated from humanity as it is in the Old Testament, bringing the Egyptian myth regarding the death and ressurection of Osiris to mind. The similarities between the Christian mythos of Jesus and Mary and that of the Egyptian Horus and Isis, especially in the apocrypha, are so obvious that they cannot be ignored.

Hermeticism has its roots in paganism for sure, but over time Christian symbols were appropriated by the Hermeticists no doubt because of the many similarities between Christendom and the old mystery religions. Likewise, I share the opinion of MacGregor Mathers that Qabalah is a continuation of the Egyptian mystery traditions. Although Qabalah as we know it today is a relatively late medieval development it uses Divine Names which comes from antiquity and many other concepts which such great teachers as Isaac Luria inherited. Likewise, true Rosicrucianism is based on the yet older Hermetic and Qabalistic traditions, being interpreted and expressed in a modern European setting and in the context of the Christian mythos.

Personally I also believe that the Jewish “montoistic” religion originated from Egyptian worship of the Solar deity, possible as a continuation of the Amen-Ra cult, or even the cult of Aten (the solar disc). There is the theory which I find interesting and appealing, regarding the devout and “monotheistic” Aten-worshippers being expelled from Egypt into Caanan. According to this theory they, who by then had become the Hebrews, later distanced themselves from their roots, especially during and after the Babylonian imprisonment. This theory is put forth in the book Secrets of the Exodus by Messod & Roger Sabbah. They hold that the Israelites actually originates from Egyptians and in particular from the priestly chaste of Aten worship. Likewise the Hebrew alphabet originated from the Hieroglyphs according to the authors and they provide a interesting analysis of the origin of each Hebrew letter in relation to the Hieroglyphs. Reading their book it looks quite plausible, making comparisons between worship, symbols and liturgy of the Hebrews and Egyptians.

I personally hold that Christian religion found its way back to the original Egyptian source and especially attached itself to the mythos of Osiris, Isis, Horus and Seth. In this context Amen-Ra is the equivalent of the “Father” of Jesus. It’s not a coincidence that one of the earliest Christian churches was the Coptic. Egyptians converted en masse as they in Christ saw Osiris or Horus.

Images of Christ found in Alexandria depict him in the guise of Horus. There was also the cult of Serapis (Osiris combined with Apis), also known as “Christos” to its devotees. Horus and Osiris – the son and the father – as symbols are intimately related. Horus – or rather Harparkrat (Horus as a child) – being breast fed by Isis is very much related to the images of the Madonna and the Child Jesus. One may see Horus also as the next incarnation of Osiris, who takes the place of his father – not to replace him but to represent him or the powers that he symbolizes. Both were regarded at some point to be solar deities (both being associated with the solar deity Ra), the sun being a primary symbol for resurrection. But the image of Osiris is more complicated to simply relate him to the sun. He is also associated to the annual growth of vegetation and thus to Dionysus, etc. But then again Dionysus is the Greek equivalent of a dying and resurrected god.

But some neo-pagans abhor the God of the Old Testament because of its cruel and severe side and therfore condemn the use of “evil” Hebrew names. The Qabalist on the other hand is very much aware of the cruel and severe side of God, and even “embraces it”, especially the Lurianic branch called Sabbateism. They call it the “Left Hand Emanation”. They refer to God as both the God of Good and of Evil. In the Golden Dawn the Lord of the Universe is both the Lord of Light and of Darkness.

Thus there is also a merciful side of IHVH to consider, according to the descriptions of the Old Testament, a God who is just, merciful, loving and acts as a provider for is people. The Hebrews as well as Christians basically regard IHVH as Love.

Reality, especially spiritual reality isn’t as simple as a black and white situation. A “monotheistic” God or a deity which encompasses the ALL must incorporate all aspects of reality, also the “negative” sides. As a Hermeticist and Qabalist I acknowledge that life has a purpose, even through the darker periods. One important part of the Work is to transcend the ordinary human concepts of “good” and “evil”. On the level of godhead these concepts are transcended, which Meister Eckhart repeatedly attests.

Qabalah is a way of understanding existence as we know it, also the “negative” and “evil” sides of creation. I much rather prefer a philosophy which sees “evil” and “good” as two aspects of the ALL rather than two opposing deities, the “evil” one going against the preordained order of the “good”. That is an all too simplistic world view. Until we are prepared to acknowledge evil as both being part of ourselves and of God, it may never be transcended.

Compare with the death drive and life instinct of Sigmund Freud. In his philosophy the death drive serves the life instinct, but only after fusion. This, in my opinion, is a wonderful and modern way of describing Tikkun or the Alchemical Marriage. As we are created in the image of God, i.e. as the microcosm reflects the macrocosm, we have to work out our own negativity. In this work of Tikkun or restoration, God will also be restored.

The only reason that “evil” exists as a purely destructive and detrimental force is that it has been split from the “good” side of God or the ALL as part of the Fall or “Breaking of the Vessels”. Through the restoration “evil” and “good”, “darkness” and “light” will be united. Thus restoration is the equivalent of integration. “Evil” as we know it in physical universe may only exist because of disintegration– unbalance.

But as I already have mentioned, in certain Christian Esoteric theories IHVH is regarded as being a jealous God similar to the demi-urge of the Gnostics, who by the injection of the fifth letter Shin becomes Yeheshuah where the Elemental opposites becomes united and whole. This is also reflected in Lurianic and Sabbatian Qabalah as the Restoration of the World (Tikkun ha-Ohlam), which in reality is the restoration of God to his pre-fallen state. Here Christian Esotericism confirms Qabalah and vice versa.

So what I am finally getting at is that as esotericists we should be open-minded and see the ALL (or ONE as it is referred to in the Emerald Tablet) being expressed through all deities and polarities, not just incarnated in one particular god or goddess, regardless of it being the first cult of worship in history or not. Differentiation is an illusion. Now what did the Emerald Tablet, the premiere text of Hermeticism, state?
What is the above is from the below and the below is from the above. The work of wonders is from ONE. (New translation made of Apollonius of Tyana by the Magic Society of the White Flame. My emphasis)
Or to quote an older translation from the twelfth Century:
What is above is like what is below, and what is below is like that which is above. To make the miracle of the ONE THING. (Again my emphasis)
This view is confirmed in the ancient form of Hermeticism as represented by the Corpus Hermeticum which is replete with references to the ALL. The newer textbook The Kybalion, purportedly penned in 1912 by William Walter Atkinson with the help of Paul Foster Case and Michael Whitty, calling themselves “Three Initiates”, continues with this tradition of the concept of the ALL. Furthermore, if it is true that Golden Dawn Adepts Paul F. Case and Michael Whitty co-wrote The Kybalion, this means that it is highly relevant for Golden Dawn students. One occult historian and scholar whom I respect suggested to me that even William Atkinson could have been a member of the Ros. Cruc. Order of A.O. (The Golden Dawn). Be there as it may regarding the true identity of the authors of The Kybalion, but it may truly be regarded as the premiere Hermetic textbook or manifesto of the late 19th and early 20th Century occult revival, being a true expression of its current in content.

Although I agree that The Kybalion shares many views with the New Thought movement of Atkinson, that doesn’t make it any less true as New Thought surely came from somewhere and according to both Atkinson and Case from antiquity. Also reading the quotations from the Emerald Tablet, it’s easy to see that any notions of the ALL isn’t any invention of 21’st Century “New Thought” writers but is based on the very foundation text of Hermeticism.
The extant Greek texts [i.e. Greek translations of the Corpus Hermeticum] dwell upon the oneness and goodness of god... (Wikipedia)
The ONE or the ALL transcends anything remotely religious or any human attributions of deities, super or lower. It is beyond deity. It is the No-Thing. “Deity” (if there is such a thing) is created from this “first matter” or “hyle”. One may call IT “God” but that designation escapes ITS true nature or attributes.

Thus the ALL expresses itself in Amen as well as in IHVH, or Allah, or Shiva, or whatever you prefer to name it. The ALL transcends all names and all images we humans tend to attach to it. Thus it takes new forms of worship according to the development of humanity.

I do happen to believe that there is a reason or point in the long evolution of religion and mythology. Although I do believe in the paradigm of the ages (gold, silver, bronze, iron, etc.) I also believe it represents the fluctuation of evolution. Thus in returning to a new Golden Age we won’t start to worship Amen as they did in the original Golden Age of Egypt. We are not Egyptians are we? We will probably see a completely different deity developed from our current beliefs of God.

Likewise, restoration or Tikkun, as described by Lurianic and Sabbatian Qabalah, doesn’t mean that we will restore the old Eden again as it were exactly before the Fall. We will create a New Eden (or New Jerusalem if you prefer to use symbology of the Apocalypse) which is reminiscent of the state before the Fall but at the same time completely different. You cannot ignore the Millennia after the Fall. There has to be a point to it all. The evolution of consciousness and awareness, of experience, or practice, etc.

Compare with C.G. Jung’s notions concerning “individuation”. The Self and ego are born united but separates during childhood and life’s experiences, but through individuation optimally are found to be united again. It’s like looking at a circle movement. But that is only looking at it two dimensionally. Looking three dimensionally you will see the creation of a spiral movement. Thus it is not a return to the infant state of consciousness (which is psychosis), even if there are similarities (that’s why Jesus referred to Children in his parable of entering the Kingdom of God). You cannot ignore 30, 40, 50, or 60 years of adulthood in the process. It is a similar but at the same time completely different consciousness.

Thus “The Supreme Being” in some distant future mystery religion of a golden age won’t be the same as Amen who was worshipped 4 millennia ago. They probably will call him something completely different too than that of “Jehovah” or “Elohim”. Personally I embrace this development. I believe in evolution. And I believe we will in due time experience a new Golden Age, the symbol of the New Jerusalem being a metaphor for this.

Some argue that unification is likewise an illusion as it is based upon a concept of a state of separation. But that is on the level of ordinary consciousness and a necessary illusionary pre-state. Many mystics through the ages have repeatedly pointed out that diversity is an illusion and that unity is the actual reality. Thus they say it’s not about us “making” unification; we are already united. It’s about us becoming conscious of our unity. Our ordinary consciousness, heavily depended on our physical senses and brain processes interprets reality and thus divides it to be able to grasp it. But this diversity is possible to transcend through the use of meditation, Theurgy and Alchemy.