Thursday, February 19, 2015

Treating the rituals of Golden Dawn as a literary text

(Please remember that one of my majors in college was literature while you are reading this. I wrote this as comment in a Facebook discussion on associating the officers of Golden Dawn with various Tarot cards, and believe that some of my readers might be interested in this comment, even if they do not belong to that FB group.)

I think that a lot of the layers in the GD rituals are hardwired into the system by the Cipher Manuscript and the basic set of assumptions that eventually find their expression in the original Z documents. It does not matter if you use the Spirit model or the Psychological model or whatever other model you want. The Cipher Manuscript, the ritual scripts, and the Z documents are a piece of literature, and it can be analyzed though the lens of literary studies.

The Cipher Manuscript associates the Tarot with planets and deities. Once you bring in the idea that the officers, and other forces (places of potent power on the floor of the lodge) are associated with deities (in the form of god-forms), it is natural to make the link between the officers and invisible stations to the Tarot (though the planets and deities).

This linkage creates a situation that once the idea is put forth that (for instance) the Hierophant is the Sun, that we will also associate the Sun card with the office. Furthermore, it opens up the box that says the other six officers who move in the Neophyte ritual are associated with the other six classical planets, and their associated Tarot cards.

Because the creator of the Cipher Manuscript did this type of linkage, and the first generation of GD initiates read this type of linkage into the system, following generations have discovered that though a process much like literary analysis that they can puzzle out more linkages that have always been present, but invisible upon first reading of the text of the rituals. (Note that a performance of a ritual is a reading of the text, much like the performance of a Shakespeare play is a reading of the text of that play.)

What students of the system, such as Jack Taylor, Pat Zalewski, and myself, are doing is merely exposing the implications of what the original authors of the text (Cipher, ritual, Z docs) wrote into the text itself. Now what you do with it will depend upon what model you are using, but the task of literary analysis remains the same no matter what model you choose to use (just like in literature, you can read the same text using several different literary theories).

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Leave me out of your peace treaty

This is just a short and sweet open letter to David Griffin and Nick Farrell, and the multitude of their various and sundry supporters:

Good luck with your peace.

But beware that I will not take down a single post.

I stand behind my words---I do not rewrite my history.

If you want people to quit talking about you in a negative manner, quit talking about conspiracies, the unfitness of other teachers and authorities, and get a bloody sense of humor.

If you want people to talk positively about you, do something positive. Write another book. Write a blog post with actual information in it. Make a video that is not a bloody commercial filled with eyesores. Tend your own garden of students and do not worry about the rest of us mismanaging our responsibilities.

Do not expect the entire internet to confirm with your wishes to only have good things said about you. Contrary to conspiracy theory, the internet is made up of individuals, and some of us just do not like you.

And yes, I am moderator in the Golden Dawn Facebook group that Nick runs as a public service. That fact does not compel me to be part of your peace. All that requires of me is to keep out ads for Raybans and Ugg boots, and to delete any discussion that is going to result in a stabbing.

Honestly, if I had my way, I would have deleted every reference to David Griffin as soon as I became a moderator of that Golden Dawn group. And I would have deleted all new conversations about Griffin as soon as I became aware of them. All conversations about Griffin end up with people having hurt feelings---Griffin has simply made too many enemies over the years, therefore no conversation about the man is going to remain polite.

I realize that this response will get me labeled an enemy...but I was already burdened with that label before today. And in fact, I have grown comfortable in my knowledge that I will never be a member of the One, True, dating back to the Ancient Egyptians, trademarked until the cows come home, Mystery Tradition. That is actually a good thing--after all, I might feel like punching you in the nose if I ever met you in person, and you are not worth going to jail for.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Oracular anomalies (Tarot Blog Hop)

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Today's Tarot Blog Hop subject is Oracular Anomalies, those cards that do not match the standard, yet nevertheless actually work. I must admit that I struggled to find a card that fitted into this scheme. Either there were none because each deck is a creature onto itself, and therefore correct in its own way; or there was a blizzard of cards to pick from because most decks stray from the initiatic system which I trained with.

Then it finally hit me at the eleventh hour, it is the initiatic system that I am used to using that is the anomaly.

As most of my readers know, I am a student of the Hermetic Golden Dawn, a lodge organization that sprung out of 1888 London. During one's studies in Golden Dawn, the student memorizes a set of attributes assigned to the Tarot, including astrological, elemental, and sephirothic attributions. In addition, the Major Arcana are each associated with a Hebrew letter.

Golden Dawn attributes of the Major Arcana on the Tree of Life.
 As can be seen from this chart, each of the Major Arcana has a Tree of Life path. a Hebrew letter, and an astrological energy associated with them. Every card of the Tarot deck can be placed on the Tree of Life.

Paths of the Tree of Life, as mapped out in the Golden Dawn system. 
As a result of this, a Golden Dawn student uses the Kabbalah, in the form of the Tree of life, and astrology, as well as the numbers and elements of the cards, to build their readings of the cards.

So how is this an oracular anomaly?

Simple, the Kabbalah in the hands of the traditional Jews never had anything to do with the Tarot. Not a single word about the Tarot can be found in the Kabbalah before the nineteenth century. So all the Kabbalistic attributions of Golden Dawn are actually wrong...well, at least as far as the traditional Jewish Kabbalists are concerned.

So how did the idea that the Tarot was connected with the Tarot come about?

The association of the Tarot to the Kabbalah, in the form of the Hebrew letters, was first put forth by Louis Raphael Lucrece de Fayolle, the Comte de Mellet, in a small essay included in the 1781 printing of Volume Eight, Book One, of the Monde Primitif, analysé et comparé avec le monde moderne (The Primitive World, analyzed and compared with the modern world), assembled, contributed to, and edited by Antoine Court de Gébelin.

In his essay, the Comte de Mellet associates each of the twenty-two Major Arcana with one of the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Gebelin adds fuel to the fire by claiming that the Tarot is a book of mysteries handed down though the ages from Ancient Egypt, another "fact" that is actually false. Both French and English occultists would inherit these ideas, and build systems around these fairy tales.

So why does a system of Tarot attributions built on mistaken ideas work?

In the case of the Golden Dawn Tarot, I believe it is because the human mind steeped in the attributions, learns to communicate with oneself, and the spiritual universe, using those attributions. It does not matter that the symbols assigned to the Tarot cards are a recent invention, and have no actual correspondence to the older mystery system that they are linked to---what matters is that the human mind communicates though symbols and associations. In other words, the mind is quite willing to act as if the fairy tale of the Tarot being a Kabbalistic tool is actually true.

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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Yes I said that (the David Griffin edition)

No denial here--yes, I did say that.
Facebook down, Instagram down, can't play Vikings Gone Wild!, Bejeweled Blitz is unavailable, Hulu seems to be missing also...oh, I guess it is time for an installment of "Yes, I said that!" the delightful game where I admit to saying and doing things that has upset various people on the internet.

And tonight's offended contestant is the ever delightful David Griffin. There are many things I have said and did that Griffin, and his rabid followers, are annoyed with.

Perhaps the best one to start with is what I said when I recently learned that paid government trolls were trying to discredit him. Yes, I said, "Wait a second! You can get paid to annoy and discredit this man?! Where do I sign up?"

Is there a conspiracy to destory him and his Order? Hell, if I know. But I would love to get a paycheck simply for annoying the man--that would so beat writing erotica and grave robbery for a living.

Hey, it is not like David Griffin and me will ever be besties.

Not that he hasn't tried to be nice to me. For instance, in late December, he posted the following picture to his Golden Dawn Facebook group.

Colorado Kitteh sez Dude, I tink dis was some bad catnip!
Problem is that a couple of days later, David Griffin complained about people causing discussions to go off-topic with non-magical talk, including talk about the legalization of marijuana.
David Griffin feels that I am part of the plot to destory him and his Order, and his Facebook group. 
Honestly, I wasn't trying to derail his discussions. But yes, I was guilty of talking about the legalization of marijuana. Some members of his Facebook group did not understand why he had tagged me with the Bad Catnip kitty. So, I had to explain that it was a joke, that Griffin knew that I lived in Colorado, that I was a supporter of the legalization of marijuana, and that I was the caretaker of a feral cat colony as well as being the pet of several cats. And considering that this was the only discussion talking about the legalization of marijuana, I guess I should have just ignored the questions of those who did not understand the joke in the first place, and allowed Griffin to explain why he was tagging me in a cat picture. 

I was a little surprised that he went on to say that anoyomous bloggers had called him, "HugASatanist Griffin." Yes, an anoymous blogger did popularize that nickname, but they were not the ones who coined the nickname. Yes, I was the first person to say that Griffin wanted us to hug Satanists. It happened during the lead-up to last year's MagickAll--an event that featured E. A. Koetting as a guest speaker, At a certain point, the non-Griffin Golden Dawn community, which represents maybe a whole one percent of the GD community (the other 99% being firm Griffinites) got upset that E. A. Koetting would be invited to a Golden Dawn sponsored event, due to him being a black magician, and the Golden Dawn Neophyte oath containing the clause that one promises not to do black magic ever. 

(It should be noted that I have heard that Griffin's Order, being the most modern and progressive, as well as best lineaged, GD group today does not include this anti-black magic clause in their Neophyte oath, therefore, black magicans are welcomed in the HOGD/AO; and not having the clause, the HOGD/AO could actually invite a black magician to lecture their members on how to do black magic.)

Yes, I was super hostile about Griffin and Koetting being besties.
My coining of the nickname, HugASatanist, was probably the politest thing I said during the uproar. At one point, Griffin said that anyone protesting the attendance of E. A. Koetting at MagicakAll was a racist (a feat done by swapping out the term "black magician" for the term "black man" in the hostile statements made by the non-HOGD/AO community), and that it was also Wiccan bashing--both accusations got my Irish up, and I said a lot of hostile stuff in return. And yes, I recently said that I found it ironic that Griffin now finds Koetting to be a dangerous black magician. 

Speaking of nicknames, yes, it is true that yesterday when someone asked why Griffin is so obsessed with the SRIA, claiming that the SRIA are out to destory him and his Order, I said, "One of the reasons that he who must be mocked talks so much about the SRIA, is simply the fact that legally he is not allowed to name another Order that he fought a court battle against--the SRIA shares a common member with this unnamable Order." The common member last name, for those who are unaware of this factiod, is Cicero. But the important part is that I just coined a new nickname for Griffin, "he who must be mocked."

Another thing that I recently said is that I thought that his ad copy (blurb) for his latest video, and the video itself, was simple fear mongling. (I have said several times in the past that I feel that Griffin is using fear and conspiriacies as selling points, and a way to bind the members of his group to his leadership--so it is nothing new in what I said about his marketing style.) I also said that I did not like his Starship video background special effect, that his movements were awkward, and that the information content of the video was extremely low. I also mentioned that I felt that the fact that E. A. Koetting was now being used as the archvillian evil black magician to be especially ironic. Of course, I do not feel completely bad about this, for I recently learned, thanks to a posting by someone that I am positive is a sock puppet (yes, I said that someone was using a sock puppet to fed Griffin advertising opportunities), that Griffin believes that even my serious videos on the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram are nothing more than jokes. I would repeat what I said about the man after I heard this, but I really do not need to do so--my regular readers know that I occasionally swear like a sailor. 

No, I am not in serious competition with Griffin--I tend to avoid the "I am under magical attack" audience.
The most insulting thing I have probably said, in the last six months about David Griffin, was about his Facebook group. One of the things that I dislike about his group is that it tends to be knee deep in people who have never cracked open a book on the Golden Dawn. Now, I do understand that Griffin's version of Golden Dawn is not the same one that I am accustomed to--that in his Order, the Grade initiation rituals are not nearly as important, and that one can actually do all the Grade work before recieving the initations, something that is impossible to do in the version of the GD that I work with.
But because his Order is set up that way, his Facebook group, in my opinion, bogs down in conversations where people are claiming to be the next Messiah, smarter than everyone else about the Golden Dawn, despite the fact that they do not know the first thing about Golden Dawn as far as I am concerned. And yes, I did say on more than one occasion that it is the price you pay for wanting to have the biggest and most active Golden Dawn Facebook group, as well as an Order that is built to handle vast masses of people--something that I have said on several occasions is not what GD is about. 

It is because of that trend of crap conversations filled to the brim with nonsense, that I have said that I follow his Facebook group for "purely entertainment reasons." Yes, I said that the only value his group offers me is its entertainment value. Now, this is not always true--occasionally, a good conversation does happen there, but it could be weeks between good conversations. Weeks where, as far as I am concerned, his Facebook group exists solely for making me laugh. 

So why do I say the things I say about Griffin? 

One, my style of Golden Dawn is different than his. I am outright conservative in my approach to Golden Dawn when my style is compared to Griffin's. The only thing that Griffin is more conservative about is the subject of lineage, which makes sense considering his Order's lineage traces back to the Ancients and was authorized by the Pharoahs themselves. My own lineage only traces back to a bunch of Odd Fellows who also decided to work the Golden Dawn system.  

Two, I get caught up in the flame war. The instance that Griffin accused me of being involved in a conspiracy against him and his Order, I became part of the oppostion. At heart, I am an angry blogger, and I am quite willing to be angry at him, just for the heck of it. 

Three, I refuse to make peace with the man. I was raised in a household where one carried grudges to the grave. Once I was gifted with the accusation of being his enemy, my upbringing kicked in and dig a trench and a no man's land, complete with barb wire and land mines. 

But most importantly, I say stuff about Griffin because it amuses me to do so. I take great delight in mocking the man on a regular basis. Of course, given my family background, this probably means that I really, really love Griffin--for arguing and fighting and insulting one another was a family pasttime during my childhood. 

And on that note, I leave you with two memes I created about David Griffin, and one that I got from someone else. Yes, I am the person who created the first and third memes. And yes, all three memes amuse me very much...especially when sharing them with the entire world. 

Based on an extensive scientific study, this is what David Griffin posts on the internet. 

And we all know it is true because Griffin says it is. 

Hey, I say that this line from Third Rock From the Sun fits Griffin to a T. 

Monday, January 26, 2015

I wanna be a government troll (not really humor)

Dear NSA, CIA, FBI, MI5, DEA, IRS, FDA, TSA, and whatever other governmental agencies who read my blog posts,

It has came to my attention that you employ professional trolls to spread disinformation and discredit people that you do not like. I would like to apply for this job. I feel that I would be a perfect fit. I like to argue---a lot. I am also a creative writer with two Bachelor degrees (Literature and History), therefore I am good at making up false sources and cherry-picking information.

And as a bonus, I have been informed that one of the people that I dislike is someone that you really loathe. This mutual hatred should ensure that I am quite happy in the job, saving your money in the long run, due to my willingness to work in the job long term.

If you would like me to start working for you, please send a monthly check of at least five thousand dollars to the address that the IRS has on file for me, along with any information that you have for additional targets.

Your troll in service,

Morgan Drake Eckstein

The government probably thinks that I am a cat writer only. *sigh*

[Seriously, David Griffin (and one of his sock puppets) has posted links to articles talking about paid, professional government trolls on his HOGD/AO Facebook group numerous times this year...making the subtle claim that he and his esteemed Order are being targeted by paid, professional government trolls which mission it is, to discredit him and his Golden Dawn Order. Plus, he gets to make the bonus claim that everyone who dislikes him, and says so openly, are using a page out of the government's playbook. In fact, his very first Facebook post of 2015 was about this conspiracy to make him look foolish. You can't make this shit up. And the Snowden documents do not prove that there is a conspiracy against David Griffin any more than the fact there was a Dee proves that Dee translated the Necronomicon. Dave, do us all a favor, take your meds.]

Look, the dark hand of the SRIA works for the government.
First, the sock puppet brings out the hook, then David Griffin adds the bait.

Just remember that this post proves that there is a conspiracy against the HOGD/AO and its leader. 

Oh, I forgot to mention to the British GCHQ that I want the paid troll job.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Would I still give the Ritual Magic Manual three stars?

Last night, on one of the Golden Dawn Facebook groups, David Griffin's book, The Ritual Magic Manual, came up during a discussion. I had reviewed this book back in March 2009 when I was doing the "page view" sites (basically, you wrote articles and got paid by the number of page views that the article generated). The review ended up on three sites---it was one of my test articles to see what site was getting the most traffic, and was giving out the best payment.

At the time, I gave The Ritual Magic Manual "two or three stars." If the sites would have required a solid decision (like Amazon does), at the time, I would have given it three stars (rounding up). David Griffin promptly took issue with the fact that I reviewed his book. Being an out of print book, he thought that it should not be reviewed. Why did I review it? Well, David Griffin started to brag that it was selling for a thousand dollars in the used market, which in my mind made it "review worthy."

A question came up last night that prompted this post today. Someone asked how the printing and binding quality of the book was. Honestly, I seen worse, and I have seen better. It was basically the average for the time period. The pages are stitched---looks like machine work. I didn't use my copy a whole lot, having came from a Temple culture that required you to memorize the rituals that you were doing---but I think that the book would have held up to the abuse of daily use.

Is it worth a thousand dollars? Hell, no. But then again, I have never seen an out of print occult book that I thought was worth a thousand. I do know that following the occasional eBay auction and the listings on Amazon that I have never see a copy move for that price. And personally, no one has offered me loads of money to part with my copy....which makes me believe that the true market value is much lower than the thousand dollars I see in the listings.

If you really want a copy of the book, just ask David Griffin. A few years ago, someone scanned the book into a PDF, and Griffin will give a copy of it to anyone that asks him for it. (I do not know who made the PDF, but I know that it was not Griffin---it is a scan, not a conversion from the original files.)

[If anyone wants to read the original review, it is archived on my inactive book review blog---the sites that the review was originally on have dropped off the internet.]

So would I still give it three stars? Probably not. Today, it would probably be two stars---I honestly do not agree with the premise of the book, and was taught that swapping godforms multiple times during a ritual to be dangerous. I still believe that you should memorize the rituals you are using, and should be able to work out the variations on your own.

Of course, you do not need to take my opinion on this book. Griffin will give a copy of the PDF to anyone who asks for it.

And just so you know, Griffin as a writer, does not benefit one dime from the used sales of his book---so do not think that you are somehow robbing him by not buying an used copy of the book.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Why didn't Sprengel write in English?

Today, I was reading an old post of mine, Reading the Sprengel Letters, and the comments that people made about it. And a question arose in my mind--why didn't Fraulein Sprengel write to Westcott in English?

One of the features of the Sprengel Letters is that they are written in a god-awful form of German. Some claim that it is an older form of German. Other people claim that it is German as it would be written by a person whose native tongue is English. There is also indications that a man was writing the letters, and not a woman (something to do with gender and the German language); or someone who did not know the correct gender tense.

(Honestly, I do not speak a word of German, so I forget the technical aspects to the arguments---hence why I am not even using the right terms for what other people have seen in the German of the letters.)

Now, in the very first letter, November 1887, Sprengel says that "Frater 'In Utroque Fidelis' my secretary, often writes my letters for me." And in the last letter, 23 August 1890, Ex uno disce omnes, the person who informs Westcott of Sprengel's death says, "We are afraid that the young I.U.F. the secretary who has written letters to you for S.D.A. [Sapiens Dominabitur Astris] during recent years will have to stop his studies and take to business."

If I.U.F. was a German speaker, and secretary to Sprengel, he should have written the letters in decent German, even if her command of German was less than perfect. After all, one of the jobs of a secretary is to clean up the drafts of the letters that your boss writes.

If I.U.F. was an English speaker, or Sprengel was, better equipped to communicate in English, given the address of Westcott (England), why wasn't Westcott asked if he would prefer to write and receive communications in English?

It may be a simple thing, but if I received a letter from an Englishman while living in a strange land, I would ask if I could use my native tongue rather than a language that I was not perfect in.

(The cherry on top of this, by the way, is that Mathers introduced an American, Madame Horos as Fraulein Sprengel to the members of the Ahathoor lodge in February of 1900--a definite speaker of English. This was accompanied by an accusation that Westcott forged the Sprengel letters--but not the Cipher Manuscript or the German address that Sprengel was supposed to be living at.)