One of the constants in a Golden Dawn lodge is the furniture. We have two pillars, a Throne for the Hierophant, and a central altar. In addition, there are smaller side altars. In theory, we also have a raised dais where the Hierophant's Throne sits. Additionally, we have the Banners of the East and West. The dais and the Banners I am classifying furniture because you have to work around them; you cannot walk though them.
(Now, someone will point out that the other officers have seats also. But I am generally going to ignore them in this post. After all, a folding chair can take the place of those stations. By tradition, the Hierophant has the best seat in the house---in theory, the Co-Chiefs has to settle for a folding chair if only one good chair [throne] is available.)
Now, one of the habits that Golden Dawn picked up from the other Orders are speeches describing the symbolism of the furniture. According to esoteric tradition, someplace in the world of forms, there is an image of the ideal Hierophant Throne. It is probably not avocado green; it probably also does not need to be periodically vaccuumed because the cats think that it is the best (most comfortable) sleeping spot in the room.
The Ciceros in one of their books describe a design for Thrones for the officers. Symbolically, I can see where they are coming from, but it looks so uncomfortable that I just don't see it happening in the lodge that I work in. My idea of a proper Throne comes right out of Freemasonry, and even that is uncomfortable; but at least I do not have to worry about falling off of it or straining my back.
Now as I said, esoteric tradition claims that the form and symbolism of any piece of lodge furniture comes from the world of forms. I believe that this is false. I believe the reason why we end up with descriptions of the ideal furniture is merely because someone needed an esoteric idea to explain why certain pieces of furniture were the way they are in the lodge room. If we did not throw a blanket over that chair, I am sure some member would come up with an explaination of why it has to be that particular shade of green (maybe it is the flashing color of the actual color that the Throne is upposed to be).
I am a happy little cynic, ain't I?
Now in ritual, the furniture ends up taking an aspect of the Visible Stations. For instance, the Throne of the Hierophant takes on related symbolism of the Hierophant. And many of the pieces of furniture do not move, they are constantly there. As since, they becomes ritual constants. Hence the Throne of the Hierophant becomes a goal that we are constantly moving towards. And it is always in the East because that is where the Light dawns, or is the greatest (depending on what layer you are looking at).
This is slightly false. The real reason that the Hierophant's Throne never moves from the East is simply that it is too heavy to move. This is especially true if it is actually the same one used for Masonic meetings; the Master of the Lodge's chair tends to require three people to move it. And if it is actually on a dais...well, you get the idea.
Look at the furniture that is moved around in a Golden Dawn lodge and the furniture that is not. It is a clean line; the only pieces of furniture that get moved are the ones that are easily moved quickly (the Banners, and to a lesser extent, the Pillars).
The non-movable pieces of furniture end up becoming "Landmarks." They end being the solid parts of various diagrams and energy patterns. For instance, let's say we have a diagram where one side is light and one side is dark. Odds are the light side is going to end up being on the same side of the room as either the Hierophant's Throne or the Pillar of Mercy. There are times this is not true; but if you poke at the other layers, you generally discover a good reason for the difference. There is also an up and down orientation to the diagrams---East is generally "up" and West is generally "down."
Ideally, an initiate's private working space should be modeled on the lodge room. For instance, one should have a double cubical altar and two pillars in the room where you do your private rituals.
Now, there are some that give me a hard time because I mix Wicca with Golden Dawn. It is impossible for me not to do so, for I have two pillars in my working space. The only way I would not see Pillars in Wicca is if I resigned from Wicca and adapted another religion (ain't going to happen) or I removed the Pillars from my ritual room (again, not going to happen).
But the curious thing that I have noticed is that Wiccan rituals have an underlying flow of energy beneath them, one that matches the furniture that I am used to in Golden Dawn lodges. Now sommeone will be sure to jump to the conclusion that it is my furniture causing this. There is just one slight problem with that conclusion---I felt the same energy patterns in Wiccan rituals before becoming a member of Golden Dawn.
Doing Wiccan rituals in a Golden Dawn room merely has allowed me to see something that is invisible. Wiccans use different explanations for why the energy curves the way it does, but the flow is the same. Either there is a Golden Dawn element to the Wiccan rituals (Gerald Gardner lifted a lot of stuff during the creation of the Gardnerian rituals), or there is a common energetic background to both systems. So when I talk about Golden Dawn and Wicca being related systems, I am not bending either system to the other; I am merely observing what is going on.
And it brings me to the punchline of this post: What are you missing when you do ritual in a room without the proper furniture in place? What is invisible that you cannot see (or feel) because you do not have the proper furniture indicating where the Landmarks are?