JC made a comment about expecting this sets of posts (Adopt a Secret Chief) to be about adopting cats; and I so understand why they would expect that--heck it felt wrong to write what I did without mentioning cats. Nevertheless, there are times when you have to talk about the Secret Chiefs in their human form.
And this post is one of those times.
One of the recent things that has boiled out of the stew of the Golden Dawn fora and blogosphere lately is the idea that there are only two ways to think about the Secret Chiefs and their connection with Isis-Urania #3.
One way is that you believe that the Secret Chiefs are real, and that Mathers and Westcott had contact with them, and that the system is built from older material and the only way to gain a deeper understanding of the material is to gain access to the hidden Order that served as their Secret Chiefs. This school of thought insists (more or less) that any modern material and ideas about Golden Dawn are automatically wrong.
The other way of looking at the concept of the Secret Chiefs is that the Secret Chiefs were merely a lie told by Mathers and Westcott to disguise the fact that their Order was a completely brand new thing in a time period where the only "real" Orders were thought to be secretly hundred, if not thousands, of years old. Because no Secret Chiefs were involved in the creation of Golden Dawn, the school of thought reasons that there is no reason to seek out the Secret Chiefs and the odds are that anyone claiming to make contact with the Secret Chiefs is lying and running a scam.
Please note that this black and white description is actually a simplification; one needs a scorecard to figure out what some people actually believe. Which brings me to the point of this blog post.
There is a third school of thought concerning the Secret Chiefs. And that school of thought is that it does not matter either way whether the Secret Chiefs existed, was in contact with Mathers and Westcott or not, still exist or not...none of this matters.
Now there are several ways to end up in this particular school of thought, most of them accidential. You end up being driven into this school of thought---it is not like you wake up one morning and say, "I want to be a heretic and hated by both of the major Golden Dawn camps"---no you find yourself painted into a corner and discover that you agree with a litttle bit said by this side and little bit said by the other side, and that either side wants you to belong to their side.
In my case, there are three major reasons why I find myself in this outcast school of thought.
One, I have been asked to leave by every strict observance Order that I have ever been a member of. I have a habit of talking back to people; I tend to question the leadership of groups. Opps. With my track record, I am guaranteed to be banned by any Order that claims contact with the Secret Chiefs long before gaining access to anything that would make the additional trouble involved worthwhile. Therefore, it does not matter if an Order has contact with the Secret Chiefs or not, it is not like I am going to be a member long enourgh to benefit from such contact. I am the last person in the world that will ever have a (human) Secret Chief show up on my doorstep.
Two, I am in a situation where I do not have the resources to spare. Being a poor undergraduate (and seeing the light at the end of the tunnel is me actually applying for the grad program), I do not have the money, energy, or time to devote to any particular Order beyond my local lodge. For instance, an Order that emphasizes alchemy (to any significant extent) is not a good option for me at this time. I do not have the money to buy a decent alchemy lab setup, nor the room to use it, nor the time and energy necessary to pursue the work. Other subjects being emphasized also have the same problem, including any system where I would have to travel for instruction or initiation. This is one of those conditions that end up with one not caring if the Secret Chiefs are real or not; and furthermore, not caring if someone actually has contact with them.
Three, this is the worst of the lot and the one that automatically gets me loads of hate from both sides, I am working with very specialized sections of the tradition--unless the Secret Chiefs focus on these areas, they can't help me in the first place. For instance, one of the things I have read is that the Secret Chiefs did not approve of Mathers going hogwild with certain aspects of the system, and are busy rebuilding the system to what it was supposed to look like---these disapproved areas are exactly the areas that I am most interested in and the areas where no help will be forthcoming anyways. Given the fact that I do not have an interest in pre-1888 magic and initiation, it does not matter if I believe in the existence of the Secret Chiefs or not, they can't help me advance in my areas of interest. The areas I am interested in, the Secret Chiefs do not provide support for---then again, most of the other camp do not provide support for these areas either, hence the hate from both sides of the system.
(For the record, I believe that the instant that the Secret Chiefs cut support to an Order that the Secret Chiefs no longer have any rights in that Order and that Order never has to submit to the Secret Chiefs ever again. This is especially true when the system no longer confirms to their original vision. It is opinions like this that gets me banned from groups.)
Therefore for me, and whole bunch of people, it really does not matter if the Secret Chiefs exist or not, and it does not matter if Westcott and Mathers were lying or telling the truth, for we are automatically banned from benefiting from their existence or lack thereof. If you are denied membership or are unable to benefit from the contact, then it DOES NOT MATTER if the Secret Chiefs exist or not.
Of course, this is why I think it is such a neat idea to Adopt a Secret Chief. It is like playing fantasy football or Dungeons and Dragons, it is neat to consider what weirdness would result if a different set of Secret Chiefs had been involved. It does not matter if the Secret Chiefs exist or not, Mathers or Westcott was telling the truth or not, or if anyone is currently in communication with them or not. It is not like it matters to some of us either way. We have NO STAKE in the game---we are allowed to think about the "what ifs." Of course, this annoys both parties---it is nice that they can agree on something, even if it is only to agree that some people shouldn't be in the system for being opinionated and loud-mouthed.
(Please note that this post is not completely true: I know people on both sides who think that I might actually make a decent member of the Golden Dawn tradition...someday, that is.)