Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Weighing the Grades of others

Being only one-seventh of an initiate makes me a sad panda.
One of the questions that occasionally arises in conversation is whether or not Golden Dawn Orders should recognize the Grades given by other Golden Dawn Orders. More specifically, should this recognition be automatic with no questions asked.

My answer is always H*** F****** No!

I am sorry; recognition of Grades bestowed by another Golden Dawn Order is something I feel needs to be handled on a case-by-case basis. And if I ever did support the idea of automatic recognition, the support would only extend to the Neophyte Grade level---all the higher Grades would still be determined on a case-by-case basis. To understand why I feel this way, one needs to understand how I look upon initiation and the Grades.

During my involvement with one Golden Dawn Order, I was initiated as a Neophyte. On that day, the Hierophant did six other initiations. Given how complicated Golden Dawn initiation actually are, were all the initiations of equal value? Am I only one-seventh of a Neophyte in that system?

(One should bear in mind that this particular group emphasized personal work; initiations were seen as a starting point, but the initiate had to finish growing their garden on their own.)

The same type of question arises around astral initiation. Given the fact that there are seven layers to an initiation, do astral initiations address all of these layers? Or do astral initiations merely focus on just a single layer? Are astral initiates only one-seventh of an initiate?

(One should bear in mind that I belonged to another group that formally stated that the only thing that they could promise from the initiation was the physical experience. They were unwilling to promise that the initiation would have any effect beyond that point. Again, one-seventh of an initiate.)

The same type of questions arises when you shift your focus to Grade work and instruction. Given the variation in focuses by the various Golden Dawn Orders, one can be fully trained according to one's own Mother lodge and not trained at all in the eyes of another group. For instance, look at the vast difference of emphasis between the training given by Pat Zalewski and David Griffin. They focus on completely different things. There is no way that a person trained by Zalewski can be fully recognized by Griffin; nor can a person trained by Griffin be fully recognized by Zalewski.

(I have been a member of three Inner Order training programs, and I have never seen an exact match ever in the programs. In each program, I had to work with completely new material..sooner or later. While there is some overlap between the programs, the difference is large enourgh where I feel that it is pointless to even mention how far I got in the programs beyond the fact that I been involved in Inner Order training; if I enroll in a new Inner Order program, I get to start all over again.)

There also the issue of the skill and level of the officers conducting the initiation. Is an initiation performed by a crew of all Adept Exempts better than an initations performed by mere Adept Minors? And what if one of them has a cold that day? Does that affect one's initiation?

Does the type of lineage that the officers possess affect the initiation? Is an initiatory lineage better than an administrationary lineage? Are some lineages better than others? Does a lineage that traces though Mathers trump a lineage traced through Crowley? (Oh wait, if your lineage traces through Crowley, it also traces through Mathers...that is not good, is it?)

And do variations in ritual scripts make a difference? And how big of a difference does it take? If my lodge uses a modern language version of the rituals does that make them members of a different system from those who only use the language of 1888 London?

All these questions occur before we get to the ultimate question for the working magician: If you recognize my Grade, can I tap the energy bank of your Order? For a working magician, if recognition is in name only, and does not include the ability to share information and tap magical energies, then the recognition is just an empty gesture. Which is why working magicians tend to ignore this whole issue because they realize that only access to information and magical energies count. Realizing my Grade without giving me access to new sources of energy and information is merely an attempt to appease my ego and stroke yours.

So for me, recognition of my Grade by others, and my recognition of other people's Grades is a pointless exercise unless they are going to be sitting in the same lodge as I am. And let's be honest, there are a whole bunch of people who would refuse to sit in lodge with me; fortunately, for the most part, they are the same people that I refuse to sit in lodge with.

1 comment:

Val Durfee said...

This sounds analogous to the belt-rank system in martial arts. When a new student starts attending my beau's school, unless they received their rank a)recently with essentially no break in training and b)from a school that follows the exact tenets of a parent organization, they have to work their way back up through the ranks. There are some accommodations made for those who have achieved black belt (I think they retain their rank on a probationary basis) but the colored belts essentially have to prove they deserve the rank.

Anyone who expects to make a lateral move without proving they meet the standards of a new organization is naive and perhaps a bit lazy? If you are secure in your knowledge, why not embrace a proving period? How could you fail to learn something in that situation?