Friday, December 21, 2007

Multiply GD group

Today, I spent some time on Multiply--a networking site (a lot of the members of Yahoo 360 are going over there)--updating my profile, things like that. Was searching though the groups there, and realized that there was little Golden Dawn presence there, so I created a Golden Dawn group there. Anything to make it easier to find potential members for the local lodge.

[Edit--June 21, 2013--Multiply officially closed operations on May 31, 2013. Links to Multiply removed. Link to the official Bast Temple page updated.]

Friday, December 14, 2007

What use would an Order have for an enlightened being?

If enlightened beings exist, one must wonder if it is possible to meet them in the Orders. Considering what I know about enlightenment, which is not a lot, I would have to say yes. It is possible for a person to use the tools and methods of Golden Dawn to access mental states that are normally barred to us.

Now does that mean that those members higher in the Grade structure are more enlightened than those below them in Grade--NO. One of the misconceptions about Golden Dawn arise from the correspondence of each Grade to a sephirah, and each sephirah to a mystic experience or state of consciousness. Some people believe that the mystic experience comes automatically with the Grade; this is a belief that Mathers seemed to encourage based on my understanding of his writings. One of his students, and later enemy, Aliester Crowley also encouraged this belief. It is wrong.

I have seen no evidence that the mystic experiences automatically come with the Grades. The Grades are the gateways and stepping stones to those experiences; they are not the experiences themselves. A certain amount of work must be done to realize the full potential of a Grade; a person must work to unfold the mysteries of the rose, or any of the lesser Grades.

Nevertheless, occasionally one does run into someone who has gained the vision of the machinery of the universe, or insight into sacrifice, or whatnot though the tools of the tradition. Most, if not all, of them keep their attainment to themselves. Beware of anyone who brags about their knowledge, enlightenment, or Grade; normally, such boasting is the sign of a sure fraud.

Occasionally, it has been said that the tradition is guided, and sometimes outright led, by people who have became enlightened. To be frank, this puzzles me. What possible use would an Order such as Golden Dawn have to an enlightened being?

Even if at their moment of enlightenment, they chose to come back and guide other beings into the Light, wouldn’t the trappings of our tradition be more of a hindrance than an aid to that pursuit? And how hard would it be to hang onto your enlightened state if one was forced to be the head of such an Order?

Thoughts like these affirm my own personal belief that the Golden Dawn tradition is not so much about enlightenment as it is about magic. It is not that enlightened beings are barred from joining the tradition (though I know a couple of Orders that would expel them the moment their leaders caught on to the fact), or that spiritual development can not happen inside the Order--it is merely that it does not seem to me, at least, to be the ideal vessel for this to occur.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

So who should decide the purpose?

So given the many things that Golden Dawn could be, we need a definition what is Golden Dawn. As a working definition, let’s borrow from John Michael Greer, and say that a Golden Dawn lodge is a group of people who come together to pool resources for a common purpose while using the rituals and material of Golden Dawn to further their way towards that common purpose.

The definition is a little wordy, but it is much simpler than many essay length definitions I have seen. And it does have the advantage of allowing change to happen in the system, the only constant is being the base line rituals and material.

The definition does have the disadvantage of leaving the door open to any group that decides to use the published Golden Dawn material to call itself Golden Dawn. Personally, I would consider not doing that; may I suggest the term “Golden Dawn based group” instead. Between certain legal issues (a small trademark dispute) and the large amount of expectations and misconceptions about what Golden Dawn is, claiming that one’s is the Golden Dawn is a hazard that one should really look carefully at before stepping into that particular bog.

So given our definition, what should the common goal of a Golden Dawn based group be? And who should decide what it is?

My suggestion is that the purpose should be decided by the members of the group. And I would also not set it into stone too solidly. Yes, by doing so, it does allow the purpose of a group to change as the membership changes (as new members join, and old members leave). I realize that having a fluid, ever-changing purpose will distress some people (for them, there are several Golden Dawn Orders whose purpose is set in stone).

Probably the most common purpose, and the one that Bast Temple (and the BIORC) was set up for, is to perform the initiation rituals and study the Golden Dawn material (both the published and unpublished material). And yes, it may seem strange to advise a changeable purpose when the one I belong to has a set purpose; having such a mission statement on the top of the bylaws is always an option, and besides we don’t say what material we are focused on--the focus of the group’s studies changes as the membership does.

So given the fact that the membership of the group decides the purpose, who decides the membership?

In many Golden Dawn groups, this honor goes to the original founder(s) of the group. This tactic is rooted in the General Orders issued by Mathers--one is granted membership by, and is allowed to continue as a member, only by the sufferance of the Chief Adept.

This is where I part paths with a lot of people. I think, that after the initial membership is gathered, the membership should be allowed to determine who is allowed to join. It works for the Freemasons; why not Golden Dawn based groups?

Many people will answer that it completely ignores the whole spiritual development concept of Golden Dawn, something that may not be in play in all Golden Dawn based groups. Besides what new Golden Dawn group, or old one for that matter, can claim to be enlightened, or have made significant progress on that route? After all, what good would an Order have for an enlightened being?

Monday, December 10, 2007

Purpose of Golden Dawn, and who should be allowed in

One of the things I occasionally ponder is what type of people should be in Golden Dawn and the Orders based on its material.

I am not sure if there is a legitimate answer to this question, or rather a universal answer to it. Each of the Orders that I have experience with had their own answer to the question. In fact, I believe that everyone you ask will give a different answer.

For instance, what is an acceptable reason for joining Golden Dawn? Most would say that one should have a desire to further one’s spiritual development. And most incoming members seem to think that is the only acceptable answer.

If you believe that the only acceptable answer is spiritual development, then you will probably believe that I shouldn’t be a member. Spiritual development was the farthest thing from my mind when I joined the Order; it has remained a low priority for me, though I must admit some spiritual growth has occurred despite my lack of interest in it. I joined Golden Dawn because of the material covered; I was already studying the material--why not do it inside the Order. There was also the issue that I like magic, the little known science of using the human mind to access dimensions that are normally inaccessible to us. To say that I have issues with power would be putting it mildly. In my defense, I remind you that I am the oldest of eight kids, and grew up really poor--a lack of an education and resources has made me a deep reservoir of self-interest. And if magic allows me an edge that I would not otherwise have, so mote it be. For many people, this attitude should bar me from the company of upright souls; the members of the lodge that brought me into the system had no problem with my reaching for power--a fact that would cause many people to say that particular lodge was not really a Golden Dawn lodge.

People are welcome to their opinion. People’s views of Golden Dawn are varied; and there is a Golden Dawn based Order that fits whatever views one chooses to have.

If you think that Inner Order Golden Dawn members should be paladins of virtue and self-sacrifice, there exists an Order for you. If you think that Golden Dawn should be strictly for Christians, then there is an Order for you. If you believe that Jews and Wiccans should be allowed into Golden Dawn, then there is an Order for you. If you like to be told what to do, allowing someone else to control your life, then there is an Order for you. If you are the independent type that wants to chart your own course, then there is an Order for you. If you believe that Thelema should be taught in Golden Dawn, then there is an Order for you.

No matter what you believe Golden Dawn is about, there is an Order that fulfills those conditions, (or at least, claims to fulfill them). This is why it is so hard to decide who should or should not be in Golden Dawn, or for that matter, which group represents what Golden Dawn is really about.

In many ways, it is like the differences of opinion that exist about the real purpose of Freemasonry. There are some who consider Freemasonry nothing more than a social club and networking organization; there are others who consider Freemasonry to be a school of esoteric symbolism. Either camp can find evidence of their case in one or another Freemasonry lodge.

The same holds true for Golden Dawn. My advice to people interested in Golden Dawn is to shop around. I would also suggest being patient; some of the best Golden Dawn groups are small and extremely hard to find. Just because a Golden Dawn based Order is visible and easy to find, and claims to be legitimate (and sometimes the only true Golden Dawn), doesn’t make it so. It also does not mean that it is the best group for your needs. Do not be afraid to take some time (maybe even years) to find the perfect Golden Dawn group for you. After all, you probably would not want to join a Golden Dawn group that would be willing to have me as a member, now would you?

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Is Enochian magic dangerous?

One of the great debates in magical circles is whether or not, Enochian magic is dangerous. For the most part, it is a stalemate between the two sides--one that says that Enochian should be something that you prepare and build up to, the other side believing that one can dive right in without too many, if any, serious repercussions.

Personally, I am a fence sitter. I was taught in the long preparation method, though I must admit that much of the noise about the dangers of Enochian magic is exaggerated.

Yet, I must admit that there is a danger to Enochian magic. No, I am not talking about it raining fire, or entities showing up to eat your brain. Rather I am concerned about the effect it (Enochian magic) has on the minds of those who use it.

I was reminded of this concern yesterday. By nature, I try to be nice to people; but occasionally I lose it, and tell people what I really think. And Enochian studies make it worse, turning me into an outright nasty wench with bile for blood.

As I said, I was reminded of this yesterday. Unfortunately, I was on a forum site, and hit reply before I remembered that perhaps telling someone that their ideas annoyed me was perhaps not the world’s best idea.

In part, I believe that my response was just the way I feel about the subject that I was replying to; that and the fact that the person annoying me is one of those internet hounds that occasionally comes though and announces that the Golden Dawn (especially the modern version) has it all wrong, the type of person that I want to heave a brick at in when I am in the best of moods. But some of the vitriol in my reply may have to do with the fact that the night before I was engaged in some Enochian work.

If it was a one time incident, I would probably just rack it up to coincidence. Unfortunately, I have noticed that my ability to tolerate the antics of internet trolls and armchair magicians tends to be low after I have done workings with Enochian.

So does this make Enochian dangerous? Perhaps. I would have to say that it depends solely on your definition of danger; if you consider losing control of one’s tongue to be dangerous, then perhaps one should consider leaving Enochian well enough alone. If on the other hand, you just rake up my venomous replies to me being me, then by all means feel free to summon up the entities of the Air Tablet to open up that box of corn flakes for you.