Monday, December 29, 2008

Believing in the rupture

Here is a comment I made in response to a posting done on WitchDoctor Joe's blog about those who believe in the rapture, holy war and the Freemason Conspiracy.

It is not the devil you have to fear, it is those who do not realize that they are serving his purpose.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

What is standard Golden Dawn?

One of the things that amuses me is that many people believe that the Golden Dawn and RR et AC system ceased to grow once Regardie published the Golden Dawn material. It also amuses me when people think that Regardie's material is automatically the norm in today's Golden Dawn.

It might be; it might not be.

Even if you have been a member of a group that stuck to the Regardie documents as their baseline, that does not mean that other groups do so.

In order to figure out what is normal in Golden Dawn and RR et AC based groups, one would need to be able to gather information from all the groups that sprung from the tradition and then take the average of the practices. Just because one, or even several groups, do things in certain ways does not make it the norm.

It is like your lineage; one only knows for sure who was in the room when you got your initiation; everything else is just hearsay. Likewise, you only know how the published material and your own group does things; everything else is just hearsay also.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Edomite Solistice

Happy solistice!

It is winter solistice for those of us in the northern hemisphere; it is the summer solistice for those who live in the southern hemisphere.

While Golden Dawn does not officially have a solistice ritual, a remarkable oversight in my opinion, as a wiccan and pagan, I do observe the solistices. I am not such a big observer that I will go and drum up the sun at Red Rocks (it is just too cold to do that in my opinion, even when it is not sub-zero temperatures); but in my own small way, I note its passing.

Mainly I start to pull out the seed catalogs and think about what I want to do in the garden this coming season. Later I will consult the wife about my plans.

Personally, I think that it does a person good to be aware of the passing of the seasons. To know and remember that every thing has its own season is a valuable piece of esoteric lore; esoteric not because it is hidden away from the masses, but esoteric because so many people have forgotten this law of nature.

If you can remember that things come and go, waxing and waning in their strength, you are less likely to be surprised when things crumble. Often the practical benefits of our tradition lies not in the powers that we develop; rather they lay in the patterns of awareness that we inhabit.

For instance, if you can look upon the economic bubbles and the adventures of mismanagement and connect them with the Kings of Edom, remembering what happened to those proud and arrogant Kings, then you will not be surprised when the bubbles break and the energy of the blasted tower comes flashing though.

As Paul Foster Case used to point out, the symbolism of the esoteric sciences are only useful if you make them a part of your mental furniture.

Happy Solistice!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Scary coincidence

Here is a scary coincidence for you. As the Continential Flight #1404 emergency landing was happening at Denver International Airport (I live a few miles west of the airport), I was writing an article on the Tower card.

I realize that it is just a coincidence, but things like this happen often enourgh that I understand how some people can get superstitious and worry about the presence of magicians and witches.

Imagine if I was under the oath of the abyss, can you just see my ego swelling up?

Friday, December 19, 2008

Public Performance of GD Rituals

When I was at the Reiki Circle on Wednesday, before the meeting begun (before anyone other than the Jo, the organizer, and her daughter showed up) I started to do the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram and the Middle Pillar ritual.

Jo is well aware that I am a member of Golden Dawn. In fact, we first met at the July OFM (the one that I did that involved a long lecture about the food chain) and one of my fellow lodge members did the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram at the start of the ritual.

Anyway, while I was doing these rituals on Wednesday, a couple of people showed up. And I barely broke stride to wave them past and to tell them to pay no attention to me. I had my back turned when a third person showed up while I was in the midst of the Middle Pillar ritual.

And I didn't care.

As far as I am concerned the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram and the Middle Pillar ritual are common knowledge; if you are in any of the circles of the esoteric community, there is a good chance that you have encountered them.

In fact, one person later that night mentioned OTO and Golden Dawn (a failed joke that the two groups get along well with one another) and the another took the Middle Pillar to be a positive sign.

I have seen several groups using these two rituals often without knowledge of their original sources. These two rituals are also included in many public workshops and classes.

Because of this, I really don't consider it a violation of my oaths if outsiders see me, or another Golden Dawn member, perform them.

I do draw the line however in the fact that I will not perform the Supreme Rituals or the Portal version of the Middle Pillar ritual in public. They are not well-known enough that one can consider them part of the standard esoteric toolkit.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


Today when downloading and installing the emergency security patch for Internet Explorer 7, I started to think about security and secrecy in Golden Dawn.

[For those of you who have not heard, someone published the fact that Internet Explorer 7, as well as the other versions of Internet Explorer, had a huge hole in its security. In defense of the publisher, they thought that Microsoft had already addressed the issue; Microsoft hadn't. So an emergency security patch for IE 7 was released today. If you use any version of Internet Explorer, I strongly suggest going over to the Microsoft website and installing the patch. Better safe than sorry.]

Now I, myself, don't pay much attention to the whole idea of secrecy in Golden Dawn. It is something that is there, but it is not something that is important to me personally. Everybody knows that I am a member of Golden Dawn, and that the lodge I belong to is in Denver, Colorado. I learned about the system's existence though a book; it should be noted that I didn't have much knowledge about the system before actually stumbling into a lodge, but a book did send me in the right direction of an existing lodge.

Most of the people that know of me, know that I am a writer and that I write about Golden Dawn. The members that let me into the system knew that I was a writer, and they guessed that someday I would write about the system; they did not care. Therefore, I am amused by those who run around swearing that absolute secrecy is necessary.

If absolute secrecy is neccessary to a secret society, how do you explain the continued existence of secret societies like the Freemasons? Or better yet, the continued existence of Golden Dawn?

And having seen some of the information that the rabid secrecy crowd are hiding in their Inner Orders, I have to ask where is the harm of releasing this information? It is not like you can levitate cats, heal gunshots instantly, or win the Powerball jackpot. In fact, I suspect that this information is being kept secret purely for ego and due collecting purposes.

Note that I am not against secrecy; I just find the extreme that some people take it to be either frightening or just plain silly depending upon who is doing it.

Locally, we practice secrecy. It is just not the absolute form.

The curriclum is dealt with in a step by step mode. The foundation must be laid first before one attempts to climb to the heights of the Temple.

Some of our members work in jobs where the hint of being something other than a rabid Christian Fundementalist can get them fired; their identities are top secret.

Our experiemental areas, the cutting edge stuff, is secret. Though that is more along the lines of "don't try this at home."

Honestly, I don't know of anybody in the Golden Dawn system that would not agree to this type of secrecy. It is good common sense.

But it is the extreme that some people are willing to go that worries me. When it starts looking like a cult, I start to worry; those who know my history will understand why.

Using the Microsoft model (ignoring the fact that Microsoft issues their system to everyone), lets look at Golden Dawn security. Lets presume that the current is like the internet. Our seasonal passwords are like our normal security passwords on our computers and websites. The fear is that with the published information that anyone can hack into the egregores of our respective lodges and Orders.

Yeah, it is called doing the work.

The only reason that you would not want people to do the work is if you had something to gain if they went though your branch of the system and no other. And that is the only need I see for absolute secrecy.

All the current members of my lodge know all the other members in good standing; it is not like you can fake it. Just being able to parrot information out of a book is not good enourgh. And even material that was developed and published out of Bast Temple is not good enourgh to fake it.

Now, I will admit that there are esoteric reasons for secrecy, but they do not require absolute secrecy or security patches; furthermore that is a post for another day.

Monday, December 15, 2008

GD as an open document

In Golden Dawn today, there are essentially two camps.

There is the camp that believes that the work and lectures of the founders and earlier Adepts of the system is perfect and can not be changed. This camp tends to emphasize lineage.

Then there is the camp that believes that the Golden Dawn system can be changed by those who are currently in the system. This camp tends to downplay lineage, and totally ignores the concept of the Secret Chiefs (at least in the sense of them being the bosses of us all).

Readers of my posts and the lodge's website know what camp I am in; or at least, they should be able to figure it out relatively easily.

Both camps will agree that the system of Golden Dawn as we have it is not completed. It is just how to go about completing it that is in dispute. The parts that are not completed are the Inner Order and the Third Order.

The Secret Chief crowd say that this material is already in existence and that we must humbly submit to the orders of the Secret Chiefs to gain the material. They will occasionally point out that either of those Orders are actually teaching Orders; both emphasize private work. To which, I will respond "If after Adept Minor Theoricus, I am on my own, recieving just approval or dismay at my experimential results, what is the purpose of me trying to convince the Secret Chiefs and their supporters that I should be allowed to go past THAM?"

The other camp believes that Golden Dawn is an open document. Members of this camp may not even believe that a hundred percent correctness in the material is even possible. They believe that the task of completing the system falls to the current and future members.

This idea, that Golden Dawn is an open document, annoys a lot of leaders in Golden Dawn. They point out that it goes against what the founders of Golden Dawn said about the system. They point out that students can not know what works and what doesn't. They are reasonable arguments.

Except that the highest positions in all fields have always had to develop the next level, relying only on results and peer reviews to validate their ideas and theories (using the concept that it is not a theory if it can not be tested).

And what no one wants pointed out is that there is evidence that the founders and the later Chiefs of Golden Dawn were treating the system as an open document. But you didn't hear me suggest that idea, did you?

Friday, December 12, 2008

Drawing down the divine

Tonight's Hearthstone Community Church is going to be doing a drawing down at the Open Full Moon. Actually three of them, Judith Brownlee, Jackie Weller and Alia Denny are all going to be functioning as High Priestesses tonight.

I am probably not going to visit any of the goddesses tonight. I have experienced drawing down before, both as an audience member and as Priest. It can be a powerful experience. And while it is not how Golden Dawn does things (Golden Dawn prefers to use godforms), drawing down is an useful tool in the right envirnoment.

The reason that I am not going to visit any of them is simply because I have no questions to ask that will not get me either a cryptic answer or a whack. What am I concerned about: my next student loan and is college going to be worth it. Hardly stuff that I need to consult the goddess with, especially the versions that I know. All I will get is a riddle that translates as wait and see.

So tonight, I am probably am just going to help out grounding people who do go visit one of the goddesses. It will be good practice for me. That and it allows me to gossip and catch up with my friends which I really need now that finals are done for the semester.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Open Full Moon Dates for 2009

The Open Full Moon dates for 2009 are:
Jan 9
Feb 6
Mar 13
April 10
May 8
June 5
July 3
July 31
Sept 4
Nov 6
Nov 27
There is no OFM for December 2009.
The final 2008 Open Full Moon date is December 12, 2008.
Meets at the First Unitarian Church
at 14th and Lafayette, Denver Colorado
Doors open at 7 pm.
Ritual starts at 7:30 pm.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Writing about the Golden Dawn

One of the things that disturbs people about me is the fact that I am a writer. And I write about Golden Dawn. This scares a lot of people.

I am not sure why. They occasionally cite secrecy as the reason.

Huh? The material I publish about Golden Dawn is mainly book reviews. And the rest is my own creation: stuff based primarily on material that already been published.

I guess it is another one of those bad habits that I picked up from Hathoor Temple. Their opinion, one that made its way into their bylaws, was that the creator of a document controlled the copyrights to it. They couldn't prevent publication. They thought it would be polite if you asked the Chiefs to make sure that there was nothing vital in the document that should not be published; but even in that case, they really couldn't stop you from releasing the material.

Hathoor Temple was also big on citing your sources. It is amazing how many secret documents are actually built up from public (published) sources.

This was how Hathoor Temple decided to deal with the core of the Golden Dawn system being in public domain. They felt that eventually everything from the original Golden Dawn would be published. They also felt that any Order or lodge worth its salt needed to put up or shut up.

It is a different business model than most Orders use. They felt that it was not lineage that counted or how many secret documents that you had; it was your current ability to generate new material and be an asset to the community that mattered---nothing else counted.

Now I will admit that based on my writings that I am probably next to useless as far as the Golden Dawn community is concerned. I ramble. I am opinionated. And quite often I am just plain wrong. Opps, my problem is that I am still human; I must get to work on that problem if I want any respect from my fellow Golden Dawn members.

But I don't care if you judge me by my writing or by the posts that I make on the Golden Dawn forums. And I could care even less if you think that I am not worthy of trust. The only opinions that matter are those of Bast Temple, my mentors, my friends, and my own. If I can live with my bad writing, it is not going to kill the rest of you.

(Though the writer in me would be impressed by writing so bad that it kills; Vogon poetry, anyone? How do I get my writing to be that bad? I want to be a lethal weapon, master of the poison pen.)

Thursday, December 4, 2008

My get out of jail free card

Early in my personal Golden Dawn history (before I learned what I joined was not really Golden Dawn according to the most vocal historians and pundits), I learned a very important phrase: I don't know.

It actually started before I joined Golden Dawn (I will continue to call it GD because I believe that it is GD despite opinions that tell me that I am wrong). My sponsor spotted me in public with Donald Michael Kraig's Modern Magic (How to Become a non-GD Adept in Eleven Easy Lessons). It is a book that most of us own.

He started right in on me: Why are you reading that book? does it really work? why do you have to learn the Hebrew alphabet?

My standard response, after I got done being frustrated, was: I don't know.

To this day, I am not sure why he decided to sponsor me for membership in Hathoor Temple. But I continued to use the phrase well into my membership. It is an useful phrase. It allows me to ask questions, assign research projects (Temple Officers are mean that way), and helps keep my ego under control (well as much as it is possible for my ego to be under control).

Unlike several Adepts I have ran into over the years, I don't have to dodge behind secrecy ("You will learn that in a higher Grade"), nor do I have to make up answers. If I don't know something, I just admit to it.

And if I do, I either tell the person the answer or give them a full run-down of what all they need to know before I can give them an answer that will actually make sense to them.

(That is a form of secrecy in itself: an answer that makes no sense unless you know X, Y and Z.)

After all, my office and oath requires me to teach and not merely hide the information that I do know. Preservation of information is my burden, not secrecy.

(For those who are concerned with secrecy---if it is already in public domain, why not talk about it? and do you know what I reserve exclusively for the members of my own lodge? are you sure that the public knowledge is all that there is?)

I am not sure if this is the right way to do things or not. It was acceptable in Hathoor, and it is acceptable in Bast Temple. It is my way. Is it the best way to do things? Honestly, I don't know.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Danger from Enochian

One of the things that you hear about Enochian magic is that it is dangerous. Most of this seems to stem from the belief of Paul Foster Case that it was dangerous to use; in fact, while the rituals of the Builders of the Adtyum are remarkably similar to Golden Dawn's, they do not have any Enochian contained in them.

Now, I am not sure that Enochian is death causing, but I am sure that it is dangerous---or at least, it is dangerous for me to practice.

I am doing another round of Enochian scrying to fulfill the requirements of the subGrade that I am currently working on. And one thing that I have noticed about the work is that it leaves me mentally and emotionally off-balanced.

I first started to notice this when I realized that some of my nastier responses on the GD forums were done after doing Enochian scrying. It is very easy to annoy me the day after I do a scrying. Doing a full set of banishings after the scrying session helps, but still my tongue is wicked and my brain is unwell after scrying an Enochian square.

I know the square that puts me back into the mindset I used to have in food service; you know that nasty one where you suspect that the cook is about to go postal on someone. If I didn't have to scry it to pass my examinations, I would go near it ever again.

Essentially, I think that the problem with that particular square, and with the majority of the squares is that they are not complete elementally. And add a mind that was programmed in childhood by a lot of abuse, and you end up with an uncomfortable, if not slightly dangerous, combination.

So while I have doubts about the Enochian system being able to just kill someone mysterious, I do know first-hand that working with them is like subjecting your brain to a chemical bath. If you find the right square, it would probably help. But considering that for the most part, there is little published yet about the mental effects of most of the squares, it is like gambling in a drug den.

Or at least for me, it sure seems that way. But then again, I am one of the people that working with the Golden Dawn system has actually helped improve the mental stability of. My proof? At one time, I wouldn't have even noticed the effect of the squares I am scrying.

At least, I am improving.

So if working with Enochian is helping me, why do I consider it dangerous?

Well, it is not the system itself that seems to be the biggest problem (though I prefer more elemental balanced systems) rather it is the people who are attracted to it. You know the ones: people who have skipped though the Outer Order work, or moved the Enochian to Outer Order, or insist that the Enochian is the crown jewel of Golden Dawn and that they are not stooping down to do anything of less importance (ego issues, it is called), or decided that they are going to do a different square every day for 156 days straight. In short, put lunacy in and you are going to get lunacy out.

For these people, it is the goal that is important; to arrive at the peak is the only important thing. To them, people like me who are taking our sweet time doing the work are the ones that have it all wrong. People like me think that we have a lifetime to do the work and as long as we are continuing to put one foot in front of the other, it does not matter how slow we are working.

Eventually I am going to get to the goal. After all, I have plenty of time to get there. And I would like to have some of my marbles left when I get there. So I think that I won't do more than one Enochian scrying in any given week, just because the system seems to make my temper worse for wear.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Reiki Circle tonight

Tonight is the Capitol Hill Reiki Circle. And like I have done the last few months, I will be attending. As many of my regular readers know, it is organized by a friend of mine, Jo, who is a Reiki III (Master).

Jo was the person that got me interested in Reiki. While my wife had a couple of books on the subject that I had leafed though, and only leafed though, I knew really nothing about the subject.

When I wrote a short article on the subject for CCD Campus Connections (the student newspaper of the Community College of Denver), I was starting from scratch.

[The Reiki article I wrote, I have since posted on Associated Content.]

I still don't know all that much about Reiki. Yet. But eventually, I plan on getting the first attunement. Perhaps the other two attunement also.

Honestly, it shores up a weakness in my own training as an Adept. We are a Rosicrucian Order in the Inner, except when you look at the Inner Order material, we have next to nothing on healing.

Perhaps, I should say nothing about healing; off the top of my head, I can't think of anything official in the RR et AC that deals with the subject, at least not openly.

So for awhile, if several of my posts and articles read like I am obsessed with Reiki this cycle, it is just that I am trying to figure out what should have been placed in this blank spot in the Golden Dawn lesson plan.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Reiki circle 19th of November

The next Capitol Hill Reiki Circle is November 19 from 7 pm to 9 pm.

Location: the Capitol Hill Community Center annex located on 1290 Williams St. Denver, CO 80218.

It is free and kid friendly.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Determining the Grades of lessons and new handouts

This post also was issued to the members of Bast Temple on their private forum.

During the midst of labeling one of the documents for the local Tarot class, I realized that perhaps I should say a few words about how the Grade of a lesson, or handout, is actually determined. Or at least, the way that I am doing it.

The Grade that a lesson/handout is labeled can be based on one of four things (though there might be more reasons that I haven't thought of off the top of my head).

1: Tradition---this is where the previous generations of GD leaders and instructors placed it. Some people are big on insisting that the papers be issued to only those of the proper Grade; personally, I am not a big supporter of this camp. And it bears no weight on how I label new stuff.

2: Ritual---the material is first showed to you in a specific Grade ritual of the system which creates a bottom Grade that it can not be issued ahead of. For instance, if you are introduced to geomancy in the Theoricus Grade (2=9), then you can not have geomancy papers labeled Neophyte (0=0) or Zelator (1=10).

3: Foundational---the material is Graded according to the steps that you need to learn it in. For instance, you need knowledge of the Hebrew alphabet, the Sephiroth, basic elements and astrological lore to understand stuff that you are exposed to in the Zelator ritual, therefore you are issued a lecture about these items in the Neophyte Grade.

4: Testing---the material is Graded for the Grade where you have to pass the test on it, or have to work with it and submit a report. Not all the material is Graded in that fashion, a lot of the material is introduced in an earlier Grade and not tested on until a later one.

So there you have it, this is how I decide the Grade for the handouts that I issue.


Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Roots of Golden Dawn: Part 6

Oral v. written tradition

One of the great debates that affect what we view as the roots of Golden Dawn is whether Golden Dawn is essentially an oral or a written tradition.

I must admit that I have a bias. Earlier in my magical career, I ended up in a group that was essentially an oral tradition group. And in my less than humble opinion, things had gone very wrong in that group.

The leader basically gave lessons to his current favorites; if you were not on that list, you got next to nothing. And to get and stay on his list, you had to give absolute obedience, homage (his opinion was the only correct answer) and lots of money. Women had to...ahem...lets not go there.

So for me, the whole idea of Golden Dawn being at root an oral tradition sets off loud alarms; I am biased against it based on previous group experiences.

But what if the oral tradition is part of the Golden Dawn system? really deep down at its roots?

The idea behind the oral tradition is that the most important parts of a system, if not all of it, are not ever written down. Ever.

Exactly how much of the Golden Dawn system is not written down is questionable. For instance, I have ran across several webpages for groups claiming to have access to the oral traditions that say that thousands of pages of information are not written down and only transmitted though the oral tradition.

Ok, the writer in me wants to know how do you know how many pages it is if it is not written down. I am a happy little cynic, ain't I?

The oral tradition supporters are naturally opposed to the members of the written tradition. The idea of stuff being written down seems to alarm the oral traditionists.

Members of the oral tradition point to Regardie and Crowley as examples of what can go wrong when most, if not all, your material is in written form. In all fairness to both writers, one needs to ask what they didn't publish---the answer to that tends to put them both in a more favorable light.

I must admit that the oral tradition is great for any system that depends upon absolute secrecy to exist. It is also great for those leaders who should not be leading in the first place, those who use their respective groups and traditions as sources of ego strokes, power bases, personal ATM machines, and for other perks that are best left unsaid even in the darkest of alleys.

And yes, supporters of the oral tradition are right when they say that all it takes to destroy a tradition that depends upon absolute secrecy is to publish the secrets.

But Golden Dawn was never a completely oral tradition, nor has everything been written down. Much of what we have of Golden Dawn are student notes; some of them are brief, and others are the full record of a lecture.

It is much like what happens in colleges and universities: students take notes during the lectures; some take down every word that the professor says, other merely jot a few keywords.

One of the best examples of every word being written down are the lectures on the symbolism of the hall pillars. These were just lectures that someone wrote down every word of. And if they wouldn't have, we would not have this information today.

But that is not the most important thing to remember. The most important thing to remember is that all oral traditions are just one missed heart beat away from extinction.

All it takes for an oral tradition to get weaker and less valuable is for the only person that knows a certain mystery to die before passing that bit of information onto someone else.

And ultimately, that is why I encourage people to write things down. It ensures that the knowledge is preserved.

I told you that I had a bias.

~~~To Be Continued~~~

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Remember to vote

I would like to remind everyone that is registered to remember to vote Tuesday. This election, no matter who you support, due to the issues is a very important one.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

A Brief History of Golden Dawn

One of the GD blogs that I read, Mishkan Ha-Echad, today was talking about brief histories of Golden Dawn. So I thought that I would present here on my own blog, an attempt that I did a couple of years ago to compress the entirety of Golden Dawn history into just a couple of pages.

A Brief History of the Golden Dawn

The Order was founded in 1888 by Dr. William Wynn Westcott, a Master Mason and member of the Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia, with the help of two others, Samuel Liddell Mathers and Dr. William Robert Woodman. The inspiration for the Order came from a manuscript written in cipher that had came into Westcott’s possession. The Cipher Manuscript outlined a series of lodge rituals which Westcott fleshed out for his new Order.

Mystery surrounds the origin of the Cipher Manuscript. One of the most plausible theories is that it was written by Kenneth Mackenzie, the author of The Royal Masonic Encyclopedia. If Mackenzie was the source of the Cipher Manuscript, he probably meant it (the rituals) to be used by The Society of the Eight (another esoteric Order). Unfortunately, we will probably never know for sure if Mackenzie wrote the Cipher Manuscript. The mystery of the Cipher Manuscript would later play a role in the breakup of the Golden Dawn.

In late 1891, Woodman died, leaving just Westcott and Mathers. Due to the creation of an additional ritual (the Adept Minor [5=6]) by Mathers, and Westcott being forced to resign, the Order soon fall under the complete control of Mathers. This was not good for the Order. Mathers had moved to Paris, so he was ruling the Order from a distance. The membership started to became increasing dissatisfied with Mathers’ leadership, and the suggestion arose that perhaps it was time to disband the Order. Upon hearing this, Mathers alleged that part of the Cipher Manuscript (the pages that gave the Order its authority to operate) was a forgery by Westcott. This was the final straw for the members of the London lodge; they expelled Mathers, who in turn as Chief Adept said that they had no authority over him and expelled them.

From a historical viewpoint, this is the end of Golden Dawn. Twelve years and a little over three hundred members--yet Golden Dawn is the most influential esoteric group in modern history. In order to understand why one needs to remember that the Golden Dawn system didn’t come to an end when the remains of the Order abandoned the use of the “Golden Dawn” name. In reality, the Order split into several different Orders during the aftermath of “The Revolt of the Adepts.” The same thing would happen, after the death of Samuel Mathers in 1918, under the leadership of his wife Moina Mathers. The main divisions of importance were the Alpha et Omega, and the Stella Matutina. Golden Dawn material was also incorporated into the A.A. (Aliester Crowley’s organization--only members know what the name of his Order is), Builders of the Adytum (led by Paul Foster Case), and the Fraternity of the Hidden Light (formed by Dion Fortune). Ironically, it is not though the lineage of one of these Orders that the average student of occultism receive the teachings of Golden Dawn. Rather it though the work of Israel Regardie, an Adept Minor of the later Stella Matutina, that most people learn of the Golden Dawn and its practices.

Israel Regardie joined the Stella Matutina in 1933. Upon entering the Order, he was horrified to see the state of the Order; it was dying. The Chiefs seemed incompetent, and Order documents which were no longer understood were being removed from circulation. Believing that the system was about to be lost, Regardie decided to act. In 1937, he published the core documents of the tradition. There are many who villianify Regardie for revealing the tradition to the public, yet it was his actions that made Golden Dawn the most influential esoteric Order of modern times. Most applicants seeking out Golden Dawn do so after reading Regardie, or one of the writers that Regardie paved the way for; extremely rare is the member who makes contact without previous knowledge of the system.

Regardie’s publishing the material probably saved the tradition. By 1972, the tradition was dead in England; one offshoot lasted until 1978 in New Zealand before disbanding. Despite stories of unbroken lineage put forth by some groups, there is no evidence that supports such a claim; the facts are that all Golden Dawn descended groups either vastly changed the system, or went inactive before the 1980s.

The 1980s saw a revival of the system. In New Zealand, Jack Taylor (7=4) helped restart a branch of the tradition--some of his teachings making their way into print though the services of Pat Zalewski to benefit the greater tradition. Some of the papers of Frank Salt, another member of the same New Zealand branch, have made their way back into circulation among some of the newer lodges. And Israel Regardie helped initiate a new Golden Dawn lineage in the United States. Since then, the system has resurfaced in Europe, and found fertile ground in Canada and South America.

Today’s student needs to keep in mind that the tradition has recently been revived, and that no one holds Administrative Lineage tracing back to the original group. This fact tends to be unknown to (or ignored by) many of today’s seekers. A lot of Golden Dawn based groups today have no actual lineage at all; some only use the Golden Dawn name (their teachings having no basis on the original Golden Dawn material) to attract dues paying members. Fortunately for the student, the documents published by Regardie provide a baseline to judge what should be taught by a Golden Dawn based Outer Order, while Zalewski has published documents that serve the purpose for Inner Order.

What the future holds for the Golden Dawn tradition is uncertain. Can the Orders learn to get along, or will the mud-slinging continue? Can the new lineages survive or will they go extinct? What is certain is that the knowledge of Golden Dawn will continue to be important to students of the occult, thanks to the popularization of the Golden Dawn material by former and current students of the tradition.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Roots of Golden Dawn: Part 5

This particular post may not seem to fit into the set of The Roots of GD, but it really it does.

Yesterday, I was listening to Common Sense With Dan Carlin: Show 134---Instant Gratification. The theme of the show was that our urge for instant gratification is wrecking havoc with the political system (USA) and with the economy.

The idea of the show, Carlin got from someone else who said that if Obama wanted to really make an impact in Washington, then he should openly commit to just serving one term in office. This way he can just focus on getting things done. As it stands right now, a newly-elected President only has about a hundred days in office before he has to start worrying about the next election for his political party, mid-terms, and his own re-election.

Carlin related this to our current economic mess, the stock market and the shady loan bubble. He talked about how CEOs no longer focus on the long-term health of the companies that they run, but on short-term gains to make the stock holders happy.

Ok, what does this have to do with Golden Dawn? Especially its roots?

So this got me to thinking. I have witnessed several dozen people come into Golden Dawn chasing a short-term goal; quite often, it is to make the Inner Order Grade of Adept Minor. But what if making a certain Grade is not the actual goal that Golden Dawn is set up to fulfill?

How long is the ideal membership span for a member of Our Tradition?

In my mind, the ideal membership is the lifetime membership; someone who joins and remains a student of the tradition for the rest of their life is the ideal member. This is my opinion.

Now, as an elected officer, I have always been lucky that the long-term goals of my lodge has always been the priority. The one advantage that I envy of the Secret Chiefs, and those who are non-elected members of the hierarchy is that they can focus on the long-term goals without have to worry about people wanting instant gratification, and voting them out of office when they don't get it. Unfortunately, I have seen the abuses that an unelected hierarchy can lead to; hence my opinion that the entire hierarchy, including the Secret Chiefs, need to be elected and re-elected periodically.

Nevertheless, an important question we have to consider when examining the roots of Golden Dawn is how long a member is supposed to be a member. If it is merely short-term, then it makes little difference about how bad Orders and their leaders act; you only have to put up with it until you reach the goal. But if one is supposed to be a member for life, then it is funny that there is not a way to remove bad leaders and officers from the system.

I told you that it had something to do with the roots of Golden Dawn. I don't have any answers, but I feel that the question did need to be considered.

To read a review of Common Sense with Dan Carlin, click here.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Trollish behavior

Over the last few days, I have been watching a troll on one of the Yahoo groups that I am a member of. I am positive that it was just a troll.

It started off when someone mentioned that someone was selling Ambramelin oil on eBay. Now, I am sure that the first post was merely a sales pitch, probably by the eBay seller themselves; but perhaps not, those of us in the esoteric community do tell others of our discoveries of decent priced material and tools.

One of the responses was that one should not buy oil from someone that they do not know, with a catty comment that "I suppose that you buy your magical tools also." And they signed it 93 (this whole story, sadly, is an example of the behavior that the worst of Thelema produces).

At this point, I got involved because yes, I have brought tools and oils from other people. I asked if he grew his own food, hoping that he would see the point that I was trying to make.

Yes, I forgot my father's advice of not arguing with drunks and fanatics. He never said anything about trolls, but I suspect that they fall under the fanatic category.

There was a couple of moments of quiet. Then the troll came back that they did grow all their food and meat, and that no real magician uses tools that other people made. He also made some comments about women only having one purpose---shades of Crowley.

And I dont need to describe the rest; experienced group members can fill in the rest of the blanks.

But it always worries me to see this type of behavior. What if a true Neophyte (someone who knew nothing about Golden Dawn, or Thelema, for that matter) saw this? What if this type of behavior was your first exposure to Our Tradition?

There were some that thought that my responses should have been more impolite, or at least not so subtle. But when I saw how they were signing their posts (93), I knew that indulging in anger would accomplish nothing. And I promptly suspected a troll to boot, someone whose true purpose of posting was to cause trouble.

Now, I know some fine Thelemics, who are very smart, very skilled at magic, and who seek to enlighten others. This person was not one of those. And I refused to stoop down to their level.

So that is my complaint of the day: I hate internet trolls.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Denver 2008 Witches Ball

The Seventeenth Annual Samhain
Witches Ball
(and free midnight Samhain Ritual)
Saturday, October 25th, 2008
Highlands Masonic Center
3550 Federal Boulevard
Denver, CO
(at 35th and Federal - West Entrance)
7 pm until midnight
Adults $15, Children 6 to 12 $5,
Children under 6 are free.
Wear your finest costumery! (costumes optional)
Presented by Living Goddess LLC

Friday, October 17, 2008

Roots of Golden Dawn: Part 4

And while we are considering terms that people assign different meanings to, and then forget that others are using other meanings for the same term, which causes a great deal of arguments, let's look at the term: Secret Chief.

In Golden Dawn, there is a lot of smoke and mirrors surrounding this term. Whether or not, an Order has made contact with the Secret Chiefs, or even believes in their existence, is the source of much of the opinion in the Golden Dawn community about whether or not a particular branch, or leader, is legitimate or not.

There are those who use the term Secret Chief to talk about entities that exist on the astral plane, who have evolved past the point of needing bodies, or perhaps never having a physical form in the first place; these entities are said to guide and inspire the Orders from a higher plane. Exactly when an entity becomes a Secret Chief and not just a random entity (angel, saint, demon, god, muse, old dead guy) is unclear. Aleister Crowley is the most notorious individual who claimed such contact, but he is definitely not even close to being the only one to make such a claim.

Others use the term to describe members of the ultimate esoteric secret society, so secret that even those they contact are not allowed to know their real identities. They are Uber-Adepts, of at least the 8=3 Magister Templi Grade, and more often than not are members of another esoteric tradition. They tend to be from regions that birth new esoteric traditions and movements.

A big point of concern among those who care about such things is whether or not these Secret Chiefs have actually crossed the Abyss or not. Some say that only those who have crossed the Abyss can be Secret Chiefs. Others say that it is not crossing the Abyss that counts, but the production and use of the elixir of life.

These are the two most common definitions of Secret Chief.

(There is another definition that rests solely on function, but you are unlikely to run into anyone that seriously gives it the time of day.)

The problem with both of these definitions, and their variations, is that the access to the Secret Chiefs is so terribly restricted that only a single person in any particular generation, or time period, can be in contact with them. And when more than one person, or Order, claims to have access to them, one has to presume that someone is lying, or perhaps delusional.

(There is also the slight matter of higher fraud: how can you be sure that your "Secret Chief" is not lying about being a Secret Chief?)

In the end, the only advice I can give is to beware of the disagreement in how people are using the term, and judge leaders and Orders solely on their usefulness to you personally.

~~~To Be Continued~~~

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Remember to vote

The other day, on one of the many discussion forums that I am a member of, someone said that the way to rise above the slime of the political system, to not be affected spiritually by politics, is to not to take part in the process; in other words, just do not vote if you care about the state of your soul.

To me, this was a good joke.

If you believe that politics, with its commericals and mud-slinging, dirties your soul, by all means, feel free not to vote.

But let me buy you a hint, you and your soul are affected by the political system. Choosing not to pay any attention to the system does not elevate your soul; in fact, it might actually put it in more danger than actually running for political office would.

I understand where the nothion that politics is damaging to the soul comes from. And yes, it can be, provided that one's experiences in life helps to quicken or hinden the development of the soul.

But this particular extreme comes from the idea that the spiritual is always good, and the flesh (matter) is always evil.

Of course, what really worries me is that the writer advocating this idea was a pagan/wiccan. They might need to go back to Wicca 101.

As a pagan/wiccan/ceremonial magician that has some knowledge of kabbalah, rosicrucian philosophy, hermetics, and alchemy, I know that the body itself is part of the soul.

Maybe after you are dead, perhaps then you will no longer be affected by politics. But as long as you are living, your body and mind are affected by politics, hence so is your soul.

Those who did not vote when the German tyrant was running for office did not do their souls any favors. Not voting for the other guy was only slightly better than supporting the tyrant.

Those who say that we should not get involved in politics, that we should not vote, forget that it is evil to allow evil to grow unchecked.

(Not that I think that anyone running this term is evil, but one must admit that they will be in a position to cause a lot of misery.)

They think that by not acting, it somehow makes them holy. And if they do not want to take the responsibility to become an informed voter, it is a welcome excuse, (these are probably the same people who cast money spells and do not go fill out job applications and then blame the gods for not getting them work).

And so their soul rots from inaction, having missed the opportunity to help get one part of the world a step closer to redemption.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Reiki circle 15th of October

There will be a Reiki Circle on Wednesday, the 15th of October from 7:00 pm to 8:45 pm at the Capitol Hill Community Center (1290 Williams St, Denver, CO 80218).

One needs to be cautious about where they turn in this neighborhood; it is easy to make a wrong turn and end up driving around in circles in Cheeseman Park.

It is free to attend, and it is kid friendly.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

And then revised yet again

Earlier I revised the page about the disappearance of the Thelemic Golden Dawn webpage. Then I revised it yet again.

About the first revision, my opinion still stands; but I had friends in the Thelemic Golden Dawn (at least until I left), so I decided to revise it yet again. So if you read the second version during the couple of hours that it was up, I still think that not having a redirect page or making sure people knew that the site moved was a mistake.

As I said: Do not move your website without telling people that you moved it.

Of course, the most interesting thing about this revision cycle is that I checked my email after the first revision (which I wrote between classes today), and found a message from David Ch. about the first version of the page.

I am glad that he read it. At least that way, he knows that I, and many others, thought that the Order actually disappeared (like so many others have).

It was one of the reasons I considered the second revision. While David and me will never see eye to eye, I have the ego of a writer after all, I would like to think that we don't have any particular malice towards each other.

The other reason is that I realized that my ego was getting the better of me in the second version. Dislike it as much as I do, my ego is a mirror of my mother's which is a nasty piece of work. When I notice my ego acting up, I do try to rein it in. Not always successful...but David Ch. and most of my friends know that it is a big beast.

And after thinking it over, I decided to give TGD a courtesy link. I have found the information useful, and was more annoyed about the absence of the site and the lack of information about its apparent disappearance than the ego issues that made me leave the TGD.

I wish the TGD luck at rebuilding their google search rank.

Page update: Concerning the Disappearance of the TGD website

Updated the page on the Disappearance of the Thelemic Golden Dawn website.

I have never claimed to be a nice person. And personally, I think that someone should have announced the website address change to the rest of the esoteric communtiy. At the very least, it would have made better business and SEO sense than not announcing it.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Roots of Golden Dawn: Part Three

Let’s take a look at the word “lineage.” It seems to be a clear-cut word, and people who use it tend to act as if it has a precise definition.

It does not.

Looking it up in the dictionary, one would think that it only would have one use in esoteric circles. The dictionary says that lineage is the “1. lineal descent from an ancestor; ancestry or extraction. 2. the line of descendants of a particular ancestor; family; race.”

And while it is true that lineage in esoteric circles does mean “lineal descent from a source,” what makes talking about lineage is so frustrating is the fact that there are (at least) three different things that people are tracing the line of development of (or lack thereof) and refer to by the term “lineage.”

I realized this a few years ago after a particularly heated internet discussion. Taking a step back, I realized that what person A was saying about lineage was not what person B was talking about. And either one of them seemed to be thinking of lineage in the same manner that I was.

At this point, I started to research the term and how it had been used in the past. I discovered that the confusion about the term had existed since the formation of the modern lodge system in the 18th century. (The confusion might predate the eighteenth century; my own sources only go back so far.)

It was like the internet discussions except that one did not have the luxury of being able to ask a writer how they were defining the term.

Even worse, some writers seemed to be using the term in more than one sense.

And the cherry on top? I realized that I, myself, was using the term lineage to describe more than one thing. This offended my Virgo Sun and Leo Mercury.

So I sat down and looked at what I was using the term to describe, and then proceeded to coin some clarification terms to make it clearer for others to understand what I was trying to say.

(It is with some pleasure [yes, I have an ego] that I have stumbled across other members of the Golden Dawn community using the same clarification terms to clear up the confusion about their own use of the word.)

So what are the three kinds of descent that the esoteric community uses the term “lineage” to describe?

The first kind of descent is “Administrative Lineage.” This type of lineage refers to the right to run a group under the approval of a parent organization, and have its members recognized as legitimate and true members of that parent body.

The second kind of lineage is “Initiatory Lineage.” It is the type of lineage referred to when we talk about person X initiating person Y, who in turn initiated person Z.

The third type of lineage is the tracing where the ideas of a system come from; this type of lineage I refer to as “Memeonic Lineage.”

Possessing one type of lineage does not mean that you automatically have, or are entitled to, another type of lineage.

It is best to remember that one only knows for certain who gave oneself their authority, who was in the same room when you received your initiations, and where one got the inspiration and material for one own ideas and opinions; everything else you are told by other members, including your leaders and teachers, is merely hearsay. If you were not present for the event, you can not be sure that it actually happened the way that you were told it did.

~~~To Be Continued~~~

Monday, September 15, 2008

Denver Reiki Circle

I have learned that there will be a Reiki Circle on Wednesday, the 17th of September, from 7:15 pm to 8:45 pm at the Capitol Hill Community Center (1290 Williams St, Denver, CO 80218). It is free to attend, and it is kid friendly.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Sorry about the formating

I would like to say a big sorry for the formating of the previous post. Try as I might I can not get the system to stop removing the lines breaks when I hit post on that entry. I guess the system does not want anyone reading about the Tarot.

Coloring the Tarot: XIII Death

One of the more interesting tasks of the Inner Order, in my less than humble opinion, is the making of one own Tarot deck. I was first exposed to this concept, individualizing the Tarot, when I was a member of Hathoor Temple; in Portal, one had to produce several cards to prove that one could do the entire deck if called upon to do so.
It was a small task. Much easier than the way it was originally planned in the original Golden Dawn (RR et AC) which wanted its members to make an entire Tarot deck, a task that fell by the wayside. (Due to the task being hard to accomplish, and natural wear and tear, we end up with only a few decks actually being made, or so it would seem based on the information in my possession.)
There are a couple of reasons why the original Order wanted its members to do this task. The first being that Tarot decks were rare in England at the time; most of the decks that could be brought were of Italian origin. The other, and more important reason, is that the Golden Dawn Tarot differs from other Tarot decks, especially in the Major Arcana.
Yet the weight of the task ensured that it would be one that fell by the wayside when corners started to be cut. But it never disappeared completely.
The BOTA version of the Death card.
For instance, Paul Foster Case, the person behind BOTA (Builders of the Adytum), had the members of BOTA handcolor a outlined Tarot deck. It is a compromise between doing the entire deck and not attempting the project in the first place. Case was a former member of Alpha and Omega (AO), the branch of Golden Dawn that Mathers controlled after the revolt of the Adepts. Case himself would have troubles with Moina Mathers, an event that led to the formation of BOTA.
Quite frankly, I have never been completely happy with the BOTA deck. For instance, Case issued an exact color scheme for each of the cards. Looking at the current card that I am studying, the Death card, I find that it has way too much red for my individual tastes. I understand its place, but I think that it is emphasized too much.

Fortunately, I have never been a stickler for obeying instructions. Even better nowadays, I have another deck option, thanks to Richard Dudshus and David Sledzinski.
Several years ago, when the Ciceros published their Golden Dawn Tarot deck, I moaned "Why couldn't they issue a version in black and white?" I liked the deck at the time; since then, I have grown a little leery of it considering the differences between it and the results of my own studies.
For instance, on the Cicero version of the Death card, they have a fish and a scorpion. Inside a Golden Dawn setting, is it really necessary to include these symbols.
After all, the card is associated with the Hebrew letter Nun (the name of the letter means "fish") and is assigned the Zodiac sign of Scorpio. If you know your correspondences, you really do not need the hint on the card. (The Thoth deck also has a fish on it, but that deck is used in a different setting.)
So why go to all the trouble of coloring one own Tarot deck?
Case believed that coloring the Tarot helped make it part of your mental furniture, that it helped one make a connection with the symbolism of the cards. I agree with his conclusion. I just wished that he used a deck more in line with the Golden Dawn symbolism and a different color scheme.
But as I said, I do have another option today.
When coloring the Tarot, one should notice what one thinks about. For instance, when coloring the classical version of the Death card (a task that is assigned to the Adept Minor Grade by the Inner Order teachings that I follow), I found myself wondering whether the hanging tatters on the skeleton were the remains of a robe or whether it was the remains of decayed flesh. In the end, I decided that it is probably both.
And it is little thoughts and questions like that make coloring, or outright creating from scratch, your own Tarot deck worthwhile.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Roots of Golden Dawn: Part Two

“Where is the foundation of Golden Dawn? What are its roots? What is the essential core of the Golden Dawn system?”

At fist glance, these questions may seem to be the same question, but they are not. I am not talking about a single question, but rather a set of highly related issues that dovetail into each other.

One thing that causes no small amount of confusion and grief in Golden Dawn, and other esoteric circles, is the way that initiates use words and language. One thing to bear in mind when reading the writings of initiates, or talking to them, is that language, and the subtle ways to use it, is one of the hidden tools of the mystery traditions.

I remember a conversation that I had with a Soror a few years ago. She was reading a book by one of the famous initiates. Encountering words that she had never seen before, she exclaimed that the initiate was making up words. I asked her what words she thought he was making up, then I reached for my dictionary (ok, I admit that I never heard of these words either). Behold, he was not creating new words; the words were in the dictionary.

Some Adepts use words very precisely. The Adepts of previous ages were also the product of classical education, with better vocabularies than we tend to have today. They choose their words carefully with a purpose in mind. And there is often more than one layer to a lot that they say. Many of us initially have difficulty coming to grips with this fact.

This habit of carefully choosing words is more apparent in the circles where secrecy is given more weight, but it can show up in any esoteric environment.

One of the side-effects of secrecy, if you truly embrace it for an extended period of time, is that you start to become aware of the words coming out of your mouth and pen (keyboard). You have become aware of the possible subtle meanings that might be hidden in the words of others. It makes listening to politicians, oh so very interesting.

But there are drawbacks to this precise and subtle use of language. One of which is the trap of thinking that everything that comes out of someone’s mouth is precise and/or was purposely chosen; other drawback is mistakenly believing that other people are defining their words in the exact same manner as you are.

My most used examples of words that might not mean what you think they mean are the names of the elements (Spirit, Fire, Water, Air, and Earth), angelic names (not all entities named Michael are the same), and the word “lineage.” To this, you can add anything that comes out of a politician’s mouth.

~~~To Be Continued~~~

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Roots of Golden Dawn: Part One

The Golden Dawn system of attainment is unfinished; I mean this in the sense that all living spiritual and magical systems are being constantly added to by their members. Hence they are growing and changing, expanding and evolving; the instant that a system stands still, it becomes fossilized and becomes a relic of the past.

In the case of Golden Dawn, it could be also argued that is unfinished because there are vast sections of it that have been lost, hidden, destroyed, or never revealed. There is also the little issue that some of it truthfully hasn’t been finished unless you believe in the existence of a Third Order that holds the rest of the system, and do not believe that the system is a product of its own members and officers.

I obviously have my own opinions about this matter.

Exactly how much of the system should be revealed is also a matter of some debate. There are some people who look upon the writing of Israel Regardie, Pat Zalewski, and Nick Farrell as pure blasphemy. There are others that believe that the only sure way to ensure that the tradition does not disappear as so many other Orders have in the last hundred years is to publish the heart of the system.

The responses to the vast amount of material that has been published about Golden Dawn have been varied. Some treat all the published material as if it now belongs to the Outer Order (insisting that the Inner Order must be absolutely secret); others still make their members take a vow of secrecy about the entire system, despite the presence of the published material; and others just smile and go about their business knowing that it does not matter a whole lot about what is published and what is not because until you complete the work of the system, there will always be mysteries and secrets that you do not understand about the system.

I have been a member of many groups. I have seen each one of these reactions up close and personal. I have my own chosen favorite reaction that is based on my own experiences; most people who know me are well aware of my personal opinion about the issue.

(A note of some small historical interest: A lot of people believe that David Griffin and his branch of the Golden Dawn were the first to move everything that has been published into Outer Order; they were not the first to do so. That reaction actually predates the internet; Griffin’s Order is merely the best known modern advocate of that response to the vast corpus of published Golden Dawn and RR et AC material.)

Which response to the published material is the correct one depends upon the answers to a handful of questions:

“Where is the foundation of Golden Dawn? What are its roots? What is the essential core of the Golden Dawn system?”

The answers to those questions, whether one actually knows the answers or merely believes that they do, will determine one’s response to the published material, secrecy, and whether or not Golden Dawn is a finished or unfinished system.

~~~To Be Continued~~~

Open Full Moon Dates for 2008

Hearthstone Community Church
Open Full Moon Dates
for the rest of 2008
September 12
October 10
November 7
December 12

Meets at the First Unitarian Church
at 14th and Lafayette, Denver Colorado
Doors open at 7 pm.
Ritual starts at 7:30 pm.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Color scale work: Path 12 (Beth) Assiah

In my opinion, one of the more interesting aspects of the Golden Dawn, or rather the R.R. et A.C., is the color scales.

I am not an artist; I merely live with one, and hang out occasionally with her friends.

Yet when experimenting with the color scales, I feel like an artist.

Here are three of my attempts to get the scale of the 12th path, Beth in the world of Assiah correct.

The first image was done with crayolas (what you don't have any?); the other two were done with color pencils.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Lineage: what we can be sure about it

One of the concepts in Golden Dawn that creates a lot of smoke, but very little heat is lineage. A lot of people talk about it as it if it is the heart and soul of Golden Dawn. Especially those who are in the business of selling you the product of their Order.

But is it that important?

I would have to say no. Ultimately, it is the work that is the important part of the system. The world best lineage and a ten dollars will pay you a cup of coffee (presuming of course, that Starbucks has not raised their prices since this morning).

I was told by the people that brought me into Golden Dawn that "The only thing that you can know for sure about your lineage is the people who were in the room during your initiations; everything else is merely hearsay."

Friday, August 22, 2008


Earlier this week, I read a posting on one of the Golden Dawn forums about how does a group get to be recognized by others, and who do they ask to be recognized. After I wiped the cola off my computer screen, I told the poster my opinion of the issue; basically, I would rather do the work than fight for recognition.

Recognition is a concept that came out of Freemasonry. To have your lodge recognized by a Grand Lodge is to have it regarded as being legitimate, and allows the members initiated into your lodge to attend other lodges that recognize your lodge. The reason this is so important in Freemasonry is that Freemasonry is NOT an unified worldwide Order. Rather it consists of a number of Grand Lodges (or Orders as we in Golden Dawn would think of them).

Some of my favorite quotes about the matter comes from Christopher Hodapp's Freemasons For Dummies:

"Freemasonry is not like a corporation or a single, solid, worldwide entity. As a result, no one owns the worldwide trademark to the square and compass logo, and no one can claim he holds the universal copyright on Masonic rituals. It would be like the Methodist Chruch claiming it holds the universal rights to all trademarks, symbols, and sacred texts of Christianity. The Methodists or Catholics or Baptists can't keep a new Christian group from building a chruch and placing a cross over its altar, or stop its choir from singing 'Onward Christian Soliders.'"

"Likewise, Grand Lodges can't stop a group of people from obtaining Masonic rituals out of a book, buying a stack of aprons and officers' jewels, and claiming that they have their own Grand Lodge. Like the branches of the Christian churches, there have been arguments and schisms between differing Masonic groups over the centuries, and factions of Masons have started their own Grand Lodges."

"So who gets to decide who is 'mainstream' or 'legitimate'? Well, in Freemasonry, as nasty as it may sound, might makes right in most cases, and it's a pretty tight club. The big group of mainstream Grand Lodges represents the greatest number of Freemasons in the world. As the 800-pound gorillas in the Masonic Universe, they get to collectively make rules they all agree to abide by."

"None of this is a huge issue to the individual Mason until he starts to travel and visit other lodges or encounters other Masons. An irregular [non-recognized] Mason will not be welcomed into a mainstream lodge, and his degrees and documents will not be considered legitimate. He will not be entitled to the honors, benefits, and fraternalism enjoyed by millions in the Masonic world."

Some parts of this reminds one of the situation in Golden Dawn; other parts do not (can you imagine Golden Dawn having millions of members; I can't).

For instance, Golden Dawn today consists of many different Orders (or Grand Lodges if you will). None of them can claim to hold the exclusive copyright to the Golden Dawn rituals, though certain members like myself can claim the copyrights to our own work and modifications that we have made to the system.

But unlike Freemasonry, in which Grand Lodges have agreed to recognize each other, Golden Dawn have little mutual recogntion. For the most part, a lot of the Big Name Orders do not recognize each other and/or are at war with one another. (I wish that I didn't consider it war, but with how nasty some of the battles have been...) Odds are that if you are in Golden Dawn, you are considered to be irregular by someone else.

And the cherry on top is the little trademark legal war that periodically flares up. Unlike Freemasonry, Golden Dawn has fought its most important recognition battles in court.

That is why I don't think anyone serious about doing the work should get involved in trying to gain recognition. As a tradition, we are too fragmented to justify the effort. At this point in time, it is better for us (outside of the Big Name Orders) to just do the work, and leave the worrying about who is legit and who is not to those who worry about such matters. And pray that we ourselves never grow to the size where we find lawyers on our doorstep.

For myself, I don't recognize any particular Golden Dawn group as legitimate. Why? Because I judge people by their skill and knowledge of the tradition. Have they done the work? If so, then I recognize them; if not, I chose not to associate with them. For me, recognition is an individual award, and not something given over to an entire Order.

Open Full Moon Dates for 2008

Hearthstone Community Church
Open Full Moon Datesfor the rest of 2008
August 22
September 12
October 10
November 7
December 12
Meets at the First Unitarian Church
at 14th and Lafayette, Denver Colorado
Doors open at 7 pm.
Ritual starts at 7:30 pm.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Hammer and Chisel

One of the things that can be said about occultism is the tendency of many to write about it in an extremely dense manner, so wordy that one needs a hammer and chisel to figure out what they are going on about. This may or may not be a bad thing depending upon what your purposes are. If your purpose is to figure out what the writer is going on about, it is a bad thing; if you are trying to conceal something, then it is a good thing.

I was reminded of this today when a new writer got added to my “What is this writer prattling on about” list. I tried to figure out what they were talking about, but gave up after a few minutes and several articles. If I want to work at chiseling meaning out of something dense and convoluted, I have pretty of university homework to do.

Basically, if it takes you forever to get to your point, or if it is concealed under layers of nonsense, I wander off and start doing something else. I suspect that the same is true of many readers.

So why do people write about the occult, and magic, in such a manner? My current theory is that they are trying to conceal how much ignorance they have about the subject; they figure if they imitate the classical writers on the subject (or academic writers) that no one will notice that they have not a clue. Or that they are trying to attract a following that associates that style of writing with knowledge and scholarship.

Personally, I just find it easier to admit that I don’t know everything. It saves time and effort for both me and my readers.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Book Review: The Complete Magician's Tables (Skinner)

Stephen Skinner's book, "The Complete Magician's Tables", is essentially an expansion of Aleister Crowley's "Liber 777." Skinner is not the first person to expand Liber 777, but this is the most extensive expansion of that work I have seen. Liber 777 was based on a Golden Dawn document, "Book of Correspondences"; in modern times, students of the Golden Dawn tend to consult Crowley's work (which was reprinted in 1973 along with "Sepher Sephiroth" as "The Qabalah of Aleister Crowley"), rather than the original document assembled by Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers and Dr. William Wynn Westcott for the Esoteric Order Golden Dawn in the Outer and its Rosicrucian Second Order, the Rosae Rubeae et Aureae Crucis (Ruby Rose and Golden Cross). To read the rest of the review of Skinner's "The Complete Magician's Tables", click here.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Dues, warm bodies, and officers

The dissolution of the RMWT has got me thinking today about the resources neccessary for the functioning of lodges and covens. A lot of people think that all it takes to run a lodge or coven is someone wanting to do so. Yes, that all that it takes to start a group, but it requires a lot more if the group is going to stick around and be functional.

I invite you to stroll around the internet for awhile. There are some groups on the internet that look functional; but in reality, never hold meetings and in fact, can be said to consist solely of the webmaster and a couple of minions. I have heard rumors that one of the Big Name Orders does not have a single lodge in existence, and I know of another that is trying to look like a Big Name Order and doesn't have any lodges. Looking good on the internet does not neccessary mean that a group is actually functional.

And by functional, I mean that members occasionally met face-to-face, initiations and rituals are performed, lectures are given, and the occasional handout is issued. By this standard, many esoteric groups are not actually functional.

So what resources does an esoteric group need in order to be functional?

Dues (money): Money is neccessary for a group to function; it allows them to buy supplies (incense, candles, ink cartridges, the occasional ritual prop) and to rent a meeting place. Some groups also kick in to compensate the chief officers for their time, and it takes a lot of time to run an occult group if it is growing and developing.

Many people object to dues. They say that the wisdom of the ages should be given to everyone for free. These are the same people who think that writers, Hollywood film companies, and musicians should give their product away for free.

"The wisdom of the ages does not belong to you; it should be given away for free to everyone who is interested in it."

By the way, these are the same people who complain almost the loudest about the fact that there are no cutting edge occult books, and that most occult books are just copy and paste jobs. Why are there no cutting edge occult books? Simple, no one is willing to pay for them; therefore, publishers do not commission them, and writers do not write them.

(In fact, many occult books are now being done by small publishers or print on demand services because the bigger publishers only want mega-new-age books that sell better. The quality suffers because of this.)

Furthermore, these are the same people who believe that all the expenses of an esoteric group should come out of the wallets of those who run it. They don't want to chip in for incense and supplies even. Of course, if they become leaders, they will expect their members to chip in. And so it goes.

There are also some people who scream loudly that certain occult leaders are robbing their members by charging them dues. Ironically, some of the loudest in that category charge their own members dues.

(Yes, some of the politics of the occult community is actually about money, and who is making it.)

And there are some leaders who generally have an aversion to collecting dues, and believe that the wisdom should be taught for free. Generally, the groups they form dissolve because they don't have enough resources to continue operating.

When Bast Temple formed, the costs for the meeting were read out loud for all to hear, a custom lifted from Hathoor Temple. A couple of the members were surprised to learn how many expenses were actually involved in running a group; it was something that they were never exposed to before. Within a couple of meetings, one of the members (not the founder of the lodge) proposed a dues structure, and it passed; to this day, the Bast Temple dues are set by the active membership of the lodge.

Dues come from the members; and if you have enough members, most of a group's needs are taken care of.

Members (also known as warm bodies): One of the most important resources a lodge can have is members. Without members, a group is just a paper and/or an internet group, existing only in the mind of its founder and whoever falls prey to the illusion.

From the members come the dues, the experiences, and the people neccessary to actually do the rituals. Without members, rituals are impossible to do in a group setting. It is possible to get away with less than a full number of members, as Bast Temple has proven with their revised Neophyte ritual; but some members are always neccessary.

And without members, especially the occasional new member, an esoteric group is doomed to extinction. The reason for this is that the membership is the pool that new officers are pulled from.

Officers and leaders (the people who attempt to herd cats): Without officers and leaders, it would be impossible for occult groups to exist. The number one case of occult group dissolving and disappearing is the lack of leaders and officers. The history of the occult is littered with groups that died out and disappeared when its leadership got burnt out or died.

For any occult group to survive more than a single generation, officers have to be replaced. And for a group to survive for more than a couple of years, officers must be able to avoid becoming burnt out and/or bankrupt.

Of course, the real trick here is for the officers to learn to set their egos aside, teach younger members to replace them, and actually step aside and allow them to take over. This is harder to do than it looks. It depends on being able to say, "I don't know. I need help doing this work. It is no longer my problem." Tough words to say under most situations.

And looking at the RMWT and its dissolution, I know that the cause of its death was rooted in the fact that only a couple of people were carrying all the expenses, the membership numbers were dropping, and a couple of people were stuck doing all the work. It was a deadly combination for any esoteric group.

Rocky Mountain Wiccan Temple dissolved

The Rocky Mountain Wiccan Temple has officially dissolved; the board felt that the group had outlived its usefulness. Unmentioned in the dissolution notice (or at least, the one that I saw) was the fact that support for the group in both monetary terms and participation were down.

Fortunately, for those in the Denver area interested in open (public) wiccan and pagan rituals, there is still Hearthstone Community Church.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Humor: Crowley

A friend sent me this today. It sounds exactly like I would expect from him in the afterlife.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Joyous day of Webmastering

One of the joys of being Chief Officer is the duty of being the webmaster for the Bast Temple website. It is a ugly job and someone has to do it, therefore it is my job. Some days it is easier than others. Today was one of the hard days---during the midst of trying to modify the Suggested Reading Page, Microsoft Office Live decided to wig out on me. Internal Server Error--as I said, joy.

So now, I have a crummy looking page up and I can not finish it until Office Live fixes their own problem. One of the things I wanted to do today was to update the description of the Revised Three Officer Version of the Neophyte Ritual that I have a link to on that page. I am in the process of proofing a copy of it before I set it up for a distribution package on Lulu.

(I now realize that part of Steve Nichols' high prices are the result of the distribution package he brought though Lulu. The price of the ritual book went up the instant I accepted a distribution package. I am not happy about the price increase, but it does allow for it to have a wider audience.)

There were a few other things that I wanted to add to the suggested reading page, such as links to my reviews of certain books and links to their respective publisher's sites. But it is all going to have to wait now because some place in the world, there is a server that does not like me.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Tarot deck review: The Classical Golden Dawn Tarot by Dudschus and Sledzinski

Until recently, one of the advantages that BOTA (Builders of the Adytum) members had over the Golden Dawn is that they could hand color a set of pre-outlined Tarot cards which helped them establish the symbolism of the cards firmly in their minds; with the publication of "The Classical Golden Dawn Tarot: An Historic Deck In Black And White" by Richard Dudschus and David Sledzinski, Golden Dawn members can also engage in the practice of coloring their own Tarot cards.

Originally, the members of Golden Dawn were meant to hand-draw their own deck of Tarot cards. There were several reasons for this practice. The primary one is that the Tarot deck that Golden Dawn used was a truly esoteric deck; Golden Dawn members were sworn to keep its symbolism and images secret. The symbolism of the Golden Dawn Tarot tied into the symbols and concepts studied by the students of the system, and the cards were used both in private and lodge rituals (divinations, initiations, pathworkings, etc.). Members of Golden Dawn, and its offshoots, took their oaths of secrecy so seriously that it was not until 1978 that a published version of the Golden Dawn Tarot deck became available. Unfortunately, the first published version of the deck, done by Robert Wang, was less than satisfactory.

To read the rest of my review of the Classical Golden Dawn Tarot, click here.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Open Full Moon Dates for 2008

Hearthstone Community Church
Open Full Moon Dates
for the rest of 2008

July 18
August 22
September 12
October 10
November 7
December 12
Meets at the First Unitarian Church
at 14th and Lafayette, Denver Colorado
Doors open at 7 pm.
Ritual starts at 7:30 pm.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Pier Anthony's on the Tarot

In his introduction to his novel "Tarot", Piers Anthony talks about an experimental Tarot reading he did as part of his research for the novel, a reading that went very well, too well in his opinion. Being a non-believer, he asks “How could a supernatural device work so well for an unbeliever?” His answer, after much thought was: “[T]he tarot deck presents a concentration of symbols, some of which are almost certain to relate to any person. The pictures have multiple levels, many interpretations, and these are what the person tunes in on. If Death comes up and there has been a recent death in the family, there is confirmation. If there has not been a death, then there is the fear of one coming up. If there is no such fear, the symbol may relate to the termination of something important, such as one’s job. Death is not just literal death; it is Transformation, or Change, and can manifest in many ways. Similarly, the other symbols have projections like pincushions; you can’t touch them without getting stuck. The Lovers is also Choice, so that card relates to romance or to a difficult decision; and when was there a time when you are not faced with some decision, and which one is ever simple? Os these versatile symbols, coupled with the human’s mind capacity to interpret, to make something relate, do almost inevitably relate to your life.” As he concludes, he had “solved the mystery."

As an initiate of Golden Dawn, I don’t necessary agree with his answer, but I must admit that his opinion is one of the better non-initiated, non-believer answers that I have encountered about how the Tarot works.

Monday, July 14, 2008

What has the current GD leadership taught us

Feeling a little grey and under the weather, and with my Scorpio Moon acting up, I started to think about the lessons that the current leaders of Golden Dawn are teaching us.

Now, there are good leaders and then there are the bad ones. It is the bad ones that I am thinking about today; the ones that make me glad that I have no potential to ever become a leader.

In part, because they have a nasty habit of leaving lawyers on your doorstep. Not that I have anything against lawyers, one of my friends is studying to be a lawyer, it is just that my idea of a good time is not spending it in court.

Nor do I consider it a good time to have oneself, friends and family dragged though the mud. Character assassination is something that I experienced enough in High School; there was also a lot of it in my family.

Of course, to be a leader in today's Golden Dawn, you must pet sharks and fling like a monkey. That is the first thing that some of today's leaders have taught us.

The second thing that they taught us is that a leader in Golden Dawn can not have any honor. Nor can they afford morals. After all, they going to throw unmentionables at us, and leave things on your doorstep. And if you respond in kind, they will point out that you have no honor or morals.

They have also taught us not to share information with our own members. They have brought a whole new level of secrecy to the system. From now on, we must destory any member who leaves our lodges so that our sacred knowledge is not published as a public service, and proof that we ripping people off. Or we must publish it ourselves in self-defense (after all, the thing on the doorstep is trying to get a legal action together to make us cease operations).

But they are fair...never forgot that...if you allow them access to your secret materials, they will check them against their own documents, and declare you a brother. Of course, your documents may just meet their photocopier, and they may tell you that they have better documents and lineage.

They have taught us that being able to make it rain, to summon up angels, and actually know something about our tradition is nothing. Only the sacred lineage counts. And the legal right to use the name Golden Dawn.

Today, they are going after their fellow leaders because they are competition. Tommorrow, they will go after the writers because they help create competition. And the day after that, they will sacrifice and kill the Golden Dawn tradition because it creates competition.

And the most important thing they are teaching us is to make sure that we never appear to be leaders, or give any hint that we have the potential to be leaders, because they are swore to crush anyone who has the potential to be a leader. All that matter is our wallets, and the money that we can provide them in the forms of dues; love of our tradition does not matter; nor the ability to affect our world in a positive way.

The bad leaders of Golden Dawn are teaching us one and one lesson only: it is better to be the only one left and the tradition to die than to have it continue in the control of someone who might actually be in the game to help people with their spiritual development.

I am a happy little cynic, ain't I?