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~~~

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