Friday, May 29, 2009

Clarification: Book of the Tomb entry

I want to clarify something I said in an earlier entry; the entry in question is about the Book of the Tomb and its recent publication.

I wasn't just blaming just one side or one person for what happened.

I was blaming everybody.

There are no heroes in this story; but then again, I am not sure that there are any villians either.

There are just people in this story.

And what is to be blamed is actually human nature: SOB.


(And all this time, you thought it meant something else.)

At the start of this situation, as a scholar and an initiate, and as someone who came from a really bad family and has been in some really bad groups, I could predict what was going to happen.

And why could I do this?

Because what was about to happen was based on SOB; the actors were all human (or at least they all started out that way); standard operating behavior was going to determine what was going to happen.

Sad, but true.

You can not blame one person, one side, one Order for what happened. The fault lies in the entire bloody Golden Dawn community, and perhaps even the entire world.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Made my blurb for the June 5th Open Full Moon

The June 5th 2009 Open Full Moon, “The Egyptian God Paper Doll Hour”, is going to be led by two of the members of Bast Temple, one of the local Golden Dawn lodges.

Golden Dawn is an esoteric tradition that formed in 1888. It was one of the first Orders to use actual Egyptian lore in its system, rather than the myths that the Hermetic tradition created after the ability to read the Egyptian hieroglyphs was lost. Yet despite being cutting edge at the time of its creation, as a lodge system, a society with secrets, the lore that they continue to use to this day is sadly out of date, something that many modern students of Egyptian lore have an issue with.

This ritual will address why the outdated lore is only an issue if you are interested in historical accuracy, and how an outdated system of lore can still produce results when used in a magical setting. There will be paper dolls of Egyptian deities involved in this ritual.

The Hearthstone Open Full Moons are held at the First Unitarian Church at 14th and Lafayette, Denver Colorado. The doors open at 7pm; community announcements happen at 7:30 pm; the ritual starts after the community announcements are completed. The event is free to attend; a five dollar donation is suggested to help offset the cost of the rental of the ritual/meeting room.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Unwelcome professions

One of the things that surprises me is that none of the modern Golden Dawn Orders have openly banned writers and historians from joining. Their very training and professions make them more liable than most applicants to be risks to absolute secrecy. It would make sense on a paranoid level, and given the weight the esoteric Orders place on secrecy and the mythical history, it just amazes me that any Order would allow writers and historians to join their ranks.

I think about this a lot. After all, I am a freelance writer (this last semester I wrote an astrology column for one of the local college newspapers) and besides being a literature major, I am also a history minor. I have always been a writer; I started writing in high school.

In my case, my best success as a writer has been writing about paganism, magic, and the occult. Those subjects are part of my pot boilers. And if you believe in absolute secrecy, where even the very substance of the rituals and lessons of an Order, the subject matter itself, falls under the secrecy oath, then I am walking, talking, writing secrecy leak.

And my training that I am undergoing as a student of history, let's just say it is not helping if you are concerned with people who might be attempted to publish stuff.

I know why I am thinking about this so much today. Late last night, I read a response to Nick Farrell publishing a document from the Alpha and Omega: The Book of the Tomb. And given my response to how it was being used as evidence in a discussion, I had the urge to release the pdf copy that was in my possession.

Plus my life is complicated by the little oath that I was put under by Hathoor Temple: the one that says that I will do everything in my power to preserve the lore of the tradition, and if necessary I would publish stuff. This oath was to protect the lore of Hathoor Temple, but it applies to all past Orders that I belonged to and all future Orders. It is why Archive Officers are viewed as accidents waiting to happen by the Big Name Orders: if the only way left to preserve the lore of the tradition is to publish, then Archive Officers are required to do so.

And the oath of an Archive Officer can not be rescinded; it is something that one bears for the rest of one's life.

In this case, given the fact that the same pdf was given to me by more than one source, I decided that it was already being circulated enourgh without me having to worry about it disappearing. At least, in the current time period...of course, now thanks to Nick, I do not have to concern myself about the future fate of that document.

Of course, as an Archive Officer, I look upon Crowley, Regardie, Zalewski, and Farrell in a completely different light. They are people who made decisions like the ones that I had to ponder; they have done things I hope that I never have to do.

Given the present circumstances, I know that I could have been the one to step into the doghouse. And it is just a reminder that a person like myself is not welcome in many circles, especially the Big Name Orders.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Three days lost

Well, just in time for the three day weekend, my wife got sick. So I ended up doing no writing this weekend, and next to no work on preparing for June 5th Open Full Moon Ritual that I am leading. And true to form, having dealt with her being sick for three whole days, and getting nothing accomplished, today all I have really done is to stroll around a new Golden Dawn forum. Hopefully, tommorrow I will get back into work mode. As for the rest of today, I think I am going to go read and nap with my familiar.

Book of the Tomb is now public

A few weeks ago, there was a bunch of talk about how to properly paint the colors of a Golden Dawn (RR et AC) Vault of the Adepts. One of the pieces of evidence trotted out was the Book of the Tomb.

The Book of the Tomb was a (probably) Alpha and Omega document; in recent times, it has been circulated among those involved in building Vaults for their respective Orders. When it was used as evidence, it was done in such a way that I knew that it was about to become public knowledge. Basically, it was a "Trust me, this is what it says" statement.

Today, as the tradition stands, you can not cite a unpublished document and expect people to trust you. Thanks to the publication of so much of the Golden Dawn material and (let's call it) the War of the Orders, the general Golden Dawn community distrusts anyone who claims to have exclusive access to unpublished material. And to cite an unpublished paper as evidence, especially when numerous copies are in various Temple libraries is just begging for it to be published.

Whether this is a good thing or not is debatable. I have my opinion about it; I think that most people know my opinion without me repeating it yet again.

What important is that just a few weeks later, someone has put up a copy of the Book of the Tomb up on the internet. And a lot of people are going to thank him (it is Nick Farrell if you not stumbled across the pdf yet); others are going to throw rocks.

And what can we learn from this? Don't brag about having access to an unpublished document, citing it as evidence, if other people also have copies of it. That type of behavior just invites people to publish stuff, especially when they read the instructions completely different than you do.

[For the record, if anyone from Bast Temple is reading this, I passed Hathoor Temple's test on this material before seeing a copy of the Book of the Tomb.]

Anyone who is looking for a copy of this pdf Book of the Tomb can find it on Farrell's website.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Updated website

Added a blurb about the June 5th Open Full Moon to the Bast Temple's website.

Then I got sidetracked on Facebook for awhile.

At this pace, I might have the entire ritual written by the time that me and my fellow voluteer perform it.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Prototype Egyptian dolls done

Managed to get the first draft of the OFM newsletter blurb and the prototype paper dolls done today before attending the Reiki circle. I still have a lot of work to do, making the heads for them promises to take up a lot of time.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Writing short descriptions of Egyptian gods/goddesses

Making progress on getting ready for the June 5th OFM. Wrote out ten 25 (give or take a couple) word descriptions for some of the Egyptian gods/goddesses I plan on using.

I am glad that I have started working on this project already, rather than waiting until the last minute. Given the amount of work that I did on it yesterday and this afternoon, I can see that it is going to take a lot more work to get ready for.

The short descriptions may be the easiest part of the whole project. After all, I just need to tell the name of the god/goddess and their baseline Golden Dawn function. It is not like I am actually trying to condense three thousand years of Egyptian and Hermetic lore into twenty-five words.

A couple of samples of what I ending up with:

There are two forms of Anubis used by GD: one in the hall, one outside. One functions as a guide; the other as a protector.

In her aspect as goddess of wisdom, Isis was the patron of the first GD lodge. Her function is fertility.

Amseht is the humanheaded son of Horus. He is the vice-regent of the element of fire, and the guardian of the initiate's airy body.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Moina Mathers---did she influence GD?

One thing that I have always wondered about Golden Dawn, or perhaps it is more RR et AC, is how much influence did Moina Mathers have on it?

If you go by the apparent consensus, Moina Mathers had no effect on Golden Dawn and the RR et AC. But this completely ignores the fact that we have color scales, and the piece de resistance, the Vault of the Adepts, in the Inner Order; both of which involves a high use of color.

In order for this work to be done properly, I have discovered the hard way that one needs some basic art theory.

I am not sure that Samuel (MacGregor) Mathers or Wynn Westcott had the necessary background to do the work themselves. Nor have I seen any evidence that either one had enough information to even properly supervise the task to begin with.

I have also dealt with enough artists to know that clients have only minor control over artists. Even accounting for the fact that Moina was married to Samuel, I am not sure that their opinion of what looked right would have overridden the artistic eye of Moina herself.

Therefore for me, the thought of giving Samuel and Wynn credit for the Vault and color scales just feels wrong.

And that is just the tip of the iceberg of the possible influence that she might have had on the system.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Judging other's talents

A couple of weeks ago, I attended a ritual and witnessed something that I wished wouldn't have happened: I watched someone get told that they did not have any mage-sight or mage-hearing.

This conclusion was based on the fact that the person could not see or hear something that the leader of the ritual said was there. Well, I did not see or hear it either, and everyone knows that I see and hear weird things all the time. And I have been around this person enough to know that she has some type of mage-sense.

(Note that I am not happy with using the term mage-sight, etc.; it is just what this person was using to describe the ability.)

And there is a possibility (at least fifty percent) that there was nothing actually there. I will not go into why I believe that except to say that the ritual leader unknowingly failed a simple test, and I spotted the resultant mistake (think cold-reading and you will get the idea).

It disturbs me that a judgment was made of someone's abilities based on one test. It disturbs me that I suspect that it was a false test. Even more disturbing is the fact that it was seven year old girl that was told she had no mage-sight and no mage-hearing.

And it really disturbs me that I had much the same thing done to me when I was a kid, but that is a whole another issue, isn't it?

I don't want to think about the damage that might have been done here, but it is rather hard not to. As I said at the beginning of this post: I wished it would not have happened.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Relaxing after finals

Well, you know that you are a Golden Dawn student when your idea of relaxing is to study Golden Dawn material, listen to Golden Dawn podcasts, and prepare for a Golden Dawn themed open full moon.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Hardest ten pages

I am rapidly coming to the conclusion that these ten pages about Willa Cather will be the hardest ten pages that I have ever written. It may just be the number of interruptions that I am experiencing: bad timing events that keep throwing me off my stride. I am going to try a couple of banishings and see if that helps.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Gathering cardboard

I am in the midst of collecting cardboard for the creation of some new teaching aids. Or rather the creation of some better teaching aids...I have used the technique before; I am just upgrading my props.

With the cardboard, it is a matter of beating my wife to it. Much of our cardboard goes towards supplying an elementary school art room (usable cardboard that is, the rest goes into the recycling bin).

I am particularly interested in the round cardboard pieces from the pizza boxes.

A few years ago, I used some pastels and paper to create a set of small sephiroth floor markers. The goal was to have the spots on the floor labeled as per the Tree of Life/Grade ritual diagrams.

At first, they were purely for my own personal use. When I started using them, I was working in less than ideal conditions (ritual in the living room of a very small apartment); anything that would help remind me that I was working in sacred space was a good thing.

Then when I ended up in Bast Temple as training officer, I brought the technique over into lodge.

I am not sure if any of the current members have seen me use them; but then again, the current membership has seen things that former members have not seen. Let's call it even.

Anyway, I am hoping to make a new set of sephiroth floor markers. I am kicking around using them at the June Open Full Moon ritual to illustrate something, and I definitely need them for an upcoming lodge session.

So here is hoping that I gather enough of them before my wife decides she needs them, for around here recycling occasionally means supplying material for elementary school art projects.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Tall order of the day

As many of you know, David Griffin (GH Frater LES of the HOGD/AO) has recently been talking about creating peaceful relations between the feuding Golden Dawn Orders. In response, someone (Aima Elohim) voluteered to be a go-between for two of the groups. Griffin responded in return:

It is just that Golden Dawn harmony is very important, and with all of the history involved, I think it would be extremely useful to have someone respected by all parties managing diplomacy.

To which I have to say: Good luck finding such a person.

If the flame war had only affected two of the Big Name Orders, perhaps it would be possible. Maybe. Even then, it would probably require someone outside of both Orders in question.

But this ongoing flame war has affected EVERYONE in the Golden Dawn community, whether they know it or not. And in order for harmony and peace to reign, everyone has to agree to it and play nice; this includes everyone both in and out of the Big Name Orders.

This person would have to be someone respected by everyone in the Golden Dawn community, including the blogosphere (there are a few loose cannons there), not just someone respected by two of the Big Name Orders. They would have to be thick-skinned, bull-headed (just because they are coping with big egos), and extremely clever. And these are just the minor requirements involved.

There is a big requirement involved that I am not going to touch with a ten-foot pole; here is a hint: League of Nations, United Nations. See the problem? And I only see one one is going to accept that solution.

Gee, we might have to do this the slow old-fashioned way, because there is no way that it can be done quickly.

Remember to play nice, we are all in the same tradition.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Kicking around secrecy

I have been thinking a lot about secrecy lately. More than I normally do.

I tend to think about secrecy a couple of times a week. It is hard to be a member of a "society with secrets" and not occasionally think of secrecy. Especially if you hold one of the offices that deals with secrecy (the big three and their variations, and Archive Officer).

There is also the little fact that I am a writer, who occasionally hacks out an article that involves the stuff that Golden Dawn studies.

Now, I am not surprised that I have been thinking about secrecy lately. After all. I am getting ready to start researching and creating the material for the June 5th Open Full Moon Ritual that I am leading (the work begins the day after the last of this semester's finals). The theme and work of that ritual is partially inspired by some of the work I have done in THAM (hence me kicking around what should be secret and why).

But what is surprising is that the denizens of the Golden Dawn internet community have brought up the issue of secrecy again just while I am kicking the subject around for the hundredth time. It is the timing that surprises me; that and the fact that no one seriously took the bait set out (then again, it is an argument where there are no winners---ever).

The debate over secrecy erupts periodically on the internet. This latest flow is tied to the recent videos, Vault pictures, and podcasts that have made their way to the internet.

How much secrecy is necessary in Golden Dawn? Is the level of secrecy required for Golden Dawn different than the level needed for Second Order? What should be kept secret? Does secrecy actually protect the egregore of the tradition? How about the sub-egregores? And how much information should we share between the various Orders?

Honestly, I don't know. And just maybe, I don't care either. Besides from where I sit, it just doesn't matter.

The ultimate society with secrets, Freemasonry, has survived despite the fact that their secrets having been let out of the bag since before the formation of their first Grand Lodge. One of their auxillary Orders, the Eastern Star, only forbids the passwords and degree gestures from being published.

And Golden Dawn has survived with its secrets published. Crowley and Regardie didn't destory the system by publishing (I would like to point out that only one of them was actually out to destory the system; the other one was trying to preserve it). We will survive the internet and the latest in Golden Dawn offerings, including the upcoming book about Mathers.

Besides, as an Archive Officer, my oath is to "preserve the tradition" by whatever means necessary. The choice was made for me back in '94. Occasionally, that means publishing stuff or exchanging information with others. And with the lastest offerings, it was the creators of the material that published and revealed it (their natural right).

And this makes me glad---for as long as the system is healthy (or at least not in danger of going extinct), and the lore is in no danger of dying out---as long as the other members of the tradition are doing their best to preserve the system themselves, I don't have to fulfill the ultimate clause in my oath as an Officer. It is better that others decide for themselves the limits of secrecy because my oath doesn't actually give me a choice if we reach the triggering event.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Interesting blog post on the Vault

Sincerus Renatus just posted an interesting blog entry on the Vault of the Adepts on his blog; I am quite sure that there is not a single Vault here in Denver that matches the colors of any of the Vault pictures that he shows.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Grades and the officers

Today, while reading a post from one of the private Golden Dawn forums that I belong to, I started thinking about the issue of "What Grade should the officers be?"

There are conflicting opinions about this issue.

Some people believe that the officers should be of the highest Grade that a lodge can field; therefore if a lodge has eleven Adept Extempts in its ranks, all eleven Outer Order officers (Neophyte Hall) would be Adept Extempts. The idea behind this is that the more one understands the symbolism, and the more magical work one has done, the better your skill as an officer.

Unfortunately, this idea typically leads to a handful of people being stuck in office until they retire from the system; it also leads lodges ending up closing shop because they have no replacements when a bunch of officers decide to retire all at once.

Then there is the school of thought that you can be an officer in a ritual as long as you hold the Grade that the ritual is being held in. Therefore, for instance, to be an officer in a Theoricus ritual, you must be a Theoricus (with two exceptions).

As it is very obvivous, this leads to officers not completely understanding the ritual which is why the argument that officers should be of the highest Grade exists in the first place.

The two exceptions are the dais officers (the Hierophant, Past Hierophant, Imperator, Cancellarius, and Praemonstrator) and the Sentinel.

By tradition, (no matter what Grade the lodge is working) the Hierophant must be of at least an Adept Minor (Zelator Adept Minor subgrade), the subgrade where originally you were issued the Z-papers. And if you subscribe to the full subgrade theory, you could argue that only an Adept Extemptus is capable of holding the office of Hierophant; you don't start to study the last layer of the Neophyte, and other Outer Order rituals, until the 7=4 Grade.

The same holds true for the rest of the dais officers.

The other exception is the Sentinel, who because they sit outside of the Hall, only needs to be an Neophyte, no matter what Grade the Hall is actually opened in.

These are the two extremes. There is a middle ground which I believe that most lodges actually fall in. And that is to use the officerships as part of the training program. This is the school that I came from.

I held my first office when I was a Neophyte; yes, I served a turn as Sentinel.

But as Sentinel, as an officer, I had to know about the godforms. Anyone who embraces the concept of secrecy is going to throw a cow at this point, especially those who lean towards absolute secrecy and the separation of the Orders that comprise Golden Dawn; for as a Neophyte, I should not have been exposed to anything about the godforms.

But I was. Hathor Temple had classes for its officers, as does Bast Temple. Basically officers were required to know more than the ordinary members of the same Grades do. It made life interesting.

Was it the correct thing to do? I don't know. It is something that every lodge must come to grips to for themselves.