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.


Sincerus Renatus... said...

I concur. Being in office as an Outer Order member is a wonderful way to learn ritual and gaining knowledge of the G.D. system, not by reading of manuscripts but by actual practice.


Unknown said...

Why did you need to know about godforms as a sentinel? Theoretically none of the officers need to know about Godforms as in the GD the godforms are placed over the top of them by the Heirophant and the top table. True most people know about them, but Godform assumption is not required using this particular technique. It is useful having inner order people doing the officers becuase it takes the weight off the top table, but it is not part of the formula. Individual Godform assumption done properly is a little tricky and would not actually be wired into energy field of the ritual properly.