Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Defining Evil Magic

Yesterday while looking for one of my Living in a Fishbowl posts, I ran across a comment that I forgot to address: the issue of evil magic in Golden Dawn. The truth of the matter is that while Golden Dawn makes an initiate swear that they will not perform evil magic, Golden Dawn never officially came out and defined what evil magic was. In fact, this clause of the oath does not show up in all the Golden Dawn branches despite Regardie's publication of this particular version of the obligation.

Looking at concept of evil from a historic viewpoint, one discovers that the definition of evil is a changable concept. Sacrificing your firstborn child was considered a holy act in certain ages and cultures; lynch mobs were considered a viable form of justice in some historical periods; slavery was considered the proper way to pad the labor market by some societies. All these acts today would be frowned upon by most people.

Now I was thinking about this the other day while talking to someone about Reiki. The discussion turned to the fact that sometimes a Reiki session seems to ease the passage of someone suffering by allowing them to die easier (aka speeds up the process of dying). Given our culture's aversion to death, this use of Reiki would be labeled evil by some people.

And it is because of this extreme bias (and there are tons of other examples) that make me advise anyone who is worried about performing evil magic that perhaps they should not be involved in magic and Golden Dawn in the first place. Sooner or later, if you do magic, someone is going to claim that some magic you did was evil. It will not matter how much you thought it though, or how you worded the spell, you will be judged as a doer of evil by someone who disagrees with your final decision to warm up the cauldron.

{And if you want my opinion about the specific complaint that sparked this post: Police has procedures to try to prevent punishing the innocent---does magic targeted at the "guilty" really need the same set of precautions? Are Maat and the other gods/goddesses of justice as faultly in their judgments as ordinary human beings are?}

Monday, June 28, 2010

Falling short of the ideal persona

Last week, I had another spat with my sister. And during the middle of the spat I realized that in the back of her mind, she must have an idealized concept of what a relative is supposed to be like. I am guessing that it comes from Leave It to Beaver or The Brady Bunch or some other show from way before the point that television started to openly show what real families were like.

(The Simpsons and Married With Children are closer to what I believe real families are like.)

And as long as I fall short of that ideal, I am going to be judged as being a bad relative. (If you are curious about some of this drama, you can peek at my writing blog: Living in a Fishbowl III.)

Then I realized that I am falling short of a lot of people's idealized concept of what a person should be like. I am not the perfect leader, the perfect teacher, the perfect witch/pagan/wiccan, the perfect writer, the perfect college student, the perfect husband, the perfect friend, the perfect employee, the perfect employer, or even the perfect cat owner. And as long as I am judged by an ideal, instead of the actual person that I really am, I will be found lacking, deeply at fault for merely being human.

In the esoteric community, we see this all the time as Golden Dawn lodges and wiccan covens are found to be bad (sometimes even evil), solely because they do not match the idealized vision that seekers have for them. The other night, the lodge I belong to was found lacking because someone thought that we should teach the entire system without requiring membership in the lodge.

The same holds true for Adepts. I wish I had a dollar for every time that I have read a complaint that the Adepts on some online forum were not acting like Adepts. Often this complaint seems to follow an Adept telling someone that they are wrong about something. In an ideal world, some people seem to think that Adepts must accept every cracked pot idea that comes along, and worship at the knees of people who think these crazy ideas.

Now, don't get me wrong---there are bad esoteric groups, occult students, and leaders. It is just that one needs to be able to figure out what complaints are real and what complaints are merely the product of falling short of a misconceived ideal.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Tomorrow is the June OFM ritual

Tomorrow is the June 2010 Hearthstone Community Church Open Full Moon ritual. And I still have things I have to do tonight in order to be ready for it. It is amazing how a year is not long enourgh to prepare for a public ritual.

Then again, I did not realize how this week was going to turn out. I don't think anyone in the lodge saw this week coming. Quite simply, I am mentally and emotionally exhausted at this point. I haven't felt this bad emotionally since just before I chose to break ties with my mother. I wonder if this is how hostage negotiations feel like...if so, I understand the suicide rates among cops and soldiers.

If I wasn't so emotionally exhausted, I would probably find it amusing that another run of family conflict reared its ugly head at the beginning of this week. And that would be wrong. Of course, nothing I have said and done this week has been the correct response...or at least, that is how it is going to be recorded in the family's history. I dare people to ask me why I chose to break ties with my mother.

And the next time anyone asks me why I show so little concern about the flame and witch wars that periodically flare up in the esoteric community, this week (and others like it) is going to be my answer. I have seen NOTHING in the little spits that the esoteric community throws that can compare to the scars I carry around from dealing with my own family. There are times I suspect that each and every one of the villians in the Golden Dawn community has a nasty family in their background.

Because of this week, I would like to issue an apology to each and every person who attends tomorrow's ritual. While this ritual was scheduled just over a year ago, it is going to feel like I put absolutely no thought into it. I am sorry for letting my own personal problems (they are all mine) to get in the way of the work that I am supposed to be doing.

Nevertheless, I would still like to see everyone who is in Denver at the OFM that I am leading tomorrow. After all, you can tell more about a person when they are at their worst...or at least that is what my father used to say.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Talking about BS reasons to deny entry to a GD group

Frater POS in response to my last post stated that a lot of the reasons for denying entry were BS (I am paraphrasing here); I then asked him to please give examples. His response turned out to be longer than a brief comment, so he posted the answer on his blog: Doing Magick. I must admit that I have heard some of these reasons used also, and I agree that they are BS.

Click here to go to Frater POS' blog: Doing Magick.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Are you accepting applications

The other day, I posted on Facebook the fact that I had finished cobbling together a pamphlet for advertising purposes together for the lodge. And I was promptly asked by someone if Bast Temple was accepting applications.

The question surprised me.

Outside of a few Rosicrucian organizations that have strict membership limits, I do not know an Order that is not always open to applications. Even Orders that have "officially" closed their membership tend to still keep their eyes open for new members; the same goes for covens.

The general rule of thumb is that all lodges and Orders are always open to new appliciants.

Having said that, I must point out that just because a group is accepting applications, it does not mean that you will be found to be a suitable candidate for membership. For example, I cannot imagine for an instant that I would be allowed into any of the three other Golden Dawn groups that are here in Denver. Even if Bast Temple closed shop, it is unlikely that any of them would consider me a suitable member. For one thing, I am too opinionated for all of their tastes (and that is just the first problem that they would have with me).

In order to be allowed into a lodge and/or Order, you have to meet the qualifications for entry. These vary from group to group. You also have to be able to get the people who decide on who to let in to actually do so. With some groups, this is easier to do than with others.

In Bast Temple, it boils down to whether or not you get along with the current active members; whether we think that you can hack the workload; and whether or not you alarm us by being morally and/or sanity impaired. Bast Temple does not let everyone in, and we are definitely not suitable for everyone. But it is not a real problem; after all, there is an EOGD, a TGD, and one other Golden Dawn group here in Denver---there are plenty of options for someone who is interested working Golden Dawn in a group setting.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Secure website does not mean conspiracy

Today, someone posted a comment on my book review of Cults, Conspiracies and Secret Societies (Arthur Goldwag) that they were looking for information on the Secret Order of Libertines. The only thing that the person could find was their very secure website ("If you try to hack your way into this site, we will track your IP down and press criminal charges against you") and a newspaper story on Prince Wenzeslaus of Liechtenstein who is now rumored to be a member of the Libertines due to a ring that he was seen wearing.

Because of the lack of information and their very secure website, he drew the same conclusion that the newspaper made: The Secret Order of the Libertines must be up to no good.

"Little is known of the activities within, but one can only assume that - given their considerable efforts to maintain a veil of secrecy - they’ve got something to hide."

Having been in Orders with secure websites (including a couple that have been hacked and trashed), I can firmly say that having a secure website is not a sign that you are up to no good. After all, most individuals attempt to keep people out of their online accounts---is everyone in the world up to no good?

(I will admit that at first, I thought about citing banks and government agencies as my example---but I am not so sure that coorporations and various branches of certain governments are not up to no good.)

Let's presume for a second that the little bit of information and rumor we have about the Secret Order of Libertines is true. Is there anything inherient evil or troublesome in the rumors that we do have?

Liber worshippers. "[Liber was a] Chthonic fertility god. Italic. Originally associated with husbandry and crops, but then assimilated with Dionysos. The consort of Ceres and father of the goddess Libera. His festival, the Liberalia, was on March 17 when young men celebrated the arrival of manhood" (pg 146, Encyclopedia of Gods---Michael Jordan). So farm animals, grain, fertility, drinking and sex...nothing wrong with that if you like to have a full belly and celebrate on occasion.

Royality as members: nothing wrong with that provided that they actually pay their dues. Oh, they do not like slumming with the common people...how is this different from the attitude of royality from previous ages?

The Catholic Church has denounced the Secret Order of Libertines as a sex cult. Gee, there is nothing wrong with that unless you think sex is bad and amoral. I am not above a good roll in the hay myself; how about you? And who hasn't the Church denounced?

The Order might be the inspiration for Dream Story by the 19th century Austrian author, Arthur Schnitzler. This novel was made into a so-so movie Eyes Wide Shut. Their membership has included Byron, the Marquis de Sade and Joseph Bonaparte...what?! Crowley wasn't a member?!

And that all we have on them, other than they have a secure website. Hmmm, I think that maybe they just don't want sex tapes of their orgies and rituals posted all over the internet. If so, then the most evil thing they have probably done is deny membership to Paris Hilton, and that is not exactly world domination is it?

Thursday, June 17, 2010

I wonder what type of poison ink letter he gets

Today, I was reading Frater BarrabbasTiresius' blog and found myself wondering what type of poison ink letters he recieves in his hate mail file. His latest entry is a critique and analysis of the book Ceremonial Magic and the Power of Evocation: A System of Personal Power written by Joseph Lisiewski.

I have not actually read Lisiewski's book; but given the book review and my own experiences with book reviewing, Barrabbas must recieve some charming hate mail. Of course, I seem to remember Lisiewski being impressed with a couple of the books that I was not completely supportive of, so the poison ink might end up coming from the exact same people. Next thing, I know I will hear that me and Barrabbas are involved in the same conspiracy.

Then again, given the fact that I view poltergeist activity and strange noises as a sign of inefficiency, smoke and fire as potential hazards, and am only concerned with accomplishing my desired effect, it might not be so wrong to lump the two of us together. Of course, everyone knows how I feel about Golden Dawn, so Lisiewski claiming that Golden Dawn does not work because it was built up from corrupted sources just sets my teeth on edge.

Barrabbas' review makes me want to track down a copy of the book and see if Lisiewski is as insulting as this review makes him out to be. Fortunately (in a sense), I do not have the money or time to do so.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Possible blurb for June OFM

Kicking around using this as my blurb for the June 25th Open Full Moon ritual:

June’s Open Full Moon ritual is being conducted by Morgan Drake Eckstein, the Chief Officer of Bast Temple, a small Golden Dawn lodge located in Denver. The ritual will be suggestive, providing food for thought about one of the invisible layers of magical ritual. It will examine the astrological and sephirothic energies that are present in Golden Dawn and certain Wiccan rituals.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Even the computer dislikes part of my latest book review

I spent the day working on a book review of Darcy Kuntz's The Historic Structure of the Original Golden Dawn Temples. It turned out to be an all day project (lots of words for a 48 page booklet). When I got done writing it finally, I thought that the worst of it was over.

Boy, was I wrong.

Turns out the uploading it to the internet was a bigger pain in the #$%*! than the actual writing was.

For one thing, I tried to use bold in a few places to make it easier to read. The system decided that it wanted to just bold the entire last half of the article. It also decided to change "Ordinis AO [Alpha et Omega] in the Outer, Amen-Ra Temple, No. 6, Extract from Bye-Laws (GH Frater Sub Spe [J.W. Brodie-Innes], 7=4) Edinburgh (C. 1910)" to simply "Ordinis AO."

I backtracked though the submission process a half dozen times, trying to get the system to do it right. In the end, I gave up on the bold and trying to correct the Ordinis AO to what it actually was supposed to read; hence the book review as it appears on Associated Content is not exactly how I meant it to look. *sigh*

So if you read my review of Darcy Kuntz's The Historic Structure of the Original Golden Dawn Temples, please bear that in mind. Thank you.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Update on my wife's trip

(Not Golden Dawn related.)

My wife has arrived safely in Costa Rico.

She is staying with an extended family. They have three "very small yippy dogs," the type that Toni notes sets off my phobia.

She says, "It is weird listening to Spanish constantly."

She misses the cats.

And she wondered if I was recieved her emails because I had not responded to any of them. In my defense, I was watching my goddaughter for most of the weekend; I learned that being on the computer around her leads to a whining session.

Anyways, that is the update on my wife's trip...if you are one of the people who were interested in it. If not, I am not sure how you got to the end of this post.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Am I antiTarot?

There are times I really love the comments I get to some of my occult related articles. Today, I got one on my Divination Adddiction article that said that the article was "just pretty much mindless anti-tarot propaganda and not much else." And I found myself trying to remember if that article was anti-Tarot.

It has been awhile since I wrote the article; it was written in September 2008 for Campus Connection (the student newspaper of the Community College of Denver). So I had to go look at it and double-check to see if it was nothing more than anti-Tarot propaganda.

Ok, I am not happy with the article; I think that I have grown as a writer since then. But I think that it is more than just anti-Tarot propaganda. I honestly think that divination addiction is a real problem for some people. And I think that you can tell that I am not anti-Tarot.

(This article is one of the two that started to shift me towards writing about my speciality for the college newspaper. The editor was not unfriendly to the possibility of having an astrology writer on the staff.)

I guess that this article falls under the same category as writing book reviews. If you do not completely agree with the beliefs of your reader (or the person that you are talking about), then you are biased.

It is a wonderful world where those who are supposed to be the most neutral about things end up being labeled the most biased by everyone that they disagree with. And yes, there is something seriously wrong with me because I find this amusing.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Working on the Bast Temple website

I have been doing some work on the Bast Temple website this month. It is a part of the annual Open Full Moon ritual drive that happens every year at this time. Today's big accomplishment was that I added a couple of pictures to the website, both of which can be seen on the page detailing the 25 June 2010 Open Full Moon ritual.

Ok, it may not sound like much; but I am still proud of myself. After all, I am a self-taught webmaster. I actually caught the fact that I did not have the pictures titled right, and corrected the problem within five minutes of doing it wrong in the first place (a picture for the web should not be labeled "edited img 807" or anything along those lines). I am also a self-taught artist (I do not consider the art classes I took in school even remotely being trained in art---for goddess' sake, I did not even know what a color wheel was until I was a ZAM in Golden Dawn).

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Talking about alchemy in Christian cant

On one of the forums I occasionally read, I ran across someone talking about the fact that the mysteries, Orders, and alchemy are warped by the fact that they have been poured though a Christian matrix. And I just rolled my eyes.

I have read comments by this person before. They have an ax to grind. Basically, if you do not completely abandon the material of the last couple of thousand of years and go directly back to ancient Egypt, then you are doing it wrong.

For them, Golden Dawn is a step backwards. I can only read so many of their posts before I start to mutter, "Why is this person posting on a Golden Dawn forum?"

But this is the type of person who in two hundred years are going to be complaining that the mysteries, Orders and alchemy ended up being filtered though a pagan/Wiccan matrix in our time period. It does not matter if we are warping the system or not---what matters is that we are not worshipping and working in the Golden Age mode that they believe was the height of perfection. They believe that at some point in time, the mysteries were perfect and everything done since that time is a corruption of the mysteries.

Where is a time machine when you need one? I would like to send people like this back to their Golden Age.

Now I will admit that they do have a point. The times of a magician does color how they describe things. So yes, the mysteries, Orders and alchemy have ended up being described in Christian terms. Give us a few years, and initiates will be talking about these things in terms of paganism and Wicca, and someone will be upset because of that.

And it will not matter one bit. At the core of these disciplines are certain constants and it does not matter how you clothe them. That is one of the reasons that they are called mysteries. The body of the mysteries does not matter (except to the individual tastes and background of the magician); the spirit remains the same.

The Great Denver Substation Explosion of 2010

At about 6:30 today, there was a flicker in the power here at the house. I was on the phone with a friend at the time. Her power went completely out. She mentioned that there were a lot of sirens to the east of her house. So I went outside.

There was a giant plume of black smoke to the south. It looked like something had exploded. And was burning hot and fast.

It turns out that one of the power substations that gone up. Fortunately, the building was close to a fire station.

Also all three back-up generators at Rose Medical failed during this crisis.

Now what does this have to do with the subject of magic? Well, nothing...I hope.

It was just that last night I started to seriously work upon a demonic/alien/other-worldly tale about a beast that has a fondness for eating nuclear reactors. And last night, I dreamed of it deciding to eat part of an ordinary power plant.

Hopefully, it is just a coincedence. I don't want to be like the prophet in the TV series, Supernatural. But my regular readers will remember the last time, I wondered something like this---it involved an airplane.

It is probably just a coincedence, but one really wants to be sure on days like this.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Furniture of a Golden Dawn lodge

One of the constants in a Golden Dawn lodge is the furniture. We have two pillars, a Throne for the Hierophant, and a central altar. In addition, there are smaller side altars. In theory, we also have a raised dais where the Hierophant's Throne sits. Additionally, we have the Banners of the East and West. The dais and the Banners I am classifying furniture because you have to work around them; you cannot walk though them.

(Now, someone will point out that the other officers have seats also. But I am generally going to ignore them in this post. After all, a folding chair can take the place of those stations. By tradition, the Hierophant has the best seat in the house---in theory, the Co-Chiefs has to settle for a folding chair if only one good chair [throne] is available.)

Now, one of the habits that Golden Dawn picked up from the other Orders are speeches describing the symbolism of the furniture. According to esoteric tradition, someplace in the world of forms, there is an image of the ideal Hierophant Throne. It is probably not avocado green; it probably also does not need to be periodically vaccuumed because the cats think that it is the best (most comfortable) sleeping spot in the room.

The Ciceros in one of their books describe a design for Thrones for the officers. Symbolically, I can see where they are coming from, but it looks so uncomfortable that I just don't see it happening in the lodge that I work in. My idea of a proper Throne comes right out of Freemasonry, and even that is uncomfortable; but at least I do not have to worry about falling off of it or straining my back.

Now as I said, esoteric tradition claims that the form and symbolism of any piece of lodge furniture comes from the world of forms. I believe that this is false. I believe the reason why we end up with descriptions of the ideal  furniture is merely because someone needed an esoteric idea to explain why certain pieces of furniture were the way they are in the lodge room. If we did not throw a blanket over that chair, I am sure some member would come up with an explaination of why it has to be that particular shade of green (maybe it is the flashing color of the actual color that the Throne is upposed to be).

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

Now in ritual, the furniture ends up taking an aspect of the Visible Stations. For instance, the Throne of the Hierophant takes on related symbolism of the Hierophant. And many of the pieces of furniture do not move, they are constantly there. As since, they becomes ritual constants. Hence the Throne of the Hierophant becomes a goal that we are constantly moving towards. And it is always in the East because that is where the Light dawns, or is the greatest (depending on what layer you are looking at).

This is slightly false. The real reason that the Hierophant's Throne never moves from the East is simply that it is too heavy to move. This is especially true if it is actually the same one used for Masonic meetings; the Master of the Lodge's chair tends to require three people to move it. And if it is actually on a dais...well, you get the idea.

Look at the furniture that is moved around in a Golden Dawn lodge and the furniture that is not. It is a clean line; the only pieces of furniture that get moved are the ones that are easily moved quickly (the Banners, and to a lesser extent, the Pillars).

The non-movable pieces of furniture end up becoming "Landmarks." They end being the solid parts of various diagrams and energy patterns. For instance, let's say we have a diagram where one side is light and one side is dark. Odds are the light side is going to end up being on the same side of the room as either the Hierophant's Throne or the Pillar of Mercy. There are times this is not true; but if you poke at the other layers, you generally discover a good reason for the difference. There is also an up and down orientation to the diagrams---East is generally "up" and West is generally "down."

Ideally, an initiate's private working space should be modeled on the lodge room. For instance, one should have a double cubical altar and two pillars in the room where you do your private rituals.

Now, there are some that give me a hard time because I mix Wicca with Golden Dawn. It is impossible for me not to do so, for I have two pillars in my working space. The only way I would not see Pillars in Wicca is if I resigned from Wicca and adapted another religion (ain't going to happen) or I removed the Pillars from my ritual room (again, not going to happen).

But the curious thing that I have noticed is that Wiccan rituals have an underlying flow of energy beneath them, one that matches the furniture that I am used to in Golden Dawn lodges. Now sommeone will be sure to jump to the conclusion that it is my furniture causing this. There is just one slight problem with that conclusion---I felt the same energy patterns in Wiccan rituals before becoming a member of Golden Dawn.

Doing Wiccan rituals in a Golden Dawn room merely has allowed me to see something that is invisible. Wiccans use different explanations for why the energy curves the way it does, but the flow is the same. Either there is a Golden Dawn element to the Wiccan rituals (Gerald Gardner lifted a lot of stuff during the creation of the Gardnerian rituals), or there is a common energetic background to both systems. So when I talk about Golden Dawn and Wicca being related systems, I am not bending either system to the other; I am merely observing what is going on.

And it brings me to the punchline of this post: What are you missing when you do ritual in a room without the proper furniture in place? What is invisible that you cannot see (or feel) because you do not have the proper furniture indicating where the Landmarks are?

Thursday, June 3, 2010

If you are interested in Pat Zalewski correspondence course

If you are interested in Pat Zalewski's Adept Minor correspondence course, Pat is kicking around starting another intake. In his message announcing this, he mentioned that he does not want a large group of people, "but a small core group that will work their arse off."

How much work does the course require? Well, I know one person who is taking the course, who jokes that every week, Pat adds another month (at least) of work to the big pile already on his desk. Poke this person a little bit more, and you will get him to admit that he believes that Pat is running the members through a Golden Dawn officer program.

The big question is: What does the course cover? That question is generally met with silence, but some hints have been given. According to this source, the stuff Pat mentions publically is just the tip of the iceberg; plus the analysis of the Outer Order rituals is just a minor part of the correspondence course.

This source does stress that "you damn well better be an Adept Minor, otherwise you will never survive the correspondence course." He also stresses that you really need to be able to move past the idea that the famous Adepts of old were perfect and their work is without fault.

Attempts to squeeze more information out of this source have been met with absolute silence. Gee, I am not that big of a blabber-mouth, am I?