Friday, July 30, 2010

When does it become a different tradition?

A thought that I occasionally kick around in our polarized tradition---exactly when does a group or style of working become a different tradition? At what point, are so many changes made that a system of working simply ceases to be what it started out as and becomes something completely different? At what point in time does the teachings and beliefs of a group become so different that it is no longer recognized by its parent tradition?

Given that every group (coven, lodge, Order, etc.) has an egregore which taps into an energetic current, and the keys of tapping into the energies that the egregore guards are encoded in the rituals and procedures used by a group, sooner or later enourgh changes to the rituals and teachings would prevent a group from tapping into a current and force it switch to another current---in essence, enourgh changes creates a new system.

This set of questions is very close to the surface of my thoughts today. The workings and beliefs of the system that I work have been declared "dead-ends" by another group, and they have changed their code-keys. Are we different traditions yet? They are going back to a style that pre-dates the system that I work (and have been for years). At a certain point, the two styles became different systems---and despite this other group's efforts to drag us all back into that style, the rituals of my tradition still have power; they still have a purpose.

At certain point, the egregores of the two styles started to obey different rules. From my viewpoint, there are two traditions sharing the same name, but who are on completely different paths. And it has been this way for years---I wonder if I am the only one that sees this?


Peregrin said...

Good questions and a good post, Morgan. I think I am with you; the outer names and even symbols of two Orders may match but the inner can be different. They are then different traditions.

I have been pondering this issue myself for a long while, trying to work out just what "is" the Golden Dawn. I must say I have not come up with anything concrete and must follow the example of Justice Potter-Stewart: I can't define it but I know it when I see it.

Thanks :)

Anthony Fuller said...

I agree entirely with you Morgan, and also with Peregrin's comment. I too have given much thought to this subject. In my view a particular tradition is invariably tied to the zeitgeist of a particular time. Apart from the external symbols it seems unlikely to me that GD members of the late 19th and early 20th centuries would feel comfortable with the approach of the modern GD groups. A case in point is Felkin's SM from which the majority of modern groups derive their documentation. Felkin accentuated the Christian angle to a significant degree (25% of the active British members during Felkin's period were Anglican priests)which today would be a complete turn-off for the modern aspirant. It was tensions between emerging and changing attitudes and beliefs which were a major factor, in my view, in the collapse of the SM and Whare Ra. The modern GD arose from views of the world and of spirituality which were and are quite different from those of the 19th century fin de siecle period. A new 'tradition' has arisen and supplanted that of the old. While it obviously draws from the symbology of the old, the new Golden Dawn is a very different creature indeed.

Psyche said...

Even when "different", they remain linked through a shared history, and that shouldn't be readily discounted.

Humans and chimpanzees are both recognizable as mammals, though they diverged on the evolutionary chain tens of thousands of years ago. It could be argued that we remain more alike than different.