Saturday, October 9, 2010

Why I treat Golden Dawn as an open document

Occasionally, I get told that I am uppitty person and should stick more to the traditional Golden Dawn ways of doing things. I guess it annoys people that I treat Golden Dawn like an open document that can be modified as local conditions change.

The reason that I treat Golden Dawn as an evolving tradition is quite simply I am not living in 1888, Victorian era London. Heck, I am not living in 1888 Denver Colorado either for that matter. I live in a modern city, and my concerns and needs are those of a modern person.

For instance, I work with a lot of Wiccans, pagans and other associated non-Christians. I don't care what the rituals say and how Christian the original Order was; the people that I have to explain things to often do not have a Christian background even. They also expect different things.

As an example, Wiccans tend to believe that if you have Equinox rituals, then you must have Solistice rituals also. It looks bloody wrong to these people to have the one without the other. It does not matter what Mathers and Westcott thought about such matters. All that matters is that the modern member often expects a special ritual during the Solistice.

And giving them such a ritual does not change the core of the system. In fact, a Solistice ritual would provide the opportunity to be able to examine certain symbols in a manner conductive to the way most modern members learn and think.

Some people think that this idea is wrong. Of course, this type of person also believes for instance, just because Mrs Felkin wrote about Atlantis that we must keep it in the system also, despite the fact that such a behavior makes us looks like loons.

(Yes, we are loons---but more of the lunar worshipping variety than the "2012 Atlantis is going to look like a nice spring day" species of lunatic.)

Our information has evolved. Atlantis is no longer needed because we have ice bridge and drifting continent theory to explain things that Atlantis was used to explain a hundred years ago. As for the spiritual ideals that the Atlantis myth has been used to depict...well, ain't they explained by our fall from Eden story?

So yes, I am a Golden Dawn heretic. And I hate to inform you that there are quite a few of us hidden in the woodwork of the modern Golden Dawn.


Peregrin said...

Hi Morgan,

thanks for this post. I think what you show here (and throughout your blog) is the tension and collision between two different perspectives on the GD. The traditional Order based perspective is that there is a tradition which is the GD and being part of it makes what we do ‘the Golden Dawn’.

The second, where I think you are coming from, is that the GD really was a manifestation of a larger ‘tradition’ or current. Mathers and co developed the GD form to suit Victorian and Edwardian England. To be true to this tradition then, we must develop the tradition to suit our time and place.

The two views can exist side by side and representatives from both views can have a pleasant dinner together, so long as they both know they are looking at the elephant from different perspectives. As soon as anyone thinks they know the elephant in toto, then we get problems.

Personally, I know traditions change and grow as any living force does. However, I do think the direction of that change needs to come mostly from the "higher" sources behind our traditions. To me these are personified in the Masters, for others there may be no personification but simply an intuitive and higher guidance. If we change our traditions based on the personal needs and wants of the current members we are likely to run into trouble at some point, as those needs and wants change as we develop and grow ourselves.

So the idea of a solstice ritual to meet the needs of members is great if the development and practice of such a ritual serves the purpose of the Order itself. Which of course it can do. Personally, I also think the Solstice rituals must ADD to the tradition without damaging or taking away from what is already there. For example, most Wiccan Solstices are part of a solar cycle that includes the Equinoxes. If we were to change the two GD Equinox Ceremonies into part of a four-ritual solar cycle, then I think we would lose something crucial to the Order’s magical system. If we add two Solar based Solstices, we do not.

Thanks :)

Robert said...

I am a bit more to the stodgy side of things but I too agree that the tradition should grown and change with the times. For instance, magic was not taught in the outer order much at all. Now, it is to a much greater extent and for good reason.

However, I would not alter the tradition based upon the expectations of another path. They have a path that has those elements in it. Cognitive dissonance and other discomforts are part of the GD system and add value to it. There is a solstice rite in the inner order. Synchronizing the inner and outer is the trick. Combining them, merely to provide comfort to some is not, in my opinion, the answer to that riddle. I am pleased though that it works for you.

Anonymous said...

There are more of you? Details... the GD Gestapo vill vind and voot diesem Heretics out! ;)

On a serious note I'm looking specifically at the your comments about Wiccan expectations for ritual, indeed any Neo-Pagan's expectations might have them wondering where the two Solstice rituals are. Hmm, how can I put this so that its not being insulting to someone... I can't help but feel in such cases a lot of Wiccans may be pushing for some sort of validation that their way is the right way. As Peregrin says there are many ways to view the proverbial Elephant in the room.

I see no inherent threat to the GD system in the formulation and use of Solstice rituals. The Solstices carry with them their own energetic flow and aligning to it could have both blessings and yes a few hindrances to an individual's path. I'd be naive to assume that only positive things can come from any ceremony that aligns to the cycles of growth.

I'd be very interested to hear how things progress from here with your aims for a Solstice ritual.

dirkt said...

look at buddhism. 2500 years of evolution. take a tibetan yogi, a bikkhu from burma and a minister of japanese pure land. wouldn't occur to you at the first glance, that all of these represent buddhism. a kind of buddhism, that's tailored to their specific cultural and personal needs. but's still all buddhism. the main theme is there.

yet.. regretfully, if you were to ask one of the three, what he thinks about the others, the answer would likely to be, that his tradition got it right, and the other two got in somehow wrong ;)

funny old world =D