Saturday, November 20, 2010

Should you use your motto in public?

On one of the Golden Dawn forums recently, I saw someone state that they had been advised not to use their motto on the public forums. I have mixed opinions about whether this advice is sound or not.

The idea behind not using one's motto on the public forums can be traced to two ideas.

The first is that by tradition, we are supposed to keep our membership in the Orders a secret. This includes the motto by which we are known in the lodges. Today, this is largely ignored.

The second reason that is cited for not using your motto in a public setting is the idea that by revealing your motto, you weaken the energetic seal around yourself. Essentially, some consider someone knowing your motto to be a pathway that negative energies can be sent into your aura and into the body of the Order which you belong.

Against these ideas, we have a number of initiates using their motto, or a variation of it, in their public activities. The most famous example of this (or at least the one that pops first to the surface of my mind) is Dion Fortune. Violet Mary Firth's penname was based on her family's motto "Deo, non fortuna" ("By God, not fate") which she used as her Order's motto.

Of course, against this example we can place Pat Zalewski's "I am just Pat."

I also tend to be "just Morgan"; though in my own case, Morgan Drake is actually a variation of one of the many mottos I have taken in my magical career. The reason that I use Morgan Drake is that it became my penname (with the addition of my actual last name), due to familial concern that my writing about the occult would reflect badly on the family's reputation. There is also the issue that for a long while I really hated my legal birthname.

Going back to the first reason, there are some people who actually consider it better to use a motto than to have one's real identity connected with the work (for example, elementary school teachers). One of the things that I stress about the oath is that one should never "out" any member of the tradition; this is especially true if their job is one where dabbling in the occult will get you fired (as per my example of school teachers).

(In my case, I have been "outted" in the sense that several members of the magical community decided to openly state what my real position was in the Order that I am a member of. Fortunately, I had already prepared for that particular "revealing/unmasking of the truth"; therefore no real damage was done.)

And it is not just the revealing of one's own membership that can be dangerous. For instance, I know someone who would get in big trouble if they are ever publicly connected with their spouse who is a member of the tradition.

Now there are some people whose membership is a matter of public record. Most of these people are either authors or heads of their respective Orders. It is to these people that you look at to see what the custom of public motto use is in their particular Order. Ironically, the person that noted that they advised not to use their motto on the public forums (provided that my information is correct) is a member of an Order whose Chief openly uses their motto in public activities all the time.

And on that note (the things that me go "Hmm"), I end this entry. As always, feel free to post your opinions of whether one should or should not use mottos on the public forums (and elsewhere) in the comment section (remembering that I moderate comments to keep the worst of the riff-raff at bay).


Robert said...

Keeping things like that secret is more a matter of personal discipline than of any other import. A magician without discipline is a like a race car without a brake.

Unknown said...

I've always been a fan of internet pseudonyms. Being proud of your practices is great, but as you mentioned with the case of the schoolteacher, a simple Google search of your name could be the straw that makes the camel want nothing to do with you. It's a lot of professional risk for very little payoff.

I can't have an opinion on whether or not using order mottos weakens any kind of hermetic seal, but so long as you're not using it to "pull rank" on other people online, I don't see a problem with using it.