Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Being a Better Candle (Tarot)

This post is part of the Tarot Blog Hop/Blog Round Robin for Candlemas 2012.

Therefore, some of you just got done reading Michael Banuelos' Modern Day Oracle blog.

The rest of you are wondering what a Tarot Blog Hop/Blog Round Robin is. Basically, it is a group of bloggers who agreed to blog loosely about the same topic today and link their posts in a circle. Today's topic is Being a Better Candle (Tarot).

Tommorrow is Imbolc. Or Inbolg. Or Oilmec. Or Brighid's Day. Or Candlemas. Or St. Bridget's Day (Jesus' nurse and foster mom). Or Groundhog's Day.

Or as I like to call it---Why do I have candle wax on my Tarot cards Day. And don't laugh---I actually do have candle wax on several of my Tarot decks. The reason for this is that I sometimes do Tarot readings in the full Golden Dawn ritual envirnoment. For those who are in the Blog Tour, the Golden Dawn was a teaching organization in its Outer Order (first five stages/Grades) and a working magical system in its Inner Order (RR et AC). The techniques of the Golden Dawn were borrowed from the French and English occultists of its day (1880s and 1890s), were further developed by its membership, and then passed down the line (Aleister Crowley, A. E. Waite, Pamela "Pixie" Colman Smith, Paul Foster Case). If you read the Tarot, odds are that you have been influenced by the Golden Dawn...often without knowing it.

Now, I personally believe that the Golden Dawn lore and RR et AC methods have made me a better Tarot reader. I don't use the methods all the time---in fact, it is impossible to use the methods all the time, especially if you ever do public readings---but the lore is always in the back of my mind.

The method that has helped me the most is hand-coloring my own Tarot deck. The lodge that I first joined required its members to create a few cards; for me, this exercise helped me create a better connection to the cards (I was a pretty lousy Tarot reader before that point). BOTA, Case's esoteric school, issues a outline version of the Tarot cards for its members to handcolor. Briefly, there was a Golden Dawn deck that one could do the same with (alas, I believe that it is out of print now). The current lodge I belong to requires the initiate to hand-color a deck in the Grade of Adept Minor (using either a bootleg of the GD deck, a BOTA deck, or another outline deck).

There are other methods in the Golden Dawn system that positively affect one's ability to read the Tarot cards; which method helps the most will vary from person to person. The Z operation (basically, you do a full ritual with the divination in the center of the process), godform assumption, pathworkings...I am probably forgetting something...the Grade initiations themselves, all of these things can help make a better Tarot reader. Of course, there is also the fact that one often (not always) ends up working with other people in the Order exchanging readings and information about the Tarot.

Originally, all these methods were kept under the lock and key of Hermetic secrecy. Today, most of the methods are general knowledge among advanced Tarot readers. (Ok, there are a few things still secret...but let's be honest, the information that has slipped into the public has spread far and wide.) Whether this is a good thing or not depends upon how much you desire to keep people ignorant. Personally, as someone who is worried about the state of the world, I think that we need all the information that we can get to safely navigate through the torrents of modern times. And if that information comes from people using the Tarot---so be it.

In my case, I try to be a better candle by doing the occasional Tarot reading and teaching the Golden Dawn and Inner Order methods to a small circle of people. Whether this actually makes me a better person, a harbringer of the Light, is anyone's guess. But one does what one can, and crosses their fingers, hoping for the best.

So what working method have you found most useful working with the Tarot? And do you believe that information about various methods should be shared? Or should they be kept secret?

(All comments are read, but I reserve the right to not publish the worst comments.)

Blessed be on this Why do I have candle wax on my Tarot cards Day.

For those who are reading the Tarot Blog Hop/Blog Round Robin, the next stop on the Tarot blog tour is October's blog, Readings by October, and she is hella funny.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

How much diversity is healthy for GD?

One of the questions that periodically surfaces in my mind is: How much diversity does Golden Dawn need to remain healthly?

Various things cause this question to arise in my mind. The most frequent cause is when I watch someone claim that diversity is a good thing, then instantly get upset when someone openly disagrees with their opinion about something---we all have a short list of these people, right?

Last night, the resurfacing of the question came when I read Griffin's weekly Golden Dawn news wrapup, including the part about his Order now owning a website (domain) that was previously controlled by Robert Zink. I am not surprised that the domain switched hands, nor am I surprised that Giffin's Order snapped it up; after all, it is business. I knew that someone was going to take over that domain name, simply because it was too good of an opportunity not to. (Heck, I wished that I had the money to take it over---which says a lot about the size of the opportunity that it represented.)

And let's be clear here---I am not against someone taking over the domain. That is not what this post is about.

What this post is about is that looking at a couple of pages there last night, I realized that I had read those pages before---that what I was seeing was a clone of pages from another site. This change in domain control represents a loss of diversity in our community.

Again, let's be clear here---I am not against Griffin's Order cloning pages to populate the site; I would have done that myself.

What I am kicking around is how much diversity does the Golden Dawn tradition need?

Every once in awhile, you run across someone who says that Golden Dawn needs to unify behind one leader. Of course, I always shook my head when that statement is said, for the simple reason that I would so cease to be a member of the system at that point (why? read this post---the very fact that I ask the question says why). And that is the ultimate result of a lack of diversity in a community---one leader, one voice, one correct opinion.

Now, I will admit that I am not sure how much diversity the Golden Dawn community needs. But I know that it needs enourgh where everyone can find a lodge led by someone that they are comfortable following. And let's be honest, there is no one in the Golden Dawn community that everyone will be comfortable following.

So I throw the question out to my readers---how much diversity do we need in the Golden Dawn community?

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Scotsman in Ancient Egypt

A Scotsman in Ancient Egypt.
The other night I was watching the first Blackadder series. For those of you who have no sense of humor, Blackadder was a British comedy done back in the Dark Ages of television. In the episode, I was watching the main character, the infamous Blackadder (played by Rowan Atkinson) is busy trying to get a Scotsman killed. One of his ploys is to involve the Scotsman in a play set in Ancient Egypt.

One of the audience members watching the play turns to another and asks, "What is a Scotsman doing in Egypt?" At this point, I just lost it. You see, I have occasionally wondered this myself about someone else. Yes, I am talking about Samuel L. Mathers.

The short answer is that Mathers like many in his generation was enchanted by the lore of Ancient Egypt. Periodically, Egyptology has surges of renewed interest. The late Victorian period was one of those times. And unlike previous times, the late Victorain Age had the advantage that they could actually consult the actual words of the Ancient Egyptians.

After the closure of the last temple of Isis around 400 BCE, the ability to read the Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs was lost. The lore of Ancient Egypt was lost beyond those parts that had already made their way into the Hermetica and Greek histories. Periodically, someone would claim to have broken the code behind the ancient hieroglyphs, but today we know that they were completely wrong.

This all changed in 1799, when French soliders found the Rosetta Stone while dugging a defensive trench duing one of their many wars with the British. After the war, the British claimed the Rosetta Stone as part of their war spoils. Over the next fifty years, scholars used the Rosetta Stone to figure out how to read the Ancient Egyptian language.

One of the changes in the esoteric scene brought on by the decoding of the Ancient Egyptian language was that for the first time in two thousand years, actual Ancient Egyptian ideas could be used in the Western Mystery tradition. The Cipher Manuscript of Golden Dawn has a reference to the images from Ancient Egypt (the subject of a future blog post), and Golden Dawn would be the first esoteric Order to use actual Egyptian words in their rituals since the time of the Ancient Egyptians.

This fact attracted students who were interested in such things to the Order. One of these students was Macgregor Mathers, which passion led him and his wife, Moina, to create a set of rituals celebrating the Ancient Egyptian gods and goddesses while they were living in France.

Of course, using the first generation of translations resulted in the Golden Dawn lore being hopelessly out of date by the time you get to our day and age. This has led the Golden Dawn being looked at with contempt by the modern-day scholars...then again, the modern day scholars tend to also frown on magical experiements, so it is not like we were going to get any of them as members in the first place. But it has also led to Golden Dawn (RR et AC) Egyptian lore and techniques to function differently than those used by the Ancient Egyptians. The gods and goddesses of Ancient Egypt tend to "speak in an English accent" (not literally), or maybe it is a Scottish accent, when they are filtered through the Golden Dawn matrix. Parts of the Golden Dawn system, to use the modern insult for the method used, started out as a "recreation" of the long dead Egyptian mysteries.

So what was a Scotsman doing in Egypt? Simple, he was busy looting the tombs of the dead, just like the English and French were doing. Sad, but true.

(If you feel the punchline is wrong, you know the drill---leave your comments in the comment section. Not all comments are approved, but I do read all of them.)

Ok I have read your advertisment (blog advice)

Open letter to the person who attempted to post the same comment three times on three different entries:

Dear blogger,

I am glad that you like (?) my blog. But I have a policy of not allowing comments through that are thinnly veiled advertisements---especially ones that are little more than a series of keywords that you are hoping that the search engines pick up on. Furthermore, you really need to brush up on your English, for instance "I really lie your blog" is not the same as "I really like your blog." It is nothing personal; my opinion is based purely on your comment context; it is simply that I would like you to actually comment on the context of my blog, rather than simply post an advertisement for yours. In other words, it is for business reasons, including SEO reasons, that I am not going to let your comment through.

A better way to get me to link to your blog is to write real comments that add something to the discussion. You may not realize this, but search engines are programmed to ignore, or to devalue, sites that use the advertising tactics that you are using. What you really want to do is to be a valuable member of my community, therefore making me think of you as a friend, or at least an interesting expert in your field, and getting an organic in-post link to your blog; this type of link would actually carry far more weight with the search engines than the link contained in your canned blog comment.

Yours in the Great Work,

Morgan Drake Eckstein

Friday, January 20, 2012

Working Draft or Finished Project

One of the leaps of faith that occasionally disturbs me is the level of confidence that people place on the Cipher Manuscript. And this includes the amount of faith that Westcott and Mathers placed on the document. It is assumed by people that the Cipher Manuscript is a finished project.

Thanks to my experience in designing rituals, I am not confident that the Cipher Manuscript actually represents a finished project. To me, it looks more like an ongoing work in progress where the creator changed their mind about earlier parts, made changes and did not go back to correct earlier pages because correcting pages written in a cipher is a pain in the lower regions.

(For the record, I sometimes do not correct my own outlines, written in the clear, when I change my mind later in the process of ritual design. There is a possibility that the creator of the Cipher Manuscript didn't either. And he would have had more reason not to.)

Yes, I realize that I am a Golden Dawn heretic. The myth of an earlier Order implies that the Cipher Manuscript has to be the shorthand memory aid for a pre-existing set of rituals. This is the way that Mathers and Westcott and most Order leaders have treated it. But what if it is actually a rough draft and not the final draft?

Personally, some of the difficulties presented in the Cipher Manuscript, including the change in the number and style of pentagrams used in the rituals, can be best explained if the Cipher Manuscript is actually an rough outline with the writer changing their mind as they go along and not bothering to make corrections in the earlier sections. Yes, it is heresy...but it is something you have to consider if you are serious about studying the Cipher Manuscript.

And now, we will invoke the spirits of the blogosphere to provide evidence that the Cipher Manuscript is actually a finished project. (No fair just screaming that Third Order says it is a finished project, you must show your work and evidence---otherwise I am going to continue to use to use my outlines and ritual performances as proof that it is a rough draft---and using the rituals that Mathers and Westcott built from the outline is not actual proof either.) Oh great spirits of the blogosphere prove to me that my lack of faith in the Cipher Manuscript is misguided and just plain silly---I dare you. (Hey, it has been a slow Golden Dawn news week...because I chose to ignore certain postings on another blog...and you can't blame a boy for trying to create a new excitement around here. Unless you really want me to discuss the posts on that another blog...in which case, feel free to say so in the comment section.)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

What the secret message said

[Because it is better to toot one's horn than advertise by badmouthing others.]

Earlier this month, I gave a deciphering exercise to my readers. Here is what the message said:

Oh, you are actually going to decipher this. Morgan is very witty & handsome. His cats say so 93 times a day. They want to eat shrimp. Promote your book, they say. Enter coupon code QV63Z at Smashwords dot com to get Five Reasons Magic Fails for just one dollar. Coupon expires at the end of January 2012.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Wikipedia blacked out in protest

Today, Wikipedia and several other internet sites are going to be blacked out for twenty-four hours to protest two internet bills making their way though Congress: the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA).

While I am against piracy (after all, I am a writer and have discovered all my posts feeding directly onto another website), I think that these two bills will do more damage than they are worth. I especially fear what would happen if they were enacted into law and someone with more vinegar than brains decids to use them for the purposes of putting businesses they do not like out of their misery. One of the parts still in the bill requires websites to remove all links to sites that host pirated material; and if they miss a link, they too can be penaltized under the law.

From an occult blogger's viewpoint, this means that most, if not all, occult webpages would become off-limits to link to. Why? Well, do you know who really owns the copyrights to most of the occult stuff out there? Me neither. And even if you think that you do know, are you positive that you are right? And that no one is going to claim otherwise?

For instance, a few years ago one group tried to get certain research libraries to turn over certain collections---the reasoning was that since the group controlled the name that all material under that name actually belonged to them and not the library to which the public domain material had been donated. And given that these internet laws would be enforced by government agencies, well, one only have to look at the OTO and GD court cases to see how such laws could be misused.

(I am sorry---I still think that the legal system may have made a mistake in the OTO case. And given the flame wars surrounding the GD case, well, one can only imagine what would have happened if people could attempt to get websites shut down for copyright violations.)

I am not saying that we do not need such laws to protect intellectual property (copyrights); I am saying that the laws would cripple large parts of the internet that I care about if they are badly enforced and/or misused. If the SOPA and PIPA are passed, large parts of the internet focused on the occult could cease to exist. There has to be a better way to protect copyrights and deal with internet piracy.

Weighing the Grades of others

Being only one-seventh of an initiate makes me a sad panda.
One of the questions that occasionally arises in conversation is whether or not Golden Dawn Orders should recognize the Grades given by other Golden Dawn Orders. More specifically, should this recognition be automatic with no questions asked.

My answer is always H*** F****** No!

I am sorry; recognition of Grades bestowed by another Golden Dawn Order is something I feel needs to be handled on a case-by-case basis. And if I ever did support the idea of automatic recognition, the support would only extend to the Neophyte Grade level---all the higher Grades would still be determined on a case-by-case basis. To understand why I feel this way, one needs to understand how I look upon initiation and the Grades.

During my involvement with one Golden Dawn Order, I was initiated as a Neophyte. On that day, the Hierophant did six other initiations. Given how complicated Golden Dawn initiation actually are, were all the initiations of equal value? Am I only one-seventh of a Neophyte in that system?

(One should bear in mind that this particular group emphasized personal work; initiations were seen as a starting point, but the initiate had to finish growing their garden on their own.)

The same type of question arises around astral initiation. Given the fact that there are seven layers to an initiation, do astral initiations address all of these layers? Or do astral initiations merely focus on just a single layer? Are astral initiates only one-seventh of an initiate?

(One should bear in mind that I belonged to another group that formally stated that the only thing that they could promise from the initiation was the physical experience. They were unwilling to promise that the initiation would have any effect beyond that point. Again, one-seventh of an initiate.)

The same type of questions arises when you shift your focus to Grade work and instruction. Given the variation in focuses by the various Golden Dawn Orders, one can be fully trained according to one's own Mother lodge and not trained at all in the eyes of another group. For instance, look at the vast difference of emphasis between the training given by Pat Zalewski and David Griffin. They focus on completely different things. There is no way that a person trained by Zalewski can be fully recognized by Griffin; nor can a person trained by Griffin be fully recognized by Zalewski.

(I have been a member of three Inner Order training programs, and I have never seen an exact match ever in the programs. In each program, I had to work with completely new material..sooner or later. While there is some overlap between the programs, the difference is large enourgh where I feel that it is pointless to even mention how far I got in the programs beyond the fact that I been involved in Inner Order training; if I enroll in a new Inner Order program, I get to start all over again.)

There also the issue of the skill and level of the officers conducting the initiation. Is an initiation performed by a crew of all Adept Exempts better than an initations performed by mere Adept Minors? And what if one of them has a cold that day? Does that affect one's initiation?

Does the type of lineage that the officers possess affect the initiation? Is an initiatory lineage better than an administrationary lineage? Are some lineages better than others? Does a lineage that traces though Mathers trump a lineage traced through Crowley? (Oh wait, if your lineage traces through Crowley, it also traces through Mathers...that is not good, is it?)

And do variations in ritual scripts make a difference? And how big of a difference does it take? If my lodge uses a modern language version of the rituals does that make them members of a different system from those who only use the language of 1888 London?

All these questions occur before we get to the ultimate question for the working magician: If you recognize my Grade, can I tap the energy bank of your Order? For a working magician, if recognition is in name only, and does not include the ability to share information and tap magical energies, then the recognition is just an empty gesture. Which is why working magicians tend to ignore this whole issue because they realize that only access to information and magical energies count. Realizing my Grade without giving me access to new sources of energy and information is merely an attempt to appease my ego and stroke yours.

So for me, recognition of my Grade by others, and my recognition of other people's Grades is a pointless exercise unless they are going to be sitting in the same lodge as I am. And let's be honest, there are a whole bunch of people who would refuse to sit in lodge with me; fortunately, for the most part, they are the same people that I refuse to sit in lodge with.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

When to toss traditional lore out

This Viper needs to be taken to the curb.
Something that every working magician will eventually have to wrestle with is the question: When do you toss a piece of lore out of one's system?

(By "working magician," I mean those people who get up off the sofa and spend time actually casting spells and performing magic, rather than just reading about it.)

Now in the traditional hierarchies, the answer is: When your superiors tell you to. Therefore, First Order is ordered by Second Order when to abandon lore and procedures; and in return, Second Order is guided by the Third Order (Secret Chiefs). This answer is all and fine, provided that you are actually in a Strict Obedience/Observance Order, and are willing to take orders.

But most working magicians, or at least the ones that I have dealt with, tend to be lousy at taking orders. And most Strict Observance Orders will rapidly kick out or lose their working magicians. The reason for this is that experience quite often conflicts with "authorized lore" and most Strict Observance are knee-deep in the idea that "authorized lore" is the best, and sometimes only, way to accomplish magical goals.

A few years ago, I was present when a new Strict Observence Order was being started. One day, the subject of Atlantis came up. I stated my opinion that Atlantis was one of those pieces of lore that needed to be kicked to the curb. The leader of the group flatly told me that I was wrong because the GH Frater S used Atlantis in his lessons, therefore it was tradition and had to be included in the system. At this point, I started to look for the escape pod.

(No, I did not leave just over the fact that Atlantis was being included in the system; there was also plenty of administration issues that made me want to bail out of the system.)

Now, in my case, I had good reasons to bolt over the issue of Atlantis. In an earlier group, I had seen the concept of Atlantis being used, and watched the group jump off the rails. Fortunately, there was a working magician at the helm, who rapidly pulled the plug before the group became an outright doomsday cult. Nevertheless, it permanently associated Atlantis with the rancid smell of some lesser evil in my mind.

And unlike the leader, who insisted that I was wrong, I actually had spent some time researching the importance that was attached to Atlantis down though the years. Atlantis was a footnote in Greek mythology and philosophy, something ignored by the esoteric tradition for over two thousand years. It wasn't until the question of why there was similar animals in the New World, as well as human beings and those pesky pyramids arose that Atlantis was dug out of the rubbish bin.

(We all know that human beings have to be told about the concept of stacking rocks on top of one another---it is not like the idea naturally occurs to us when we have plenty of rocks and spare labor at hand.)

Today, we do not need Atlantis to explain the fact that there was plants and animals common to both the Old World and the New World. But there are people who insist that Atlantis cannot be taken out to the rubbish bin...because it is now a part of the official authorized esoteric lore.

(Here is a mystery for you---given the fact that Atlantis was so advanced [the last time I checked they supposely had atomic bombs and lasers, and next year they will be credited with time machines, stargates and warp drives], why haven't we found any plastic from their civilization?)

The bugbear of official authorized lore drives working magicians up the wall. Start talking to people about how to accomplish a magical task, and one finds themselves judged by what the authorized lore says. It does not matter whether or not your method actually works; what matters is whether some old grimoire or famous occult writer agrees with you and your method.

(By the way, working magicians presume if you cite authorized lore as your twenty-four inch rule and do not ask the "special" question that you are not a working magician. And all working magicians know what the special question is.)

There are a whole bunch of occult writers who have been enshrined---some of them are still alive (I hope that they are horrified that they have been enshrined because if they are not horrified, then they are not actually working magicians). A few years ago, I remember a great fuss was being made over this one book (it does not matter which one). At the time, I had no opinion of the book; it wasn't one that I ever worked with. Later on, I did work with the book---if the material was copied, it worked just fine---if it was unique, well, it sucked rocks on toast. The book was enshrined as the only way to accomplish certain things; and quite honestly based on my own results, I doubt that anyone who was busy talking about how great the book was, actually used any of the unique material in the book. In the end, I used other methods to accomplish the same goals.

And yes, I know, I know---just because the material did not work for me does not mean that it was not the proper way to do things. After all, we all know that I am complete and utter plotz without no respect for traditional and properly authorized esoteric lore. But I am a working magician, and the method I use to determine if some lore or magical prodecure remains in my tool box is RESULTS. If it does not work for me, I take it out to the curb and leave it by the rubbish bin. Of course, that habit makes me very unwelcome in the Strict Observance to the Shrine of Official Authorized Occult Lore circles. But that is ok, I prefer to do my drinking in the company of working magicians.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Mocking Ancient Aliens

Didn't Stargate tell us this fact about Ancient Aliens?!
Today over on Smosh, there is an article called The Six Things I Learned from Watching Ancient Aliens. The really funny part is how the History Channel is defining the terms "expert," "proof' and "science." Of course, their idea of "history" has became a little fuzzy also...it is sad when occultists have a more realistic defintion of the the term.

Now, I know that some occultists believe in the Ancient Alien Astronaut theory, and that humans are the result of their DNA research and that aliens jump-started human civilization. Heck, for many years I did a lot of reading in that field...for some reason, the Brush High School library had a complete set of Erich von Daniken's Chariot of the Gods series. But if you are exposed to enourgh mysteries, after awhile the whole Ancient Alien Astronaut theory starts to look a little cracked.

The day I realized this was a few years ago, after long amounts of Stargate SG1 and entry into an Inner Order pretending to be the RR et AC, when I picked up one of Daniken's books (I forget which one) and he asks the question, "What is the secret of the magician's wand?" I must admit that I laugh every time I think about it.

The field has not changed that much since Daniken's day. The idea is to assume that human beings are incapable of stacking rocks onto other rocks and that no ancient human being ever took any drugs; if you can make those two assumptions and ignore all the six year-olds that you ever meet, then you too can buy into the Ancient Alien Astronaut theory.

The following are the assumptions made by Ancient Alien Astronaut theory:

All buildings are alien landing pads. Humans were incapable of coming up with the idea of roofs, temples or pyramids on their own.

Human beings were the result of alien DNA research. We would never consider screwing mutants on our own---no matter how cute they are.

Humans beings were incapable of taming animals, inventing farming, and using tools on thier own. Obviously, ants, monkeys and crows are more intelligent than humans.

All gods and goddesses are badly drawn pictures of alien spacesuits and rockets. All mythology, including the Bible, are just badly garbled accounts of what aliens did to humans.

Humans were incapable of inventing math and writing on their own. Please ignore Einstein and Hawkings.

And most importantly, ancient alien astronauts preferred using human labor and native materials (rocks and stone chisels), and did not use automated factories and plastics. Aliens invented the concept of "going green."

All these statements are also true of the ancient Atlantians, time-traveling reptiles, and the Babylonian Secret Chiefs. And the lack of evidence of Ancient Alien Astronauts, Atlantians, time-traveling reptiles and Babylonian Secret Chiefs is actually evidence that they did exist.

Monday, January 9, 2012

More history and the color scales

King Over the Water pontential cover.
Talking to a Soror from my lodge about the post about Impressionism and the Golden Dawn color scales, I realized that I need to do a follow-up to it with some additional information. She asked some questions---some involved me looking up information to confirm things I already suspected---and I realized that if she had those questions that other people might be curious about the answers too.

(For the record, it was the potential cover of Nick Farrell's book that made my mind connect several facts together and realize that the expanded color scales of Golden Dawn could only result after 1840. And as far as I know, I am the first one to realize this fact...or at least, the first person to actually consider it to be important; I don't remember anyone ever writing about this topic before.)

First, just to get it out of the way, I do not believe that Moina Mathers was a "modern woman" or a "feminist." I am not looking for an example of a modern woman or a feminist---I am looking for an artist. The reason that I am looking for an artist is that the Golden Dawn color scales have too large of a color vocabulary to be the sole invention of a non-artist.

Agrippa's color scales are an example of a set of color scales created by a non-artist; the color vocabulary is simple and basic. The Golden Dawn color scales, on the other hand, has a wide color vocabulary. Now, one quarter of it is just layering an occult idea (colors attract energies) onto the standard artist's color wheel---something that is easily produced by non-artists. But the other three quarters involve a series of colors so rich and varied that one needs a cheat sheet with paint samples on it to accurately reproduce it (or a digitual camera and a really good color printer).

I have seen no evidence that Samuel Mathers or Wynn Westcott had such a large color vocabulary. The concept that color attracted magical forces was not a new idea---Agrippa and the SRIA are solid proof that the idea was common currency among occultists. Nor have I seen any evidence that convinces me that the SRIA is actually the source for the expanded color scales. Occasionally, someone points to the SRIA as the source of the Golden Dawn Vault of the Adepts---but no one has yet to provide what I would consider proof of this fact. When Westcott mentions that there was an older color scheme for the Vault, he may have been referring to the color lore of the SRIA in his day and age.

Therefore, the idea that color attracts magical forces is common currency of occult thought of the 1890s, but the expanded range of color vocabulary is something new and is the product of an artist---therefore who is the artist? Westcott? Samuel Mathers? Moina Mathers? Someone else? Until someone proves otherwise, I am presuming that Moina Mathers was the one to expand the color vocabulary, and therefore it is she (and not Samuel or Westcott) that is truly the source of the Golden Dawn color scales.

As I said, maybe Nick's upcoming book, or maybe Tabatha's, will convince me otherwise.

Possible cover for Concourse of the Watchtowers.
The other thing that my dear Soror brought up was the possibility that it is not water colors or oil paints that are being used in the color scale work. That maybe it is color pencils that were meant to be used. I told her that I was positive that we were supposed to be doing the color scale work in "wet medium." There are some effects that can only be achieved with the use of wet medium---not even the use of modern paint programs can duplicate some of the effects. (Then again, I like the physical process of using a brush to create art.) Furthermore, I told her that color pencils are a modern art development, and that I was positive that the expanded color scales (usable by all Adepts and not just those who were professional artists) had to be an invention occurring after 1840.

Looking it up, I learned that the history of art materials backs up my conclusion. Colored pencils were not marketed to artists until after 1900. It is not until 1920s that we start to get a wide range of art-grade color pencils. Prismacolor pencils are not introduced until 1938. Likewise for other dry mediums---wax crayons 1903; oil pastels 1925; paint sticks 1966.

The only two exceptions for dry medium would be colored chalk and pastels (pastels are pure pigment with a binding agent)---chalks have been used for thousands of years and pastels for about three hundred years. Yet the amount of time that they have been used removes them from the running; if they were suitable for expanding the color scales, the color scales would have expanded much sooner and I would not be looking for an artist inside Golden Dawn to credit the expansion with. Besdies, these two mediums are not actually conductive to making talismans and lamens---which is one of the primary reasons for the Adept's studies of the color scale system.

A final thing I must mention is the fact that we do have a lot of evidence that the color scale work of the Golden Dawn Adept was a new development. The sheer amount of variation between the color scales of various Golden Dawn offshoots, and even between lodges of the same Orders, indicate that the system was not developed enourgh to have standardization. An older, more developed system would have figured out a way to decrease the number of variations.

The expanded color scales are not something that you can look back to a previous esoteric group and find purer information about...unless you want to toss it out completely and go back to the simple color scale used by Agrippa and earlier occultists. In fact, the expanded color scales are so new that the period of its best development may still be in the future.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Impressionism and the GD color scales

King Over the Water by Nick Farrell.
The Book of the Concourse of the Watchtowers by Sandra Tabatha Cicero.
The other day, I was reminded that there are some soon-to-be-released books that are on my shopping list (well, after I managed to crawl out of the monetary hole that I have fallen into). Both Nick Farrell and Sandra Tabatha Cicero posted possible covers for their respective books (I say "possible" because I know how things change at the last moment in publishing).

Looking at the covers, I realized something---our required color scale work in Adept Minor (5=6) was not possible previous to 1841. Or at least, not in the form and style that we do it today.

Don't believe me? Think about how you did your color scale studies. Were there tubes of paint involved? If there were tubes of paint involved, then you are using a post 1841 method. Or did you use watercolors of straight from the pans of a box? In which case, your method of study could not have developed before 1832. The idea of using watercolors from a box only dates to 1766; before that point, watercolors were sold in lumps that had to be hand-grated before using.

The ability to do color studies while sitting in your living room is a product of the Victorian Age. Before the improvements to watercolor paints by Henry Newton and William Winsor in 1832, only professional artists worked with paints. Amateurs did not start to paint until Newton & Winsor developed the methods of creating watercolor paints that could be used directly from the box. Queen Victoria helped lead a national passion for amateur painting.

Paint tubes were invented by an America, John Goffe Rand, in 1841. Rand's invention was a technological leap for the artworld. Rand would tell his son that without his invention that "There would have been no Cezanne, no Monet, no Sisley or Pissaro; nothing of what the journalists were later to call Impressionism." I would go one step further and say that there would be no required color scale work in Adept Minor if he hadn't invented the paint tube.

Please remember that I am not saying that color was not important in magic previous to the Victorian Age (Agrippa is enourgh proof of the importance of color in magical work among our magical ancestors). What I am saying is that the creation of color scales studies and flashing tablets were much harder before that point, and were unlikely to have been an important part of the esoteric lesson plan---at least among amateur artists.

Westcott mentions that there is an older color scale that were used in the ancient Vault of the Adepts. Exactly what this older color scale looked like is hard to say for sure; the Adept Major ritual doesn't develop the idea enourgh to get a clear look at it without some knowledge of art history. There are also alchemical formulas that are actually about making pigments. So while there is definitely color scales involved in the older magical systems, they were placed much higher in the estoteric Grade system.

One of the things that Nick and I have disagreed over (publically on the internet if you want to go looking---I can't remember what Golden Dawn forum it was on) is the importance of Moina Mathers in the creation of the modern Vault of the Adepts and the modern color scales. My logic tends to be: if I needed a crash course in color theory to understand the color scales and its development into the Vault, then an artist had to be involved. My best bet is Moina Mathers, who was trained as an artist. Nick says that Samuel (MacGregor) Mathers and Westcott could be the ones that brought it in---I am not sure if he was implying that the color scales were built up by a previous esoteric group prior to their founding of the Golden Dawn or if it was invented by them (Nick will reply in the comment section about that one).

One thing that would be helpful to determine which one of us is right would be knowledge about whether Westcott or Samuel Mathers were amateur artists before meeting Moina. If they only started working with the complicated color scales after meeting Moina, then I am inclined to continue crediting Moina---after all, she is the one that was responsible for painting the first RR et AC Vault of the Adepts. I am hoping that one or both of these upcoming books reveals some evidence that would make the answer to this question clearer. Knowing the source authority would clear up some questions that I have about the color scales...beyond how much credit to give to Moina.

But while I am unsure about the source authority for our color scale work, I am positive that it is definitely an esoteric development of the Victorian Age. Before that date, the color scales were much simplier, and applied in a different manner when it came to magical workings. This fact affects a lot of stuff that we do and study today---a cascade effect---including the Tarot and the making of magical talismans.

And just in case, you are wondering, the modern Victorian Age color scales is something that I am not willing to abandon, no matter how wrong they are according to the older esoteric material. I may not be good at alchemy, but I am a fair hand with a paintbrush. For maximum outrage, just remember I use the modern color scales with the Elder Futhark (the Norse Runes).

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Who was Johannes Trithemuis?

Joannes Trithemius (born Johann Heidenberg, 1 February 1462---13 December 1516) was an abbot. During his time as abbot of Sponheim, he increased the library of that abbey from a poor fifty volumes to a rich thousand plus. During his time at this post, he acquired a reputation as a magician. In 1506, he switched posts, becoming the abbot of the Schottenkloster where he remained to the end of his life.

Among his students were Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa (1486---1535) and Paracelsus (1493---1541). Trithemius was a writer focusing on "steganography" (cryptography). His most famous work, Steganographia, ended up on the Index Librorum Prohibitorium in 1609. On the surface, the book appears to be about black magic, in particular using spirits to communicate across vast distances. But the black magic is merely a cover for the real contents of the work, which deal with cryptography and steganography---or for those of us with pudding in our heads, codes and ciphers.

It is interesting that Trithemius chose to disguise his writings about secret writings inside a cover text about black magic and spirit (angelic/demonic) messengers. It is the cover text that got him into trouble. His teachings included oaths of secrecy and "delibately obscure discussions of the technique" (as one writer put it). Trithemius also encouraged Classical learning and everyday subjects, believing that they were necessary to those who were involved in theological pursuits. It is not hard to imagine Trithemuis getting into trouble over his ideas.

(I will admit that I am puzzled about why he didn't pick a different subject. Then again, there is another possibility...)

Steganographia was not printed until 1606, though the unfinished manuscript was circulated in manuscript form. Of course, from a Golden Dawn viewpoint, Polygraphia (1518) is the more important work.

The important page from Polygraphia.

A page from Steganographia.

Another page from Steganographia.

One can understand why Johannes Trithemuis got into trouble.

Ah, boyhood memories.
Now, as I noted already, the importance of Johannes Trithemuis to Golden Dawn is his book, Polygraphia. Both William Wynn Westcott and Kenneth Mackenzie had copies of this book in their libraries. The question is Why? In the case of Mackenzie is was probably more about the codes and ciphers; his pen-name was Cryptonymus and he occasionally refered to his wife as Sister Cryptonyma. In Westcott's case, I lean more toward his interest in the esoteric, including magic. But in all honesty, the answer for both men must be a little bit of ciphers and codes and a little bit of magic. They would be the first...or last...magicians to have an interest in codes and ciphers (both Dee and Agrippa leap to mind).

Yet the existence of the book in both libraries create a trust problem when it comes to the various stories that Westcott told about the Cipher Manuscript. One of the stories says that Mackenzie had seen the Cipher Manuscript and had "expressed ignorance of it and wonder." Yet Mackenzie would have been able to decipher it easily, even without a key---a key, he just happened to have in his own library. And Mackenzie, like Westcott, was a member of many societies and Orders and a collector of esoteric lore. I am not sure that Mackenzie could have expressed ignorance and wonder over the Cipher Manuscript...but that is a subject for another day.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Basics of ciphers and codes

Page from Polygraphia bearing the GD Cipher.
The student at this point of the discussion about the Cipher Manuscript needs to know a few basics about codes and ciphers. In the Bast Temple version of the Zelator (1=10) initiation ritual, the initiate is presented with several examples of codes and ciphers in the additional third part of the ritual.

(The third part of the Bast Temple Zelator ritual is so irregular from the viewpoint of other Golden Dawn Orders. It was inserted into the ritual to allow the ritual introduction of geomancy to occur during the Zelator initiation, rather than forcing the student to wait until Theoricus (2=9) where the traditional Golden Dawn Orders ritually introduce the system to the initiate. To flesh out rest of the third part, several other subjects were also introduced, including codes and ciphers. One of the results of this minor change in the ritual is that Bast Temple students get to study the Neophyte and Zelator sections of the Cipher Manuscript while in Zelator without someone frowning at them about studying material beyond their Grade.)

One of the ciphers presented to the Zelator is "Thee Cipher," the cipher that was used in the foundational (DNA) document of the Golden Dawn---the cipher of the Cipher Manuscript. The cipher dates to before 1518. The source of the cipher for Frater C was probably from Johannes Trithemius' Polygraphia (original edition 1518). The above pictue is the page that the cipher is found on from the 1561 edition.

The text roughly reads in Old French (according to Wikipedia):

Fifth Book.
Another alphabet, by which Honorius, a. k. a. Thebanius occultly describes the rules of magic.
{Theban alphabet cipher}
Another alphabet, by which some alchemists wanted to secretly use & describe rules & secrets of their science; making this science look more estimable than it deserves.
{GD alchemical cipher}
Usually alchemy is accompanied by several servants, familiars and domestics, who...

(Before you ask---no, I do not know how Trithemius finished that sentence.)

Trithemius' Polygraphia was in circulation among the members of fringe masonry in 19th century England (though to what extent is uncertain). Both Kenneth Mackenizie and Wynn Westcott had copies of this book in their libraries. A common assumption is that Frater C was very much into the use of ciphers. This may be true; it is known that Mackenzie (one of the possible creators of the Cipher Manuscript) was rather fond of ciphers. Another common assumption is that because Westcott had a copy of the cipher key, all his stories about how hard it was to "translate" the document are more to impress the listener than actually accurately relay information.

Exactly how hard is it to work with a known cipher?

An message to decipher...if you want to try, that is.
For instance, take this example. It is 58 words and it took me 30 minutes to sketch with a pencil, and another 15 minutes to ink it. So forty-five minutes to encipher a single page.

I am not sure how long it would take someone to decipher it even with the use of the key provided earlier. Frater C modified the symbol for the letter Y, and created a new symbol for the letter W. In my example, two additional symbols were created for the letters J and V. While I made an attempt to make sure that the spaces between one word and the next are clear, I am not so sure that they are completely clear now that I step back and look at the sample. Furthermore, Frater C, like myself in the sample presented, uses Hebrew letters as numbers. My Hebrew letters always get comments from the peanut gallery. Someone who examines my example will also notice that I considered something important enourgh to "write in the clear"---after all, my handwriting is terrible, even without the added burden of writing in a strange alphabet.

During the course of writing up the example, I caught two mistakes as I was engaged in the creation of the sample. These I corrected before inking. How many more I made without noticing will be something that I will learn later. This is important as we will later see when we look at pages from the Cipher Manuscript---mistakes complicate the deciphering process.

Now for those who would like to hear some gooblygook, the Golden Dawn "Thee Cipher" is what is known as a "simple alphabetic substitution script." In other words, the letters of the English alphabet are substituted for symbols, with each symbol only representing a single English letter. There are other forms of ciphers---some that take several steps to encipher and decipher.

You may also like to know that there is a difference between ciphers and codes. Ciphers focus on the letter level of the language. Codes, on the other hand, focus on whole words to attempt to disguise the information context from those who do not have the proper key. It is also probably interesting to the more nerdy readers that given a large enourgh sample in a language that one knows and enourgh brainpower (in the form of people, steam-powered differantial engines, or computers), any code or cipher can be broken. Complicated codes and ciphers merely slow the process down.

Of course, with the Cipher Manuscript, even with a complete cipher key, there are things that will slow the process of reading the document down to a crawl---for more on that, I suggest consulting Carroll "Poke" Runyon's Secrets of the Golden Dawn Cypher Manuscript.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Cipher Manuscript built in problems

Ok, I think that I am done with the numerous disclosure statements that I have had to issue to make everyone happy---which all basically say that you should not be reading this blog (or any of my writing for that matter) because I am not an expert in their eyes (and I am referring to several parties here---I don't think that I can throw a rock without hitting someone who believes this).

So now, let's turn our attention back to the Cipher Manuscript (there is a post from a few days ago on this subject).

There are a few problems with studying the Cipher Manuscript---some of which have plagued Golden Dawn from its very beginning; others are problems affecting anyone who wants to study the manuscript and its content.

Let's start with the latter type of problem. The biggest problem that affects scholars studying the Cipher Manuscript is that we are forced to study it through "trace copies" and "photocopies." This may or may not be a problem depending upon what you are interested in. If you are only interested in the contexts, then trace copies and photocopies are sufficient for one's purposes. But trace copies and photocopies require one to take a leap of faith about certain things, such as the age of the paper and ink. For instance, the science of determining the age of a manuscript has moved on since the last time that the age of the manuscript was determined.

Now, today we are better off than we were forty years ago. We do have the photocopies and trace copies of the Cipher Manuscript. Previous to the 1970s, no one (or maybe only a few people) in the esoteric community had access to the Cipher Manuscript. The document entered a private collection in 1923, and for all practical purposes disappeared.

The circulation of the Cipher Manuscript, awareness of the actual document and not just the myth of it, seems to have been limited to a small number of people in the original Order. Interestingly enourgh, A. E. Waite seems to had access to its contents through a copy of the document made by W, A. Ayton. Likewise, Frank William Coleman knew of the Cipher Manuscript. I have reason to believe that Aleister Crowley may have had knowledge of its contents, but I have no hard proof to prove my theory. The exact circulation of the contents of the Cipher Manuscript among the membership of the original Golden Dawn is hard to determine based on the currently available information. I feel that is safe to say that study of the Cipher Manuscript by members of the original Order was optional, and probably involved a favor or two in order to be allowed to make a copy of it.

In modern times, the Cipher Manuscript resurfaced. The first person to see it in modern times was Ellic Howe, who gained access to the private collection that used the document since 1923. Howe's conclusions about the Cipher Manuscript was unfavorable to say the least. Interestingly enourgh, Howe seems to ignored some of the pages of the document, or perhaps did not see the whole document. During the 1970s, there were some small press publications of the Cipher Manuscript. It was not until the 1990s that a decent publication of the Cipher Manuscript happened.

Today, the best sources are "The Complete Golden Dawn Cipher Manuscript" (Darcy Kuntz) and "Secrets of the Golden Dawn Cypher Manuscript" (Carroll "Poke" Runyon). There are a couple of websites that host images of the Cipher Manuscript; my preferred favorite is the Golden Dawn Library Project.

A couple of the modern Golden Dawn groups have changed their lesson plans to include the Cipher Manuscript. Hathoor Temple (IIOGD) included it in a limited lesson at the Inner Order level---based on the less-than-stellar 70s publications. BIOGD/BIORC includes a brief lesson about the Cipher Manuscript in Outer Order at the Zelator (1=10) Grade level (limited to the Neophyte and Zelator sections), and a longer lesson at the Inner Order level of Adept Minor Theoricus (5=6 THAM).

Another problem facing the scholar is the fact that various publications of the Cipher Manuscript order the pages of the Cipher Manuscript differently. I am working on a spreadsheet to address this problem (in fact, considering that this is a "prescheduled post," it may actually be done by this point in time). There is the additional problem that there were later additions to the Cipher Manuscript, including pages by Coleman and Westcott. Complicating matters is the fact that the lines of the documents are garbled---in fact, the Cipher Manuscript may be a copy itself of an earlier version.

Unless you have worked at "translating" some of the pages yourself (actually the proper term is "decipher"), one is unaware of the difficulties involved at decoding the mess that the Cipher Manuscript is...in fact, Runyon points out that he understands why several people did not finish the task.

The final problem facing the scholar who is merely studying the content of the document is that the Cipher Manuscript is an outline that refers to information from sources---and one is left trying to figure out the sources without a list in hand. In a future post, I will be discussing this problem in more detail; I am merely mentioning it at this point to remind people that I am aware of the problem.

Now the preceeding list of problems was merely based on the content of the Cipher Manuscript itself. There are also a couple of problems that plague the person trying to put the Cipher Manuscript into its proper context (again, the subject of an upcoming blog post). Briefly, they are "Who wrote the document and why?" and "How did Westcott obtain the document?" Both of these questions have plagued Golden Dawn from the beginning. (And in my case, they have spurred me to issue a set of disclosure statements prior to issuing this series of blog posts...because people hate my conclusions.)

So there you have it, a list of problems that will cause no end of problems when it comes to studying the Cipher Manuscript. You will be seeing these problems rear their ugly heads over and over again as we progress through the Cipher Manuscript.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Diclosure I do my own artwork

And the disclosures just seem to keep coming. Tonight's disclosure is inspired by something that happened on Facebook. A customer was complaining to one of my writer friends about the fact that she used Paint or Word to create the sigils in one of her books. Needless to say, the conversation was all downhill. Including a comment from me warning the person not to buy any of my books because my sigils are horrific ugly...which I was informed was not the point. Of course, I responded with the fact that I actually use the Paint program on occasion.

Then we got the truth, the person thought the book was overpriced for having such bad sigils. In another words, you can charge an arm and a leg for a book with beautiful, professional drawn sigils, even if it is little more than a paper weight...but heanven forbid you actually charge a high price for a book that works with ugly amateur artwork in it. I suspect the person was a muggle and not a magician.

Therefore, I have to warn people that I do all my own artwork. And it is ugly artwork (I failed high school art), just one step above stick figures. My sigils are ugly and badly drawn. My diagrams are ugly and badly drawn. My godform drawings are ugly and badly drawn. I think that you get the idea.

So be warned that my books do not contain professional drawn artwork. Though it should be noted that I have accepted money for doing artwork, therefore by Olympic standards, I am a professional artist...just not a very good one.

How big is Golden Dawn traffic spike edition

Blame Mitt Romney for the Sesame Street Ad.
Apologies to Tomas Stacewicz and his Facebook friends for using a post on his wall as inspiration for this post. But hey, ideas come where they may---you can't tell the muses not to show up in certain places without pissing them off all the time. My fellow artists will understand that one must accept the muse at all time and in all places if one wants to continue being creative.

What Tomas was talking about does not matter beyond the fact that I wish him luck on that front, and hopes that he wishes me luck towards never having to issue another bloody disclosure statement. Hey, we can dream, can't we? (By the way, Tomas, if you are reading this---I also want to focus on more important things.)

It is actually his friends' comments that the muses pointed to.

First, there was a comment from David Griffin about the traffic spike his blog got from his New Year's announcement. (Nice to see someone else in Golden Dawn also had a New Year campaign brewing in the background---I would hate to be the only one that was using New Year Day to kick off a new campaign.) David was saying that the day of the announcement was the highest "unique traffic" day for the blog. Now, I do not how much unique traffic he got, but at this point in time I bet he has a new marker for the size of the Golden Dawn market. What I do know is that he got a LOT of traffic that day. His stats for that blog took a real jump. I hope that it results in a nice turnout for his event. (Remember people, I am a writer---different concerns drive my actions. His event ultimately benefits one of my markets, therefore I wish him luck on that front.)

The other comment was made by Nineveh Shadrach, who noted that there are only about fifteen to twenty people bloggging and writing in the Golden Dawn community. And that got me thinking about under-represented the overall Golden Dawn community feels on the blogosphere and on the bookshelves. Of course, our percent of people with soapboxes may be the exact same percentage as other special interest groups---the reason that there seems to be more blogging and writing about baseball may simply be that there are more baseball fans. Without better numbers about how many people are actually interested in Golden Dawn, we can only guess. But I will admit that Nineveh is right---off the top of my head, I can think of about fifteen or twenty people who are actively blogging and writing about Golden Dawn. (Of course, part of the reason for the low numbers is simply that it takes a lot of knowledge and/or creativity to maintain ongoing writing projects in this field without having to resort to the old chestnuts. There are a lot of blogs started that fall silent.)

Oh, for those who are curious about the picture (aka the Sesame Street ad), it is from another blog, Loki's Wisdom. The other day, Mitt Romney said that Sesame Street is going to have ads under his watch...and jokes like the Necromatic Golden Dawn (which hopefully is unlike any real Order) sponsoring the Count and the Cookie Monster and shiny red apples and counting just naturally arose. As I said, you have to take the muses inspiration when and where it comes.

Blog Advice and Disclosure Statement on Prescheduling Posts

Last week, during the midst of having prewritten and prescheduled posts go live, I realized that I needed to disclose the fact that I sometimes prewrite and preschedule blog posts. OMG! It is another bloody disclosure notice, and Morgan is trying to disguise it as blog advice. (That is exactly what you thought, isn't it?)

What made me realize this was the fact that I dropped a "live and freshly written" post into a block of prewritten ones (there was a hole in the block, and the idea for the fresh post fit in prefectly with the sequence). So I appeared to be reacting to events surrounding something when in reality, I had just taken a best guess about how certain people were going to react ahead of time.

I am not sure if it is a bad sign or not that I can predict how certain people are going to react ahead of time. Personally, I think that it is a bad sign; yet the predictability of reactions in the Golden Dawn community does make one's work as a blogger easier.

Of course, that is the whole reason for prescheduling blog posts in the first place. There are just some mornings when you get up and have a couple of blog posts in mind. Instead of waiting to write them another day, it is just easier to prewrite them ahead of them, and use the schedule function to issue them in a well spaced manner. Prescheduling is also great for those times when you know that you are going to be knee-deep in other activities (semester finals, vacations, well-known weeks from hell).

So if you think that I am reacting to something, you may want to ask me if the post was a fresh post or a preschedule. After all, my evil is often preplanned weeks in advance.

(As a sidenote, I find it interesting that my cute cat picture campaigns---which are prescheduled---do not get me into trouble. Oh, wait, I know why---almost everyone can agree with cute kitty pictures. I only get into trouble when something actually matters to someone.)

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Why did Frater C mix systems in the Cipher Manuscript?

As I have noted before, we don't actually know for (one hundred percent) who created the original outline of the rituals contained in the Cipher Manuscript. For simplicity's sake, let refer to him or her as person C. Now, it is more likely that it was a man who created the rituals, so I am going to refer to them as a Frater for the rest of this post...and for the rest of this series for that matter. Hence, Frater C is whoever created the first outline of the Golden Dawn rituals.

(I would also like to use the honorary "S.H." for them, but the use of that implies that they were much higher in the system than some are willing to give them credit for...therefore I will only say it in my head as I write this post.)

Today, the general rule is "Do not mix systems" unless you are an expert in them...or a chaos magician (I can't imagine a chaos magician reading my blog...but it could be happening...*waves hi at the chaos magician in the crowd*). This rule has not always been the standard. Heck, even in this generation, it is not always the standard...my first Wiccan mentor used the rule "Use whatever works best for the job at hand" and occasionally that meant using the symbols of one system with the techniques of another system.

When we look at the Cipher Manuscript, we see a remarkable mixture of symbols and techniques taken from various systems and cultures. A question naturally arises from this fact.

"Why did Frater C mix systems in the Cipher Manuscript?"

My answer is that Frater C was a product of his time period, just like the Cipher Manuscript is. While others argue an earlier origin for the Golden Dawn system, it is my belief that it is a product of the Victorian Age. Today, we think of the Victorian Age as a conservative time period---and forget that England went from a farming based economy to an industrial based economy. Labor rights, women rights, and the roots of the New Age movement were all developments of this time period in England. We are looking at the dawn of industrial world...and it all happened during the lifetime (a long lifetime) of a single Queen.

Now, one of the things going on in England was what some refer to as "The Golden Age of Fringe Masonry." Or as I like to refer to it, "The Golden Age of Loony Secret Societies." The hundred years from 1850 to 1950 is the most fertile time for the lodge system. The birth of the lodge system is often said to be 1717, when three Freemason lodges in London formed a Grand Lodge, but the lodge system actually predates that year---1717 is the birth of the Grand Lodge system, lodges existed before that time.

The lodge system is actually a product of England. Or at least, lodges using "lodgekit" are. Secret societies existed before the birth of the Grand Lodge system, but the Grand Lodge system changed how they worked. And inside the realm of spiritual development, the lodge system has no counterpart anywhere else...wherever you see lodges, you feel the touch of the English.

Now previous to the start of the Golden Age of Loonies, the rituals practiced by lodges were simple affairs. But as the number of Orders exploded during the Loony period, the rituals got more and more complicated. To explain why, we must remember that lodge membership was a big business and a source of entertainment for its members. The capstone for entertainment value was when one Order created a set of rituals around the novel, Ben-Hur.

Any culture that was not bolted down became fair game. This included the spiritual systems. Now, the lodges tended to not mix systems. But this changed as the age went on.

Part of the reason is the explosion of the spiritual and Theosophical movements. (Think New Age if you want to consider a modern counterpart.) The Theosophical movement was very much into mixing systems together. And the Theosophical movement was busy taking away potential members.

When you actually start looking for mixing of systems, history is full of examples. The Roman Empire, Graeco-Egypt, the Medieval Age, the Fama of the RC, can all be mined for examples. There is nothing quite like the reading of medieval literature and encountered Isis as an example of a saintly woman. And Frater C would have known this.

One can see that it is not always "Do not mix systems." Often, it is "Take whatever will work the best and use it." And Frater C willingly grabbed anything that was not bolted down. It is reasonable to assume that Fracter C was aware of the Theosophical movement. And while he was not into the entertainment side of the lodge system, he did know that the English occultists of the day were willing to borrow from any system they could get their hands on. Call it a form of Magical Imperialism. Of course, knowing why he mixed system just leads to other questions that must wait for another day...or week...or however long it takes to rotate around to them.

Article and Book disclosures

Another disclosure statement---I will NOT be adding disclosure statements to my articles and books. The reasons for this is that A) I am sick and tired of making disclosure statements, especially ones that undermine my own authority and serve no purpose other than advertising an Order that I have no connection with, and B) my readers should be able to figure out from my public profiles, my blogs, and the "putting stuff in context" statements that I have a personal bias and limited knowledge about the stuff I am writing about.

Therefore, if I write about Tarot, I am not going to say that I know nothing about Tarot and that the reader needs to go to someone else for the real initiated secrets. Same goes for Norse runes, alchemy, magic, Golden Dawn, RR et AC, geomancy, and everything else that slips my mind at this moment.

Please note that no one has said I need to do this personally; but given the Golden Dawn information police views about other writers, I thought that I would beat the rush and just issue my warning that I am not going to undermine my own authority and provide them with free advertising.

Note: The membership of the Golden Dawn information police changes on a regular basis. It seems to consist of people who think that they are the only people who really know what the various esoteric traditions are all about.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Cipher Mix

As I noted in yesterday's disclosure update, one of the things that we have learned this past year is that European Third Order cut contact with the Golden Dawn/Alpha and Omega/RR et AC because they learned (though the publishing of the Golden Dawn and Inner Order material by Crowley) that Mathers had gone too far in the blending and mixing of egregores that were never met to be mixed to the extent that the Z documents instructs. (Why they did not know this information sooner is a mystery of occult history.)

Looking over the Cipher Manuscript, the outline of the Outer Order rituals, I can see why Mathers and Westcott thought it was ok to mix egregores and lores. Here is a brief list of all the various systems and egregores that the Cipher Manuscript has in it.

Enochian system of Dee and Kelley [British occultism]
Latin Grade mystic titles [German Rosicrucian]
Signs, passwords and Grade sashes [Freemasonry]
Admission badges [SRIA]
Samothracian Kabric lore
Hebrew, Latin and Greek (besides the Enochian and English) languages
Pillars with Egyptian figures on them [Tablet of Isis or the Book of the Dead]
Eleusinian Mysteries lore [Greek]
Prayer from the Divine Pymander of Hermes Trismegistus [Hermetica]
Grimoric Tradition lore [Medieval and Renaissance occult lore]
The Chaldean Oracles [Zoroaster]
Kamea of the planets/sephiroth
Elemental Prayers [Mathers and Westcott used the same ones that Levi did]
Biblical quotes
Kabbalah [Jewish mysticism]
Christian mysticism
English occult writings
Elemental Pentagram key
System of correspondences
Aesh Mezareph [Christian-Jewish alchemical synthesis]
Laboratory alchemy
Religious alchemy
Philosophical alchemy
Natural alchemy [these last three are mentioned as different things]
Osiris and the three animal forms of Western cardinal signs

I am probably missing a couple---if so, just note the missing ones in the comment section.

Specific examples of blending (both in the Cipher Manuscript and lecture/ritual workups):

Westcott wrote his notes using a mixture of languages and ciphers.

Temple name tradition drew from Freemasonry, Roman and Eygpt lore.

Westcott's official history lecture mentions Eliphaz Levi [French occultism], Kenneth Mackenzie [English Freemasonry and RC] and Frederick Hockley [a crystal gazer].

The Tarot is associated with both Egyptian lore and the Kabbalah. Furthermore, the Tarot is associated with the Hebrew alphabet [Kabbalah] and astrology.

Geomancy is associated with astrology and Tree of Life.

Alchemy is associated with the Tree of Life.

(It is a small step, or mistake if you believe the Third Order, to associate alchemy with geomancy, astrology and the Tarot.)

Perhaps the biggest blending of egregores is the Khabs Am Pekht, Konx Om Pax, Light In Extension, which blends Egyptian, Greek and English mysteries.

And this leads me to the conclusion that either the European Third Order failed to see the potential logical extension trap of their Cipher Manuscript; or that the Cipher Manuscript has nothing to do with the Third Order that Mathers had contact with. Their blaming Mathers for making a logical extension of what was contained in the Cipher Manuscript is much like handing someone a loaded gun and then blaming them for shooting someone. One can only imagine what the Third Order thinks of my own work which includes work with the Norse runes and Reiki, as well as Wiccan mysteries. Needless to say, no one has to worry about the Third Order inviting me into their ranks---I embrace the blending of egregores with far too much gusto.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Disclosure Update 2012

Happy Secular New Year!

Once again, it is time to publish an update to the myriad of disclosure statements that I already have on this blog.

[This disclosure is aimed at a particular school of thought---I am sorry, but I disagree with you. Yet given the fact that you have objected to my book reviews and tried to get me to issue a disclosure on every book review stating (more or less) that the reader should not read my book reviews because of my lack of membership in a correct and true Golden Dawn Order, I feel that I must issue this disclosure before you insist that I issue one.]

Over the past year, it has been revealed that the Secret Chiefs (Third Order) broke contact with Mathers in 1906 when Crowley published the Golden Dawn rituals and the first two rituals of the RR et AC, along with some of the teachings developed by Mathers. The reasons for this severing of contact was that Mathers allowed an untrustworthy member into his Order, one who broke his secrecy oaths, and that Mathers had went too far in his mixing of egregores (lores, traditions, currents, energies) that were never meant to be mixed. In other words, the Third Order had no clue what Mathers was doing until Crowley published the rituals and Inner Order material which just added to the insult that someone had broken their secrecy oath.

The reason that I must issue a disclosure update is that the fact that I rather like the mixing of traditions and lores. And in the interests of keeping you safe and ensuring that you only become a member of legitimate and recognized Orders (which the BIOGD/BIORC is not), so that you might someday be allowed into the glories of Third Order, you must be warned not to consider joining the Order I belong to.

Remember the words of an acknowledged expert in this matter:

"[The] fact is that the Third Order must find you...if you are deemed worthy they will eventually contact you. [The] only way in being spotted by them is by joining any of the true and authentic Rosicrucian bodies."

The fact that I do not think that Mathers went too far, besides being a working writer, ensures that I will never be contacted by the Third Order. If you ever hope to be contacted by them, you really should not be reading anything that I write. This is especially true considering that a lot of my work over the years has been involved in expanding the results of this errorous set of teachings. And whatever you do, resist the urge to come back tomorrow to read my post about the mixing of symbols as revealed by the Cipher Manuscript.

Ye have been warned.