Thursday, February 19, 2015

Treating the rituals of Golden Dawn as a literary text

(Please remember that one of my majors in college was literature while you are reading this. I wrote this as comment in a Facebook discussion on associating the officers of Golden Dawn with various Tarot cards, and believe that some of my readers might be interested in this comment, even if they do not belong to that FB group.)

I think that a lot of the layers in the GD rituals are hardwired into the system by the Cipher Manuscript and the basic set of assumptions that eventually find their expression in the original Z documents. It does not matter if you use the Spirit model or the Psychological model or whatever other model you want. The Cipher Manuscript, the ritual scripts, and the Z documents are a piece of literature, and it can be analyzed though the lens of literary studies.

The Cipher Manuscript associates the Tarot with planets and deities. Once you bring in the idea that the officers, and other forces (places of potent power on the floor of the lodge) are associated with deities (in the form of god-forms), it is natural to make the link between the officers and invisible stations to the Tarot (though the planets and deities).

This linkage creates a situation that once the idea is put forth that (for instance) the Hierophant is the Sun, that we will also associate the Sun card with the office. Furthermore, it opens up the box that says the other six officers who move in the Neophyte ritual are associated with the other six classical planets, and their associated Tarot cards.

Because the creator of the Cipher Manuscript did this type of linkage, and the first generation of GD initiates read this type of linkage into the system, following generations have discovered that though a process much like literary analysis that they can puzzle out more linkages that have always been present, but invisible upon first reading of the text of the rituals. (Note that a performance of a ritual is a reading of the text, much like the performance of a Shakespeare play is a reading of the text of that play.)

What students of the system, such as Jack Taylor, Pat Zalewski, and myself, are doing is merely exposing the implications of what the original authors of the text (Cipher, ritual, Z docs) wrote into the text itself. Now what you do with it will depend upon what model you are using, but the task of literary analysis remains the same no matter what model you choose to use (just like in literature, you can read the same text using several different literary theories).

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