Obeah and Wanga: Service to the Great Work

Service given to the Great Work is a vital spiritual obligation. It is vital because giving and receiving are one and the same act. Therefore service has practical import to the art of magick. It is not merely a ‘moral’ requirement.

Service to the Great Work: Pilgrim's Progress, H. Melville, W. Floyd (engraver)

According to the (Egyptian) Book of the Law, Liber AL, I: 37,

Also the mantras and spells; the obeah and the wanga; the work of the wand and the work of the sword; these he shall learn and teach.

The seeking out of esoteric knowledge should firstly involve the question, “How can I serve?” Even Aleister Crowley, frequently cast in the mould of black magician—a role that he evidently delighted in playing—was unequivocal regarding the supreme importance of service freely given. One must be prepared to give all that one is and all that one has to the Great Work.

Tyros nonetheless regard a magical Order as a brand product like any other. The quest or inner searching that supposedly precedes application to a mystery school is reduced to trivial nonsense: ‘Does it match my personal preferences, my self-image? Will it enhance my profile? What can they do for me?’ They vainly consider whether the Order is suitable for them, not the other way round as it should be and is, in reality. Perhaps a sales manager can help with such a difficult choice?

Madam, perhaps you would care to look at our range of colours in this style? We have a delicious shade of violet that would perfectly match your highlights. Dislike Qabalah? I am sure we could find another game that will take your fancy. We have a range of mystic methods from diverse global sources. Let us see what we have on our shelves, we will surely find something to please you…

The majority of magical shoppers plan to give nothing in return apart from their complaints when the immortal stone of the wise has not dropped into their lap within the first month—we can rest assured that no work will have been done. In magick we get precisely what we are prepared to give.

Service to the Great Work

Eckhartshousen’s Cloud on the Sanctuary is the Rosicrucian template for a magical Order, used by Crowley and many others since—though most have sought to avoid its rigorous obligations. Few now have even heard of it, yet should they happen to read it, they would probably think it has nothing to do with them. Likewise, there are those who think that John Bunyon’s classic of English literature, Pilgrim’s Progress, is only relevant for pious Sunday School pupils. It does in fact apply to any spiritual path in any tradition.

Members of the O∴ A∴ Collegium are expected to manage their own contributions to the Order. Usually they make regular or occasional donations, as according to their means. Ideally, each practitioner also adds to the store of knowledge. A Neophyte is literally a ‘new flower’ (neo photon). The honeybee is the cognate symbol, for that miraculous creature gathers the raw material from flowers, cross-pollinating along the way. The hive, with its hexagonal cells, is the emblem of the primal Matrix. Flowers open to the sun, for which the relevant Qabalistic path is the 30th, called The Gathering Intelligence. The six-fold opened cube of the universe, Tiphereth, is naturally the flower of the Golden Dawn of any functional magical Order. As knowledge is freely given out, so individual aspirants give freely to the Order that sustains them spiritually.


Books Required for Probationer Study

The Enterer of the Threshold
Babalon Unveiled! Thelemic Monographs
The Flaming Sword Sepher Sephiroth
The Phoenix and other Stellar Rites of Initiation

© Oliver St. John 2017, 2019

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Holy Guardian Angel: Phoenix Rising

The Holy Guardian Angel, the Golden Dawn and the Phoenix arising from the ashes are cognate terms. True discernment is made in the heart and not the reasoning mind alone. Thereby, truth can be known. This is the seat of what is called the True Will or Thelema.

Holy Guardian Angel: Golden Dawn Malkuth Lamen

The term, ‘Magick of Light’, owes to the Golden Dawn tradition established by Samuel Liddell MacGregor and Moïna Mathers, Wyn Westcott, William Woodman, Florence Farr and company. The deconstruction of that legacy was carefully prepared and set in motion by Aleister Crowley and George Cecil Jones. It could be said that half a century later Kenneth Grant finished off completely the job they started. Or did he simply weave a seductively alluring tapestry, a fantastic veil to hide the real secret of the Golden Dawn from the profane—thus subtly doing the bidding of the ‘Secret Chiefs’ through darkly devious devices of his own imagining?

It was Grant that cleverly noticed the Golden Dawn expression of the reification of the Magick of Light as spelling ‘The Great L.I.E.’ (Light in Extension). This is a dualistic philosophical view to take, though in reality not much different from the rationalism of Crowley. Crowley littered his work with paradoxical assertions and negations, as did Grant, albeit in a very different style.

The dualistic denial of matter and proclamation of spiritual supremacy is nothing new; it was included in the knowledge of the syncretic Golden Dawn tradition. The Chaldean Oracles, attributed to the Persian sage Zoroaster, provide a fine example. The Upanishads are full of it. Strangely enough, everyone seems to be more or less in agreement that the (esoteric) way of the West differs from that of the East in so far as matter is not to be denied but transformed. The extraordinarily lurid works of Grant are as syncretic as those of any Golden Dawn. After all, he was not urging us to become Hindus or Buddhists. The ‘Typhonian tradition’ is usually taken to refer not to an ancient Egyptian pre-dynastic cult but to the legacy of Grant’s writings. The said writing embraces all manner of expressions, from an inverted view of the Golden Dawn, Grant’s extended use of Gematria, which he called ‘Creative Qabalah’, and on to Zen, Taoism, witchcraft, voodoo, demonology and even ufology.

The redoubtable Scientific Illuminism of Crowley is austere in comparison with the amorphous Nightside of Grant, but it continued the Golden Dawn tradition—after a fashion at least—in the declared aim of universalism. The universalism of the syncretic Golden Dawn was established at least a decade before the young Crowley was introduced to the household. It is perhaps unfortunate that he and other first wave Golden Dawn dissidents discarded elements of the tradition that were valuable and magically vital.

Holy Guardian Angel

While Grant proposed a way, if you can see it, that is essentially Against the Light, he nonetheless insisted, in his earlier writings at least, that one must attain the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel before bravely immersing oneself in the demon worlds of the Qliphoth. And here is a strange thing to relate in view of the polemic against luminosity: the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel is a hermetic, theurgic magical operation. The irony of Grant’s Tunnels of Set is that they lead nowhere; the longer one stays in the cloying labyrinth the further one is from the fragrance of the mystic rose.

The Holy Guardian Angel, a divine messenger that conveys direct mystical experience to the soul, is very much part of the Rosicrucian scheme of things. That means working the grades of the Golden Dawn as far as Tiphereth, the central solar radiance of the whole Tree of Life. At the foot of the Tree, coiled about the Kingdom of Malkuth, Thanatos and Eros weave the Ring-Pass-Not that mockingly bars all ways to the canopied couch of Logos and Agape.


Notes

Abridged from The Phoenix and other Stellar Rites of Initiation.

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Enterer of the Threshold: Probationer

Book for the Student and Probationer: The Enterer of the Threshold presents the Oaths and Tasks of our Golden Dawn in the Outer, along with the symbolic temple floor-plans from Probationer to Dominus Liminis. The book provides the keys by which a Probationer may prepare for Initiation to the grade of Neophyte.

Ordo Astri Books: Probationer: The Enterer of the ThresholdAt the very beginning there is the intellectual matter of books, study and thought, which is the work of the Student. This work continues through all grades. Next, the magical circle must be constructed by taking the Great Work from theory into practice. The Probationer must define the magical circle of the place, squaring the 0=0 circle of the infinite. Before any invocation can take place, before any Gods may appear, the circle of the place must be drawn.

In ceremonial, the drawing of a circle is the key to all. It must be a true magical vortex—raising about the sphere of the mind an absolute barrier to all extraneous impressions—thus enabling perfect spontaneity.

The circumambulations about the circle begin with seated asana and pranayama, the circulation of the breath. All ceremonial circumambulation is an outward projection of the circulation of the breath in yoga, and is the arising of light in darkness. The Probationer must practice and understand the following tenfold formula over the course of one year, for it is the magical and spiritual means of truly attaining the Initiation of the Enterer of the Threshold.

0. Intellectual thought and study
1. The Magical Name
2. The Oath and Task
3. The Holy Obligation
4. The Powers of the Sphinx
5. The Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram
6. The Keeping of the Record!
7. The mudra of Horus the Enterer and Silence
8. Vibration of Words of Power
9. Tantra-yoga: Asana and Pranayama
10. The Sword and Serpent (Kether to Malkuth; Lightning Flash)

From Probationer to Neophyte

The Probationer must enter the pyramid of Malkuth from ‘outside’ to truly become a Neophyte. They must square the infinite circle of all that they are and can ever be. The 0=0 is the most important grade in the Order because it lays the foundation and provides the magical link between the Outer World of Darkness and the interior world of Illuminated Souls or inner plane Adepti. It is the aim of magick to forge contacts with the latter.

The pyramid of Malkuth must first be constructed through the effort of the Probationer, then realised through contact made with the inner planes. The Probationer degree is all about the circle of the infinite—for it has no number or sephira. There is, further, a mystery of the Ain Soph Aur, the veils of negativity that precede Kether. The thread of the Ain Soph is the means of translation between the planes in magick and mysticism; it is the magical means of the verb, the word that goes forth. This is not something that only concerns the Probationer that is awaiting full admission to the Order, for the squaring of the circle applies to every grade and every sephira of the Tree of Life.

The link between the Probationer and Neophyte is the Vision of Adonai or the Holy Guardian Angel, which is the magical power of Malkuth. This is affirmed, whether symbolically or actually, by the ritual of Initiation performed and realised not once but many times until perfect mastery is obtained. Only then is the Neophyte prepared to ascend the paths of the Serpent of Wisdom from Malkuth.


Notes

The Enterer of the Threshold: View book on author’s website.

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