Yoga and the Dweller on the Threshold

While it is true that aspirants are tested by what is poetically termed the Lord of Initiation, Probationers do not swear any oath or obligation that would incur a trial by fire. Nonetheless, as soon as a foot is placed on the path, the Dweller on the Threshold will appear.

Yoga and Dweller on Threshold: Set as Black AssThe shape or form of this Devil is unique to each individual since it is a phantom produced by the person’s karma.[1] While this deters many from continuing the work they began with such enthusiasm, it is the first stirring of the Occult Force. Whether initiation really takes hold or not is largely determined by the way the person responds to the Dweller on the Threshold. There will be help if that help is recognised for what it is. There will most certainly be hindrance, obstruction and even seduction—the powerfully compelling voices that urge us to give this up as it will do us no good, that we have made the wrong choice or there is a better, more authentic discipline further down the road.

The Dweller on the Threshold may take the form of some perceived or genuine misfortune, or a general sense of unease or misgiving. It may take the form of a migraine, one of those ‘flu viruses that is hard to shake off, the incessant demands of a spouse, a difficult child, a manipulative mother, a bullying father or boss at work. Money can be a considerable ‘Dweller’—whether there is too little, or too much of it. An outbreak of supernatural phenomena quite often occurs with those that have awakening psychic sensitivity—the ‘things that go bump in the night’. The Initiates are those who persist, that possess the will and resolve to keep on. Perhaps there is something else too, the “factor infinite and unknown” referred to in Liber AL, II: 32. It is also written that “many are called but few are chosen”.[2] It is not enough merely to be enthusiastic at the outset; there must be inner conviction, which arises from innate knowledge.

One must strive to understand the Dweller on the Threshold. There is a caveat. The Oath and Task of a Magister Templi is “to interpret every phenomenon as a direct dealing of God with my soul”. The New Age movement with its voracious appetite for assimilating and trivialising the threads from all wisdom traditions has tended to encourage its followers to adopt that particular jnanamudra without training, preparation, or any supporting philosophical basis or structure. Applying such a method at the beginning of the work will bring that work to a swift conclusion.

Yoga Threefold Truth

Before taking up practical work it is necessary to understand the ancient Holy Vows, Obedience, Poverty and Chastity.

  1. Obedience means accepting to be directed in one’s work. Without this acceptance there can be no true relationship between the aspirant and the Order to which they aspire. Indeed, unless Obedience is practised and understood then there can be no aspiration, only vain hope—or worse.
  2. Poverty means stripping away non-essentials and being receptive to the Hermetic Light or 93 Current. This automatically implies that one must liberate the self from any preconceptions regarding the latter.
  3. Chastity means accepting to be committed to a particular method and discipline and remaining faithful to that commitment.
  • Mixing different yoga methods is impractical and may even cause harm to the person. Ritual magick requires a coherent symbol of the universe as basis. Those intending to begin practical work with us must be prepared to make a fresh start with our methods of yoga and ritual magick.

Yoga Eightfold Truth

Further advice regarding the Study and Practice of the Occult is based on Patanjali, the Eight Limbs of Yoga. Practical work—yoga and magick—is the third limb of yoga. Practical work should not be undertaken until the first two limbs of yoga are accomplished! The first two limbs of yoga are the preparations that need to be accomplished before the person assumes the seated posture (asana) and learns how to control their thought (dharana). These are:

  1. Abstentions: Harmlessness; truthfulness; non-stealing; continence; non-covetousness
  2. Observances: Cleanliness; contentment; fiery aspiration; self-study; self-surrender

The Abstentions are for Conservation of Energy for the Great Work. It is all about where we place our attention.

The Observances need to be understood:

Cleanliness: We should guard our speech; we must not declare our spiritual intentions to the profane.
Self-study: We must turn our attention inward and away from the worldly.
Contentment: Calmness of mind comes about through organising the mind. This requires placing our attention on studying the right material.
Fiery aspiration: All energy is directed to that which transcends the self.
Self-surrender: This means sticking to the chosen path, putting personal considerations (and objections) to one side, and not deviating or prevaricating.

The accomplishment of the first two limbs of yoga is an essential requirement for Probationers.


1. The Sanskrit word karma means “action”. It generally refers to the phenomenon of cause and effect that appears to govern the machinations of the material universe.
2. Matthew, 22: 14.
The illustration is Set in the form of the Black Ass of internal conflict (Papyrus, Egyptian Museum, Cairo).

© Oliver St. John 2013, 2018

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