Obeah and Wanga

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. That one must be prepared to give all that one is and all that one has to the Great Work.

Tyros nowadays tend to regard a magical Order as a brand product like any other. The quest or inner searching that supposedly precedes application to a mystery school then becomes a question of, ‘What can it (or they) do for me?’ They are considering whether the Order is suitable for them. Whether it fits; whether it suits them. Over to our sales manager:

“Madam, perhaps you would care to look at our range of colours in this style? We have a delicious shade of tangerine that would perfectly match your highlights. Dislike Qabalah? I am sure we could find a substitute 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…”

We may be excused for thinking that such presumption reveals ignorance of a magnitude; yet that is not even the half of it. 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 (rest assured that no work will have been done). That approach to the Great Work is, as we all know, a fast track to failure, for we can only get precisely what we are prepared to give. Apart from “What ails thee, o king?” and similar Graal classics, the question of what to do about knowledge should firstly involve, “How can I serve?”

Service to the Great Work

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. That one must be prepared to give all that one is and all that one has to the Great Work. Unfortunately, few nowadays have heard of Eckhartshousen’s Rosicrucian Cloud on the Sanctuary, and if they were to see a copy it is unlikely they would think it had anything 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 (the book was highly regarded by Crowley).

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

Let us move to the holier ground and look at service, the ‘give and take’ of things, from a more spiritual perspective. We use the word ‘spiritual’, but none of this is outside or in any way beyond the natural world. It is only that the world of the profane is far removed from that of nature let alone anything spiritual. Initiate members that persist with the discipline as far as the third degree of Practicus are expected by then to be keeping their own personal Sepher Sephiroth, and aiming to become proficient at the Qabalistic art of Gematria. In this way, each practitioner adds to the store of knowledge. The honeybee is the cognate symbol, for that miraculous creature gathers the raw material from flowers, cross-pollinating as it goes on its way. The hive, with its hexagonal cells, is the emblem of the primal Matrix. Flowers open to the sun, and the relevant 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.


Book References

The Flaming Sword Sepher Sephiroth
The indispensible resource for the Hermetic Qabalist and magician: “Where appropriate, Gematria with detailed Qabalistic notes has been provided. The book also serves as a veritable grimoire for those engaged with the more specialised work of the Egyptian Book of the Law, Liber AL vel Legis, and the Thelemic or 93 Curent.”

The Enterer of the Threshold
The book that “everyone that genuinely seeks Initiation into magick should study”.
Magical Theurgy—Rituals of the Tarot
A complete course in magick, covering “the extended use of elemental mudras or Godforms, meditation and Tantra-yoga, plus examples of simple and advanced magical rituals.”

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Golden Dawn and Phoenix: Night Magick vs Light Magick

The Holy Guardian Angel and the Phoenix: While truth cannot be absolutely true, true discernment is made in the heart and not the reasoning mind alone. This is the seat of what is called the True Will or Thelema.

Deconstructionism was used as a method in the arts long before it was recognised as driving political debate (so-called). Kenneth Grant—perhaps first of the post-modern occultists—laid a trail so littered with ‘blinds’ that even the most perceptive individuals have difficulty deciphering the way. Yet when he neared the end of his time—and foresaw the end of ours—he was unequivocal so far as stating that Initiates should prepare for the incoming wave of Qliphoth. To explain this in the terms coined by Grant: rends in the subtle fabric that once protected the planet are now admitting overwhelming incursions from Outside. The uninitiated have no defence against the resultant atavistic resurgence and succumb to obsession in their legions. Grant’s instructions for the needful preparations are nonetheless scattered about the Typhonian Trilogies in a way that makes them difficult to find and identify.[1]

Holy Guardian Angel: Golden Dawn Malkuth LamenThe 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 doing the bidding of the Secret Chiefs in a way more subtle than the darkly devious devices of his own imagining?

It was Kenneth 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 an Eastern and indeed dualistic philosophical view to take, though in reality not much different from that of Aleister Crowley who increasingly resorted to the Yi-King over the Tarot (which he was never good at by his own admission) and the Taoist way over that of the Hermetic. Crowley littered his work with paradoxical assertions and negations, as did Kenneth 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 use of the Chaldean Oracles, attributed to the Persian sage Zoroaster, provides a fine example. The Upanishads are full of it. Strangely enough, everyone seems to be more or less in agreement that the 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 Kenneth 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 Kenneth 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 a young Crowley was introduced to the household. It is perhaps unfortunate that Crowley and other first wave Golden Dawn dissidents discarded elements of the tradition that were valuable and magically vital. For example, the early Golden Dawn temples had equal rights and privileges for women that meant far more than paying mere lip service to a lofty ideal. When Mathers moved base from London to Paris he appointed Florence Farr as head.

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.[2] 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 and Theurgic magical operation. The irony of Kenneth 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

[1] Kenneth Grant refers to a certain “Sign of Protection”. This is described in The Ninth Arch, Appendices I (Starfire Publishing).
[2] Against the Light: A Nightside Narrative is the title of a book by Kenneth Grant (Starfire Publishing, 2016).

Details about The Phoenix and other Stellar Rites of Initiation are posted on the Ordo Astri website and at Tantrika Books.

There is an extended commentary on Phoenix in the Temple of Babalon podcast, Episode 17.

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Enterer of the Threshold: Neophyte Initiation

Book for the Probationer and serious student: 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 for Probationer to Neophyte: 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.

The following is paraphrased from the historic Golden Dawn Flying Roll lecture XXVII.

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)

Golden Dawn Banner of the West (Ordo Astri)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.

Golden Dawn Banner of the East (Ordo Astri)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.

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

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