Hermetic Qabalah Foundation

This article is to provide some background and the historical basis to our course, Hermetic Qabalah Foundation. It also provides some useful guidelines to how the course is worked.

Crowley once remarked of Thelema that ‘do what thou wilt’ was to bid stars to shine, vines to bear fruit, water to seek its own level, etc. … we are all expressions of the 93 Current, with our parts to play, and in this play, the Current is expressing itself through us. Thus there is no need to look upon the work of Crowley, or Grant, or Spare as being a fixed body of work before which we can only, awestruck, bend the knee; rather, we should use it as one source amongst several from which we can develop our own body of work.

Michael Staley, Starfire Volume II No. 3

There is a Thelema beyond Aleister Crowley, whose magical system was put together between 1909 and 1947. Working through a correspondence course to achieve magical initiation nonetheless seems to have originated with Crowley, though he is rarely given credit for it. In the old style Golden Dawn Lodges, where initiation was supposed to be achieved with group ceremonies, few persons did any personal work. There was little or no supervision unless they were fortunate to know the right people. Crowley was taught by Allen Bennett, but that was a rare case. There was a tendency therefore for quite a lot of people to get into relatively high grades without gaining real knowledge. They attended meetings and paid their dues.

The correspondence method, introduced by Crowley and continued for a short time by Kenneth Grant, is necessarily didactic. Initiation is then about personal work done and the discipline of the magical diary Record. Dion Fortune further developed the correspondence course method in her Fraternity of Inner Light, and it came to us through that route. It was a former student of Dion Fortune that first put it to us that we might continue the tradition. We are now in the 4th generation and everyone has added and contributed along the way.

Hermetic Qabalah Foundation

Hermetic Qabalah Foundation: Lightning Flash

The Hermetic Qabalah Foundation is unique and original to the O∴ A∴ but the mode of working, where the Tree of Life is travelled from top to bottom instead of bottom to top, was first developed by the Helios Group in England in the late 1950s. The Helios Group was a project that was developed in association with the Fraternity of Inner Light. The author and Qabalist Gareth Knight (Basil Wilby) had much to do with what was then called the Helios Course in practical Qabalah, in consultation with Israel Regardie. The bulk of that course, fifty lessons and fifty months of study and work was penned by W. E. Butler, working on commission.

Our course, Hermetic Qabalah Foundation, bears little comparison with the Helios course; there is no Arthurian symbolism, no Graal castle and, with all due respect to our mentors, ‘Thelema’ is not a word used to clear the room after a party. The course takes one year to complete and is presented in Hermetic Qabalah Foundation—Complete Course. The letters received from the course guide on a monthly basis fill out the rest. That way, the instruction can be tailored to suit the individual.

There is in reality no such thing as a beginner’s course in magick. The ancient Egyptians did not have one set of hieroglyphs for novices and another set for priest-kings; they are all the same hieroglyphs. The Hermetic Qabalah Foundation was written and structured in such a way as to teach the novice how to make their way through the labyrinth of symbolism that pervades the subject. The course also serves the purpose of enabling the student that is properly prepared a chance to forge the necessary inner-plane contacts. If a master of magick were to work their way through the same course, they would not be wasting one minute of their time, for they would work it to their own level of ability and knowledge.

Holy Guardian Angel

The primary objective of the Great Work is the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel. In many ways the Angel can be regarded as a divine lover, for the Knowledge and Conversation is the most complete form of consummation within human experience. Qabalistically, union between the ego and the non-ego takes place in Tiphereth, the heart and centre of the Tree of Life. This then becomes the seat of the True Will or True Self. In the normal state of affairs Tiphereth is merely the place of the lower ego, which has usurped the position of its true ruler, prince and king. The mundane chakra attributed to Tiphereth—its physical vehicle in the cosmos—is the Sun. The symbol used for this star is a circle with a point in the centre. The circle with a point in the centre is also the symbol of Kether concentrated from the Ain Soph Aur, the void from which emerges the point of consciousness. As Kether is in Malkuth and Malkuth is in Kether, the Vision of the Holy Guardian Angel is attributed to Malkuth on the Tree. The Holy Guardian Angel informs the person while they are incarnated in a body of flesh—the Great Work as understood by Hermeticists is not something that is postponed until an after-life.[1]


Notes

1. From Hermetic Qabalah Foundation—Complete Course, pp. 38.

© Oliver St. John, 2018

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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.”

Subscribe to our monthly Journal: The 93 Current. The Journal is free of charge and is delivered by email.

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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