Let us adore the Father of Beings and Spaces.
Lord of the Universe, blessed be Thy name unto the Eternal Ages. Look with favour upon this Order, and grant that its members may attain unto the Summum Bonum, the Perfect Wisdom, the Universal Light, to the Glory of Thy Ineffable Name. AMEN.
Unknown, but presumably S L MacGregor Mathers, 1892
From the original Equinox ceremony of the Golden Dawn.
Tag Archives: Macgregor Mathers
A round-up of the answers I have given to questions about Black Magick on Quora.com
What are some black magic spells?
“Black Magic” is a devalued term, and not because of any politically incorrect connotations – it is most often used to describe any magic that one happens to dislike, or any magic practised by someone whom you don’t like – even if the magic itself is (objectively speaking) quite benign.
That being said, for historical examples you might want to look up grimoire magic, i.e. rituals derived from classic spellbooks (“grimoires”). They are so old they are by now in the public domain and even available free to download on the internet if you do a google search for them. Many of them are rather obscure to read by today’s standards, although some are perennially popular and still used by modern occultists, such as The Lesser Key of Solomon, or The Book of the Sacred Magic of Abramelin the Mage, both of which entail evoking Demons and compelling them to do one’s bidding. Also, both of these were used by Aleister Crowley (1875-1947) – who is probably most responsible for their contemporary appeal (or notoriety, depending on your point of view).
These grimoires will give an impression of the kind of wording which would have been used in old-school ceremonial magic to call demons. As it happens, when you examine the conjurations involved, you should notice that the main way to call a demon actually consists of invoking the names and titles of God and His holy angels: the rationale being that only God has true power of all things, therefore one can only truly call demons when one is acting with God’s authority.
Twilit Grotto is a good resource in this regard.
What is the Goetia?
The Goetia of the Lesser Key of Solomon is a magical grimoire written in the fifteenth century, and which enjoys some fame (or notoriety) today as it was a favourite of the noted occultist Aleister Crowley. The grimoire describes a system of ceremonial magic for the calling forth of spirits or demons, seventy-two of which are described in the text.
The word goetia itself is an ancient Greek term for sorcery in general. By medieval times it had come specifically to be associated with demon-magic, as opposed to e.g. angel-magic (“theurgia”) or astrological magic (“magia”).
How do you summon a demon?
I recommend you read My Life With the Spirits, by Lon Milo Duquette. In it he describes how he evoked a demon from the Goetia of the Lesser Key of Solomon – and the learning process he had to go through to get there. Like you he had to put up with people telling him not to do it. The references he makes are to real occult teachings which you can follow to develop your own practice. He also dispels unrealistic expectations of what happens when Goetic spirits manifest.
Note however that almost each story he tells of evocation has a sinister twist or sequel to it. I say this to sound a note of caution, not to prohibit you absolutely from going ahead.
Romance is in the air. Something is in the air, at any rate, because several unusual things have been happening in the world lately. Anywho, by careful analysis of the traffic to my website I have come to the conclusion that most people who are interested in Black Magick are looking for LOVE (see my remarks on Zepar below). I have therefore decided to go through my notes on my favourite grimoire, the Goetia, and compile a list of all the Demons who are said to procure love in one form or another.
I should point out that over the years I have evoked all 72 of the spirits at one time or another, if for no other reason than to investigate what the spirit was all about. I do not work with all 72 spirits, because as a result of my investigations I have realised that I have an affinity with a small number but not with the rest. However, the small number that I do work with are satisfying enough for me to be getting on with.
It would be irresponsible of me not to point out that the elaborate safeguards described in the Goetia – the Circle, Triangle, the prescribed preparations and conjurations, etc – are all safeguards for ensuring that ceremonial magick is conducted safely and responsibly. However, the biggest safeguard is one not mentioned in the grimoire itself, and that is the Intent of the Magician. Goetic spirits are powerful. And dangerous. They are dangerous because they are powerful. If a magician went into a ceremony with a Bad Intention – or worse, a Badly-formed Intention – the results could be disastrous, and causing much evil as well.
As you read the notes below, you ought to realise that magick is not simply about getting laid. There are four words for Love in Greek – Agape (charitable love), Philia (love between friends and equals), Storge (love between parents and children), and Eros (romantic or sexual love): the spirits of the Goetia assist in procuring all four kinds, not just the last one. According to my own work with these spirits, they do not just indulge the capricious whims of the individual, but also help procuring love between peoples and nations as well.
Finally I should point out that I present these notes for information only. I personally have never resorted to any of these spirits for amatory purposes. I personally believe that the Law of Attraction pure and simple is far and effective, especially if you are trying to cosmically order a romantic partner at the same time that the romantic partner is cosmically ordering you.
‘…[H]e tells of all things past & to come, and procures love, and reconciles controversies between friends & foes…’
I personally noted that Amon’s imagery is primarily Mercurial, e.g. the Wolf and the Raven, even though a Marquis Amon would supposedly by associated with Luna. I would suggest that Amon be evoked in order to facilitate love through communication, or to put it another way, ‘gaming’ on the object of one’s affections.
‘…[H]e puts on a humane shape very Beautiful, Inflaming Men with women’s Love, and women with men’s love, and causes them to shew themselves Naked, if it be desired…’
Unfortunately I haven’t got much or indeed any notes for working with Sitri, so for me this spirit didn’t create much of an impression.
“This king Beleth causes all the love that possible may be, both of Men and women till the Master Exorcist hath had his mind fulfilled…”
I should advise caution when dealing with Beleth in regards to love. On the one hand Beleth’s influence can make one feel positive, and has a definite erotic tone to it as well. However: I also noted that Beleth has a dark side, being responsible for obsessive love, or the kind which is not real but an illusion or glamour.
‘[H]e causes the love of Lords and great persons…’
I.e. probably more relevant to gaining power and influence than for Eros, per se. A ritual for evoking Eligor appears in Shall We Kill The President?
‘… [H]is office is to cause women to love Men and to bring them together in love; he also makes them barren…’
Another post on my website mentioning Zepar seems to get an unhealthy amount of clicks on it, although it is not about Zepar per se but Goetia in general. I must assume that there are a goodly amount of perverts visiting this site who want to get laid but do not want the hassle of fathering children. Guys, the magic word you are really looking for is ‘contraception’ – look it up some time, you will also be helping to stop the spread of sexually-transmitted diseases.
‘He causes the love of women to men & men to women…’
I noted when evoking him that I could psychically detect Saleos’ erotic influence, which to my mind make him potentially a powerful demon to conjure.
‘He … tells all Things past & to come, if desired, & causes love of friends and foes…”
Glasya-Labolas is a formidable demon: I noted that when I evoked him I experienced several spontaneous Out-of-Body-Experiences afterwards. However, Glasya-Labolas is also feted as ‘an author of bloodshed and manslaughter,’ so clearly all is not sweetness and light with this Spirit.
‘…[H]e makes men to be beloved of their foes as well as they be by their Friends…’
Forneus is actually said to appear in the form of a ‘sea-monster’ – in my magical record I noted that he is the real-life inspiration behind stories of Great Cthulhu, so perhaps not one to be evoked to visible appearance on a regular basis.
‘..[H]e can cause love or hatred…’
One for the highschool sweethearts out there. Gaap appeared to my mental vision as a mediaeval doctor, which is not dissimilar to the garb that doctors of learning still wear at graduation ceremonies at modern universities. Although the evocation was pleasant at the time, I note that in my dream-life it stirred up memories of my own thoughts and feelings regarding my time at school – suggesting that Gaap can lead one to resolve issues relating to that time in one’s life.
‘He … will willingly make love between man & wife…’
I.e. in the sense of causing love – if one were in any doubt. I personally noted that Furfur’s main power is that of raising ‘Thunder, Lightning, Blasts and great Tempestuous storms.’ My main experience of this was in the form of psychic Lightning etc – not to be weaponised against others, but to explode one’s own Ego in a great blast of self-transformation.
‘[H]is office is … to cause Love between friends & foes…’
Raum is a powerful spirit. His reputed powers, which include stealing treasure out of kings’ houses, along with his ability, have caused many to invest him with their hopes and thus their collective energy. I noted when evoking him that he is in fact not just some spirit to help people get laid, but has great potential to cause social change – help make the world a better place, and so forth.
‘[H]is office is to procure the love of women…’
In my magical record I appear to have written VUALL IS POWERFUL in underlined capitals (which would normally mean that I got a strong psychic contact when first evoking him). So powerful in fact that Vual could potentially bring about world peace!
‘She*… procures the love of women, both young & old…’
* Although in the original text Gemory is described with masculine terminology, this demon is also described as appearing in the form of a ‘beautiful woman.’ One must remember that this inelegance of language is due to the fact that this grimoire was written over four hundred years before political correctness, when there were only four Genders, Sociology was not considered a subject, and being described as ‘home-schooled’ implied that you were of noble birth and had received a decent education in your father’s castle or palace.
But I digress.
The powers of the spirits of the Goetia often seem to be removed from reality as regards ordinary men and women in the street – e.g. blasting cities with lightning bolts, raising armies – what good is that? This has led some to believe that these are metaphorical – however, this is not the case. They are meant literally – they are powers which would have proved useful to a King or nobleman, who, at the time the grimoire was written, would, apart from those educated in a monastery, would have been the only people capable of being able to read such a grimoire! This is why when one reads old grimoires, one can discern that they fall into one of two camps – either ‘Royal’ or ‘Sacerdotal’ i.e. they assume that the intended reader is either of royal or noble birth (such as the Goetia of the Lesser Key of Solomon), or that they have a priestly or clerical background (such as the Heptameron or Sworn Book of Honorius).
In this sense, a nobleman would turn to Gemory to seek help in finding a woman of noble birth, fit to be a princess – this being a major concern of the nobility at the time.
On a more prosaic level, I note that I had vivid astral phenomena of a not-unpleasant nature occur to me after I evoked Gemory, so I rather suspect him – or her – to be a powerful spirit.
‘[H]e can cause love…’
While this may be true, I noted that Dantalion’s power of thought control to be more significant. On the benign side one might be able to direct that power inwards upon oneself, in order to achieve perfect mastery of concentration. On the less attractive side it would suggest that Dantalion tends to cause love by unpalatable means.
You are able to discover new and hidden depths to the whole Golden Dawn system by periodically re-reading the classic texts, written by Mathers et al., and by paying close attention to the parts you might have skipped over the first time around. Even I manage to surprise myself from time to time, such that if ever I start to feel jaded, I find myself re-invigorated by going back to the books and putting into practice what the creators of the system originally intended.
Recently, for example, I was revising the section of Z-3 “The Enterer of the Threshold,” viz. “The Symbolism of the Admission of the Candidate,” and I became convinced that Macgregor Mathers had done something far cleverer than I first appreciated: he had come up with a system of Qabalistic Qigong, long before the concept of Qigong (or “Chi Kung” to use the old spelling) had become widely known in the West (which arguably was only as recent as 1972). In particular I mean the three formulae of magical vibration derived from the opening of the Neophyte ceremony, namely: the Formula of Aspiration; the Vibratory Formula of the Middle Pillar; and the Formula of the Four-fold Revolution of the Breath.
The Formula of Aspiration
In the Neophyte Adeptus Minor document “The Enterer of the Threshold,” in the part entitled “The Symbolism of the Opening of the 0=0 Grade of Neophyte,” Macgregor Mathers describes the magical currents at work at the very beginning of the ceremony, when the Hierophant addresses the Temple for the first time. He then goes on to comment:
The whole is a rehearsal of the properties of the reflection of the Element Air down through the Middle Pillar of the Sephiroth, representing the reflection of the Air from Kether, through Tiphareth to Yesod, and even to the Citrine part of Malkuth. For the subtle Aether is, in Kether, inspired from the Divine Light beyond; thence reflected into Tiphareth, wherein it is combined with the Reflexes from the Alchemical Principles in that great Receptacle of the Forces of the Tree. In Yesod, it affirms the foundation of a formula and from Malkuth it is breathed forth or reflected back.
And this formula the Adept can use. Standing in his Sphere of Sensation he can, by his knowledge of the Sacred Rites, raise himself unto the contemplation of Yechidah and from thence aspire (in the sense of Adspire, i.e. to attract towards you in breathing) downwards into himself the Lower Genius as though temporarily to inhabit himself as its Temple.
Regardie, I, 1989, The Golden Dawn, 6th edition, Llewellyn, St Pauls Minnesota, p345.
In practice, this is really what I would consider regular vibration, although the point that Mathers is making is that one should take a moment to contemplate that one is invoking the divine name in question as a manifestation of genius from the Yechidah (i.e. the microcosmic Kether).
The Vibratory Formula of the Middle Pillar
Straight after the preceding passage which I quoted above, Mathers goes on to say:
Another formula of Vibration is here hidden. Let the Adept, standing upright, his arms stretched out in the form of a Calvary Cross, vibrate a Divine Name, bringing with the formulation thereof a deep inspiration into his lungs. Let him retain the breath, mentally pronouncing the Name in his Heart, so as to combine it with the forces he desires to awake thereby; thence sending it downwards through his body past Yesod, but not resting there, but taking his physical life for a material basis, send it on into his feet. There he shall again momentarily formulate the Name – then, bringing it rushing upwards into the lungs, thence shall he breathe it forth strongly, while vibrating that Divine Name. He will send his breath steadily forward into the Universe so as to awake the corresponding forces of the Name in the Outer World. Standing with arms out in the form of a Cross, when the breath has been imaginatively sent to the feet and back, bring the arms forward in “The Sign of the Enterer” while vibrating the Name out into the Universe. On completing this, make the “Sign of Silence” and remain still, contemplating the Force you have invoked.
This is the secret traditional mode of pronouncing the Divine Names by vibration, but let the Adept beware that he applies it only to the Divine Names of the Gods. If he does this thing ignorantly in working with Elemental or Demonic Names, he may bring into himself terrible forces of Evil and Obsession. The Method described is called “The Vibratory Formula of the Middle Pillar.”
Thus, to summarise: if one were to vibrate, e.g. “Eheieh,” one would
- Stand in the form of a cross;
- Contemplate link to Kether (Yechidah);
- (Mentally) vibrate “Eheieh.” In effect one has started off with the “Formula of Aspiration,” but one is now adding to it.
- Draw the invoked force into one’s heart and mentally formulate there “Eheieh” whilst contemplating what it represents and what you are trying to invoke (i.e. in this instance, the spiritual properties of Kether);
- Send the current down, via Yesod, to Malkuth (i.e. the feet). Formulate “Eheieh” in Malkuth, imagining that you are using your whole physical being to manifest those spiritual forces.
- Now imagine the current springing back up, rising up to your head.
- Forcefully project it out with the Sign of the Enterer, vibrating it loudly, so that it manifests in the Universe.
- Finally, make the Sign of Silence, to seal off your aura.
Thus there are three distinct points at which one contemplates the force in question: the head (Kether), the heart (Tiphereth) and the feet (Malkuth), with Yesod here figuring as a stage in the downward and upward journey. It is here that we begin to see the similarity with Qigong, in that it is a combination of breathwork, visualisation and movement. Obviously it is not literally identical to any Chinese method, being based on the Qabalistic Tree of Life. I find it helpful here to pause a brief moment – though not too long – at each point, head, heart, and feet, to really feel the energies involved.
Crowley in Liber O describes vibrating the divine names in the LBRP with the Signs of the Enterer and of Silence. It seems clear to me that he probably had the Vibratory Formula of the Middle Pillar in mind, although in describing it cursorily he misses out on the full subtleties contained in Mathers’ original description.
The Four-fold revolution of the Breath
The third magical formula derived from the opening of Neophyte ceremony relates to the currents of energy which are formed during the Mystic Circumambulation. Mathers writes:
The Mystic Circumambulation is called symbolic of the Rise of Light and from it drawn another formula for the circulation of the breath. It is the formula of the Four Revolutions of the Breath (not, of course, of the actual air inspired, but of the subtle Aethers which may be drawn thence and of which it is the Vehicle – the aethers which awaken centres in the subtle body through the formula). This formula should be preceded by that of the Middle Pillar, described previously. By this method, having invoked the Power you wish to awaken in yourself, and contemplated it, begin its circumambulation thus: Fill the lungs and imagine the Name vibrating in the contained Air. Imagine this vibration going down the left leg to the sole of the left foot – thence passing over to the sole of the right foot – up the right leg to the lungs again, where it is out-breathed. Do this four times to the rhythm of the Four-fold breath.
By saying that “this formula should be preceded by that of the Middle Pillar” it is evident that the three formulae of vibration are cumulative – the Four Revolutions of the Breath incorporates both of the preceding methods.
Speaking personally, I find that invoking a divine name by all three methods together is very powerful – the least one can expect is to feel incredibly energised by doing so. I remember once doing the lesser banishing ritual of the pentagram, using all three formulae to vibrate the appropriate Name in each quarter. Because I was necessarily observing more care over each one, the LBRP ended up taking around ten minutes longer than it had done previously, but by the end of it I was fairly floating in space! The three formulae, combined, are a powerful means for invoking Divine names generally – each time leaving one buzzing with energy, and hence filling one with confidence that one is psychically contacting the forces invoked, and working good ritual.
New video: in which I record my efforts at making a full-size Goetia floor cloth, a la Lesser Key of Solomon the King.
Just to be clear about this: the proper role of an Imperator in the Golden Dawn is to supervise the Ritual that takes place in the temple. The Z documents issued to Adepti describe the Imperator as akin to a “Director of Ceremonies,” although in practice the role is nothing like that of the DC in e.g. Masonic orders, where the DC is jumping up and about all round the temple. Instead, the Imperator just sits there looking stern (except for the adorations to the Lord of the Universe), and only gets a speaking role during the ceremony of the Equinox.
Some GD orders give the Imperator a more substantial astral-role to play: however the precise details of this are confidential, as it is one of the few unpublished teachings.
Nevertheless: when asked to act as Imperator in a temple recently, I decided to try and take the “Director of Ceremonies” side of the role seriously by doing things like arranging rehearsals, and finding solutions to common difficulties which arise in rituals, one of which I describe below:
What do you do when the room in which you conduct your rituals does not face true East? If one goes by Regardie’s Black Book and nothing else, one invariably ends up fudging the issue if one does not want engage in all sorts of callisthenics when trying to perform ritual in an oddly-shaped temple. HOWEVER: the original GD thought up a solution to this way back in 1888! It’s just that this one of a large number of original teachings which did not make it into Regardie’s opus.
Quite simply: the Temple is set up according to the natural layout of the room. Then, immediately before the formal opening of the ritual, the Hierophant goes round to Compass-East, stretches forth his sceptre, and prays:
Creator of the Universe, Lord of the Visible World, who hast by Thy Supreme Power set limits to its magnitude and conferred special attributes on its boundaries, we invoke Thee to grant that whatever Hidden and Mystic Virtue doth reside in the radiant East – the Dayspring of Light – the origin of Life – may in answer to this our prayer be this day conferred upon the Throne of the Hierophant of this Temple, who is the emblem of the Dawning of that Golden Light which shall illuminate the Path of the Unknown and shall guide us at length to the attainment of the Quintessence, the Stone of the Wise, True Wisdom and Perfect Happiness.
and returns to his throne, which from this point on is taken as the Magical East for the rest of the ceremony.
Incidentally, this prayer is useful not just for a full temple meeting, but also for practising rituals at home.
After the break-up of the original GD, the Stella Matutina continued the use of this same prayer in their own rituals. Mathers, however, wrote a new version for use in the Alpha Et Omega (which Nick Farrell has now published in his book Mathers’ Last Secret):
Hidden forces of the Universe acting through Matter unto whom have been assigned according to your nature the Cardinal Divisions of Space. Invoke ye by the All Powerful Name of your Creation to seal in just orientation the Inner Limits of this Temple. Let the Throne of the Hierophant mark the radiant East, though its direction accord not therewith, and let the South, West and North send their secret currents towards the points established in their correspondence by our Rites.
Say what you like about MacGregor Mathers, but on one point he was resolute: he would not brook gossip about Fratres’ and Sorores’ lives – this being a matter purely between themselves and their God.
Mathers may well have had an ulterior motive: i.e. the members who had “questionable” private lives were also the ones who were supporting him during the various schisms. However, Mathers’ firm stand has led to a progressive consequence: the Golden Dawn was the first magical order to adopt a modern approach to tolerance.
However, the Western Mystery Tradition was almost derailed by the efforts of Dion Fortune. Her insistence that magick was based on strict male/female or god/goddess polarity has led in some quarters to a rather dogmatic insistence on heterosexuality which borders on the homophobic. I have read some neo-pagans saying that gays were allowed to join covens, on the grounds that embodying the God did not obligate them to have physical sex with the Goddess. IMHO, this is unsatisfactory, as it means that they would have no option but to channel an aspect of the Divine which is at variance with their natural sexuality.
Nevertheless: it is not possible to become overly attached to gender when it comes to one’s god-forms. I have assumed the forms of both Gods and Goddesses in my time: such is the nature of Golden Dawn magick. I have also come to suspect that one or more of my past-lives were as a different gender to the one I am now. This does not bother me one iota, as I am perfectly comfortable in the gender and sexuality I have at the moment.
By the twin strategies of (a) not interfering with a member’s private life; and (b) not actually practising sexual magick – whether right hand or left hand path, the Golden Dawn is able to accommodate everyone. It is within my knowledge that there have been and probably still are homosexual and transsexual fratres and sorores in the GD. Indeed, at least one individual joined as a “frater” and became a “soror” during her progression and is now a successful adept.
Therefore, let everyone take note: if you know of a man who insists on turning up to temple in women’s clothes and insists on being referred to as “Soror” ceremonies, don’t laugh or mock! Such a person is welcome within the GD, and more – assuming they apply themselves diligently to the Great Work, they would even be eligible for promotion – even to being head of the order!
Reblogged from Patheos.com – nice to see Macgregor Mathers, Dion Fortune, Eliphas Levi mentioned!
You now have the opportunity to make a whole load of cash and participate in one of the greatest magical experiments ever attempted in the history of the occult! This is an investment scheme in which I predict the yield over two years will be a massive 20% above the initial lump sum: which you have to admit far surpasses anything offered by banks or anything like that. (NB What with the current financial crisis just about any investment is probably better than anything offered by the banks, but that is by the by). All you have to do is to keep your money invested for the full two years to reap your rewards. The more you invest, the more you will get out! It’s win win win!!!
So how, I hallucinate that I hear you ask, do I take advantage of this great opportunity? The details of the scheme are as follows:
I, Alex Sumner, the world’s greatest expert on the occult, intend to undertake the full Abramelin operation: by which I mean not just the 6-month version in the original Mathers edition, but the 18-month version outlined in the more recent Book of Abramelin. I will then use such magical powers as I have gained after attaining Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel to conjure up enough cash to pay off all my backers.
However to do this, I need quite a bit of cash up-front! Hence why I am appealing for investors. I estimate my costs will be as follows.
|“Initiation Fee” (see below)||£16,000|
|Living expenses for eighteen months:
Including rent of premises in which to live and turn into an oratory, purchase / construction of magical equipment, and all other living costs (food, bills, etc).
The “Initiation Fee” is to reflect a detail from the story of Abramelin which a lot of so-called modern practitioners tend to ignore because they don’t understand it. Before Abraham the Jew received the Sacred Magick from Abramelin, he gave the latter Ten Golden Guilders, which Abramelin then used to distribute to the poor. Now a Guilder was a coin representing a tenth of a pound in weight. In other words, Abraham the Jew gave Abramelin a pound of gold: which by my calculations is worth approximately £16,000 at today’s prices.
Now I personally believe that there are several blinds deliberately written into the Book of Abramelin, to trap the unwary. One of them is the part where Abraham says that your Holy Guardian Angel will reveal even more than is written in the book. At first the context makes it look as if he means that the Angel will reveal more magick squares than are set forth in the book: but I believe the real meaning is that there is an esoteric interpretation of the Book of Abramelin which is not revealed in the plain text of the story. A fuller interpretation is something like this:
- The meeting between Abraham the Jew and Abramelin where the former received the Sacred Magick was in fact an Initiation ceremony;
- The surrendering of the pound of gold – nb not for payment, but for distribution to charity! – was in fact a vital part of the Initiation ceremony. After all, if you sacrifice that which is most precious to you, as opposed to giving away just something you can afford, it tends to leave you spiritually motivated.
- The gold was not simple gold coins, but gold that had been created as part of an Alchemical transmutation. In other words, only someone who has mastered Alchemy has the right to undertake the Sacred Magick.
This may look at first sight to be a radical notion, but consider the work of the Gold Und Rosenkreutzer Order. The initiate concentrated on progressively mastering alchemy up until the Magister Templi grade, when they completed a transmutation. In the Magus grade, they actually turned to a magickal regime not dissimilar to that of Abramelin. As anyone who has studied Alchemy will know, the Alchemist is transmuted along with the metals, so that by the time he has got to that stage he will have gone through the most intense spiritual and physical purification possible.
There is another similarity to the Magus grade, to wit: the Magus is symbolically an initiate of Chokmah, or someone who has risen above the spheres of the planets. In the Book of Abramelin the magician is told not not to observe astrological conditions, but to invoke any planet when it is at the zenith: which means that an Abramelin-Magician can invoke any planet on any day of the week. From which vantage point can one truly free to work independent of astrological conditions – if not from above the spheres of the planets?
Viewed this way, this would imply that far from being part of the grade of Adeptus Minor, an assumption made by Crowley, the Sacred Magick was always meant to be reserved to the 9=2 grade or its equivalent, and the initiation ceremony through which Abraham the Jew went was in fact the real Magus ritual.
So anyway that is my modest proposal. I suggest that to keep the arithmetic simple you invest in multiples of £1000. Please click on the link marked ALEX SUMNER APPRECIATION FUND in order to make your investment. 🙂
Today I am going to do a survey of the grade of 6=5 Adeptus Major, by examining how the various different offshoots of the Golden Dawn – the Alpha et Omega, the Stella Matutina, the Holy Order of the Golden Dawn, and the Fellowship of the Rosy Cross – decided to deal with the subject. The one thing they all have in common is that they agree the grade has to do with Geburah – in the same way that 5=6 Adeptus Minor is to do with Tiphereth – but there the similarities end. Each different faction went off in their own direction, having different ideas about what the Adeptus Major was actually meant to do.
As far as I am aware, none of the published Adeptus Major rituals are used by modern day Golden Dawn orders – they have gone on to use different or modified versions.
Alpha Et Omega
The Alpha et Omega 6=5 so-called Ritual has now been published: as an appendix to Tabatha Cicero’s new publication, “Book of the Concourse of the Watchtowers.” I say so-called because the version published is not a real ritual. It does not have an opening or closing, nor does it have any drama in it. It consists of one chief officer, the “Conferring Adept,” teaching the signs and words of the grade to the Aspirant, who is prompted throughout the ceremony by a conductor. The explanation of the Tarot cards is brief. If anything, it is more of a fragment of a ritual – perhaps part of something that remains unpublished, or a work-in-progress.
The only interesting thing, IMHO, is that the brief explanation of the nature of the signs gives a tantalising glimpse into what Mathers might have imagined the work of an Adeptus Major to be – i.e. the use of Geburah-force to subdue evil entities – although no detail is given about the Adeptus Major curriculum itself. It is also interesting in that the symbolism anticipated the ideas the Crowley expressed about the nature of the Adeptus Major grade in the latter’s John St John.
Now the Adeptus Major ritual of the Stella Matutina is a far more interesting affair. An incomplete version of the ritual was published by Pat Zalewski in his book Secret Inner Order Rituals of the Golden Dawn: fortunately though, I have seen a copy dating from a Stella Matutina temple circa 1916, so I have been able to compare. Now this is a proper ritual. It has drama, it has beautiful ritualistic speeches, but most importantly it introduces in the course of the ritual several key qabalistic concepts which provide much food for thought. The ritual should be read in conjunction with the account of W B Yeats’ own experience of this ceremony, which is printed in George Mills Harper’s Yeats’ Golden Dawn, which gives details of the astral work that went on invisibly as the ceremony took place.
This ritual lays much emphasis on the Shekinah – the divine presence of God – who is here portrayed by a female officer. Why the Shekinah? I believe the answer must lie in the fact that in Gematria, “Geburah” is equivalent to “Debir,” which is the Holy of Holies, where the Shekinah was said to reside upon the Ark of the Covenant between the wings of the two kerubs. The aspirant is therefore the High Priest, who goes into the Holy of Holies (actually the Vault of the Adepti which has been re-dressed for the occasion) and after a period of meditation discovers the Shekinah, who first comes to him (or her) like a light-bearer in darkness.
An interesting feature is that the Aspirant remains completely silent throughout the ceremony, until formally released at its climax. It is worth noting that quite separately Wynn Westcott did indeed describe the Adeptus Major grade as:
“…a degree of death and solemnity—referring to the precedent stage of obscuration, during which silent study and meditation may be considered as the typical condition…”
One is tempted to speculate that in this respect the Stella Matutina ceremony is probably more to what Westcott intended than that of the AO! Unlike the AO ceremony, which is nothing but signs and an explanation thereof, the Stella Matutina 6=5 mentions two signs (“thou shalt avert thy eyes from evil as did Isis on the right … thou shalt withdraw from evil as did Nephthys on the left,”) but does not really demonstrate what they are: obviously part of the esotery that was only transmitted from person to person.
The lacuna in Zalewski’s ritual amounts to three-fifths of the oath being omitted (the oath of an Adeptus Major is in five parts), as well as an instruction that the Aspirant is censed in the form of a Pentagram, before being led out temporarily before the next point in the ceremony. When read in full, the oath of the Adeptus Major reveals that the duty of the new initiate is to apply the severity of Geburah to his or her own moral nature, whilst emphatically being merciful to the faults of others.
I found one mistake when I first read Zalewski’s version, however: when I checked, I found that the mistake had been in the original ritual! Namely: the wrong passages of the Sepher Yetzirah are quoted when the aspirant is given the teachings of the Paths of Mem and Lamed.
A sort of curriculum has emerged as to what the Stella Matutina envisioned for the Adeptus Major grade. Although on first reading it does not seem much, from my own personal researches I believe that additional papers were also issued to the adepts which suggested ways in which the Adeptus Major practices could be extended to achieve extremely sophisticated results. In any event, the lines “try to find your own Path for the Inner Life,” and “now is the time to fill in gaps of the 5=6 syllabus and to choose your special subject in which to qualify,” conceal more than they reveal: I get the impression that Felkin, the author of the Stella Matutina 6=5 ritual, believed that if the Adeptus Minor grade was equivalent to a Bachelor’s degree in Magic, then the Adeptus Major was equivalent to a Master’s.
Holy Order of the Golden Dawn / Fellowship of the Rosy Cross
The Holy Order of the Golden Dawn Adeptus Major Ritual has now been published in Regardie’s Complete Golden Dawn System of Magic. It catches Waite as he was beginning to embrace mysticism, yet had not completely thrown off all of the trappings of the original GD. Now here is a curious thing: despite superficial differences, much of the underlying structure of the first Waite ritual is identical to that of the Stella Matutina version. E.g. the aspirant remains in silence until released in the final part of the ceremony, he or she goes into the Vault for a period of meditation, before encountering the Shekinah, who leads the aspirant out. Intriguingly, Waite identifies the Shekinah as Nuit, and the newly advanced aspirant as Horus. Could this in fact mean that Waite was a secret Thelemite (extremely ironic given the caning he received from Crowley in the Equinox)? Or perhaps when Crowley received the Book of the Law, the Gods were telling him not to become the prophet of a new aeon, but that he was now ready to become an Adeptus Major?
After the Holy Order of the Golden Dawn closed, Waite founded the Fellowship of the Rosy Cross. The grades are named after those of the Golden Dawn – but Waite finally took the opportunity to abandon the last vestiges GD dogma of which he disapproved and finally do his own thing. Nevertheless, the FRC Adeptus Major ritual still displays certain similarities to the version he wrote for the Holy Order of the Golden Dawn. There is a sojourn within the sanctuary, the Shekinah makes an appearance – but the insistence of silence is strictly removed. Needless to say, any references to Horus and Nuit have been removed.
As far as I know, there was no curriculum per se for the FRC grades – I believe that Waite intended the ceremony itself to be both the initiation into and the teaching of a given grade. In this sense the FRC is rather like a masonic version of Rosicrucianism. I did hear one senior esotericist say that this being the case, an initiate could theoretically be advanced through each grade at successive meetings, or slightly less than a year if they met every month, although I doubt very much that this would happen in practice.