Monday, June 22, 2009

Music in the Outer Order


In Masonic ritual it is traditional for the Organist to play hymns during the ceremonial perambulations around the temple, and when traveling between the stations of the three principal Officers. Composed by Mozart, these hymns are as much a part of traditional Masonry as any of the regalia and ritual. I have always wanted to put the Golden Dawn rituals to music, and here are the results of my efforts.

For the Neophyte Ceremony of Reception, I have selected The Benedicite Omnia Opera to be played or sung during the circumambulations. This could have easily fit in the Path of Tav, and while it is mentioned in the Second Knowledge lecture in connection with the elemental spirits, instead I have placed it at Neophyte where the four elements play a balanced role, and of course the 0 = 0 grade is pendant to Malkuth, the sphere of the elements.

The elemental grades were far more challenging, even with my favorite composer's help. The Four Seasons are a collection of four violin concertos composed in 1723 by the great Antonio Vivaldi. It is his most widely known work and these are some of the most popular pieces of Baroque Music. These selections are attributed to the four elements and the Cardinal points of the compass by way of the "Four Prevailing Winds of Britain" system, which is of course the same order the four implements are placed on the Altar during the Neophyte Ritual. The original order of the concertos by Vivaldi is Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter.

In our system Winter comes first because the Zelator ritual precedes the other grades. Next is Spring at Theoricus, but then the selections for Summer and Autumn switch attribution from the sphere to the paths, thus putting Summer for the paths in Practicus, and Autumn for the Paths leading to Philosophus. This was chosen by listening to the music and meditating on the actual trumps. This captures the unique elemental duality that the Golden Dawn teaches in Practicus and Philosophus. This balance between opposites in path and sphere in these two grades is represented faithfully by this arrangement, and even moving Winter to the beginning has the astounding effect of keeping the seasons in their correct order.

The actual reception into each of the last two grades is accomplished by repeating the first movement. This decision on my part may frustrate some magicians who are inexperienced with music, but I believe it is the correct one. In my background I have played over a thousand shows, sometimes for a few hundred, sometimes for even several thousand people. It is common knowledge among musicians that the sheer power of staying in key for a whole selection of music can be incredibly moving, something that would be ruined if I mixed up some of the selections, playing summer and autumn together in one ceremony, for example. Vivaldi really knew what he was doing, so I have deferred to his legendary programming and left the sequence of the movements basically alone. Furthermore, the reprise of the first movement during the closing of Practicus and Philosophus really works in letting the energy of his music to take hold during the ceremony. I have learned that during a long evening of music a final repetition of even a single melody heard previously in the night can be such an emotional experience, it is often enough to move people to tears. Using the first movement again is the perfect effect for the entrance into a sephira and its closing ceremony.

So in closing, I would like to thank all of you for the opportunity for me be your DJ. All of these files can be found on Wiki, and I encourage each of you to sit down with a nice but inexpensive bottle of Yellowtail Shiraz from New Zealand, fan out the correct trumps and perhaps a few lineal figures, listen to these pieces in the prescribed order and marvel with me at the sheer power of Vivaldi's work.

Music in the Outer Order II

In summary:

During Circumambulations - The Benedicite Omnia Opera, to be played or sung.

First Part - Vivaldi's Concerto No. 4 in F minor, Op. 8, RV 297, "L'inverno" or Winter, Movement One, Allegro non molto
Second Part - Movement Two, Largo
Travelling between the Tablets and Closing - Movement Three, Allegro

Opening and The Path of Tav - Vivaldi's Concerto No. 1 in E major, Op. 8, RV 269, "La primavera" or Spring, Movement One, Allegro
Entrance into Yesod and walking between Tablets - Vivaldi's Concerto No. 1 in E major, Op. 8, RV 269, "La primavera" or Spring, Movement Two, Largo
Closing - Vivaldi's Concerto No. 1 in E major, Op. 8, RV 269, "La primavera" or Spring, Movement Three, Allegro Pastorale

Opening and The Path of Shin and between Tablets - Vivaldi's Concerto No. 2 in G minor, Op. 8, RV 315, "L'estate" or Summer, Movement One, Allegro non molto
The Path of Resh - Vivaldi's Concerto No. 2 in G minor, Op. 8, RV 315, "L'estate" or Summer, Movement Two, Adagio e piano, Presto e forte
Travelling between the Tablets - Vivaldi's Concerto No. 2 in G minor, Op. 8, RV 315, "L'estate" or Summer, Movement Three, Presto
Entrance into Hod, between Tablets and Closing - Repeat the first movement.

Opening and The Path of Qoph - Vivaldi's Concerto No. 3 in F major, Op. 8, RV 293, "L'autunno" or Autumn, Movement One, Allegro
The Path of Tzaddi and between Tablets - Vivaldi's Concerto No. 3 in F major, Op. 8, RV 293, "L'autunno" or Autumn, Movement Two, Adiagio molto
The Path of Peh and between Tablets - Vivaldi's Concerto No. 3 in F major, Op. 8, RV 293, "L'autunno" or Autumn, Movement Three, Allegro
The Entrance into Netzach, between Tablets and Closing - Repeat the first movement.

Thanks to Wiki for all the help in gathering the correct information about Vivaldi's music.

Second Order Musings

I have created a Second Blog for my Second Order musings and material.

Thus may we keep the veils between the orders intact. This of course has always been difficult for me, as the fact that I am now a father of two lovely children can attest to. Ah, its good to be true to yourself.

The Outer Order Regalia

The black tav robe is worn in the outer order, and we are told it signifies ignorance. But of what? Black is the earth element, the corporeal form, and I believe it is the ignorance of the elemental self of which it is the work of the magician to come to know. The red socks symbolise the energy and fire in motion to initiate that transformative process. The earth of our beings not only contains the spark of fire within, the locomotion of life in the fire of the Alchemist heats the Tav cross of matter into decay and corruption. The outer order is our crucible, and each of us is a black elemental cross who is to be broken down or dissolved into the separate elemental parts before eventually being recombined or coagulated into the philosophers stone. We are the Alchemist, the fire, the crucible and the black cross of matter. We are the complete Hermeticly sealed system, and the experiment is on ourselves, if we could only remember to recognize it.

The black sash with a white border simply demarcates the grades or steps of the outer order. The robe is a symbol of the physical form, and is the black of Binah, Saturn, earth, limitation, authority and of course ignorance. The socks are the red of Mars, fire, Geburah and Aries, energy, the will and one's self identity.

Adapted from a forum post I made earlier this spring.

A Neophyte Catechism

A magical miscellany of quotes from prominent GD sources, from my own work, and from various old-order Adepts. Some of my male readers may find the following format to be somewhat familiar.


Q) What is the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn?

A) A peculiar college of magic, mysticism and mythology.

Q) What is magic?

A) The art and science of causing change to occur in conformity with will.

Q) What is a magician?

A) One who communes with spiritual creatures and beings.

Q) How do you know yourself to be a magician?

A) By the experiences at my initiation, by the repeated trials and troubles I have overcome, and by an inner certainty that I am such.

Q) What such experiences?

A) I was purified and consecrated four separate times, a rope was placed thrice about my body, I was presented to the east and west, and my eyes were hooded until I was brought to the light.

Q) What such trials?

A) By the test of the guardian of the west, whose name is darkness, and where I learned that fear is failure, and the forerunner of failure. So therefore face your fears, for in the heart of the coward virtue abideth not. In facing your fears and your failures, it will be as thou was without. For he who trembles at the flame and the flood and at the shadows of the air, hath no part in god.

Q) What such certainty?

A) By the test of the guardian of the east, whose name is the light of a golden day dawning in darkness, and where I remember that unbalanced power is the ebbing away of life; unbalanced mercy is weakness and the fading out of the will; unbalanced severity is but oppression, cruelty and the barrenness of mind.

Q) What is mysticism?

A) A personal system of spiritual advancement, attainment and attunement unique to each individual.

Q) Then how can an Order teach such a system?

A) It cannot, it can only make its aspirants aware of the precepts of the various mystical systems, and in time one will form one’s own experiences.

Q) Why belong to such an Order?

A) My soul is wandering in darkness seeking for the light of hidden knowledge, and I believe that in this order the knowledge of that light may be obtained.

Q) What are the mystical words?

A) Khabs am pekht, Konx om pax, light in extension.

Q) What are their origins and meanings?

A) The mystical words Khabs am pekht are ancient Egyptian and are the origin of the Greek Konx om pax which was said to be uttered at the Eleusinian mysteries. A literal translation would be “light rushing out in one ray” and they signify the same form of light as that symbolized by the staff of the Kerux.

Q) What is a myth?

A) To answer that, I must first tell you what it is not, in this context, mythology is not some untrue or fanciful statement or statements about the past or present: it is however, the retelling of certain stories in symbol and allegory that are deeply meaningful to our fellow man or woman.

Q) Why is such obscure symbolism employed?

A) By names and images are all powers awakened and re-awakened.

Q) Why is such a dire oath of secrecy required of each aspirant?

A) The seed of wisdom is sown in silence and grows in darkness and mystery.

Q) Perform the adoration to the lord of the universe.

A) Holy art thou, lord of the universe. Salute.
Holy art thou, whom nature hath not formed. Salute.
Holy art thou, the vast and mighty one. Salute.
Lord of the light and of the darkness. Give the sign of silence.

The Oath of Secrecy

In this day and age of new-fangled inventions like the printing press and the world wide web, this is a very difficult oath to maintain, and the interpretations of the correct way to do so abound. Some of us prefer to keep totally silent regarding our involvement, literally invoking Levi`s fourth power of the Sphinx. Others tend to just be discreet, rather than bring too much attention to themselves in our society which is by nature not all that accepting of the differences in others, especially the oft misunderstood philosophy of Occultists. Some elect to limit their comments to only that which is already in print. Others yet prefer to keep whatever unique practices their temples may have secret and unrevealed.

Each magician's philosophy has its validity, and whatever each individual`s interpretation of this oath might be, I think we can all agree that its influence can be a thorny ethical conundrum in the mind of the modern magician. Unfortunately, now that a great deal of the system has been revealed, at least part of the decision has been made for us. There is no turning back time, what is done has been done, and there is no point trying to erase the past. By the above statements and my very presence here on the net, I may have more than tipped my hand as to which category my opinions fall. I for one, have greatly benefited from the system being placed in print by Regardie and others. While for years I have done my own `secret` group work without any pretense, along with many others the printed word was my first introduction to GD, and I will always be fond of Regardie`s books.

I propose that instead of promoting the admittedly untenable need for further secrecy, that we act and teach our Neophytes a more modern equivalent. I am of course speaking simply of respect. Respect is needed for the secrets of our mysteries, whether revealed by a book in print, or through traditional communication in a secret temple. Respect means one doesn`t profane the mysteries, for lack of a better term, by indiscriminately speaking of them among those who are not suited for such discussion. This is easily determined not by any judgment call or assumptions by us about another person`s character, but by the simple discrimination and reckoning whether the other individual under consideration will accord our mystic topics with that high standard of respect and appreciation that they deserve. What if we discover we are wrong about a person's suitability for a discussion on magic, but we have already started a conversation we would prefer to have avoided? Luckily on the Internet, like in person, we can easily choose not to reply to any of those comments that we have deemed to be beneath our dignity.

Furthermore, respect also means that we also continually defer to the higher reasoning faculties of ourselves and each other. We must grow accustomed to the concept that no matter how each of us interprets our oaths, that the willed and intentional acts of another magician were done so with the utmost care and illumination that was available to him at that time. We can learn more about ourselves and each other in fraternal communication, which is a real key to unlocking the mysteries of Hermeticism. While we may not agree, nonetheless in the modern world at the very least we can let respect and discretion take the place of where mystery and secrecy have been forever unveiled.

The Term `Zelator`

The word Zelator is most correctly derived from the ancient Greek word for zealot: zelotes, which means emulator, zealous admirer or follower. Zealotry or the zealots were a first century Jewish cult mentioned by Josephus as one of the four sects of his time, the main sects of course being the Pharisees, the Sadducees, and the Essenes.

The original Hebrew term for this radical group was Kanai, or Kanaim for plural. A Kanai was known as one who is zealous on behalf of god, and numerates to 161. Also adding to 161 is Adam Illah, the heavenly man. Meanwhile the plural form of Kanaim sums 201, as does RA, or the Egyptian god Re.

In the Talmud, the Zealots were called the Biryonim, meaning the boorish or wild. To this day the Biryonim are remembered and condemned for their aggression and unwillingness to compromise, even to save the survivors of a then-besieged Jerusalem. Militant and martial, the Zealots advocated violence against the Romans and their Sadducee collaborators, and they were later blamed by the remaining Jewish sects for the demise of Judaism and the destruction of the second temple. Biryonim numerates to 322, as does the term Ibrim, or Hebrews, suggesting that the Zelotes may have been in touch with the ever-present rooted spirit of freedom and rebellion in the Hebrew peoples.

To Golden Dawn occultists, Zelator has a symbolic meaning. Amongst us, the term Zelator "may be said to refer to the ancient Egyptian Zaruator, signifying searcher of Athor, goddess of nature; but others assign to it the meaning of the zealous student whose first duty was to blow the athanor or fire which heated the crucible
of the alchemist."

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Secrets of a Neophyte

In the ceremony of Reception, the candidate is instructed in the secrets of the Neophyte grade. These are the modes of recognition present in most mundane organizations and societies, as well as to other esoteric orders of this nature. It is common for students of the Order to spend much time studying other features of the basic rudiments of Occult science, and neglect the grip and word as mere `claptrap`not worthy of attention. Any attempt given to understanding the import of these symbols is not a wasted effort by any means, for they are in fact of great importance. Even a small amount of study by the new Neophyte magician will reveal why these are indeed considered to be `the secrets of the grade`.

The secrets of a Neophyte consist of a step, two signs, a grip, a word, and the password.

Firstly, the left foot is advanced about six inches: this is called the step of the grade. It is given at the threshold of the pillars, as if stepping up to the entrance way. This is symbolic of being about to enter the Order. While the Neophyte Ceremony of Reception takes place clearly in the Hall of Neophytes, the paradigm being revealed here is on another level. As a Neophyte, we symbolically approach the gate or first pylon leading to our Initiation in Zelator, for if the grade of Neophyte is our Reception into the Order, Zelator is the Initiation into its pale. Like in the Masonic first degree, these pillars represent the porchway or entrance to King Solomon`s temple, but unlike most masonic temples, these pillars are covered with Egyptian hieroglyphs emblematic of the journey of the soul. While the Neophyte has just approached the gate of initiation with the step, he has not yet entered it as an Initiate, here he is still a tyro.

The sign is two-fold; the saluting sign and sign of silence. The first should always be answered by the second. The saluting sign is given by thrusting both arms horizontally forward, palms downwards. This method of delivery of course differs slightly from temple to temple, depending both on the specific branch of the GD fraternity one may belong to, as well as the local traditions inherent in each temple. In my opinion, we ought to follow the masonic tradition inasmuch as that it is important to continue to perform any sign or ritual as one was originally shown. This is one way to preserve the beautiful variety and history that each of our GD Orders has in their similar, but individual work. I do not personally recommend trying to adapt to or copy the methods of the temple you are visiting if they differ greatly from your own, for another magician noticing these differences, might comment upon such, and thus provoke a thoughtful conversation later that might have been missed if one behaved `(as if) in Rome`. However, if one takes up an officer position in another temple or joins a new organization, the onus is on the officer to be faithful to the tradition of the new organization he purports to be a faithful exponent of!
The saluting sign alludes to the Neophyte`s condition in a state of darkness un-illuminated by the lamp of secret knowledge and groping his way blindly in the search for truth. The use of this sign is frequent in magical practice, so common as to be of universal usage, meanwhile it is not often known by other solitary magicians that the GD Order was its original origin.

Interestingly enough, there is one secret of its usage that is so commonly under-utilised it is perhaps a procedure not readily known. The saluting sign may be used as a simple but effective form of elemental invocation. Depending on which of the fingers or thumb is extended when giving the salute, the corresponding element is said to be invoked. The attributions are as follows:

Thumb, spirit
Index or forefinger, water
Middle finger, fire
Ring finger, earth
Little finger, air

Like most traditions and attributions in the Order, this is the secret or esoteric system which of course differs from the more common or exoteric attributions familiar to students of classical palmistry, which are of course:

Thumb, earth, Venus
Forefinger, air, Jupiter
Middle finger, fire, Saturn
Ring finger, water, Apollo
Little finger, spirit, Mercury

Both systems of attribution of course have their merit, and GD students familiar with some of the details of the higher grades will of course also recognise a certain appropriateness of these exoteric attributions given here alongside the Order`s teachings on the subject.

The sign of silence is given by placing the left first or forefinger on the mouth. It signifies the wisdom of the Greek Harpocrates the child, who suckles his own finger, and it alludes to the strict silence inculcated at your obligation regarding all proceedings of the Order.

The use of the fingers for elemental evocation as described above, may of course be extended to the performance of sign of silence. It should be noted that the use of a specific finger for elemental invocation allies the 0 = 0 sign to the Hebrew letter Yod, which of course means an open hand or pointing finger. In the Sepher Yetzirah, the property of Yod given is sexual love, or as I interpret it, the sense of touch. This is fitting, for as the sphere of sensation or `the sphere of the elements` is Malkuth, so too is the pylons the Neophyte approaches the gate to that sphere.

The grip or token is given in the following manner: advance your left foot about six inches touching that of the brother or sister in front of you, side to side and toe to heel. The hand is extended as if to grip the brother`s but it is intentionally missed, and again extended seizing only the fingers. This alludes to the seeking for guidance in darkness, and finding it, but not by some supernatural agency or answers to the deeper questions in life, but from within the order by the helping hand of another seeker on the path. The import of this cannot be over-emphasised, though in our intellectual pursuits is sometimes undervalued. It is the path of light, and as the chain of adepthood passes back through time, so too do the living representatives of the Order also deserve the same appreciation and respect as their ancient counterparts receive. For if the modern Adepts are truly the clear representations of the Adepts of the past, they will duplicate this respect and courtesy upon every member of the Order regardless of grade, as well as upon those from other GD orders, and indeed to all of mankind in general.

The grand word is HAR-PAR-KRAT is the title of that same Egyptian god of wisdom and silence, and is a reminder of the wisdom of the strict silence the new member has sworn to maintain not only only about the word, grip and signs, but about all concerning the Order. I will post more on this topic of secrecy later.

The password is a term periodically changed at each equinox so that a member who has resigned or demitted may be in ignorance of it, and may not enter the temple. It is notable that in the current state of affairs, the password is also is something that is unique to each Order of GD, and therefore has come to also represent the unique variations present in each groups magical current.