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.

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