Sunday, August 23, 2009

Etamin Study Group

Etamin is the Gamma star in the constellation of Draco. An orange giant, Gamma Draconis is also known by the traditional name Eltanin, and despite its gamma designation, it is actually the brightest star in the constellation today.

Etamin Study Group is a new branch of the Order located in Surrey, B.C. which is of course a part of Greater Vancouver. Not an initiatory body, but an educational one, Etamin is affiliated with Thuban Temple and thus services the educational needs of the temple's distance or Associate Members on the mainland of British Columbia. Etamin is guided by Frater I.'. who is himself a Past Cancellarius or Chief of Thuban Temple and an accomplished Solomonic Magician.

Known anciently as Rastaban, a title now exclusively used for Beta Draconis. Because of the ancient confusion between the two stars, we must consider the magical history of both bodies here. The classical name Rastaban, or less frequently Rastaben, is from the proper Arabic phrase ra's ath-thu'ban or "head of the serpent". Rastaban and Etamin are two terms that share the same Arabic root for serpent or dragon, and thus bears the same symbolism as the rest of the constellation. Etamin is the zenith star above London, i.e. it is the point directly overhead of that city.

Etamin itself, probably due to its brightness, is known as the right eye of the Dragon. According to Elsbeth Ebertin in Fixed Stars and Their Interpretation (1928), Gamma Draco has a Saturnine and Jupiterian nature, also with some Martial influence. The predominance of Saturn gives a preference for solitude. The influence of this star yields mental concentration, but also the possibility of dishonor, downfall and the loss of prestige. However, it is also positive for esoteric and philosophical studies.

Beta Draconis is a binary star that is located 360 light years away from our sun, making it the third brightest star in Draco. This super-giant's dwarf companion orbits around once every four millennia. Beta Draconis is also known as Asuia and Alwaid. Alwaid means "who is to be destroyed". Some find an alternate origin by tracing it to the Arabic al'awwad or "the lute player". Alwaid is a part of the asterism known to the Arabs as the Mother Camels or "al'awa'id".

The annihilation or 'destruction' attribution of Alwaid, is equivalent to the house of Beta or Beth of the transparent intelligence between Kether and Binah, which is the supernal path between the absolute intelligence and the intelligence of faith, whereby faith is truly the final destruction of the intellect of the ruach.

As Gamma is the third letter of the Greek Alphabet, the camel of Gimmel in Hebrew mysticism is also indicated, and thus the triune symbolism of the neshamah. This beast of transport and burden has a special place in the Cabala of the R.R. et A.C., inasmuch as it treads the onerous mercantile and hermetic path through the sandy desert of Daath, connecting Tiphareth with Kether in a supernal union at the crown that sits above 'the head'. This experience is said to be both illuminating, and of such magnitude that it 'destroys' all of the Cabalistic preconceptions of what such an event might entail. It is literally the mode of consciousness which has been described by one ancient fragment of a magical text as a communion with 'he who has no head'.

Etamin is moving closer to the earth, and as it does, its brightness increases. Positing that its current magnitude does not change, in 1.5 million years it will actually be the brightest star in the night sky, matching or shining even brighter than Sirius. This progression has been taken as a metaphor by the Chiefs of Thuban Temple, alluding to the growing light of the new study group, which is slowly building towards a full temple status. We wish them all the best.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Thuban Temple

Thuban Temple is a private Golden Dawn temple in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, also servicing B.C. and the surrounding area. The Alpha star of the constellation of Draconis was chosen as its name to represent the Gnostic serpent, representative of the active consideration of the the higher aspirations of the soul, an ethic that is emphasized in that temple. Founded in 1999, it is patterned after the esoteric and fringe-masonic ideal of an occult mystery school, but one that also embraces the scientific method. Our membership is exclusively drawn from practicing magicians, actively concerned with the higher aspirations of their souls.

The star of Thuban may have been linked to the Egyptian belief in immortality, for as the ancient polestar, it was always central in the night sky. Whoever built the Great Pyramid drew on the Osirian stars of Orion and Thuban in the construction of the central "King’s Chamber". While older archeological theory attributes the builder to be the Pharaoh Khufu and assumes that the pyramid was built as an elaborate tomb, another perspective more popular with occult tradition states that the Great Pyramid is not a tomb at all, but a chamber used for initiation rituals of the priests and kings.
The Kings Chamber is actually physically linked to the stars Orion and Thuban through two small shafts that would have pointed upwards to the stars some 5,300 years ago, and at that time allowed the stellar light entry into the chamber. It is this physical feature that has for some archeologists made tenable the theory that the chamber was used for ceremonial purposes rather than simply burial.

The Greek name Thuban connotes life, light and wisdom. As the alpha star in the constellation Draconis, Thuban was traditionally the pole star of the ancients and was used in ancient navigation. Here it is used metaphorically for the inspiration or light within, and the activity of the whirling Alpha or Aleph marks the path of the babe on his journey from the crown, in rays of endless undulation. Thuban is originally derived from the Arabic term "Thu'ban." Thuban and Al Tinnin are the Arabic titles for the whole of Draco, meanwhile the Persian title of the constellation was Azhdeha. The Greek word Thuban means dragon, and specifically the basilisk. This legendary creature was said to be able to poison with a glance. Poison and death are two ancient metaphors for transformation and rebirth. The ecstatic nature of some forms of intoxication and the healing powers of rebirth are perfect metaphors for the phase of great work that is conducted in the Golden Dawn in the Outer.

The legendary attributes of a Basilisk are speculated by some to have been an ancient twist on the description of the Egyptian cobra, which was used on the crowns of gods and royalty. As the crown is a symbol of the great work completed, this possible origin for the image of the basilisk merges with the Egyptian, Medieval and 19th century symbolism of the GD and its typical imagery; this intimates Thuban Temple's methods and goal.

The Hermetic conception of the serpent is that of a clever creature, a positive giver of wisdom. As the Christos supposedly said: "Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves." (Matthew 10:16) So together let us traverse the path of the serpent, which is the path of wisdom.

The constellation of Draco

The winding constellation of Draco is symbolic of the oblique course of the stars. It was once the polar constellation, and its alpha star or Thuban was the pole star 4,800 years ago. As the millennia clicked past, Draco pulled out of alignment with the northern pole and became the serpent that chases its own tail. This may lend itself to an identification with Norse mythology, which tells of a serpent named Oroborus that bites its own tail at the edge of the world.
The Egyptian hieroglyph is that of a star-studded serpent, each shimmering scale representing a star.1 While Draco has now slumped around Polaris, the current pole star, there is a procession of the ecliptic pole, as illustrated in the diagram above. While the lion-serpent attributed to Leo and Teth has come to be commonly recognised as the Gnostic solar-path of the sun through the zodiac, Draco itself marks this same progression around the pole. Therefore, Draco is arguably also the serpent from The Universe card, where it has an expanded meaning of the entire 72 quinances of the Zodiac.

Another interpretation was that in the war of the giants, this was the dragon that was brought into battle against Minerva, the goddess of battle and learning who seized the serpent and threw it into the sky where it became fixed as a constellation.
Draco has also been taken to be the dragon killed by Cadmus with the assistance of Minerva, when he was on his quest to find his sister Europa, whom Jupiter had carried away.

In the tale of Hercules, he slays the dragon who guarded the golden apples in the garden of Hesperides, near Mount Atlas in Africa. When Juno presented the apples to Jupiter, she raised the Dragon to the heavens as the constellation to reward it for its fidelity. While the Dragon of the Herculean myth was a guard of the golden apples, this tale may well be the origin of the serpent that offered the fruit to Eve in the Garden of Eden. Finally, when the latter story is viewed from a Gnostic perspective, it is the serpent that brings humanity wisdom through its offering of the forbidden fruit.

These quaint tales involving Draco and Minerva show an important antithetical relationship between the nature of any intellectual learning, and especially that of a spiritual nature. They contrast the mystery schools which Minerva is a patroness of, and the inner Gnostic wisdom of the true most high that the serpent is but a messiah thereof. It is this that led A.E. Waite to comment on the Heirophant card that "He is the ruling power of external religion, as the High Priestess is the prevailing genius of the esoteric, withdrawn power" in his prolifically available, but scarcely understood work, The Pictorial Key to the Tarot. For that which may be taught is not the eternal truth, but a mere attempt to express ones own experience thereof.

1) The geography of the heavens, and class book of astronomy, by Elijah Hinsdale Burritt, Thomas Dick