July has now arrived, and we have entered what is known up here as full summer. I am often amazed at how fast the earth recovers from its wintry sleep and manifests into a full blown green soaked fertile landscape. It was a mere ten days that our world went from the browns and greys of post winter into the verdant landscape that now confronts my eyes. The nearly instantaneous transformation is almost like magic. Nature has now become mild and verdant, and it is a time to rejoice and engage in summer type activities. How unfortunate that the very beginning of this time I was still afflicted by the after-effects of my serious bronchitis infection. I saw nature transform, but I was not able to engage in much outdoor activity. The garden was neglected and so was every other feature of our outdoor world attached to the land that I supposedly own and maintain.
After several weeks I can now say that my cough is nearly gone. I occasionally cough from time to time, but I am not afflicted by the breathlessness that impacted my ability to even have a lengthy conversation for the past month. I hope to make for lost time the days and weeks ahead, since the warm summer days are in short supply up here in the great Midwestern tundra.
Needless to say, despite my chronic cough, I was able to perform well enough to participate in a digitally captured interview with Eric Koetting. I have found him to be quite brilliant and creative within his own magical path and established tradition, which I might add, is quite different from my own, but with many points in common. Both Eric and myself are more or less self-made men in regards to our occult knowledge and evocation practices. I will speak more about this in a future article, since I am planning to review two of his books.
If you are interesting in viewing this interview, you will have to sign up for Koetting’s “Interviews with a Magus,” and it does cost $19.97 monthly, with the first month free. However, the collection of interviews that Mr. Koetting has assembled is quite impressive and I believe that the money being charged for this service is well worth it. I have listened to this interview and I have found it to be quite interesting and engaging, representing a distillation of what I have learned and experienced over the last 40 years. Eric is also quite erudite and insightful himself, and his additions and comments in the interview are also very revealing and interesting. So, if you are interested in this interview (and the others that are contained therein), you can find the portal for signing up here.
To quote Mr. Koetting from his advertising for the “Interviews with a Magus:”
“To help aspiring magicians get access to these advanced rituals, unprecedented success stories, and cutting edge theories, I decided to start up my ‘Interviews With A Magus’ interview series. It's my way to showcase and debut all these innovative and controversial breakthoughs, many of which directly challenge the status quo of the occult.”
Secret Chiefs and Occult Spies
There has been quite a blow up recently in the blogosphere between David Griffin and his organization, and that of his GD opponents, with Nick Farrell as the apparent spokesperson for that faction. Nick Farrell threw down the gauntlet by declaring that if the “Secret Chiefs” truly exist, that they present themselves to him personally and prove, once and for all, that they are the defacto third order of the Golden Dawn. I don’t know whether to laugh at the absurdity of Nick’s demands or to feel sorry for his utter lack of subtlety and tact. Remarkable men and women are rare and often obscure, but they don’t come when we demand their presence. If someone demanded my presence in an unwarranted manner, I can tell you quite concisely how I would respond. I’d tell them to "piss off," that is, if I even bothered to respond at all.
Conversely, David Griffin has shown (here) that Nick Farrell has been engaged in a secret mission to rewrite Golden Dawn history in the Wikkipedia article for the history of that order, based, of course, on his recent self-published pulp books about Mathers. I have reviewed his poorly written and researched tomes in this blog, but it doesn’t really surprise me that he is attempting to rewrite the publicly online history concerning the order. What does surprise me is his rather highhanded failed attempts to coerce the editors of Wikkipedia into following his propaganda. They have rescinded his edits, but he has continued to reapply them, sort of like the endless argument between indifferent children. (Ain’t so, ‘tis too.) He is also using a laughably silly logon called “Magus007" to pursue this revisionist activity, much to the chagrin of the editors who know that his sources are highly suspect.
So, Nick Farrell wants to slyly pretend that he is an occult version of the fictitious spy, 007, a.k.a., James Bond. He also wants the secret chiefs to reveal themselves to him according to his deadline and prove that their bonafide as the head of the GD and A+O is valid and authentic. I wonder what kind of fantasy world Mr. Farrell lives in? He seems more egotistical and fantasy based than what he has accused Mathers of being in his books. Maybe Nick Farrell is the real “King Over the Water” and that we can dismiss him and his silly capers as being nothing more than the hijinks of a fatuous and immature clown. Maybe someday he will either write something uniquely interesting in a book or reveal a good practical technique on his blog - I would welcome such activity. However, I leave his current ranting and bloviating to the judgment of his ultimate Golden Dawn peers and future posterity, since I believe that initiates in the decades ahead will either judge him to be the incompetent hatchet man for an odious cabal or they’ll not remember him at all.
One of the points that I have made in previous articles in this blog is that there have been, are and always will be remarkable men and women in the western occult tradition. Mostly these individuals are singular, insular and rare; and those who gain a certain notoriety are shown to be both remarkable and also, I might add, flawed. All human beings are flawed and imperfect, but then again to expect perfection from human nature is not only erroneous but it seems to defy the whole purpose of nature. Secret chiefs are not supermen, immortals, Arhats or avatars - they are human beings subject to the laws of nature like everyone else. They might have insights that allow them a greater degree of vitality, longevity or spiritual wisdom than the average person, or they might even be bereft of all benefits except their own unique virtues and abilities.
Nature is not perfect, ergo, human beings are not perfect. However, if a small group of unknown remarkable men came together to form a group, and their occult background was Masonic and Rosicrucian, and they kept that group going for a couple of centuries, adding new members and losing others to the scourge of time, would that not be a good representation of the vaunted third order? It would just be a group of remarkable men who had achieved self-mastery in their lifetime, and that would also mean that they, as individuals and a group, weren’t perfect. (This also means that they wouldn’t be immortal nor have Godlike powers.) What this signifies is that you can be a master and also be vulnerable to the same vices and frailties as all human beings.
Additionally, something that gets lost in these never ending arguments about secret chiefs is that it’s important to separate an individual’s spiritual and magical process from the actual social phenomenon of meeting a remarkable man or woman. Often, our spiritual and magical process psychically informs us when we are about to meet someone very important or discover a crucial piece of our individual puzzle. We can talk about dreams, astral presences, intuitions or profound omens; but these are always events experienced when immersed in our process.
When our spiritual and magical process merges with an actual physical meeting with someone quite remarkable, then the encounter is colored by a profound sense of a life-altering significance. We could easily conflate the omens and astral encounters with the real meeting because all of these events are experienced through our own personal spiritual and magical process. That is how I believe Mathers saw and experienced his encounters with the secret chiefs, and we today have to realize that all of this was perceived and experienced by him through the process of his long spiritual and magical journey. We can either accept it or deny it, but it doesn’t change the fact that it was one of the most authentic things (as well as mysterious) that Mathers underwent in his occult career.
The irony is that in order to actively use the lore of the Golden Dawn and profess to be a magician operating under that tradition, one would expect that individual to also accept and believe that Mathers had some kind of profound occult contact which allowed him to develop this unique system of magick. Even if you dismiss the entire history of the GD order (and its leaders) and just practice the rituals (i.e., do the work), you are in effect validating those remarkable men and women who developed this lore, particularly Mathers. As far as I can see, there’s really no way around this conundrum if you consider yourself to be a magician of the Golden Dawn tradition. This is why I find it so strange that Mr. Farrell has spent so much of his time and resources trying to prove that Mathers was some kind of failed lunatic. I would equate this effort with someone attempting to pull up the rug that they are simultaneously standing upon; an act of sheer stupidity and self-inflicted injury.
Anyway, I am certain that this sad and idiotic travesty will continue to embroil the GD community for many years to come. It reminds me of something that I learned long ago when I was an adolescent boy. When you are growing up, there’s always some kid who has the best and most expensive toys. He’s that fair-haired kid that the teachers love and the other kids despise. You can either hate him for his good fortune or you can coddle up to him to see if you can get a chance to play with those exceptional toys. A third path is to just admire him for his good fortune and to note that despite being blessed with favor and fortune, he is also generous and kind to everyone, at least at first. Continued hostility can also shape and change a person, making them guarded and even a bit suspicious.
I think that David Griffin is that fair-haired boy of good fortune, and we can either love him or despise him for what he has achieved. I chose to reserve judgment until I had a chance to meet him, and after meeting him, I realized that he was a good egg. If only others would be so open minded and not condemn someone that they don’t even know. However, in the age of the internet, it’s just too easy to use the protected insulation of the remote blog article or email to castigate someone who you imagine that you hate, and all without much consequence. Additionally, it is hard to properly impart humor, sarcasm or lampooning into one’s writing and not have it taken wrongly by some readers.
This is why I react dispassionately to things that I read on the internet. I might criticize what someone has written or be aghast at how they are behaving, but I try not to engage in ad hominem attacks. It’s too easy to respond emotionally to what someone has written and much harder to respond dispassionately. This is why I feel that the impersonal quality of the internet is a poor place to judge what someone is really like. I might not agree with what someone has written, but I have to use caution in order to not personally criticize them for their seemingly bad behavior. What this means is that I could easily have a beer or a glass of wine with Nick Farrell in a public social setting without feeling the compunction of tossing my drink into his face. I might ask him why he acts like an arrogant boor on the internet, but I will at least give him the benefit of the doubt, at first. However, once I meet someone in the flesh, then I can adequately judge as to whether I personally like them or not. And, I might add, I have the right to my own opinions, just like everyone else.
Anyway, there seems to be a real cold war between the two factions of the Golden Dawn, and it is apparent that the side opposed to David Griffin is actively and stealthily attempting to steal away initiates and whole groups, not to mention convince everyone that they are the only legitimate branch of the GD. I find that kind of behavior despicable and it doesn’t make me feel inclined to either listen to their diatribes or engage in a dialog with them. In fact, they don’t even seem to be behaving like adepts at all. If only that faction would just leave the HOGD and the A+O organizations alone and allow them to prosper or fail by their own merits. I guess that would be asking for too much, which I find quite sad and tragic.
I think that only time will be show which faction represents the true and authentic version of the Golden Dawn. Will it be the one that emphasizes an exoteric and reconstructed version, or the one that is an active esoteric tradition with a legitimate connection to a third order and who is revealing ever new and startling occult practices and lore? Someday, that answer will be known, but I have my suspicions as to which one it will be.