Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Golden Dawn and British Tradition Witchcraft Magic - Blending Into New Forms

As I have stated previously, the Golden Dawn system of magic has strongly influenced many other systems of magic in use today. I would like to focus on how the Golden Dawn influenced the method and techniques of working magic in the Gardnerian and Alexandrian traditions of Witchcraft, and also on how I was able to derive a completely new system of magic by blending them together.

Basically, the typical Wiccan Esbat as practiced in the Gardnerian and Alexandrian traditions of witchcraft has the following structure.

1. Circle Consecration
2. Raising the Cone of Power - first iteration
3. Imprinting the power and releasing Cone of Power
4. Godhead assumption - particularly the rite - Drawing Down the Moon
5. Blessing and communion
6. Circle banishment

This ritual working structure may seem unique, but it’s really a clever adaption of the Golden Dawn ritual working.

To recap, this is the typical ritual pattern for a Golden Dawn working. Notice the similarities.

1. Temple opening rites - banishing and purification - lesser banishing rituals of the pentagram and hexagram, and performing the rite of purification with water and consecration of fire - unwrap specific tool (element or specific invoking wand).

2. Qabbalistic cross, invocation of the Highest Divine Force

3. Core rite to invoke aspect of spiritual hierarchy - using the greater invoking ritual of the pentagram or the hexagram to each quarter beginning in the east and ending at the altar. Assume Egyptian godform, draw devices (invoking pentagram/hexagram with color and associated symbolic character), give secret name and grade signs. Trace appropriate sigils and Hebrew Godnames over altar, vibrating spirit names of the hierarchy in a descending order, and ending with the incantation of one of the Enochian calls.

4. Circumambulation of the circle specific number of times and perform the Rite of the Adoration of the Lord of the Universe. State magical intentions and then perform the middle pillar exercise. Skry into the corresponding plane of the spiritual hierarchy - one can also perform specific practical magical workings.

5. Rewrap tool(s) and any other charged devices. Reverse circumambulation of the circle the same number of times and then perform the godform divestment.

6. Perform Greater Banishing rite of the Pentagram or Hexagram. Perform lesser banishing rituals of the pentagram and hexagram. Declare temple to be closed.

Wiccan magic incorporates a magic circle in its rites, so the first ritual in a Wiccan working is called a circle consecration rite. However, if one were to pull together the rite of purification with water and consecration of fire, and follow it with the setting of the four cardinal directions with invoking pentagrams, then one would have a rite similar to the circle consecration rite. The cone of power would be understood to be a simpler version of the Golden Dawn ritual working used to invoke and project an Element. The Qabbalistic Cross and the godhead assumption have been incorporated into the rite Drawing Down the Moon.

Both magical systems begin with the creation of sacred space, build up an Element power using deosil circumambulations, and complete the working with a proper circle banishing rite. The consecration of the magic circle in the Wiccan rite uses a variation of the invoking pentagram drawn to each of the four cardinal directions, erecting four empowered wards. However, the circle in Wicca is used to gather the power together and focus it, establishing a boundary between the inner sacred domain and the outer profane worlds. A magic circle is not used in the Golden Dawn system of magic unless one is performing a goetic evocation, and then it functions as a protective barrier between the magician and the domain of the demon. So there are some differences and variations (as would be expected), but both systems seem very closely related.

Israel Regardie published his multi-volume book The Golden Dawn in the 1930's, so it is very likely that Gerald B. Gardner would have had access to it and could have built up his system of magic from it. He also had access to other materials written by Aleister Crowley and a copy of the Key of Solomon. So it shouldn’t be surprising that the methods of working basic magic in Wicca would have been remarkably similar to the Golden Dawn and also influenced by Crowley and the Key of Solomon. There are some differences, as I have already pointed out, but the similarities are quite striking. Since the source materials existed long before Gardner had built out his system of Wiccan magic, then it is not inconceivable that they influenced his writings (and not the other way around).

The Alexandrian tradition of Wicca, although a mirror image of the Gardnerian tradition, did have some additional lore, although it may be more specific to my initiatory line than to the tradition as a whole. The Rose Cross ritual was used to model a new ritual called the Rose Ankh. The ritual pattern was analogous to the Rose Cross, although I am not at liberty to discuss it in much detail. One could consider the Rose Ankh ritual to be a derivative rite of the Rose Cross ritual, and it generated a specific energy associated with the Goddess that was similar but different from the Rose Cross. There was also another version of the Analysis of the Key Word that was associated with the Rose Ankh rite, and used Goddess names and their associated aspects instead of the LVX God names associated with the Rose Cross version of that rite.

In summation, the above six step ritual working for Wicca was, I believe, derived from the Golden Dawn ritual working of the Greater Invoking Pentagram rite. Alexandrian tradition added a couple of additional rituals (as stated above), but beyond that, there was no additional lore developed. That represented the collective lore that I received years ago when I was initiated into the Alexandrian tradition of Witchcraft. The coven that I practiced with also used the Golden Dawn rituals, but there was little guidance as to how to formulate a complex working using the Greater Hexagram rite and other rituals, but the material was presented and explained in the classes that we held. So that was the source material that I had to build a new system of magic.

Extending Beyond the Two Traditions - My Work

Needless to say, I took these rituals and the class notes and began to experiment with them, particularly the Greater Pentagram rite. I also made it a point to study in great detail the Rose Cross ritual, since it seemed to me to have a quality that other rituals lacked. I felt that the Rose Cross ritual was very powerful and that if one could understand the structure of that ritual, one would discover a important key to working ritual magic. In fact, as time went on, I merged these two rituals together to produce a ritual that I later called the Pyramid of Power ritual, but what I was seeking was a method of making the Wiccan cone of power ritual more efficient and more powerful. I was also putting together a system of magic that would invoke powers and intelligences through a matrix.

It had always seemed to me that the cone of power ritual, when analyzed, had a masculine property. It was obviously phallic shaped, following a sun-wise circuit around the circle, and it modeled the masculine cycle of orgasm - building the energy up to a plateau, then imprinting it, and then pushing it to a final climax. I always saw the power projected out of a cone of power as being like a pulse of energy or a fire bolt or lightening bolt, and it was also like the ejaculation of semen.

However, if there was a masculine power in the cone of power rite, then there should be a feminine energy that would balance it. What would that rite look like, what would be its form and how would its energy work? It would, of course, be the opposite of a cone of power. Let’s contrast these two types of energy to each other - starting with the cone of power.

• Follows a deosil circuit
• Polarized along its periphery
• Spirals up to the center of the circle and beyond

So the opposite kind of magical power would have the following opposite qualities.

• Follows a widdershins circuit
• Polarized to the center of the circle
• Spirals down to the center of the circle and below the plane of the ground/floor

This feminine force is called a vortex and it is the opposite of a cone of power. The simplest way to create a vortex is to polarize the four points in the magic circle, join them together in the center of the circle (creating a cross roads), and then raising the energy by circumambulating widdershins along the periphery to the center of the circle and projecting it down to the lowest point (below the plane of the floor) called the nadir. Where a cone of power is imprinted with a charged desire and released at the ritual’s climax to perform a specific task or impact a specific target, the vortex acts like a container for magical powers, preserving them and focusing them to a greater intensity.

While a cone of power is built up and then released, a vortex perpetually contains the powers generated within it. When a vortex reaches a kind of critical mass, it releases waves of force that circle around the epicenter of the vortex, much like a pebble dropped into a pond creates circular waves around it. And these subtle and powerful waves influence and bend reality in a manner that is much more effective than a cone of power. The vortex has to have a certain level of power built up within it before that power can be released in a wave-like manner. Yet like a cone of power, a vortex releases its power through resonance. A vortex can’t be banished since it’s structure remains in place with a residual force even when the energy that it contained is released. A cone of power requires banishment after the rite is completed, but the vortex is just sealed in place until the next time that magic is performed. One would only need to unseal a vortex and it would be ready for use, containing the same level of intensity when it was previously sealed. For some unknown reason a vortex always seems to contain energy, acting like a bottomless well. Whatever energy is released is always renewed within it.

The technique of generating and working with a vortex was something that I had actually invented myself. Previous rites had only indirectly produced a vortex like energy field. I discovered this bit of magical lore when I examined how the Rose Cross and Rose Ankh rituals worked. I had also experimented with the Rose Ankh device, learning that it produced a kind of powerful magnetic magical energy when drawn. So I decided to use the Rose Ankh device, and I drew it in the four points of the magic circle, thus polarizing them to create the base of the magnetic energies of the vortex. I used a magic sword to draw the four points together in the center of the circle and perform a widdershins circuit, and the resultant ritual produced astonishing results. All of the qualities that I described above were realized through the use of this new ritual. With the Rose Ankh device and the ritual structure of the vortex, I had my first really potent hybrid ritual structure to build a new magical system.

While I was experimenting and formulating the vortex, I was working on other rituals, too. These were based on the Golden Dawn rites and what I had learned in Wiccan circles. I wanted to produce new forms of raising energy that were more powerful, structured and detailed than the cone of power. So I began to experiment and in the process discovered completely new ritual structures.

Perhaps one of the most interesting and startling discoveries that I made was the pylon. A pylon is nothing more than two devices placed one above the other with an invoking spiral drawn through them so that they are connected into a line of power or a pillar of light. I called this new structure a pylon because it was used to erect magical geometric structures, just like a pylon is used in modern architecture.

The pylon was not an entirely new ritual structure, since a form of it had been used in the Greater Pentagram ritual of the GD. In that ritual the invoking pentagram of the Element and the invoking pentagram of active or passive spirit are drawn to the same cardinal point, but the pentagram of spirit is drawn above the pentagram of the Element. There was also an implied line drawn between them, and they were both drawn together in a line drawn to the next cardinal point. However, I made this action into a deliberate ritual structure, and that was different than what was implicitly done in the Golden Dawn rite.

A pylon allows two different devices to be bound into a single line of force. Typically I use invoking pentagrams for a specific Element for the base of the pylon, and the qualifier is set with the invoking pentagram of spirit active or passive, depending on the quality of the base Element. A pylon consisting of invoking pentagram devices produces a great deal of magical energy, since they combine together and also polarize each other. This kind of pylon can be used in two different manners to produce two kinds of pyramid structures. The first is where a pylon is set to the center of the circle, and invoking pentagrams of the base Element are set to each of the four points in the magic circle. When the four points are drawn together, and then drawn to the apex of the central pylon, a pyramid of Element power is created. The second is where one sets four pylons to each of the four points and a pylon to the center of the circle, and then draws the four points together (in a square), followed by drawing the four points to the apex of the center pylon, then a greater pyramid of power is created.

Each of these two ritual structures produce a great deal of magical power, due to the polarities produced, the joining of forces and also because of the squaring of the circle. A deosil spiral from the periphery of the circle to the center is used to draw the power into a point, and a widdershins spiral that exits the center of the circle and disperses the energy out through the periphery of the circle are employed to resonate and exteriorize the magical power.

The pyramid of power is much more efficient and refined than the cone of power, since it can define a specific element power which can be imprinted with one of the attributes (Godnames) of the ten Sephiroth. I call this combination of Element and Sephirah one of the Qualified Powers, and they are analogous to the 40 cards of the Lesser Arcana of the Tarot. The Pyramid of Powers rite was also the first ritual to work through a matrix of spirits and powers.

Through creative experimentation I was thus able to derive a Pyramid of Powers ritual and a Rose Ankh Vortex rite. I began to use the Pyramid of Power rite within the core of an established vortex and discovered that I could layer and accumulate the power generated through several sessions of magical workings before they would be induced to a climax. The vortex could not be banished, it was instead sealed and unsealed as needed. I learned to use the devices of the sealing and unsealing spirals which I set to all of the circle nodes. The combination of these two rites allowed me to build up a magickal working over numerous sessions, so I didn’t have to complete a working in a single evening. I also noticed that my temple began to accumulate a great deal of power, since whatever was periodically discharged was readily replaced in the “well” of the vortex, and the accumulation of ritual workings naturally accumulated the power in the sealed vortex.

Another ritual structure that I discovered in my experimentation was the Western and Eastern gateway. I had deduced the great magical importance of Joseph Campbell’s Cycle of the Hero, particularly the remarkable fact that it had twenty-two stages and that these stages matched the twenty-two Trumps of the Major Arcana of the Tarot. However, I was also able to boil down the underworld descent and the re-ascent to three stages each, instead of the twenty-two stages that Campbell discussed. The three stages of descent or ascent are represented by the process of the dialectic method, which consists of thesis, antithesis and synthesis. The descent into the underworld is facilitated by the actions of the spirit helper or guide (thesis), the guardian of the threshold (antithesis) and the transformative ordeal itself (synthesis). The ascent out of the underworld is symbolized by the assistance from without (thesis), the guardian of the return threshold (antithesis), and the ordeal of re-translation (synthesis). These are the themes that are used to establish the full cycle of descent and ascent that represents transcendental transformation.

The gateway of transformation uses these thematic images of descent and ascent at each of the three points of the gate ritual structure, where they are superimposed to give them meaning. The gateway ritual structure is also erected within the magic circle, which is fitting for a Wiccan type magical working. The opening and closing portal gestures are a final dramatic flourish given to the two gateway rituals. They are done to mime the action of opening and closing the gateways.

The Underworld gateway is oriented to the West; the three points are the Northeast and Southeast angles, and the cardinal direction of the West. The Ascension into Light gateway is orientated to the East; the three points are the Northwest and Southwest angles, and the cardinal direction of the East. The three gate nodes are drawn together to form a triangle within the magic circle, and this becomes the gate ritual structure. The magician stands in the opposite point of the circle and faces the gate (West or East), sets invoking spirals to the three gate nodes, draws them together (into a triangle) and then proceeds to walk up to the gate threshold, performs the opening portal gesture, turns and proceeds to the center of the circle. Each of the three gate nodes can be qualified with a specific symbolic characteristic of the gateway ordeal. In addition to the three gate nodes discussed above, a fourth point can be used which is in the center of the circle at the zenith. The fourth point represents the resolution of the three gateway ordeal processes, which is implied when one proceeds to the center of the circle after opening the portal of the gate. Using a fourth point in the gate ritual patten produces the ritual structure of the tetrahedral gateway.

The use of the two gates, besides adding a powerful thematic element to a ritual, represents the passage of transformative powers into the deeper unconscious of the magician and out again, having been transformed and translated into a new perspective. The underworld gate is used to push down the energies of all prior workings and unite them into a single symbolic expression, where a new level of power and being is established. To fuse prior magical structures and workings together, a gateway is established. To gain a greater depth, the underworld gateway is used. To bring these forces and aspects of being into the greater light of consciousness (as revealed knowledge), an ascension gateway is used. Both of these gateway ritual structures are very important in the construction of complex workings and the performance of the mysteries.

The points of the magic circle, when limited to just the four cardinal points and the center of the circle, produces only a total of five. I had already worked out that pylons produced points above and below the standard five, so there were at least two points in the center of the circle. I had deduced that the center of the circle contained the zenith, which I called the ultra-point, and the nadir, which I called the infra-point. I found that it was very useful to have an eight point magic circle, and this ritual structure had been used in a simplistic fashion with the Alexandrian Rose Ankh ritual. There were the four cardinal points, which were called Watchtowers (for various reasons), and there were four additional points, called the four Angles, or cross-quarter points. So instead of just having four points in the magic circle, there were now eight, which contributed to a very important ritual structure, which is called the Octagon or double squared circle. If squaring the circle helped to generate a powerful magical charge, doubling that square should create even more magical energy, and indeed it does.

I also discovered that there was a point in the circle that represented the magician in the magic circle, and that point was in the center of the circle, at a point between the ultra-point and the infra-point, which I called the meso-point. It was imagined to be at the exact height in the circle as my heart, being therefore, the magician’s heart in the center of the circle - where all points converge in the power of spiritual love. So now I had the four Watchtowers, the four Angles, the Infra-point, the Ultra-point, and the Meso-point - a total of eleven points in the circle. From these eleven points I was able to build any complex ritual structure.

The ritual structure of the Octagon was very useful for generating a magical power called an Elemental. An Elemental is defined as a base Element qualified by another or the same Element. Therefore, Fire of Earth, Water of Air, and Fire of Fire are all Elementals. There are sixteen Elementals, and these beings of magical power correspond to the 16 court cards of the Tarot, and the sixteen Enochian calls in the Enochian system of magic. These 16 Elementals are also spiritual powers that are based on a matrix, so an octagon ritual structure is made to activate that specific matrix, since there are four Watchtower and four Angles used to differentiate the power.

A basic premise of the ritual of the octagon is that a base Element is set to the four Watchtowers, and a qualifying Element is set to the four Angles. This is done using the invoking pentagram of that Element. The four Watchtowers are drawn to each other (to form a square) and to the center of the circle in the infra-point. The four Angles are drawn to each other (to also form a square) and to the center of the circle in the ultra-point. The magician stands in the center of the circle with his staff and draws the powers fused in the infra-point through the staff to the ultra-point. The magician may at this point intone the specific Enochian call for the Elemental, and may also summon the Godname pair of the Elemental entity - drawing the power of Elemental from the staff into his body. An Octagon ritual pattern, as it turned out, became the building block of many new and additional magical workings, and the eight point magic circle was also very useful as well.

Another ritual structure that I discovered was the internal circle that enclosed a star talisman, like the septagram, drawn or painted on a rectangular piece of wood. This new structure assisted me to develop some very complex workings, namely forms of talismanic magic and magical evocation. The internal circle was drawn in the middle of the circle, typically in a deosil circuit, and the opening portal gesture was performed over it to show that a new and more intensely circumscribed concentric circle structure had been activated. Within that new smaller internal circle was placed a rectangular piece of wood upon which was painted a septagram, eneagram or an undecigram. This painted talisman functioned as a powerful focus where one could further perform the drawing of complex devices and the using of larger array structures than either the pentagram or the hexagram. I also found that the septagram was much more appealing to use as a device to invoke planetary intelligences. However, I also discovered how difficult it was to draw an invoking septagram on demand in a magic circle. Instead of drawing the invoking septagram to each of the four cardinal directions, I traced the invoking septagram just a single time on the septagramic talisman. Along with the incantation of the planetary hierarchy and a derived Enochian call of the planet, I was able to establish in the inner circle the full invocation of a planetary intelligence.

So, after several years of experimentation, I had developed a whole new set of ritual structures that I could use to develop my own personal system of magic. This system was based on the original Golden Dawn rituals, but had expanded far beyond them in regards to ritual structure, flexibility and usefulness. These ritual structures are geometric in their construction, but the original Golden Dawn rites were also geometric as well, but using a more limited and simplistic structure. What seemed like just some simple extensions to the basic ritual structures of the Golden Dawn lore actually opened up a whole new system of possible magical rites. Even to this day, some thirty-five years later, I have not even begun to exhaust the possibilities. The new techniques have given birth to hundreds of ritual workings, and helped me develop a whole new system of evocation and a new type magic called Archaeomancy, which are subjects for future articles. So, too, is a discussion of the use of sacred geometry in these ritual structures.

To recap: the following new techniques were derived by me from the original Golden Dawn rituals:

• Rose Ankh Vortex
• Pyramid of Power Ritual
• Greater Pyramid of Power Ritual
• Western and Eastern Gateways - tetrahedral gateway
• Octagon Elemental Vortex
• Eleven Point Circle
• Inner Circle Star (Septagram, Eneagram, Undecigram)

Frater Barrabbas Tiresius


  1. Interesting analysis. I hadn't realized quite how much my own ritual work deviates from the Wiccan/GD structure. I use mostly GD/Thelemic rituals, but I don't structure them quite like this.

    What I find most striking is the raising and releasing of power followed by the assumption of the Godhead. I do it the opposite way - preliminary invocation to invoke the Godhead, then Greater Pentagram/Hexagram, and finally the raising and releasing of power to set in motion the intent of the spell.

    What's the advantage of invoking the Godhead after you send forth the energy of the spell? Is there one, or is this just a feature of these two traditions that doesn't really correspond to a particular practical benefit?

  2. You are correct - it seems backwards to invoke the godhead after imprinting and releasing the magic cone of power. In my own system, assumption of the Godhead comes first. I suspect that the assumption of the Goddess in Wicca is a purely liturgical operation separate and distinct from the magic.

  3. I have been reading your articles for the past couple months on and off, and I find them of great interest and very enlightening.

    I have a question in regard to the vortex; I note that the vortex is static, in that it is never banished, only sealed (closed) and unsealed (open). I also noted that many Wiccan traditions utilize a technique called "Earthing the Power" which, I'm guessing is supposed to dispel and disperse any residual energy after the intent of the ritual is completed. Would it be possible to 'earth' or send this lingering engery into the vortex before sealing it for use at a later time?

    One more thing I noticed as well; I noted you said that the vortex seems to re-generate it's power, could this be because the vortex actually descends into the Earth and therefore replenishes itself from the life-force of the planet itself? This was the first thing that came to my mind when you started explaining the properties of the vortex. I also note that the Cone and the Vortex in a way create type of hexagram when superimposed (this to me seems to create a 'birthing' of energy as both male and female principles interact).

    These are just things that came to mind as I read this article and I would love to hear your opinion and interpretation on them.

  4. Hi Jevaud - Your comments sound interesting and quite plausible. I would suggest that you try to experiment with the vortex ritual structure (along with the pyramid of power, which I use instead of the cone of power) and discover how they work for you.