Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Summer Solstice Thoughts

Summer is now officially here in the great tundra that is Minnesota, even though the Solstice is not yet arrived. The days alternate between cool and rainy, perfectly sunny and cool, and hot and steamy, with little balance in between. It’s hard to predict what the rest of the summer is going to be like at this juncture, but perhaps it might be warmer than last year. I have some plans for getting out on the water this summer, and experiencing the delights of paddling a kayak or a paddle board - we shall see. Summer days forces me to alternate between working outside in the yard and the grove, as well as keeping things maintained indoors. I have a lot of writing projects and work related tasks to complete during this period as well. Half of the year is already done, and there is much that needs to be accomplished before the short period of warm weather retreats in the face of the oncoming winter. Harsh winters make the summer days precious and infectious with their joy and zeal for spending time outside - even if it is hot and sweltering, with a very generous supply of gnats, mosquitoes, ticks and deer flies. Despite those annoying pests, I intend on enjoying the summer as best as I can, knowing that as the poets say: “and summer’s lease hath all to short a stay.”

During this month I will be presenting a series on the history of the Qabbalah and also a continuation of an analysis of the Twenty-two Pathways. This will likely take up most of the posts for the rest of this month, but I will seek to put in my two cents on various controversies and issues as they come up. I have already completed my articles on the methodologies that I use to perform invocations and evocations - hope you found them useful. Speaking of putting in my two cents, there is an issue that I would like to discuss here, particularly since it concerns a couple of posts that I made in the past.

One such scuffle is about a rather compelling issue that is being debated within the blogsphere, and it is the continuing exchange between David Griffin and his faction of the HOGD, and the Australian and New Zealand contingent, headed by Nick Farrell and Peregrin, with some occasional background heckling from Pat Zelewski. These folks are still arguing over the two articles that I posted back in March, where I discussed the three perspectives that seem to occupy and consume various individuals within the esoteric communities of the Western Mystery Tradition. Those three perspectives revolve around the practices associated with traditionalism, reconstructionism and revisionism. Often times, there can be a mixture of perspectives, such as with my own personal practice, where I engage in two paths simultaneously, which is Alexandrian traditional witchcraft and eclectic ritual magick. There is also the perspective of eclectic pragmatism. Still, I think that most people approach their practice in a pragmatic manner, using what works, discarding what doesn’t, and revising what is cumbersome and ineffective. You can find my two articles here, and here.

The essential significance of this battle royal between the above named combatants is really about whether there can be any kind of traditional approach within the Golden Dawn, or whether it is a defunct organization that can only be approximated through a reconstructive effort. I believe that both approaches are valid, and in my above two previous articles, I never said that traditionalism was better or more valid than reconstructionism. However, one thing that has been pointed out in the comments is that taking one’s approach in an aggressive manner can be hurtful and deleterious to others who may be operating within the same lore, but taking a very different perspective. Is the Golden Dawn able to support both a reconstructionist and a traditionalist approach? I believe that it is, and so both factions should be happy to operate unmolested within their sphere of influence and practice. However, when one organization attempts to attack the foundational creed of the other organization, that’s when there is trouble for the whole community.

In my second article I took a certain amount of umbrage to Nick Farrell because instead of being the good reconstructionist (in my opinion), and at some point accepting and believing in the myths and legends of the founders and their lore, he instead seeks to systematically destroy, defame and snuff out the myths and legends about Mathers and the GD organization, through which he founded his own version. Farrell has also taken it upon himself to publish material associated with the A+O inner court of the GD that could only be considered confidential and oathbound. The reason why he is doing these various nefarious deeds seems to be beyond my comprehension, since they not only hurt the Golden Dawn as a whole, but they even damage the credibility of the organization that Nick purports to represent. I liken these actions to someone poisoning a well so that no one is able to take a drink from the source. It is pernicious and shows that Nick Farrell really wants to hurt the entire Golden Dawn community. I, as an outsider, have found this activity to be disturbing and even a bit hateful.

Why do I even care? As I have said, I am an outsider to the Golden Dawn. Yet my reason for caring is that Mathers, Westcott, and even Crowley and Regardie are my heroes. They were flawed men with whom some might find fault and even discover mistakes in their work - some have even been vilified! Even so, I feel a great debt to them all because without their writings and creations, I would not have been able to invent the system of magick that I currently use and enjoy. So for that reason, I honor these individuals and feel a great esteem for the organizations that they founded. It’s my hope that someday I can perhaps believe that I have accomplished even a small part of what they were able to do in their lifetimes. I am humbled by the product of their work and I acknowledge the gift that they gave to the world, and to me. We can talk about their errors, vices, follies and we can disparage them, but they are luminaries in the history of magick, and we are but small men and women who are seeking to find a way in the world guided by the light that they have provided us.

As a traditional Alexandrian witch, what would my associates think of me if I wrote books defaming Alex Sanders, declaring that he wasn’t ever initiated and elevated as a High Priest into the Gardnerian tradition, and that he stole a Book of Shadows from his sponsoring coven, and from that, illicitly started his own tradition? If I said that Alex was a fraud and that his whole tradition was a poor and illegitimate simulacrum of Gardnerian witchcraft, and that because of this I felt compelled to publish my Book Shadows and other lineage related materials, I suspect that my fellow Alexandrians would be appalled at my words and actions. I would be branded an oath breaker and cast out of the tradition, and few would want to have anything to do with me. This has happened to other individuals in the craft, and I don’t need to mention any names at this point. I also believe that if I publicly stated that my tradition was a scam which Alex pulled off for a gullible craft hungry community, who would want to receive an initiation from me into that so-called “fake” tradition? Amazingly, these accusation have been made by a minority of Gardnerians against Alex Sanders and the Alexandrian tradition of witchcraft.

Of course, Alex Sanders was completely legitimate, even if the story about his grandmother initiating him wasn’t true. Alex was a real and true witch, and the early photographs and films that captured his work demonstrate how he sought, in an innovative manner, to merge high magick with practical earth based witchcraft. Alex Sanders is another supremely great hero of mine. Was he a perfect exemplar of enlightened practice and behavior - absolutely not! He was a complex individual, with virtues and flaws all mixed together. I never got to meet Alex, and for that I am deeply regretful, since he was one great occultist, witch and magician that I could have, and would have, loved to meet.

As an Alexandrian traditionalist, I safeguard my oathbound secrets and lore, whether or not any of it has ever been published or could be found on the internet. It is an important matter of honor, integrity and ethics, and these are the very qualities that I hold sacred, which I feel are very important to one following such a traditionalist path. Therefore, I can relate to David Griffin and Frater S.R. who act and behave in a similar manner with their organization of the Golden Dawn. However, I have found that Nick Farrell appears to lack any of these qualities, and he doesn’t care if he offends or hurts the practices, sensibilities or the beliefs of those in his community who are faithfully following a traditional perspective.

Just recently, Peregrin has entered into the fray with a recent article, which you can find here. He has taken issue with both David and S.R., who have translated their anger and hurt into humor by comparing Farrell and Zelewski with the Star Trek enemies called the Borg. I suspect that nearly everyone knows who the Borg are, so I don’t have to waste any time defining them. I can’t really blame them for making this analogy, since it was a way of dealing with what they see as an aggressive form of reconstructionism, where Farrell’s faction is seeking to completely negate the foundation upon which the Golden Dawn is established. As I have stated, these actions not only hurt other factions of the Golden Dawn, but they also discredit Nick and his organization as well. Still, Nick continues this line of aggressive behavior in his writings, and he appears to be backed up by Pat Zelewski. Peregrin pretends to be impartial and declares that David and S.R. are guilty of behaving in bad faith and seeking to hurt Farrell’s reputation with a slanderous campaign of comparing him to the Borg. It would seem that Peregrin hasn’t been following all of the exchanges that have been going on between these two fractious factions, and I suspect that he doesn’t see the humor in this depiction, either. It’s done to deflect a real sense of outrage and anger, and I see that as constructive.

As an outsider, it would seem to me that Farrell is seeking to poison the well and ignore any credible critique of his recent published work, in fact he is arrogant and quite insulting about it. Of course, what Peregrin is really doing is just fanning the flames, which seems to be his habit.  He does this in such a manner that it becomes quite obvious that he cares nothing for the HOGD organization and what they are seeking to do, with their honorable efforts to re-establish a link with the secret chiefs and inaugurate a third order. Peregrin compares David to someone who wants to be the Pope of the Golden Dawn. Of course that is absurd, since he has to answer to others more elevated and advanced than himself - those secret chiefs, who are not secretive to him. David has obligations, both to those below him, and to those who are above him. If he has made some radical changes to his version Golden Dawn tradition, he has done so with their permission and guidance. Whether we believe that the secret chiefs are legitimate, I can state for a fact that they aren’t fake or imaginary. David doesn’t operate outside of his authority, since that authority is vested in him from others, and could be taken away just as easily.

I found Peregrin's long winded article to be somewhat convoluted and even a bit confusing. He conflates tradition with a small “t” with Tradition with a large “T,” and also goes outside of the narrow scope of my original posts, which were confined to esoteric organizations operating within the Western Mystery Tradition (with a capital “T”). I won’t go too deeply into critiquing this article, you can read it for yourself and see if my comments are reasonable. David Griffin has responded to Peregrin’s article rather quite well, and you can find his response here.

My final word on this whole issue (and that means that I will have nothing more to say about it) is that peace can reign between these different factions using different approaches and perspectives if Farrell will stop seeking to defame Mathers, declaring that the Golden Dawn is a fraudulent organization and cease from publishing sensitive and confidential materials. The damage has already been done, but I think that things can continue in a peaceful manner if Nick just stops acting in a cavalier manner and doing any more damage to the Golden Dawn’s reputation. We don’t need to see the secret documents of the A+O and we don’t need to treat Mathers in a completely disreputable manner. I have no interest in buying any of Nick Farrell’s books because I want to keep my heroes intact and held up high, even if, in reality, they were guilty of the sins of being imperfect human beings.

Frater Barrabbas  


  1. One thing that is most impressive about the present Golden Dawn kerfuffel is how certain among the GD reconstructionists keep pretending to be stupid, ignoring points made over and over, to merely repeat their talking points yet again instead. For example:

    On Peregrins blog Sam Scarborough wrote:
    "Please correct me if i am wrong or misunderstand your most recent post here in regards to “Reconstructionists” and “Traditionists”. You state that the “Reconstructionists” demand academic proof in their arguments. Is that correct? And that the “Traditionists”, such as yourself and Mr. Stacewicz find that an “inappropriate yardstick”.
    If then this is the case, Mr. Griffin, then praytell, how Mr. Stacewicz and yourself are going to conduct a “scholarly debate” with Mr. Zalewski and Mr. Farrell, which you have been banging on about here and other places? Does not “scholarly” imply the use of a certain “academic yardstick” wherein source are cited, primary data given, etc., etc.? If this primary material is “oathboung” to the “traditionists” how is it possible to carry on a debate with them?
    For that matter, why would a so-called “Traditionist” wish to debate with a “Reconstructionist”, obviously neither is going to accept the other’s “proof”, citations, etc.?
    Additionally, you recent post here goes on about what a “Reconstructionist” is, but I seem to be missing just what is your definition of what a “Traditionist” is?
    Looking forward to your most elucidating answer to this and other burning questions.
    In LVX,

    To Samuel Scarborough I replied:

    "To begin with, as I have said over and over, we do not want to debate anything with Mr. Farrell, Zalewksi, or even with you.

    What we DO want is to be LEFT ALONE by all of you GD reconstructionists – and for you to at least TRY for ONCE to respect the sanctity of oath bound material.

    Since I have already said this to you OVER and OVER – and you keep PRETENDING to be too DENSE to get it – let me say it ONE LAST TIME in an even more intellectual manner:


    As for the standard anthropological definitions of traditionalism, reconstructionism, and revisionism – as you are well aware – you already have these definitions in any standard Anthropology 101 text book.

    You also have them – together with interesting Pagan commentary – in the following excellent articles by Frater Barrabas Tireseus:


    If you would still like to better understand these concepts, please take an anthropology class.

    If you would like to debate these concepts, please do so directly with Frater Barrabas on his blog.

    If you would like to further discuss anything at all with me, please stop acting like a BORG.

    David Griffin

  2. I just posted the following message on Peregrin's blog, where I stayed on discussing despite the flames in order to set forth the position of our order for objective readers in a clear and unmistakable manner:

    Gentle reader,

    I have remained here and have attempted to give forthright and fraternal answers despite flame attacks on our order here on this blog because moderation was turned on.

    I have at this juncture set forth the position of our order clearly enough to make it understood to any objective reader. The nature of the responses continue to be hostile again and again, even far too frequently repeating “talking points” over and over.

    I am therefore leaving the discussion.

    If any of you have additional actual questions, you may still ask them on the Golden Dawn blog.

    I will, however, not allow “talking points” to be used in the discussion, as these belong to the realm of propaganda rather than of legitimate fraternal discourse.

    I have no doubt that the hostile comments towards the HOGD/AO and its leaders will continue here in our absence.

    Have fun without us guys and don’t forget the marshmallows!

    David Griffin (the real one)

  3. Note that, despite my having already published clarifications again and again on Peregrin's blog, the identical criticisms were being raised over and over, without consideration of my response.

    Such things clearly have no place in fraternal discourse and eventually killed the discussion by their continuance