Saturday, June 30, 2012

Strict Adherence VS. Creative Adaptation

Very recently I have been criticized and even somewhat disparaged for comparing my revised and re-adapted version of the Talismanic Portae Lucis working to the original formula. I believe that I have all along made the point (hopefully quite clear) that I didn’t perform the original Portae Lucis working that was developed by Jean Dubuis. I want to make absolutely certain that all my readers understand that I have used the ideas and concepts laid down by Mr. Dubuis, particularly in his book “The Experience of Eternity” as well as the online document on the Portae Lucis working, and then developed my own variation of this working. I had many reasons for doing this, and it has now become a critical part of my own magical system.

Also, why I bothered to go and post my ideas on a group devoted to the Portae Lucis working was that a month ago the owner of that group asked if he could publish links to my blog articles, and I agreed. Just a few days ago, I happened to track down that group and so I joined it. Not finding any mention of my work, I naively published the links to my various blog articles and innocently announced that I had performed a variation of this working. I guess I should have expected this kind of response, but I was looking for some peer group critique of my work. What I got was far more than I bargained for, but still, it was mostly constructive and important to my process. I was tested and found myself more or less on the side of truth. I do need to make certain, though, that I am perfectly clear in my intentions.

Obviously, the only way that I could possibly state that what I did was absolutely the same as the original formula would be if I had performed both my variation and the original formula, and then compared them. Of course, I had not done this, but I have now definitely considered it as a future task. That being said, I want to be certain that no one can claim that I am conflating these two operations, which are different and will undoubtably produce different results. What I can state is that I have studied the Portae Lucis formula for quite some time and to a great depth. I believe that I have captured all of the elements of that formula and put them into a different magical context, operating on them through a different magical system. Thus I would wager that the intentions of the original formula and my method are likely analogous. However, that’s my opinion, and it is yet to be proven as a fact. Right now, it is only a hypothesis, but one that I believe has some merit.

My critic has made the following observation, and since it was made on a public forum, I feel entitled to quote it here for my readers to examine.

Now, when a Teacher like Jean Dubuis outlines a method for experiencing a contact with Eternity, I have little doubt that it will do just that. It is a treasure being handed down to me. I trust his wisdom as he is a recognized Adept with considerable years--decades of experience. His writings are some of the most profound and clear that I have ever read on esoteric subjects. So to modify his Teaching without trying it first according to his instructions, is tantamount to spitting in in his face and devaluing the contributions he has made to western esotericism. Sure, perhaps there are some genuine adepts out there who understand well enough what they are doing in these areas to modify the work in some way--kindly point me to someone writing on Qabalah, Spagyrics, Mineral Alchemy and the Experience of Eternity currently or even within in the past 30 years who even comes close to providing the kind of information Jean Dubuis has made his life's work. I have seen no evidence that you can make such a claim. I can think of at least one,namely Mark Stavish and what has he said about the Experience of Eternity? As I recall, he said that it may be the single most important esoteric document of the 21st Century. There are many others whom I respect who say much the same thing and it is also important to note that neither he, nor the others felt the need to modify the work. Thus, for all your supposed expertise, compared to others beyond your stature, you look like an utter fool.”

Of course, I can also quote Jean Dubuis from his book “The Experience of Eternity,” particularly in the beginning under the rubric of “Attitudes” (found on page 8) where he appears to completely contradict the dogmatic and rigid attitude of my critic. He says the following about how to approach this work.

The student should be mindful that the experience discussed in this [treatise] should not be considered as recipes in a cookbook but instead should be approached as processes that honor the rules and underlying laws of the universe and incorporate them after personal reflection. He is invited to forge his own opinion through experience. He should not go forward with knowledge that he has not personally verified. Step by step knowledge frees the individual.”

Reading the above paragraph has given me the impression that Jean Dubuis was steadfast against treating the formulas that he taught as some kind of sacred writ. He made his teachings public because he felt that one should be able to achieve the highest level possible for a human being without having a guru or a constraining tradition. In other words, Jean Dubuis was against any form of dogma or the cult of personality, which sometimes becomes the standard for many kinds of occult teachings. He wanted his students to form their own opinion about this operation, and to approach it on their own terms, basing it on what they already knew and could personally verify. So it would seem that Jean Dubuis would have strongly disagreed with my critic, and would have likely approved of someone who would have examined his ideas, and if they were so moved or inspired, to approach this working with what they knew and could accomplish. I can solemnly attest that I have done just that, so while I may have deviated from the traditional formula, I believe that I have been true to the spirit of the teaching. After all, imitation is the highest form of flattery, and it should not be construed as being disrespectful.

I agree that the Portae Lucis working, as put forward by Jean Dubuis, is one of the most important esoteric documents in the 20th century. When I first encountered this working nearly a year ago, I was profoundly affected by it. It lit up my imagination and powerfully inspired me, like nothing else that I had encountered before. I had every intention of performing the working exactly as it was written. However, as I got into the details of this formula, I began to have all sorts of realizations and insights. What I saw was that the symbology of this working was hauntingly similar to the various ritual magical workings that I had produced and worked on over the years. I had vivid dreams and even some visions that seemed to push me into making a comparison of this formula with my own system of magick. It certainly wasn’t my ego or personal glorification that compelled me to look at this method in a completely different manner. If anything, it was likely my own Inner Plane connections and my HGA that were active in moving me in this particular direction.

Once I set aside all my prohibitions from viewing the formula from a different light, then amazingly, all of the pieces fell into place. I realized that the Portae Lucis working had analogous lore in my own system as yet undeveloped, and I assembled that lore to perform a completely different variation of this working. It became for me a methodology based on talismanic magick instead of spagyric and mineral alchemy. As long as I can make the case that I was inwardly compelled to make this change, and that what I developed and performed was not the same (but maybe analogous), then I believe that I am on safe ground for stating that I performed a completely revised working.

You can examine my first article on this subject, which I posted in October of last year at this link. I didn’t discuss how I discovered this new variation since that represented a personal and internal struggle that lasted for a few months. By the time I wrote that article, it had already become a given fact within my regimen of ordeals. Now that I am being harshly criticized for having the gall to change something that was put forth by a master and to be supposedly glib about making that change, I felt that I needed to discuss the context of how and why I decided to do something somewhat analogous but very different than what was laid down.

I didn’t plan on doing something different, it’s just that my own inner process compelled me to consider that possibility, and when I did, I saw that synchronicity was at work in the way everything turned out. Even so, I am not someone who refuses to revise or rework something so that it more aptly fits a specific need in my own spiritual and magickal process. I don’t believe that the lore that I am given can’t be changed or modified, since most of the lore that I possess was written by me at some point anyway. I believe that I must be open to my own inner process and be flexible enough to change, modify or even create something entirely new. So you see, I am not in agreement with those who believe that rituals and formulas are sacrosanct, and that you must follow the directions whether from a grimoire or a traditional ritual, exactly as they are written. I can see where this logic should be applied to sacred texts or even some forms of traditional religious liturgy, but not to magical operations or experiments. Therefore, I am against what I perceive to be the “grimoire only” crowd who believes that you should follow the texts exactly as they are written, and change not a jot or a tiddle.

One question that should be asked of me is that have I experienced any dramatic changes since I performed this working over a week ago? Even though it has only been several days, my answer is an affirmative yes. Others have witnessed this change in me as a kind of grounding, solidification, an intuitive connectivity to others, a powerful sense of compassion and a wholeness of being. I feel wholly and completely changed in a manner that even performing my own version of the Lunar Abramelin Ordeal did not reach. Is this the Experience of Eternity? Perhaps, but I will only fully understand this process that I have already passed through when I can compare notes with other occultists, or perhaps next year, perform the original formula for the Portae Lucis. What I can say is that I was compelled to perform this alternative working now and at this time, and I obeyed the urging of my own process.

I think that my critic has been overly harsh and highly rude. He has said that he eschews polite discussion as mere political correctness, and instead feels the need to bully or brow-beat others with whom he disagrees, perhaps a bit like the cartoon character Bluto. In behaving like a thug instead of a fellow practitioner, he has shown himself in deep need of some kind of transformation. Maybe after he has finally undergone the true Portae Lucis working, he will learn to be more compassionate and thoughtful in terms of how he deals with other occultists. 

However, his decree that I have no right to change anything, and that I am an utter fool for proposing a different variation on the Portae Lucis working is completely without merit or even relevancy. I feel sympathy for him, since what is probably driving him is a fear that I might be correct, which is that innovation, when properly harnessed, can spur spiritual evolution and even ascension. He is also correct, if I am indeed attempting to pawn off my variation of this working as the defacto original, since then I would be perpetrating a fraud. Yet I believe I have said all along that my version is different, and I have even called it the Talismanic Portae Lucis ordeal to ensure that everyone is aware of that difference. Maybe I should change the name altogether to something like the Talismanic Gateway of Saturn; but even so, I don’t believe that my readers have been mislead by what I have previously written.

If someone were to ask me whether they should work the original Portae Lucis formula or acquire and work my variation instead, I would likely tell them not to follow my path, but instead to perform the original formula in whatever manner they can. Only someone initiated into my Order and who is well versed in its lore could actually make that kind of decision, and it would have to be based on his or her own internal experiences and workings. I would urge them at some point to perform both the original and the new variation, and then judge for themselves. What I had to do was completely in accord with my own spiritual and magical process, and it would likely have little relevance to anyone else. I leave that judgment to anyone who would seek to realize this ordeal for themselves.

Frater Barrabbas

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

King Over the Water - A Review

A while back I got a review copy of Nick Farrell’s latest book, “King Over the Water,” which I finally read. Yes, I was goaded into reading this tome by the author himself. I admit that I didn’t want to read it because I am loath to read anything that attempts to discredit or somehow lessen the importance of S. L. MacGregor Mathers. I didn’t like Ellic Howe’s book “Magicians of the Golden Dawn” and I also didn’t like R. A. Gilbert’s or Francis King’s accounts of the Golden Dawn saga. I have always preferred Ithel Colquhoun’s book “Sword of Wisdom” because it is factual, balanced and fair. After reading Nick Ferrell’s book, I would have to say that I still favor the “Sword of Wisdom,” since it represents the history of the Golden Dawn and the various personalities who were involved in its formation in a more accurate and detailed manner. I felt that “King Over the Water” was obviously written with a very political agenda in mind, even though Mr. Farrell has protested that his book was not written to either defame Mathers, or any current organization that operates under the moniker “Alpha and Omega.” Of course, despite his protestations, he has clearly written a book that goes to extreme lengths to both defame Mathers and the A+O organization.

This reminds me of the typical situation that occurs during supposedly polite conversation when someone begins their sentence with the words “With all due respect..” or “Not to disparage your work..” and then continues the sentence with something that is highly disrespectful, insulting and disparaging. (Yet they do this with such grace and civility, even smiling graciously while they cut your throat.) In a similar manner, I have found Mr. Farrell’s sincere claims of being balanced and fair to be overblown, characterizing nothing more than the shrill voice of someone who is attempting to hide his guilty conscience.

I find all of this to be quite disturbing because Mr. Farrell is obviously a good writer, and he should know better! His prose is quite accessible and easy to read, but what he presents in his book is more of a fictional cartoon of Moina and MacGregor Mathers than any kind of forensic psychological profiling. Nick claims to have written his book as an insider’s historical narrative, but I found within it a terrible lack of citations and references necessary to corroborate the original source material. The bibliography is obviously missing a large portion of these supposed sources that Nick isolates and quotes, but then doesn’t bother to let the reader know where they came from. We have to trust that Mr. Farrell is correct in the interpretations of all of his mysterious sources and basic assumptions, or else the entire narrative breaks down. I would claim that this kind of literary presentation is not at all an historical analysis - it is more like a gossip column or tabloid journalism. Even Francis King was more factual, sympathetic and accurate in his glib sharing of occult dirt than Nick Farrell has been with his unseemly diatribe against certain founders of the Golden Dawn. I also believe that the overall premise of this book is more self-serving and self-promoting than it is a concise historical analysis.

Let me get to the heart of my real issue with this book. The problem with attempting to psychoanalyze someone who has been dead almost a hundred years is that unless they were famous and had a lot of original source data to judge their inner nature then such a profile is subject to error, and the less data available, the more egregious the error. The amount of credible known facts about S. L. MacGregor Mathers is small, since he was an obscure and relatively unknown person, known only perhaps to the small circles through which he operated. He had a number of enemies, too, namely Crowley, Horniman, Waite, and most of the members of his Order who rebelled against his authority. Perhaps W. B. Yeats was the only individual who wrote about Mathers in an unbiased and sympathetic manner. Most of the disinformation about Mathers was circulated by Crowley or his associates, and it is amazing that a lot of that scurrilous gossip is still being passed off as actual facts.

Still, there is so little information about Mathers that attempting to make a psychological profile out of that scant amount of data would require one to fill in the many blanks with various assumptions and literary fancy. Even less information is available about Moina Mathers, so any post mortem attempt to explore the depths of her personality would be completely fanciful on the part of the author. When an historian attempts to write about an individual in which there are few known facts, then he or she must also investigate the historical context in which they lived. Since Mr. Farrell has generally omitted that kind of analysis, and instead has focused on fictionalized characterizations of his subjects, you can be certain that presenting any kind of history was the farthest thing from the author’s mind. So, it’s quite obvious that this book is not in any way an historical narrative of the inner mechanisms of the lives of the Mathers couple, nor is it an exposition of the times in which they lived. It is not accurate or even a  sympathetic appraisal of their work and legacy.

Since we know next to nothing about what motivated Mathers and his wife after nearly a century after their deaths, we are left only with the legacy of the work which they left behind. Moina eloquently stated in the 1926 preface of her husband’s book “Kabbalah Unveiled” that the real difficulty in writing a biography about an occultist is that his or her mundane life seems nearly irrelevant, and so she said: “To write the consecutive history of an occult Order is a difficult matter, as difficult as [it is] to write [about] the life of an Adept, there being so much of an inner and secret nature necessarily involved in both: so much of the symbolical in the historical, so much of the latter in the symbology.”

Perhaps the most startling premise that Mr. Farrell makes is that Mathers was an emotionally unstable and egotistical man who lived almost entirely in a fantasy world. He began life compensating for not having a father, and then engaged in promoting himself in a fanciful manner to make up for gross personal inadequacies. He is marginally credited with producing the rites of the second order, but his genius was short lived, and that he began a consumptive decline due to excessive drinking and the stresses of living an impoverished life. Nick also states emphatically that Mathers conflated his inner plane contacts with real people, and that his premier inner plane contact was supposedly the Archangel Raphael. He also states that Mathers lost that contact as he engaged with his supposed fascist fantasies of a synarchic new order, with him mooning over being a made a lord of a Scottish principality. Of course, if Mathers lost that contact, the torch was supposedly passed on to others, such as Felkin and his Stella Matutina, and Dion Fortune’s Society of Inner Light.

Farrel’s central premise is that Mathers is something of a nutcase, and because of that, modern occultists should downplay his contribution and instead, pity him. One important thing to consider before passing too harsh a judgment over Mathers is that anyone who is highly creative or exceptional in some manner, and particularly if they happen to be a practicing occultist, will likely be judged to be eccentric and flamboyant. They will fashion themselves a persona through which they will deal with the world, and they will seem to be emotionally volatile, passionate and fanatical, elevated by their genius while simultaneously brought down by their flaws and vices. Whether we are talking about great composers, artists, poets, writers, political or religious visionaries, or occultists, they all seem to uniformly behave in a very unusual or even bizarre manner, at least when compared to the average person. We tolerate their eccentricities because of the greatness of their work, and often times such individuals have left behind not only a legacy of great value, but also a legend of dysfunction, tragedy and sometimes, dissipation.

How many of us really consider how rude and obnoxious Beethoven or Mozart supposedly were while listening to their music today? We judge them based on the merits of their legacy instead of who or what they were when they were alive. I have had this analogous conversation about Aleister Crowley and his occult literature with other Thelemites, where the infamy and notoriety of his historical past doesn’t in any way diminish the importance of his contribution to the art of magick. I would say that Mathers, who was far less controversial than Crowley, should be given the same if not greater merit for his legacy.      

However, I think that anyone with a credible knowledge of the Golden Dawn (and who has no axe to grind or hidden agenda) would agree that these are all just speculations on the part of Mr. Farrell, and that they are rather poor fare when compared to the actual historical records, however sparse. I think that we can pretty much dismiss Mr. Farrell’s psychological analysis of the Mathers as being wholly unsubstantiated by any examination of the facts. Yet how should we judge his claims about the Secret Chiefs and Inner Plane contacts? Do we take him seriously on this matter of importance? If we approach this issue in a superficial manner, it would seem that Nick does make some compelling arguments about the preeminent motivating forces and intelligence behind the formulation of the second order and the development of the Golden Dawn lore. Of course, examining the historical context of the Secret Chiefs, Mahatmas or Masters would show that they often have been conflated with inner plane contacts and endowed with super human powers and abilities. It can be difficult to pull these different and tangled definitions apart, but a bit of common sense and the context of a magical practice can hopefully separate and distinctly define them.

An Inner Plane contact is just what it would seem to be, which is a contact with an entity, egregore, being or spirit that resides wholly within the Inner Planes. Anyone who has made the transition from an initiate to an adept will hopefully develop and acquire various Inner Plane contacts. In fact, claiming to be an adept presupposes that one has made these kinds of connections. These contacts can be very creatively stimulating and profoundly insightful. Over the years, I have created an entire system of magick specifically through these Inner Plane contacts. Without them, I would have been clueless about how to proceed in the building up of my own spiritual and magical path. I also understand that Inner Plane contacts, once achieved, never seem to disappear or dissipate. There might be periods of quiescence or even temporary dormancy, but these contacts are always present and don’t cease until (I am to assume) one passes from this life and world.

Even so, Inner Plane contacts can never replace the strategic insights and the profound impact that one human being acting as a spiritual teacher can have on another. I may have made great progress through the inspiration and insights gained from my Inner Plane contacts, but I was also standing on the shoulders of all of those who had passed before me and left behind important literary corpus, such as S. L. MacGregor Mathers. I also have to give credit to the many remarkable men and women that I have known so far in my life, since they also have taught me many things. Considering that Mathers himself had to create his unique and modern system of magick from the scant resources available at the time, I would propose that his feat is far greater than mine.

However, the issue with the Secret Chiefs, Masters or Mahatmas is much more complicated. We could assume that the Theosophical Society’s concept of the Mahatmas, and later, Masters, is wholly derived from some kind of intimate Inner Plane contact, since Blavatsky seemed to nebulously define them as superhuman or even para-spiritual. She gave these Masters fanciful names and would tell many tales about their supernatural and miraculous actions that she supposedly witnessed. Yet according to K. Paul Johnson in his book “The Masters Revealed,” each of these mysteriously named masters had an actual remarkable person, who Blavatsky had met on her various journeys and personally knew, hidden behind the glamor, myth and legends. She chose fanciful and fictitious names to hide their true identity, and later, they took on an independent life of their own. If the Mahatmas or Masters of the Theosophical Society obscured and hid real individuals, then it could also be quite plausible that Mather’s Secret Chiefs were mortal and physical people.

I believe that MacGregor Mathers began his work as an initiate cultivating Inner Plane contacts, and these allowed him to creatively develop new rituals and lore. Yet I also believe that at some point in his life, he also acquired the assistance and teachings of an actual body of high adepts. To Mathers, this transition from Inner Plane contacts to actual congress with living, mortal High Adepts was one seamless process. He did not differentiate between them because in his mind one had inexorably led to the other. Thus Mathers conflated his experiences that were on one hand, based on the Inner Planes, and on the other, with actual physical human beings. An Inner Plane contact would never trip over a delivery boy when being chased, but a mortal human being could. Because from Mather’s perspective, all of these phenomena were part of his spiritual and magical process, it would have been disingenuous to have made a distinction between them.

Since we, who are distant outsiders, can only catch glimpses of what Mather’s was experiencing, to us it might seem confusing or inconsistent. Some have said that Mathers lost his association with the college of adepts, and that would explain much of what happened regarding the Horos scandal or other unmitigated issues that buffeted the Golden Dawn after the turn of the 20th century. Still, because I believe that Inner Plane contacts are permanent once acquired, Mathers would still have been functioning as a proper head of his Order and still capable of producing quality work, even though it would have been derivative.

When the Golden Dawn shattered into different groups, the blame for this event has been more or less solely attached to Mathers. While Ithell Colquhoun has given us a more reasonable context for this schism (and has found blame for all parties concerned), other writers, including Mr. Farrell, have accused Mathers of causing this breech. He has been depicted as a megalomaniac, a tyrant, and an unreasonable and authoritarian dictator who was unwilling to compromise with the members of his Order. We are also to assume that somehow the flame of Inner Plane contacts were passed on to the rebels, or that perhaps the egregore of the Order followed the majority of dissidents, leaving Mathers will an empty legacy. However, I think that what Ithell Colquhoun has stated about this schism is more reliable and unbiased.

“[H]is students were treating him with pettiness and ingratitude instead of the loyalty and fraternal goodwill he needed and craved; but he is too much involved emotionally to state the facts to best advantage. His pupils found him difficult because, not understanding their limitations until too late, he gave them esoteric knowledge beyond their capacity to receive. His faults were impetuosity and over-enthusiasm, but these were generous faults.” (Sword of Wisdom - p. 90)

Those who had followed Mathers and were members of his organization, even after his death, owed a great debt to him regardless of their own contributions. Where would Aleister Crowley, Dion Fortune, Arthur E. Waite, Paul Foster-Case, or even Israel Regardie be if it were not for the work and legacy of MacGregor Mathers? Some might spend a great deal of time vilifying Mathers and devaluing his contribution to modern occultism and ceremonial magick, but that legacy is still highly relevant even to this day.  Regardie may have been the individual who published the Golden Dawn material and received both accolades and condemnation for his supposed oath breaking, but it was Mathers who developed and produced that lore.

Mr. Farrell has criticized MacGregor Mather’s literary output, even though it is likely that as much as a third of the overall lore of the Golden Dawn and A+O might still be missing. We should also consider all of the articles and letters that Mathers wrote during his lifetime as a part of his literary legacy, although few of that great store of writings has been revealed. Considering that Mathers was responsible for the translation, editing and publication of a number of operational grimoires such as the Key of Solomon, Book of Abramelin, Grimoire Armadel (unpublished until recently), the Lemegeton (of which only the Goetia was published by Crowley), as well as the Kabbalah Unveiled, these represent no small literary legacy. If any of the books that I have managed to write over the years (not to mention the books that Mr. Farrell has written) are still being published and read a hundred years after my time, I would consider that to be remarkable. Compared to Mathers, we are all insignificant people standing on the shoulders of giants and pretending to be highly relevant and remarkable in our own right. I would define that attitude as the hubris of our age.

So for these reasons, I can’t recommend Nick Farrell’s book. If you want to read it, then you are welcome to do so, but keep in mind that he is not an unbiased judge nor is he a qualified historian. These books aren’t history, they are merely political polemics. If you want to read a good book about the history of the Golden Dawn, then I would recommend Ithell Culquhoun’s book “Sword of Wisdom.”

Enemy Of My Enemy

After presenting and dismissing all of the issues brought up by this book, we can now examine the real core of the issue underlying Mr. Farrell’s book “King Over the Water.” There is a logical reason why Nick has engaged himself in writing two consecutive books that seek to devalue and dismiss the legacy that Mathers had established for the Golden Dawn and the A+O. Mr Farrell has also sought to spread the unsubstantiated opinion that the Secret Chiefs that Mathers wrote about were actually Inner Plane contacts (such as Raphael), and there never were any real continental high adepts who aided and supported him. These supposed secret chiefs were merely based on delusion and fantasy inside Mather’s head. If we were to accept what Nick Farrell has written, then we would also have to dismiss anyone who claimed to have made contacts with continental adepts in recent times. If they didn’t exist for Mathers, then they wouldn’t exist today, either - so goes the logic.

Additionally, proposing that the torch of Inner Plane contacts was passed on to individuals such as Felkin and his organization, the Stella Matutina, would truly burnish Mr. Ferrell’s own lineage and organization. So it would seem that this series of books were written to elevate him and his faction of the Golden Dawn at the expense of the other faction, which is the HOGD/A+O organizations headed by David Griffin. To make his literary case, Mr. Farrell’s is basically calling David Griffin a liar and a fraud, even though he has couched this declaration in a very long-winded and convoluted manner to obscure it. He has gone so far, in fact, to ambiguously refer to the current A+O as a cult of personality led by a chief who is either acting or actually believes himself to be the reincarnation of Mathers, in all his autocratic grandeur.

Why has Nick Farrell spent so much time making his case that Mathers was a borderline lunatic and that the secret chiefs were nothing more than a myth? None of the suppositions that he has made in his books can actually be proven unless one already agrees with them. I find myself having to expose the lie that forces Mr. Farrell to emerge from his careful frame of motivational reasoning and fake history and into the sinister domain of propaganda and political talking-points. It’s obvious to any neutral party that Mr. Farrell is really targeting David Griffin and his organization, and he is doing this because of the fact that he is worried about what Mr. Griffin has claimed. If David Griffin’s claim to have reconnected with the body of continental adepts known as the Secret Chiefs is valid, then he would obviously have a far better claim to continuity and legitimate authority than Mr. Farrell and his reconstructed order. Therefore, Nick Farrell is involved in political diatribes to dismiss and destroy the very foundation upon which Mr. Griffin and his claims are based. One would assume that he does this for himself, but it would seem that he is also doing this work for others. He quotes R. A. Gilbert quite often, and has used source materials provided by that same individual. It would be hard to dismiss this as just a coincidence.

Having a common enemy makes for some strange bed partners, and it would seem that the faction that is against Mr. Griffin is wholly allied and uniform in its relentless political war against him. This is because the enemy of my enemy, however repugnant, is my friend. However, knowing something about the Golden Dawn history, I would bet that if Mr. Griffin and his organization didn’t exist that the various factions now united would just as likely be at each other’s throats. The injustice of this movement against Mr. Griffin is even more pernicious if we consider that his claims might be true.

Where is the sense of fraternal and collegial respect that would allow a proper peer review of anyone’s claim to have reconnected with the Secret Chiefs? Of course, the examination of such a claim would have to be performed through the protocols of oath-bound conventions, but such an examination could be conducted by adepts of the Golden Dawn. Yet what we have instead is an unshakable denial by one faction before any evidence is examined, and a program of public disinformation to ensure that any such claims are readily dismissed. So if David Griffin has indeed made contact with the Secret Chiefs, then those who have denounced and vilified him without a proper evaluation have shown themselves to be nakedly motivated by their own petty egotistical sense of self-worth. This altercation is not a war of ideas as much as it is a war of egos, and I think that the overall occult community is poorly served by it.

What I would like to see happen going forward is either a full and open review of David Griffin’s claims, done in a manner that would be transparent but under the guidelines of oath regulated information, or a complete “live and let live” attitude. Unfortunately, I doubt that my wishes will be realized any time soon. As I have pointed out, having Inner Plane contacts is often more than enough to substantiate any occult organization, so there is no need to trifle with David Griffin’s claims if the Secret Chiefs are not an important factor in one’s group. I, for one, am quite happy with my contacts, and I seem to be able to continue to grow, evolve and even promote my methods without having to either defame my predecessors or vilify my fellow magicians.

If someone finds his claim compelling, then a proper and respectful evaluation should occur. I believe that David Griffin has already offered this kind of conclave to initiates of the Golden Dawn regardless of their linage, but some chief adepts have threatened their members with expulsion if they dared to attend. This is not the kind of behavior that I would associate with anyone who claims to be an adept, and I hope that eventually those who find it necessary to pit themselves and their groups against David Griffin and his organization will come to some kind of realization. That this war does more damage to all of the parties than it does good to any one faction. So until that time I will be forced to judge those who are casting aspersions not as proper adepts, but perhaps more like the spoiled adolescents that they seem to be.

Frater Barrabbas      

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Portae Lucis Working Completed - Part 2

This is part two of a two part series written about the Portae Lucis working and the ancillary rites associated with the last four days of this ordeal.

June 18 - 19 Ritualized Path Working

Monday dawned and I began the work to prepare for the ritualized Path Working session that I would perform that evening. I looked over the Eneagram and the Double Tetrahedral Gate rituals and found that if I had to serially go through these two rites for each Sephirah and Pathway, the overall working would take hours to complete. I really didn’t want to spend that much time and energy engaged in what would be a supporting working. Therefore, I began to really scrutinize the ritual patterns for these two rituals, and I found that some of the ritual actions would be redundant if they were performed over and over again. So I broke each of the rituals into three sections: one would contain the preliminary actions that needed to be performed to set up the environment for invoking both the Sephiroth and the Pathways; then the actual invocations that were needed for each Qabalistic element; finally, the closing actions needed to complete the overall process. In performing this exercise, I was able to condense the two rituals down to one small ritual without any redundant steps. The preliminary actions would be done just once, then the invocations for each of the Sephirah and Pathway, and then the closing actions. This seemed to be the most efficient method of concurrently performing these rituals, so I set about to pulling all of these combined steps into a new condensed ritual, which I have entitled the "Archeomantic Path Working Rite." I am very certain that it will feature prominently in future ordeals.

In order for me to get a really good idea about the transit path that the Portae Lucis follows, I carefully examined my deluxe illustration of the Enochian Tree of Life, which I had designed and executed some years ago. While I was tracing this transit path, it dawned on me that I was following a line that functioned as the border for all of the Dimensions from the bottom two (XVIII and XVII), to the very edge of Dimension IV, which was one of two trapezoidal shaped dimensions, before ending at Binah. I suddenly realized that the transit path of the Portae Lucis would, when it was successfully completed, open up an opportunity for me to complete the Archeomantic ordeal. The transit path of the Portae Lucis functions as the strategic bridge between the lowest dimensions (two of which I had already full entered and explored) and the trapezoidal shaped dimensions that were the keys to the entire dimensional array. It was like a light went off in my mind. I immediately saw the possibilities and also how important and critical the Portae Lucis working was in the overall scheme of the battery of Order ritual ordeals. If I include the Enochian Qabalah (which is still waiting for me fully write it up from my notes) and the Archeomantic considerations in the transit line of the Portae Lucis working, I would come up with the following detailed information. I found this information to be fascinating, but in case you aren’t quite as much of an occult nerd or Qabalah wonk as I am, you can skip two paragraphs down.

As I have pointed out previously, the Portae Lucis path working would begin at Malkuth, and I would qualify that Sephirah with my Mercury talisman, since it represents me at my mundane level of conscious development. Since we all have bodies, there is a part of us that is rooted in Malkuth, whether we associate our spiritual achievements to a higher Sephirah or not. Then this transit line would travel up the 32nd Path (Tau - Atu XXI), which borders the lowest two dimensions (XVIII and XVII), to the Sephirah Yesod (associated with the Moon talisman). Then from Yesod, the transit line would travel up the 25th Path (Samek - Atu XIV) to the Sephirah Tiphareth (associated with the Sun talisman). However, this path is actually broken into two Paths because it is bisected by the 27th Path (Peh - Atu XVI), so at that point, there resides the secret Enochian Element Sephirah of NANTA (Earth - Sacramental Life) and the extended Enochian Path of the Arabic numeral for 9 (Philosophia). This broken Pathway follows the borders of the Dimension XV and XVI pair, as well as the Dimension XIII and XIV pair.

Finally, from Tiphareth, the trace line travels diagonally (to the left) through the 17th Path (Zain - Atu VI) to the Sephirah Binah (associated with the Saturn talisman), the lowest and most accessible of the Supernal Triad. Because this Path is also broken into two pathways because the 19th Path (Tet - Atu XI) bisects it, there is at that point the secret Enochian Element Sephirah of HCOMA (Water - Spiritual Love) and the extended Enochian Path of of the Arabic numeral for 4 (Hierogamos). This trace line also follows the borders of the Dimension VII and VIII pair, and the Dimension III and IV pair (unlike the other pairs, these two dimensions are both female). I should also note that Dimension IV is the left sided trapezoidal shaped dimension (the other is Dimension V), and is an important key to any further Archeomantic workings.

I started this working at around 9:10 pm, shortly after sunset, and then performed the condensed version of this ritual working, which lasted until around 11:10 pm (close to two hours). Like the previous working on Saturday, I didn’t use any planetary hours to set the time of this working. During the entire period of this working, I saw no visions nor did I have any specific insights while performing it. However, during the entire period when I was serially invoking the Sephiroth and Pathways, I felt a tingling at the back of my neck. This meant that I was physically sensing that there were a lot of forces and spiritual attributes being invoked and released through this ritualized Path Working. I had the four planetary talismans arrayed on the four sides of the centrally placed Eneagram trigon. The whole working was very intense and quite powerful, yet I performed it with few breaks or pauses. I felt completely full (of all of the Qabalistic correspondences) and I felt that I had thoroughly visualized and, thereby, realized the entire transit path up the Tree of Life for the Portae Lucis working.     

When I retired after completing this working, I fell immediately into a deep and dreamless sleep the moment my head touched the pillow. You could say that I had been thoroughly exhausted by this working, and I welcomed sleep like a long lost lover. I awoke the next morning feeling completely refreshed and I sensed a great joy, a kind of exaltation and a feeling of perfect contentedness, which had lingered from the previous night. I realized that such feelings are fleeting and temporary, but I hadn’t felt anything this powerful or intense since I performed the Abramelin Lunar Ordeal.

June 19 - 20 Portae Lucis Working

As the saying goes, all plans are subject to revision the moment they are executed. This certainly happened on the very night that I was supposed to start the final working of the Portae Lucis. I had planned on performing the Mass of the Goddess well before I was to actually start the final working, but that plan was changed by circumstance.

According to my working schedule, the final ritual of this ordeal was to be started sometime during the hour of True Midnight. I discovered that this time was determined by dividing the duration of the night by two and adding the result to the time of sunset. Since the duration of the night during the Summer Solstice was only around 8.5 hours, I determined that True Midnight would be around 1:05 AM Wednesday morning. After I divided the day and night into planetary hours, I found that the hour of Saturn occupied the point of True Midnight. All I had to do in order to lock in the planetary hour and True Midnight was to consecrate the magick circle during that planetary hour. So, I had quite a long period of time before I need to actually begin the work.

In order to be fully rested and ready to perform this working so late in the evening, I decided that I should take a nap late in the afternoon, and wake up around 8:30 pm. Once I was awake and ready, I would say the Mass of the Goddess to add a potent spiritual energy to the overall working. However, no matter what I did, I couldn’t fall asleep. My mind was too excited and worked up, even though I did feel somewhat tired. Finally, near the time when I was supposed to wake up, I fell asleep, and didn’t wake up until around 10:55 pm. Since I had planned on starting this working in roughly an hour and a half, I realized that I had actually run out of time to say the Mass. 

I decided then and there to skip performing that rite, and start getting things ready for the final working instead. I guess you could say that I was at a bit of a loss for having to make this change of plans. Yet I realized that if I had said the Mass, I would have had to say another Mass the following day, since I wanted to perform some kind of Thanksgiving for successfully completing this ordeal. I also felt that saying the Mass that evening wasn’t a critical part of the working since the atmosphere of the temple was more than enough charged from the previous evening’s work. So decided that I would wait in the temple until the time was right and while away the extra minutes with a long meditation session. Once I made this decision, I realized that it was important that I should be as undistracted as possible between the previous night’s working and what I had to do this night.

My mediation period was very peaceful, fulfilling and I felt full of power and energy. I was rested, ready and eagerly looking forward to the working. Yet I also felt at peace, as if I were in no hurry whatsoever. The hour might be late, but the two hour nap had done its work, and I felt in proper form to work magick. So once the half hour past midnight had tolled on my mantle clock (in the living room), I broke out of my meditation and proceeded to consecrate the magick circle. The planetary hour was Saturn and it was also the hour of the True Midnight. The Moon was in Cancer (having achieved the New Moon phase by conjuncting the Sun in Gemini earlier in the day), and all was still and ready to begin the working.

I began to perform the adapted ritual called the Triple Tetrahedral Gate, which is a Double Gateway (West - Underworld, East, Ascension) with a great triangular Ascension Gate placed in the underworld center of the working. I had originally written this working as one of the key rites performed for the Abramelin Lunar ordeal, but it seemed perfect for what I needed to accomplish in the Portae Lucis working. Each of the three points of the Ascension Gate (located in the North, Ultra-point, and South) would be bound and directly connected to the planetary talismans arrayed on my Quintedecim Complex trigon (i.e., Latin for the number 15, a Septagram within an Octagon). Although this ritual is not particularly long, I made certain that my pacing in performing it was slow and deliberate, since I had wanted to relish and fully immerse myself in each ritual action. I also assumed my special ring and summoned my HGA, and I also called on Hermes Thoth to aid me in this working.

What I experienced from performing this rite was that the detailed and careful path working that I had done the previous night perfectly segued into this final working. All of the elements associated with the Qabalistic correspondences were very much alive and fully engaged in this working. All I had to do was perform an unsealing spiral for all of the circle points just before commencing with the Triple Tetrahedral Gate ritual. I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect and flowing working if I had tried, and each step was executed with a new perspective and appreciation for the ritual actions and the accompanied verbiage. Even my voice deepened, and I was more perfectly articulating the associated ritual words, whether they were magical words of power or philosophical intentions.

When I got to the point of assembling the central Ascension Gate, I actually was able to fully visualize that geometric shape in a way that I have never seen any prismatic energy shape before. I saw what appeared to be like a plate of glass shaped like an equilateral triangle, whose ends touched the Southern and Northern Watchtowers and whose apex reached the ultra-point in the center of the circle. Light seemed to reflect off it (as if it were some kind of polarized glass) and I saw vistas of refracted light and rainbows reflecting on its surface. These lights then materialized so that I briefly saw what looked like a distant mountainous desert landscape, with clouds quickly flitting across an azure sky. I could also see lines of force connecting this triangular gate to the talismans arrayed on the central altar. Each line of force had a different color, representing the different planetary energies. The Mercury talisman seemed to be connected to the crown of my head. I found this vista to be incredible and completely unexpected.  

After I had set the Ascension Gate, I entered into it, and I felt so ecstatic that I wanted to stay in that place forever. So I naturally extended the time period for observing and experiencing the phenomena emanating from that gateway. What was communicated to me, though, could be encapsulated completely by the words Simple, Direct, Practical, Earth-centered, Pragmatic, and Balanced. (Sounds a lot like Binah and Saturn, doesn’t it.) I felt that the most important communication given to me that evening was that I should keep myself in perspective at all times. A large unchecked ego is a sign of imbalance and instability, which must be avoided at all costs when one is engaging with the Supernal Triad. I sensed that the mythic archetype of the flights of Icharus and his father, Daedelus, were a case in point to what was being communicated to me. If I flew too high, I would experience a corresponding great fall, so it is prudent to fly low when your “wings” are glued to your arms with beeswax.  

I also experienced a great deal of joy, happiness and even a profound sense of exaltation, but it was also tempered with a kind of potent grounding that was also quite pleasant. I sat in that circle for what seemed like a long time, and never once did I feel any fatigue or aching joints. I felt that I could have remained in that place forever, and not felt any need to change my posture or attend to any bodily needs. I also imagined at that moment that a part of myself remained in that idyllic state even after I had quit the ritual and sealed up the circle points. (Perhaps I am still there in that circle, communing with the highest and most balanced energy and intelligence that I have ever encountered in all the years of my magickal workings.) 

Yet finally, I decided that I had been there long enough. I vaguely remember hearing the clock strike two, but I didn’t manage to disengage from this rite until nearly half past that hour. I performed the double Eastern Gates of Ascension (from out of the underworld) and I felt as if I had participated in a new dawning of myself and the world. I barely remember much after the ritual had ended, but when I finally got into bed (probably around 3 am), I had trouble getting asleep. My tired body was wracked by at least a couple more hours of dreams and visions before I became completely unconscious. I woke some hours later still feeling a bit tired, but I was fully aware and I understood what I had accomplished the night before.

That was the day of the Solstice, and I felt brilliantly happy, relieved and also very content with what the overall experience of this ordeal had produced. While I was feeling proud of what I had done, I also noticed that it was a rainy, lousy, wet and stormy day, and that I wouldn’t have too much opportunity to go outside and celebrate the Summer Solstice in my outdoor grove. Nor would I be able to light a fire, or pretty much do anything that I had imagined myself doing. It was great weather if were a duck, toad or a tortoise - not being any of these, I was somewhat let down. I also felt a bit fatigued from the four days of active ritual work, so I resigned myself to cooking a simple feast and then afterwards, before the sunset, to say the Mass of the Goddess. I managed to complete all of these objectives and then fell asleep sometime before 9 pm, even before the sun had managed to set. I blissfully snored away until the wee hours of the morning when I found that I couldn’t sleep any longer. I suppose that’s what I get for going to bed so early, and found that I had awakened just an hour before sunrise. 

Now that I have fully undergone this ordeal, I couldn’t but recommend it to anyone who would like to perform some version of it. The Portae Lucis working does indeed do what its supposed to do, perhaps even more than my initial expectations would have indicated, and I have merely assembled and performed a talismanic version of it. I suspect that the spagyric version would be just as powerful and as intense.

You can be certain that this working will now become a standard ordeal for the Order. Since I had found quite a number of interesting connections that would link this ordeal with all of the others that are deployed in the Order, particularly the ordeal of Spiritual Archeomancy, it would seem that it is perfectly made for our Order’s work. So the Portae Lucis working is now an important part of the ritual regimen of the second order of Adepts. In fact, one segues perfectly into the other, making it part of the whole structure of degree based transformative ordeals. My only regret is that it took nearly 15 years for me to discover that connection, and had it not been for a couple of my outstanding friends (you know who you are!), I would have never known about this obscure working. Let that be a lesson about humility and the importance of having a magical peer group.

Frater Barrabbas

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Portae Lucis Working Completed - Part 1

Now that the Summer Solstice has come (and gone), and I can begin to assemble from my notes what actually happened to me when I performed the last three rites of this talismanic Portae Lucis ordeal. What I can say without any embellishments is that it was a smashing success, and that I experienced both an exalted sense of being as well as a down-to-earth centeredness. The Portae Lucis has now been inaugurated within my soul as an ongoing and evolving process, and I truly experienced far more than just a mere brush with the Supernal Triad of the Tree of Life. I have been told by Hermes Thoth that this process will continue to expand and evolve over time, reaching a very powerful crescendo at the Winter Solstice, but continuing on even beyond that date. I am looking forward to experiencing this evolving process, since at this time, I don’t at all feel either out-of-sorts or overwhelmed by what I have experienced and seen so far. In fact, I haven’t felt this solid and alive in quite some time.

One thing that this whole ordeal has taught me is that the rule proposed by some proponents of the “Grimoire Only” crowd, which is that magicians must follow a formula, working or spell from any original source to the letter, neither deviating nor using substitutions, is dead wrong. Supposedly, substitutions are not allowed and will, in fact, cause the operation to fail. Since I took the formula and working for the original Portae Lucis operation and radically changed it from a spagyric alchemical and passive astrological working to one that uses four-fold elemental planetary talismans and a very active ritual magical agenda, and the fact that this new ordeal works quite well, is proof enough that substitutions and reworking won’t cause an operation to fail. (There are plenty of other and more fundamental issues that can cause a magical operation to fail.)

So the new rule is that magicians don’t need to follow the directions, and in fact, they can completely rewrite or rework an operation to fit their tastes and needs, producing something that is both new and successful. I think that I have pretty much proven this to be true, and perhaps now we can bury this supposed iron-clad rule with the rest of the unproven urban myths and misinformation about magick. If you choose to follow the old grimoires and work them exactly as they were written, then that is an esthetic choice that has nothing to do with success or failure. All esthetic choices are affectations that dress up (or down) any magical operation, and as long as they aren’t too cumbersome or impossible to employ, then they won’t interfere with the flow and occurrence of the magick, and the overall ritual objective. This is why I believe that magick is much more an art than a science.

Anyway, I approached the coming weekend prior to the final three steps of this operation with diligence and a readiness to change or adapt whatever I was going to do, just in case some inspiration or insight caused me to do something else than what I had planned. I wasn’t locked into any specific schedule, other than the specific timing of the event. I knew that I had to complete everything by June 19 so that I could perform the final ritual working during the true midnight of what was to be the longest day of the year (June 20 - Summer Solstice). That date and time was set, of course, but the rest was to be more fully determined as the dates for those workings approached.

I had fully resolved to perform a short-hand invocation of my mentor, Hermes Thoth Trimagistus, on Saturday evening, June 16. I then had sketched out some extensive Path Working trance and mediation sessions for either Sunday or Monday, or both days. I had taken the three days from June 18th through the 20th as vacation days from work so I wouldn’t have anything pressing to interfere with what I was planning to do. Of course, as it turned out, I had to attend business conference calls and do some other related work all through the three week days that I was supposed to be off. It would seem that I am engaged in a very important business project, and that I wasn’t able to get completely away from the responsibilities associated with my job. These required intrusions into the world of work were neither taxing nor distracting, so I was able to complete them without detracting from the magical work that I had been contemplating.

As the weekend progressed, I discovered some truly amazing connections between the Portae Lucis ordeal and the ordeals of Spiritual Archeomancy that I had undergone back in the mid 90's. I have written up a couple of biographical articles that you can read over if you aren’t familiar with what I did and how I did it back then. You can find these articles here, and here. Spiritual Archeomancy concerns itself with magically defining and entering into one of the eighteen Qabalistic Dimensions. These dimensions are the triangular shapes that make up the lattice of the Tree of Life, more easily seen if the Sephiroth and Paths are removed to show just the lines and vectors that make up the geometry produced by the Pathways.

Enochian Qabalah would focus on this geometry, and it would stipulate additional hidden Sephiroth as well, since from the standpoint of that geometry, wherever two paths cross, there can be found a nexus point that defines a Sephirah. These triangles, taken from the shapes that the Pathways make as they cross each other, are the Qabalistic Dimensions, and they are supposedly the most exalted of the Inner Plane domains. You can imagine that gaining entry into one of the Dimensions would be a very powerful experience, and in fact, when I successfully entered the bottom two dimensions back in the 90's, it was a completely mind-blowing experience. However, once I had gained entry into those two domains, I never progressed beyond that point, and by the year 2000, I had more or less abandoned that series of ordeals even though I had only entered two out of a total of eighteen.

More compelling to me was the fact that there are two Dimensions that are trapezoidal shaped instead of triangular, and I have long believed that these two domains are the most important and the keys to the whole array of dimensions. Both of these trapezoidal shaped dimensions lie above the 19th Path, so they are directly associated with the Greater Abyss, and unless I was willing to make that crossing, these dimensions would be, for the most part, out of my reach. So, like a fox staring at the luscious grapes hanging on the vine well out of reach, I abandoned this quest for other more pressing concerns.

The reason why these previous workings that I performed over 15 years ago were on my mind is that I was editing my magical journals and writing them into my book entitled “Sepher ha-Nephilim." I had just completed the third volume in that series, so my mind was full of thoughts about what I did back then and what happened to me as a result of doing those workings. Little did I realize that the current ordeal was not only analogous to those previous ordeals, but that it represented a critical continuation of those ordeals. In fact, what I learned was that this ordeal of the Portae Lucis was the missing piece that I would have needed back then in order to progress further. Although I didn’t realize that until I started planning for the second working of the final three for this present ordeal. I found it all to be quite ironic when I realized it, since the Archeomantic ordeals had last been worked in the winter of 1998, when I was living in Santa Fe. The period of time that had elapsed since then was more than fourteen years ago, and only now had I discovered the next important piece! Such amazing continuity always makes me feel as if I were following a very distinct path through all of the years of my magical career, even though when I was living through it, I didn’t seem to either notice or realize this fact. This because the life of a magician can seem to be fairly chaotic or even sporadic (like any artist chasing the latest inspiration).

What this means (and I apologize for the digression) is that the Portae Lucis, as I had changed and reworked it, now fit perfectly into the progression of lore that would be included as the system of magical Archeomancy. I hadn’t planned that in advance, but it would seem that this new ordeal is an important and strategic part of the overall magical lore of the Order. Anyway, allow me to continue presenting what actually happened during those three singular working events. 

June 16 - 17 Invocation of Hermes Thoth

I began the final days of the Portae Lucis ordeal with an invocation of Hermes Thoth. I had wanted to perform this working because I felt that he would be able to guide and assist me in successfully performing this ordeal. Coincidentally, I had originally performed this invocation back in 1997 to seek the aid of Hermes when I sought to enter the XVII Dimension. Even so, I wanted this invocation to be associated specifically with my Portae Lucis working. (I still hadn’t figured on the connection or synchronicity that was operating here.) The invocation proceeded without any issues and was a great success. 

That night, I used the shorthand ritual version to invoke Hermes Thoth because I already had previously invoked him and still had his sigil in my Liber Spiritum. I did manage to supercharge that invoking sigil with my Mercury talisman, and it made the operation even more powerful than what I had experienced previously. I placed that re-charged sigil before a large statue that I had of the Egyptian God Thoth, both of which were sitting on the central altar with my Mercury talisman. Needless to say, the results were nearly ecstatic for me. I felt exalted and fully empowered. I got lots of new ideas and insights imparted to me by Hermes Thoth, as well as some practical and personal advise. Here’s a few of the things that Hermes Thoth shared with me that weren't of a personal nature.

Since I had been editing my journals and inserting them into my Nephilim book series, it seems that Hermes Thoth had some sage advise about those ordeals that I performed years ago. The Greater Enochian Ordeal that I had performed when I lived in Tallahassee was missing the rituals associated with the patriarch Enoch. I had completed and performed the corresponding rituals for Lilith, but I had omitted the ones for Enoch. This meant that I had not actually completed that ordeal, and that I needed to complete these rituals and then perform them in the next couple of years. In that way I would fully complete that ordeal and also make it available to the Order, otherwise, it was glaringly incomplete, much to my chagrin. I also hadn’t completed the Archeomantic ordeal either, since I still hadn’t entered into the trapezoidal shaped dimensions and thereby acquired the keys to the whole array of dimensions. (I couldn’t figure out why this point was being made just yet, since in order to complete that working I would have to cross the Greater Abyss.)

Hermes Thoth also pointed out to me that where the pair of rites for Lilith had been completed, and the ones for Enoch had been omitted, he also declared that the 7th Degree Order workings would include the same pair of rituals for Hermes Thoth, making him the highest egregore of the Inner Order. I saw the logic of all of these comments, but knew that what was being proposed to me consisted of quite a lot of work, both in regards to designing and writing new rituals, and then at some point, performing them. It was sort of like being told that on top of everything else I was doing, I had to move a couple of mountains and build a city or two. I was wondering if Hermes Thoth had ever been a college professor, since that’s the kind of thing that a college professor would ask of his students.

I started the working at around 10 pm and it ended just around midnight, but I couldn't get to sleep until 2 am the next morning. It was sort of like having a party in your head - all these impressions, insights and ideas just dancing around and raising hell. I wanted to sleep, but I just couldn’t get the party in my head to subside until a couple of hours after the working was completed. I was quite exhausted when I woke up on the next day (Sunday), so I decided that I would celebrate the beginning of the working with a feast. (I was going to start a partial fast on the following day, so this seemed like a good idea.) Because I was so tired, I knew that I wouldn’t have the energy to accomplish much of anything, anyway. While I had originally planned to do some path working sessions on the Portae Lucis Qabalistic transit for Sunday, being overly tired made me change that plan. I knew before starting this working that I had to flexible, but I had no idea just how flexible I had to be.

Perhaps the most amazing information that Hermes Thoth imparted to me was that the Portae Lucis working was a continuation of the Archeomantic ordeal that I had performed in the 1990's. Instead of just performing a meditative and trance based methodology, I should instead opt to make it into a ritual magick regimen. I was therefore directed by Hermes Thoth to look over the rituals that I had used as part of the phase 2 of that previous working, and incorporate them into the Monday night working.

The two rituals that he had pointed out were the Eneagram ritual, which is used to invoke one of the Ten Sephiroth of the Tree of Life, and the Double Tetrahedral Gate ritual, which is used to invoke the Pathways of the Tree of life. I should also consider using the ritual Qabalistic Pyramid of Power to set the Qabalistic World to Atziluth. Since the Qabalistic transit for the Portae Lucis starts in Malkuth, and then proceeds to Yesod via the Path depicted as the Tarot card of the Universe XXI, and from Yesod to Tiphareth via the Path, Art XIV, and finally, from Tiphareth to Binah via the Path, the Lovers VI. I was going to do a series of Path Workings to capture this transit, but I decided instead to perform these rituals. I would also incorporate binding the four Sephiroth in this ritualized working to the four talismans.

So with that injunction from Hermes Thoth, I would look into the feasibility of performing these rituals on Monday, and see what I could do to condense that overall process. I was aware of the fact that when I would perform the second phase of the Archeomantic working, that it typically took around three to four hours to complete. I wasn’t looking forward to spending that much in ritual on the night before the most important working in this ordeal.

Sunday came and went quietly, since it had become a day of reflection, where I could follow up on all of the insights that Hermes Thoth had given me. Many pieces of my personal magical puzzle had come together over the last two days, and I could easily suspect with the looming Portae Lucis talismanic working, that a lot more could be expected to happen between now and then.

Anyway, after this working, and even the following day, I felt really good about what I was planning to do.  Even though I was tired on Sunday, I felt resolved, charged and completely at peace.


Frater Barrabbas

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Temple Architecture - Why and Wherefore - Part 2

A Temple Shrine

 This is the second part of the two part series on temple architecture. This article concerns itself with the more advanced architecture needed for working advanced ritual magick. 

Temple Architecture for Advanced Ritual Magick

Once you get past the basic workings and start performing more elaborate ordeals, such as those that are practiced in the Order of the Gnostic Star, then you will require some additional tools, but these can be either made or purchased by you without jeopardizing your monthly budget. Additionally, you might find that performing more elaborate ritual workings might require somewhat more temple space, which would be a consideration. These extra tools are particularly used in the ritual workings of invocation, evocation and more advanced types of workings. Having a separate room of some kind makes these kinds of working far less intrusive then they might be otherwise.

Central Altar: Whether you decided to place your altar in the center of the circle or not, to work more advanced ritual workings, you will need to have a special small altar in the center of the circle. I typically use a small folding table, which I can remove if I need more space in that area. If you have placed your simple altar in the center of the circle, you will have to move it to one of the watchtowers, if possible. The central altar is used for establishing a powerful focus at that point in the magick circle, and this is important for invocation and evocation magick, as well as all forms of talismanic magick. Having a central altar is a way of being able to accumulate magickal tools and devices within the inner magick circle, when that structure becomes important to the magick that you might perform.

Watchtower Altars: More advanced magical workings require the building up and the focusing of certain activities at each of the cardinal points. The four Angles will still need to be marked, but the Watchtowers now assume a more important and layered kind of ritual structure, similar to what was done by having a central altar. Correspondences can now be placed at each of the Watchtowers so as to establish a greater and permanent kind of magical power associated with each. These tables can be quite small, but they have the added advantage of being able to hold multiple open flames or oil lamps without endangering oneself. In my temple, I actually use lamps that have each of their glass shields tinted to one of the four colors that are used as representations for the four Elements, so that they illuminate the colors that I use for symbolizing the Watchtowers. By doing this, I have added the correspondence of color to the Watchtowers. Also, in my temple, I have arranged my furniture so that I also have some kind of table space for the four Angles as well. Yet this has made the periphery of the temple a bit crowded with furniture, but it does work out quite well, ensuring that the lamps placed in the Angles are elevated.

Temple Shrine: A temple shrine is a table that is placed at one of the four Watchtowers to hold the statues, symbols and offerings for the magician’s personal pantheon of Gods and Goddesses. Offerings include flowers, incense, food and drink, as well as some kind of vigil lights. I have actually placed three animated statues on my shrine, which represent my three personal Goddesses who powerfully operate in my personal magick. Before I perform any kind of magical operation, I often say a Mass and feed these statues, so as to awaken and fortify them.

Trigons and Gate Keys: I have found that the use of charged and consecrated trigons and the three gate keys are quite strategic in the advanced workings that I perform. A trigon can be placed on one of the four Watchtower altars, or the central altar if it is to be used in conjunction with an inner circle ritual structure. A trigon can even be used as a base for standing on during a godhead assumption, where all of the chakras would be super-charged and imprinted by the figures and devices painted on its surface. Gate keys are talismanic images placed at each of the three gate points for a Gateway ritual structure. When deploying a Gateway ritual structure, I often place a Tarot trump over the gate key so as to further qualify them as I place them on altars at the periphery of the magick circle.

How I came up with the name that I use for a trigon is that it’s based upon the very first trigon that I developed so many years ago. It consisted of the symbolic structures of a circle containing an equal-lateral triangle depicted upon a rectangular piece of wood. The trigon is typically made out of wood and is a rectangle measuring 18 inches long and 14.5 inches high. The trigon is typically painted a flat black for the background, and has the designs and other decorations painted over it. I usually either spray the trigon with a protective latex covering, or brush over the dried and finished design with a glossy clear latex gel.

In my collection of trigons I have created one for each of the four Watchtowers and I also have one that is used specifically for Godhead assumption. I have trigons that are used in the central magical circle, and they incorporate the star pattern designs of the Septagram, Eneagram, Undecigram (eleven pointed star) and the Quintedecigram (septagram enclosed within an octagon).

As for the gate keys, some years ago I devised three gate keys and then manufactured them. I used three blocks of wood that were approximately 3.5 × 7 × 1 inches (being length, height and width, respectively); and upon a flat black background I painted the magical squares and sigils to empower them. Over the years that I have used these gate keys, I have found them to be quite powerful and extremely useful. Having a special marker for each of the three gateway points is also an important feature in my system of magick, since it helps one to be visually aware of the overlaying of the previous ritual structures with that of the gateway ritual structure.

Other Considerations: An elaborate temple can have some additional features, which I have found to be both useful and esthetically pleasing. When I lived in apartments, I would use the master bedroom in a multi bedroom apartment for the temple, and in some cases, this master bedroom came with an adjoining bathroom as well. You could sequester yourself in the master bedroom temple space and have access to the bathroom to perform your magical ablutions (taking a sumptuous bath for cleansing and anointing) without ever having to either leave or re-enter the temple confines. Once the door was closed, I wouldn’t have to re-emerge until the magical work was completed.

A painted or tiled magick circle graphically depicted on the temple floor is another one of those esthetically pleasing tools that I would love to own. Early in my magical career, I had an elaborate magick circle painted on two sheets of very thin particle board, and these were nailed to the floor. Of course, since that time, I have mostly lived in apartments that had wall to wall carpeting. So such a split circle painting proved to be not very practical, since it couldn’t be easily secured to the floor, and I didn’t want to punch holes through the carpet and into the floor boards using nails. I also had to tape the two halves together, and this required constant maintenance because the tape would loose its adhesion over time.

I quickly abandoned that large painted circle even though it was quite beautiful. However, it was awkward, required regular maintenance and it was difficult to move around. An alternative to such a contraption would be to use some kind of canvas floor cover with a circle painted over it, but I never found anything that would really work for me. Perhaps the optimum would be to have a special tiled floor installed with a magick circle depicted on it as a kind of beautiful mosaic. That would certainly be costly (and permanent), but it would also be highly esthetic, at least to me.

A more elaborate temple would also have corresponding elaborate decorations. You could put up appropriate pictures, have banners in the East and West, floor length curtains, veiled sections of the temple, black and white pillars (either painted or constructed) on either side of the altar. Instead of using pillars, I have a decorated obelisk placed in the center of the circle. I also use various natural and faceted crystals in my magick, including the use of a crystal wand (transmutar wand), crystal athame, base crystal (placed on or below the main altar) and a large crystal on a necklace (controller or transformation crystal). I have previously posted an article about how I use crystals in my ritual magick, and you can read that here. Additional esthetic elements would be colored lights, a strobe light, a stereo system (for music - a very important element indeed), and lots of handy storage areas for all the supplies and various accouterments used in the performance of ritual magick. Keep in mind that I like having everything that I need around me in case it might be needed, even if it wasn’t actually called for in the ritual text.   

Still other additional tools that are good to have around would be a nice collection of swords and daggers, an assortment of wands for various uses, a staff or two, a besom for ritual cleansing, and a Mass kit. If you are going to say a Mass as part of your magical regimen (and this is required in the magick of the Order of the Gnostic Star), then you will need a special set of tools and vestments. A basic Mass kit consists of a golden chalice, paten, a pix (small golden container used to store hosts), cruets (for the wine and water), and some vestments for the chalice and paten. These vestments are the corporal, purificator, the pall, the chalice veil, and the burse (for carrying the unconsecrated hosts). 

The corporal is a piece of plain white cloth that is 15 inches square, and this cloth is laid down on the center of the altar cloth, and the chalice is placed upon it. The purificator is a plain white cloth that is about 14 inches long and 9 inches wide. It is folded three times along its length, becoming a narrow band of cloth that is 14 inches by 3 inches. The purificator is used to wipe the fingers, mouth, cleaning and drying the mass chalice. The purificator is placed on the top of the chalice, with its ends hanging equally over either side. The patten is placed on top of purificator, centered over the chalice. The pall is a double piece of linen about 5 to 7 inches square, and has a piece of flat cardboard inserted into it, to stiffen it. The pall is placed on top of the patten, purificator and chalice. It’s used to cover the hosts that are placed on the patten prior to saying mass. The chalice veil is placed over the pall, veiling the chalice completely. The chalice veil is often made out of the same material and color as the special mass vestments.

There are also vestments that the celebrant wears to perform a Mass. These would be, at the very least, a chasuble, cincture and a stole. The stole is a long strip of cloth about 3 to 4 inches wide and from 7 to 8 feet in length, made of the same material as the chasuble. The stole is worn centered around the neck, across the shoulders, crossed over the chest and fastened in place with the cincture, which is a cord worn around the waist. The cincture is a thick cord with tasseled ends that’s usually four to five yards in length. It’s doubled around the waist, tied in the front, and the ends are tucked at either side so they don’t interfere with walking and moving. Over the stole and the cincture is placed the chasuble, which is a poncho like covering that has a hole for the head and neatly lays over the shoulders and down on both the back and front, covering the inner robe almost to the feet. The chasuble is usually worn over an inner robe (called the alb, because it was white), but I typically wear my working robe as my inner robe in these situations.

As you can see, more advanced and elaborate ritual workings require more tools, equipment, furniture, vestments and other supplies. Adopting this system of magick will ultimately require a large room to perform the rituals and store all of the furniture and equipment. In the days when I lived in apartments, I would typically look for one that had at least two bedrooms, and that the master bedroom would be roughly 13 square feet (4 meters), or slightly more. I have found that many two bedroom apartments have a master bedroom that is at least this size. In fact, I even found an appropriate sized affordable apartment when I lived in Santa Fe, which was a very restrictive and expensive housing market. So I believe that finding a suitable place to live and also have access to a large enough temple is quite achievable, depending on your budget and living arrangements.

Of course, if you are thinking of hosting a group in your temple, then having more space is even more of a requirement. The above dimensions for a standard temple that would make use of the space in a typical two bedroom apartment would only be sufficient to house a handful of members, and we are talking about maybe two or three people actively performing ritual in the temple space. You might get a few more people in that space, but they would have to be consigned to the temple’s periphery, either standing or sitting on a cushion so there would still be enough room for ritual activities.

If you had a group of more than five individuals, then you would need to add and extend a few more feet to the dimensions of the temple. Finding an apartment with a master bedroom that large would be difficult and quite probably hard to afford. This is where the group would have to consider pooling their resources and renting a separate space for group ritual activities.

All you really need is a large room and some storage space, and that’s it. However, you would have to equip this temple with everything needed, and it would have to be in a secure and relatively quiet location. This might be a rather expensive and involved proposition for any group to contemplate. However, depending on the number of members and their level of financial commitment, enforcing a strict payment of monthly dues might be able to cover such an expense without it becoming a financial burden to any of the members. Having the use of an external temple space that is not attached to one’s living space could also be used by individuals performing their own personal magick. Such a convenience might be well worth paying into a financial pool that would be used to rent and equip an external temple for individual and collective use. 

Temple of My Dreams

I am lucky that I have had access for many years to a temple that has allowed me to work fairly elaborate rituals and even involve a few friends in that magick. My current home has both an indoor temple (with a fire place) and an outdoor grove that is completely sequestered. However, the home that I own was not designed specifically with a temple in mind, so it has some irregularities and slight inconveniences, such as the fact that the temple space isn’t rectangular and there is no adjoining bathroom with a large tub, which is something that I do occasionally miss.

So if I were a rich man and money wasn’t a concern, what kind of temple living complex would I design? In other words, what is my optimum fantasy in regards to a temple. I have had my dream temple in my mind for many years, but I have never had either the opportunity or the money to make it a reality. Considering my age and the financial restrictions of retirement, I doubt that I will have such an opportunity in the future, either. Yet putting aside all of the practical considerations and other reasons why such a dream temple could never be realized, I would like to share that dream temple with you. Who knows, maybe someday, some wealthy magician will incorporate my dream temple into their building plans.

The most elaborate temple complex that I have considered is one where each cardinal direction or Watchtower would have its own complete magick circle and central altar complex. So there would be four complete magick circles each with their own Watchtowers and Angles, and these four magick circles would intersect to form a large central magick circle, with its own altar, shrine and other furniture. All five central altars would be fully equipped with their own chalices and patens, lamps of art, daggers, swords, wands, staffs, and any other equipment needed to work magick. The central magick circle would house the pantheon shrine and represent the central or core magical work. The four outlying Watchtower circles would represent an Element based magical system, such as what I have called the Tetrasacramentary, which would be a entire system of magick for each element sacramental system.

Certain classes of rites would be performed at one of the outlying Watchtower circle complexes, and elaborate rites involving a synthesis of all four would be performed in the central circle complex. Each Watchtower circle complex would have its own coordinated colors for the altar cloths and decorations, making each nearly a distinct and separate temple, or four temples in one. I actually have a system of magick called the Tessarenoi (Greek for Four Temples) that works a complete ordeal for each of the four sacramental systems. The fifth sacramental system has the emblem of the Star, and symbolizes all four sacraments merged into quintessence. When I work with these systems of magick, I perform them within the same temple complex - only the vestments, sacraments and some decorations are changed. In my ideal environment, I would use a separate temple complex to work each one.  

Therefore, my dream temple consists of a building whose main design would be an equal arm cross. The center would be occupied by the central magick circle temple complex, and the four wings would house the four Watchtower circle temple complexes. I would also install a system of portable walls, so that each wing could be isolated from the rest of the structure if that was required. By opening or closing the portable walls, the wings and the central area could become separate chambers or a single massive temple area, shaped like an equal arm cross. Additionally, each wing would be decorated and the walls painted an element color, and the tile floor would also be of a matching color. I would want vaulted ceilings in the wings, and a circular skylight in the central temple. The windows in the wings would be high, circular shaped, and filled with appropriately colored stained glass. The lighting would be computer controlled and would consist of a combination of indirect lighting and strategically placed spotlights, some of which would use colored filters. There would also be a digital sound system, with hidden speakers placed in all four wings and in the central area, as well as a video recording system that would cover every area of the temple complex.

An example of such a temple complex can be found in the horror movie “Masque of the Red Death,” which is a 1964 Vincent Price movie. Surrounding the great ball room are a series of four temples devoted to various spiritual perspectives, and painted and decorated in a single color. The last temple in the series, which is colored black, was dedicated to the Devil himself. My dream temple is somewhat based on that series of different colored temples depicted in that movie.

The temple would also house a large elaborate bathing facility, with showers, wardrobes, and a large Jacuzzi pool conveniently located in adjacently to the equal-arm temple complex.

As for living space, I would choose to locate that in a separate building altogether, with an enclosed walk-way between the temple building and the residence. The living space would be able to accommodate several adults comfortably. Bedrooms would consist of small simple sleeping cells, with most of the living space allocated to the dining room, kitchen, meeting rooms and the library. There would also be a recreation room to watch video, listen to music, play games and just socialize. If this residence sounds like an elaborate and expensive kind of magical monastery, then that would a good label for it. I could also imagine that the location for this place would somewhere in the pristine mountains, so that one could easily find amazing vistas at any time of the day or night.

So that’s my dream temple, and if you inspired by it, maybe it could be your dream temple as well. I doubt if I will ever get to realize this amazing place in the material world, but it is a place that I do seem to visit, sometimes even often, in my dreams and astral projections.

Frater Barrabbas