Frater TDO, on Robert Zink's Esoteric Order of the Golden Dawn forum recently wrote:
Ave, In my opinion, lineage means nothing, it it only a tool for certain orders to claim superiority over others...TDO
VH Soror FSO, also on Robert Zink's Esoteric Order of the Golden Dawn forum recently wrote:
I'm just curious as to the communities opinions on the importance of lineage in an Order...is it necessary for the current to be present or is lineage just another way to give yourself "credential" ...please do not put down any Orders..I am just curious about everyone's opinions.
Care et VH Soror FSO et Frater TDO,
You each appear to have not yet fully understood the true relevance and function of lineage in esoteric traditions. In certain traditions, lineage may indeed merely be a formal means of mutual recognition, as it is in the case of Freemasonry, which uses charters and systems of mutual recognition between Grand lodges to establish 'regularity.'
VH Sroro FSO gives only two alternatives, when in fact there is another as well. In answer to VH Soror FSO's first question, I have no doubt that using the Ritual Magic Manual to generate a great deal of magical current. So, magical current certainly can be generated using the magical technology presently available to the public. However, this does not mean that the only other alternative is that esoteric lineage is a mere "credential" as you suggest. This is not at the case with Hermetic and Rosicrucian spiritual lineages, however.
Pat Zalewksi recently wrote on the same subject:
The two things I would encourage the novice to do is give a wide berth and lineage freaks who tout this as something akin to the touch of the bishop. Lineage does not cut it any more and it is what you get out of it that counts.
In Christianity, the doctrine of Apostolic Succession maintains that the Christian Church today is the spiritual successor to the original body of believers in Christ, composed of the Apostles. In pre-Protestant Reformation Churches, Apostolic Succession is claimed as having been passed through unbroken lines of bishops beginning with the original Apostles.
If lineage in esoteric orders were strictly limited to either of the above forms of lineage, indeed, you might correctly say that lineage was only about "credential." When it comes to the spiritual lineages of both Hermetic and Rosicrucian traditions, this, however, is not at all the case.
Admittedly, lineage, like trademarks, is indeed is supposed to provide a basic form of protection for the public - that what members find is actually what they associate with the name or the spiritual tradition. In the case of the Golden Dawn, one important aspect of lineage in this sense means that you will find, for example, classical, traditional, physical initiation in real Golden Dawn temples rather than recent, New Age inventions like "Astral Initiation" and "Self Initiation" as is the case with several recently started Golden Dawn variants.
The Golden Dawn is not unique in this respect. In esotericism, numerous orders use lineage as a means of ensuring a direct transmission of spiritual principles and energies. Martinist orders, for examples all claim lineage deriving from Louis-Claude de St. Martin.
L'Ordre Martiniste (the Martinist Order) came about in 1884 when Gerard Encausse (Papus) met August Chaboseau. They discovered that they had both apparently received Martinist initiation through two different chains of succession, which linked back to Saint-Martin and his original disciples.
Papus claimed to have come into the possession of the original papers of de Pasqually and to have been given authority in the Rite of Saint-Martin by his friend Henri Viscount Delaage. However, Encausse realized that there was a "missing link" in his own chain of succession: he and Chaboseau therefore "swapped initiations" in order to consolidate their lineages.
The above questions raised by EOGD's Frater TDO and VH Soror FSO, and by OGD's Pat Zalewski fail to fully consider the primary function of lineage in spiritual traditions. This is not surprising, considering that even Golden Dawn scholar, Pat Zalewski, apparently has not yet fully comprehended the true nature and spiritual importance of Hermetic and Rosicruican lineage for the Golden Dawn and its initiates.
The concept of spiritual lineage is found not only in Western esoteric orders, but also in various spiritual traditions of the East. Lineage, much like trademarks, may indeed serve to prevent public confusion about a given spiritual tradition, but in the case of the Hermetic and Rosicrucian traditions, these lineages carry with them sets of spiritual transmissions or realizations, precisely as in the case of Dharma transmission in Zen Buddhism.
Zen Buddhism, for example, maintains records of their historical teachers who, according to the traditional history of that school, have passed the Dharma from generation to generation in an unbroken line since the time of the Buddha. Dharma transmission is the formal confirmation by a master of Zen or Chan Buddhism of a student's awakening.
This one-to-one transmission is said to trace back over 2,500 years to Gautama Buddha when he gave dharma transmission to his disciple Mahakasyapa, who is regarded as the first patriarch of Zen in India. Each of the initiations of the lineages of Zen or Tibetan Buddhism carry with them certain sets of spiritual exercises that are practiced in order to achieve very specific spiritual realizations. This is exactly the same case with initiation into the higher transmissions of the Hermetic and Rosicrucian traditions!
One case in point is Hermetic and Rosicrucian Internal Alchemy, which uses the subtle fires of the body, including love and sexuality, to cook the "prima materia" of the body itself, to produce rapid growth of the energetic bodies of the initiate. The goal of this true "Opus Magnum" is the cultivation of a Solar Body of Light, with the goal of achieving conscious immortality in the the Solar dimension during the lifetime of the Adept, thus eliminating the need for further incarnations on a planet at the material level.
In answer to the questions raised by Pat Zalewksi, Frater TDO, and VH Soror FSO, if all you are interested in is merely studying the Golden Dawn techniques published by Israel Regardie, then both initiation and lineage indeed are relatively unimportant. If, however, you are interested in the astounding spiritual development and realization that the living Hermetic and Rosicrucian traditions have to offer you, then actual initiation in these living lineages is extremely important.
Moreover, I have heard other members of the Esoteric Order of the Golden Dawn comment in the past:
Lineage does not matter. All that matters is to do the work.
This depends on how you define the work of the Golden Dawn. If all that you are interested in is to practice the techniques published by Israel Regardie, then you do not even need a Golden Dawn order for that. You could get by nicely by purchasing Regardie's Golden Dawn book together with my Ritual Magic Manual.
However, if you are interested in spiritual development, then it is impossible to complete the true "Opus Magnum" following a Western path without initiation directly into the living Hermetic and Rosicrucian lineages that go far beyond what either Regardie or I published. The advanced Hermetic and Rosicrucian techniques are revealed only to initiates, as is true even in the lineages of Zen and Tibetan Buddhism in the East.
So in this very real, and purely spiritual sense - lineage does matter - a lot!
Sub Umbra Alarum Tuarum, Yeheshua
G.H. Frater Lux Ex Septentrionis
Imperator Ordinis, Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn