Friday, June 5, 2009

Initiatic Secrecy: Has the Golden Dawn Gone Mad?

The principle of initiatic secrecy is a fundamental hallmark not only of the Hermetic, Rosicrucian, and Golden Dawn traditions. It remains rather as it has always been throughout history - an absolute cornerstone of EVERY true initiatic and arcane school.
In the case of the Golden Dawn, the Kerux admonishes the new Neophyte already in the Neophyte initiation to remain silent and keep secrecy. The initiate is also given the password "Harparkrat," the Egyptian God who is giving the Sign of Silence. The candidate also receives this "Sign of Silence" as one of the primary signs of this grade.
Throughout the history of the Golden Dawn, there have been those who have sworn oaths of secrecy, yet broke these when it proved convenient. As most readers are already aware, most Golden Dawn orders today find themselves in a highly unusual position in regard to this fundamental initiatic principle, since Aleister Crowley and Israel Regardie took it upon themselves to break their oaths of secrecy and to profane through publication much of the secret Golden Dawn initiatic material.
This tendancy, started by Crowley and Regardie, to profane initiatic secrets by publication continues in the Golden Dawn tradition until today - as Nick Farrell recently proved by publishing the Alpha et Omega's previously secret, "Book of the Tomb."
This latest act of profanation was, on the one hand, applauded by people who are not initiates of the Alpha et Omega. The AO on the other hand, of course, objected in the strongest terms. Unfortunately, the passion of my objections was such that certain individuals attempted to divert attention away from a philosophical discussion and instead into a "blame game" of "who is attacking whom." I therefore attempted to refocus the discussion to a factual, dispassionate, and philosophical debate of the quite substantial issues when I wrote:
Nick Farrell's recent, unauthorized publication of the Rosicrucian Order of Alpha et Omega's hitherto unpublished "Book of the Tomb" has engendered an impassioned debate regarding the value and function of Hermetic Secrecy, and whether or not one ought to be able to "creatively" interpret traditional vows of initiatic secrecy merely to justify publishing still secret Golden Dawn material for the sake of notoriety, as did Aleister Crowley and Israel Regardie.
I am particularly passionate about these questions, as an initiate of not only the Alpha et Omega, but Hermetic and Rosicrucian Inner Orders whose teaching materials still remain protected by initiatic secrecy as originally did the Golden Dawn.
Due to my passion for this fundamental question, some of my comments have been turned into a red herring in an attempt to avoid the real discussion.
This discussion is too important to become a factional or political issue. I have therefore just deleted the entire discussion to date on the HOGD/AO blog and forum, apologize to those who had posted on this topic and just had your posts deleted together with mine, and encourage the debate to continue in a more dispassionate and philosophical manner.
Frater Peregrin, on his Magic of the Ordinary Blog, usually makes extremely valuable contributions to the Golden Dawn community. For example, on the subject of Golden Dawn harmony and the removal of defamatory material from the websites and blogs of the various Golden Dawn orders, Frater Peregrin is a voice of sanity in a world gone mad.
When it comes to the issue of the value of Hermetic and initiatic secrecy and the respect for the sanctity of initiatic mysteries, however, Frater Peregrin appears to wish to avoid a factual discussion. I get this impression because Frater Peregrin not only ignored my above post (dated May 31, 2009) but instead even wrote on June 3:
As I mentioned in the last post the e-publication of ‘The Book of the Tomb’ by Nick Farrell is causing ructions in the GD community. I cannot possibly read all the forum posts on this topic but have read most of the blog posts and am amazed and some of the invective out there directed at poor Nick. Some people even seem to harbour gleeful hopes that the Guardians of the tradition will smite him down with accidents and lightening and some such things ... is in very poor taste.
The above statements, in my opinion, contribute little or nothing to the philosophical discussion at hand. Instead, they divert attention away from the essential philosophical discussion and towards polarization and factionalism.
Why would Frater Peregrin, who is usually so rational, wish to avoid this particular discussion? Might this not be because Frater Peregrin, not unlike Nick Farrell, took it upon himself to profane by publication numerous of the Aura papers belonging to the Cromlech Temple and its Sun Order? Perhaps I am mistaken, but I do not believe that Frater Peregrin obtained permission of the still surviving Chiefs of the Cromlech temple to publish these documents. Instead, he merely took this upon himself, despite his own initiatic oaths.
Frater Peregrin continues:
Some people have questioned the Nick’s motivations for e-publishing the Book of the Tomb. I am sure that Nick, like Israel Regardie and Pat Zalewski sees himself as defending the Golden Dawn tradition by releasing information that would be of value to Orders which do not have access to this document. Now we can question if this is the right thing to do or not, but not Nick’s motives. As for personal motivations: well he is not making money from this and any personal notoriety resulting from this release must surely be miniscule. Will impressionable young women open their beds to him on the strength of this? Will people stare in awe as he walks down the street? I don’t think so. At best someone may buy him a beer.
I am not sure what oaths Nick has taken, but my own oaths do not preclude me from publishing western magical material obtained from sources outside my Order (since they do not refer to any other Order or what I may find in a book store or what someone may give me). This is why (in answer to David’s question, last post) I was happy to publish those Cromlech papers I have which are not covered by oath or personal commitment to secrecy. I am assuming the persons who gave me such papers without requiring such oaths knew what they were doing. They were members of secret Orders after all. :)
I think Nick is in a similar position and obtained the Book of the Tomb from non-initiatory sources. If he has access to AO material from non-initiatory sources then any “fault” lies with the original custodians of those documents. After all once magical documents leave the protection of their original provenance they unfortunately end up fair game. See for example the publications of R.G. Torrens in the seventies. I still shudder at those books. :)
Others will certainly disagree, but I personally find Frater Peregrin's justification for having profaned the Cromlech temple's documents extremely flimsy - that oaths of secrecy apply only to one's own temple and that Golden Dawn initiates are therefore free to profane the papers of the Cromlech Temple or any of the Golden Dawn's sister orders - or even, if possible, the secret documents of any other Golden Dawn temple.
This is certainly not the traditional attitude of an initiate of any legitimate arcane school regarding the sanctity of the initiatic mysteries.
To me, such an attitude seems to more closely resemble the "Pirate's Code" as portrayed by Johnny Depp and his fellow pirates in recent Disney movies.
In response to Peregrin, Sincerus Renatus wrote:
Care Frater Peregrin,
There are much that I agree with you regarding your sentiments about the Golden Dawn here on your beautiful blog, but regarding the significance of secrecy I feel we are light years apart.
It’s no point in me trying to explain my general position, as that may be easily read on my blog:
But I will address some specific points that you have raised.
Regarding Nick Farrell. I am not condemning the man, just his actions. On this point the original Golden Dawn obligation is much more severe than me. For you to be able to understand the position of me and that of my Order you have to try to see the bigger picture. It’s not just about the publication of The Book of the Tomb. That is just a prelude to a greater profanation of the perhaps ENTIRE Alpha et Omega tradition.
As you are well aware, some of the Outer Order rituals was modified by Mathers to preserve the egregore of that current. My Temple has used these regularily since 1997. Having your sacred rites profaned in this manner, one takes it quite personal. One is entitled to. You say that I cannot question “poor” Nicks motivations. I say that I can. Who is the real victim here? I say that his actions are politically motivated against the current Rosicrucian Order of Alpha et Omega. Others will of course be deligthed in reading these rituals, even though it will not provide them better means for reaching that goal of Knowledge and Conversation with their Divine Genius. But try to picture yourself in my position and you will understand me being upset by this whole matter.
Regarding the Book of the Tomb itself, you are not correct in your assertment that it doesn’t reveal anything substatial. Read it again. There are some details in the colouring that hasn’t been found anywhare else before, which was enligthening for me at least when I read about it for the first time and in my opinion are important. So I hold that esoteric secrets of the Golden Dawn in fact was revealed by this latest profanation.
I also don’t agree with your liberal attitude of not revealing the secrets of any sister organization. It is my firm belief that we as initiates are responsible towards not only our personal order and its integrity, but to the integrity of the entire Golden Dawn tradition. The pre-schismatic Golden Dawn, and the later derivatives of Alpha et Omega, including the Sun Order (because of its close ties with the A.O.), the Stella Matutina, and A.E. Waites renditions of the Golden Dawn (i.e. Holy Order and Fellowship) are part of the body which we today call the Golden Dawn. All these members of that body are still active and alive today; they are not a historical curiosity.
The Neophyte Hall is alike in all three branches. You stand before the “assembly” of the Hall of Maat, i a broader sense, when you take your oath. The oath of Secrecy as contained in the Neophyte Obligation is the very foundation upon which the Order rest. Take that away or water it down significantly and you take away its power. This is clearly a deviation from the hallmarks of the Golden Dawn tradition.
Regarding how these kind of documents circulate, this broadly can be divided in two categories. Regular transmission and irregular. There is a very easy way to check which. If papers are not handed down together with an oath of secrecy, that is a good sign of the transmission being irregular. Sometimes papers are given, sometimes they are appropriated.
You also say that you wish that the Golden Dawn never was revealed. Why then do you support further profanation? Why has it to be “all or nothing”? Why not place yourself somewhere between? For me it quite easy. Discuss openly with other brothers and sisters, and people interested in the Golden Dawn about that which already is profaned. But do not profane that which still is secret and unpublished.
Lastly there is something which is much more important in this whole matter which I only hinted at indirectly in my blog. It’s about the reputation of the Golden Dawn in certain very important circles and eyes. It’s about the question: Is the Golden Dawn a pure and suitable enough vessel to contain the Highest Hermetic Mysteries? Can people attracted to the Golden Dawn be trusted at all?
Fraternally in L.V.X., Life and Love,
It is quite shocking to me that we even need to be having this discussion. In the Golden Dawn prior to profanation by Crowley and Regardie, there was no doubt whatsoever regarding the requirement for secrecy as well as absolute respect in regard to the sanctity of the initiatic mysteries. This is the case not only with the Golden Dawn, but also with every other legitimate arcane school and esoteric lineage.
I am deeply saddened to witness how far Crowley and Regardie have deviated the Golden Dawn from the true values of the initiatic traditions of all true arcane schools. It is nothing short of tragic that so many Golden Dawn initiates today do not even understand the fundamental importance of initiatic secrecy and of protecting the sanctity of initiatic mysteries. Even more tragic is how easily people who ought to know better - justify profanation of the mysteries in their minds.
As an initiate of several Hermetic and Rosucrucian, truly Inner orders, in this regard, I am actually ashamed of what has become of the Golden Dawn.

Sub Umbra Alarum Tuarum, Yeheshua
David Griffin
G.H. Frater Lux Ex Septentrionis
Imperator Ordinis, Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn
Rosicrucian Order of Alpha et Omega
"Ex Deo Nascimur.
In Yeheshua Morimur.
Per Sanctum Spiritum Reviviscimus"