Thursday, July 29, 2010

Silence, Secrecy & the Initiatic Mysteries

In recent weeks, a passionate debate has erupted regarding the role of silence and secrecy in initiatic traditions. Nick Farrell wrote a fascinating article with an insightful critique of the original Golden Dawn oath. Sincerus Renatus wrote a lengthy reply, setting forth a more traditional Golden Dawn perspective. Morgan Eckstein published his views. The debate has even rippled through the wider esoteric community with a reply from respected Pagan author, Barabbas Tiresius, an Elder of Alexandrian Wicca.

I surprisingly find myself in agreement with much of Nick Farrell's argument. For example, I agree with Farrell that several parts of original Golden Dawn oaths need updating for modern orders. In the HOGD/AO, we already updated these oaths more than a decade ago, during the Reformatio Fraternitatis of 1999. I also agree with Farrell that - in light of recent trademark litigation - promising to keep the name of the order secret has become a historical anachronism.

Nick Farrell's writes:
"There is no point considering the Regardie material part of the oath because everyone can pick up a book and read it."
I agree about this. Prior to the 1999 AO reformation, the HOGD/AO found itself in the ludicrous position of asking initiates to swear secrecy to material available on Amazon marketplace for $5. We moved the entire published curriculum to the outer order, where in the Alpha et Omega it is no longer under seal of magical obligation. We did not stop there with the reformation, however.

With the kind assistance of the Hermetic Masters of the secret order that S. L. MacGregor Mathers met in Paris and called the "Secret Chiefs," the Alpha et Omega has developed an entirely new Second Order curriculum, completely based on unpublished, pre-Golden Dawn Hermetic and Rosicrucian esoteric transmissions.

This has been recently supplemented with highly magically significant, unpublished, replacement documents for the AO's Second Order curriculum, newly released from Third Order archives by the Secret Chiefs. 

In 2002, these Hermetic Masters additionally released to the Alpha et Omega the entire curriculum that had been intended all along for the Golden Dawn's Third Order together with the unpublished, Third Order initiation rituals for the 8=3, 9=2, and 10=1 grades of the original Golden Dawn.

The HOGD/AO has always recognized the importance of using unpublished versions of initiation rituals. This is why, since the reformation of 1999, our order has preferred to use the AO rituals Mathers revised in response to Crowley's publication of original Golden Dawn rituals.

The Hermetic Masters have long foretold, however, that one day even Mathers' revised AO initiation rituals would eventually be profaned. They have therefore assisted us to revise, yet once again, all of the rituals for the Alpha et Omega's First and Second orders (0=0 through 7=4). This revision is now complete. These rituals will be put into service immediately upon the Mathers' versions eventual profanation through publication.

There is little more I may say about these newly revised AO initiation 0=0 through 7=4 rituals, except that the original GD rituals have always been riddled through and through with alchemical symbolism - in the ritual structure, the symbolism of the officers, the diagrams, implements, admission badges, etc.

In the newly revised AO rituals, the secret meanings of all of these symbols are for the first time revealed to Golden Dawn initiates from the perspective of Hermetic Internal Alchemy. This makes these 21st Century, Alpha et Omega rituals the most complete and illuminating Golden Dawn rituals ever used in any First or Second Order Temple or Vault.

I therefore clearly agree with Nick Farrell that Golden Dawn orders today must not be mere "reenactment societies." There remains one thing, however, about the present secrecy debate that does concern me.
Nick Farrell also writes: 
"Any materials that exist in any library or collection are equally public domain." 
I am concerned that so few people in our esoteric community appear to understand the true value and importance of silence and secrecy in the initiatic mysteries. The fault for this perhaps lies with the Internet itself, which has created a strange expectation that all information must be open and freely available to everyone.

What then is the true value and importance of silence and secrecy in initiatic traditions?

There are two aspects of this question that must be addressed. 
  1. What is the importance of secrecy for the initiatic mysteries themselves as well for the mystery schools and esoteric orders that make these mysteries available? 
  2. What is the value and benefit of silence and secrecy for initiates themselves?
"From the darkness came I forth ere my birth, from the silence of a primal sleep, and the Voice of Ages answered unto my soul I am he that formulates in darkness." - Golden Dawn Neophyte Initiation

All living organisms depend for sustenance from darkness for their survival. Physical bodies of human beings grow first in the darkness of a Mother's womb. To remove a fetus prematurely from this protective darkness is to kill it, producing an abortion. Plants likewise can only survive with there roots buried within the nourishment of the dark soil. Pull a plant up, expose its roots to the light, and it will surely die.

Countries likewise depend on state secrets, protected behind a dark veil of silence for their survival. Companies as well depend on the same dark shroud of secrecy for their survival. The same holds true for esoteric orders, mystery schools, and initiatic traditions themselves. In fact, all organizations depend on a dark veil of secrecy, one way or another, for their survival.

This is a function of the occult nature of the universe. As human beings have energetic bodies, so do nations, clubs, companies, and esoteric orders. An egregore is a sort of energetic group soul. Just like plants and fetuses, egregores require sustenance drawn from darkness through their energetic roots. In the egregores of esoteric orders and initiatic traditions, this dark sustenance is drawn through initiatic silence with the initiatic mysteries buried like roots within a dark veil of secrecy. 

Let us recall that the true purpose of the Great Work is actually ENERGETIC EVOLUTION.

In order to fully understand the importance of silence and secrecy for initiates themselves, we must consider the plasticity of the Astral body. The Astral bodies of human beings are extremely malleable. They are easily shaped, modeled, and formed. The Astral body is, in fact, shaped by every single sensory impression, by every action, every word, as well as by every thought and emotion.

In order to begin to evolve energetically, an initiate's Astral body must first be liberated from the dense impressions of the Earth as transmitted through the physical body. The Astral body is constantly bombarded by sensory impressions, actions, words, thoughts, emotions, etc. from the physical body and the Earth. This bombardment shapes, molds, and forms the Astral body into a great agitated turbulence, stunting its growth and evolution. Thus, even to begin to cultivate a Solar Body of Light, the Astral body must first be liberated from this turbulence arising from the Earth through the physical body.

This is another reason why, in addition to their own survival, all legitimate initiatic traditions have since time immemorial insisted on initiatic secrecy and silence. This is also why meditation is given such importance in the initiatic traditions of the East. Meditation, like initiatic silence and secrecy, helps to create requisite conditions wherein the Astral body can grow, evolve, progressively differentiate, and separate itself from the physical body and material reality.

On the other hand, the initiate who breaks silence or violates the sanctity of the mysteries instead creates even greater turbulence in their astral bodies.

In the absence of spiritual evolution through the liberation of the Astral body from  turbulence arising from the physical sensation, etc., the consciousness of profane individuals will likely remain imprisoned in a meat body for many incarnations, able only to perceive the densest, most material of Universal vibrations. Their consciousness remains like that of a maggot feeding on the rotting carcass of the Earth, dominated by the needs of the physical body to eat, sleep, deficate, urinate, etc.

Sadly, many profane individuals have not yet reached the level of energetic evolution where their consciousness will even be able to reincarnate, or to survive physical death with even a minimum of continuity of consciousness. Instead, following the disintegration of their physical bodies, their individual consciousness will perish altogether, their constituent forms broken down to be recycled by the Universe to create new forms.

The initiatic mysteries are nothing less than the science of immortality. 

And true initiates are those rare individuals that prove their value and their worthiness to continue to exist to the Universe, by making the most of every opportunity granted to them for their spiritual and energetic evolution. The purpose of the initiatic mysteries has always been to assist these rare - truly worthy - individuals with their spiritual and energetic evolution.

It is only in this light that one can properly consider the claim of any individual to be performing a "service to mankind" through the desecration of initiatic mysteries. On the one hand, such an individual will doubtlessly receive great praise and accolades from the profane, for their curiosity is perversely satisfied by being able to glimpse the dark roots of one of mankind's most precious flowers - while it slowly dies in agony, torn out by the roots in a senseless act of desecration.

So it is when the initiatic secrets of esoteric orders and of entire initiatic traditions are profaned. In fact, this is exactly Aleister Crowley did with Golden Dawn, which began a long, slow dying process of the Golden Dawn egregore that we are stull witnessing today.

All is not yet lost, however!

Sure, the vast majority of the nameless, faceless crowd will never use the initiatic secrets of the Golden Dawn for much more than to satisfy a vulgar sense of curiosity.

However, there will be a few - perhaps only a very few - who will actually use this technology for their spritual and energetic evolution - And with such faithful diligence that they  make progress enough to become worthy for more.

It is for YOU - the spiritual elite of this generation, that the ancient Adepts of all ages, through great sacrifice and at great personal risk, have preserved the highest and most profound initiatic mysteries.

However, these mysteries are not to be profaned. In fact, those who do profane them, despite the praise and accolades of the nameless, faceless masses, are - in reality - but committing initiatic suicide.

I write this letter not to condemn anyone who has set out on such a self-destructive course. Sadly and regrettably, such individuals have already condemned themselves. Tragically, they did not believe in the Solar guardians of the mysteries that they profaned. For individuals who have set out on such a self-destructive path, as much as I sincerely wish them well, there is nothing any of us can do to save from the karmic consequences of their actions.

I write this letter not to condemn. But rather to inspire! 

I write this for YOU - oh aspirant of the mysteries, that you might yet fully understand the true value and importance of initiatic secrecy and of preserving the sanctity of the mysteries for future generations!

The Golden Dawn today has become the most important visible initiatic tradition. Its influence has impacted nearly every aspect of the esoteric community.

This does not, however, mean that there does not as well exist yet more profound and secret Hermetic and Rosicrucian schools. On the contrary, these Internal Colleges do indeed exist - and offer spiritual technology far superior and beyond the teachings of the Golden Dawn.

The Hermetic Masters of these truly secret orders - have an enormous amount offer...

...but only to the best and the brightest among us - To those of us who can prove ourselves truly worthy of so great a privilege.

It is They - the Hermetic Masters - rather than misguided individuals who profane initiatic mysteries, who provide a true service to our community - by making these highest initiatic mysteries available - even if only to the best, brightest, and most trustworthy among us.

You will not easily find these these Masters or these Internal Colleges. They have no websites, no 1-800 numbers, and no contact email addresses.

In fact, these Hermetic Masters are more impossible to find today than ever before. Nonetheless, they have been watching all along - And sadly, they have become extremely cautious with our community. 

And why should they not be suspicious, with so many among us even praising senseless acts of profanation and desecration.!

After all, these Hermetic Masters have preserved the higher initiatic mysteries for future generations not for Centuries - but for Millennia - and the risk of profanation by publication of the mysteries is greater today than ever before, now that anyone can publish anything on the internet with but a click of a mouse.

I therefore urge you, oh aspirant of the Mysteries - to use every available bit of magical, alchemical, and spiritual technology at your disposal to make rapid progress with your energetic evolution...

...Make sufficient progress - and yet more advanced technology will be made available to you.

But energetic progress alone will not be enough to be worthy of initiation in the higher mysteries. You must also be worthy of so great a trust and never, ever profane these mysteries nor harm the mystery schools that have preserved them for you.

Be ever mindful that the Hermetic Masters are watching you from the shadows - observing you - measuring your suitability for initiation into mysteries higher and far superior than just the Golden Dawn.

The tragedy of Nick Farrell and others like him is that they have proven themselves untrustworthy regarding silence and the sanctity of the mysteries. Thus - sadly - their initiatic careers - as well as their energetic evolution - appear to have reached an impasse in their present incarnations.

Sub Umbra Alarum Tuarum, Yeheshua
David Griffin
G.H. Frater Lux Ex Septentrionis
Imperator Ordinis, Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn
outer order of the Rosicrucian Order of Alpha et Omega

"Ex Deo Nascimur.
In Yeheshua Morimur.
Per Sanctum Spiritum Reviviscimus"


  1. G.H. Frater LES,

    Thank you for this great post, it is really inspiring. Personally at some point wanted to say something to what Nick posted...but I prefered to wait and finally I just read what I was expecting.

    Thank you,

    In the LVX

    Frater VL

  2. Care Frater VL,

    Thank you for your kind words. I have been very concerned about the difficulty that people in the Golden Dawn community seem to have in understanding the importance of secrecy and the sanctity of the initiatic mysteries.

    I have received a lot of emails in response to this blog from people across a wide spectrum of the esoteric community. What is most surprising to me is to discover that the Witch community, especially Gardnerian and Alexandrian Wiccans, appear to have a lot easier time understanding the importance of these things than the Golden Dawn community does.

    This one really leaves me scratching my head!

    David Griffin

  3. Amazing post, truly illuminating.

    Thank you
    In LVX

  4. Care VeV,

    Thank you for your kind words. My hope for the post is that it provides some badly needed additional understanding of the actual value of silence and secrecy, as well as why it is such a tragedy for future generations when initiatic mysteries are desecrated.

    It is not only of ourselves that we need to think, but of the initiates of the future as well.
    David Griffin

  5. Care GH Frater,

    Ironically, I imagine none of these people debating the value of secrecy would ever dream of revealing someone's surprise birthday party, or telling an untrustworthy stranger their name, address, telephone number and bank details...

    And yet the progress of the very Soul appears to need its own reality TV show...

    A wonderful illustration, GH Frater!

    In LVX,

    Frater Lux in Lumine


    As Agripta Arbatel told, never give peals to dogs nor flowers to porks. People who has not inicitated in misteries will not apreciate nor understand this teachings. BECAUSE their contiousnes isnt evolved enough to enlight himselfe with it. its like giving the car keys to a 1 year old child.

    thousand Blessings to all.

  7. Peregrin wrote:
    "Using the motifs of a third higher order with real secrets etc are not effective ways to get people to subscribe to magical secrecy."

    Maybe. Maybe not. But you have completely missed in essential point.

    The Golden Dawn is an extremely useful tool for the truly secret orders. The point is that you have an order whose material has by and large already been profaned already, yet nonetheless still has a few juicy bones left.

    I know you don't believe in any truly secret orders, but imagine for a moment that they do actually exist, just for the sake of argument. They are in a very precarious position with the internet out there so that anyone can publish just about anything. Would YOU not find it useful to have a tool to unmask the traitors early on, with them profaning only material of no remaining esoteric value of of any real substance.

    You bet you would. In fact, when those in the Internal Colleges speak derisively of the Golden Dawn community, this is always my first line of defense of our community.

    "At a very minimum, the Golden Dawn is useful to unmask traitors before they can do any real harm."

    In fact, this is the primary value of the Golden Dawn today from the point of view of the remaining truly secret orders.

    David Griffin

  8. Care GH Frater,

    I still find it interesting that many "magicians" seem to have felt the need to forego all oaths of secrecy and initiatic oaths. I can only speak on this from the lens of my own personal experience. Having worked with both ritual magic orders and Witchcraft orders, I have been pleasured to see the similarities in structure, concepts, and most interestingly, teachings. There should be no surprise that many Wiccan/Witchcraft groups hold dear their vows of secrecy. There are many Witchcraft groups that closely guard their secrets, especially those groups that still operate in orders. Of course, once again, I can only speak from personal experience in the Witchcraft Orders that I am an initiate of. The work that the initiates engage in is comparable to the type of work that is ideally practiced by their Ceremonial counterparts. Much of the concepts are the same with a large focus on the Great Work as you move further into the grades or degrees. Although I cannot reveal some of the practices, it is interesting to note that much of it is passed as an oral tradition or through oathbound material. Through the process of "weeding" out dabblers and non-serious practitioners through various early training and degrees, these initiates are trained with the utmost of care and diligence when it comes to energy body development (although it may be referred to by a different term). The focus on thaumaturgy dramatically disappears with an intense emphasis on theurgy as members are elevated and become priests in their Craft. I would be surprised at the concept of an astral initiation into any tradition that I have practiced with considering much of the developmental training requires physical presence and years of study. The initiation rites often require introduction of new or opening up of energy patterns into the person's energy body. It is not a mere rite of words, but an exchange of energy and an opening to the order's egregore. The concept of oaths and secrecy become a tacit agreement and it rarely must be discussed as the initiate learns that the inner practices of development are not for all, occurring in phases, and taking the aspirant to a whole new level of understanding and self-realization.

  9. I wholeheartedly agree with the aforementioned quote, "At a very minimum, the Golden Dawn is useful to unmask traitors before they can do any real harm." I have seen this in operation in a variety of magical circles in Southern California that I have had the honor of working with. There is an outer order concept that may seem to focus on the fertility religion concept but there is another side, that of the mystery tradition. Although some groups may have adopted Gardnerian concepts, there are other groups that may differ greatly with their inner mysteries. In this current age of instant gratification there are those that have fallen prey to the concept that spiritual development or attaining immortality (or as some would say Godhood) can be accomplished just as quickly. The reality of the matter is, if you cannot accomplish the task of maintaining an oath of secrecy, you are not fit to do the Great Work; or at least, you have not given yourself fully to the practice and do not have experience but rather likely only theory to substantiate your position. For it is only through the actual experience of the changes that the work has on your energy body can you truly begin to understand why outer orders operate the way they do. Although we all do have the potential, some of us are farther along in personal development than others. If you are unable to maintain an oath or level of secrecy as an exercise your magical will, you are not ready to receive the inner mysteries or unpublished material that is not written or oriented for the masses. Outer orders are a medium in which true aspirants can be monitored and nurtured as they are made ready the inner mysteries; while those that would seek to defile the mysteries are contained and unable to spread their influence to those engaged in the Great Work.

    In LVX,
    Frater LLC

  10. @S...

    One of the things that has surprised me the most in this discussion, is that it seems that initiates of British Traditional Witchcraft appear to understand the importance and value of secrecy and the sanctity of the initiatic mysteries far better than most initiates in the Golden Dawn community!

  11. is that it seems that initiates of British Traditional Witchcraft appear to understand the importance and value of secrecy and the sanctity of the initiatic mysteries far better than most initiates in the Golden Dawn community

    I quite agree!

    I am concerned that so few people in our esoteric community appear to understand the true value and importance of silence and secrecy in the initiatic mysteries. The fault for this perhaps lies with the Internet itself, which has created a strange expectation that all information must be open and freely available to everyone.

    AND YET - your own very order publishes copies of what, if they are true copies of what they purport to be, are oathbound materials, published by known oathbreakers.

    How can you all condemn anyone for publishing secret books while you continue to host BoS's in your library online?

    You called, some time ago, for an end to the witchwars amongst GD groups, and that your order would retract negative posts and articles about other orders from your webpages.

    How about following your own guideline regarding secrecy, and remove things which purport to be violations of secrecy oaths from your online libraries.

    I care not that someone else could get the from - YOU, David Griffin, claim to value oaths of secrecy, yet you tolerate the publication of secret documents on GD hosted webpages.

    Put your will where your words are, and remove them.

  12. @ MP. Thank you for bringing this to my attention. I was unaware that any BoS were in our library. I will have a word with our librarian about this and have those removed.

  13. Mr. Griffin - thank you for the prompt response and action, and I apologize for the slightly intemperate way in which i brought it to your attention.

  14. @MP
    You are very welcome. I rely heavily on others to bring things to my attention. Managing the HOGD/AO is much like being the CEO an international corporation. On a day to day basis, I have to deal with our teaching division, tutorials division, temples division, BPO team, programming team, legal team, web design team, etc. If it were not for such fine feedback from people like you, important things would never get done!

  15. David - would it be possible to begin a dialogue with you about various things I see, as an outsider to your current, and would like to see addressed?