Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Alchemy and the Golden Dawn Debate (featuring Frater Lux E Tenebris, representing the Secret Chiefs of the Third Order of the Golden Dawn)

by David Griffin

Alchemy and Golden Dawn Ritual
Pat Zalewksi's New Age alchemy book (Alchemy and Golden Dawn Ritual), based already in the opening chapters on material channeled from an alleged disincarnate entity called "Guru Das,"  has both sparked lively debate and drawn derision from numerous practicing alchemists. For example, Pat Zalewski's former friend in New Zealand, "Rubaphilos Salfluere" recently wrote on the HOGD/AO Yahoo Forum.
Rubaphilos Salfleure
"Thanks for the welcome. I have an extensive interest and experience in alchemy, and its expression in the GD system (having been a long time and keen student of the GD system), so I would be more than happy to answer questions on the subject, if any are forthcoming.
I know quite well about Pat Zalewksi's 's so-called alchemy. I met his wife at an alchemical seminar in the late 80's, and eventually became good friends with her and Pat. I visited them at their (then) home in Wellington a number of times, to discuss the GD and alchemy, and his (then) new books. So we talked a lot about alchemy and we discussed his plans for this alchemy book of his at length. And you are right, it is merely an exercise in hooking together correspondences between some alchemical ideas and concepts inside the GD system. The most superficial and highly inaccurate way of trying to decode alchemical literature. Pat Zalewksi knows next to nothing about actual alchemy. And I know for a fact that he has no understanding of the advanced lab tradition (the process of confecting the Philosopher's Stone), as his wife and he only discussed and worked on Plants, and had no access (back then, at least) with anyone involved in the advanced work.
But, anyway, once you realise that he only publishes for the money (as he once said to me), and doesn't really care about the content of the books, then you stop taking anything he says, seriously. And on that basis I don't think there is any value in talking about the guy."
To which I responded:

I also am a practitioner of Hermetic alchemy, and an initiate of the Internal Alchemy of the Third Order of the Golden Dawn.

This is something very different, however, than what Pat Zalewski is trying to promote as so-called, "Spiritual Alchemy," which is not alchemy at all, but merely an intellectual game searching for analogies to string together from Golden Dawn Ritual and classical alchemical texts and images. Pat's calling these intellectual gyrations "Spiritual Alchemy" in his new book, Alchemy and the Golden Dawn, will merely confuse people and lead them astray from discovering the true spiritual beauty and potential of alchemy.

In reality, the rites, knowledge lectures and even the magical system of the Golden Dawn do indeed contain analogies for the advanced processes of Hermetic Internal alchemy in the Golden Dawn's Third Order. This is something very different though than Pat Zalkewski's intellectual games.

For example, Pat says absolutely nothing about the actual alchemical practices and techniques encoded in the rituals. He merely paints a bizarre tapestry of barely related symbols. For example, he ties together New Age ideas allegedly channeled from "Guru Das,"  then links them to a couple of features of Golden Dawn ritual, as though the two were somehow related.

In the process, Pat uses a huge amount of smoke and mirrors, deliberately making himself  difficult to understand, as though being as abstruse as possible might fool people into thinking he actually knows something about alchemy. In reality, Pat seems only to know Jungian psychological theory derived from alchemy, as well as channeled material from New Age gurus, judging from the actual sources Pat quotes in the book.

I do not get the impression that your approach to alchemy, however, is merely an intellectual and speculative one like Pat. Thus I suspect you and I might be able to have a meaningful dialogue to shed new light on the true nature of alchemy for the Golden Dawn community. I must state from the outset, however, that I am somewhat impeded in what I may discuss openly, as I am an INITIATE of Hermetic Internal alchemy. As such, I take the sanctity of oath bound material very seriously.

I was initiated as an 8=3 of the Alpha et Omega over a decade ago. At that time, I was initiated into the beginning phases of Hermetic Internal alchemy as well.

I am an apprentice of a Hermetic Master Alchemist, Frater Lux E Tenebris. As you are likely aware, the relationship between Master Alchemist and Disciple is not to be underestimated. This relationship has at all times through history been the crux of traditional alchemical training. This is something that seems no longer to be understood in the alchemical community, however. Nonetheless, the Master-Apprentice relationship is the single most important factor in traditional Hermetic alchemy. Thus, should you pose questions I am not best qualified to answer, I will pass them onto my superiors in the Golden Dawn's Third Order, to provide you with a more proper response.

Alchemy teaches that Spirit and Flesh - Energy and Matter - are actually two sides of one and the same coin. It is life affirming - and seeks to uncover and use the secrets of nature for the spiritualization of matter.

Hermetic Internal Alchemy teaches that material life on planets is just a caterpillar stage to life as pure energy - inside the Sun and stars - at the fast vibrating end of the universe at the speed of light ...

And the Opus Magnum - the true goal of human life on earth is Energetic Evolution: To cultivate of a Solar Body of Light through physical transmutation - thus avoiding incarnating over and over in material bodies subject to death. In other words, to become Consciously Immortal!

The Secret of transmutation of all metals into gold lies inside each and every one of us - for the "Prima Materia" (First Matter) of Internal Alchemy is the living matter of our physical bodies. The "Opus Magnum" (Great Work) of Hermetic Internal Alchemy is the transmutation of Lead - the matter of your physical body - into Gold - pure Solar Energy, Divine consciousness, and immortality.

This Internal (PHYSICAL) Transmutation is fueled by the internal fires of your body - among which LOVE and SEXUALITY are primary motors for spiritual and energetic evolution.

Hermetic Internal alchemy is "internal" in the sense that we use an inner laboratory, an internal athanor, and an internal fire - all inside of the human body in a PHYSICAL sense, rather than merely psychological or intellectual, as in what has today misleadingly and confusingly come to be known as so-called, "spiritual" alchemy. We practice the art of PHYSICAL transmutation instead of mere speculative, intellectual gyrations based on New Age channelling.

Rubaphilos replied:
Regarding your statement that: "Hermetic Internal Alchemy is a completely different alchemical way to both of these. It is a classic lab tradition, but using the physical body as athanor, prima materia, fire, everything ... but in a physical sense," I would be curious to know if you have any quotes from classic alchemical literature to support that idea. (I am always interested in classic references to the internal work). 
Rather than give a less than perfect answer myself, I instead phoned the Secret Chiefs of the Golden Dawn, requesting a proper reply. I received via email the below response from Frater Lux E Tenebris, who wrote:

Lux E Tenebris
"Each true Alchemist indicates these things in every genuine alchemical work. Read for example the works of Fulcanelli and Canseliet his pupil. These are modern references to this Art of Alchemy.
Alchemy as a function of its first law states that Unity is All including the Unity of matter. Thus when the mystery is discussed it is discussed on many levels: The physical plane, the subtle plane, the mental plane, and the strictly divine.
You have to remember that energy is always ONE in various shades of it and therefore has no meaning to speak of physical energy and physical references. When it comes to these things you just have to speak of a unique energy and the indications are everywhere and in every tract, as the philosophers say time and again: "We do not contradict each other , but rather say the same thing in different symbols."
In any case, for the edification of the readers of your forum, I will indicate the first paragraphs of the The New Chemical Light where scholars of good faith can find what has been requested.
But then again, this is just one of hundreds of such tracts. But do I really need to give you a bibliography of hundreds of books that deal with alchemy ...
Practically every one covers this same topic, at least for those with eyes to see!
Below are some very clear directions written by a true alchemist of the past centuries. But then again, who poses such a question to begin with, however, merely demonstrates their lack of initiation in The Royal Art, and thus an inability to see what is right before their eyes, as, for example, in Sendivogius, "The New Chemical Light."
- Lux E Tenebris
Rubaphilos responded:
"I am very familiar with Sendivogious' New Chemical Light (since it is standard reading for any lab alchemist). I'm not quite sure, though, how his text shows proof of an internal alchemy tradition. Historically it is well known that Sendivogious was a lab alchemist (after the tradition of the likes of Albertus and Dubuis, for example), that he had a laboratory and performed many experiments there, and that he performed transmutations with a Philosophic Stone in front of reliable witnesses. So I'm not quite sure what I am supposed to be seeing in the quoted passages, outside of his obvious references to esoteric chemistry.
I think I would have to twist the facts a good deal in order to even begin to believe Sendivogious was expounding the secrets (even in allegorical form) of some system of alchemy that required an alchemist to work some physical process on himself.
Seeing no point in further pestering the Third Order, merely to reply to someone wanting to debate the meaning of classical alchemical texts like a Lutheran pastor and a Catholic priest debating theology, I instead merely replied myself:

Care Rubaphilos, You overlook that Sendivogious even mentions sperm directly, albeit the English translator chose the word "seed" instead, which illustrates yet one more problem facing those who choose to stumble around in the alchemical labyrinth without the torch of initiation by a Master to guide them.

You apparently remain blinded by an entrenched belief that alchemy in the INTERNAL laboratory (inside the physical body) and alchemy in the EXTERNAL laboratory (in the external world) are SEPARATE disciplines.

Have you never learned the most fundamental and basic law of alchemy, the "Unitary Theorem," namely that:

"All is ONE!"

Have you never yet felt the sacred flow of the Divine forces of nature INSIDE of you while in your EXTERNAL laboratory observing a distillation, a crystillisation, or perhaps a combustion?

Have you never experienced INSIDE of you an almost religious exaltation while observing EXTERNAL matter transmuting beneath your hands?

If not, then what you are practicing still remains mere chemistry and not yet alchemy.

A true alchemist is one who has learned and EXPERIENCED DIRECTLY that there is NO DIFFERENCE between INTERNAL and EXTERNAL operations...

The UNITY of all things is the most basic principle of true alchemy. Energy and matter are ONE.

Have you not yet understood that, because matter is ONE; the Vital Principal, the Vitale Energy is present in whatever manifestation of matter, and thus the Great Work can depart from whatever Prima Materia, whether outside or inside of you?

Anyone who has not yet directly experienced the SIMULTANEOUS INTERNAL AND EXTERNAL TRANSMUTATION of matter is still but playing at alchemy - and has not yet become a true Philosopher of the Art.

And whether alchemist or magician ...
The path to the summit remains the same.

In the Second Order of the Golden Dawn, for example, we teach EXTERNAL MAGIC using cups, wands, daggers, and pentacles made of dead wood and steel in the outer world.

But if one is to become a true Adept, one must first learn to use magical transmutations in the external world to produce inner transmutation in the INTERNAL world of the magician as well.

Otherwise one remains an Adept in but name only.

And moreover ...
Beyond the Abyss at the Third Order level ...

There comes a time when every magician and every alchemist alike must once and for all put away DEPENDENCE on all of the EXTERNAL props that we needed in our magical or alchemical infancy - and realize that we no longer need such training wheels any longer.

The true MAGISTER is no longer dependent on anything at all in the EXTERNAL world.

But instead - through the exclusive INTERNAL manipulation of INTERNAL forces and INNER processes, the true MAGISTER transforms and transmutes even in the EXTERNAL world, without reliance on any EXTERNAL props, implements, or laboratories whatsoever.

But then again, I am likely wasting my breath trying to explain these things to someone who believes that the only true alchemy is but mere chemistry in a laboratory.

For it is written that:

"Neither torches nor glasses...
Can help those who do not want to see!"


  1. Simplicity is the Seal of Truth!

    Somehow i love these debates at the web, since they cause the hermetic masters to speak out publicly.

    I also like the idea that whether alchemists or magicians- they arrive at the same goal.

    We should not forget that when practising the reformed curriculum of the Outer of the A.O. one is already doing a lot of energetic work, and that daily.
    This was not the case in former times, when the candidate was only balancing his Sphere by the initial influx of elemental energies by initiation and doing a bit of meditative work.

    It was only hinted at more advanced techniques, for example in 0=0, when the Hiereus affirms that the names of the three main officers of the degree commence with the latter "H"... or in the secret of two contending forces and one that unites them.

    Also later on, in the ideas about Sandalphon and Metatron; the double letters and what they represent in man; the teachings about the Fall; the diagram of Venus on the Tree, etc.

    I think especially in 1=10 is hidden something very special- something about the true nature of the internal Stone, although veiled by symbols.

    But with the daily excersises of the reformed curriculum one already not only learns theoretically but also practical to systematically raise and move and intensify magical energy in and through the body!

    Although these practises may be much less effective and potent than direct solar techniques which are taught at a far greater level, i think it IS already an alchemical practice to raise and feel the fire of the secret forces inside the body.

    Daily exercise with this "fire" is the minework that is able to lay bare the solar spark that is buried deep down in every human being.

    This spark is like a magnet, that, when having gained enough strength after decades of persistent work on it, is not only able to cause the solar Self to descend from its throne, but also to cause changes in the outside world that border on wonderwork.

    "Visita Interiora Terrae Rectificando Invenies Occultum Lapidem"- and this Lapis is the core of matter, which, by its very nature, is pure Love.

    I think you dont need to quench your mind and write books about the Alchemy hidden in the Golden Dawn.
    You just have to practise perseveringly and see that you dont corrupt your magic with the wrong intentions- then you will have eyes to see.
    And then you will see that it is all very simple, but at the same time a herculean task-
    also that you need initiation and contact with a true source.
    True in the sense that it is leading you safe through this labyrinth, by offering the right answers at the right time, if you are able to ask the right questions.

    Yours fraternally in L.V.X.,
    H. Fr. L.e.N.e.

  2. It was magic, a well constructed and most personal ritual divesting myself of my personal identity under the light of a total Solar eclipse, to receive the full blast of the with the explosion of light following the diamond ring effect that granted me my first complete illumination. It was sheer grace, as a consequence of humble aspiration and sincere willingness to leave EVERYTHING behind for even a moment contact with my Solar Self, that allowed me, albeit briefly and fleetingly, to directly identify with the entire universe.

    This tiniest of illuminations was enough to change my life forever. From that moment on, I have been on the quest of permanent self-realization. It was this tiny spark of illumination, which as well opened the doors for me with the Third Order of the Golden Dawn, which contacted me not long thereafter.

    I am living proof of the truth of the Hermetic adage that:

    "When the student is ready, the Master will appear."

  3. Such a wonderful article to help people understand ! :) It is just a shame that no matter how many times someone is generous enough to serve the Truth on a platter, even if it cannot be naked Truth for the sake of the sacred, those that contest that very Truth are those that make assumptions blind-folded, in an utter dark vacuum, devoid of Truth & Knowledge !

  4. Hi.
    I just want to thank all those naysayers re: my Alchemy book. The odd thing about this is that when it is discussed in a negative way by some people, the book sales go up. Please keep up the good work!

  5. @ Pat Zalewski

    Thank you, Pat, for confirming what your old friend Rubaphilos said above, namely that:

    "Pat Zalewski once said to me that he only publishes for the money and doesn't really care about the content of the books."

  6. A sure sign of the bankrupcy of ideas:

    When it becomes clear in a debate that you do not know what you are talking about ...

    ... Proclaim victory and refuse to debate!

    This so far seems all that Pat Zalewski really has to say. How about debating IDEAS on their merits instead of spouting such nonsense for a change?

  7. @ David,

    Why is it that you continue to add fuel to Pat's fire and help fill his treasury if he is so off track? Attention carries Life Force, so I am puzzled why you direct it towards that which you don't value ??

    Is it not the Magician's Work to put forth one's best and highest, rather than chase down all ideas one finds to be inadequate?

    Is it not the case that those ideas filled with Truth and Life will flourish and grow and those with error will eventually wither?

    I understand a garden has to be weeded at times, but it can be done with little fanfare, while the greatest amount of attention is put into the plants, trees and flowers we wish to see fill our garden.

  8. @ Anonymous

    I disagree with both you and with Rubaphilos that Pat is only out to make money. We all need to live. So what?

    I, for one embrace diversity in our Golden Dawn community. Thus there is plenty of room even for a vision of Golden Dawn alchemy based from the outset material from a New Age channeled entity called "Guru Das."

    I am sure that there are plenty of people out there who are interested in yet another New Age Golden Dawn order. Those folks will feel right at home in Pat Zalewski's order with its New Age alchemy channeled by "Guru Das."

    It is also important, however, that there be at least one order that still teaches not only classical Golden Dawn teachings, but also Hermetic and Rosicrucian alchemy instead of New Age alchemy.

    For those students the HOGD/AO is a better fit. Moreover, in the Alpha et Omega you have the added benefit of classical Golden Dawn teachings for the grades above 5=6 as well, where Regardie left off. I mean, classical Golden Dawn teachings rather than stuff made up by PAt Zalewski or channeled from "Guru Das."

  9. @ Frater N

    I really do not care if Pat Zalewkski makes money off of his alchemy book or not. In fact, I wish his pocket book well!

    My mission is a different one, however. I am involved in finally bringing true understanding of what Hermetic alchemy is really all about to America. Hermetic alchemy is a major spiritual treasure waiting to be fully understood and utilized in our country.

    Thus, my only objection to Pat's New Age alchemy book is that it adds yet even more confusion to the mix regarding the true nature and value of alchemy. He is welcome to make all of the money he likes selling snake-oil. If Pat wants to play Krusty the Clown to Zink's Sidewhow Bob, he is welcome to it!

    I only object to the confusion it unnecessarily causes.

  10. Pat Zalewski wrote ...
    I just want to thank all those naysayers re: my Alchemy book. The odd thing about this is that when it is discussed in a negative way by some people, the book sales go up. Please keep up the good work!

    If this is a true statement by Mr Zalewski then I am very saddened. I have read some of his books and I was convinced that he is a sincere psychonaut. Could I be wrong? How is it possible a main representative of a spiritual movement in 20th/21st century make such a meterialist claim? How much more time will it take to come back up to the ancient hellenic ideals? Statements like the above make me doubt if ever.

  11. Ave,

    I believe it may be good to consider that he may be conditioning his statement FOR materialists to be helpful, as well as snarky ;) By affecting them emotionally with a turn-around stab like his, the "naysayers" open themselves up for examining his statement with more interest. There's a little treat inside: "truth versus perception and intent" or what the naysayers are ACTUALLY doing for him verses what they THOUGHT they were doing. It's multilayered, just like a good Qabalist should make it ;)

  12. Actually, the truth is far simpler. Mr. Zalewski's statement is, in reality, but a cheap rhetorical tactic. By branding academic style peer reviewers that disagree with his bizarre arguments and his New Age/pop psychology approach to alchemy as "naysayers," Mr. Zalewksi is merely attempting to divert the factual discussion, thus hoping to dismiss the substantial, negative peer review of his book and avoid any meaningful dialogue/debate regarding the actual meaning of Hermetic alchemy within the Rosicrucian and Golden Dawn traditions.

    Since Mr. Zalewksi knows quite well that the New Age view of "Golden Dawn alchemy" he espouses in his book is indefensible in a straightforward and forthright discussion, he therefore instead resorts to such transparent rhetorical tactics.

    Despite the rhetoric, the fact remains that Pat Zalewksi has written a book on so-called "Golden Dawn alchemy", basing his entire understanding of alchemy merely on Jungian psychology, mixed with New Age channeled material from an alleged disincarnate entity called "Guru Das." I am really looking forward to see how Zalewski attempts to defend such an eccentric, freshly baked approach to alchemy, that completely abandons any semblance of relationship to the Hermetic or Rosicrucian traditions.

  13. David Griffin, You are so full of yourself. You do not belong to our circle of initiates.


  14. @ Anonymous CRC

    Gosh. It seems that certain people are so terrified of a fraternal, scholarly debate about divergent approaches to Golden Dawn alchemy that they are wheeling out the old Golden Dawn Flame War defamation trolls again.

    This merely underscores the inherent weakness of their philosophical position.

  15. What a disappointment. I had expected a fraternal debate about Golden Dawn alchemy. Instead, I see only evasive rhetoric from Frater Zalewksi and no willingness to engage in real, meaningful dialogue. It would be much better if the Golden Dawn factions really did start talking to one another instead of merely talking past one another on their own fora and blogs. The Golden Dawn community deserves better than this from its leaders. It is clear that more than one Golden Dawn faction has something substantial to say in the realm of alchemy. Sadly, however, for the Golden Dawn community, it appears that the dialogue will never be able to advance since it appears that Frater Zalewski is completely unwilling to engage in any meaningful dialogue about alchemy at all. I am deeply disappointed in this behavior from one who sets himself in print as an "expert" in this arena. Certainly this would not be tolerated in academia where there are established rules and protocols regarding peer review.

  16. If only the rules of academia WERE followed in the Golden Dawn community. Fat chance of that happening though. Academic rigor was abandoned long by most Golden Dawn reconstructionists, who redefine key Golden Dawn, Hermetic, and Rosicrucian concepts according to whim. Key GD concepts they have completely redefined include even alchemy and initiation!

    As for talking across fora, this is the only way at all to comment on the eccentric arguments Mr. Zalewski brings into print as "Golden Dawn" since Mr. Zalewksi only posts on his own forum, where he does not allow any dissenting voices at all.

    For example, no only I am not allowed to post there, but also renowned bloggers Sincerus Renatus and Frater AIT.

  17. Funny thing about Pat. He is doing exactly what he condemns! It is a most bizarre and ugly display. Do you think he would normally allow a post like this?

  18. The article is very inspiring to me although I am not eager to take sides in such debates. It might contain exactly the right clue for me at this time. Thank you!
    I hope this is the right place for a certain question that's beginning to form:
    If one has gained experience with other traditions like Buddhism, Existentialism, Sparean Magic, already having had insights and having produced results how can one relate to the brotherhood best? Where is ones position in relation to it?