Saturday, July 21, 2012

Critical Book Review: Nick Farrell's "King over the Water" by Frater Barrabbas

by Frater Barrabbas
Wiccan Elder and Pagan Author
Frater Barrabbas

King over the Water: A Critical Review

Objective History or Marketing Polemic?

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.

S.L. MacGregor Mathers

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    


  1. Excellent review, honest and straight to the point. Thanks.

  2. Thank you Frater Barrabbas for your insight, time, and extraordinary example of sincere humility.

    Fraternally in L.V.X.,
    Frater N.T.I.K.T.

  3. Yes, this review by Fra. Barrabbas is excellent, because it is truthful and sincere. Thanks, Fra. Barrabbas for taking the time to write the review, so that serious seekers can be informed.

  4. With the real Golden Dawn community so polarized over Nick Farrell's attack books on the Alpha Omega, it is good to see how the Pagan community views this entire mess.

    Frater Barrabbas is an Alexandrian Wiccan elder and a widely read and respected author in the Pagan community. He is both a fan and a critic of the Golden Dawn's magical system and he is not a member of any Golden Dawn order.

    Thus, his comments are those of a truly INDEPENDENT observer of what is happening in the Golden Dawn community.

    1. It is the independence of Frater Barrabbas that makes his review so valuable. I am very grateful that he took on the task and devoted some of his valuable time to this matter.

      Those of us who are inside the HOGD/AO community may try very hard to write from an objective standpoint, but however heroic our success in this we will always be hampered by our membership of the defamed group - the accusation that we can never write a truly unbiased review of such an extreme and relentless attack on our beloved Alpha Omega inevitably has some validity.

      We are, after all, forced into the role of defender, and self-defense is not conducive to building fully objective positions.

      Frater Barrabbas brings a refreshing new voice to this polarized situation, and speaks with far reaching authority to ears beyond the immediate community.

  5. "INDEPENDENT", what a lark. Fr Barrabbas does not count as 'INDEPENDENT', why? Because he has already made his stance clear from the get go by saying "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".

    His words above clearly point out a biased intention. Also I love the idea of being "goaded" into reading a book, how does one get goaded into reading a book? Especially if it is about a topic that he is not a member of, unless he has some form of connection to the GD which he needs to defend?

    James (yes its an anonymous name; though I hope my thoughts above may bring about even further discussion :) )

  6. @ Anonymous SRIA GD Troll "James"
    What you are saying is ridiculous. Barrabbas is a Wiccan elder with no horse in the GD race at all. As far as being goaded into reading the book, I witnessed Barrabbas on Farrell's blog being goaded into writing a thorough review of this book by Farrell himself, who basically told Barrabbas to mind his own business because he had not read the book. Now he has read and reviewed it. So where is Farrell and his unfraternal and dismissive remarks now?

    Just because one does not toe the SRIA party propaganda line does not mean that one is not independent. Barrabbas is a well respected and widely read Pagan author, whose voice carries substantial weight in the Pagan community.

    Everyone does not have to agree with Farrell's SRIA party propaganda line disparaging Mathers to have an independent voice.

  7. There is little so shallow as the SRIA McGD's propaganda trolls. They are a walking, talking puppet show of two-dimensional negativism. They truly are almost beyond parody.

    This little sniping party is a fine example of SRIA McGD's standard behavior. We have seen variations on this same theme over and over, and now it is aimed at Frater Barrabbas.

    Of course there is no rational discourse involved, only the hateful intentions of agents hell bent on destroying Alpha Omega; It matters not how reasonable the voice, if it is not furthering their agenda, it will be attacked - and there is no level of vileness too debased for the SRIA in its attacks.

    Nor will SRIA/OR+C stop at Alpha Omega, their wider objective is the destruction of Paganism itself.

    How sad that self-professed Pagans inside SRIA McGD have allowed themselves to become puppets to a Trinitarian Christian only pseudo-Third Order governed by the authors of the infamous OR+C Manifesto, which to this day has not been disavowed!

  8. Anyone have links to farell's blog, zelweski's blog and other McGD blogs? I'm curious how they'll react to LeS posting this very accurate review.

  9. Pat Zalewksi wrote:

    It was interesting to read a review of King over the Water, which has recently popped up. The author cited Sword of Wisdom as a good Mathers biography and essentially admonished Nick for his analysis of Mathers. Now most of us know that Sword of Wisdom was an informative book, but was essentially a whitewash of Mathers and depicted him as a hero throughout. Now Nick does not need me to defend his work as he is quite capable of doing it himself. What I am commenting on here is how people (like the reviewer) have an idealized mental construct of Mathers and don't want that view shattered with some facts getting in the way, as did the author of Sword of Wisdom. The review was a defence of the mental image of Mathers and what he should have been like, not like he was. He apparently cannot differentiate the work Mathers did from the character. Howe lays it out table as to what Mathers was. Though Howe's work is dated, the new material on Mathers that has come to light since Howe, is more peripheral than core.

    The reviewer was clearly out of his depth, going by some of the contrasts given. What Nick did in his book was to try and get rid of the fantasized Mathers and let the real one stand up. Now not everyone will agree with all of Nick's comments, but at least he tried to separate fact from fantasy which is a lot more than the reviewer did.

    While I admire what Mathers did as far as the GD goes, because I follow his teachings, I do not enshrine them. I also do not confuse the teachings with the personality who brought them through. This is what the reviewer has done by not accepting what a flawed individual Mathers was, and how his teachings deteriorated in the AO when things were pruned out of the old GD rituals, like making the circumambulation optional.

    1. Pat Zalewksi wrote:

      "This is what the reviewer has done by not accepting what a flawed individual Mathers was, and how his teachings deteriorated in the AO when things were pruned out of the old GD rituals, like making the circumambulation optional."

      Zalewski is misreoresenting things again as usual. SR refuted Zalewksi thusly:

      "What Mathers says in the A.O. 0=0 (including the Slater copy) is that during meetings where time is constricted, the circumambulation may be passed over in the Opening and during the initiation reduced to two or one round. To say that it is “optional” is a streach, at least in my eyes. Mathers says “If time be of importance, some Abridgement of Ritual is permissible”.

    2. No one is arguing that Mathers had his shortcomings. He was expelled twice by the Third Order and readmitted before they finally had enough of him once and for after the Crowley fiasco.

      However, to dismiss Sword of Wisdom as Zalekwsi does is just more SRIA McGoldenDawn propaganda. Remember, the McGD clowns are trying to discredit Mathers while elevating Wescott and deifying Regardie, all for purely political reasons.

      At least Colcuhoun did some original research. Whad Farrell did was to write a fantasy novel based on pseudo psychoanalysis of a historical figure based on no real data. In reality, we know next to nothing about Mathers life, and likely never will. Perhaps Colcuhoun did venerate Mathers, but there is no justification for Farrell's silly fantasies and puerile layman's psychoanalysis masquerading as historical fact. This is all laughable propaganda, including Zalewksi's statements above.

      Wiccan elder, Barrabbas, on the other hand, unlike Farrell, Zalewski, YShY, and the other SRIA pawns, does not have a horse in the GD race.

      His opinions are independent and objective. I might add that Barrabbas is highly respected in the Pagan community for his scholarship and his intellectual honesty.

    3. Zalewski claims that Barrabbas is out of his depth. This is typical Zalewksi bullshit. Instead of debating ideas, Zalewski just attacks the character of anyone who disagrees with him. This has now extended to Wiccan elders that Zalewksi does not know at all. Zalewski ought to either have his mouth washed out with soap, or at leadt do his himework before hs starts trashing highly respected scholars in the Pagan community. Please excuse my frankness, but, as usual, Zalewksi is simply talking out of his ass while trying to pretend to be an expert on EVERYTHING. From where I sit, this time it is Zalewski who is out of his depth.

    4. This is the usual rethoric used by Zalewski, that any critique against him or Farrell is "putting Mathers on a pedistal". It is nothing of the kind. We fully know and acknowledge our founding fathers faults, and that he eventually fell out of grace of his Secret Chiefs, but that doesn't mean that we are trying our very best to drag his reputation into the mud, as Zalewski and Farrell is doing. That is what all true initiates react against, not paying a past Chief and Adept and Initiate due respect, regardless of his faults. They seem to have forgot the 3=8 lecture on the "General Guidance and Purification of the Soul", which says:

      "Be not hasty to condemn other’s sin. How knowest thou that in their place thou couldst have resisted the temptation? And even were it so, why shouldst thou despise one who is weaker than thyself? Be thou well sure of this, that in slander and self-righteousness is sin."

      One such example is twisting the fact and hold it against Mathers, such as "how his teachings deteriorated in the AO when things were pruned out of the old GD rituals, like making the circumambulation optional."

      What Mathers says in the A.O. 0=0 is that during meetings where time is constricted, the circumambulation (and some other stuff) may be passed over in the Opening and during the initiation reduced to two or one round. To say that it is "pruned out" or “optional” is a streach, at least in my eyes. Mathers says “If time be of importance, some Abridgement of Ritual is permissible”. This doesn't imply a usual conduct but a species of exception from the normal protocol. What Zalewski and Farrell aren't aware of, or wilfully is witholding, is that the minutes of the Ahatoor Temple have a standardized phrase which reads "Opened in full", something that is said in the majority of the entries.


    5. Pat Z wrote: Now not everyone will agree with all of Nick's comments, but at least he tried to separate fact from fantasy which is a lot more than the reviewer did.

      Actually I disagree with his:
      Shabby Method
      Lack of scholarly integrity
      Incomplete Sources
      Lack of Historical accuracy or completeness
      Speculations presented as fact
      Wildly illogical conclusions drawn from a total mishmash of conjecture and 3rd party drama mongering.

      That's what I object to.

      Separate fact from fantasy?

      I'd say he finally managed to conflate it all into one great ball of utterly unscholarly, unscientific & speculative propaganda.

      Shame on you Pat, for not upholding some standards of scholarly integrity here.

  10. YshY of the SRIA's Thuban Temple wrote:

    Re: Review of Nick Farrell's "King over the Water"

    Pat, et al;

    I did a review of Mr. Farrell's book that was published in Hermetic Virtues; and which may be found on my blog.

    This is essentially a history book written by a magician, for magicians. My review gets into that.


    1. Actually, YShY, your so-called review is pure SRIA propaganda. It is nothing more than a sales letter promoting Farrell's book trashing our order.

      You ought to be ashamed of yourself writing such hogwash. You are about as objective as the Pope writing character references for pedophile priests.

  11. Frater YshY wrote:

    "This is essentially a history book written by a magician, for magicians. My review gets into that."

    This not a history book at all. As Frater Barrabas, a truely INDEPENDENT observer, pointed out, it is a political polemic promoting SRIA GD orders while trashing the AO. Even the Wiccans can see this!

    It is only you, Zalewksi, and the other SRIA McGD recons who sing the praises of this hatchet job while proudly slapping one another on the back.

    1. The fact that YshY's back slapping, glowing review of Farrell's book was published in SRIA's propaganda rag, Hermetic Virtues, is proof enough that it to is pure propaganda. The fact that they keep repubisshing it all over the net just adds weight to its BS. These SRIA puppets truly have no shame at all

  12. Even if the sock puppets change, the message remains the same. This new face YShY just promotes the same old same old. Anything MvFarrell days is automatically right to the SRIA McGD propaganda troll, however factually wrong it is.

    I particularly object to their abuses of psychoanalysis. YShY thinks these little hatchet slashes at Mathers were justified - I think they mark out very nicely another SRIA trait... the readiness to attempt to co-opt disciplines they know nothing about, to bolster whatever line of falseness they are pushing.

    It goes hand in hand with the pseudo-scholarly tone, the refusal to open themselves to genuine debate, etc. etc.

    It is simply the mark of empty rhetoric.

    1. The whole concept of psycho-analysis from afar, based on 3rd party reports, and writings, has long long been disproved of by the psycho-analysts themselves!

  13. In an otherwise fine new article, Peregrin Wildoak just wrote:

    "The concept of boundaries existing beyond the physical and psychological has really only been explored to any degree by modern Christian ministries"

    Why am I not surprised that Peregrin would write this sort of nonsense? His Christian extremist SRIA handlers must be pleased as punch with him over this!

    1. I am not so surprised by the frankly bizarre statements increasingly peppering the output of McWildoak. He has always been SRIA McGD, and now we are perhaps seeing more and more of what lies beneath the facade...

      We have put a lot of pressure on SRIA/OR+C over the months and the cracks have been showing in many ways. If they were to drop the facade completely and simply write from what they honestly believe, then it would save everyone a lot of time and effort in exposing them, but that will not happen while they have enough McGD slaves dancing to their tune.

      While they think they still have a chance to take control of the entire GD/AO community, the SRIA propaganda mill will not stop.

    2. It appears to be a global pandemic because the Fundies are being taught to view everyone else as pre-christians. A fundamental McChristian missionary recently shared this with me while trying to raise funds for his individually insane behavior. Consequently, it does not please them to know that they too are, in fact, pre-christian and children no longer require spikes driven into their heads to release the Devil!

  14. YshY writes about Farrell's "book": "This is essentially a history book written by a magician, for magicians. My review gets into that."

    No, YshY, you are incorrect. You are repeating the same lie that Farrell told me.

    Farrell's "history," as you put it, is nothing more than him trying to pound square pegs into round holes and then filling in the remaining spaces with ideas that Farrell attempts to historicize as fact, quite deceptively.

    YshY's review of Farrell's piece of work is simply him preaching to the choir and trying to do some damage control for the SRIA/McGD recons, so that perhaps authentic reviews, such as that penned by Wiccan Elder Barrabbas, might be drowned out in the cacophony of platitudes that YshY showers upon Farrell and his polemic.

    The lack of intellectual honesty of these "Hermetic Virtues" authors is appalling, especially given the subject matter of the publication.

  15. @Anon James:

    You write:

    "'INDEPENDENT', what a lark. Fr Barrabbas does not count as 'INDEPENDENT', why? Because he has already made his stance clear from the get go by saying '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'".
    His words above clearly point out a biased intention."

    How utterly ironic your negation of Fra. Barrabbas' is. Fra. Barrabbas is simply being honest and letting his readers know from where he is coming. This honesty is sharply contrasted when compared to Farrell's declarations about his book, wherein he misrepresents his book is simply history and that he does not engage in an attack on the HOGD/AO in his book in order to elevate the McGd Recon line of products.

    So, Anon James would prefer an author lie to him about the author's intentions? Moreover, contrary to what you say, Fra. Barrabbas' "intentions" are not evident by his opening remarks. Instead Fra. Barrabbas very openly and honestly lays out the foundational reasons for him having read the book and deciding to review it after he had been goaded to do so. I would much rather have this honesty from an author than the dishonesty displayed by Farrell and his post-hoc cheer leading/revisionist squad.

    Ultimately, I believe that Fra. Barrabbas would have HONESTLY praised Farrell's book, had it any real merit.

    These SRIA/McGd Black Cross Recons are always getting hoisted upon their own petard. My advice: stop, you are hurting yourselves.

  16. Morgan Drake Eckstein published a "review" of 'Mathers’ Last Secret' yesterday. After his usual barrage of snide remarks against the HOGD/AO (the “trademarked AO”), he wrote the following:

    "One of the big conversations about this book, and the Neophyte ritual that Mathers created for his Golden Dawn offshoot, has been about the shortcuts that Mathers says are permissible "[if] time be of some importance." Most of the Opening becomes optional, large parts of the lecture for the Grade, and even the "Admission ceremony" is optional. Basically, the only thing you cannot skip is the Oath of Obligation.

    "In other words, instead of not admitting an Neophyte until a full initiation ritual with a full Opening can be performed, a person could become a Neophtye [sic.] by just paying their dues and committing to keep the AO secret and remaining loyal to Mathers. This reminds me of some of the fringe Freemasonry rituals that I have seen, where a person takes an oath and gets another honorary title to add to their collection."

    Again he uses that popular anti A.O. term "optinal" the describe Mathers’ motives. What is even more astonishing with Morgan's comment that "even the 'Admission ceremony' is optional" is that he is taking an even further stretch in his smearing of Mathers' reputation than does his friend Farrell!

    Good work Morgan! Everyone who has read Farrell's book knows you are twisting the truth beyond recognition. If this isn’t proof of history revisionism, what is?

    I didn't think I would ever have to say this but, I ALMOST wish that people would read 'Mathers’ Last Secret' so that they may found their own opinions about the A.O. 0=0, and see that most of the Mathers / A.O. bashers’ opinions about it is mostly sensationalist fantasies.

    For you that haven't read it, let me tell you what is actually possible to abridge in the Admission ceremony:

    1. The passing of the Gates can be shortened to contain two or one circumambulations (which BTW is more in harmony with the Cypher Mss. than the original G.D. version).

    2. The "Explanations of the Symbols of the Grade" by the Hierophant, which may instead be delivered in a later opened Temple or as a lecture.

    3. The "Address of the Hiereus" at the end, which also may be delivered later as in (2).

    4. The "Subjects of study" delivered by the Hierophant, which may instead be delivered later as in (2).

    5. And "perhaps the effect of the fluid" at the end.

    This leaves the majority of the Admission, including all of the purifications, obligation, passing of the gates, the restoration to Light, conference of signs, etc., i.e. the most fundamental magical points of the reception. What is left out is the lighter magical pars / intellectual information.

    This spreading of disinformation about a competing branch of the G.D. (i.e. a non-Stella Matutina lineage) is beyond comprehension, especially when spread by professed "initiates" and "scholars" of the Golden Dawn.

    This speaks volumes about Mathers’ detractors, rather than about him.


  17. Morgan Drake Eckstein wrote a"review" of 'Mathers’ Last Secret'.

    Amongst other stuff he writes...

    "One of the big conversations about this book, and the Neophyte ritual that Mathers created for his Golden Dawn offshoot, has been about the shortcuts that Mathers says are permissible "[if] time be of some importance." Most of the Opening becomes optional, large parts of the lecture for the Grade, and even the "Admission ceremony" is optional. Basically, the only thing you cannot skip is the Oath of Obligation.

    "In other words, instead of not admitting an Neophyte until a full initiation ritual with a full Opening can be performed, a person could become a Neophtye [sic.] by just paying their dues and committing to keep the AO secret and remaining loyal to Mathers. This reminds me of some of the fringe Freemasonry rituals that I have seen, where a person takes an oath and gets another honorary title to add to their collection."

    Two things about this:

    1) He has it factually WRONG --> It is nowhere written that all you have to do is take the Oath. Even his own statement above does not lead to that conclusion.

    2) Here is yet another example of no being able to distinguish the Magical Engineering (the Operative Magic) from the aspects more related to mis-en-scene and the simple transferral of information.

    How sad, how shallow also, and ultimately, how concerning this should be to those who might take this man's guidance in matters of ritual work.

  18. @Anon James:

    You write:

    "'INDEPENDENT', what a lark. Fr Barrabbas does not count as 'INDEPENDENT', why? Because he has already made his stance clear from the get go by saying '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'".
    His words above clearly point out a biased intention."

    James, James, James - INDEPENDENT means "not dependent", not "not allowed to have an opinion regarding the content"!

    INDEPENDENT of the various parties involved in the controversy.


    This does not mean he is not entitled to his own view regarding Mathers.

    Get a grip.