by GH Frater Sincerus Renatus
This is the first part of an critical scholarly analysis of Nick Farrell’s personal commentaries appended to the Rituals and some other papers belonging to the Rosicrucian Order of Alpha Omega (henceforth abbreviated as “A∴O∴”), founded and headed by Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers (henceforth referred to simply as “Mathers”).
The commentaries made by Mr. Farrell that I am addressing have been attached to his new book Mathers’ Last Secret, recently published revealing the hereunto secret rituals of the A∴O∴. But many of these points that he is
addressing has been published by him before, on a Golden Dawn forum, and on his personal blog and Web page. Thus, on the onset it must be stated that what follows is not a traditional review per se of Mr. Farrell’s book; it is a critical analysis of the theories and speculations originating in the mind of Mr. Farrell, which he has disseminated on many occasions and through different venues, both in book format and otherwise. Before I proceed I would also like to send my gratitude to Darcy Küntz for being such a sport in providing me with grammatical corrections of the following text.
The very first thing I would like to bring up is Mr. Farrell’s view or definition of a “Magical Order” (i.e. the good) vs. “Masonic Order” (the bad). The idea here is that the original (pre schism) Order of the Golden Dawn (henceforth abbreviated as “G∴D∴”) was working under a “masonic phase”, lacking any true magical current. That current only became manifest after the schism, first when the Stella Matutina (henceforth abbreviated as “S.M.”) was created by R.W. Felkin in 1903 and then later with the
creation of the Fraternity of the Inner Light in the 1920’s by Dion Fortune. The A∴O∴, according to Mr. Farrell, continued with the “masonic phase” and only later, after the death of Mathers, became truly “magical”. This Mr. Farrell explains with the supposed fact that neither W.W. Westcott (the co-founder of the G∴D∴) nor Mathers were properly initiated into the Golden Dawn; to fully understand the system one must be initiated through its Grades properly and in full ritual. But contrary to Mathers his wife Moina was initiated, as well as John William Brodie-Innes, who jointly took over the helm of the A∴O∴ and thus made it “magical” for the first time in its history. As Felkin had been initiated into the Golden Dawn his organization, the S.M., immediately became “magical” in a “true” sense.
According to Mr. Farrell Magical orders are created with the continuous use of God-Forms, not merely ritual. Take away the God-Forms from a rite and it becomes “Freemasonic”; an empty shell or vessel. On this last point, I actually agree with Mr. Farrell, but regarding Mathers and Westcott
not being initiates of the Golden Dawn, that does not hold water when it comes to creating a magical egregore or current. It was Mathers himself who brought the God-Forms into the Golden Dawn, already in 1892, which Mr. Farrell also acknowledges. Therefore, it seems strange that Mr. Farrell does not consider neither the original G∴D∴ nor the A∴O∴ as “magical” orders, which they truly were as they performed God-Form magic as did the S.M. Besides, Mr. Farrell has no clue of what Hermetic and Rosicrucian initiations Mathers or Westcott took in addition to and outside of the strictly Golden Dawn current and excluding the Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia (S.R.I.A.).
The Golden Dawn is a Rosicrucian current and a Hermetic one; magical use of rituals did not originate with the Golden Dawn. Both Mathers and Westcott were Adepts of the Hermetic and Rosicrucian traditions long before the creation of the Golden Dawn in 1888, and participated in other rites after that. They would not have received the mission and mandate to create the Golden Dawn without it. Both Mathers and Westcott were members of Mackenzie’s group “The Society of Eight” or
Fratres Lucis. The Cypher Mss. derived (most likely) from that group. We do not know if these rituals (as contained in the Cypher Mss.) or early versions of them were not practiced before 1888 and if Westcott and Mathers had not experienced them before the creation of the Golden Dawn. I have heard the story told by Tony Fuller that W.E. Carnegie-Dickson (the successor of Brodie-Innes as Chief of the A∴O∴ in the 1930’s) was told orally that the Golden Dawn rituals had been written up before the creation of the Cypher Mss. If this last information is true, this will bring the Golden Dawn system and its rituals under a different perspective and put the entire matter into a another context.
So in the final analysis we should be careful with a premature statement that Mathers and Westcott were not initiates of the Golden Dawn, even if it is likely that they actually did not received their particular G∴D∴ Grades formally in ritual, judging the accessible historical data; the most scholarly approach here is to suspend all judgment as we don’t have sufficient data. But does this possible fact (i.e. “not” being initiates) make an Order “non-magical”? Not by traditional Golden Dawn standards, in my opinion.
Mathers was the creator of the particular form of Golden Dawn rituals that we know of today, faithfully using the Cypher Mss. provided by Westcott as a base; I believe there is a magical rapport between the
“creator” and the “created” also on a microcosmic scale. Thus, I believe that Mathers had an intuitive understanding of Golden Dawn ritual that nobody had during his lifetime, because of this rapport. Mr. Farrell, and others agreeing with him, consider that Mathers was guided by some unconscious genius (greater than himself) when he wrote up the rituals and materials, which “explains” why he later “couldn’t” understand them; why shouldn’t he had access to this genius consciously if that actually was the case? Why could not he have been governed intuitively by it also during performance of the same rituals, and thus gaining understanding as the practical work progressed? Add also to this compound three decades of regular performance and attendance of these rituals and you have a solid ground for understanding the underlying magical mechanics of ritual.
Golden Dawn style God-Form magic was practiced regularly in the Golden Dawn from 1892 and onwards, and later in both the A∴O∴ and Stella Matutina. This makes the rituals magical. Then one may argue that there exists different forms of God-Form magic, and that one method may be considered being more effective than another. Mr. Farrell uses the practices made in Dion Fortune’s Fraternity of the Inner Light as a fine example of
“magical” ritual. This practice was inherited by the Servants of the Light (S.O.L.) and in which latter context Mr. Farrell was taught them.
Now, I have personally been fortunate enough to know a high initiate and personal friend of Dolores Ashcroft-Nowicki who taught me the techniques of creating an “Inner Temple”. So I know what Mr. Farrell is referring to and I also have studied Ashcroft-Nowicki’s book The Shining Paths which teaches the particular astral working known as “Path-Working”. I personally like Fortune’s approach to astral work, but still this is not an actual part of the Golden Dawn Tradition; it’s a part of the Dion Fortune tradition, not the Golden Dawn. Although it may be used splendidly by the latter, it still cannot be used as a measuring stick for judging the efficiency of Golden Dawn “magical” ritual.
Looking at Pat Zalewski’s ritual commentaries it clearly makes a great emphasis on God-Form magic, but not at all of the Dion Fortune kind. One does not visualize a lofty space wherein the Hall of Maat and its attending God-Forms are supposed to be created. What Mr. Zalewski teaches is a more energetic approach creating astral shells in the
physical space which brings the Hall of Maat down to the physical.
Now, Mr. Farrell holds that the S.M. developed and perfected the “magical” approach to Golden Dawn ritual. But we must keep in mind that he doesn’t come to this conclusion based on purely study of S.M. ritual papers, as he does with the A∴O∴. Surely enough he bases his opinion of the S.M. from experience of the Order of the Table Round (O.T.R.), a side order of the New Zeeland version of the Stella Matutina (Whare Ra), in the late 1980’s. But Mr. Farrell is quick on judging the A∴O∴ solely based on what he may have read out from ritual documents written in the early 20th Century. This is an highly unfair and unscholarly approach in my opinion.
I have no personal experience of the Whare Ra so I can only judge its magical ritual efficiency from reading its published and unpublished rituals, as does Mr. Farrell vis-à-vis the Alpha et Omega. And honestly, how could anyone have dreamt that the Whare Ra practiced that form of advanced magic as described by Mr. Zalewski, reading the original S.M. rituals? Not me anyway. So I ask, how can Mr. Farrell form his severe judgment of
the “magical” ritual efficiency of the A∴O∴ based solely upon documents?
Besides, we do not know that the Whare Ra actually practiced what Mr. Zalewski has tried to make us believe all these years. Other sources informs us that whatever he has described in his ritual commentaries is only representative of the O.T.R., with personal additions of Mr. Zalewski himself. Even Mr. Zalewski says that the Whare Ra used an entirely different and dull set of God-Forms in the Elemental Grades compared to the ones that he has suggested as being derived from Moina Mathers and the A∴O∴. So, rather than saying that Mr. Farrell bases his experience from the actual Whare Ra, he actually bases his experience from the Order of the Table Round, which, I suspect, in turn relies heavily on the developments made by Jack Taylor who was its Chief during the early 80’s.
I suspect that the actual “magical” ritual practice did not differ substantially between the Stella Matutina and the A∴O∴, at least not during the life times of Felkin and Mathers. I hold that nothing proves, whatever Mr. Farrell is stating, that the A∴O∴ ever discontinued the regular use of God-Forms in ritual. What can be proved, judging from a read of the A∴O∴ 0°=0° ritual, is
that certain parts of the ritual could be circumscribed or by-passed during special circumstances. We will not find anything like that when comparing the Stella Matutina 0°=0.° However, both Orders practiced or at least (according to document papers) approved the use of “Opening by Sceptre”, which is the most magically inhibiting practice of all, which was already approved in the original Order of the Golden Dawn. But irregularly performed “Openings by sceptre” or other and lighter by-passes of ritual parts, does not render an entire Order “un-magical”. It may inhibit the magical efficiency of that particularly performed ritual but not an entire Order egregore if “full” performances are regularly performed, which they were judging from the minutes of the Ahathoor Temple.
Thus the “short cuts” made by Mathers are no proof, in my opinion, that Mathers went into a generally more “masonic oriented” direction, i.e. that he left magic behind. To be able to prove anything of this magnitude you have had to be an initiate of a Alpha et Omega Temple yourself during the times of Mathers.
Then there is a last thought or question I would like to share with you before we enter into a in depth analysis of Mr. Farrell’s theories and speculations. Can a proficient Magician or Hierophant magically open a ritual space and Grade, just by sheer will power? Can a proficient and highly experienced Hierop
hant, such as Mathers, fully open the Magical currents just by one single knock? Is this possible? If you believe in magic, I would say you have to believe that it is. W.E. Butler (the pupil of Dion Fortune and founder of the S.O.L.) believed it was possible.
A ritual serves as an aid for the human consciousness to transmit forces, power or energy from the higher planes (spirit) into the ritual chamber (matter). I believe, at least potentially, that it is possible to do that as well as during full ritual, just by using a gesture, knock or a single word, if you have performed the ritual sufficiently enough and developed your magical ability to a high level. Magic may become one’s second nature and transferred from a conscious imaginative into an instinctual nature. Who am I, or anyone else for that matter, to judge that Mathers was not able to perform such a feat? The fact is that he was chosen by the Third Order to manifest the Second Order or R.R. et A.C. Would he had received such an honour and duty had he not been a highly skilled magician?
Analysis of the Neophyte Grade (amended on the 8th of May, 2011)
Before I will continue with my critical review of Nick Farrell’s talking points against Mathers and his Rosicrucian Order of Alpha et Omega I feel that there is need for me to add to what I have already said regarding what constitutes a “magical” Temple in Lodge work. I have already stated in my introduction that I agree with the view that the applied techniques and work with God-Forms constitutes an important part of this “magical” practice. Let me develop this a little bit further and put it into its proper context.
We have been taught (at least since the days of Eliphas Levi’s books) that the combination of Imagination and Will constitutes the two great pillars of magical work. But this is not the whole truth of the matter, or else all we had to do was sitting in silent meditation and only perform
dramatized mystery plays and “path workings” in our imaginations. That particular application alone may work well for certain purposes, but does not go all the way necessary for successful initiatory work.
Hermeticism, as well as its Eastern alchemical counterparts in Tantrism and Daoism, places much emphasis also upon ritual and bodily activity. Thus, magic is not only performed using the imagination; physical action, as an expression of mystical drama, constitutes perhaps an even more important component. Thus, words of power or vibration, prayers, movements and gestures constitute fundamental parts of magical technique as well. The subtle planes (and bodies) have no function for us mortals if they are not able to manifest in the physical Temple (and body). Hermetic Magic is about the union of “heaven” and “earth”. Thus, each ritual drama constitutes an attempt at a species of “Alchemical Wedding”.
I have myself, in my personal ritual work, found out that I actually don’t always need imagination to arouse “etheric energy” of the subtle body to be felt in my physical vehicle; posture, breathing and words of power (mantras) triggers it as well as (or perhaps even better than) imagination and astral creations of the mind.
In my ritual work I alternate between doing – on one hand – full ritual invocations using maximum props, paraphernalia, regalia, robes, incenses, colours, god-forms, inner temples, enochian calls, adorations, payers, and whatever is typically
associated with full blown Golden Dawn style rituals. On the other hand I may also perform just a simple Supreme Invoking Ritual of the Pentagram in my ordinary living room without any props, in my casual cloths, just moving around my own axis, without any implements, minimum of prayers and no god-forms or inner temple; simply tracing the Pentagrams in their proper visualized colours and vibrating their corresponding words of power. And to be honest, I get the work done just as well or even better with the latter as with the former form of ritual; I can feel as much energetically charged in my physical body with this simple form of ritual.
So, no-one can convince me in believing that magic may only be performed if you visualize God-Forms in astral temples, that the work of God-Forms is the key to all ceremonial work. No, it is not. It is but a part of a wide array of tools where ritual movement, gestures, basic visualizations and vibration of words of power constitutes important aids; physical ritual in itself is the actual key to ceremonial magic. The fact is that most Golden Dawn style magical ritual is done without consciously using God-Forms, not counting the Arch-Angels at the Quarters, such as regular performance of the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram, but it constitutes true and serious magic nevertheless.
Thus, I do not agree with this dichotomy made between imaginative magic (creative visualization) and physical ritual magic. The thing is that you use your eyesight as well in physical ritual, which makes imprints on your imaginative faculties and thus creates a “ghost” image or copy on the inner planes; both visualization and physical eyesight affects the same centres of the brain. This visual aspect makes it important to perform outer and physical ritual as efficiently as an well-orchestrated or staged theatrical play, using as much props as possible, and acting skills, as this will make an even better imprint on the
imaginative faculties and send that image as a strong suggestion to make changes in the astral light. Initiation is a ritual drama which aims at sowing seeds within the candidate.
So, I do not agree with Mr. Farrell’s strongest point in his contention, that there is a necessary opposition or exclusion between a well-made Masonic style ceremony and “magical” ritual. On the contrary, I have perhaps been the most moved and psychologically affected when being subjected to traditional Masonic initiations in the Swedish Freemasonic Order, who lays great emphasis on perfectly performed ritual drama. This aspect of ritual is totally ignored in Mr. Farrell’s critique against Mathers and his A∴O∴.
However, as I hinted above, not even props and drama is the most important or essential to raise energy; today I may (after long training) effectively do that using a bare minimum of ritual. And I am convinced that the most important initiatic component – without negating the importance of ritual drama and psychological impression made – is the manipulation of “energy” or “L.V.X. current” within the energetic body or Sphere of Sensation of the candidate, and thus also the physical body. This is the traditional Hermetic perspective which we must not forget and is often neglected in discussions; magic is real and constitutes actual energy, not some imagined concept of pure psychology and emotionalism.
Thus, if we take away all the components not essential to raise energy in the physical body, we will find ourselves with the one and solely most important magical component of all, which we may never neglect if we want to perform successful magic and initiation – the Conscious Will. This of course implies a focused consciousness as well. This also brings me back to my last question in the Introduction; yes, it is possible to successfully open the Hall of Neophytes with one single knock if by this act the Magical Will of the Hierophant is sufficiently strong to affect the needed changes in the room for it to be fully transformed into the Hall of Maat.
However this being said, the most optimal form of Golden Dawn ritual is to make use of a combination of both physical and outer performance – the full ritual drama – as well as the inner plane work of creating a “Temple not made with hands” and attending God-Forms, as an optimal aid for the Hierophant and his assisting Officers in
providing the necessary and crucial energetic component and presence in the Hall. And also, a ritual is as effective as its weakest link, being the less experienced Officer. In a good Temple, being part of an Officer staff constitutes an important part in the training of a magician, from becoming a Neophyte and onwards. As experience often is extremely varied between the Hierophant and the Sentinel, the former being an Adept and the latter often but a Neophyte, the preferred way to perform ritual is using full “Masonic style” props and paraphernalia, scrutiny in ritual performance, as well as a well performed “preparation” part which involves the merging of the Officer staff into a working unit – connecting it to the egregore – as well as activating the subtle or astral aspects of the Hall.
So my main point is that this dichotomy made by Mr. Farrell between “Freemasonic” style performance of ritual and “magical” ritual is misleading; the one does not at all exclude the other. I get the feeling reading Mr. Farrell’s words that physically well performed (i.e. focused towards outer) ritual is the total opposite of a “magical” ritual which is well performed simply on the inner
planes but not necessarily impressive in its outer performance. No it is not; “as above so below, as below so above” remember?
Reading Mr. Zalewski’s works and comments, this seems to contradict what Mr. Farrell is stating as the image I get from the O.T.R. (and perhaps also the Whare Ra) way of performing ritual is that it was extremely “anal” and put tremendous focus and tedious emphasis on minute detail how people should stand and walk and perform during ritual, down to the point of holding their implements in a correct and special way. This Mr. Zalewski asserts affects the energetic component in ritual. In this I agree with Mr. Zalewski, even though I get the feeling that it was almost overdone at the O.T.R., at least how it has been presented in the works and written words of Mr. Zalewski.
Mr. Farrell is also mistaken that all Freemasons are by their inherent nature “non-magic folks”, as some “muggles” to use a popular term in fantasy literature. Well, perhaps if we only limited
our perspective to Blue Lodge or Craft Masonry I would agree. But Mr. Farrell seems to have forgotten that there has, at least since the middle 18th Century, existed an “esoteric” form of Masonry as well, parallel to the Blue Lodge system. That esoteric strain started to develop in the high degree systems of Freemasonry with the creation of Scottish or French Jacobite Masonry and in German Templarism, such as the Strict Observance. From the former French current emerged Martinism in the form of Elus Cohens of Martinez de Pasqually, which later merged with German templarism to create the Chevaliers Beneficent de la Cité-Sainte (C.B.C.S.) under the auspices of Jean-Baptiste Willermoz. What was developed in these French and highly secretive and esoteric lodges cannot fairly be compared to Blue Lodge and modern American style Scottish and York Masonry.
However, the most interesting of the esoteric currents of Freemasonry is without a doubt the so-called “Egyptian Freemasonry,” created in the latter part of 18th Century by the illustrious and notorious Count Alessandro Cagliostro. He initially developed a 9 degrees system which in its lowest three degrees used the equivalent of Craft Masonry and in its highest three degrees taught the highest forms of Hermetic mysteries that was then (as it is now) known to the majority of initiates, the Arcanum Arcanorum, which uses a basic form of
Internal Alchemy, also referred to as the “Alchemy of Love” which aims at the creation of an immortal alchemical body of light.
This form of Internal Alchemy was given to Cagliostro by some very secretive initiates, which later also instigated the Golden Dawn tradition and developed it further using Mathers as their vehicle. During the early 19th Century Egyptian Freemasonry developed into the Misarïm Rite, which later had some sort of off-shot in the Memphis Rite, both constituting a myriad of higher degrees. In the late 19th Century the rites of Misraïm and Memphis merged together into one, still administering the Arcanum Arcanorum in its highest (87-90th) degrees.
That the rites of the Misraïm affected energetic changes in the candidate is quite proven by the supposed awakening of Rudolf Steiner’s “third eye” chakra when he was received as an Apprentice and the following ability to probe the inner planes to create his special form of spiritual teachings, known as Anthroposophy. Steiner took his Apprentice degree in 1905 and one year later received a Charter from Theodor Reuss to form his own Lodge in Berlin, known as the Mystica Aeterna. It later developed into the Misraim Dienst (“Misraim Service”) and continued with its activities until 1914 (although I have been told that it continued with its
activities without Steiner, being a secretive and select nucleus within Anthroposphy); Steiner referred to his form of Masonry as “Esoteric Masonry”, which it really was, and reformed its 90 degrees back into 9.
This is furthermore interesting in a Golden Dawn context as Steiner later became the “Secret Chief” of the Stella Matutina, the supposed only “magical” Golden Dawn Order according to Mr. Farrell. Felkin were also, together with his wife and Neville Meakin, initiated into Steiner’s 4th and 5th degrees of the Misraim Dienst, which they regarded to be the equivalents of the Golden Dawn 6°=5° and 7°=4° Grades. The later energetic work, which were developed in the Whare Ra and eventually in part found its way into Mr. Zalewski’s books, supposedly originated from Steiner’s teachings and application of Freemasonic ritual. Steiner’s thoughts on magical application of Masonic ritual are accordingly summarized in his book entitled Freemasonry and Ritual Work.
Thus, as it turns out, the peculiar “magical” approach of the S.M. in fact was an assimilation of techniques originally taught in one of the “fringe” rites of Freemasonry! How very ironic!
Thus, what I have presented here clearly proves that Mr. Farrell’s thesis and points of argument against Mathers amounts to nothing more or less than a species of history revisionism. I might be severe in my judgment of Mr. Farrell’s conclusions, but I cannot ignore the broader historical context in which we must regard this entire issue of Golden Dawn and Freemasonry. And I have not even mentioned the very Masonic foundation
upon which the Golden Dawn Outer Order system is based, which is an amalgam of both Blue Lodge and Royal Arch Freemasonry, as may be seen in one of my older essays on this subject.
So it shouldn’t come as a surprise then if we in the rituals of the A∴O∴ should find some practices and formalities which are also to be found in regular Freemasonry; I hold that the Golden Dawn is a species of “esoteric freemasonry” of the same dignity as Cagliostro’s Egyptian Rite. Looking at the Neophyte 0°=0° Grade it literality invokes the Hall of Maat, the Egyptian scene in which the soul of man is weighted against the Feather of Truth of the Goddess Maat. So I furthermore hold that the Golden Dawn is a species of “Egyptian Freemasonry” as well.
There were several Egyptian Freemasonic systems in the late 18th Century, one being the Rite of Cagliostro, the other the German “African Architects” which were an offshoot of the Templar Strict Observance. The Rite of the Golden Dawn is a later development of these same Rosicrucian and Hermetic currents. There are direct similarities between the Misraïm Rite and the Golden Dawn, such as the names of the Officers. This is no coincidence. They both constitute members of the same
Rosicrucian and esoteric family, having the same parent in the Ancient Roman Hermetic School.
So after this lengthy introduction, wherein I have put the debate into its proper context, let us now turn our attention to Mr. Farrell’s critique of Mathers’ A∴O∴ Neophyte Ritual and Ceremony of the Equinox, in which he finds the most obvious evidences of that Order moving further toward the “Masonic” system of ritual, and away from “magic”. To underscore Mr. Farrell’s main theme, he states the A∴O∴ actually went further than the original G∴D∴ in their “Masonic” venture. He holds, as an example, that the sequence of speeches in the opening of the A∴O∴ 0°=0° more resembles Masonry and that it is a reversal back to an earlier version of the G∴D∴ which used the same exchange between Hierophant and Officers.
However, the truth is that the A∴O∴ version is a direct continuation of the one found in the G∴D∴, which is easily verifiable as the ones in R.G. Torrens’ Secret Rituals of the Golden Dawn are dated to 1899 and follow the A∴O∴ version in almost every respect, with the exception of the added “Antiphony” used in the Opening and Admission, a wholly new obligation, and some minor rewordings. This also includes the particular “Masonic” terms used. Thus the A∴O∴ 0°=0° adds to the original G∴D∴ instead of reducing. If anything, the S.M. version of the 0°=0,° as published in various books, is a redaction which simplifies the opening reducing the amount of lines spoken by the Hierophant.
Mr. Farrell furthermore argues that Mathers reduced the original G∴D∴ Ceremony of the Equinox to only lay emphasis on the activation of the pass-word, which again is a sign of him moving further towards “Masonry”. However, the A∴O∴ ritual is almost a verbatim
continuation of the G∴D∴ version of the Equinox Ceremony, as may be seen in Aleister Crowley’s The Equinox of the Gods, which reproduces the entire Ceremony of the Equinox from the original pre-schism G∴D∴. It is true that the S.M. and Whare Ra developed it further too also include a Second Order part, a special ritual for the Adepti or the R.R. et A.C., which bridged the border between First and Second Orders. While parts of the S.M. version have some innovative and interesting aspects lacking in both the G∴D∴ and A∴O∴, one may argue the magical need for an entire Second Order meeting in the context of the 0°=0° Ceremony of the Equinox.
As it is designed in the S.M., it presupposes an entire Collage of the Adepti attached to one Temple, as was the actual case in the Whare Ra of Havelock North and the Hermes Temple in Bristol. But not all Temples have an independent Collage of the Adepti with its own Chief Adept, etc. If used at all I suggest an entire separate ritual performed at the Vault of the Adepti, in a 5°=6° context, where all the Hierophants from all Temples are gathered together and installed, and granted formal authority prior to the performance of the Equinox Ceremony of each individual Temple.
The original intent of the Ceremony of the Equinox is to tap into the innately Equilibrated Solar current and fix it into the Temple egregore with the seal of the pass-word, within the context of the Hall of Maat of the 0°=0°, and infusing the Sphere of Sensations of all members of all grades. The A∴O∴ has retained all of this, as originally laid out by the G∴D∴, and thus represents the essence of what should be involved in a Golden Dawn style
Equinox celebration. Sometimes less is actually more!
Nick Farrell finds the protocol of minutes reading, consideration of resolutions and the opportunity for members to speak open, as well as for guests being welcomed and sending fraternal regards, to be a “Masonic anachronism” which has no place in a “magical” lodge. But one must be aware that a Golden Dawn Temple is an organization that has lots of formalities inherited with it, as does any organization, which also implies administrative issues which has to be resolved. It is a worldly organization, as well as a magical one, not only composed of God-Forms but also of real people of flesh and blood. I personally in particular like the welcoming of guests and fraternal regards given, which creates a greater bond between sister Temples and enhances the common unity, and surely has magical consequences for the Order egregore. Thus the one (magic) does not necessarily exclude the other (mundane). Furthermore, the protocol of making resolutions in open Temple may have a direct magical consequence.
Being a magical order, why not tap into the powers of the God-Forms in decision-making? In this way, a Temple may become truly guided by the guardians of the Order in a more direct way. The keeping of minutes also constitutes an important aspect of Temple work, as work needs to be documented, in a likewise manner as with the individual journal keeping of one’s magical and alchemical work. It must also be noted that all of this formal “Masonic” protocol follows in sequence after the “work of the grade”, meaning that magical work of the 0°=0° has already been performed prior to the formalities; it is not a substitution of the magical aspect of Temple work. But administrative matters must be resolved,
regardless of meeting form, and why not take advantage of the fact that one has all members assembled, especially when being overseen by the gods and goddesses of the Hall of Maat?
Mr. Farrell also argues that Mathers’ only interest was that he wanted a big membership. One such “proof” is the arrangement and assignment of the various grades to the different quarters of the Hall, which gives less room for Neophytes and Zelatores, compared to Theorici, Practici and Philosophi. Using these directions Mr. Farrell explains that members were hurried through the grades. For me, on the contrary, this is an equal “proof” that Mathers were selective of recruiting new members. If you have a sparse intake of new members, your Temple soon will find itself with much more senior members than Neophytes and Zelatores, the transition from 0°=0° to 1°=10° being fairly easy compared to the higher grades. The fact is that Mathers own Temple, the Ahathoor No. 7, was a small one from its very inception and until the death of Mathers. I also get the sense that the A∴O∴ was not as keen on a large membership as was the original Isis-Urania Temple No. 3 of the G∴D∴. So Mr. Farrell’s reasoning does not hold water, if it was not for the fact that the ritual is designed to initiate several candidates simultaneously.
Mr. Farrell holds that magically the 0°=0° ritual is designed for one individual in mind. This is true when viewed from the most optimal circumstances. Also, the Ritual Z.1 and Z.3 only addresses the admission from one-candidate perspective. But is it possible to initiate more than one candidate during the same admission ceremony? Yes, I believe it is. With the exception of the 0°=0°, I myself have been advanced through all my grades together with fellow initiates. I can vouch for the fact that the initiatory process is not compromised at all, or at least not seriously hampered. The only “side-effect” I have noticed, is that my brotherly love and intimacy for my fellow initiates has been all the more enhanced and intensified. I have not felt more love towards
any of my fellow Fratres than with the ones that I have shared my initiations.
Furthermore, just because I share the experience with others it does not mean that I do not receive what I need. Besides, a skilled Hierophant knows what parts of the ritual are suited to be experienced collectively and what parts requires single participation, which is then repeated with each present candidate; one does not share everything. This is also my experience of Freemasonry; even if several candidates are admitted during the same ritual, this does not mean that they go through all the segments of the rite together. The instructional parts are optimal for collective sharing. Other parts are less optimal and require single participation.
So, again, truth and existence is not a black or white matter, but rather has shades of gray in between. But nonetheless, I still believe that it is the most optimal situation to experience the initiations solo, as all attention is then directed toward one’s own self. This of course also means a focus that is more magical and concentration of the force upon one “object” instead of two, three or more “objects”, which should have magical consequences. But the question is if initiations are rendered ineffective with more than one candidate, as Mr. Farrell holds. No, they are certainly not! There is enough power contained in the Hall to satisfy the needs of all present.
Mr. Farrell also make some mistakes in interpreting the ritual text; at least I have interpreted it differently, in particular when comparing it to my own A∴O∴ copy of the 0°=0°, which also shows that there are several transcriptional errors made by either Mr. Farrell or Frater N.I.S.I.
(the original writer of Mr. Farrell’s source documents), including entire portions missing.
One such mistake made by Mr. Farrell is that he wrongly supposes Mathers having made the lifting of the hoodwink at the western and eastern “gates” optional. He did not. He made it optional to lift it either during the first or second line of each Officers speech. Another major mistake made by Mr. Farrell is how he interprets the purification and consecration made by the Stolistes and the Dadouchos, where he wrongly assumes that Mathers directs them to stand together side by side towards each quarter. He does not. It is made in the same manner as in the version written up by the S.M., and as it seems also in the original G∴D∴. Symptomatically Mr. Farrell uses the words “indicates” or “suggests” all over his commentaries; they are overly speculative. In some instances Mr. Farrell sees a problem where there is non – other than in his own imagination.
When Mr. Farrell analyses the short-cuts made by Mathers to the Opening, Admission and Closing, as well as Equinox Ceremony, he uses a blend of Whare Ra teachings and the “Z” papers. But we must remember that with “Whare Ra” teachings we are actually talking about the creative genius of Jack Taylor and his fellow ex-Ware Ra Adepts of the O.T.R., as interpreted and extrapolated by Mr. Zalewski himself.
One such example is the opinion that the Officer speeches during the Opening, regarding their stations and duties, link the Officers with their respective God-Forms. This is, I assume, based on the initial speech made by the Hierophant – “Let the number of Officers… and the nature of their offices be proclaimed once again… for by names and images are all powers awakened and re-awaken
ed.” This was a later addition made by the S.M. and clearly served to make the speeches more “magical”. So in this context I understand Mr. Farrell’s sentiments, but we must be aware that the awakening of God-Forms may be done in several ways; the fact is that we don’t know exactly how Mathers envisioned how the God-Forms became linked to the Officers. One such possible formula may be the finishing knocks and Mystic Words said by the Chief-Officers. Looking at Mathers’ suggested optional short-cuts, it seems that he lays great magical emphasis on this finishing part, something I will return to. The possibility of circumventing these opening declarations of the offices does not, however, suggest that God-Form magic was absent in the A∴O∴ as has been suggested by Mr. Farrell.
Regarding the circumvention of the circumambulations in the Opening, Closing and Equinox, I agree that the most optimal magical alternative is to perform them. But the question is if they are the most essential part of the Neophyte Formula? What is the most essential magical act in all of this? Surely, the attraction of the L.V.X. But is the circumambulation the most important part in all of this? It surely has great importance, but is it the most important aspect of the ritual? It seems that Mathers suggest that the knocks made by the Chief-Officers and the already hinted at Mystic Words – Khabs Am Pekht, Konx Om Pax, Light In Extension – are the most essential to seal the L.V.X. force into the Hall.
The circumambulation serves to attract this L.V.X., which is plainly stated in the Z.1. But it does not serve to “elevate” the Temple as suggested by Mr. Farrell; it is a species of invocation of L.V.X. into the physical Hall, or spirit into matter, for it to be able to manipulate the Sphere of
Sensation of the candidate. But according to the Z.1 the Battery of knocks and proclaiming of Mystic Words serves to seal this L.V.X. and establish the White Triangle upon the Altar. Without it, the invoked L.V.X. would not be fixed and workable. If anything, Mathers could not suggest omitting this. I believe that the Battery and proclamation of Mystic Words also attracts this Light Power further, which makes it the minimal required magical formula of the 0°=0°.
But personally I would be very hesitant to skip the circumambulation or only content myself with the Battery and Mystic Words, but in very special circumstances. One such exception that I can think of is when opening an Elemental Grade and raising the Hall through the Tree of Life, starting with the 0°=0°. But otherwise no, especially not during initiations. However, I hold that the ritual does not become magically void and simply a “Masonic” drama when omitting the circumambulation, as suggested by Mr. Farrell.
Regarding the allowance made by Mathers of the possibility to circumvent the explanation of the Mysteries of the 0°=0° grade, as well as the last speech made by Hiereus and subjects of study, one must not forget that Mathers suggests that these may be delivered to the candidate later in open Temple, which may compensate for the initial omission. Thus this does not necessarily mean that Mathers simply regarded them purely as of “intellectual”
value. What he says is that these parts are not the most vital for the actual reception into the L.V.X., at least not so important that they could not be delivered at a later stage.
The comparison that Mr. Farrell does in this context with the Bristol Temple, and what they did during the 1930’s to the “Elemental” grades – removing most of the diagrams and instructions from the rituals – is unfair in my opinion, as Mathers never removed anything from the ritual; he simply made certain parts optional during special circumstances. With all the scarce information that we have, we must assume that the normal protocol was not to circumvent anything during ordinary circumstances.
Regarding the possibility to reduce the number of circumambulations on the Path of Darkness, or the Passing of the Gates of the candidate, into one instead of three, this actually doesn’t go against the original Cypher Mss. which only makes allowance for one single circumambulation. So, in fact this would make the admission more true to the original intent of the source texts of the entire Golden Dawn tradition. A.E. Waite was aware of this when he reduced the number of circumambulations in his own reformed version of the 0°=0° for the Holy Order of the Golden Dawn. This protocol creates problems for the S.M. version, if it would be implemented, as the latter deviates from both the G∴D∴ and A∴O∴ version when having the Passing of the Gates
made during the last two circumambulations instead of the third as in the former Orders. Thus the most magical circumambulation is the last one as taught in the original form of the G∴D∴ and later the A∴O∴.
Mr. Farrell also criticizes the use of the “Antiphony” in the reception of the Candidate to the Light, during the climax of the Admission Ceremony of the 0°=0°, in his book noting that in the N.I.S.I. document the use of the Mystic Words Khabs am Pekht, etc. is “lacking” during this point of the ritual. In his book Mr. Farrell attributes Mathers whith having hybris on account of this, as Mr. Farrell believes that Mathers’ true motive is to link the Candidate to the Order and to the Chief instead of to the Divine Light and God. But in a discussion on a Internet Forum he takes it even further to also accuse Mathers’ decision as being “something which was so completely evil to defy description”. However, it is clear for everyone that have read the “Antiphony” that there aren’t any references to the Order per se in the wording, not more than the Mystic Words. What is actually affirmed in the “Antiphony” is the two contending forces throughout Nature, united by the third principle, which actually echoes the Mystic Words which formulates the White Triangle upon the Altar and on the forehead of the Candidate during the reception. Thus what we see here is an Alchemical Forumla that clearly escapes Mr. Farrell biased eyes.
However, it has come to the attention of Mr. Farrell that it was he all along that had failed to check his data, i.e. failed to spot the Mystic Words after the Manifestation of the A∴O∴ (Antiphony) during the Reception into the Light, in the N.I.S.I. copy. As I have already said: Mathers didn’t omit anything that wasn’t already there in the original G∴D∴ version. So it was a bad transcription on behalf of Mr. Farrell himself that made his brain reel to the point of it wildly attributing Mathers with evil, egoistic mischief making, etc. This is a very serious flaw from a scholarly point of view considering the fact that Mr. Farrell made such far-reaching conclusions based upon his own error. I believe this is quite symptomatic for the overall quality of the work; I get the overall impression that Mr. Farrell’s book is a work made in all haste.
But not surprisingly, Mr. Farrell still stubbornly stands firm by his original analysis regarding the use of the “Antiphony” during the reception into the Light, now amending his thesis accordingly for Mathers to place the Order in between the Candidate and his Higher Self, to magically secure his autocracy within the souls of his initiates, like some priesthood in a Catholic Church. Thus Mr. Farrell is still failing to see the deeper meaning of the “Antiphony” which has nothing at all to do with the name of any Order; had he had the opportunity to magically perform it regularily in this context for more than a decade he perhaps would have gained another perspective. Paul Foster Case at least continued to use the “Antiphony” after he had founded his own order, following his break from the Rosicrucian Order of A∴O∴, the B.O.T.A. Obviously he didn’t regard the words “Alpha et Omega” to refer to any given Order. In the same manner the words “Golden Dawn” dosen’t refer to any specific Order but to either the general reformation of all divine and mundane things or to the spiritual
awakening follwing the Dark Night of the Soul. Both the initials G∴D∴ and A∴O∴ (being mystically interlinked) relate to spiritual states, not human organizations. Again, Mr. Farrell's highly biased mind fails to see this.
To continue with the short-cuts, in my opinion it is quite irrelevant in this context to have it against Mathers that he makes allowance for the use of “Opening by Sceptre”, as this constitutes an old G∴D∴ protocol which even was inherited to the S.M. The wordings in the A∴O∴ 0°=0° ritual regarding this use reflects the words in the Z.1 which states that “…The Sceptre of Power… invests him [i.e. the Hierophant] with the power of declaring the Temple Open or Closed in any Grade, if time be short…” but that this “…method of Opening and Closing by Sceptre should only be used in great emergency where time presses” and “should not be used in a Ceremony [where] Elemental Spirits have been invoked…”
In the A∴O∴ Mathers in fact warns against to frequent uses of this method of Opening by Sceptre, and especially in the higher grades of the Outer Order. I.e. he basically rewords what has already been stated in the Z.1 ten years earlier. Instead Mathers presents the other “by-passes” which does not impede the magical current as much as does the simple knock with Opening by Sceptre; Mathers presents a wider array of variations in between the two extremes of Opening by Sceptre and a full opening. Thus, the possibility to circumvent the entire Opening was given magical allowance in the magical primer of primers, the “Z” papers. This protocol does not make a Golden Dawn ritual simply “Masonic”, meaning void of power.
And in the final analysis, what the heck are we talking about here? The 0°=0° or Neophyte Grade ritual, nothing more, nothing less. It is the first ritual of many in the Golden Dawn tradition, and not at all the most important in the Outer Order as Mr. Farrell states. It may seem to be the most important as most material on ritual were written about it, and how to implement it in Ceremonial Magic, i.e. in the Rituals Z.1, Z.2 and Z.3. This does not mean that the Neophyte ritual or its grade is the one with most magical potential. Let us put it in its rightful context once and for all.
The 0°=0° Grade of Neophyte is the beginning of a long initiatory journey. Looking at the 0°=0° in the context of the overall initiatory system, not the least upon the scheme of the Tree of Life, it is clear that it represents a preliminary stage in one’s initiatory process. In fact the 0°=0° and
1°=10° are interlinked as they both represent the lowest Sephirah of the Tree of Life. The 0°=0° is simply a preview of what magically is experienced in full bloom in the 1°=10°.
Each grade in the Golden Dawn system represents an entire Tree of Life of its own upon its own plane, each plane representing one of 10 Sephiroth on the Tree of Life in Assiah. With the 1°=10°, to take one example, the initiate experiences the entire Tree of Life, from Kether to Malkuth inclusive, of Malkuth in Assiah. In the 2°=9° the initiate in a similar manner experiences all the 10 Sephiroth attributed to Yesod, etc. But the only exception to this rule are the 0°=0° and the Ritual of the Portals; the latter represents one Path, the one between Yesod and Tiphareth upon the entire initiatic Tree of Life in Assiah, while the latter only represents the lowest four Sephiroth of Malkuth in Assiah.
Thus entering as a Neophyte you experience the Assiatic Tree of Life in Malkuth up to the Veil of Paroketh, and the Sephiroth Netzach down to Malkuth. But when you enter as a Zelator you experience not only these four lowest Sephiroth but also all the rest beyond the Veil of Paroketh in Malkuth in Assiah.
Thus the 0°=0° is actually the most “material” of all the rituals of the Golden Dawn; it takes place on the “earth plane”, meaning primarily affecting the Candidate’s physical and energetic vehicles – the Sphere of Sensation. Physical healing isn’t an uncommon effect of the 0°=0° because of this, the account by Dion Fortune taken from her Psychic Self-Defense being the most obvious that springs to mind, but I have personal experience to draw from as well. That is why the L.V.X. may only be attracted down to the Hall and the latter not suited to be elevated
towards the higher; the ritual drama takes place on the material and etheric level. Later and more exalted grades make themselves more suitable for elevation as they ascend upon the Tree of Life. Thus there is no need to “earth” the 0°=0° ritual back to Malkuth, as it has never left it in the first place.
With this in mind, how can the 0°=0° then be the most important Outer Order ritual of the Golden Dawn system? Looking from an alchemical perspective, the 0°=0° is the preparation of the matter to render it “philosophical” before subjecting it to the alchemical process proper, which starts with the 1°=10° and ends in the 5°=6° in a first cycle of several processes. My own initiatic experience is that my magico-spiritual process really gained momentum after the 1°=10° Grade of Zelator. I remember my own 0°=0° being quite gentle in effect, giving me strong motivation to further my process, but not more.
So why all this fuss about making certain by-passes, in special circumstances, when it is only a basic preparation of the candidate? As we will see in the second part of this series, Mathers did not suggest any circumvents in the grade rituals following the 0°=0°. This is only natural as the first magical invocations proper, made by the Hierophant, is started from the 1°=10° and proceeds onwards from that. All that the 0°=0° invokes, with the aid of circumambulations, mystical words and knocks, is the L.V.X. in an undifferentiated form, to make the proper preparation of the Sphere of Sensation.
The 0°=0° is a beautiful ritual, rich in symbolism and profoundly deep in its layers of meaning. But honestly, it is quite “light” in magical magnitude energy-wise compared to the “Elemental” grade rituals, involving Elemental hierarchies, invocations using the Pentagrams and the use of
Enochian Tablets, etc. The congruence of different forces and currents in the “Elemental” grades are more complex compared to the 0°=0°, the latter being more simplistic and cut down as it is.
And honestly, the most “Freemasonic” ritual of all in the Golden Dawn is the 0°=0°. In particular compare it with the Apprentice degree of Craft Masonry and you will understand what I mean. Not strange then that the most “Masonic” protocols are used together with it. It is sad to see the overemphasis made to the 0°=0° on the expense of the higher Outer Order grades, a fact that has infested the Golden Dawn tradition since the days of Aleister Crowley and been further perpetuated by Israel Regardie. This legacy is still present today in the minds of modern Golden Dawn practitioners and initiates. But I wonder if this was the attitude of the old initiates, or of its original founding fathers? I doubt it.