by guest blogger
Thank you, it is nice to be here.
The entire subject of esoteric sexuality and the Golden Dawn is highly controversial. We live in a period when openness toward sexuality and sexual content is a hallmark of Western attitude. Yet, the idea that teachings on sexuality are part of the Golden Dawn has caused quite a stir in the Golden Dawn community. I asked you here to update this interview because of comments this week in the Golden Dawn community. First off, Pat Zalewski wrote:
"I am still amazed that people ask about sexuality and the GD in terms of a physical sex act. I was just chatting to a person who was convinced there was a secret teaching about it. Garstin, who was an AO chief in the 1930's and one of the few in that order who held the 7=4 (I know of no other 7=4's that were not chiefs in the AO), made this point abundantly plain in his 'Theurgy or Hermetic practice', (pp 32-33). He rejects this totally from the western perspective.
In symbolic form the sex act is in the form of a conjunction, and is used often in alchemy and in ritual. I have some issues with Garstin's structure in his work but not his content. In chapter 3 of his book on Theurgy the subject of the egg and serpent are alluded to. Go back to my Alchemy and Ritual book, and you'll see why I chose that alchemy text to describe the outer order rituals. The whole concept of the sexual aspect egg and serpent was visible in plain sight, but not alluded to because it was symbolic only." -Pat Zalewski
"The same applied to Bristol. Hope Hughes fell out with Dion Fortune over a Binah ritual which was run by Inner Light. It cant have been long before she died, but involved a woman lying on the altar with black candles. All Binah to me, but Hughes' agents felt that it was black magic pure and simple. They were worried about the turn that polarity magic was taking in Inner Light. Fortune did not have sex magic as part of her workings but her contacts suggested earthing it afterwards if they could not manage the power. But he added that had nothing to do with the order. Maybe this offended the Bristol lot." -Nick Farrell
People who understand the role spiritual sexuality plays in the great spiritual traditions of the world, whether Tantra or Taoism in the East, or the Hermetic or Rosicruican traditions in the West, are better off with the Alpha Omega.
Why? Because we are the only Golden Dawn order that offers traditional spritual practices in the highest grades that include spiritual sexuality. Even then, such teachings are of the variety "go home and practice with your husband, wife, or partner(s) depending on your gender, sexual orientation and relationship style.
Yes, but what about articles written by one order with headlines like: "BEWARE! Sex Magic is NOT part of the Golden Dawn!" and "Absurd Claims of Golden Dawn Sex Magic!"?
Yes, I am one of those people who was put off to the whole Golden Dawn due to all of the infighting and negative marketing. I am glad to see that the Golden Dawn seems to have grown beyond that. Still, as someone who isn’t an Adept of the order, I find the whole sexuality issue confusing. I am hoping by having you on the air we can clear things up for people like me, who are interested in the topic, but are also put off by fuss.
Let me start by asking you this question that has most likely crossed the mind of many-to-be initiates of your order. If I was to join your order today, can I continue my education through the Golden Dawn grades without getting involved in any practical sex magic?
The answer to your question is a resounding yes. To begin with, we need to get clear on what is actually meant by 'sex magic'. Neither the original Golden Dawn, the Stella Matutina, nor has our order, the Alpha et Omega ever employed nor do we today employ physical sexual activity in ritual, in the sense that is sometimes ascribed to certain rituals of the OTO. We also do not endorse the sort of ritualistic sexual experimentation carried out by Aleister Crowley.
We talk in the Golden Dawn about the middle path. This path takes us right from the material world to the highest Divine crown through the beautiful solar fire we associate with being an adept. It does so through the foundation of the Great Work – the living energy of sacred sexuality. Frankly, sexual alchemy has everything to do with the magic of Light because it is its foundation according to the Golden Dawn and western occultism.
Yes. I did. Mathers had only finished integrating Enochian and Qabalistic magic for the Elements, but not for Planetary and Zodiacal magic before he died. I finished this integration in 1999. There are a few essential things I would have done differently today, but in 1999 I did not have the benefit of the guidance of my Hermetic Masters in Continental Europe that I have today.
That is correct. The Alpha Omega is a Hermetic order, and thus our attitude toward the relationship between sexuality and spirituality is as it has always reflected the initiatic teachings of the Hermetic tradition. For 2,000 years, the Hermetic tradition has radically diverged from the sexually repressive attitudes of the Roman Catholic Church.
I can understand some people's feathers being ruffled - but the work of our order is not about stroking people's egos. It's about finally making advanced Hermetic spiritual technology and accelerated energetic evolution available to people. And as far as other groups not having access to the advanced Hermetic and Rosicrucian spiritual practices that fill the higher grades of the Alpha Omega, there is no reason for them to be jealous. We have offered repeatedly to share these teachings with other Golden Dawn groups, even as late as our International Conclave of Golden Dawn Adepti earlier this year. They chose not to come. That is their choice. I am a firm believer in respecting people's free will. The offer to share still stands though.
Neo-Golden Dawn scholars like Pat Zalewski and Nick Farrell are busy creating their own teachings for the higher grades of their orders. It remains to be seen what spiritual value these self-made teachings have, but one thing is already certain. Fresh Neo-Golden Dawn teachings add to the over-all diversity of our Golden Dawn community. For this reason, I am quite proud of Neo-Golden Dawn scholars in our community.
I can totally understand the position Pat Zalewski and Nick Farrell are taking on sexuality. Heck, if I had not received the advanced spiritual practices of Hermetic Internal Alchemy, that uses the fires of both sexuality and love as internal fires for spiritual transmutation, it would be natural for me also to argue that the sexual symbolism permeating the entire rituals, tools, and magic of the Golden Dawn, is purely symbolical.
OK. I can guess from everything we discussed so far that you disagree with the statement made by another Golden Dawn figure who wrote that spiritual sexuality in the Golden Dawn is a red herring designed to take advantage of lower desires.
Absolutely! Statements like this are themselves red herrings - intended to frighten people away from the Alpha Omega! I have no beef with those who want to run their own orders like the Roman Catholic church, because I value diversity in our community. I just hope they will no longer hamstring the entire Golden Dawn tradition with fear mongering marketing.
In the highest teachings of the Hermetic and Rosicrucian traditions, love and sexuality are understood precisely as they are in the highest teachings of the Taoist and Tantric alchemical traditions in the East. In all genuine alchemical traditions, no matter where they are found around the world, love and sexuality are viewed as two primary motors for spiritual development.
I honestly find it odd when people are project Victorian ethics on a society like the Golden Dawn t- hat was marked by its progressive attitude since 1888! In the classical Golden Dawn, the concept of sexual polarity lies at the very heart of the GD system.
The Golden Dawn was revolutionary in admitting both men and women on an equal basis already in 1888. The concept of sexual polarity permeates the entire symbolism of the Golden Dawn's rituals and teachings. On this point, Pat Zalewki's and Nick Farrell's position you quoted above have evolved into full agreement with mine.
The notion of sexual polarity also permeates the Qabalah, as any serious researcher will attest. In a similar vein one can see that the same concept of sexual polarity permeates much of the work of A.E. Waite and is particularly evident in his 'Holy Kabbalah' and in much of the imagery of his rituals for the higher grades of Waite’s, Fraternity of the Rosy Cross.
This certainly does not sound like there is "no evidence of spiritual sexuality in the Golden Dawn" as some Neo-Golden Dawn groups have claimed. The fact that teachings regarding spiritual sexuality have always been primarily transmitted in the Golden Dawn and Alpha et Omega via oral tradition does not mean there is no evidence of these things.
Colquhoun further discusses actual rituals pertaining to sexual polarity performed by early members of the Golden Dawn. In particular, she discusses at length the unpublished "Lilith" ritual of A.E. Waite that she found at the Warburg Institute. Finally, Colquhoun also discusses issues pertaining to Golden Dawn ritual and tantra groups regarding sexual polarity and the role of women in both tantra groups as well as in the original Golden Dawn.
What about the argument put forth by certain Golden Dawn leaders that it allegedly is well established fact that S. L. MacGregor Mathers and his wife Moina lived in a "celibate marriage" and that this proves that there is no spiritual sexuality in the classical Golden Dawn tradition?
Look. No one in the Golden Dawn community really believes that any longer, with maybe one exception. Even Nick Farrell has written that S.L. MacGregor Mathers' wife was "frigid" and that Mathers himself was "having an affair with the maid in Paris." Even though Nick likes to write sensationalistic tabloid stuff of questionably veracity like this, the above does show that not even Farrell takes the "celibate marriage" argument seriously.
In reality, no reputable Golden Dawn historian has ever presented a single shred of evidence to support the "celibate marriage" myth about the Mathers. If those inventing such myths had any real evidence, they would have produced it long ago. All the proponents of the "celibacy myth" have done until now is to quote one letter from Moina Mathers to Annie Horniman completely out of context.
Even in this letter, Moina Mathers does not actually say she lived in a celibate marriage with Golden Dawn founder, S.L. MacGregor Mathers. What she does say is that their marriage is "pure." Contrary to the interpretation of the chastity myth proponents, marital purity is not necesarily the same thing at all as chastity. It more likely refers to marital fidelity. To interpret this as making it "well established fact that the Mathers were "chaste" is merely to project prudish, Victorian attitudes towards sexuality onto the Golden Dawn. In reality, the Golden Dawn was quite progressive since its inception.
To begin with, sexuality is treated somewhat more explicitly in certain original Theoricus Adeptus Minor documents written by Mathers, particularly in one paper known as 'The Opening of the Knowledge of the Masculine and Feminine Potencies necessary unto the the manifestation of all things, symbolized in the diagram of the Flaming Sword between MTTRVN and SNDLPVN'.
Next it should also be noted that the once Chief Adept in Anglia, Florence Farr, also alludes to a sexual doctrine in the Golden Dawn Flying Roll XIII, entitled "Secrecy and Hermetic Love."
More importantly, however, in a letter to Annie Horniman dated 8 January 1896, from S.L. MacGregor Mathers himself writes:
It should be noted that Mathers here asks Horniman to obtain direct or oral teaching on the subject from Golden Dawn Chief Wynn Westcott, and he does not refer her to any documents issued by the Order. This is a clear reference to the Golden Dawn oral tradition on this subject.
Next, Moina Mathers, writing to the relatively prudish Annie Horniman, attributes teachings on the "Sex question" to a much "higher grade" than 5=6. In fact, in the aforementioned 1895 letter misquoted by A.O. detractors, Moina Mathers actually writes to Anne Horniman:
"Knowing as yet only something of the composition of the human being as a Theoricus Adept, you are really not in a position to form an opinion on these subjects . . . discussed as . . . the human sexual connection. . . . So if one of these . . .come up you would have to refer the question to a member of a much higher grade than Theoricus Adept." -Moina Mathers
As I hear that the Sex Theory subject has been under discussion in Thoth Hermes Temple, I should like to say a few words to you on the subject. I regret that anything on the Sex question should have entered into the Temple at this stage for we only begin to touch on sex matters directly, in quite the higher Grades. In fact, we only give a rather complete explanation of this subject in that Grade where the Adept has proved to be so equilibrated and spiritualized that he is complete lord of his passional self. Believe me, this is not mere theory. I am not speaking to you from a merely theoretical point of view ." -Moina Mathers
Here is one such statement Dion Fortune made, and I quote:
Here is another one:
"Those who have entered into the deeper aspects of occultism know that Kundalini, the Serpent Force which lies curled up at the base of the spine, is really the sex force which has its centre in the sacral plexus from which issue the nerves which govern the reproductive organs. In the normal way, this force is fully absorbed in its physiological functions, but there are two ways of rendering it available for other purposes, for its psychic aspect it is a very important potency on the Inner Planes; it can be sublimated above its natural plane of expression, as done by the ascetic; or it can be degraded." -Dion Fortune
"Anybody who regards sex as evil, or is in any way afraid of it or self-conscious about it, had better leave occultism alone; for it is only through a perfectly naturalistic attitude towards giving of life that life force can be handled. Let it never be forgotten that there is no such things as sex force per se, but that it is simply the life force on a particular level, and that through this level the force must pass every time it rises and descends on the planes." -Dion Fortune
"How can we hope that the world will become purer and less material when one excludes from the Divine, which is the highest ideal, part of its nature which represents at one and the same time the faculty of receiving and giving - that is to say love itself and its highest form---love the symbol of universal sympathy? That is where the magical power of women is found." -Moina Mathers
That's right. In Hermetic Science we define Spirit and Soul in very specific ways though. To put it most simply we see Spirit quite as solar and stellar energy. We see Soul as the energetic aspect of our natures. Our Mother is the Earth. She gives us the matter for our physical bodies. Our Father is the Sun, and gives us our vital energy that is the essence of life itself.
That's right. But we take this even a step further. The Hermetic tradition has been saying that spirit and flesh are two forms of the same thing for thousands of years. Interestingly, thanks to Einstein, science recently confirmed this, although science says it using slightly different language. Modern physics says that matter and energy are two forms of the same thing, just existing as different frequencies of vibration. Einstein even defined this relationship mathematically.
Hermetics takes this notion yet a step further though, and science is on the verge of to proving this as well. Hermetics say that consciousness itself is a function of this one thing that is both spirit and flesh, or matter and energy as modern science calls these things. This is an absolute cornerstone of Hermetic philosophy. You find this same notion repeated in numerous of the world's other great spiritual traditions as well, especially in the East.
In all of the classical alchemical texts you find alchemists cooking the "prima materia" in flasks called Athanors. The same is true in internal alchemy, except that everything is inside of you. Your physical body itself is the athanor and the matter of your body is the true "prima materia." In inner alchemy, everything you find in the alchemical texts are really allegories for things inside of you.
Even the fire that heats the athanor is inside of you. In internal alchemy, it is the subtle fires of the body itself that we use to "cook" the matter of our bodies into ever purer forms of energy. Love and sexuality are two essential and extremely powerful of these subtle inner fires.
Yep. Early Christianity posed a serious danger to the survival of the Royal Art of the ancient Egyptians, so the great Adepts of the past became very creative to keep they mysteries intact.
Believe it or not, certain great Initiates even managed to encode and hide many important principles of Hermetic Science in the stories and rites of the Christian church itself. In things like the mass, the eucharist, and the use of bread and wine. This initiatic meaning of these things would be a blog in itself though.
This is true. But this doesn't mean that there is no danger at all in discussing these things openly even today. Just look at all the heat I took and fear mongering attacks against the Alpha Omega just because of my openness about this!
I would only like to underscore that our order, Rosicrucian Order of Alpha et Omega and our outer order, the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, are inheritors of the highest wisdom of 2,000 years of Hermetic tradition. As such, we teach all three spiritual disciplines that have been the primary spiritual practices of the Hermetic tradition for over two millennia: Hermetic Magic, Alchemy, and Astrology.
Finally, I think it would be wise to repeat what i said at the beginning of this interview. I have now demonstrated historical precedence in the Golden Dawn supporting the position on spiritual sexuality held by the Alpha Omega. Again, this does not mean, however, that there is any sort of "right" or "wrong" position about spiritual sexuality in today's Golden Dawn community. Our diversity gives people choices!
When it comes to spiritual sexuality, people actually have pretty clear choices. People who understand the role spiritual sexuality in the great spiritual traditions of the world, including Tantra and Taoism - in addition to the Hermetic and Rosicruican traditions - are better off with the Alpha Omega. Why? Because we are the only Golden Dawn order that includes spiritual teachings about these things in the highest grades.
All of this is great. It gives people clear choices.
Only that we DO things differently!
Click HERE to explore our Outer Order, undergraduate level Magical training program, the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn!"