Thursday, January 31, 2013

Golden Dawn Leaders Speak Out (Part 2): Astral Initiation & Self Initiation

In Part 1 of this article (here), we have seen how proponents of Astral-only Initiation claim that a group or people (or a Temple) can initiate a person by perfoming a ritual somewhere else for a person separated by geographical distance, allegedly initiating the candidate by reading off their name in Temple during the ritual and that other claims made by proponents of Astral-only initiation include:
  1. Astral Initiation accomplishes everything that traditional Golden Dawn initiation does
  2. The original (pre 1903) Golden Dawn practiced Astral Initiation.
  3. Critics of Astral-only Initiation do not understand that all magick takes place on the Astral Plane.
  4. Astral Initiation helps those who would otherwise not have access to Golden Dawn initiation.
My primary objection to Astral-only initiation has been the less than honest manner that it has been protrayed. For example I wrote here, that my objection arises...:
"...when modern innovations like Astral Initiation get misrepresented to the public as traditional or classical Golden Dawn practices. It is the dishonesty that is most destructive."

In regard to confusion caused by proponents of Astral-only initiation, Donald Michael Kraig wrote here:
"The thing I don’t like is when people pay dues, read some papers, do no work, pay for various “astral initiations,” and then claim to be experts with high levels of initiation. They make real occultists and initiates look foolish and bad." 
There is one aspect of the traditional Golden Dawn Neophyte initiation for which I have been repeatedly criticized by proponents of Astral-only initiation. Nonetheless, I remain convinced that not to continue to point this out in this article would be grossly irresponsible.

Traditional Golden Dawn initiations are even more powerful than many people yet seem to realize and there are very real spiritual dangers involved.

To my knowledge, other scholars in our community still have not yet written on this aspect of Golden Dawn initiation. The G.D. Neophyte initiation is based on the Egyptian Book of the Dead. When properly performed this Initiation actually separates and reintegrates the constituent spiritual parts of the candidate.

This is no light undertaking. The spiritual importance of this, and the spiritual danger involved has not yet received due attention by scholars in our community. The spiritual danger is made clear by the rising of the "evil persona" of the candidate at the foot of the altar, threatening to devour the candidate at his or her most vulnerable point in the initiation.

In the figure above, from the chapter of the Egyptian Book of the Dead, this is symbolized by Ammit the devourer, the combined animal figure at the far right of the illustration. Ammit is there to devour the heart if it is weighed heavier than the weight of a feather. The threatening "evil persona" of the candidate is magically subdued for him or her by the skilled Hierophant, when the Hierophant advances and proclaims:

"I come in the Power of the Light.
I come in the Light of Wisdom.
I come in the Mercy of the Light.
The Light hath Healing in its Wings."

I have written about this many times, for example, here:
"There are no short cuts and True Golden Dawn Initiation should not be undertaken lightly, as True Initiation involves the ritual separation and reintegration of a candidate's physical, psychological, and spiritual aspects to give birth to a higher and more balanced spiritual form and awareness.
This process is fraught with danger even under the best of circumstances. With candidates physically present and protected within the safety of a legitimate Golden Dawn temple, however, these dangers can be overcome by a highly trained and skilled Hierophant. 
To deceive oneself that the same result can be achieved alone or with a candidate sitting in another city or on the other end of the world, however, is [in light of my many years of initiatic experience] inviting spiritual disaster."
Proponents of Astral-only Initiation additionally claim that Astral-only Initiation meets the needs those who would otherwise not be able to contact the spirit of the order. To this Nick Farrell replies:
"So ... we come to (the) point ... that (Astral initiation allegedly) provides a person with a connection to a working group that they would not otherwise had. This is clearly true, but in my opinion any link would appear to be administrative rather than spiritual. A real initiation takes place when the person is ready."
This supports my own conclusion, based on my independent research, that Astral-only initiation does not satisfactorily meet the needs of those who would otherwise not be able to contact the spirit of the order.

When it comes to Astral Initiation there is another essential point that has been made by advanced Magicians, like Donald Michael Kraig and Nick Farrell, based on their many years of experience. I have until now specifically avoided making any public statement on this subject at all.

Donald Michael Kraig writes:
"But are they valid within the Western Mystery Tradition?
If you take someone with little or no training and tell them to visualize walking around a triangle (as I was for an Order a long time ago), the answer is decidedly NO!
If you take someone with a great deal of training, knowledge, and experience, the answer might be yes."
Nick Farrell writes:
“The Theosophists believed in astral (or mental) initiations, but the candidate was supposed to be able to consciously “travel? in his astral or mental body to a temple were Masters would initiate him.”
Which goes to show that even by the rules of “astral initiation” the way it is being done in most groups is completely wrong as it requires a high level of experience before the candidate can do it."
I have avoided commenting on this until present because my words have so frequently been misinterpreted or misrepresented by proponents of Astral-only Initiation. I therefore refrained from  elaborating on this subject at all.

In reality, however, the conclusions that both Donald Michael Kraig and Nick Farrell state above fully concur with my own conclusions, based on two decades of independent research and on Alpha Omega teachings.

There do indeed exist such advanced methods, not only in the East, but also in the Hermetic and Rosicrucian traditions here in the West, of which the Alpha Omega is one important emanation. As this spiritual practice remains oath-bound, I can not comment on the actual methodology.

This much I can say, however. In the Alpha Omega, an Adept can and does eventually receive higher initiatic teachings on the Upper Astral, in other words, in the realm of dreams. To be able to do this correctly, however, the advanced Adept must have first:
  1. have fully cultivated their Lunar Body,
  2. have achieved the Albedo state of awakening in the world of dreams,
  3. have achieved the first alchemical separation, which permits the projection of the Lunar body in the Upper Astral (the Inner Plane where dreams occur).
To avoid a host of odd new claims that could otherwise arise from this statement, I must also clarify that, just as in the published Golden Dawn material there are means of testing visions obtained by Skrying in the Spirit Vision into the Lower Astral, in the Alpha Omega there exist yet more certain tests to measure the veracity of teachings received while Lunar projecting into the Upper Astral.

The specific techniques to cultivate the Lunar body, to separate it, to project it into the Upper Astral, and how to test these visions are all taught in the higher grades of the Alpha Omega beyond the well known material published by Israel Regardie.

In parts one and two of this article, we have heard positions on Astral-only initiation from a plethora of voices from all across the Golden Dawn community. In every instance, they have concurred with the results of my own independent research over the past two decades.

So what is my present position on Astral-only initiation, after 20 years in the Golden Dawn?

The old adage states that “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.” Perhaps this is true for Astral-only Initiation. If there is a way to perform initiations in this way, however, it is one by which few aspirants would be either willing or capable of performing.

The method itself cannot be disclosed; even the mention of its existence may be stretching what is permissible. What can be said is there are things in the Golden Dawn System of Magic that simply are not available in print, should not be, and hopefully never will be. 

This is why the Outer Order is a place to discover trustworthy Adepts to whom advanced Magic can eventually be entrusted. This fight over the possibility of Astral-only Initiation has always made me uncomfortable because it places me in a conflict between either lying or revealing too much.

It is enough to state that all things are possible but not using any of the information freely available thus far in time. Having revealed enough, I return to my steadfast position that Astral-only Initiation is not a part of the Golden Dawn in the Outer.

But what about all the Golden Dawn "Astral Initiates" already out there needing guidance today? Astral Initiates will be happy to know that the new programs we have created for Self-Initiates and Solitary  aspiring Magicians will better meet YOUR needs as well.

Speaking of which, what about Self-Initiation?

To begin with, Golden Dawn scholar, Sam Scarborough, has some interesting things to say about this. Sam Scarborough writes:
I’ve had the pleasure of being initiated physically, long-distance (astral), and through Self-Initiation. I can say of the three that the least that affect me on any level was the long-distance initiation. 
With both my physical and self-initiation I had a much more profound emotional affect.
... and ...
The bottom line, is that self-initiation works on all levels of initiation. It provides a phyical place and energy, it works on the astral, as the initiate through working the material builds up the astral component, and finally it works on an etheric level by implanting the symbols of the current within the sphere of sensation of the person undergoing the SI. This is especially true of those that have made all of the needed tools and temple furniture for their SI, as making those is a meditation into the symbolism and function of the tool in question, which helps the SI person to better link to the energies of the GD current.
To clarify my position, I must state agsin that I concur with Sam Scarborough and other Golden Dawn community leaders that just about ANYTHING is better than Astral-only Initiation the way it has been  sold and misrepresented on the Internet.

Even Self-Initiation, with all of its drawbacks, is certainly a better option!

If you would have asked me about Self-Initiation eighteen years ago, when Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn Praemonstratrix, Cris Monnastre, first appointed me HOGD Imperator, I would have told you: "Self-Initiation is as impossible as self-psychotherapy."

My position has evolved since then though. You can read more about this herehere, and here.

It is not like I just woke up one morning and suddenly decided that Self-initiation is a great thing though. I still do not believe that. It is more like accepting that people have been receiving so much bad information for so long that I can’t put that genie back in the bottle. 

Self-initiation is such an inefficient approach to becoming a Magician that I wanted to do all in my power to convince people to avoid it. Working from my previous metaphor, if I had a son that was considering hitchhiking across country, I would do everything in my power to dissuade him. Why? Because it is inefficient, unnecessarily time-consuming, and dangerous! 

Self-initiation is similar. But, if my son said he was doing it and nothing I say will stop him, I will then try to give him as much information as possible to do it safely. It will still take him way too long. It is still a poor method of long-distance transportation. It is still dangerous.

I read once that ‘experience is a harsh task-master, but some people will learn in no other way.’ Thanks to irresponsible Magicians, many beginners today think Self-Initiation is best approach for them. I can’t undo the damage so I am instead committed to reducing the risk.

This is why the Alpha Omega has launched a host of new programs for Solitary Practitioners, Self-Initiates, and Astral Initiates:
Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn - the outer order of the Alpha Omega gives you complete training in Ritual Magic with good coaching, as well as a structured program to master all of the published Golden Dawn material using the latest methods of modern on-line Universities. HOGD also gives you access to physical initiation in our fully chartered and licensed Golden Dawn temples.  
Personal Temples: The Alpha Omega encourages Self-Initiates and Solitary Practiioners to create Personal Altars and Temples. We are putting them on the map for you here on the Golden Dawn blog and publishing photos of independent Altars and Temples around the world. 
Self-Initiation: The A.O. teaches how the goal of Golden Dawn Initiation and Magic is to strengthen the energetic body and to awaken the Elemental, Planetary, Zodiacal, and Sephirothic Magical Forces in the "Sphere of Sensation" of the aspiring Magician, and are providing the techniques necessary to attempt this on one's own.
Magical Tools: The A.O. teaches how traditional Golden Dawn Magical Tools are created by publishing photographs of Israel Regardie's tools from the A.O.'s Golden Dawn Museum. 
Ritual Magic 101 Coaching Webinars: The A.O. brings solid Ritual Magic teaching and coaching to self-taught Magicians all around the world. 
2012 Golden Dawn World Tour: The Alpha Omega makes Ritual Magic instruction and coaching - as well as tradtional Golden Dawn initiation - available in at least 5 countries over the next year - up close and personal. 
Ritual Magic 101 Workshops: brings magical coaching up close and personal. 
Ritual Magic 101 Private Coaching: The Alpha Omega offers private Ritual Magic coaching with David Griffin both in-person and via Skype.
Ritual  Magic 101 Coaching Dojo: The Alpha Omega offers bi-weekly group Ritual Magic practice - dojo style  - with David Griffin - beginning January 5 in Las Vegas, Nevada at Well of the Moon Pagan Bookstore.
Ritual  Magic 101 Training Videos: The Alpha Omega offers free Ritual Magic training videos both on the Golden Dawn YouTube Channel and soon to be on the new GoldenDawn.TV website as well, along with soon to be released other new training aids.
Traditional Golden Dawn Initiation: The A.O. offers traditional G.D. initiation in our international network of traditional Golden Dawn temples - as well as part of the Golden Dawn World Tour.
Click HERE to explore our Outer Order, undergraduate level Magical training program, the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn!"


  1. I wish to make it known that unless I specifically say so in writing, I neither concur nor do not concur with any policy in Mr. Griffin's group or any other group. If some individual or group agrees with what I have written, they are concurring with me, and not vice versa.

    In this particular instance, I do not have access to any of Mr. Griffin's documents, beliefs, or policies. I have not requested them. I am not interested in them. Therefore, it is incorrect to say that I concur with Mr. Griffin or his group. Is it possible that I might? It's impossible to say. However at this time it is false to claim that I do.

    1. Care Frater Don,

      It sounds like word "concur" may somehow be a bit too strong for you or perhaps has a connotation for you that remains unknown to me.

      According to the Oxford dictionary:

      Definition of concur:
      verb (concurs, concurring, concurred)
      [no object]
      • 1be of the same opinion; agree:
      the authors concurred with the majority
      [with direct speech]:
      ‘That’s right,’ the chairman concurred
      • (concur with) agree with (a decision or opinion):
      we strongly concur with this recommendation
      • 2happen or occur at the same time; coincide:
      in tests, cytogenetic determination has been found to concur with enzymatic determination

      It is in this sense and on other that I use the word "concur" in the article.

      Is there another word you would prefer when discussing areas where our writings indicate we have independently reached similar conclusions in our research or we hold similar opinions or beliefs in specific areas?

      Would you prefer the use of “similar opinion” or "similar conclusion" rather than “concur?”

      David Griffin

  2. Reading between the lines, this is a fascinating article.

  3. It is perfectly acceptable to state two positions (points of view) are in concurrence.

    For example, if I state: "It sure is a hot day," and somewhere else another person has said something similar about the heat of the day, it can be said there is a concurrence between the two statements or opinions.

    Concur has a wholly different meaning than endorse, which is what I perceive DMK is trying to negate here, that he has not affirmatively endorsed the AO's position on the subject matter. I don't believe the article implies an endorsement.

  4. Merely because the conclusions someone else's research concurs with one's own does not mean that they are claiming endorsement or approval. For an author to assume this, or take it for granted, is at least rather ego-inflated at worst, petty political sniping perhaps even bordering on cultish.

    In scholarship, such an argument would be laughed out of the academy.