Tuesday, March 12, 2013

REVEALED: Secret Chiefs - Egyptian Roots of the Golden Dawn

by Golden Dawn Imperator

David Griffin

Various orders of today's Golden Dawn community share many aspects of ritual, teachings, and practice deriving from a common source. Nonetheless, there still do remain significant and important differences from one Golden Dawn order to the other.

In previous articles (here and here) we have examined how one important Golden Dawn offshoot, Arthur Edward Waite's "Fellowship of the Rosy Cross," abandoned Hermetic Magick in favor of Christian Mysticism. Waite's Mystical F.R.C. fraternity continues to exist even today, revived within the Secret College of the Societas Rosicruicana in Anglia (S.R.I.A.).

S.L. MacGregor Mathers "Rosicrucian Order of Alpha Omega" likewise continues to exist today, however, at the opposite end of the esoteric spectrum as the most Magical of Golden Dawn orders. Each of the other orders of the contemporary Golden Dawn community fall somewhere in between these two poles.

Between the poles of Mathers' Alpha Omega and Waite's Fraternity of the Rosy Cross, the distinction between Magick and Mysticism is by no means the only such polarity defining today's Golden Dawn community. 

The classical Golden Dawn is a late 19th Century manifestation of the Hermetic tradition, which, together with the Pythagorean tradition, preserved Egyptian initiatic mysteries down through many Centuries. The 1888 Golden Dawn is, in fact, best understood as a reformulation in Judeo-Christian symbols of ancient Egyptian mysteries to create an esoteric vehicle suitable for the 19th Century English speaking world.

Arthur Edward Waite took this reformulation even further in his Fraternity of the Rosy Cross, suppressing the Golden Dawn's Egyptian roots completely, in favor of esoteric Christianity. Contemporaneously, S.L. MacGregor Mathers' Rosicrucian Order of Alpha Omega further developed the Golden Dawn in a profoundly Egyptian direction, which became visible in March 1899, when Moina and S.L. MacGregor Mathers publicly performed the "Rites of Isis" on the stage of the Theatre Bodiniere in Paris.

The prominance given to Egyptian mysteries already in the earliest phases of the Alpha Omega is evident already at the opening of the earliest Mathers version of the Alpha Omega Neophyte ritual, which unlike all other Golden Dawn versions, opens:

"Fratres et Sorores of that section of the Mysteries of Egypt known as the Rosicrucian order of A.O..."

The Golden Dawn as it was in 1888, although it was extremely avant guard for its time in admitting both women and men on an equal basis, nonetheless remained somewhat patriarchal. This is evidenced by the prominence given to the to the male God forms of Osiris and Horus in its hall of the Neophytes.

The Alpha Omega was revolutionary since its inception in giving great prominence instead to the great Mother Goddess, Isis, and her dark sister, Nephthys, which one does not find in any Golden Dawn order other than the A.O. An examination of the earliest published version of our A.O. Neophyte ritual makes this elevation of the feminine aspect of Divinity quite clear, where we find the following uniquely A.O. call and response:
Hierophant: Alpha
Hiereus: Omega
Hierophant: First
Hiereus: Last
Hierophant: Beginning
Hiereus: Ending
Hegemon: And the path of the world between. 
Hierophant: Dawn
Hiereus: Twilight
Hierophant: ISIS
Hierophant: Star of the Morning
Hiereus: Star of the Evening
Hegemon: And the Path of the Light between.
The prominence given in the A.O. to the great Mother Goddess, Isis, found its foremost expression in  the "Rites of Isis" publicly performed by A.O. Elders, Moina and S.L. MacGregor Mathers, in Paris in 1899.

The Rites of Isis - 1899
Moina and S.L. MacGregor Mathers

Thanks to the Secret Chiefs of our Third Order, the A.O. today once again presents the "Rites of Isis" in addition to the soon to be unveiled "Rites of Nephthys."

The Rites of Isis - 2013
Leslie and David McQuade Griffin

Today the Rites of Isis and the Rites of Nephthys serve respectively as publicly performed Full Moon and New Moon rituals, which serve as a bridges between the Alpha Omega and the greater contemporary Pagan community.

The Greek letters of our name, "Alpha" and "Omega," allude to the Pythagorean initiatic school of Pagan Greece, an essential line of teachings within the A.O. The prominence given to the Goddess, Isis, refers to the Isinian mysteries of ancient Egypt, crown jewels of the Alpha Omega through our roots in the Hermetic tradition.

Thus, with our unique teachings and magical systems deriving from ancient Egypt, Chaldea, and Sumeria through the Pythagorean and Hermetic traditions, the Rosicrucian Order of Alpha Omega today holds a place of profound Pagan influence among Golden Dawn orders.

Having shed important light on the differences between Golden Dawn orders, let us now move on to clarify, from an Egyptian initiatic perspective, a question of substantial interest for today's Golden Dawn community. Most students are already aware of the traditional division of the universe into four Qabalistic worlds (Atziluth, Briah, Yetzirah, and Assiah) as well as the Qabalistic divisions of the Soul used by the Golden Dawn (Yehidah, Neshamah, Ruach, and Nephesh).

A recent blog I read by Peregrin Wildoak (that you can read here) led me to understand a need to clarify from an Egyptian perspective the functions of the subtle bodies that constitute the human being, which may also be understood as various aspects of the human Soul. 

For this clarification, I approached Hermetic Master Lux e Tenebris, my primary contact with the Secret Chiefs of the Alpha Omega's Third Order, and asked him to clarify this point from an Egyptian initiatic perspective. 

Below follows the reply from Master L.e.T:

The Subtle Bodies and the Human Soul
by Frater Lux e Tenebris
special envoy of the
Secret Chiefs of the Third Order
I dedicate the following to the Sorores and Fratres who wish to better understand the light of the mysteries that shine forth from the Isinian temples of ancient Egypt. There is much talk of subtle bodies or various divisions of the human Soul, dividing it into 2, 3, 4, 7, 24, etc. parts. 
I have been asked by my disciple, Frater Lux ex Septentrionis, to shed light on this subject from the point of view of the Isinian initiatac school of ancient Egypt. 
Before I begin, let me make clear that the human being and the Universe should always best be considered as a single, living organism, which contains within itself the four Elements that constitute everything. 
To those well versed in Egyptian religion, who may object, saying that my words below are incomplete, let me assure you that they are not. I have, however, confined my words to the absolutely essential, in order to facilitate comprehension by those unfamiliar with these concepts. 
I. The Sekhu or Khat - "The Body that Devours." (Physical or "Saturnian" Body as in ruled by time) The Sekhu or Khat is the physical Body that lives and dies, eats, devours, renews, reproduces, etc. It is a sensitive and dense body containing meat, bones, corneous tissue, etc. It is also matter that it is created, serves its function, and then transforms. It is physical matter that we can touch and see and perceive with our five senses. 
Color: Black
Element: Earth
Characteristics: Stimuli, such as hunger, thirst, sleepiness, concupiscence. Physical sensations (warm; cold, pain, pleasure, fatigue, vigor, etc.).  

II. The Ka - "The Body that Feels" ("Astral" or "Lunar" Body) The Ka is a subtle body composed of magnetism and vital energy. The Ka derives from the Sekhu or Khat like the Moon reflects the light of the Sun. The Ka is a more subtle body emanating from first and constituting its denser sensibility - nerves, nerve centers, the brain, etc. In the created world, the Ka is also magnetic and electrical energy. Subtle matter, magnetism and electricity, odic force, also called Astral Light. 
Element: Water
Color: Green
Characteristics: Sensory impressions; instincts, conscience, moral pain, feelings and passions (fear, courage, euphoria, depression, insecurity, love, hatred; goodness; badness, etc.). Sense of order or tendency to disorder. Desires; aspirations; attachments, etc.

III. The Ba - "The Body that Thinks." (Mental or "Mercurial" Body) The Ba is a more complete individuality emanating from the preceding two bodies. The Ba is mentality or the Mental body, winged at both the head and feet. The Ba is the constituent part of the human being, most in contact with the Divine. The Ba is the most subtle, or thinking aspect of the human being.
The Ba represents the directing principle of the Universe and of matter. In the modern world, we many better understand this by considering Quantum physics and Quantum mind. The Ba represents the subtle forces underlying universal creation.
Element: Air
Color: Light Blue
Characteristics: Intelligence and will, intuition, thought, creation, spiritual love, neutrality, truth, directing and willed concrete ideas, sense of freedom, premonition and precognition, dominion over the Astral body and thus over the physical body as well. 

IV. The Akh, Khu, or Sahu - "The Body of Light" or "Divine Spark" ("Solar" Body also called "Divine Genius" in the Golden Dawn). The Akh, Khu, or Sahu represents Divine individuality, which manifests in the human being by virtue of the Ba, which in its turn manifests through the Ka, and this through the Sekhu or Khat. The Akh, Khu, or Sahu participates in universal life, unique and eternal. It is the source of vitality, both physical and spiritual. It is the light of eternal consciousness, beyond space and time. 
Element: Fire
Color: Brilliant Red
Characteristics: There is not any point in listing characteristics of the Akh. This must be lived through experience as it is beyond mind and intellect. I add only the following quote from the Adept Fulcanelli:  
"As long as fire exists, matter will not cease in its arduous ascent towards integral purity; passing solid form (earth) to liquid form (water), and then to the gaseous state (air) and then to a radiant state (fire). 
As long a fire shall exist, human beings will be able to exercise their industrious activity on the things that surround them and, thanks to this wonderful igneous instrument, will be able to submit them to their own will, to mold them, to subject them their own purposes. 
As long as fire shall endure, human beings shall be directed towards relationship with the Divine - and the creature shall better know its Creator." - Fucanelli

Let us recall, in conclusion, that the above Egyptian model exists only to better and more concretely understand the human Soul. It does not mean that this division literally exists in human beings. Who asserts this acts like a child who believes in fairy tales, for these four bodies completely interpenetrate one another, and the physical human body contains the other three bodies not only within every cell, but also within each molecule and every atom. 

- Lux E Tenebris
In addition to the above, I wish only to remind our readers yet again, of the stark contrast between the diametrically opposed Mystical and Magical approaches to spirituality. Whereas the Mystic seeks union with the Divine without, through subordination or "loosening" of the ego, Magicians instead are conquerors of the ramparts of heaven.

Magicians seek not union with any sort of Divinity outside ourselves. We seek rather to liberate the "Divine spark" that lies hidden within each human being from the chains of matter.

This now brings us full circle - back to the unique call and response that opens the A.O. Neophyte ritual, which we discussed at the beginning of this article. The final strophe, given below, alludes to this "Divine spark" - as well as to the Pythagorean tradition of Pagan Greece, which, together with the Isinian mysteries of ancient Egypt, figure prominently in the Magick of the Alpha Omega, as they do in no other Golden Dawn order.
Hierophant: Youth
Hiereus: Age
Hierophant: Increase
Hiereus: Decrease
Hierophant: PROMETHEUS
Hegemon: And the path of Man between.

Prometheus and the "Divine Spark"

We, Hermetic Magicians and Alchemists of the A.O., do not despise matter, nor even so-called "things of the flesh." Instead, we see therein a "Prima Materia" to be purified with fire - to be transmuted in its fourfold ascent through the elements, as so eloquently stated by Master Fulcanelli above...

... until one day this "Divine spark," this "Gold of the Philosophers" shall, liberated from the chains of matter, take its rightful place - immortal and eternal - among the Gods!

Alpha Omega
Because we make Magicians!

Click HERE to explore our Outer Order, undergraduate level Magical training program, the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn!"

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  1. I really enjoyed this essay. It gives me plenty of light. Congratulations, was quite enlightening.

    Fraternally in LVX.

  2. Thanks frater, if you have time and knowledge can you please tell if joining here is worth it, and can self-initiation can be performed (I'm talking about the order)