Special Envoy of the Secret Chiefs of the
Third Order of the Golden Dawn
Translated by David Griffin
(GH Frater Lux ex Septentrionis)
TRUTH: The Golden Dawn's
Rosicrucian Inner Order & Initiations
I have been asked by the Secret Chiefs of the august Order to which it is my great honor to belong, to write about the traditional meaning and true initiatic function of the three degrees of the Second Order of the Golden Dawn (R.R. et A.C.).
The three Adept grades incorporated in the Rosicrucian Tradition are actually re-elaborations of extremely ancient mysteries that have always accompanied humankind since the beginning of its appearance on this earth.
Human beings are born and live with the passing of their lives and the approach of death ever present before our eyes. The birth, life, death and resurrection of the plant world did not escape the careful eye of the ancients. They wondered why it is that what happened in the plant world did not also happen in the world of animals and human beings. The ancients observed that, from the seed of grain was grain reborn, as were human beings from human seed, even if diverse.
In this perfecting the knowledge of nature, the ancients noticed also that the Sun was likewise born, died and was reborn - as was the moon, and as the heavens presented the stars and the planets. In fact, everything in life spoke of this cycle of birth, death and resurrection. It did not take long for the ancients to realize that every law they observed was the same for every thing that could ever be discovered or comprehended.
The Universe is order from chaos and therefore is subject to precise laws that are inviolable and eternal. The universe has two properties: eternity and infinity. The Universe is infinite, as it contains everything that exists. The Universe is eternal, as visible material expression of Beingness.
The Universe, within itself, is mutable and cyclical. The elements contained within the Universe therefore transform into infinite gradations of matter and energy, and this movement, evolution or devolution leads to the creation of Time.
Humankind is a creation of the Universe - and human beings within themselves contain all three of the preceding kingdoms; mineral, vegetable, and animal. Moreover, in human beings Soul, Mind, and Consciousness manifest, being that which makes us human.
As human beings, we notice that our bodies are born, live, and die. By analogical observation, which is the cornerstone upon which all of Magic rests, we discover that our bodies are subject to the same laws like all other things. By noting how the Sun returns, the Moon returns, the seasons return, and plants are reborn - we discover how we are subject to the same fate: Birth-Life-Death-Rebirth.
The point of this is that, as the ancients said, there are only two possibilities for a human being; to be reborn as human or to be reborn as a Soul. With the term Soul, I intend to describe the subtle and invisible complex within human beings, and not just one part of it, which for the purposes of this discussion would be useless.
In Egypt the dead were embalmed and then awakened or caused to be reborn, with particular and energetic practices which coagulated the subtle remains of the deceased, in such a manner that his consciousness could rest upon it and thus live a sort of life beyond the grave.
And the Limbo, the Elysian fields, or Underworld, the Duat, etc. - This inner dimension of man is known by many names - but in any case it means always the one and the same thing.
The true initiatic schools, have therefore long understood that the only key, be it to understand nature and therefore the entire universe, or be it to transform a human being, is precisely the perennial law of analogy.
Departing from here, we can observe an entire proliferation of rites and practices analogous to the cycles of time of the earth, the sun, the moon, or stars. This is to ensure that humankind enters into the great cosmic harmony that turns eternally, and thus evolves according a universal law, namely: In the universe things transform from worse to better as well as from better to worse. In modern times, this is known as the Law of Thermodynamics. For our purposes, however, it is enough to know that this is Eternal Universal Law.
Mystery Schools and initiatic rites can not escape this general universal rule, and thus we find them again and again all across the world, coupled with the eternal laws of the birth of life, of death and of rebirth. Here in the West, we can observe this also in Christianity, the dominant religion of the day, but each initiatic order also has its own corpus of special initiatic doctrines and practices, which cause their disciples to advance along these lines. To this, there are no exceptions.
Thus we arrive at the Second Order of the Golden Dawn, the R.R. et A.C., which as already stated for the other orders, can not escape this rule as an expression of the eternal laws governing everything. In fact, upon initiation in the Neophyte grade of the Outer Order of the Golden Dawn, a new life begins for the candidate.
This entire new life unfolds for the initiate in the grades leading up to Philosophus. Next, the candidate encounters the mysteries of the Divine for the first time in the Portal of the Vault of the Adepts. This transitional grade is essential for the incubation of the new Soul in preparation for the second initiatic ordeal - Death following the birth that constituted the first such ordeal as a Neophyte.
In the Adeptus Minor (5=6) ritual, in documents and practices furnished to me not by the R.R. et A.C., but rather by the R+C Order from which the R.R. et A.C. arises, the following is said, which is precise and incontrovertible:
"The Mystery School into which you have been initiated is not a school of mysticism, but rather a school of active Magic. In this order we study the Principles of Sacred Science from a scientific point of view, instead of from the mystical or emotional point of view of religions.
In this Mystery School which transmits the teachings of ancient Mystery Schools of Sumeria, Chaldea, Assyria and Egypt, you will find neither superstition nor obscurantism. We will reveal to you the true inner structure of human beings and their true relationship with the Universe: For this reason, disciple, be ready to follow the course in every phase and fear not the death you shall face..."
This is the grade corresponding to the Adeptus Minor (5=6) of the R.R. et A.C. in the Order, which shall remain unnamed, yet is the foundation and root of all Rosicrucian mysteries ever transmitted in the West.
Next, in the ritual which is the source of the 6=5 in the R.R. et A.C., it is written:
"I have died - and now I voyage in unknown realms with my boat (an image of the Subtle Body). Although dead, I am and live in this endless sea, joyous in the knowledge that the body is not everything!
Now I know! Now I can meet my brothers and sisters and receive from them the power of contact with the things above and the things below ..."
For now I shall not dwell upon explaining these words, but shall return to them, once we have first examined the following from the ritual which was the source document for the Adeptus Exemptus (7=4) of the R.R. et A.C.:
"I know you Death - And yet I live! I am dead and I have been reborn. I have conquered death - and I rise like the sun on the horizon. My journey in the world beyond the tomb is accomplished - and now I return with the earth in blossom."
In this journey we may observe and note precisely what happens throughout the universe - and thus also the human beings on their journey towards regeneration.
In these grades transmitted to the R.R. et A.C. by the mysterious Order from which the Rosicrucian impulse first arose, it is explained in the instructions to the Adept that this is not a path of mysticism and certainly not a path for many - that when we speak of death, you truly die - and that when we speak of journeying beyond the tomb - you truly travel - and when we speak of rebirth - you are truly reborn and not merely symbolically or metaphorically.
Inside of the human being who undergoes these initiations and performs these techniques, changes that occur are not merely mental, but also energetic, biological, and cellular.
Using techniques of Superior Magic of the Adeptus Major (6=5) grade, it becomes possible to have the same experiences as when you die, as all attest who have gone this way before. Once you are "dead" you find yourself in a place that is neither heaven nor earth. In this place, called "beyond the tomb," "duat," etc., for the first time, you encounter your own complexes of the mind and of the Soul. No longer trapped in the physical body of the Adept, these now take on tangible, visible appearance. It is these which torture or delight the Soul.
If the mysteries of death are those of the Adeptus Minor, who sacrifices him or her-self scientifically, in order to transform into a different substance (as can be observed in any cabinet of chemistry or physics laboratory where matter is studied), then in the grade of Adeptus Major (6=5), consciousness is gained in the LITERAL sense."
The Major Adept encounters these Spirits, Angels, or Demons, meets these energies, gains consciousness of them, gets to know them there, and returns from "beyond the tomb" changed forever, as True Magic and its functions are revealed in subtle detail.
During the 6=5 initiation of an Adeptus Major, a special magical technique is employed, which LITERALLY detaches the soul of the candidate, separating it from the physical body, so that the Adept may have the literal experience of what actually happens when you die.
I understand there have been, and still remain, leaders of orders who have never had contact with the true R+C source. Based merely on their fantasy of the function of these rites, these individuals would nonetheless like to convince you that these sacred rituals and techniques are merely symbolical or mystical. I swear to you, however, that this is not so.
The three Adept rituals of the R.R. et A.C. are but one valid albeit late manifestation of earlier Rosicrucian rites that contain the knowledge of death, the knowledge of the universe beyond, and of rebirth and regeneration. These rites, which TOGETHER contain the requisite knowledge to become a TRUE Adept, are in reality but three degrees in one.
There have been orders that have already deviated these rites and there are others too today who would lead you even further astray. Some Golden Dawn orders today even claim that there is no magic beyond the Adeptus Minor (5=6) grade, and that the Major initiation of Rosicrucian Adepts, the Adeptus Major (6=5) is but a mystical appendage of the 5=6 - that there is no place in the 6=5 for advanced Rosicrucian magic, and that the 7=4 is but yet more mysticism.
Our august Order breaks its silence therefore today, so that the original essence of these essential Rosicrucian rites might not be lost merely to a thirst for innovation, led by a chorus of experts who, perhaps even meaning well, would nonetheless otherwise lead you astray.
In the tomb, in which the Major Adept is enclosed, there is all of his/her consciousness, and in the "world beyond the tomb," the consciousness of the Adept encounters the consciousness of Nature, once the consciousness of the Adept has been detached from its physical vehicle by 6=5 rites of Magic.
Once the Adept's consciousness has been magically detached from his or her physical body, he or she then confronts what the Adept knew or thought to be - with what is in reality, and thus can make a complete correction in the eyes of God. It is in the 6=5 grade of Adeptus Major, therefore, that contact can truly be stabilized with one's higher Self, Divine essence, or "Angel" (and not in the 5=6, as has been popularly misunderstood for over a century). It through the the contact that comes from the sojourn in the Underworld in the 6=5 grade, that, in addition to one's earthly guides, one who knows death gains also the guidance from one's Divine source.
The Major Adept knows death, yet the victory is not yet fully won. As the Hermetic adage states, "you must not only separate the volatile from the fixed. It must not only ascend to heaven, but it must also descend to Earth again empowered with the knowledge of superior and inferior things. Then the volatile must once again be reunited with the fixed. Only then will the Earth be reborn and regenerated, and the physical and magical powers of the Adept blossom like the flowers in Spring.
Far removed from all metaphor and mysticism, the LITERAL bath of the Adept in the Upper Astral realm, where resides that which does not live on Earth, reawakens the powers slumbering within the Adept. Thus, it is upon entering the 7=4 that the keys are bestowed of how to use these awakened powers for the common good, as well as to lead the Order. This is why the power to reconstitute the Order, if necessary, has at all times in history resided with Exempt Adepts, together with the Hermetic and Rosicrucian lineages of our Order, as is also the case with the Golden Dawn.
Magical and alchemical techniques are given in this grade that carry the Adept to triumph in his or her Opus Magnum (Great Work). Far from all metaphor and mysticism, these techniques are physical, observable, and have nothing to do with mysticism, obfuscation, or the sort of smoky theological arguments about these grades that have appeared in books and on the Internet of late.
The rest, or everything else that occurs later, can not be comprehended by those who have not yet reached such an advanced state of spiritual development, since the manner in which the human machine functions - and the Soul that inhabits it - are so different to that which we are accustomed to think and see, that it would appear to be but a fairy tale.
In this state, the Adept comes to understand the language of Nature, even to perceive and to comprehend the Universal movements of the Spheres. The Adept understands even life and death, living on the extreme peak of both. The Soul of the Adept is quiet and balanced - and nothing can shake this Soul - becoming what Agrippa called a Static Soul - a Soul tranquil, equilibrated, and no longer fluctuating.
Thus we witness the miracle of the trinity of grades of the true Rosicrucian Adept, the nature and purpose of which is totally different than what people have come to think and write of them today. Although to the outside, these initiations appear to be three grades, they are in reality but one deeply profound initiatic process, which fully develops the Soul of the Adept.
The Secret Chiefs of the Order from which the Rosicrucian tradition first arose, including the R.R. et A.C., asked me to write this article, so that all may better understand the R.R. et A.C. and benefit from the true Rosicrucian manner in which the Second Order of the Golden Dawn has been intended all along.
Trusting fully in my disciple, Frater Lux ex Septentrionis (David Griffin), I accept his view that there is today a need for diversity among orders in the Golden Dawn community. Nonetheless, there is a limit to what can or should be changed, and certain essential things should be touched at all.
If the original R+C tradition is not to be lost completely in America and the English speaking world, it is important that there are Golden Dawn orders like the Alpha Omega that remain faithful not only to the original Rosicrucian tradition - but even to the dark and hidden roots out of which the Rosicrucian rose first grew, and from which the R+C Rose continues to nourish itself even today.
Thus, in this strange, modern world in which we live, where the leader of one modern Golden Dawn order today claims that "the higher R.R. et A.C. grades are not magical, but rather mystical in nature" and another writes that "tradition must be sacrificed to intellect in order to achieve Gnosis...
... I am reminded of the Hermetic maxim in the following alchemical image: