Sunday, December 8, 2013

Core Golden Dawn 2: Questions Magicians Ask and Problems They Try to Solve

with Alpha Omega Imperator
David Griffin

Lesson Two:

"What kinds of questions do Golden Dawn Magicians ask?"
"What kinds of problems do they try to solve?"

The questions each Golden Dawn Magician asks her- or himself are:
  1. How can I become more than human?
  2. What are the techniques or practices that permit my Divine Spark to fully emerge and manifest within me?
  3. How should I live and work internally to reach this objective?

As a consequence, the problems Golden Dawn magicians must resolve are posed by the practice of true and ancient techniques provided by traditional initiatic science, which can lead to actual completion of the research established by the above questions.

The first problem involves the reliability of the methods, which can only be solved by certainty of their provenance, their having been tested by previous practitioners who attest to their efficiency.

The second problem involves the ability to learn and practice the ancient methods correctly rather than according to one's own understanding, which would distort them and nullify their efficiency.

The third problem Golden Dawn magicians try to solve is how to develop their energetic body. For Golden Dawn magic to become effective, one's energetic body must over time be developed, integrated into daily life and used frequently, as is the physical body.

Having accomplished this, the Magician is on the right path for spiritual development according to the Magic of the Golden Dawn.

(EU OHIM reg 000063925)
Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn®
Making Magicians - Since 1888

Click HERE to explore our Outer Order, undergraduate level Magical training program.


  1. Speaking as an independent practitioner, this post has been a great help. It has succinctly posed the rationale for the study and practice of ritual magic, thereby helping us – or me at least – to focus on the goal.

    Among the most important things you are saying here, it seems to me, is how important it is to work in a tradition, at least when one is a beginner. In the reading I have done over the last number of years and the internet searching over the last number of months, I have noted a strong tendency in many places either to modify the tradition rather glibly or to encourage an approach to the magical tradition that is far more “experimental” than seems to me wise, taking what one wants from the tradition and ignoring what one doesn’t want, often without a clear rationale (outside of it “feeling” right). While I can see the value of such an approach when one is talking of advanced magicians, i.e. magicians in whom the tradition has already been internalized and assimilated, for those of us who are new in the practice, that approach seems very unsatisfying. In fact, in my experience, it is precisely my ignorance of how exactly practices can be performed to greatest effect that produces most of my “magical anxiety”. The fact that there is a tradition to which to refer is a great help, among other reasons because it can accelerate my own development since others have tried the various routes one can go and know what generally works and what generally does not. This also speaks to the value of being part of an order, if that is possible, since tradition needs something “institutional” to carry it.

    You ask what other questions might be important to ask, I can’t help but think considering something of the social implications of what we do is key. Making the divine spark more present, alive, manifest in one’s life must also impact the lives of others, especially those with whom one is more or less in constant contact. My sense is that to those who are open to me, the energy which emanates from me also empowers them; to those who are not open or are in some way “against” me, that power seems to provoke stronger negative reactions than I might expect. That’s only an observation over a number of months so perhaps I am wrong. But if what I am saying is at least somewhat on target, it seems there are potentially strong social implications of our practice, such as being aware of the kind of impact we may have on others, for good or ill, and how to manage it. This would imply a “social ethics” of magic, I suppose.

    This latter point also raises (for me, at least) questions of power and how to use it. I have observed over the years that some people can manage increases in power – whether personal, social, through promotions or what have you – rather well, but others cannot. A person can flourish well with a certain level of power yet goes crazy with power when given more, for example. That set of issues would, I think, also arise, due to the process of enlivening the divine spark within because the increase in spiritual power could provoke power complexes of all kinds. This would suggest to me that psychotherapy might be a good thing to accompany magical training.

    That’s my short answer…:)

    1. Dear Dr. Jeeves,

      You raise some wonderful points. There are numerous G.D. leaders who propose the method of "experiment on your own, keep what works, and discard what does not." For example, Pat Zalewski and Donald Michael Kraig are proponents of this approach. Whereas I have great respect for the work of both Don and Pat, this is one point where the Alpha Omega uses very different teaching methods.

      Experimentation and "do it yourself" may be sound advice for advanced Magicians, say those operating at the Exempt Adept level and above. In my opinion, such advice does a great disservice to beginners and aspiring Magicians, however.

      There are good reasons why University undergraduates are required to assimilate new material in the form that the Professor requires of them. It is completely unreasonable to expect undergraduates to perform the sort of research that PhDs do as they have not yet acquired the requisite research skills.

      I am convinced that encouraging aspiring Magicians to simply adopt the experimental methods of advanced Magicians without first having acquired the necessary undergraduate-level education does beginners a great disservice.

      The Alpha Omega is doing our level best to correct this and other weaknesses in the teaching methods prevalent in the GD community today.

      To this end, we are presently revamping our entire curriculum, from bottom to top, with the assistance of a Professor with 20 years experience developing courses for Universities. How important this is for aspiring Magicians has not yet been fully appreciated in the Golden Dawn community, but we are forging ahead in any case. Here is some more information about this exciting development.

      - Imperator David Griffin

    2. It is encouraging to see a scholarly insight into the philosophical background or Western thought. Indeed, Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle combined psychology, cosmology, and physics into one methodology within “reasoning.” Unlike today’s use of logic, which is nothing more than sterile thinking skills, the ancients conceived of more than a human’s ability to think. Even before the Greeks, philosophers (going back to Egypt) attributed our ability to a higher power. It seems to have reached a high degree of consideration in the later philosophers of Rome such as the Stoics. In fact, the Stoic impact on Paul and the development of Christianity is well documented. Additionally, the Neo-Platonists and Aristotelian influence are evident in Augustine and Aquinas.

      Here are some questions for consideration. How are the mystic and the philosopher the same? How are the scientist and the magician the same? Is the mystic a “high-minded” philosopher? Is the magician a “high-minded” scientist? Do these fields converge? If so, when? Why? How? Or why not?

      Must one make a choice of their path? That is, to become a philosopher OR a scientist? How often does the great scientist become known for their philosophy? How often does the great philosopher become recognized for their science? If they do converge, is it during their search for answers or after achieving some level of success in a chosen path? What might this mean for magicians?

    3. You are of course raising central issues about the nature of a number of disciplines as well as about their history, some of which are controversial and debated, others of which don’t seem to have come sufficiently into scholarly view as yet. And in some cases, scholars a hundred years ago understood things which are forgotten in our own time. Scholarship is often enough more of an ebb and flow than a cumulative advancement.

      In our time it would seem impossible for someone to join logic, science, philosophy, psychology, cosmology all into one discipline. For the ancients, the philosopher or “wisdom seeker” did all of these because all were understood to be paths to wisdom, where “wisdom” meant something higher than knowledge. Among the Greek thinkers, Plato set the standard (just as he coined the term “philosophy”) by highlighting that whatever we mean by “reason” (nous), it refers at least to some kind of cognitive participation in the divine and in divine things. Aristotle called the life of the philosopher the life most similar to the life of the gods. Many Stoics and Neo-Platonists followed suit, taking for granted that (1) knowledge becomes wisdom when it includes some participation in the divine and (2) such wisdom is not simply the possession of ideas or principles but is also and more importantly something which “divinizes” the human soul, through that participation in the divine.

      For this reason, the ancients did not confuse the tools – e.g. logic, arguments, etc. – with the purpose, which is participation in divinity. One can hardly make such a point nowadays, however, where the scholarly model seems no longer to be wisdom, but to be a purely method-driven science. Though one can make the argument that is often heard, namely, that the sciences are always “progressing” and that the differentiation of science from cosmology, each from philosophy, and so on is all good, it seems to me much more of a mixed bag. If nothing else, the cultural ideal of a wisdom seeker who seeks and desires participation in the divine – and sees the world in that light – is replaced by a relatively mundane specialist doing little but applying methods to data.

      But as you suggest, the great philosophers in the tradition tended to be “mystical” – if that means that they sought “divinization”. At the same time, most of them considered cosmology, physical science, and disciplines which we would nowadays call history and social science (insofar as they existed) all fair game for the mystical philosopher. Yet as a rule they were also active: often they were politicians, many worked in types of natural philosophy and science, not a few in alchemy (whether in the form of the spiritual alchemy of Rosicrucian tradition, that I wouldn’t know of course), and so forth. Many were experimental with things of both the body and soul. And, as a rule, even as philosophers they were “empirical,” in the sense that they took experience as the basis and criterion for their understanding of the world, something the logic choppers and specialists of our own time don’t do so well. Hence being "mystical" was the opposite of being active and engaged in life and in the process of further wisdom seeking.

      Is it possible to be all these things now? Probably not; there’s too much knowledge to be mastered. But do these paths converge. I think so. Can one approximate the old model of the wisdom seeker? I know that I hope so. The convergence implies that multiple paths should lead to something like the divinization the ancients sought, providing one can understand and enact the convergence in one’s own soul. This last point seems to be the crucial one.

    4. [I have a typo in the previous post... I meant to say that "Hence being "mystical" was not the opposite of being active and engaged in life and in the process of further wisdom seeking." but I left out the "not"...]

    5. @ Dr. Jeeves
      What a terrific and thoughtful response. Your knowledge and grasp of this topic is evident. Although it would be wonderful to continue exploring the implications of your response, I am not sure if it’s a conversation for this forum. Naturally, the continuum of philosophy, mysticism, and magick are all relative and fascinating, but is so broad as to lead to an unintelligible system of study (as you pointed out).

      Let’s jump to the final part of your post as it is directly relevant to this thread and our fellow participants. Do the paths converge? You suggest they most likely do, in some way. But, I think what is more interesting is your acknowledgement of how complicated things have become. With so much advanced knowledge (whether it’s better or not), we have reached a point where few can absorb even a fraction of it.

      Where philosophy was once a practice for how to live one’s life and not a field of study to prove one’s erudition, it has today become so encumbered that it no longer leads to an excellent life (or a life of excellence). However, there are signs of philosophy’s original purpose regaining attention. The book stores are finding more and more books dedicated to using philosophy as a way of life and not simply a way of study. This gain, I believe, is due to the failure of religions to connect with modern man and provide the answers it once did. While it is we who have changed and not the religions, it is still incumbent upon spiritual leaders to make their paths relevant and meaningful.

      To this end, the AO strives to help people narrow their focus. It is vital to see where and how mysticism and magick converge because modern man doesn’t have the time or opportunity to dedicate themselves to both (and more). (To the few with the aptitude, time, and money to do so, more power to them.)

      There is much to learn from Zen, Chan, Christianity, the Druids, philosophy, mathematics, physics, pagans of all sorts, and so on. Each path is fascinating. But, few can study Kundalini, Chi-gung, Golden Dawn, Plato, Aristotle, Epictetus, and all the rest.

      (continued below)

    6. (continued)
      The AO must position itself to as a pure form of magick, proven to achieve desirable results within our lifetimes and beyond. Developing the “logic of magick” is our approach to this endeavor. It will mean removing more than adding. It is to provide depth, not breadth. It is ONE way, not THE way.

      As it stands, the AO is a system that includes ritual, tarot, alchemy, astrology, and much more. It already contains lifetimes of study. Even so, aspiring magicians still look to all available systems of magick and mysticism to fill the gap in their soul.

      The hunter who chases two rabbits catches none. The availability of so many spiritual practices today has led to less spirituality in people’s lives rather than more.

      This is why the question on convergence. If we come to believe all such paths converge, we can stop pursuing all paths simultaneously as a risk management strategy. We can become comfortable knowing that sooner or later, we will all arrive at the same place. The chosen path will be determined by our aptitude and interests instead of which one is “right.” (Not to imply all are right as some methods might simply be wrong or ineffective.) But the student must come to KNOW this, not just take our word for it. Otherwise, they will fall prey to every magical/mystical group out there promising illumination and occult powers. They will lack the patience and persistence required when they don’t get immediate results. We live in a world where instant gratification is the primary selling point. Dieting, fitness, knowledge, wisdom, and magick do not fall into this category no matter the slick marketing campaigns suggesting otherwise.

      Consider the martial arts as an example. If an aspiring martial artist were to join a club to learn Judo (for throwing), Tae Kwon Do (for kicking), Tai Chi (for internal energy), boxing (for punching), and so on, he or she would not become a “well-rounded” martial artist. They would become a victim to a master of any one of these systems. However, if they master one art, they could then quickly learn the others. My encounters with martial arts masters suggest that once they have mastered one art, they realize there is no point in trying to master them all. Sure, they dabble for fun but mostly to understand the methods of others. What they tell me is that, ultimately, they all achieve the same end (just in different ways).

      Do we discourage learning from other systems? No, not at all. But, we preserve that for the “masters” of the art, the PhD’s of magick. If those who master the system discover a method that should be introduced to the beginner, they will introduce it into the curriculum in a way the beginner can absorb it and in a way that is consistent with the Golden Dawn approach.

      What we find is some of the “masters” of magick are introducing methods from other systems by “cut and paste” rather than reformulating them to match the Golden Dawn. This causes confusion for the student and it dilutes the Golden Dawn itself. Ultimately, the end results of other systems are almost certainly contained within the GD already. What is adapted are the methods. But, as in the martial arts, the integrity of the system must be retained when new things are added.

      Dr. Jeeves, you have an excellent grasp of relevant topics. Here’s the ending question: How can we prove to ourselves these paths converge (or don’t)?

      Here’s a hint for those playing along at home – it is not by one person mastering them all to find out.

    7. There are so many excellent points, questions, clarifications here. Too many to respond to in general, of course. But there are a few I would like to take up, that is, if you don’t feel I have taken up too much space on here already…

      I can’t but agree with you on the point that it is best for AO or for any order to make itself relevant, partially by using proven ways to teach magic. This highlights a point you have made directly and indirectly on a number of recent posts, namely, the importance of traditional training. Part of the value of a tradition is that it has been tested for many generations and, in the case of the Rosicrucian tradition, we are talking of “many centuries”. There is a powerful tendency in our time to assume the “new” is necessarily the “improved” and, correlating to this, it appears to be a common experience that tradition is a limit, even a straightjacket, hindering development. I think such ideas confuse “tradition” with “traditionalism”. One can use a tradition to hinder development, of course, but it doesn’t follow that tradition by nature is such a limit. On the contrary, when a tradition has been tested over a long period of time to function, it usually ends up to be part and parcel of any future development because it has passed the test of time.

      For this reason (among others) I think you make a crucial point about the “temptation,” if I may put it so, of seeking breadth at the expense of depth. I think this is a common temptation for academically-minded people but also for magicians, if the sites I have been perusing over the last few months are any example. It is interesting to me the extent to which magicians seem to bring together any number of traditions – or even just piecemeal practices – whose underlying principles do not seem to be coherent. By saying this, I am not saying that an experienced magician cannot keep expanding his or her practice, including traditions different from those he or she is trained in. But I am saying that, if one has not yet entered into at least one tradition with a good deal of depth, it doesn’t seem to me that one can yet be a very good judge of what should be added to one’s practice. Good judgment, it seems to me, already assumes that the person judging is very good at what he or she does – good in a tradition whose ideals, insights and values have informed the judgment. Without that strange and often incoherent eclecticisms get invented, muddled from the beginning due to the underlying principles being in tension or even at odds with each other.

      You make an interesting further point and pose a question: how do we know about the convergence of these different routes? I’m not sure I have a definite answer for you but I would say, like the martial arts example you offer, there are parallels in every kind of spiritual discipline, such that mastering one tradition in depth tends to make one more aware and more sensitive to how other spiritual disciplines are after the same thing, even if their symbolic system and practices are significantly different. The commonality here may be rooted in the commonality of human nature and how the impulse to fullness of being and life in human beings generally seems to underpin diverse spiritual and intellectual traditions.

      It would follow then that, the more one cultivates the powers of the soul, in the context of a tradition with tried and true ideals and values, the more one’s perception of the world in its depth, breadth and meaning tends to expand and be enhanced. Furthermore, the more there is an entire community of such people, the more a general and generally accurate picture of the world in its breadth and depth can be formed, enriching the tradition in which they function and allowing for a better perception of how and which routes end up contributing to the betterment of humanity.

  2. Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law

    "Abrogate are all rituals, all ordeals, all words and signs. Ra-Hoor-Khuit hath taken his seat in the East at the Equinox of the Gods; and let Asar be with Isa, who also are one. But they are not of me. Let Asar be the adorant, Isa the sufferer; Hoor in his secret name and splendour is the Lord initiating."

    The golden dawn current is invalid after 1904!

    Love is the law, love under will


    1. Could you expand a bit? Why do you say that the "golden dawn current is invalid after 1904"? How does this quotation show that? I'm not trying to pick a fight... I honestly don't know why you are saying that.


  3. I've got a question..
    how do you crack a rubber egg?

  4. I have found extremly interesting, useful and stimulating these two Core Golden Dawn lessons and I really hope that you will continue this section... Thank you!
    Now we know where we are, where we want to go and what we have to do at the very beginning to arrive there... I think that some possible questions could be, once we know ho to start to walk, wich is the best way to walk in? Wich one will bring us at our destination with the less number of obstacles and in the fastest way?