by Alpha Omega Imperator
Yesterday, I attempted to reply on a Facebook group to aspirant Desiree Finkbeiner, who was asking about the difference between various Golden Dawn orders. I entered the discussion because i had been mentioned by name, and because Sam Scarborough was making inaccurate statements about the Alpha Omega.
The ensuing discussion involving Sam Scarborough, Nick Farrell and myself was the closest thing to genuine dialogue that we have seen in many years in the Golden Dawn community. Unfortunately, today moderator Nick Farrell erased the entire discussion and banned me from the group, posting a message completely misrepresenting what I had written and accusing me of trying to play some sort of political one upsmanship?
Why does answering questions posed by potential students the real differences between one Golden Dawn order and the other need to be viewed as a bad thing or some sort of political oneupsmanship?
Should we as a community fear open, honest discussion about the differences between our various orders? There were a lot of good insights on the thread started by Desiree Finkbeiner who just innocently asked about the differences between all these orders. In my opinion, it is a shame that the entire discussion was removed by Nick Farrell. Such behavior is unfair to Desiree and others like her who want to know and deserve to know about the real differences between us. Moreover, Mr. Farrell has again repressed any legitimate debate in the Golden Dawn community.
Are we as a community not mature enough to have an open, civil dialogue about the legitimate differences between one Golden Dawn order and the other?
Prospective students legitimately want to know what these differences are. In fact, they DESERVE to know.
ARE there no real differences? Of course there are.
Then what is so bad about coming clean about them in a direct, civil manner.
And why does legitimate dialogue about these things have to be interpreted as some sort of schoolyard "My order is better than your order" nonsense.
I think part of the problem is that some people in the Golden Dawn community feel that Mysticism is a pejorative term when it comes to the Golden Dawn.
It is NOT.
There is a long history of very positive Mystical tendencies in our GD community. Just look at A.E. Waite's "Fellowship of the Rosy Cross" which completely surpressed Golden Dawn Magick in favor of Christian mysticism. Is there anything "inferior" about that to Mathers "Alpha Omega"?
Of course not! They are both very important and valid schools in their own right.
In reality, all orders have some Mysticism and some Magick. In both our philosophies and our methods, however, some orders are more Mystical and others more Magickal. There is nothing wrong with this. It is merely a question of unique philosophies and methods. All GD orders do not need to be clones of one another. In reality, we frequently do have divergent philosophies and methods.
Should we be afraid of a civil, open, and honest dialogue about these things?
Should all such discussion be stamped out by heavy handed moderation? Do aspirants not deserve better than this of our community?
Let's see if I can't make this point clearer with a few analogies a couple of steps removed from the Golden Dawn, so that our passions perhaps no longer cloud the issue.
Below are some analogies that I hope will make this point clearer.
Would you agree that all good medical people want the health of their patients?
Would you agree all good spiritual groups want the spiritual health of their members?
Would you agree that different groups claim to be in the medical field but have different approaches to health? For example, the DC, MD, DO, and Naturopathic doctor all want a healthy patient but approach it differently?
What is different? Their philosophy of medicine? Yes. Their methods? Yes.
Are the different approaches more appropriate for different people and their ailments? Seems so.
Is there a place for each approach? Seems so.
Are all of them "wrong" except one? Doesn't seem so. Can they all be right depending on the patient? Seems so.
Is the "right" approach fully dependent upon the patient? Seems so.
Should they be very clear to the patient the positive and negative aspects of their approach for that particular patient? Seems so.
Should the medical professional make their goal, methods, and philosophy VERY clear to the patient so he or she can make an informed choice? Seems so.
Is it for the patient to decide? Ultimately.
Would you agree there are different martial arts?
Would you agree they all want the same thing? No.
Unlike medical people, who have the same goal with different methods and philosophies, martial arts can have different goals, methods, and philosophies.
Can two martial arts have the same goal but different methods? Yes.
Is one martial art superior to another? Only in respect to a particular goal.
Should the student make sure their personal goal and the goal of the martial art are the same? Yes.
Should the martial art make their goal, methods, and philosophy VERY clear to the student so he or she can make an informed choice? Seems so.
The GD collectively seems to have the same purpose. What differs between orders are our philosophies and methods. A philosophy of Magick or Mysticism is just one such example. The same methods, driven by different philosophies, creates different results. The same philosophies with different methods creates different results.
If we in the Alpha Omega are focused on "Making Magicians," it demonstrates our philosophy. This mission also informs our approach to our methods.
The Marines and the Boy Scouts both go on hiking and camping trips, but their goals, philosophies, and methods are radically different. Yet, a statement that "Marines and the Boy Scouts both go on hiking and camping trips" is misleading for one that doesn't know the difference between a Marine and a Boy Scout.
For an order to say "We seek the spiritual growth of our members" is as informative as a hospital saying "We want our patients to be healthy." It implies that other hospitals want their patients to be sick (or at least don't care if they are healthy).
So what do I mean by divergent philosophies of Magick and Mysticism in the Golden Dawn community?
Immediately following the 1903 schism, William Butler Yeats wrote an article entitled "Is the Golden Dawn to remain a Magical order?" Ever since, a chasm has emerged between those in the Golden Dawn community who gravitate more towards Mysticism and those who gravitate more towards Magick. This has created fundamental differences between one Golden Dawn order and the other, which endure in our Golden Dawn community even until today.
This is natural, since Mysticism and Magick are two quite distinct spiritual paths. The primary difference between Magick and Mysticism lies codified in the actual methods of practice, together with the Mystical or Magical inclinations of the practitioner.
The Mystical path refers to the capacity and will of the practitioner to place oneself in a passive position in relationship to eternal Being and the forces of nature, which the Practitioner begins to invoke and pray to, so they may manifest and enlighten one, thus spiritually uplifting and exalting the practitioner.
The Magical practitioner, on the other hand, does not place him or herself in a passive state towards natural and Divine forces, but rather in a positive state. Recognizing the Divine Spark inside oneself, the practitioner actively collaborates with Eternal Being rather than waiting for its manifestations.
In Mysticism, the practitioner expects Divinity to manifest itself, and to ascend the staircase that leads from below to on high aided by the Divine hand that takes us and leads us ever upwards.
Magic does not expect this, instead conquering the Inner Planes through one's own effort rather than through Divine aid. Thus, whereas the Mystical approach is one of submission, the Magician instead is a conqueror.
A perfect example of the Magical path may be found in the Mithraic Ritual deposited in Paris, which shows one such practice of divine Ascension of the Magical initiate. While rising towards Divinity to be received like a prodigal Son or Daughter, the practitioner greets the Gods as equals that gradually appear, not fearing them or subjugating oneself before them, but admonishing them and blandishing them with Magical words that open the gates of heaven.
Whereas Magick is based on knowledge, Mysticism is based on on ignorance in the literal sense of "ignoring" or "unknowing." In fact, one of the most important mystical texts in all of Christianity, The Cloud of Unknowing, speaks of making oneself obscure, humble and ignorant before the unmanifest - to remain there, in silence, gradually emptying oneself, while waiting for something or someone (God) to come and fill the void thus created.
Thus two completely different modalities become evident. Whereas the Mystic reflects the Divine light that is poured out upon him, the Magician generates this light, becoming an emitter himself.
The foremost exponent of the Mystical path in the Golden Dawn was Arthur Edward Waite, who completely suppressed Magick in favor of Christian Mysticism in his Fellowship of the Rosy Cross and its Inner Order, the Rosa Rossa et Aureae Crucis (Rectified Rite). Waite's Fellowship of the Rosy Cross, reconstructed in recent years and open only to Christians, today remains the most Mystical order in the Golden Dawn community.
The foremost exponent of the Magical path in the Golden Dawn was S.L. MacGregor Mathers. Mathers understood that the Golden Dawn primarily as a Magical rather than a Mystical tradition. Over time the Magical spiritual path has become more and more pronounced in Mathers' Alpha Omega. The A.O. today remains the most Magical order in the Golden Dawn community, in that we teach Ritual Magick already from Day One.
Does this mean that the Alpha Omega is the only valid Golden Dawn order. Of course not. We are just a rose among roses. We do hold a unique place in our community, however, and our philosophy and methods are best suited for certain kinds of students.
There is nothing wrong with having a philosophy and methods similar to ours in the AO. There is also nothing wrong with having a very different philosophy and methods, as does the "Fellowship of the Rosy Cross."
There is nothing wrong with having a philosophy and methods that lie somewhere between these two extremes. After all, like I said earlier, all esoteric orders have some Mysticism and some Magick.
I urge the leaders of all Golden Dawn orders to begin to set forth their own unique philosophies and to be transparent and forthcoming about the spiritual methods that they actually teach.
Aspirants like Desiree Finkbeiner, who had her legitimate questions unfairly erased by moderation, HAVE A RIGHT TO KNOW.