Sunday, June 8, 2014

EXPOSED: Why do Psychiatric Patients Found Golden Dawn Orders or Become Therapists?

by Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn®
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Imperator David Griffin

The Mysticism vs. Magick debate in the Golden Dawn community took an unexpected turn this week, as it raised important questions about why individuals who are chronically clinically depressed become Psychotherapists or Golden Dawn leaders. The discussion this week highlights not only the danger posed to spiritual aspirants by those who become therapists or spiritual leaders to compensate for ongoing mental problems like chronic clinical depression, but also the unnecessary suffering caused to aspiring Magicians by confusion about the aims and practices of traditional Mysticism vs. those of traditional Magick.

I was recently approached on Facebook by a man named Brad, who has been practicing Golden Dawn Magick for many years, but was dismayed because he still was unable to "overcome his ego" and therefore had failed to "merge with God."  I am heartbroken when I hear such stories because such individuals are suffering completely without reason other than that they have hopelessly confused the aims and methods of Magick with those of Christian mysticism.

There are too many Golden Dawn authors and "leaders" who use the terms Mysticism and Magick as though they were interchangeable. There are others who are deliberately dishonest about it, misrepresenting the spiritual methods of traditional Christian Mysticism as the Magickal methods of the traditional Golden Dawn. They are not the same. Not at all.

I have already addressed these issues over and over, including in previous articles on the Golden Dawn blog here, here, and here. I am glad to see that this important issue is finally being discussed more in detail on the Blogosphere. This weeks discussion began with a fine article by Alexandrian Wiccan elder, Frater Barrabbas, that you can read here. This was followed by significant Facebook debate and a second great article by Frater Barrabbas here.

During the Facebook debate, I was disappointed to witness the level of confusion exemplified even by one of my former students, who wrote the following:
 "I regard the experience of the Dark Night to be a integrated and necessary part of intitiation, and the outcome of the disintegration of the component parts of the initiate or solve phase of initiation; the alchemical nigredo."
What disappoints me most about the above statement is the way it attempts to fancifully redefine traditional Golden Dawn initiation as well as the Nigredo in traditional Hermetic alchemy. The Dark Night of the Soul of St. John of the Cross refers not to Magick, but to Christian Mysticism, which itself is a fine, very specific and well defined spiritual system and with its own unique methodology (one that in is many ways diametrically opposed to the methods and aims of the classical Hermetic tradition). Despite the erroneous claim made by my former student in the above statement, St. John of the Cross's "Dark Night of the Soul" in reality has nothing at all to do with the Nigredo in traditional Hermetic alchemy either.

Why Clear Definitions Are Important

Many readers have noticed I have been donating a lot of philanthropic time to our Facebook Page (here) and Group (here), teaching "Critical Thinking for Magicians" and the "Philosophy of Magick." I have been providing this educational service without charge to the Golden Dawn community, because I know the flame wars that have nearly destroyed the Golden Dawn can only continue while readers remain uneducated how to critically examine the arguments and talking points of flamers.

Think about it. All it really will take to end the 20 year old Golden Dawn flame war once and for all is to train the Golden Dawn community in critical thinking. Once the method of critically evaluating the arguments of flamers is correctly understood and employed, flamers lose all credibility, for their arguments do not stand up to the light of reason.

There are three "acts" of the mind according to philosophers. These are:
  1. UNDERSTANDING the meaning or what something is.
  2. JUDGMENT of what is true.
  3. REASONING to find out why something is.
Terms (words) we use must be defined and agreed upon. A term can be clear or unclear (ambiguous). Terms can never be true or false, valid or invalid. The first act of the mind is to understand the term.

Propositions can ONLY be true of false. They are never valid or invalid. They are never clear or unclear (only terms are clear or unclear). Propositions have two parts: subject and predicate terms. The second act of the mind is to judge if a proposition is true or untrue.

Finally, we examine WHY one idea is true and another false. This is the third act of the mind (reasoning). An argument has two parts: the premises and the conclusion. Arguments are either valid or invalid. They are never clear or unclear (only terms are). Arguments are never true or false (only propositions are).

To validly disagree with any conclusion, one must show that there is either:
  1. An ambiguous term, or
  2. A false premise, or
  3. A logical fallacy in the argument such that the conclusion does not necessarily follow from the premises.
Clear definitions are important for any communication at all to have meaning. All science grows in three main phases. These are (1) a common vocabulary, (2) correlation, and (3) effect-cause-effect. This means that every known science began by first establishing a common vocabulary that permitted its proponents to communicate. Without a clear definition of each term, conversations end up turning into arguments even when both sides are actually proclaiming the same truths.

Aristotle was quite adamant that we must always begin by clarifying our terms. Unfortunately, when important terms and concepts, such as “Magick” and “Mysticism” are used with imprecision, we end up fighting about something that isn’t really important. I won’t bother with the last two phases as they are not relevant to this discussion.

One of the greatest failures of the modern Golden Dawn has arisen due to the fast and loose tendency for GD "leaders" to willy-nilly redefine traditional terms according to personal whim. In this way, even traditional Hermetic alchemy has been stripped of its traditional meaning in the Hermetic tradition and misused even as a mere synonym for "personal growth."

What is most surprising about the above cited statement from my former student, is that it comes from someone who not only presents himself online as a Golden Dawn "traditionalist" - but even as a crusader against what he calls "post-modernist" tendencies in today's Golden Dawn community. I am therefore surprised that, despite such posturing and bluster, his above cited statement fully embodies the "post-modernist" tendency to fancifully redefine traditional terms according to personal whim and caprice.

Let us set the record straight again. The sublime Mysticism of St. John of the Cross and its methodology are not synonymous with "clinical depression" - and any "traditionalist" Golden Dawn leader ought to know better than to play fast and loose with definitions of traditional concepts like "post-modernists" do. 

There is already too much confusion between the methods of traditional Mysticism and traditional Magick and this confusion is already causing great and needless suffering in individuals like Brad who approached me through Facebook.

Just because an aspiring Magician is Roman Catholic (as is my former student) this does not automatically transform the classical Golden Dawn into a school of Christian Mysticism. Even if one founds a "Golden Dawn" order according to his personal vision of a hodgepodge of Christian Mysticism jumbled with Freudian psychology and Golden Dawn teachings ...

... the classical Golden Dawn remains a Hermetic tradition of Magick and Alchemy ...

... and not just another psycho-mystico-magickal "salad of the day" dreamed up by yet another in a long line of would be Chefs.

The Hermetic tradition does not need to import luminaries and methods from traditions other than our own. We have our own methods and luminaries, including Giordano Bruno, Marcilio Ficino, Cornelius Agrippa, Gerolamo Cardano, Pietro D'Abano, Theophrastus Paracelsus, and Eliphas Levi (not to mention the entirety of Egyptian, Chaldeaen, and Sumerian Magick).

Moreover, just because an aspiring Magician has been struggling against chronic clinical depression for decades, this does not make one's depression somehow identical with St. John of the Cross's "Dark Night of the Soul" either! 

If someone has failed for decades to overcome clinical depression, will becoming a psychotherapist somehow magically banish the depression? No - but the personal failure of the therapist to do so may well make him a danger to his patients!

If someone who has played at Magick for decades while at the same time failing to overcome chronic, clinical depression, eventually founds their own Golden Dawn order and presents themselves as a spiritual leader, will this suddenly banish chronic, recurrent depression? No, but the personal failure to do so may well make them a danger to their Golden Dawn students!

Physician - Heal THYSELF!

I have great compassion for anyone who suffers from chronic and recurrent clinical depression. I have neither compassion nor tolerance, however, for anyone who, rather than dealing with their own personal issues like overcoming chronic depression, instead make themselves a danger to others by setting themselves up either as psychotherapists or as spiritual leaders rather than fundamentally come to terms with their personal inadequacies first.

It turns my stomach when I meet people who are suffering needlessly because they think that a Magican is supposed to negate their ego in order to merge with God as is the case with traditional Mysticism. And those who peddle Mysticism for Magick and deliberately cause confusion about the very real differences between the two traditions are personally responsible for such needless suffering.

I am certainly not saying that there is anything wrong with Mysticism as a traditional spiritual path. Mysticism is a great path and even the right or the only path for some people. It is however, diametrically opposed to the traditional Magical spiritual path in both its goals and its methods. What I emphatically do object to is the dishonesty of misrepresenting Mystical spiritual methods as Magick. Just look at the way poor Brad from Facebook is suffering as a consequence!

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. 

A.E. Waite
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 Rosae Rubeae 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 the great Mage, 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. Our mission is to make Magicians, and unlike all other Golden Dawn orders that make you wait for years, we teach Magick from day one!

In between the Alpha Omega and the Fellowship of the Rosy Cross, which most clearly exemplify the diametrically opposed Magical and Mystical Golden Dawn paths, there today exist a host of Golden Dawn orders that lie somewhere in between. Most Golden Dawn orders still teach Magick in their Second Orders, but there nonetheless remain vast differences in their approaches and goals.

There are numerous Golden Dawn orders that have not gone so far as to suppress Magick outright as did the Waite order, yet nonetheless remain quite Mystical in their approach to the Golden Dawn. Such Mystical Golden Dawn orders do not teach Magick at all in their outer order, and provide no guidance or support to their Outer Order initiates who are practicing published Golden Dawn Magick on their own. Mystical Golden Dawn orders view their Outer Order instead as serving primarily to "purge" the personality self, in preparation to receive Mystical illumination from outside the practitioner in their Second Order.

Mystical Golden Dawn orders teach that it is necessary to "loosen the ego" in preparation for Mystical illumination and that the practice of Magick in the Outer Order will stunt what they hold as the necessary purging of the personality and ego. Such methods are identical to the methods of Christian Mystics such as St. John of the Cross and Mother Theresa and other Christian mystics and have been proven effective for centuries for those seeking Mystical illumination. Clearly, aspiring Mystics are best suited for one of the numerous mystically oriented Golden Dawn orders.

That most Mystical Golden Dawn orders have not completely suppressed Magick has led to a very curious situation in the contemporary Golden Dawn community where, even though they use many of the same basic practices, two distinct types of Magick have firmly established themselves.

One type of Magick is rooted in Mysticism, holds the philosophical position that we are all born as sinners, and uses methods like those set forth in "The Cloud of Unknowing" (purgations, humility, "loosening the ego" and waiting for illumination to come from outside).

The other type of Magick is that of the purely Magical spiritual path, as taught and practiced in the Alpha Omega, which proceeds instead through spiritual exaltation, and holds rather a Hermetic philosophical position that we are all children of the Divine; holographic manifestations of the One, which is the entire Universe.

Whereas the Magick of most Golden Dawn orders today is Mystically oriented, passive, and negative (full of purgation, etc.), the Magick of the Alpha Omega is positive, active, and life affirming. Recognizing the Divine Spark inside oneself, the Magical spiritual path actively collaborates with Eternal Being, rather than waiting for its manifestations.

Whereas Mysticism is passive and seeks illumination bestowed through grace from from an outside Divinity, Magick is live-giving and self-illuminating, kindling the Divine spark present inside every Magician to burn brightly, shining like the Sun and Stars.

The wonderful thing about today's Golden Dawn community is that our diversity gives spiritual aspirants a plethora of choices. Aspiring Mystics will find their spiritual quest greatly facilitated in one of the Mystical Golden Dawn orders, where they will find all of the purgation and ego loosening they need to eventually attain Mystical illumination.

Aspiring Magicians, on the other hand, will find all of the training, support, and guidance in all aspects of the Magical spiritual path, immediately upon entering the Alpha Omega's outer order, the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, which is a Magical order and not a Mystical one.

Again, I am not saying the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn within the Alpha Omega is the "best" Golden Dawn order, only that we do things differently. it goes without saying that, unlike many Golden Dawn orders - in the Alpha Omega - we do NOT make Mystics.

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  1. Can someone explain what an initiation into the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn is like. What are the procedures?

  2. Hello David! I think you've come across an interesting question in this post. The question is: could it be that methods like 'loosening of the ego, humiliation, purging, etc.' might intrinsically linked to mental illness like chronic depression?

    In Christianity and many other religion traditions there is a lot of emphasis on the meaning and purpose of suffering and pain, often associated with purging of the soul, or as a result of attachment to the material world. At the same time, to my mind, there seems to be a contradiction of beliefs in which the natural order is usually accepted as being the expression of the Divine Laws. And in nature, as I understand it, there is not a single being which actively seeks meaning and purpose in suffering, or loosening of the ego. Unless of course, we assume that only human beings have an ego, and that such ego is intrinsically bad, and therefore must be "purged".

    So, all of this brings another interesting question for which I would like to know your view: which is the meaning of suffering or pain in the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn? And which is the relationship between the material world, and its natural order or laws and the spiritual world? Which is the right mindset or attitude towards life in this cosmos we live in, in the ever flowing moment of "now"? Thanks.

  3. Hello David! I have seen your latest video on "How to effortlessly grow you light body (Soul) and awaken on the Inner Planes" which is very interesting stuff indeed and I couldn't find an entry on the blog to comment it and so I am doing it here. I link to the passage I find very interesting and sort of related to the discussion in this article and my previous comment:

    First, I am particularly interested in knowing the Golden Dawn's understanding of what happens with one's consciousness and personality during the "transition" when the light body is not properly developed. And also which is the role of acts of "love" as taught in traditional Christianity and other mystical traditions too, but as better exemplified in the example of "saints" such as Mother Theresa.

    Now, back to the topic of developing the light body and this ongoing discussion or chasm between those who gravitate towards Mysticism and those who aspire to be Magicians, I think it's relevant to take into account the influence of egregores. There are too many different egregores into play and influencing a given person depending on his or her association or links with different groups and also personal inclinations. Even I myself being an outsider to magical orders I have noticed that in the magical community there is an opposition between the so called "black magicians" (whatever this might mean) and the so called "white magicians". And in the grand scheme of things we have the opposition between the magical orders and mystical traditions, mostly the Judeo-Christian one. Just as a side thought, I was thinking these days that much of what is accepted as being Christian was not necessarily taught by Jesus Christ. For instance, the so much focus or fixation on suffering and/or "ego purging" does not seem to be the main teaching of the gospels. I mean, Jesus would usually heal the sick, raise the dead, preach forgiveness and love and affirm life and spirit over the strict law. His Resurrection is also a testimony of triumph over death.

    Now, back on topic, I believe much of this chasm might be also be a result of the egregores into play. So where I want to come at is that there might be simple rituals to give, so as to say, an initial spark or boost into the light body and which are not in conflict with the Judeo-Christian egregore. Rituals, for instance, which entail vibrating Hebraic names of Angelic forces or God. The idea here is: a person who experiences an inner conflict between the mystical path and the magical path, would better stick to non-conflicting rituals or techniques until he/she develops his/her light body up to a point of gaining a sense of the so called LUX energy or consciousness and is confident enough to proceed further. It would be a practical way of steering away from the philosophical debate to practical action with positive results. What do you think? I would be glad to experiment myself. Best regards.