Saturday, January 3, 2015

Is the Golden Dawn to Remain a Magickal Order?

by Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn®
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Imperator David Griffin

Occult writer Aaron Leitch recently wrote on Facebook:

"Perhaps one could be a mystic without being a magician but I see no possible way for a real magician to not also be a mystic." -Aaron Leitch

Despite my having clarified the traditional Hermetic distinction between Magick and Mysticism in previous articles, there still remains tragic confusion among aspiring Magicians about differences between these  spiritual disciplines with distinct and diametrically opposed methods and goals.

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.

Since Mr. Leitch does not define his terms, it is impossible to say what his statement actually means. It could mean anything. Mr. Leitch
 appears to take a position fundamentally different than my own.

Mysticism and Magick traditionally represent two distinct spiritual paths - diametrically opposed in both methods and goals - according to definitions used for Centuries by the Hermetic and Magical traditions, including by luminaries such as 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). 

Mr. Leitch's statement does make sense if Mysticism is redefined as but a synonym for "Gnosis" or "spiritual realisation," but the spiritual methodology used by traditional Mysticsm remains diametrically opposed to traditional methods of Golden Dawn Magick.

Is Mr. Leitch's apparent redefinition of Mysticism as merely Gnosis accidental or is it deliberate? There exist two well defined factions in today's Golden Dawn community. On the one hand, you have traditional Magickal orders. On the other hand, you have SRIA (Sociatas Rosicruciana) led Golden Dawn orders like Mr. Leitch's. SRIA in turn argues that the Rosicrucian tradition should be exclusively for Christians and has revived the schismatic G.D. order of A.E. Waite, who eliminated Golden Dawn Magick completely in favor of Christian Mysticism.

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 the spiritual methods of Christian Mysticism and those who gravitate more towards traditional Hermetic Magick. This has created fundamental differences between one Golden Dawn order and the other, which endure in our community even until today.

The foremost exponent of the Magical path in the Golden Dawn was the great Mage, S.L. MacGregor Mathers, who correctly understood Golden Dawn Hermeticism as a Magical rather than Mystical tradition. Over time, the Magical spiritual path has become more and more pronounced in the Magickal faction of the Golden Dawn community like our order, the European headquartered, Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn®.

A.E. Waite
The foremost exponent of the Mystical Golden Dawn faction was Arthur Edward Waite, who rebelled against Mathers in the 1903 schism to create his Fellowship of the Rosy Cross. Waite completely replaced Golden Dawn Magick with Christian Mysticism. The polarity between Mystical Golden orders and traditional Magickal ones remains entrenched in our community even until today.

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.

I fully support diversity in our community. There is nothing wrong with Mystical Golden Dawn orders. There are many people, after all, who are more suited for the methods of traditional Mysticism than of Magick. For such aspirants, a Mystical Golden Dawn order could be a good choice.

Any misrepresentation of methods from traditional Mysticism as Magick is unethical. Golden Dawn Magick has its own, excellent spiritual methods. When it comes to something as important as people's spiritual development, they deserve informed choices based on reliable information. It is not fair to promise aspirants Magick, then deliver Mysticism instead.

Whereas Mystical Golden Dawn orders are a welcome addition to our community, they need to be honest and transparent about the spiritual methods they actually teach. Here at the European headquartered Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn®, we will always remain a Magickal order. Our entire mission is to make Magicians.

I am not saying we are the "best" Golden Dawn order - only that there are important differences. 

Would you like to learn Golden Dawn Magick?  Why waste years learning nothing more than basic banishing and the Middle Pillar. That is all you get in other orders in their entire outer order! With us, will you empower your life - step by step - with your Magickal practice  from day one on.

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

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  1. One thing I don't understand. Perusing the websites of many of the orders, it seems they teach basic magick but then, when one moves to higher grades, they turn to mysticism instead. Why the change? Do they not have higher magick at their disposal? Do they treat the basic magick as not really magick but a purely symbolic ritual without power or efficacy? If the basic magick is real, why change to mysticism at the higher grades?

  2. Thank you Imperator Griffin for your perceptions and commentaries regarding the passive-feminine- mystical path vs the active-masculine-Magical path to attainment.
    Certainly, one path is more suitable than the other to a number of individuals, male or female. Of course, the Sephirot are in an active and passive mode, depending on their relationship to other Sephirot, and kabbalah means "a received Tradition", similar to "GNOSIS". The question arises: do the two differing paths lead to the same attainments, unity with the divine essence? When one " seeks or aspires" to attainment, awareness of Divine worlds "above", I would say that would be a "passive-receptive" state of being, while techniques of MAGIA could be employed to facilitate that attainment, gradually ascending the "grades of light" on the Etz Chaim.

  3. Yes , I need to say something
    "Whereas Magic is based on knowledge, Mysticism is based on on ignorance in the literal sense of "ignoring" or "unknowing."
    This is the answer to this debate ....Its time to wake up from Mysticism into Knowing....didn't We had enough of the Mysticism and unknowing "...It is the time to use our Magic , our inner knowledge..Great on you David


  4. David, Thank you for explaining the differences between positively oriented Golden Dawn Magick verses negatively oriented Christian Mysticism as put forth by Arthur E. Waite. It brings me back many years, perhaps decades to when I began my studies into the Occult by studying the Western Wisdom Rosicrucianism as taught by Max Heindel. As I remember it stressed performing meditation by emptying the mind of all extraneous material and first learning to concentrate on an object, such as a rose or a candle flame.. They must have stressed some form of protection such as calling on the Light or the Christos Spirit, because I remember that they also stressed never letting the mind become so passive that would allow unseen spirits to try to take over. For that reason, they were totally opposed to channeling, for that left the mind open to negative entities who could mislead you or endanger your soul's path. Of course, I practiced meditation for many years without a thing happening, other than seeing a bluish light.

    It wasn't until I after several trips to the Monroe Institute that I finally had my first out-of-body experience, then lucid dreaming became a new exciting way of connecting with the astral world. However, I still never had that complete control I had been searching for. Then I discovered the Golden Dawn and I finally began to have experiences almost daily. In all honesty I feel I have to state that I was taught methods that were quite positive in another GD group than yours. I was taught Meditation practices were anything but passively waiting for someone or some thing to take over my mind. But I enjoy reading your blogs, because you do always try to clarify points and teach concepts that may be misconstrued by other magicians I realize you are reaching out and really trying to expand the Golden Dawn, most particularly your group, but the Golden Dawn is the Golden Dawn, and we should all be working together rather than finding reasons for saying one group is better than another. I know that you have a lot personally to give to a seeker, and I think you are doing much good work. Peace and Love to you. A Previous Golden Dawn Member


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