Monday, August 15, 2011

Neo-Pagan & Neo-Golden Dawn Reconstructionists

Raymond Buckland, Seax Wicca
Neo-Pagan Reconstructionist
In recent months, we have here on the Golden Dawn blog been discussing how the anthropological concepts of traditionalism, reconstructionism, and revisionism (routinely used to analyze spiritual traditions) can help to better understand divergent philosophical approaches prevalent in the Golden Dawn community. I remain convinced that a great deal of differences between us can easily be overcome by understanding and better defining how vastly different our philosophical approaches really are.

Isaac Bonewits
Neo-Druid Reconstructionist

There still remain important roadblocks to the harmony we can yet achieve through better understanding of our fundamental philosophical differences. One impediment is the mistaken belief that the reconstructionist approach is somehow inferior to traditionalism or revisionism and that the term "reconstructionist" is meant as an insult when used to differentiate philosophical approaches to the Golden Dawn.

Those who are unfamiliar with what these terms actually mean, will find them explained very well in two excellent articles by Neo-Pagan magician and author, Frater Barrabbas here and here.

Frater Barrabbas
Neo-Pagan Revisionist

This week, Pat Zalewski published a humorous poem on his Yahoo group that underscores the tensions created in our Golden Dawn community by a misunderstanding of these anthropological concepts, that in reality are extremely useful:

Pat Zalewski
Neo-Golden Dawn Reconstructionist
"Now grab a partner and go to the left, the Reconstructionalists are the best, 
Take your partner to the right, and the traditionalists will die of fright, 
call a chief to tell you what and you'll put everything in the pot, 
Now hold the phone while I change the step, the chiefe brings it on inept, 
now I claim this golden prize and it lasts as long as butterflies, 
Now I don't care as colour is best just as long as I not like the rest 
I'll take my partners in my hands and lead them to the promised land 
where my truth doest prevail even though it is beyond the pale, 
I circle now to meet in the middle but I fear I am taking a piddle 
I hope by now I have got it right, I have to change it again before the night. 
In truth, there is nothing at all inferior in spiritual reconstructionism to traditionalism or revisionism. The Neo-Pagan community, for example, has been greatly enriched  by the hard work of excellent academic reconstructionists. One shining contemporary example is Tony Mierzwicki, whose academic rigor and integrity has been nothing less than impeccable with his reconstruction of the Greek Paganism of Alexandria. Isaac Bonewits of the Neo-Druids and Raymond Buckland, creator of Seax Wicca, are additional examples of fine reconstructionists. The Celtic, Nordic, and Roman Pagan traditions are other examples of  successfully reconstructed and fully revived spiritual traditions.

Tony Mierszwicki, Greek Alexandrian
Neo-Pagan Reconstructionist

There are, however, several important hallmarks necessary for successful reconstruction of a spiritual tradition. Successful reconstruction requires, for example, extreme reverence towards the sources and the source materials of the spiritual tradition, meticulous academic rigor, and a strict adherence to traditional meanings of key concepts within the source tradition. Each of these are key arenas where Neo-Golden Dawn reconstructionists still have a lot to learn from their more successful counterparts in the Neo-Pagan community.

For example, this week Neo-Golden Dawn reconstructionist, Tony De Luce, founder of the "Rosicrucian Order of the Golden Dawn," wrote on Pat Zalewski's forum:
"Ave Pat, 
A “reconstructionist”  sounds a great deal more like someone that would place Hexagram rituals in the First Order and position a European Alchemical Order as the "authentic" 'Third Order' of the Golden Dawn claiming they are the same group that revealed themselves to Mathers :-) . That would fit my understanding of "reconstruction" whereas most of the Golden Dawn community is working from a much more Traditional perspective understanding the importance of symbol placed in its proper place and the function of the Outer Order as preparation for the Inner Order. Developing the teachings beyond ThAM within the constructs of the Golden Dawn and R.R. et A.C. is not “reconstructing” it is “expanding” :-)  
-Tony DeLuce"
In the above citation, Mr. DeLuce attempts to redefine the well established anthropological concepts of traditionalism and reconstructionism. This is not untypical of less than meticulous Neo-Golden Dawn reconstructionists, who have not infrequently concocted new and fanciful definitions for fundamental aspects of the Golden Dawn tradition.

We have, for example, elsewhere witnessed Mr. DeLuce erroneously claim that Golden Dawn lineage traditionally passes from Chief Adept to Chief Adept, although there is no evidence to support this anywhere in the source material. According to the actual data, the original Hermetic and Rosicrucian lineages of the Golden Dawn, as well as of its later offshoots, have always been vested in the (7=4) Adeptus Exemptus grade, and never in any purely ceremonial office, such as Hierophant or Chief Adept.

By contrast, successful academic reconstructionists in the Neo-Pagan community, without fail have strictly adhered to traditional meanings of key concepts within the source traditions. Neo-Golden Dawn reconstructionists, on the other hand, have carelessly redefined even the traditional concept of Hermetic and Rosicrucian spiritual lineage -  for example, in order to claim a non-existent "Initiatory Lineage through Israel Regardie." In reality, such a notion is completely foreign to all Golden Dawn source material and Israel Regadie even wrote here that he had no lineage whatsoever to transmit.

Nick Farrell
Neo-Golden Dawn Reconstructionist

Unlike their meticulous Neo-Pagan counterparts, uncautious Neo-Golden Dawn reconstructionists have - time after time - abandoned all semblance of academic rigor, redefining one traditional Golden Dawn concept after the other, frequently according to mere personal interest or whim. We even  witnessed, for example, haphazard Neo-Golden Dawn reconstructionists redefine even such key source Golden Dawn concepts as initiation itself.

One Neo-Golden Dawn order, for example, today actually touts "traditional Astral Initiation" on its website, which has, of course, no basis in the source tradition whatsoever and is nowhere to be found in any available Golden Dawn source material. Another Neo-Golden Dawn reconstructionist has deceptively packaged even so-called "self-initiation" using New Age guided fantasy, as though it were a traditional Golden Dawn practice.

It is an unwavering faith in the source traditions they are resurrecting that has crowned Neo-Pagan reconstructionists with success in bringing an entire host of once extinct Pagan traditions back to life. Among leaders of Neo-Golden Dawn orders, however, a host of Golden Dawn reconstructionists foolishly continue to claim that the source Golden Dawn tradition has been flawed and based on lies and deception from its inception.

Neo-Golden Dawn reconstructionists claim, for example, that Golden Dawn founder W. Wynn Wescott, forged correspondence with the Continental Rosicrucians authorizing the establishment of the Golden Dawn - and that G.D. founding father, S.L. MacGregor Mathers, lied when he claimed that the Secret Chiefs of the Third Order were real people from a continental Rosicrucian, magical, and alchemical order that he met with in Paris in 1891.

As a striking example of these sort of self-defeating Neo-Golden Dawn reconstructiionist arguments, only this week Pat Zalewski wrote:
"I think we have pretty much exhausted this Secret Chief nonsense and its changing goal posts(from angels to humans) and especially their inability to produce anything significant from the astral realms. Threads like this are important from time to time to warn newbee's into the GD what path not to travel and what we think of that, especially if they have not had contact with people outside of their own orders."
Successful Neo-Pagan reconstructionists like Raymond Buckland, Isaac Bonewits, and Tony Mierzwicki, have proven over and over how successful reconstruction of a spiritual tradition requires a fundamental faith in the source tradition.

By contrast, Neo-Golden Dawn reconstructionists like Nick Farrell, Pat Zalewski, and Tony DeLuce all believe that the Golden Dawn is rooted in but lies and deceit. They each, moreover, deny the physical reality of the Secret Chiefs of the Third Order as the source of the Golden Dawn as was specifically and unequivocally claimed by the Golden Dawn's founding fathers.

It has been proven over and over again that successful reconstuction of a spiritual tradition requires not only academic rigor and a deepest respect for the source material. There inevitably also comes a time where perpetual tinkering with the source material is no longer enough.

If a spiritual system is to be successfully revived, the reconstruction must eventually also be brought to life. This requires a leap of faith and a fundamental belief in the value and the validity of the source tradition. Nordic Neo-Pagans, like their Celtic, Greek, and Roman Neo-Pagan counterparts, firmly believe in the validity and value of the Pagan system that has been successfully reconstructed and brought back to life.

Unlike their successful Neo-Pagan counterparts, the Neo-Golden Dawn reconstructionists fail in their reconstruction attempt because they lack the requisite faith in the source tradition to bring it fully back to life.

Lacking the requisite faith in the Golden Dawn source tradition to fully enliven thier reconstructions, Neo-Golden Dawn reconstructionists end up instead perpetually tinkering with the source material of what for them forever remains a dead - or at best, an UNDEAD - Golden Dawn tradition.

This fundamental lack of faith in the Golden Dawn is not at all the case with traditionalist Golden Dawn orders, such as the Rosicrucian Order of Alpha et Omega and the August Order of the Mystic Rose. Whereas Neo-Golden Dawn reconstructionists like Nick Farrell, Tony Deluce, and Pat Zalewksi, each write that the Golden Dawn died when the Whare Ra temple in New Zealand closed its doors, traditionalist orders see the Golden Dawn as a living tradition that never died. Even when there was no visible outer order activity, the Third Order continued in its work without interruption.

Unlilke most Neo-Golden Dawn orders, the Inner Orders traditionalist Golden Dawn orders do not end with the material published by Crowley and Regardie. These orders even today continue to receive additional teaching materials from Third Order archives that complete and augment the information Crowely and Regardie published, as with the unencrypted version of the Golden Dawn's magical squares and the secret instructions about how these squares are to actually be used.

Entire additional magical systems and alchemical materials from Third Order archives continue to be newly integrated into the Inner Orders of traditionalist Golden Dawn orders even today, where the (6=5) Adeptus Major and (7=4) Adeptus Exemptus grades are magical and alchemical in nature - and contain entire unpublished magical systems.

In order to promote greater fraternity and harmony in the Golden Dawn community, the Rosicrucian Order of Alpha et Omega has offered to share these advanced initiatic transmissions and magical practices with qualified Adepts from any Golden Dawn temple or order from the entire spectrum of the Golden Dawn community.

1 comment:

  1. Tony DeLuca wrote on Pat Zalewski's forum:

    "I would like to confine this response to his assumption that I believe that the Golen Dawn is rooted in lies and deceit and that the Golden Dawn ceased to exist when Whare Ra closed its doors. On the contrary, I believe the Golden Dawn Tradition is a Living Being that continues to evolve and inform and inspire to this very day."

    I stand corrected. I am actually quite pleased to hear this. You are correct that it has been Pat Zalewksi and Nick Farrell rather than who have been writing that the Golden Dawn is rooted in lies and deceit from its founders and that traditional Golden Dawn lineage ceased to exist when Whare Ra closed its doors.

    Still, one wonders why you publish such writings when you do not believe in them yourself?!?!