Monday, January 7, 2013

Astral Masters and the Golden Dawn

by Golden Dawn Imperator
David Griffin

The Golden Dawn has been plagued for well over a century by the notion of "Astral Masters" as Secret Chiefs. At times these have been called "Sun Masters" and "inner plane contacts" at others. This topic has become actual in the Golden Dawn community today again for two reasons. 

There are presently rumors in our community that the Cromlech Temple's Sun Order is really the Third Order of the Golden Dawn led by "Astral Masters" called "Sun Masters" as well Golden Dawn is led by other "Astral Masters," one of which has been identified as the archangel Raphael.

This idea of "Astral Masters" was taken from Helena Blavatsky's theosophy and was introduced both into the Cromlech temple and into the Stella Matutina. Dion Fortune later incorporated this idea into her Inner Light school. 

Numerous G.D. leaders have spoken out on the dangers and abuses of this "Astral Masters" idea.

Nick Farrell, for example, wrote here:
"I have belonged to groups where the secret chiefs (or contacts) were used as a weapon of control over students. The reason you can't have this grade is because [insert secret chief's name] said so. You can get away with any atrocity because the responsibility for any decision is outsourced to an Invisible Friend."
and here:
"There is a lot that Francis King will have to answer for in the afterlife... astral masters and Steiner within the Stella Matutina is one of them."
Pat Zalewksi replied to Nick Farrell here:
"Hi Nick
I tend to agree. When you chase astral masters you have stepped over the boundary of esoteric knowledge in theology. When it becomes theology you end up in a cult like concept and reason goes out the window."
I have also spoken out against the dangers of the notion of "Astral Masters" as Secret Chiefs for years.

For example, here, where I wrote:
"Unlike today's New Age community, the Golden Dawn, from its very inception in 1888, always has been very clear in its condemnation of these kind of practices [channeling] as potentially dangerous for the human spirit. The Golden Dawn tradition has always scorned passive mediumship and idealized active seership as the only true alternative for a Magician. For example, the original application form of the Golden Dawn in 1888 illustrates this point quite clearly: 
'The Chiefs of the Order do not care to accept as Candidates any persons accustomed to submit themselves as Mediums to the Experiments of Hypnotism, Mesmerism, or Spiritualism; or who habitually allow themselves to fall into a completely Passive condition of Will; also they disapprove of the methods made use of as a rule in such Experiments.' 
The original Neophyte Obligation from 1888 underscores this condemnation of "passive mediumship" or "channelling" even more: 
'I will not suffer myself to be hypnotized, or mesmerized, nor will I place myself in such a passive state that any uninitiated person, power, or being may cause me to lose control of my thoughts, words or actions.'
Thus we see that, contrary to certain claims, putting oneself into a state of mediumistic receptivity, as in the case of New Age "channeling", not only runs contrary to all traditional Golden Dawn teachings, but is even an outright breech of obligation for traditional Golden Dawn initiates."
Pat Zalewksi has echoed my own conclusions about this on numerous occasions. 

For example here, Pat wrote:
"If you want to go to spiritualist or a channeler then that is different from the GD."
Clearly, the conclusions of both Zalewski and Farrell, based on many years of independent research, support my own conclusions in the matter of channeling "Astral Masters," whether "Sun Masters" of the Stella Matutina, the Cromlech Temple, or even in the guise of the "Archangel Rafael."

Let us examine what leaders in the Golden Dawn community have said in particular about the "Astral Sun Masters" of Cromlech Temple's Sun Order as any sort of Astral Secret Chiefs of the Golden Dawn's Third Order.

Pat Zalewksi wrote here:
"If the Cromlech temple is the 3rd Order then Jack Taylor was a member of it. This is the sort of nonsense that comes up when you talk of lineage."
and here:
"I get some dribble about Sun masters (who vanished in 1919 never to return)... Next time I hear about Sun Master I will say get a life and stop being out of date."
and here:
"My own thought is that the communication with the Sun Masters was the prize more than the material. A slippery slope."
The conclusions of Pat Zalewski, based on his independent research, again fully support my own. The Golden Dawn certainly does not need another "Astral Master" cult. We are all too familiar with the sort of abuses of power mentioned by Nick Farrell above.

In the past, the whole channeling of Astral Masters to justify the power of dubious Golden Dawn leaders has led to some pretty serious abuses of power, including one documented case of sexual exploitation. I have by no means been alone in speaking out against this danger.

Pat Zalewksi, for example, wrote here:
"The GD does have some very strong spiritual components as part of its makeup and is does not need channellers waiting for people to obey them ... What we do not need is a another cult with ...[astral masters] ruling it for sexual gratification there has been more than once instance of that already."
Another problem alluded to by Nick Farrell above, is that no one can verify the proclamations made by Golden Dawn leaders channeling "Astral Masters," so leaders can basically justify anything they want by telling their members that the spirits told them to do things that way.

Pat Zalewski addressed this problem here:
"Then you have people running orders that are in direct contact with astral beings such as astral masters. That makes the chiefs word almost omnipotent. You can't argue with invisible entities who give instructions. Usually this will come out in sexual exploitation. That's the potential Waco and Jones syndrome."
Another problem is, as both Pat Zalewski and I have pointed out many times in the past, that channeled "Astral Masters" never seem to really produce any substantial new teachings, as is attested to by entire bookshelves of delusional channeled material in New Age bookstores.

Pat Zalewksi wrote here:
"As far as I am aware MOST of these astral masters give very little in concrete results and just dish out a pep talks on how they should live their lives."
and here:
"At any rate this is my view of it. If you claim this astral contact beyond the 3rd Order then you better produce material that matches it, which should not be lofty statements but clear cut levels of teaching." 
In all of this, the central problem is that the GD is a SYSTEM of magical PRACTICES rather than a “revealed” religion. I recently wrote about this here. The debate over channeled spirits of any kind directing a Golden Dawn order is irrelevant. While a particular magician may, in time, learn to communicate with such spirits, they are not the controlling force or curriculum development team for the Golden Dawn. 

While certain religions of the past and present claim to be guided by revelations from God, the gods, or from angels and spirits, the Golden Dawn makes no such claim and does not require such “authority.” 

Like any university, the Golden Dawn is a SYSTEM of magic compiled through research and documented within a curriculum which is intended to allow others to achieve the same level of spiritual growth as its founders and top “professors.” 

The GD SYSTEM is not the only Path or method; it is ONE Path, ONE method for such attainment. While someone could find their way on their own, it would take a lot longer and potentially waste an entire incarnation.

Pagan author and Alexandrian Wiccan Elder,, Frater Barrabbas recently wrote here:
"Being a trail blazer makes such an individual something of a hero, but there is also a high cost to electing such a path, and that, in all fairness, also needs to be covered ... If you add up all the of years it took me to develop a powerful and generalized system of magick that was useful to more individuals than myself, the final total is something in the area of 20 years... 
I spent many years reinventing the wheel. I had no choice because there wasn’t any Golden Dawn order for me to join, and there weren’t any published books (like David Griffin’s “Ritual Magic Manual”) that showed in detail how to perform magic using the Golden Dawn system. 
Considering that it takes only four years or so for someone to master the Golden Dawn system and undergo the rigorous curriculum and receive mentoring and guidance from experienced adepts, I believe that to be a much better way of mastering the western system of magick. Compare four years to approximately 15 to 20 years and you will easily see that there’s really no comparison at all. 
If I were starting out today, I would join the Golden Dawn and get my foundational knowledge fully established, and then once that was completed, I would be able to experiment with completely new forms. I would have the same competence and expertise that I have now, yet without having used up two decades of my life in getting there."
God, the gods, angels, spirits, and all the rest are accessible to all if one is duly prepared. These “spirits” are not interested in any one Order or Path. They reveal themselves to whoever is prepared. 

A primary focus of any magical Order, and therefore also the AO, is to PREPARE the seeker to make contact with their higher self and beyond. 

The GD is a SCHOOL, not a religion guided by spirits of any kind. 

The moment someone forgets this reality, they become spiritual tyrants, elitists, and prophets. The history of the GD, like any spiritual movement, is littered with delusional aspirants who spoke to some spirit and lost their way.

I have found it amusing when in the past certain others have accused me of trying to set myself up as some sort of Joseph Smith of the Golden Dawn. 

This is rather humorous considering that I have spoken out all along against G.D. leaders channeling "Astral Masters" as Secret Chiefs.

The Golden Dawn did not just fall out of the sky, however. It is firmly rooted in the older Hermetic and Rosicrucian traditions. The Alpha Omega does not live in a spiritual vacuum either. We are well aware that the Golden Dawn is not the first Hermetic or Rosicrucian order in history. 

Today's A.O. is the outer manifestation of a Rosicrucian and Hermetic initiatic center pre-dating the Golden Dawn, which still remains occulted in Continental Europe. From this source, the A.O. has received substantial initiation rituals, spiritual practices, and teachings for the higher grades of the A.O. that go far beyond the Adeptus Minor material published by Regardie. We are already making some of this material available to our own students and sharing it with other groups in our community.

I presently serve as intermediary for this Internal Rosicrucian College and its Hermetic Master Magicians and Alchemists. These are real people representing a real order, however, and not any sort of "Astral Masters." 

These Hermetic Master Magicians and Alchemists are indeed "Secret Chiefs" of the Alpha Omega's Third Order, in so far as they provide advanced spiritual technology and choose to remain shrouded in secrecy. 

They are not any sort of prophets, disincarnate entities, or anything like that, however. They are but the guardians of advanced oath-bound spiritual technology from the Hermetic and Rosicrucian traditions pre-dating the Golden Dawn.

The fact that I serve as a translator and gatekeeper to make this spiritual technology available to the Golden Dawn community, does not make me any sort of "Joseph Smith," however, any more than making data and tech available makes any computer programmer a prophet either.

All that really matters is the availability of the tech, not the individual.

One essential difference between other leaders in today's Golden Dawn community and me is that I have superiors in the order that I report to. 

If I do not do my job correctly, or if anyone on the Alpha Omega does something seriously damaging to the perpetuation of the tradition, I will be removed from my position and someone else put in my place. 

I am completely responsible for those beneath me in the order, which is a principle enshrined in the traditional oath of the Chief Adept in the G.D. I am also completely replaceable. Were I to die tomorrow, someone else would take over my job.

I receive instructions but am not acting as Joseph Smith on anyone's behalf. I learn from from my teachers in Europe. I integrate advanced spiritual practices into the A.O. curriculum to make this tech available to A.O. students and to other groups in the Golden Dawn community who have already chosen to share this tech with us.

Translating spiritual technology, as well my experiences and research so that A.O. students can benefit from it, is “science,” while receiving dogma because I am special in a way none of you can hope for is something completely different.

I know for a fact that there are people ahead of me in terms of spiritual capacity in this life. None of these are “special” in that they are “chosen” in a way that no other person can expect to attain in some lifetime (e.g., Joseph Smith).

Magicians are really no different than athletes. Some athletes are just better and no amount of training (in this life) will allow the average man to equate their achievements. After hard training and experience, an athlete can share methods of training that he found effective and warn us mortals about what doesn’t work (at least for most people).

Someone like Joseph Smith may indeed talk to angels (or be nuts) but lose their way when they think they are "the chosen one" and no other incarnation of human being can achieve the same level of contact. That person then gets a Messianic complex and dooms a generation of followers. They begin telling us what we need to know and not how to practice to achieve similar attainment. This moves us from a practice to a religion.

The Golden Dawn is not a religion and should not become one either. What the Golden Dawn community needs is more good leaders willing to step up to the plate, so we can make traditional initiation available to more people. We do not need prophets.

Even Moses didn’t pretend to be special. He said “God told me this, do these things and ask him yourself.” Oi-vay! Prophets are handy but teachers are more important.

Too many times Golden Dawn leaders have veered into the common trap of being “special” and that people need them as intermediary to higher contact. You do not need any intermediary. You, or any other like you, can become a leader in the Golden Dawn if you only make the effort.

Even my job will one day be fulfilled by my successor. I certainly do not envy her or him either. It is a difficult job with little tangible reward.

The Golden Dawn does not need prophets, but more good leaders. And what matters most about the G.D. is not its leaders either. What really matters are its methods and its spiritual practices and that we make these available to a wide group of qualified aspirants, so they can become Magicians as quickly and easily as possible.

The Golden Dawn SYSTEM is not the only Path or method; it is ONE Path, ONE method for such attainment. While someone could find their way on their own, it would take a lot longer and potentially waste an entire incarnation.

The Golden Dawn a SCHOOL, a SYSTEM, a set of METHODS, that can be taught and learned. There are numerous orders today trying to make this available. 

The Alpha Omega is one such G.D. order. I am not saying we are "better" than any other order, but we DO things differently - and you can do them too.
Click HERE to explore our Outer Order, undergraduate level Magical training program, the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn!"
Think Different.

Alpha Omega
Because we make Magicians!


  1. Thus we see that, contrary to certain claims, putting oneself into a state of mediumistic receptivity, as in the case of New Age "channeling", not only runs contrary to all traditional Golden Dawn teachings, but is even an outright breech of obligation for traditional Golden Dawn initiates.

    What then about people who are studying the Golden Dawn, maybe even actual members of an Order, who are also Initiates of British Traditional Wicca, who perform a Drawing Down of the Moon, in which the Goddess of the Wica is invoked inthe the body of a Priestess? Or vice versa with the God of the Wica and a Priest?

  2. Dear MP,

    Thank you for this wonderful question. I am not an initiate of Wicca or even of BTW, so I can not speak with authority on those traditions. However, it is my understanding that the process of "Drawing Down the Moon" is not the same as mediumistic channeling or the passive states evoked though hypnosis.

    Instead, the process as I understand it is more like the technique used in the Golden Dawn called the "Assumption of God Forms, "which we use in the Golden Dawn with great effectiveness. The key difference is that the will of the Magician is present at all times. Although the Goddess Form is present and acting through the Magician, the will of the Magician is always present as an observer.

  3. I am so relieved to read this. Thank you. Channeling has never felt right to me, or that people project their own personal power and judgement outside of themselves to another authority.

    I would agree with what you said about Drawing Down the Moon, that is my experience. Although, in recent years there has been more study, focus, and experimentation with Divine Possession of the Old Gods, which has happened without choice nor control in recent years. From what I understand, some have chosen to do more research into more Shamanic/indigenous practices to learn how to do this with more control. Wicca is so varied now that there is a great divide between how what is termed the "British Traditionalists" of Gardner define it, and how "American Eclectics" define it. American Eclectics would define the Drawing Down the Moon or other such "divine possession" as a Jungian Psychological Archetype of what qualities the person "channeling" wishes to project or discover within themselves.

    I appreciate you writing this. Again, thank you.

  4. Thank you for writing this.

    I would agree with what you say about Drawing Down the Moon. However, with Wicca today, how this is explained or defined would be different. There is a great difference between Wicca as the British Traditionalists of Gardner term it, and how American Eclectics would.

    American Eclectics would explain it as an Invoking in the Jungian Psychological Archetype sense of working with a personal myth to "invoke" specific and personal changes desired through the alignment with a Deity that they chose or are drawn to as part of self-discovering and self-empowerment.

    I was told by a HPS a few years back that there were some experiences with un-invoked "divine possessions" not called upon in ritual affecting some members of the Wiccan community. So there were some research into this indigenous and shamanic practice of deity possession so that they were better educated in dealing with it.

    I have my own personal opinions regarding involuntary possessions of spirits, which I do think is a real danger by those who are inexperienced or are not serious about the use of any form of invocation/evocation.

    I was a cop's daughter who trained German Shepards. Even as a small toddler, he taught me that as a human, the dog was to serve me. I deal with the spirits I encounter in a similar way: to recognize I have "authority," never show fear (they can smell it.) To be respectful, and never forget that it can turn on you at any moment and kill you. Don't turn your back on them. Use a voice of authority that is firm, but also kind. Be responsible, not abusive, of this authority.

    As my father grew up on the beaches of the Pacific Ocean, he told me that anything of Nature is wild, unpredictable, and potentially dangerous. Even an expert can misjudge Nature and be killed by it. Even if you do everything right, you can still end up in a dangerous situation. This applies to sports, being outdoors, the study of science, medicine, dealing with children, etc. I have found it to be sound advice.

    I have used that advice all my life. In the Army, I had the reputation of being "fearless" because of it. (In my defense, a high ranking officer should not ask for my honest opinion if he did not want to hear one. Also, a reputation doesn't mean it is true.)

  5. If I may confer a point or two about drawing down the Moon or the Sun, I would like to clarify what is being discussed here.

    A classical drawing down as practiced by most Wiccans is nothing more or less than a Godhead Assumption. The best methodology is when the Goddess or God are defined and characterized, and that the person performing it is sequestered and then allowed to fully assume a full trance without any distractions or interference. While there is typically a person functioning as the inductee for the draw, others treat the Godhead Assumption as a materialization of their coven Deity.

    However, before that it allowed, the inductee usually performs some kind of test, asking a secret and predetermined question as well as to determine the authentic character of that Deity assumed. Therefore, draws can even be graded in terms of how deep and profound the manifestation of the Deity actually was. Also, in the training of the draw, the witch is shown how to keep their will and personality intact to avoid any kind of regressive assumption.

    Unnamed Godhead Assumptions are typically bad form, and in fact, the better run covens never mix the roles of the one performing the draw and those who are responsible for running the Esbat.

    Situations where the HPs or HP perform the draw and also set the circle and run the coven can create an inherent light Godhead assumption and thereby engage in a classic conflict of interests, especially when an unnamed deity draw is performed.

    Without any tests, an unnamed draw can actually be nothing more than the inflated or regressive personality of the one undergoing the draw. It can lead to situations where the HPs or HP abuse their positions and reinforce that through words spoken by the supposed deity during a draw.

    Individuals can and are possessed by Goddesses and Gods, but once again, those who are so taken over can be questioned to determine the authenticity and depth of the supposed possession. However, involuntary possession is never to be confused with the draw, since that is a deliberate rite of Godhead Assumption performed by someone who is trained and prepared for it.

    I hope that this helps to allay any confusion regarding the draw and involuntary possession.


  6. Thank you for sharing, Frater Barrabbas. As I said before, I am not an initiate of British Traditional Wicca, so I am nor really qualified to say anything one way or another about it. As a respected Alexandrian elder and Pagan author, you are in a far better position than I am speak on this from the BTW perspective.

  7. What is your take on Poke Runyon? In his work on Solomon, he says repeatedly that the best results come from a trance-like state. He uses incense smoke in several operations to encourage this. He says that hypnotism had very bad connotations in the Victorian era and there were a lot of false assumptions about it, and that was the reason for the pledge in the initiation. He says that eastern systems make use of trance quite often. What's your take on that? Great article.


  8. This was a very well-written article with many important points made, but there is some misinformation that I wanted to point out as well.

    It is claimed in the article that "This idea of 'Astral Masters' was taken from Helena Blavatsky's theosophy..."

    That could not be, because the idea of "astral masters" is not a part of Helena Blavatsky's formulation of theosophy. H.P.B. did have her masters, Koot Hoomi and Morya, but never claimed that they were astral entities. In fact, she was very plain about the fact that while she lived, they were flesh-and-blood, living humans. It was claimed that these Masters did communicate with her telepathically, but nonetheless they were living people. There have been all sorts of liberties taken by those who came after H.P.B. and along the line, the popular concept of the Masters has been severely distorted and there are those who claim to be in contact with them still.

    Given that a similar clarification was made in this article by its author regarding the nature of the Secret Chiefs of the Golden Dawn, I thought it important to point this out. H.P.B. would in fact have agreed with all of the warnings and advice given by the author and did not, herself, ever claim to be channeling astral entities, so it is kind of a shame to see her name used the way that it is in this article. The implication made here, and the impression that it will leave on many readers is not deserved by H.P.B.'s students today. Anyone who reads and agrees with this article would in fact find much to resonate with when it comes to H.P.B.'s writings.

  9. that's good and reasonable mr.griffin But that order of golden dawn statement is a way too much advertising:..if you have any problem with your master we just do it cool, and find a new master for you, there is no need for resentment..Is that the way enlightenment happens, or your just trying to find some new students.

    don't get it wrong mr.griffin, certainly I'm a big fan, I just shared what i felt by reading that page. thanks anyway