Wednesday, January 13, 2016

BOOK REVIEW: Regardie's "The Golden Dawn" New Hardcover Edition by Llewellyn Publishing (Ed. John Michael Greer)

by Golden Dawn Imperator
David Griffin

Llewellyn's long awaited new edition of Regardie's "The Golden Dawn" is out, edited by John Michael Greer. There have been high hopes for this new edition all across the Golden Dawn community. It is therefore unsurprising that the reaction from the community has been swift. Golden Dawn scholar, Dr. Tony Fuller, today set the tone for what I believe will be a coming avalanche of well deserved condemnation of this "new" edition.

Dr. Fuller writes:
"I have just received my copy and spent 30 minutes comparing it with the old version - and with original Hermes Temple/SM manuscripts. Some good points: It is attractively produced and importantly there is an index. The coloured diagrams section contains new versions of diagrams and additional ones. While these are not entirely to my liking in terms of style nevertheless they are a welcome addition. There are some additional diagrams and papers lacking from the previous edition and this too is a valuable change. Unfortunately, in my review, it is all down hill from there - every error- I repeat, every error and omission of words and paragraphs which appeared in previous editions also occur here. Not a single one has been corrected.To pick a few (from scores of errors) at random: on page 369 (Hexagram Ritual), line 6/7, after the word "Saturn" there should appear the sentence, "Similarly the Invoking Hexagram of Mercury is traced first from the lower left hand angle and the complimentary triangle from the angle of Jupiter." In the context of both the Pentagram and Hexagram rituals neither of the vital diagrams, coloured on a black background, are produced - just as they were omitted from Regardie. At the conclusion of the 3=8 ceremony both the old and new versions omit the final speech from the Hierophant: "In the name of Elohim Tzabaoth I declare this Temple closed in the 3=8 Grade of Practicus." All the same errors in the rituals are repeated here - knocks missing, words omitted or incorrect words used and so forth. For example, on page 334 it says, "....all the phantoms are banished." It should read, "have vanished": page 360, "great light in affirmation..." should be, "...light, in allusion to the affirmation." More importantly, on p.368, line 17/18 the word is not "Talisman" but "Telesma". Superficially the Grade Temple diagrams are a slight improvement but are still almost useless as working guides for ceremony for, apart from actual errors in a few cases, they completely lack any mention of the specific Grade diagrams and where these are placed in the Temple. I have yet to look closely at the treatment of the Z documents but suspect they are left in the same unsatisfactory state as in the previous editions: viz. errors, sentences and paragraphs missing, paraphrasing by Regardie etc.So is this edition an improvement on what went before? Yes - it has more diagrams - from the many previously lacking - it has a few additional papers (but with new errors I note); it has an index (very important) and it is easier to use. I like the continuous pagination and the page headings. So it is worth purchasing just for these improvements. But equally it is a huge disappointment that no effort - I repeat, no effort - was made to correct the numerous errors and significant omissions which appeared earlier. Access to original manuscripts, or copies, would have been relatively easy. Indeed I (and no doubt others) could have sent the editor a complete list of the necessary changes in a matter of minutes. So a great opportunity lost."
I concur with most of what Dr. Fuller writes above, although I disagree with his conclusion. A great opportunity has not been "lost" by Llewellyn. Llewellyn took the opportunity. They just used it for an agenda other than correcting the deficiencies of previous editions.

Having reviewed this so-called "new" hardcover edition myself now, the entire project appears to be little more than yet another scheme by Llewellyn to keep milking the Golden Dawn as a cash cow as Llewellyn has done for decades. This 'new" edition fully lives up to Llewellyn's reputation for publishing cheaply produced "Pulp Magick" books that rehash the same, identical material over and over, "ad nauseum."

There is precious little new, if anything, of Magickal value in this so-called "new" edition. In fact, there is precious little "new" at all, with the noteworthy exceptions of an index and, as expected, an attempt by Llewellyn at modern historical revisionism. With this "new" edition, Llewellyn attempts to rewrite modern Golden Dawn history, writing Cris Monnastre and her importance to the modern Golden Dawn revival completely out of it. In fact, the only major change I see in this work from previous editions is the deliberate omission of Cris Monnastre's fine introduction.

For those unfamiliar with Israel Regardie's life or his relationship with Cris Monnastre, she was Dr. Regardie's primary disciple towards the end of his life. It's important to note that Dr. Regardie so loved and believed in the Golden Dawn system of Magick that he and Cris Monnastre performed a 9 month series of rituals in the late 70's to call forth a Golden Dawn resurgence in America.

This 9 month working by Regardie and Monnastre, in my opinion, was directly responsible for the Golden Dawn revival of the last 30 years. In a very real sense, Dr. Regardie and Ms. Monnastre were the Magickal parents and progenitors of this revival, much as Moina and S.L. MacGregor Mathers and their Magickal operations were in large part responsible for the modern occult revival of the 20th Century. Any reference to all of this is carefully and completely omitted from the new Llewellyn edition.  Instead, Ms. Monnastre's introduction is merely eliminated without so much as a whisper of explanation. This is a "not so subtle" attempt by Llewellyn to manipulate the contemproary Golden Dawn community to favor Llewellyn's preferred factions.

Add to the attempted historical revisionism and the glaring failure to correct errors from previous editions, a whopping price tag of $65 for yet another Llewellyn "Pulp Magick" rehash, and you have an almost completely worthless "new" edition.


Knowing Llewellyn's usual marketing, we can soon expect a whole series of fawning reviews of this edition, written by various presstitutes from Llewellyn's own stable of authors.

My advice?

Don't waste your hard earned cash on yet another Llewellyn scheme trying to make a buck on the back of the Golden Dawn.  Save your money and spend it instead on something that at least contains some legitimately NEW material of authentic Magickal value. In this "new" edition, you will find nothing of the sort.

If you don't have Regardie's Golden Dawn book yet, you can all find ALL material available FREE on-line HERE. Or if you are into collecting printed books, you can always pick up a used copy of a previous edition for peanuts on - or you can wait to pick up this "new" edition from the remainder table of Barnes and Noble, where it rightly belongs.

I am certainly not trying to coerce you, and I am not telling you what to do, but here is an idea:

If you are unhappy about Llewellyn continuing to meddle in the affairs of the Golden Dawn community by trying to rewrite contemporary Golden Dawn history, there IS something you COULD do about it.

You might, for example, want to review the book, then take the time to drop by to give this "new" edition a review as the error-ridden rehash it actually is!

As an alternative, you might want to check out Pat Zalewski's "Golden Dawn Rituals and Commentaries," which actually contains additional material beyond what Regardie published already in 1937 and Llewellyn has uncritically repackaged "ad nauseum" for almost a Century. Here is the Zalewksi book cover.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Secrets of Aeonic Spellworking (Binding Daesh)

On the Winter Solstice on December 21 a grass roots, worldwide movement of Magicians, Witches, and Shamanic practitioners, synchronised independent Aeonic rituals in order to bind the terrorist group called Daesh, so that Daesh will be unable to continue to cause harm to others and so that the results of such harm shall fall back on them. This recent magical working against Daesh has generated a tidal wave of enthusiasm from hundreds of practitioners  dedicated to utilizing spellcraft not only for their own personal benefit, but also for promoting greater consciousness in the world we live in.

It has also generated extensive discussion and controversy, however, about the viability of using magick to work non-local change.  Some of this discussion has been confused with habitual skepticism about the feasibility of using magick to create any change at all, or the verifiability of magical success.  These objections, however, can be raised against any working, since magick (contrary to many mistaken pretensions of the modern occult revival) is not science.  However, it is also not religion.  We can at least agree with A.A. Boss, Paul Joseph Rovelli, on that latter point, though we would also reject that magick’s methods are those of science, or that its aims are those of religion.  We’ve already addressed Rovelli’s generic internet attacks, and so in this post we will move on to respond to the more detailed criticisms of "pulp magick" Llewellyn author, Brian Watling, who writes for Llewellyn under the pseudonym, Frater Barrabbas.

Along the way, we’ll also share some insights and speculations concerning perspectives and techniques useful to the practice of aeonic magick, to which some of our readers might be now being introduced for the first time.  We contend that aeonic magick – briefly summarized as magical operations oriented toward producing psycho-historic change -- is not only a viable application of the magical will of the adept, but indeed vital to initiatory development.  This means understanding aeonic magick is critical to your magical progress even if you are a solitary practitioner!

Aeonic magick is to personal spellcasting as political skill is to subtle persuasion.  But just as you can't totally avoid the political world, sometime even if you're a hermit, aeonics affect your magical practice whether you're aware of it or not!  It has a long history, although not necessarily by that term, which is a contemporary one.  Initially the importance of aeonics seems to have been due to the importance of magical worldviews in spawning civilization – subsequent developments in religion, science, and art have frequently been fueled, or even inspired by magical workings.

The influence of shamanism on early pagan religions is fairly uncontroversial, and a brief review of early oral traditions, later written down, like the Rig Veda, makes it obvious that quite lot of magick for the success and flourishing of a culture against its enemies was being performed along the early boundary between shamanic magick and priestcraft.  Similar references appear throughout the rites of the ancient Persian Magi, although these were admittedly rather conflict-obsessed.

In later pagan times, priests associated with state religions would routinely perform operative theurgy for political or military purposes; the Romans were relentlessly enthusiastic about this, and ultimately adopted foreign cults into Rome frequently for this sort of purpose.  Even Christian bishops claimed such effectiveness for their prayers, infamously taking credit for the death of Julian, struck down by a Persian spear.

More plausible specific examples of magical warfare are more accessible in the recent historical record, such as the storm legendarily conjured by John Dee to destroy the Spanish armada, the contributions of voudonic magicians to the successful Haitian Revolution, or the renowned occult war efforts of Dion Fortune, Aleister Crowley, and others against National Socialist Germany.  Occultists and magicians on both sides of the war vied to influence regimes and outdo each other.

This didn't stop with Allied victory! Contemporary examples are lesser known, and although overt assertions of success in this regard are unusual, they are not unheard of.  Peter Carroll has claimed that the Illuminates of Thanateros contributed through magical working to the overthrow of Ceausescu, for example, and continues to promote British resistance to the European Union.

This is just one example of chaos magical interest in attacking politically repressive targets; in Liber Null and Psychonaut Carroll suggests aeonic magick as a primary activity of the Adept, and in later work he proposed a sample ritual for this purpose entitled (rather ironically now, we think) the Jihad of Chaos. Initiates associated with the Arcane Order of the Black Sun reputedly used magick in the favor of the successful 2004-2005 “Orange Revolution” in Ukraine, and London’s “Dionysian Underground” inspired by the late Steve Ash routinely performed magical workings for political purposes in the UK for a decade. Many of these groups, and numerous others as well, known and unknown, continually add their wills and intentions to the chaos of the socio-political world.

But aeonics isn't just for elite political manipulators, power-thirsty schemers, or idealistic revolutionaries!  These contemporary examples demonstrate that although the historical record favors references to elite magicians working with political figures in this regard, this is due more to the disparity of concerns between rulers and the ruled than it is to any limitation on the applicability of magick to socio-cultural and psycho-historic conditions.  There are plenty of cases in the pre-modern world in which practitioners lacking direct access to political power still attempted to use magick to influence leaders or the state, but this would have been regarded as criminal (in Rome, for example) or in later cases, heretical.  In one famous case, Roman officials believed that the numerous poppets and curse paraphenalia found under a senator’s bed had caused his death, and took this seriously enough to enact a judicial process.  James VI was paranoid of witches, but they really might have been out to get him through a failed magical assassination attempt.

In general, the historical record is unlikely to preserve any reference to attempts at magical influence on political actors unless these actors have been involved in magick themselves, or unless a judicial process has occurred as a result.  Certainly magick for personal purposes has been, and probably always will be, more common place.  But this does not mean there is any reason to believe that a magician lacking mundane access to political power might not have attempted to influence the political process, despite not being directly involved with the rulers and leaders of the land.  In fact, the contemporary practitioner is in a much better position in this regard due to the increasing shrinkage of the global community, particularly due to the potential opportunities for coordinated efforts offered by the internet and social media.  In fact, without them you probably wouldn't be reading this!

But don't buy everything (or even most things) that you see on social media. It is not uncommon in personal magical practice for one apparent intention to conceal another; this technique is used in ways ranging from completely benign, such as the stage magick used in some shamanic healings, to the thoroughly malevolent, such as the combination of pharmacology and misdirective implications of death magick to produce voudonic zombies.  Michael Aquino famously rejects government and military use of operative magick in his MindWar research, based on its inefficiency, but he goes on to promote disinformation campaigns waged for the purpose of creating a reality shared by citizens and enemies alike in which the victory of the state is inevitable – an application of what his Temple of Set would refer to as “Lesser Black Magic” in all but name.

Full blown ceremonial and ritual magick can be used with a similar diversity of intentions, and it is extremely naïve to suppose that every occult war effort --- particularly one performed out in the open --- is as linear in its intentions as victory prayers.  Certainly, in the same way that Frater Barrabbas suggests that the material basis of a binding operation can actually be shown to the target to enhance the psychological effect, chaos magicians have frequently observed that war magick can effectively involve much more posturing and propaganda than full-blown death magick.

Had we been organizing a spell to kill the so-called “Caliph” of Daesh, we would not have used Facebook.  Every adept should recognize that in aeonic magick, it is not only the effects of the spell or ritual which are at issue, but also the way such effects are perceived, understood, experienced, or received by observers and the masses, by the casters themselves, and also by those who may believe themselves to be the targets of the operation.  Even an aeonic operation that appears very straightforward may be anything but!

With this introduction to the important heritage of aeonic magick and occult warfare in esoteric tradition, we’re going to address Frater Barrabbas’s specific points about magical theory, and then conclude with some observations that we hope may inspire further discussion.

The Frater’s first main technical point is that there is no reason to combine binding and reflection.  This misses the point that harm already wrought can still be reflected upon the guilty in a magical working of retribution and punishment.  It is as if Barrabbas believes that there may be reason to imprison someone, but not also to fine them.  Of course, judicial systems frequently impose both incarceration and financial penalty, and our interest in both restraining Daesh and subjecting it to retaliation seems to us to be both just and prudent.  

Next, let’s consider Frater Barrabbas’s Kardashian example, despite it being a rather poor comparison since it is totally irrelevant to issues of psycho-historic change or trends, such as a case of attempting to empower or disempower a movement or ideology like Daesh.  What might happen to an adept who (for whatever reason) decides to attempt to magically enamor Kim Kardashian? The most likely outcome, as Frater Barrabbas rightly suggests, is failure, followed by the creation of an independent obsession.

But let’s delve further into the example, the way a very determined magician might do, who was truly intending to experience a relationship (or at least a hookup) with Kim Kardashian.  As Frater Barrabbas also predicts, the obsession is likely to become autonomous given a lack of opportunity to manifest, so the magician will probably dream about her.  If he is able to ignore the dreams, repress them, or use them as an opportunity to cast more spells, he may end up meeting someone who embodies what Kim Kardashian subjectively means to him.  This seems to fit with Frater Barrabbas’s idea that the real target of any such operation is not the real person (unknown to the magician) but only the magician’s idea of the target.

This also generally holds true, except that once the idea of the target is properly bound and controlled, a sufficiently determined or obsessed practitioner will eventually acquire real information about, and perhaps even a real connection to, such a target.  It is at this point that the real danger of stalking arises – who knows how many mentally unbalanced celebrity stalkers might, under other circumstances, have had the necessary talent and obsession to become practicing magicians.  In this sense, the initial working becomes only a preliminary working, the same way that on a personal level, novices are more likely to produce subjective changes than objective ones in their early practice, such as discovering that their enemy “disappears from their life” rather than disappearing from life itself.

This can cause some magicians – even experienced magicians – to develop the ultimately undermining and self-defeating view that magick is intended to produce only such subjective results, more and more pervasively.  This attitude can lead to the solipsism Frater Barrabbas seems to be concerned about, and it should be avoided.  Yet, we would never tell a novice that if he or she cursed an enemy to destruction and then never heard from that person again, that the novice was a failure, a time-waster, or delusional.  We would instead encourage them to develop increasing discrimination, diligence, and discernment, and cultivate opportunities for increasingly literal results.  One way of developing such power is looking for them, and one way of compensating for a lack of magickal link is to become inundated with information about, and attention to, the subject.

This is, of course, also a way to become very obsessed.  So once our hypothetical caster has begun to conjure all kinds of literal and symbolic Kim Kardashianity into his reality, and finally overflows into actually developing connections to her, he must indeed navigate the dangers of becoming a stalker or becoming consumed by this obsession.  The breaking point likely comes when he finally gets enough of a connection to directly experience that Kim Kardashian is nothing like “Kim Kardashian,” which is, in fact, a successful spell result, since by this point the magician will have summoned someone or something (possible multiple someones) much closer to his original symbolic desire.  However, once he does have a real connection to Kim Kardashian, he still has the opportunity for a presumably much less problematic (but much less satisfying) conjuration.

It should be clear why this was a rather poor comparison to Daesh on the part of Frater Barrabbas, but hopefully indulging it has allowed us to demonstrate a significant point: our spell is, of course, directed at the idea of Daesh, because, after all, Daesh is only an idea, and a fraudulent one at that: a spurious state, with a confabulated Caliph, implausibly Islamic, even more clearly a golem fueled by Western arrogance and hubris than Al-Qaeda and the Taliban, the latter of which at least had the merits of confounding Soviet ambitions in Afghanistan.

Frater Barrabbas compared Daesh to a boogeyman similar to the former Soviet Union, and although he rightly points out that most Americans overestimated the power and threat posed by the USSR, he somehow overlooks the point that it did embody corruption, evil, and stupidity, and the idea it represented was rightly vilified and deserved to be undone.  That doesn’t mean that all ideological efforts against it were somehow either redundant or solipsistic; it means that in focusing on reinforcing ideological rejection of the Soviet Union, they contributed their conviction to its collapse. 

Frater Barrabbas describes the Daesh we know in the West as a “dark shadow.” Indeed, this shadow has already cast itself into the West in the form of repeated terrorist actions, the recruitment of Western Muslims as well as immigrants, and the further darkening of the Western perception of Islam, itself a consequence surely promoted by the real creators of this political golem.  What better way to combat an entity created by the political black magick of nefarious manipulators – than with magick?  That our spell coincides with military victory demonstrates its aeonic coherence; the acausal synchronicities of spellworking can be neither proven nor disproven, but they can be experienced.  To experience them aeonically presents the opportunity for the practitioner to establish resonance between personal life and psycho-historical currents, and it is these currents which may carry the magician beyond adeptitude.  

Yet, we recognize that many magicians, even many adepts, may deliberately choose an apolitical path.  They may purposely reject involvement with the themes, ideas, and currents of this aeon, or any aeon.  There are other paths across the Abyss, and other paths deeper into it.  But such a choice should be made based on an apprehension of the magician’s own disposition, not the spurious and ultimately corrosive idea that magick is by definition confined in its influence and significance to the “personal life,” especially since those who have yet to experience the gnosis of the adept are barely “persons” to begin with.  It is through interaction with, and inspiration by, transpersonal powers and forces that the personality of the adept is created, shaped, and fashioned. 

We find it particularly ironic that Frater Barrabbas chose to evaluate this aeonic working from the perspective of the solitary pragmatic magician, when he himself is clearly a religious practitioner presumably engaged in ceremonial and ritual magick deriving its aeonic momentum from the ideological and theological egregores of Wicca and Thelema.  These traditions utilize magical techniques to fulfill religious and mystical aspirations, and also draw upon the shared beliefs and egregores of (mostly) ideologically harmonious magicians to empower personal aims, even utilizing continually repeated religious ceremonies for such a purpose.

Thelemic groups in particular have tended to hold that by advancing the aeon, the personal opportunities of the magician are advanced as well.  Does Frater Barrabbas really hold that it is worse for a group of practitioners to come together on a magical holiday to put their skills – whatever they might be – to a common aeonic purpose, even if it is merely the binding and ultimate destruction of a mere ideological golem – than it is for them to routinely engage in the religious ritual veneration of aeonic constructs created by Western magicians of the recent past?  

Apparently Barrabbas sees no problem in repeating the aeonic conjurations of “Secret Agent 666” (to borrow a moniker from the title of a recent scholarly work on Crowley by Richard Spence), who himself was so embroiled in political magick that he regarded publication of Liber AL as sufficient to instigate wars and took credit (after the fact) for “V for Victory”, but Barrabbas objects to contemporary magicians emulating the Beast in any similar regard, instead of merely imitating his ritual ingenuity.

The subject of the magical link is more pertinent, and lack of viable magical mink is probably the most common reason why aeonic magick may be ineffective, and we certainly don’t intend to argue that the magical link is irrelevant. However, the lack of such a link can still be overcome, as Frater Barrabbas actually seems to admit in his post.  Non-local consciousness can be accessed in a sufficiently deep trance state.  The intervention of spirits, egregores, and servitors can still be effective without a magical link.  Some currents of aeonic magick are sufficiently well-established psycho-historically, or so organically potent, that they can be drawn upon and activated in the right aeonic circumstances and then cascade into reality seemingly of their own accord.

Any or all of these techniques may have been used by any magical adepts participating in this very working – the simple spell we presented online was merely illustrative of how a binding spell against such a target might be performed.  Our expectation was certainly not that the performance of this specific spell, by any number of operators, would be any more effective than a massive prayer vigil.  It seems equally naïve, however, to believe that it would be less effective.  Most contemporary magical theory which has advanced beyond the rather crudely relativistic “energy model” accepts that in an information-based probabalistic paradigm, it only requires onesuccessful execution of a spell by one operator for it to take effect; multiplication of the number of operators either aids the spells of the more competent, raises the possibility that one caster’s spell will be successful, or both.  

Ultimately Frater Barrabbas seems to prefer to present principles of sorcery as Laws of Magick.  Yet, magick is not science.  It certainly has empirical and even experimental components, but it is as much of an art as it is a craft.  The claims of a magician are not repeatable and not falsifiable, any more than those of a historian operating in the paradigm of the humanities rather than the social sciences. Perhaps this is part of why psycho-historic magic is effective; the magician is attempting to create observer effects, not reduce them.  The biases generated by the magician are meant to influence the caster, the target, and ultimately all of reality.

Magick does not operate based on laws.  Magick is a law – and a chaos – unto itself.  The effectiveness of magick cannot be explained by reference to some other belief system, paradigm, or model: magick is the reason why belief systems, paradigms, and models explain anything effectively.  We contend that magick is an art and craft of belief, and as such its effects are by definition global and pervasive.  One interpretation of “crossing the Abyss” would describe it as the transition which occurs when the relationship between the personal reality of the magician and the seemingly objective reality of the surrounding world becomes completely understood and therefore subject to direct influence by the magician.

Can confrontation with this boundary lead to delusion, obsession, hubris, arrogance, grandiosity, and even insanity or madness?  Of course it can.  But so can mysticism and religion.  So can politics.  The dangerous possibility that one might literalize the experience, or the effects, of any magical working will always remain.  As William S. Burroughs, probably one of the greatest magicians of the previous century, laconically remarked, “Magick is dangerous or it is nothing.”

Safe personal spells for prosperity and empowerment are the province of the novice; dangerous, uncertain, risky, and problematic experiments with the powerful forces that drive history should be the province of the adept, and part of doing those experiments is a willingness to occasionally experiment with the beliefs, participation, enthusiasm, and sincerity of others.  Political movements and religions have been born for far worse purposes.  An adept who is afraid to break the supposed “Laws of Magick” or transgress the often self-imposed limitations of possibility is no adept at all.  Magick is not a negotiation with the universe – it is an attack on reality.

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