I’ve read many different opinions about what makes an adept. Most of which are written by bloggers (the like of which I reluctantly throw myself in with) and those who defend people who are considered by them to be “adepts,” but what do the people in the past (that most of us in the Western Hermetic Tradition consider adepts) have to say about what makes up an adept? For the purposes of this entry, I’m considering an adept of the G.D.
In Regardie’s Golden Dawn, pp. 106 (newer Llewellyn version), the “Task Undertaken by the Adeptus Minor” states that said task includes,
To expel from the Sephiroth of the Nephesch the usurpation by the evil Sephiroth; to balance the action of the Sephiroth of the Ruachin those of the Nephesch. To prevent the Lower Will and Human Consciousness from falling into and usurping the place of the Automatic Consciousness. To render the King of the Body, the Lower Will, obedient to and anxious to execute the commands of the Higher Will, that he be neither a usurper of the faculties of the Higher, nor a sensual despot-but an Initiated Ruler, and an anointed King, the viceroy and representative of the Higher Will, because inspired thereby, in his Kingdom which is man.
Paul Foster Case says in “The Secret Doctrine of the Tarot” (p. 92) that,
An adept is one who has changed his body into an instrument for transforming solar energy into a psycho-physical force that can be applied in many unusual ways.
Dion Fortune, speaking of the higher ranks of adepthood, says in “The Mystical Qabalah” (p. 176) that,
When the Higher Self and the Lower Self become united through the complete absorption of the lower by the higher, true adepthood is gained; this is the Great Initiation, the Lesser Divine Union. It is the supreme experience of the incarnate soul, and when this takes place, it is freed from any compulsion to rebirth into the prison-house of flesh. Thenceforth it is free to go on up the planes and enter into its rest, or, if it so elects, to remain within the earth-sphere and function as a Master.
The latter quote of course refers to the post-death position of the adept, who has released united the Higher and the Lower (the Neschamah with the Ruach), while Mathers and Case refer to the incarnate experience of uniting the Ruach with the Nephesch. This is an important distinction between the two kinds of adept. The Fortune version is beyond the scope of what I am trying to discuss – the adept who still occupies a human body in the world of Assiah (and ignoring the concept of living breathing “secret masters”).
So the first two quotes state that an adept is one who is unlike his/her peers, by definition an expert in their field, and one who has transformed their ordinary human shells into a vehicle for the higher. After meeting personally several people and lurking among online communities of people who consider themselves “adepts” and are referred to as such by their peers, I am often underwhelmed at what I see. Perhaps I’m just not developed enough to pick up on the transformation these people have undergone, or maybe I’m reading the interpretation of what an adept is incorrectly.
I do have to say that I have known adepts, though very few in the Golden Dawn school. So what’s going on here? I truly believe in the abilities of many of those I’ve met, and seen some of them in action, but it seems to me that the material world seems to hold more influence over many than the attempt to attain true adepthood. I also abide by my belief that the Golden Dawn holds much to offer for those who apply themselves to the Great Work.
In my humble opinion, an adept in the G.D. would be able to do more than analyze the intricacies of the Outer Order rituals, or to perform a SIRP without the aid of a text, or to write an essay or book on the Order’s overall thematic imagery. An adept is truly one who has transformed his life, both in the magical and mundane worlds, to extend the LVX of the Higher into the world of Assiah (even if that LVX is just a reflection of the Higher light which extends into the reaches of Keter of Assiah). An adept should be someone who works daily not only to improve his/her life, but the lives of everyone around them.
Now, this is not to say that an adept is some demigod or enlightened being who will never utter a curse word at the person who cut them off in traffic, or drink a beer or two, or to get angry, or to do many other things that many might consider “un-adept-like”, but there should be an overall sense of achievement on their part, as well as the extension of that achievement to others. Otherwise, the Order has done nothing but produce writers and theoreticians, not magicians.
What do you think? What makes an adept?