Expansion & Contraction in the Temple

January 10, 2011

The energies of expansion & contraction seem to make themselves most readily apparent throughout ritual, but I’ve been considering lately how much these energies influence membership in esoteric groups. It seems that some times of the year, people are more ready to start working with others. Our group currently has 4 people who are on a leave of absence, and we hope they come back soon, but meanwhile, many new members are applying.

Despite Denver’s not-so-large population (almost 600,000), it does seem to have a large number of persons who are interested in esotericism. Often, these applicants are looking for a coven, or are interested in something that’s totally unrelated to the Golden Dawn, but every so often, a great member joins and sticks with the group through thick and thin.

Of course, there are always once-offs who are initiated and never return, but I feel that the courage it takes to join a group is often enough weeding out (see my previous post about finding good members), so that these seem to be few and far between.

There’s only so much prodding and encouraging that can help a student to stick with the path — so much of it depends on their willingness to follow through. For me, the rise and fall in Temple membership is like a wave – ride it, don’t fight it.

Has anyone else noticed massive rises and drops in attendance/membership? And if so, how does your group deal with it?

Mundane Politics and the Golden Dawn Temple

February 9, 2010

The Temple (or Lodge, or Order or whatever the official title) is no place for politics. This is the stance of the Temple of Thoth Amen-Ra, and is the stance of many groups I’ve belonged to or been associated with. But why is this?

To begin simply, politics (such as discussions of the pros and cons of a particular political party for instance) have no place in a magical group. The politics of the mundane should not be used to further anyone’s agenda, whether as a leader or a member. There is however, overlap in certain cases. Here are the few times I can think of when politics should overlap:

1. When a potential member’s political beliefs could potentially be harmful to the group.

This could take place for example, if a potential member is also a member of a political group that does not conform to the high standards of the magical order. As far as excluding members, our Temple states in its Constitution:

No person shall be excluded from membership on account of sex, race, religion, or specific tradition of magic that does not conflict with the purpose and mission of the Temple. (The mission of the Temple of Thoth Amen-Ra can be found on our website.)

Let’s take an extreme example of a potential member who could be refused entrance despite the non-mention of politics in the aforementioned section. Take the fictitious “Bob,” who feels that whites are a superior race,  and belongs to several neo-nazi organizations.

There’s no way that I at least, could on good grounds, allow him entrance into our Temple.  I don’t pretend to speak for other members of my Temple, but I can’t imagine any of them voting “Bob” in. This is for the simple reason that intolerance has no place in a magical order, especially one based on the Golden Dawn. I know however, that the Cipher Manuscripts state to “Avoid Roman Catholics. But with pity.”, but I feel these are more an outgrowth of the early Rosicrucian association with Protestantism. In most modern GD organizations that I am aware of, a Roman Catholic would not be denied entrance just because of their religious beliefs.

2. When mundane politics interfere with the Temple.

This latter possibility seems far removed in the United States, where the founding fathers were masons, and the long and respected history of fraternal orders has existed in and with politics, but who knows what the future holds?

The last time that fraternal orders were persecuted was the Third Reich, when approximately between 80,000 and 200,000 Freemasons were executed in the Holocaust (Wikipedia). I am unaware of the number of magical orders that were shut down, but most famously the OTO was persecuted. In a case like this, it would behoove the Temple to openly discuss the influence of politics on their group. I have no idea what the best course of action would be in this case, and hope I never have to deal with it.

So, while I’m absolutely opposed to bringing politics into the Temple for personal or inter-Temple political ends, there are exceptions to the rule.

What Makes an Adept?

January 24, 2010

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?

How to Accept New Members

September 13, 2009

Any Golden Dawn Order or Temple will have to deal with potential members of all types, ranging from the borderline psychotic to the adept from another group to the full-on neophyte with no idea of the Golden Dawn or what it stands for. How to deal with these members is an ongoing struggle between explanation of the Order’s goals and the vows of secrecy (whatever those may entail).

For most groups, there seems to be a concern over who to let in, and for good reason. The Denver Golden Dawn Temple to which I belong has had its share of members who were unable or unwilling to follow the group’s rules and regulations, some who have rebelled against some of the aspects of the GD, and some who just didn’t fit in personally. Trying to weed out unfit potential members is an ongoing task.

We used to have open meetings where a modified 0=0 opening would show the potential member what we have to offer. This resulted in one excellent member joining our group, but for many it was an opportunity for us to see their various psychoses in action. We soon disbanded the “open meeting” idea for a more prolonged and anonymous application process.

Our application process is as follows:

1. the applicant finds our website and sends a note to the Cancellarius (who by decision of the Inner Order is not only in charge of all secretarial duties and monies, but has this additional responsibility as well).

2. the Cancellarius reviews their email and decides to send them an application form.

3. the form is reviewed by all voting members of the Temple. A decision is then made whether to meet with the applicant at a neutral location, with all voting members present.

4. in a formal Temple (0=0 opening), the applicant’s membership in the Temple is opened to full discussion. There is a vote taken.

5. whether accepted or denied, the applicant is notified by mail. This is done to ensure that the current members are kept anonymous and no one person is seen as responsible for the applicant’s acceptance or denial.

The above has seemed to work so far for our Denver Temple. What’s your Temple/Order/Group standard application process, and why does it work or not work?