Intellect – it’s not a dirty word

‘You can’t feel God any more than you can think God’ – Karen Armstrong

Sadly, when it comes to the view of intellect within much of the New Age and Pagan communities, the following line of Skyhook’s classic is very apposite: ‘Don’t you believe what you’ve seen or heard’.

This is because an intellectual approach to the mysteries is downplayed while an emotional, ‘feeling’ approached is valorised beyond all sense or reason. Ha! That was deliberate :)

This post was prompted as a response to a recent discussion on an Australian Facebook Pagan group where I saw things that both amazed and dismayed me. Now of course, a few pixels on a screen may not transfer the originating intellect’s (again, deliberate) intention, but after a few dozen comments from several folk, one does tend to get the gist. And in this case, come away a mite wobbly, muttering under one’s breath, Uncle Alick’s famous exclamation, ‘I get fairly frantic when I contemplate the idiocy of these louts’ :)

hey man half brain RAW

The problem is large and multilayered but appears to focus around three areas:

1) Valuing the emotional sphere over the intellectual

2) The lack of language to describe various states of being

3) A confusion between various states of being


The first is the simplest to address, to wit: as soon as anyone values the intellect or emotions as more valuable than the other you have entered the land of Nod where you will wander in oblivion crying out for the Lord of truth. So there :)

The intellect is a key tool for understanding our world, ourselves and the mysteries. It is not a lesser importance than ‘the emotions’ – and the fact that people are valorising ‘feeling’ as better than intellect OVER THE FUCKING INTERNET also means they cannot see when irony is chomping on their bum.

To make sense of this topic I am going to refer to the Qabalah and the Tree of Life – it will be very useful for points two and three especially. OK – look here.

The Tree of Life

Our outer, regular everyday personality selves are comprised of the lower four spheres, Malkuth through Netzach – in really shorthand form: Body, Reactions, Intellect, Emotions. The fifth lowest sphere, Tiphareth forms (again using shorthand) the ‘I’, the real self that has a body but is not the body, that has reactions, thoughts and emotions but has no identification with any of these. Note that intellect and emotions are on the same level and each form the base of a greater form of consciousness above them.

Both are essential, both are divine and both can access the higher consciousness of Tipahreth and ‘control’ or temper the reactive nature of Yesod, for example through Art-Therapy or Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. The 70s style ‘encounter groups’ where folk expressed and worked through their ‘issues’ via Yesod reactions have proven to be pretty much useless for long term personal growth and change.

The same essential verity of co-equality between these two spheres is found in all authentic traditions not just Qabalah, and for anyone to value Netzach above Hod or vice versa is just plain STUPID.


One of the greatest problems to infect and distort the New Age and the Pagan communities is the lack of spiritual literacy. Not only are terms confused – one person’s ‘astral’ is another person’s ‘etheric’ – but often there is no reference at all to a coherent overarching system, like Qabalah. For example, variants of these sentences are being said by various folk over the world right now:

  1. When the bastard cut me off on the road, I felt like bludgeoning him to death.
  2. When I’m with you, I feel like nothing I’ve felt before.
  3. The feeling when the Rinpoche blessed me was out of this world.
  4. I felt the ghost come around me on the left hand side.

All are feelings, eh?


In the four examples above, the first refers to a Yesod reaction based on mammalian territorial politics, the second to a Netzach connection, the third (hopefully) to a Tiphareth communion and the fourth to … Gods knows what? But they are all use the word ‘FEEL’ – and we think we understand this.

If we do not constantly unpack this sort of chatter, which often occurs at the end of a group session, we necessarily just promote confusion. If we do not seek to clarify exactly what ‘feel’ means, we again are on the way to Nod. It is inevitable and is why any decent spiritual system insists on self-reflection and clarification. Hold that thought (yes, deliberate :))

A development of this linguistic confusion occurs when folk have an experience on the inner levels that is beyond their consciousness level of participation. We do not automatically function on the Tiphareth level – heck, most of us just react from Yesod most of the time. One has to learn to develop a capacity to function at the level of the self. It requires careful training and guided self-observation.

So if someone is not trained to function on the Tiphareth level, and they intersect or come across a Tiphareth presence or blessing – which hopefully they will at something like a Drawing Down of the Moon – they have to interpret and experience the blessing as best they can. Depending on the person it is likely to be within Netzach or Hod (and sadly, sometimes Yesod). So James will experience the Goddess in and as ‘feeling’. Penny might do the same as ‘thought/ideas’ … but the presence will be really there, within these spheres. And therefore they will really, honestly say they ‘felt’ the Goddess or the Goddess was ‘in their mind’. These are both true and both limited, as the Goddess is beyond feeling, beyond thought and requires a trained method of perception to fully interact with Her.

Now if James is part of a New Age or Pagan group that values ‘feelings’ and has little spiritual literacy, this experience will just reinforce the idea that ‘feelings’ are spiritual. The lack of discernment and language, not to mention ability to interact at the required levels, means that other ‘feelings’ – like Madonna sings about when made ‘brand new’ through smooching, can be mistaken as ‘spiritual’. And this, my friends, explains the plethora of comments on Facebook that made me and a friend pretty giddy.

The antidote is of course training in both spiritual literacy and methods of actual, real spiritual unfolding. Sadly, as I detail in this post, ‘Spirituality: are we doing it right?’, we often miss the mark and to quote the amazing Rev Dr Cynthia Bourgeault:

As Buddhism observed long ago, pain and pleasure are simply two ends of the old “egoic stick.” As long as one is drawing one’s vital energy from self-esteem, self-affirmation, and self-expression, even in service of the purest and noblest of causes, one is still orbiting within the egoic feedback loop. As long as happiness and a personal sense of selfworth are still the measures by which one relates to life and adjusts one’s heading; as long as vitality is the measure of spiritual wellbeing, one is trapped within the egoic feedback system. These are not moral judgments; they are descriptive criteria. And by these criteria, it is depressingly clear that ninety-nine percent of what is being promulgated as contemporary Western spirituality is merely fine-tuning the ego. (emphasis added).

I see no reason to exclude New Age, Pagan and Magical spiritualties from this assessment – but they remain, in my view the best hope for authentic and powerful spirituality, personal and communal, we have. So let’s get spiritually literate, eh? THANKS :)

Change within the Golden Dawn and Wicca

ctThere’s been a lot of good chat on Facebook recently about the various versions of the Golden Dawn rituals and the importance, or lack thereof, of making sure one sticks with the traditional way of doing things and wot-not. This was largely started by magician and author Nick Farrell on the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn Facebook group. It tied in nicely with some discussions I am having at the moment with Wiccans, Neo-Wiccans and others over the traditional methods of female to male polarity and initiation. This post, naturally, is my take on things :)

A lot of the discussion surrounds the parts of the GD and Wiccan ceremonies that are seemingly easily identified as being either:

(1) Imported from the prevailing cultural milieux of the founders;

(2) Reflecting the personal bias of the founders;

(3) Examples of obvious ‘filling’ or ‘padding’ of rituals, using text cut and pasted from public sources but often with quite different meanings and uses than the original; or

(4) Simply wrong – either by publisher/editor errors or due to internal inconsistency.

Wicca is a classic example of this. Gerald Gardner’s Witchcraft has liturgy that reflect contemporary social mores, his own personal take on things and which uses a wide range of sources, published and unpublished but rarely in a manner faithful to the original meaning of the texts. It’s the same in the Golden Dawn with swathes of quotes from the recently translated ‘Chaldean Oracles’ and the Bible.

With these points in mind, some folk seem quite happy to take to both GD and Wiccan liturgy with creative enthusiasm, changing and improving bits here and there, and generally having a good old redaction. However, there are a few odd ducks like me who pause and say ‘Ere hang on a minute!’

Personally I am very reluctant to change much in the Golden Dawn or Wiccan systems without careful thought and understanding. Of course, as I discuss in this post Traditional Reconstruction and the Golden Dawn, authentic traditions are never static and are always in a process of renewing themselves. However, it is the tradition itself which has agency in this process, not the individual practitioners of the tradition. The tradition is never changed, altered or reconstructed for personal reasons. This means we have to be very careful when we are considering any changes. There are four main reasons for this:

(1) Mastery

(2) Inner work

(3) Evidence of Results

(4) Linking of currents

MASTERY. Using the classic, and hopefully not too worn example: you have to know and master the rules before you can break them or create new rules. This applies to both art and craft and also I believe spiritual and magical practice. This means we really need to know the ceremonies and practices, and the orthometapraxic principles behind them before we consider any change. So with reference to the Golden Dawn and Wicca, this means both a certain degree of initiation and a bodacious load of experience and magic too. Within the online Golden Dawn community elders such as Pat Zalewski are clear: the more they study the GD ceremonies the more they find and uncover. Now, if that is the case, can any of us really say we have mastered the understanding of any ceremony enough for wholesale changes? Just a question :)

wicca1INNER WORK. One of the hallmarks of Golden Dawn/RR et AC magic is the presence of inner work on many levels. As I detail in this post, the Inner Work of a Magical Lodge, besides the speeches and floor work, there is a whole lot of action going on during a GD ceremony. This is articulated in a few historical GD documents and has been the subject of research and exposition by several contemporary GD folk. Similar inner work occurs within the Wiccan ceremonies, despite a noticeable absence of discussion.

The presence of this inner work means if we cut or change any outer action, the chances are we will be altering the inner work of the ceremony. Some folk may not believe this, or think they may have identified the inner work and can easily replace the outer form, but I am not so sanguine. Again, this ties into the notion of mastery discussed above but also brings in the concept of the egregore of the group and the tradition in question. These magical inner actions are, within the egregore, linked to the traditional outer forms – even if they are pages from the Old Testament or atrocious poetry that sets one on edge. Replacing outer forms then requires not only a full understanding of the corresponding inner work, but also the ability to move counter to the egregore and link them to new outer forms. I’m not sure how many folk are up to this? ;)

There is a counterargument of course that much of the above is speculation, that the outer forms are just ritual garbage and fluff and it is a modern affectation to imbue them with meaning and magic: that is, Mathers and co really just liked to waffle on. :) Now that may be the case or may not. There certainly is little literary evidence of inner workings within the historical GD corpus, but it does exist in oral tradition. Where and when these oral traditions originated is difficult to say, but they do work to empower the rituals, even the ‘boring’ and out-of-place bits. So changing elements is, again in my view, a task that requires mastery and surety beyond the ken of most of us.

EVIDENCE OF RESULTS. The purpose of the Golden Dawn – and in some views, Wicca, is to change, unfold and transform the initiate. If we wish to alter the ceremonies and practices we really should be sure we are making things better. The evidence of improvement would be in the lives of our initiates. But magic is not like making a cake where we may add or substitute allspice for cinnamon (which of course we should do) and see the results the same evening. The unfolding of an initiate is a lifetime task. If we alter something in the Zelator grade ceremony, we may not see the result for a decade, as practices and certain ceremonial elements within the Inner Order ‘sit on top of’ the energetic and inner changes created at Zelator. So, by necessity any changes cannot be lauded and validated for many years. And what if we get it wrong …

The counter argument to this is that the GD and Wicca don’t have a good track record to begin with; that the historical evidence suggests the asylum was well and truly run by the loonies from the get-go. I can only offer my personal experience in response to this. The Golden Dawn community, and in some respects the Wiccan, though I have less experience there, is comprised of a diverse range of people.

A small percentage make you want to shower after meeting them. Icky. A goodly amount are plainly idiots or simply ‘fine tuning the ego’ by magic and Paganism without any real desire for authentic spiritual growth. A large contingent are lovely, decent, honest folk with good hearts and clear brains, as evidenced by the large scale support shown for charitable causes such as the eye operation of GD adept and author Aaron Leitch. And one or two produce awe and amazement, being such refined and compassionate examples of what it means to be ‘more than human’, they take you breath away. I have been blessed to meet a couple of these souls and they ascribe any unfoldment they have undergone directly to the traditions of the GD and RR et AC as traditionally practiced. So this has meaning for me :)

LINKING OF CURRENTS. This final reason for a conservative approach to change is, I think, largely my own. I’ve not seen it discussed much and draws, frankly, on a more Inner Light tradition approach than GD – or at least it its features are articulated better in the Inner Light tradition than the GD or Wicca. It revolves around the concept of the evolution of inner plane spiritual currents and their manifestation in new outer forms. We can see this in both the Golden Dawn and Wicca.

The contemporary consensus is that the founders of the GD, especially Mathers  and his wife, were inspired by other forces or beings to create the GD. We may choose to believe this inspiration came from a putative physical ‘third Order’, or an inner plane, non-incarnate, being sometimes identified with the angel Raphael, or simply label it as ‘spiritual inspiration’. However we describe it, it is clear it was in some ways ‘beyond’ the personal lives and egos of the founders.

The Golden Dawn, much like Wicca 60 years later, became the embodiment of a new mode of spiritual expression. And this seeped into and through the founders’ teachings, rituals and methods of magic. Just as much of what we take from granted as being Pagan was embodied in and given enduring form by Wicca, so too much of what we think of as ‘magic’ was created and given expression by the Golden Dawn. Whenever we use the word ‘magic’ in a spiritual context, the chances are we are thinking within a paradigm and worldview created or modified by the Golden Dawn.

The inner currents or blessings of the newly developing tradition of western spiritual magic, for some reason, earthed or manifested through the Golden Dawn and its founders and initial innovators, a distinctly odd combination of people. There were several other contemporary magical groups, but none, I believe, were empowered in the same way by these interior blessings and currents. This is why the Golden Dawn, despite its many problems, prospered, expanded, survived and seeded many other expressions of magical practice.

The same process, I believe, occurred with Wicca. There were several, possibly many, other avenues and streams of attempted realisation of the bourgeoning new ‘spiritual Paganism’ current extant in the first half of the 20th century, such as the Order of Woodcraft Chivalry, and the work being done in the Fraternity of the Inner Light. However, Gardner’s Wicca – clearly created originally as a personal exploration – was chosen by the Gods as their vehicle, and despite again, the quirks and foibles of the initial bunch of folk, it, prospered, expanded, survived and seeded many other expressions of Pagan practice.

This embodiment of interior currents and blessings, I believe, explains not only why the GD and Wicca remain potent and strong today, but why certain – and let’s face it, naff – elements within these traditions, are experienced as pretty cool. We can feel and experience the currents, even within terrible poetry and screeds of the Old Testament. I believe that the process of embodying these currents linked and fused them to both the inner work and outer form of the Golden Dawn and Wiccan ceremonies. They are present within the structure of the Order and religion themselves. This is very wonderful, if you think about it. This is why – and is the main reason – I am reluctant to change much within the GD and Wicca: I am not confident my meddling would retain these currents.

Of course, all things change and I am not advocating things stay the same, time immemorial. Traditions change and indeed they should, as I describe in this post, on the inevitability of diversity (but not schism). However, both Wicca and the Golden Dawn embody deep spiritual presences through their ceremonies. The ceremonies are both wonderful and flawed (as we humans are) – but they are the doorway to these currents and are inextricably linked to them. And just as the divine can be found in our imperfection as humans, so too it can, and is, found in the imperfect traditions we have been blessed to receive. Thanks :)

RIP Gough Whitlam – political ancestor work

gough-whitlamEarly this morning, Edward ‘Gough’ Whitlam, arguably the greatest Prime Minister Australia has ever known, died, aged 98.

His legacy is beyond words. Even today, after decades of conservative politics ripping at the heart of Australia, we see his influence. Aboriginal women, children and men, live on their own lands thanks to his initiatives. Hundreds of thousands of state funded university educated Australians owe him a debt. Our international relationships were fostered by him. Universal healthcare and improved social security came from his actions. The introduction of no-fault divorce, the end of conscription and the end of Australia’s participation in the Vietnam War. He and his wife, Margaret (who died in 2012) were also tirelessly supportive of the Australian arts and protections for the environment.

Not only will he live on in memory, but also within a near universal admiration and willingness to see him as a greater-than-life figure, to focus on his successes and acknowledge, though never condone, his failures (like East Timor). Gough continues to inspire generations of Australians who were never directly affected by his time in politics. This is the mark of a great human being.

Gough will become a political ancestor and we Pagan and magic folk understand how that works.

The memory, the life, the personality of great people become the focal point for universal forces to move through and interact with the world. By offering to their memories, their legacy and lives, their triumphs and continuing presence in the world, we grow and strengthen the ancestor. So they become able to continue to influence the world and be the mediation of the inner forces of truth, harmony and justice that inspired their lives while on earth.

Lee Morgan of My Craft and Sullen Art fame suggested this morning on Facebook we consciously create a ‘Multiple tradition political ancestor cult’ to honour Gough’s memory. She has created a Facebook page to this end, ‘Gough Whitlam Ancestor Cult’. Have a look. Tonight we will hold a ceremony and meal in his honour. You are invited to participate in whatever way you wish.

Shrine to Gough at work

Shrine to Gough at work

Know this: Gough is not actually dead.

I saw him this morning with a sick girl at the doctors.
I see him in every woman who earns as much as her male counterpart.
I see him every hour in the lives of divorcees and the educated.
I hear his voice in the songs of indigenous Australians who now live on their own land.
I see him in the wonder expressed by the thousands who visit the National Gallery.
I see him in those who marvel at the Barrier Reef and the environmentally protected National Parks.

Gough will never die.

By the Book – NOT!

Back in the 80s and early 90s there was a hush-hush piece of Golden Dawn lore used to separate the wheat from the chaff. It was seldom spoken about and, for some, served as a little piece of GD ‘one-upmanship’, a kinda hidden snobbery that could make you feel superior. It concerned the Lesser Ritual of the Hexagram. You see, up until then (and still occasionally today), the published instructions for the LRH were wrong.

The published form of the final, water/north form of the LRH showed to inscribe the top triangle first, when in fact it should be inscribed second. Where this mistake crept into the published GD lore is, for me at least, unclear. It was certainly there in the first and second editions of Israel Regardie’s, the Golden Dawn. I imagine it was from this second edition that the mistake was copied by many other writers following the ‘occult explosion’ of the 1970s.


By the time the fifth edition of Regardie’s opus came out, the mistake had been quietly corrected. However, it was still included in first editions of works by such bodacious magicians as Stephen Skinner (Techniques of High Magic, 1977), Chic and Tabby Cicero (The New Golden Dawn Ritual Tarot, 1991) and Donald Michael Kraig (Modern Magick,1988). It was even repeated in Regardie’s swansong, the Falcon Press issued, The Complete Golden Dawn System of Magic, 1995. Subsequent editions of these books have again, quietly, corrected the mistake.

Clifford Bias, in the incredibly dense Ritual Book of Magic (1981), a compilation of more magical rituals and processes you could poke a stick at, all sans inner workings, gives the correct instructions but buggers up the elemental attribution of the hexagrams (or is making some unknown point). That’s as close to a correct instruction I found in the period up to the early 1990s.


Interestingly, Crowley, in the original edition of Magick in Theory and Practice (1929), gives the final form correctly but omits the numbering of the arrows in that form. This suggests to me that perhaps the mistake had already crept into some Order’s instructional papers and Uncle Alick wanted to make the reader work it out for themselves.*

And really, that is the important message from this little tale. The fact that the instructions were incorrect would have become obvious to any adept who had worked out the form for all seven planetary hexagrams. The GD papers give the instructions on how to work out the manner of tracing. As soon as an adept had learnt the LRH for Saturn they would have seen the mistake in the generic LRH instructions.

So why were the mistaken instructions repeated by many authors and teachers for sixty years?

From memory it was clear that Llewellyn publishers were simply using the diagrams of the LRH in Regardie’s second edition for several other books – it saves money. Could a newer author’s wishes to provide a correct diagram have been overridden by editors who couldn’t be fagged getting a new diagram? Possibly, though I feel unlikely – especially when the mistake crossed several publishers.

Or, could the adepts in question have NOT actually work out the Lesser Hexagrams of the Planets? This however, is an essential Zelator Adeptus Minor task and one cannot easily suggest such a failure, can one?

In the case of the Ciceros, being trained by Regardie we can perhaps see a reason: Regardie did not like the traditional hexagram forms and suggested the use of the Unicursal Hexagram, and use of that would not show the mistake at all. Personally, I think the Unicursal hexagram inferior for a number of reasons, which I detail in my book By Names and Images. But, yes this could be a reason. But really, a good Z.A.M. curriculum would be instructive on these traditional forms, Regardie’s personal choices being included or not.

The fact that generations of magicians copied the mistaken instructions happily suggests they just did the LRH as published and never went on and worked out the basic hexagram forms or were copying Regardie’s views without care or thought.

And the real point of all this is simply: do not trust books.

Writers make mistakes. Editors make mistakes. Publishers make mistakes. In the old days printers made mistakes and dropped plates of sigils of spirits and accidently published them reversed. It’s easy to do.

I am reminded of an English edition of Franz Bardon’s Practice of Magical Evocation which detailed methods to evoke, control and work with a range of spirits and demons, all listed under their names, which are terribly important to know if you want to avoid being gobbled up or wot not. This edition included, at the end, an errata slip explaining some of the names of the spirits were incorrect and the reader was advised not to evoke them. Too bad if you had been working through a chapter at a time!

And like I detail in this post, working these things out for yourself from a set of core principles and rules is magical in and by itself. These books that show completed rituals, page after page, for each planet and force are not only wasting trees (or bytes and joules) but are also doing their readers a disservice.

Thanks :)

*Crowley’s followers now tend to add the arrows in later editions: for example:

We All Want to Change the World

When I was 13 I read George Orwell’s classic, 1984. While the book is superb and offers many deep insights, several passages hit me hard:

The problem was how to keep the wheels of industry turning without increasing the real wealth of the world. Goods must be produced, but they need not be distributed. And in practice the only way of achieving this was by continuous warfare.

The essential act of war is destruction, not necessarily of human lives, but of the products of human labour. War is a way of shattering to pieces, or pouring into the stratosphere, or sinking in the depths of the sea, materials which might otherwise be used to make the masses too comfortable, and hence, in the long run, too intelligent.

Right now the people in Iraq and several other places around the globe are getting to understand the concept of ‘continuous warfare’ first hand, while we lucky sods in the US and other ‘coalition’ countries experience it vicariously and through cuts to essential services.

Orwell was bang on the mark, particularly in relation to the control of mass consciousness. For example, as I mention in this post, during 2002-2003 I was one of a few lone voices on a couple of magical/Pagan user groups who questioned the upcoming Iraq invasion and predicted the calamitous results that would follow. Fast forward ten years and the general opinion changed remarkably: my brother who wanted to ‘nuke Saddam’ in 2003, was in 2013 critical of the politicians who sent the troops in the first place.

People forget.
Nobody voted for Nixon.
We have always been at war with Eurasia.


The point here of course is not so much the particular war, issue or circumstance, but rather as a whole we poor, benighted humans have locked in consciousness. We see through a glass darkly and react, rather than think, with a simple binary push-pull mind. In one sense, it’s not our fault; we are made that way. After all, we’ve got several million years of mammalian and animal DNA running us and only 30 000 years of being the ‘wise man’.

A classic example of this occurred this week with Australia’s Prime Minister, Tony (Mad Monk) Abbott threatening to ‘shirt front’ Vladimir Putin over the MH17 disaster. For those unused to Australian slang, lookee here: Shirtfront Explained.

Yes. That did happen. I mean, could there really be a better example of politics as a mammalian territorial pursuit? Abbott’s posturing here is functionally equivalent to any alpha male warding off another. And Abbott, like us all at times, just can’t help it. It is in our genes.

Dr Tim Leary and Dr Robert Anton Wilson analysed the various ‘circuits’ of human consciousness and explained these seemingly mysterious acts really well. You can read about it all here and in the books listed there also. Essentially we have the first four circuits, called ‘terrestrial’ or common:

  1. Bio-survival. Infant. Oral stage. Concerned with physical safety, comfort and survival.
  2. Emotional–territorial. Toddler. Anal stage. Concerned with domination or submission, territoriality and pecking order.
  3. Symbolic or neuro-semantic. Childhood. Latency. Concerned with language, mental dexterity, calculation, communication, knowledge.
  4. Domestic or socio-sexual. Adulthood. Sexual stage. Concerned with cultural values, fitting in, sexual modes and taboos, social networks, reproduction and raising of young.

The basic premise is the lower circuits (I and II) have operated in our DNA and ancestry far longer than the higher circuits (III and IV) and have veto power over them. Thus we often act out of pleasure/fear (circuit I) or domination/submission (circuit II) and then after the fact use our mind and language (circuit III) and reference to morals and social mores (circuit IV) to justify our actions. And, really, on a social level this sums up politics and international relationships perfectly, eh?

No wonder, the two good Drs often talked about ‘escaping from the Planet of the Apes’ – meaning our world! :)

We can of course apply these four circuits to the lower four Sephrioth on the Tree of Life, Malkuth through Netzach, and they fit kinda neatly. Ideally, in the mature human, these personality aspects would be overseen and ruled by the conscious self in Tiphareth. And even more ideally, our leaders would act from this consciousness too. As the Beach Boys sang, ‘Wouldn’t It Be Nice’.


Magic is all about change. And for me, like anyone really touched fully by the tradition, this change involves the rest of the world, not just myself. After all, there is no actual separation. And just cos I love it SO much, once again, I quote the blessed Martin Luther-King Jr:

We are tied together in the single garment of destiny, caught in an inescapable network of mutuality. And whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly. For some strange reason I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. And you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be. This is the way God’s universe is made; this is the way it is structured.

There are three basic methods of changing the social fabric and world within any given culture or country:

  1. Working within ‘the system’ of established laws and politics.
  2. Resisting the system through acts of civil disobedience, non-violent or violent.
  3. Changing group consciousness.

No matter what method(s) we personally engage with, I think we should be actively supporting folk engaging in the other methods. I mean, ‘We all want to change the world’, right?

There is also the possibility of full scale revolution involving ‘insurgents’ or ‘freedom fighters’ – depending on which media outlet is reporting the events. Now despite a small part of me, inspired by the memorable Citizen Smith, drawing up lists of those who will be ‘first against the wall when the revolution comes’, I really doubt revolution in most western countries is on the cards. The Marxist analysis that the worker’s revolution never came in the west is because we were ‘bought off’ has some truth here. The increased standards of living, better food and more recreational time meant we are happy to be pawns of the capitalist state (at the expense of the third world, whom we never meet). Sad, but true. Besides, I cannot easily support armed struggle.

Working within the system is a slow tortuous process. This is particularly the case in western democracies with a Westminster ‘two party’ Parliament. Last night at a talk on the vicious treatment asylum seekers in Australia are receiving, from both ‘sides’ of politics, certain Green politicians were pointed out as being pretty much the only MPs vocalising concern. Yet, in the discussion time people bemoaned their hopelessness as the cruelty was bi-partisan. They simply could not think outside the two-party paradigm! Two party systems too easily engage our dualistic, second Circuit consciousness. Us and Them. Left vs Right. Sometimes our teams wins, sometimes their teams wins. Just like football :/

Civil disobedience, particularly when motivated by deep religious and spiritual convictions, can make magnificent changes in society – via the sacrifice of the participants. Just ask the sainted MLK quoted above. In Australia today we have a wonderful movement of mainstream religious leaders working the non-violent methods of MLK in relation to asylum seeker children in detention. Called ‘Love Makes a Way’, these folk are inspiring to the max-max.


The last method, consciousness change, is where magic (and art) comes in. A magician’s raison d’être is to change their consciousness, transform themselves and unfold their beings into who they actually are. Now who we are is both individual and unified, the Elohim, the Many and the One. The more we become ourselves, the more we lose ourselves. Ideally this should mean, therefore, that as a magician unfolds they also affect and change the group and civil consciousness. Several occult and esoteric groups have been explicitly clear that they aim to change and transform human consciousness. Again, ‘Wouldn’t It Be Nice’.

One such esoteric organisation is the Ordo Templi Orientis (Crowley redaction), which has very noble aims indeed. To quote the man himself:

Civilization is crumbling under our eyes and I believe that the best chance of saving what little is worth saving, and rebuilding the Temple of the Holy Ghost on plans, and with material and workmanship, which shall be free from the errors of the former, lies with the O.T.O.

Bishop Allen Greenfield, among others, has pointed out how hard it is for the OTO (or any group) to meet these goals. It would require folk who, in Golden Dawn parlance, are ‘more than human’ – that is operating with more circuits of consciousness than the average person who is trapped within the four common circuits described above. These ‘higher’ states of consciousness the magician aspires to have also, somewhat, been mapped by Drs Leary and Wilson.

They postulate four ‘extra-terrestrial’ or developing circuits of consciousness, V through VIII. I won’t go into them here, except to say they ‘sit upon’ or build upon the lower circuits, and relate (again roughly) to the next four spheres of the Tree of Life, Tiphareth through Daath. So circuit V sits upon and transcends circuit I, the bio-survival circuit, and circuit VI sits upon and transcends circuit II, the emotional–territorial circuit etc

The problem is simply that most magicians do not actually transform their consciousness at all, but remain mired in the lower neuro-circuits as much as anyone, but now with bodacious methods to tinker with the mind, other people and the universe. Again, to pick on Crowley (hey he’s dead and supposedly a Master, so he won’t mind) – even while claiming the initiatory equivalent to Christ (9=2), Crowley wrote in his diary that he needed to do something about his ego. So, yes, high consciousness but the lower consciousness and circuits still having veto power.


When the terrestrial circuits, lower Sephiroth, personality grades, are not worked through deeply and PERSONALLY, their presence and patterns of behaviour ‘infect’ or distort the higher modes of consciousness, the extra-terrestrial circuits or higher Sephrioth. The results are something like this:

The magician becomes focused on themselves, expanding their own ego and importance in the world and their place in magic. This distortion stems from an incomplete working through of the realisation of the ego’s existence as a baby in the bio-survival circuit (I). We can relate this to the negative aspects of Tiphareth.

The magician becomes focused on carving out territory in the magical community, expanding their groups, attacking others, engaging in magical warfare, seeing themselves and their groups as victims of a vast conspiracy. This distortion stems from an incomplete working through of the domination and submission axis within the emotional–territorial circuit (II). We can relate this to the negative aspects of Geburah.

The magician becomes obsessed with the minutiae of ceremonial, lineage, ritual practice, words and acquiring original documents and ‘secret knowledge’. This distortion stems from an incomplete working through of the acquisition of language, writing and intelligence in the symbolic or neuro-semantic circuit (III). We can relate this to the negative aspects of Chesed.

The magician becomes focused on esoteric or occult eugenics or sex magic and the creation of ‘vehicles’, such as ‘Solar Bodies’, whereby their ego can survive physical death. This distortion stems from an incomplete working through of the sexual and reproductive capacity and legacy forming aspects of the domestic or socio-sexual circuit (IV). We can relate this to the negative aspects of the Supernals operating through Daath.


To correct these problems good folk like Dr Israel Regardie suggested all magicians undergo some form of therapy. I am not sure how much of this goes on these days, but I suspect very little. The need to personally work the outer grades, the terrestrial circuits of consciousness is acute. Yet the language, the texts of magic still often ignores these problems, presenting material within a non-personal paradigm. So a great deal of reframing is needed here.

I would also suggest, coming from both a depth Christian and Buddhist perspective, that alongside personal work, non-personal work is essential. By focusing on others we broaden ourselves, engage with transpersonal, higher aspects of consciousness that will speed and smooth our personal rectification. When applied consciously this is the function of community work, social engagement, charity and communal action within churches and fraternal lodges. The two side-by-side, personal therapy and non-personal giving through action and engagement, can have amazing transformational results.

Hopefully then, we can, when ready, work the deeper magic and activate the extra-terrestrial circuits and become really human, unfold to who we are – one and many – without the lower circuits taking veto power every so often (or less often). We would then be in an ideal situation to do some real magic – the third method of social change; changing group consciousness.

As real humans, activated by the deeper consciousness, we can choose to open to the greater mind, the group mind, the racial mind. We can then act within it, working out the issues and problems within it, in our daily lives. Healing and affecting the group mind is not simply a matter of powerful ceremonial on a Sunday night. The blocks, the issues, the injustice and damage in the group mind has to come through and be rectified in the individual magician’s life as one of the Many. This is not at all easy and the best examples are of course given by the ever-living Dion Fortune in her novels and a few of her essays. Read her. Many times.

So in a nutshell: do the personal work, support others, give, practice the deep magic and live the issues of your time and culture, to change them, as directed and inspired by your Gods :) Thanks.

Sevenfold consciousness and the Golden Dawn officers

I was reminded of this interesting piece of Golden Dawn lore ( as I received it) the other day during some correspondence with a fellow magician. The outer order Golden Dawn officers, and their Godforms, can be attributed to the seven planets. I think that paragon of what it means to be a good GD camper, Pat Zalewksi, first published these attributions in one of his Z series of books. I really cannot remember if his attributions tallied with what I have been taught or not. Look it up! Anyway, the remaining Sepher Yetzira correspondences to the Invisible Stations, have not, to my knowledge, been published. So we have:

Kerux – Anubis of East – Beth – Mercury

Hegemon – Tham-ae-est – Gimel – Moon

Dadouchos – Thaum-Asech-Nia-eth – Daleth – Venus

Stolistes – Aura-Mo-Ooth – Kaph – Jupiter

Hiereus – Horus – Peh – Mars

Hierophant – Osiris as Lord of Underworld – Resh – Sun

Sentinel – Anubis of West – Tau – Saturn

And because a picture does seem to help things cohere, we can display this graphically:

Initiating Body of the GD Outer Order

Initiating Body of the GD Outer Order

All seven together form an initiating body, a collegiate expression of the will and blessings of the Inner Order, as directed by the Dais Officers. In this body, all parts are important, equally essential and equally holy. Just as the hexagram of the seven planets becomes inoperable without any planet, so too does this body become inoperable without any officer.

From this, we can see:

  1. The officers are drawn from the ranks of the general members, from the outside of the initiating body. They then become members, in the older sense, when the word was a euphemism for the penis, of the initiating body. However, they do not give up being general members of the Order, and this is where the Double nature of the Letter they represent applies; they are dual, active and passive – part of the initiating team, and part of the Order. They thus mediate the lessons and blessings they learn as an officer, and the great powers they represent, back to the egregore of the general membership.
  1. The Hierophant is not drawn from the Outer at all, but from the Inner, which is hidden at the centre of the initiating body. She of course is also dual in nature and mediates the performance of Outer rites back to the egregore of the Inner Order, whereby it is connected with and vivified by the lower mysteries enacted under its presidency. As the diagram shows, the regular members are ‘next to’ the initiating body; they can see the process for the installing of the outer officers – as it is done at the Equinox Ceremony – but they have no insight and cannot see the selection and installation of the centre of the hexagram, the Hierophant.
  1. The Hierophant, as the solar force, is the centralising consciousness. She is the heart of the initiating body. Here we are using the term ‘heart’ in the older, classical sense of the higher, more refined consciousness. It is not the ‘heart’ sung about in pop songs. It is not the sexually empowered desire of Yesod or the even the higher emotional connection of Netzach, which are personally based, and which classically were attributed to the spleen not the heart. It is the higher love and consciousness of Tiphareth whereby the personal segues into the transpersonal.

Just as the sun shines on sinner and saint alike, so too the exposition and direction of the inner mysteries, in Outer form, is delivered from the Hierophant to all members of the Outer Order equally. Of importance here is that while these blessings can be in theory be accessed from the centre, by connecting with the direct ‘solar’ force they are normally accessed as mediated by the six other planetary forces – the officers. Again, this is shown clearly in the rubric of the Neophyte Ceremony where the Hierophant rarely leaves her throne and takes another Godform when she does so. The current of the Inner Order, as directed by the Hierophant, is therefore present, though mediated in a particular way, in each of the officer Godforms. This linking and subsumption to the current of the Hierophant is set up at each equinox ritual when the officers are installed.

We see here a reason why, in my not so humble opinion, the classical method of the Supreme Hexagram of the Sun, where the power is analysed and approached through all six outer planets – six different hexagrams – rather than a single invocation, is the better option. I go into this in more depth in my book, By Names and Images.

The fact that the Hierophant is the centralising consciousness of the initiating body, which mediates the mysteries to the regular members, means the Hierophant is in charge. Again, from the Neophyte ceremony (Stella Matutina redaction): “I am the Master of the Hall, governing it according to the laws of our Order, as He whose Image I am, is the Master of all who work for the Hidden Knowledge.”

The sense of the word ‘Master’ here is not that of someone who bosses us around, but a power that literally Masters us, moves us, about whom we revolve. The reference to the ‘laws’ of the Order shows that even the Hierophant is constrained by the structures created by the Inner Order and Chiefs. However, she is the only one within the Outer who has the operative and consecrated connection to the Inner, and the only one working at the solar level of consciousness. She is literally on a different plane, and if people were planets (in the magical metaphor) the officers and members would automatically fall into line with and resonate with the arc and direction of the Hierophant.

An important note here is that any other Inner Order member, if a general member or taking an officer role, does not activate and express their Inner Order connection while in Outer lodge. This does not mean they do not perform the role to the best of their magical ability, only that they do not act as a mediator for the Inner Order, producing a second sun in the Hall.

Another way of looking at the importance of the role of the Hierophant as the centralising consciousness is to expand the metaphor of the initiating body, comprised of a heart (Hierophant) and six other ‘limbs’, the officers. These officers should only be directed by the will of the Hierophant – as clearly indicated in the rubric of the rituals. The officers, like the limbs of our body perform action in the world (Hall for the officers) on behalf of our consciousness which is ‘within’ our body (just as the Hierophant is within the centre of the hexagram).

If we were to make a cup of tea and our right arm fussed up, not ‘wanting to’ or being recalcitrant, we would consider that a pathology and go to the doctor or whatever to fix the problem. So too, with officers – if they are not resonant with and in line with the centralising force of the Hierophant, something needs to be adjusted.

OK – hope this helps someone, sometime :)

Clarity in Spiritual Writings

Recently I wandered over to Adelaide, South Australia to give moral support and a public lecture for the founding of the first Australian lodge of the Fraternity of the Hidden Light. One of the most gratifying experiences I had was people reflecting on the clarity of my talk – an overview of the western esoteric tradition – even folk who were not members of it. This makes me happy, as one of the biggest problems in western spiritual systems is the language. A lot of it is anything but clear.

Now we have recently had a lovely (and in some parts of the earth, spectacular) ‘blood moon’ eclipse. From my blog news feed it seems by and large the magical community did not make a big fuss about it all; they simply got on with the job. Yes, some nice comments and photos on social media, but that was about it. Not so the New Age folk. This is an example of several similar things that ended up in my Inbox:

“Spectacular event of magnetic proportions awaits mankind’s entrance through the gateway of creation once more. Thorough the gateway of creation of the flower of life and the eternal essence of being.

The structural component grids of the aforementioned genesis of creation has been recalibrated with the new frequency of being and new set of accords has been instituted into the physical institutions and representations of that which humanity believes to be.

For through the representation of the highest octave of being, you shall begin to see candid facts of eternal angelic guidance and the flower of life and the eternal flame of the violet, manifest into your daily activities through the truth of that which shall be bestowed upon you by those who hold the books of the ancients, for the books of the ancients carry the informational decree of eons past.”

St Bob once wrote that most ‘spiritual’ writing is like a politician’s speech; it feels vaguely inspiring and uplifting as you go along, but if you reflect on it at the end, precious little actual information has been delivered. And so it is with this piece of channelled wisdom. As I asked when reviewing a disturbingly new age Golden Dawn book, what by all that is holy is this supposed to mean?

I can’t actually pin any real meaning to these paragraphs at all, at all. Now part of the problem is of course the nature of the subject: spirituality is a slippery fish and essentially subjective. It is hard to write about without sounding like a plonker. However, that is no reason not to try. Defining terms is always a good place to start, otherwise gods knows if the author (in this case some Ascended Wotzit or other) and reader actually understand the words the same way. But the biggest most disturbing aspect of these paragraphs can be summed up by contemplating these words:

“The goal of electromagnetic forces is to plant the seeds of intuition rather than yearning. By flowering, we believe.

This circuit never ends.

Soon there will be a condensing of learning the likes of which the universe has never seen. The planet is approaching a tipping point. The reintegration of fulfilment is now happening worldwide.

Flow is the healing of potentiality, and of us. You and I are messengers of the cosmos. Faith is the driver of freedom.”

Why? Because the above paragraphs were written by a soulless computer, as part of the ‘New-Age Bullshit Generator’ project. Literally created by a godless algorithm. Yet they sound like the words of Ascended Masters promulgated by the New Age and dodgy parts of the esoteric community. Think on it.

Far be it from me to question the validity of individuals’ New Age experience, but really guys, as a community, when you produce drivel that can’t be discerned from a computer generation, you’re letting the side down… eh?

I still get lovely compliments and questions regarding my book, By Names and Images, and to each new questioner I ask them to let me know if anything is not clear. So far, on the whole, so good. I hope that my future writings are as clear; if I ever write like an Ascended Master, euthanasia is encouraged. Thanks :)