MOTO is very pleased to present an interview with Sr FSO, Golden Dawn adept and author of the Flight of Hermes blog (scoot on over, if you do not know the blog). There are a lot of interesting ideas and themes here, a wonderful mix of the magical and the personal. Thank you. Soror.
MOTO: Many of the readers here on MOTO will know you from your blog, Flight of Hermes but maybe they’ll know little else about you. Can you give us a sense of your magical and spiritual background?
Sr FSO: My background began when I was very small. From a young age I contemplated the nature of the soul, the universe, and the Divine. I always had a deep feeling that everything was connected somehow and had a difficult time connecting with systems that perpetuated the belief that their religion or beliefs were the one true way. I saw truth in so many traditions.
After I rejected my mixed Protestant and Catholic upbringing, I delved heavily into magic beginning with Wicca at age ten and expanding into Theurgy a few years later. I complemented my magical studies over the next ten years with Eastern techniques and teachings (Buddhism, Vedanta, Taoism , Yoga etc…).
As I started my Master’s in World Religious Studies I came in contact with a member of the Golden Dawn, and joined up with an Order. It was meant to complement my life’s work at that point, by exposing me to the Western Traditions for which I had little background in. However, a few weeks after my initiation I found that I had progressed spiritually much faster in just a few weeks of study and practice than in all my years previously (the power of initiation!). I devoured all I could about the Golden Dawn eventually becoming a teacher and Adept. Through my Adepthood I was able to understand the Christian Mysteries and become re-united with them from a more mature perspective. I continue now to practice exploring the unity within all traditions and perfecting my Great Work through the Golden Dawn system.
MOTO: You haven’t had the opportunity to post a lot over the last while because of your work and studies. Can you tell us about them?
Sr FSO: My work and studies consist of three areas; being a mother and wife, being an Adept of the Golden Dawn Collegium Spiritum Sancti, and being a graduate student in bio-medical engineering/biophysics specializing in energy relationships and fluid dynamics in the heart valves during stenosis.
MOTO: So you’re involved in a very hard science area. You’ve recently blogged about how there does not need to be a separation between science and mysticism. How does that view go down, firstly in the magical community and secondly, among your scientist colleagues? Do you keep your magical life strictly separate from your professional?
Sr FSO: Well, I have certainly had more vivid discussions concerning magic, spirituality and science in the esoteric communities. The ability to speak freely does not tend to be hindered as much. On the other hand it is hindered a great deal in academia as one has to consider their level of professionalism in the hard-sciences. I have met very open-minded people in the scientific community and it seems that the younger they are the more open-minded they are. It is really the older physicists and mathematicians that seem to take a harder stance on mixing the two (never the twain shall meet, is the general stance).
I think this reflects the changing of society and consciousness that is naturally occurring. I also think that with the movement toward the investigation of more integrated sciences a more flexible and open mind is a natural bi-product and a necessity. In order to see the whole picture you must have a very open mind. This is allowing younger students who are a part of this transition in the sciences to look at various areas for explanations of behaviours they are studying in the lab. Whereas in the past science was focused on isolation of cause and effect relationships, the future is focused on integration of sciences and their applications to humanity.
MOTO: You’re current studies involve bio-physics and quantum theory. Can you tell us a little about your studies and if they are enriching your magical and spiritual world view?
Sr FSO: First I have to note that I don’t believe my studies in these areas would have had such a great impact on me had I not had the spiritual training I did previous to studying the hard-sciences. For most people the study of mathematics and physics (which are the bulk of your studies in engineering and bio-physics) are very dry and factual. However, for someone like me who has seen and heard these concepts discussed via spiritual scriptures, various initiations, and personal experiences I was able to recognize that breadth of what these quantitative areas had to offer to a mystic.
I also believe that my various initiations in the Golden Dawn, as well as my meditative and yogic practices “ripened” my consciousness therefore allowing this more “scientific” material to open my consciousness continuously over time. The greatest impact however that I experienced was a direct affect on my magical development. Primarily I have always worked very closely with Thoth who is the god of science, math, and alchemy. In order to work with Thoth I have found that one needs to develop the abstract part of their consciousness. I suppose it should have come to no surprise for me, but I was very surprised to find that after studying mathematics so intently it was having a direct affect on my magical abilities. They were increasing exponentially and so was my spiritual awareness…especially in the areas of experiencing Unity amongst all things. (I will note that intently means 6-8 hours of math approximately 6 days a week).
This of course led me to become a strong advocate for the melding of both science and spirituality as a benefit to humanity’s development spiritually and scientifically. Through my experience I have seen that even the study of material that tries to separate itself from spirituality as much as possible is still only an alternate way of experiencing and explaining the universe. With the right frame of mind any material can become spiritual scripture and open you to the Divine.
MOTO: Recently I have re-read the experiences of Dame Jocelyn Bell (the discoverer of pulsars) in the 60’s when she was the lone woman among dozens of men in her studies and had to endure wolf-whistles and cat-calls every time she entered the classroom. Obviously, a lot has changed, but I am wondering how it has been for you personally as woman and mother being part of the hard sciences?
Sr FSO: Well so far so good. I haven’t been discriminated against for being a woman if that is what you mean. However, I think that a lot of women pressure themselves or feel pressured to choose family or career these days, and I don’t blame them. It is hard to do both, and a lot is expected of you when you are competeting to get into a good graduate program or have a successful career. Sometimes you may be left feeling as if you are not doing as well in one area or the other because you are over-extending yourself.
On top of that the United States has a very go-getter mentality i.e. if you want something you are expected to pull yourself up by your bootstraps and go get it…there are no excuses. I have had to wrestle with this as my spiritual beliefs tend more toward finding balance and internal peace and moving in life from that space rather than ignoring my internal self when it is telling me to slow down. It has been a hard lesson but a fruitful one, it is really teaching me to balance that sun and moon aspect within me…to become hermaphroditical, to flow perfectly in the moment.
MOTO: And what about the magical community – there are several examples of respected female leaders in our past and present, but do you think there are any traces remaining of ingrained sexism in the Golden Dawn or other ‘fraternities’?
Sr FSO: Well I can only speak for myself. I’ve been pretty impressed with the community’s views toward women and the respect that it has shown for those who try to be actively involved in the community. The only real problem that I see is that the Golden Dawn tends to be male dominated, at least from my experience. I was actually just having a discussion about this on the blog “Doing Magic”. My perspective is that the Theurgical arts have historically catered more to the spiritual needs of men. Whereas men (I’m not saying all here, just in general) tend to need physical representations of success (material to memorize, levels to attain, etc.) women are naturally very intuitive and want to “experience” their spirituality. This is why women tend to do so well in practices such as skrying, astral projection, divination.
Men on the other hand tend to be natural evokers, talisman makers, and alchemists. Many Theurgical systems are set up so that you are required to learn more external magic, and memorize facts first and the more internal arts a little later. Due to this I think that a lot of women get the wrong impression when they first joined a Theurgical Order. They may think the material is too dry. In the GD Collegium Spiritum Sancti we have evened this out by hosting Isis Invocations, and teaching meditations, healing rites, and divinations in most grades.
MOTO: One of my favourite posts on your blog is ‘Spiritual Parenting Part 1‘ – I’ve been waiting for Part 2! – My teacher emphasised that the most important thing we can teach our children is not, being stereotypical, that one day they ‘could become President’ or achieve whatever they want, but rather that they can become illuminated, enlightened, knowing themselves fully. You seem to have a similar approach – can you say more on Spiritual Parenting – and any new insights you’ve had in the last year?
Sr FSO: Lately, I have been focusing on learning from my child. Children are so innocent and unbounded by fear, societal standards etc. There is a great saying… “Unless you turn and become like children you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven”. My son is so honest, so joyful, he’s almost impervious to having his feelings hurt, and sees the good in every situation. It blows my mind to observe him. When I watch him I think…I want him to know that he can stay like this, that he doesn’t have to be hindered by insecurity, bias, intolerance, etc. and so I try to be more like him. I try to be more free, less likely to be offended, more willing to see the good in people, more innocent. I try to reflect back to him the qualities that are best about him. I think spiritual parenting is not about things being “My way or the high-way”, but about trying to be the best you can and sharing that with your child, by trying to learn as much as you teach.
MOTO: Within your magical life, you’ve not too long ago come through a tumultuous period of change in the Order you were with. Without going into the specifics of all that, two questions:
- One, can you tell us what you learnt about group organisation, dynamics and human nature ?
- And two, did these experiences spur you on to co-create ‘The Initiate’s Bill of Rights and Responsibilities‘ which is hosted on your blog.
Sr FSO: The most important thing that I learned is that humans under the guise of wanting to do what is right or good often allow themselves to be persuaded by strong personalities. This is not just something I experienced in the previous Order I was involved with, but in a variety of group environments, churches, ashrams, meditation groups etc. The point of being a member of these groups that people tend to forget is that you are there to learn how to listen and experience your True Self, your Divine Essence which is Truth Eternal. People want this very badly when they join a spiritual group and they think they only way to get their is to deify their mentors and hang on every word. Not only does one then forget to listen to their True Self, but they offer a terribly tempting situation to the mentor. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. Surrender is an integral part of a spiritual path but it must be surrender to the Divine. Mentors are human and they are imperfect and it should be expected that at times we may witness behaviour that is unbecoming of a student or teacher of the Great Work.
Let me be clear, in this I am talking about things such as witnessing ill moods, anger, a lie, etc… anything that you may witness as a regular human emotion or fault. These are situations in which human compassion and understanding is necessary, taking an extreme action over these types of situation is usually not necessary. The problem comes when we see situations of intense corruption or where these things mentioned above have become so common or so hurtful that they are negatively affecting the lives of the initiates and the Temple. Even in these latter situations however people will not only doubt their intuition, but will doubt their own common sense, allowing themselves to be manipulated into believing that following someone exhibiting this behaviour is o.k. because they are a spiritual leader or it’s just easier than making the right choice.
It becomes especially complicated when vows are involved. But, it is not OK and it is never OK to allow yourself to be mentally, spiritually, financially or in any other way harmed by someone you have put your trust in. Not only are you doing yourself harm but you are allowing the perpetrator to harm others and continue to harm themselves.
Did these experiences spur me to create “The Initiates Bill of Rights and Responsibilities?” I would like to mention that this document was not created by me, but was heavily influenced by comments from the community placed on my blog and Facebook page as well as the contributions of many respected writers, Adepti, and mentors of the Golden Dawn community.
Therefore to say that it was spurred by events which occurred in my Order would not be completely accurate. I have to admit it did influence me in that it was the impetus to help me round up the necessary contributors, but it was an idea that I had previously had. If you have read it you will know that it covers a great many topics of the rights and responsibilities not only of initiates but of teachers and Temples ranging from pre-initiation to choosing to leave an Order. It is a document that is meant to inspire common sense and communal respect for the various levels of involvement in a spiritual group. I believe it was a much needed document that found its proper time to come to fruition in the current Golden Dawn environment due to many reasons.
MOTO: Finally, it seems clear you are not someone to rest and vegetate at all – so what is next on the agenda?
Sr FSO: Well the next few years my agenda will be focused on getting my Ph.D. It’s always been a childhood dream of mine and it’s become part of my Great Work to complete this process. Of course my role as an Adept and growing our local Temple (Temple of Thoth-Hermes in Denver, CO) is always on my mind, as well as continuing to contribute to my blog and the Hermetic Virtues Magazine.
My son will be starting at a total immersion bi-lingual program in Chinese and English so I’ll be adding Mandarin to the agenda
It has also become a big deal to me lately to live as compassionately and as in balance with nature as possible. I would really like to start growing fresh foods in the garden and hydroponically and giving them to local shelters. It really breaks my heart that struggling families who need assistance are limited to such energy-lacking foods. They literally get what others don’t want, old canned foods from the cupboard, expired foods, powdered milk, they hardly ever get fruits or vegetables. Some places try to get supermarkets to donate healthier foods, but they usually donate the foods which are unsellable. Everyone deserves to have access to healthy food (and water) no matter what financial situation they are in. Being healthy and having good food is a human right.
THANKS AGAIN, SR FSO