The penis and male force – a snippet from Isis and Osiris

If men are not led onto journeys of powerlessness, they will always abuse power. ~ Richard Rohr.

Out of all the myths worked into modern Paganism one of the most moving and powerful for me is that of Isis and Osiris. There are several different versions and several different components of this myth. And like all myth it is a living symbol, expressing eternal verities into temporal consciousness and conditions. There is no single ‘meaning’ to the myth; the meaning for any one individual is different to another, just as the meaning for us changes as we change from youth to maturity to old age. We live and embody the myth and are changed by it.

The snippet of the myth I wish to focus on here is that concerning the right, the correct, the Maat relationship of men and male sexuality in regards to the earth and to women. I am of course relating this from my own (mis)understanding and limitations and therefore am speaking only of cisgendered men; I cannot speak from the perspective of other gendered men.

In the myth, the evil Set, half-brother of the rightful king, Osiris, kills and dismembers Osiris into 14 parts. Afterwards the Goddess Isis, his queen and sister, gathers up the parts of Osiris to revive him, but cannot find his penis since it was thrown into the Nile River where it was swallowed by a bottom dwelling fish. Isis then creates a new penis from clay, affixes it to Osiris and breathes life into him to enact his resurrection. Only then does Osiris become lord of both the upper (earth) and lower worlds.

At this point we reflect on the words of Richard Rohr above: Osiris, through loss in battle, subjugation by his half-brother and physical dismemberment becomes utterly powerless. The thematic connection with aspects of the Paschal Mystery is obvious. It is this loss of power that enables Osiris to later become a just and wise ruler and king. He needs to die to his inherited and assumed male role and become utterly impotent.

Osiris’s restoration, the myth continues, is at the hands of and through the love and magic of Isis. The once powerful king is rescued by a woman, who herself in some versions of the myth becomes disempowered and forgetful of her divine nature during her grief stricken wanderings. The relation of divinity to power is profound in this myth, as indeed it is in the Paschal Mystery.

However, even when restored Osiris is lacking his most vital and visible symbol of potency, his penis. The myth is clear – in order for Osiris to rule both the worlds, upper and lower, conscious and unconscious, he needs to give up his penis, his male power. He needs to accept the assistance of his wife and Goddess and have a new penis, one made from and connected to the earth. Only then is he fit to rule in truth and balance, linked to the greater Earth.

On an esoteric level, this myth installs within us (when worked) the eternal verity that the male force, including sexuality, is not the prerogative of the individual man, but is a gift from the Mother, from the Earth. That is, sexual force in men and pubescent boys is not their own force but flows through their body via their connection to all life, and when transformed, respected and controlled, is a means by which they can connect more deeply to all life, to the Earth.

loversThis verity runs in direct contradiction to both conscious and unconscious attitudes to men and the male force within our culture. Common idioms and sexual slang position the penis as its own entity, its own force and it is not uncommon for pubescent boys to become so focused on and enamoured of their penis they give it a name. The penis, so the boy learns from the world around him, has its own agenda, often in stark contradiction to the boy or man himself. This was graphically illustrated in the comedy show Seinfeld, where ‘Jerry the brain’ played a chess game against ‘Jerry the penis’ to decide if Jerry the man should continue dating and having sex with a woman he actually despised. Underlying the humour here is a dangerous meme of knowledge; the penis is separate from the man, yet it can control a man’s actions. Men, we are told, think more with their dicks than their brain.

The Osiris myth opposes this enculturated view; his penis is from the earth, loving crafted by Isis – he rules by his acceptance of impotence and connection to both the earth and women. This truth is also shown forth (as well as many other things) in the Lovers Tarot trump as painted by Pamela Colman Smith, where Adam looks to Eve who looks to the angel.

“Don’t care if it’s brain dead. Don’t care if it’s limbless. If it has a penis” ~ Garunkel and Oates.

On a social level this verity indicates the need for men to give up male privilege. To accept we have assumed power, vitality, respect and force only through the fact that we are male, that we possess a penis. The power needs to be given back to whence it came, the larger world, women and the earth and we needs to accept true, equal partnership with women – this is not a sexual partnership and applies equally to straight and gay men.

The myth of Osiris and Isis gives us all this – and far, far more – no wonder it is a favourite of the Pagan community. Of course, we need not only to read but to embody, chant, work and enact the myth. Then we will understand. Thanks :)

Sharing – a rant

This is kinda a follow up to the last post. And then I’m done, as these problems seem to be more and more prevalent in the magical-Pagan communities since the internet. I’ll have said my piece and will move on to bunny pics or good news stories :)

First off, it should go without saying that I view the people mentioned (but not identified) in this post as images of the One, whole and divine and that I do not – cannot – judge their spiritual life. I am simply responding to what they say and do.

The other day I noticed on Facebook a rather new beginner to all things magical produce a nice little chart of the Kircher Qabalistic Tree of Life, complete the 22 paths, superimposed over the human body for meditation reference. Very nice and kind of him to make and share this publically. However, there was a mistake – he confused the non-Sephira of Da’ath with the Hebrew letter Daleth (and associated Path). The result was the path curved down in an arc to pass through the throat, as this is where Da’aath is most often corresponded in modern western magic.

The good chap responded well to my correction and changed the diagram. However, that is not the point: the fact that a beginner could even THINK of producing something for public consumption within their tradition astounded me. That he made a mistake did not: we all do that. It is the role of our elders and teachers to correct our mistakes – and it is our responsibility to accept the correction and not to share – or even worse ‘teach’ the mistakes.

Talking of Da’ath, I was once guest in a ‘traditional Witch coven’ who, among other things, worked the Middle Pillar exercise (cos traditional medieval Witch traditions were just full of modern magical Qabalah). When I asked if they taught the meaning of the Godnames associated with the exercise, their leader very proudly affirmed they did. However, when describing the name associated with the heart centre, YHVH ALH V DAaTH, he said it meant ‘God who is just below Da’ath’. At which point:

Of course, the High Priest had ‘figured out’ the name for himself – and well, yes YHVH is kinda translated as ‘God’ and the heart is below the throat … so it had to be right, eh? And he had TAUGHT this for years and a Coven had hived off from his coven with this ‘knowledge’. The point here of course is that his initiative to ‘figure it out’ was mistaken; he did not have the humility to even read correctly, let alone ask an experienced Golden Dawn magician. He did it himself. All hail the modern world!

I was also once asked to help a generic magical group with ‘a few problems’ they were having. I discovered their teacher had included the rubric directions for several GD rituals they were using. So they would literally stand up, wave arms around and recite:

“Say the Sign of Osiris Slain. Cross arms on breast. Give the L sign and say the Sign of the Mourning of Isis … “

It boggled me mind … and still does … Once more, this came from the leader’s personal ‘initiative’ without cross checking. All this comes from people thinking, “Yeah, I’ll have a go at this …” Which is kinda laudable, but without serious learning, humility, elders and tradition falls down so fast it’s painful.

So the message is simple: do not, do fucking NOT, share any information, teach people or whack some half-arsed muck up on the internet when you are a student or beginner. Wait, wait, wait until you are recognised by your tradition, by your elders, as qualified and empowered to teach.

Don’t have elders or a tradition? – bury your pride, accept some ego discomfort and get them – even if they do not ‘feel’ completely right to you. In any case,  as a beginner do not, ever, assume you know anything unless it is checked by someone you respect and does actually know things.

‘Nuff said. :)

Short and sweet – follow the rules

Another gonzo – no edit – post: I recently posted this on my Facebook page:

Free advice for any neophytes / novices / apprentices on my feed: do follow the structure and order of your group / school / coven / lodge. Do not think it doesn’t have to apply to you, or you’re somehow ‘different’. You’re not.

Responses varied with one basically saying that working beyond your grade (my term) is fine, so long as you are doing the work of your grade also. Any magic or practices you do will either not work or produce an imbalanced state from our unconscious that needs to be dealt with anyway.

I’ve heard this argument many times before and it seems a reasonable way of looking at things from the modern liberal, individual mind-set. However, there are – to my mind – clear problems with it. To wit:

THE REALITY OF SPIRITUAL POWERS. The above attitude is only relevant if we consider all the many blessings, beings, angels, powers etc spoken of in our various traditions as ‘within us’ – and any imbalance our presumptive actions produces would be from ‘our unconscious’. Of course traditional Christianity, traditional spiritual magic, traditional (re-booted) Paganism does not think this at all. The beings are real. And to throw in a deliberate ‘don’t do this at home’ warning, this from Israel Regardie quoting an anonymous student:

“The writer of the above method adds a note, which in my opinion is worth paying close attention to; it coincides with my own view as expressed elsewhere.

“There is reason for concern that some students may misinterpret certain of Crowley’s magical writings. For example in Magick in Theory and Practice, Chapter IX, p. 69, he writes: `The peculiar mental excitement required may even be aroused by the perception of the absurdity of the process, and the persistence in it, as when Frater Perdurabo…recited From Greenland’s Icy Mountains and obtained his result.”‘

“Now there is no doubt that the ego, excited to the proper pitch, is capable of placing such a strain in the Astral Light as to cause some sort of manifestation, perhaps even that of the spirit it was desired to evoke (but more likely a phantasm masquerading as such). But without the presence of the Divine Force, such a being, once evoked, cannot be controlled, and there is no effective means of banishing it.

“Depending on the nature of the spirit, and the degree of its manifestation, it is likely that the spiritual progress of the magician is at an end – at least as far as his current incarnation is concerned.”

Ouch!

THE EGO. Let’s seriously think about what is going on here. When we join a spiritual group, take a spiritual director or guide or enrol in an esoteric school we are entering a relationship. We have consciously chosen this; no one forces us. We have consciously chosen to accept their wisdom and advice, because we think they have something we do not have at this time. They can help us unfold, to uncover the true nature of ourselves, the image of the One, who we really are – letting go of sin, or that which we are not. If we then, at some point think, ‘hang on, I think they are wrong’, we have an obligation to be honest and say that. Otherwise we taint that relationship with falsehood and we might as well not go on.

And, if our director or group says, ‘well, thanks for your opinion sunshine, but you still need to do it this way …” we have to accept that. Or leave the relationship. Because we have created a situation where our personal ego knows better than our teacher. And to enshrine the ego as better or more knowledgeable than our teacher or our Order is not a good idea. At all. It encourages all sorts of daft notions. Of course we do not need to do a whole guru-yoga number and listen to all the words and ideas of our teacher as the words of a Master, but we do need to respect them and believe they have more wisdom than us. Otherwise, what’s the point? As my pal Eric sings:

If we call for the proof and we question the answers
Only the doubt will grow

SERVICE. The biggest problem however with the notion that we can do things how we like, even if it damages us, throws us off kilter and makes us learn, and that’s all good, is the question of service. The spiritual life is one of dedicated service. If we go ‘off the rails’ because of our ego choice to do something our curriculum or spiritual director says we should not we have limited our service. Dealing with our ‘unconscious’ (or really-real problematic spiritual forces) means we have to focus on ourselves rather than others – and that is the exact opposite of the spiritual life. What a waste!

At this juncture we can look, cos people often do, at Aleister Crowley. Crowley was BADLY let down by his first teachers, George Cecil Jones and Alan Bennett who encouraged him and joined him in the practice of magic during his outer order years. As I have said, and keep saying, the GD (originally) followed the threefold structure, mirrored in the three Orders, of renunciation of the false self (Outer Order), followed by re-creation of a functional self, as directed by the Divine (who God made us to be) (Inner Order) to eventually embody the revelation of the eternal verities (symbolised by the Third Order). And the fact that the Third Order could never be reached meant something too in this schema.

The dangers of premature magic or depth spiritual practices are real, as are the results which are sadly visible in any modern Neo-Pagan and magical community. Simply put, we cannot use magic or spiritual practices to re-create a self that is still in a process of renunciation. This occurred with Crowley, and whereas once when young he wrote to A.E. Waite seeking advice from someone more experienced and committed to service, Crowley quickly became his own light and own authority. This did not end well. And while is there no doubt of Crowley’s intelligence, drive and originality, these were not realised in service for the world or others. His efforts and talents were misdirected towards his own squalid life and a set of followers and sycophants in Orders which he hoped, paradoxically, would produce enlightenment within the world at large. We can explain this anyway we want, but I apportion some of the blame to magic – too much, too early and too boundless.

THANKS :)

Short and sweet: why we need feminism

There is a little ‘anecdote’ I first came across in the 1980’s which is very interesting. I’ve found a version online:

A young man and his father are involved in a terrible car accident. Tragically, the father dies soon after.

When the young man arrives at the emergency ward, the surgeon says: “I cannot operate on this young man … he is my son!”

How can this be so?

Note: the man who died really was the young man’s father!

I am not sure now, in 2015, how powerful this is. But it really was in the 1980s and revealed to everyone to whom this was, carefully and innocently, asked how much internalised sexism they held, myself included.

Now … a couple of years back at dinner my smooch and I ran this past her intelligent and precocious 12 year old, raised I should add, with a goodly amount of feminism herself. I wish I had recorded her answers. She pondered and paused and worked it out. She contemplated solutions involving adoption, gay marriage and transgendered folk. But she did not, as all of us in the 1980s did not, come to the clear and obvious solution – the surgeon is a woman.

This moment was an epiphany for me, and though only anecdotal, spoke volumes of how, even though the causes of gay and transgender awareness and rights have progressed, the invisible and structural discrimination against women remains. And there are of course oodles of statistics to prove this.

I always try to look to the future, which is why I am interested in the ideas of our youth and which is why this occasion floored me more than a little. And recently, I have seen a group of (mostly cisgender and heterosexual) youth come to this conclusion about the most important ‘asset’ girls and boys have in being attractive: girls – their body, and boys – fashion. This deserves a mega frowny face for sure.

And so, yes, for these and many, many other reasons we need feminism.

Thanks :)

Short and sweet – how spiritual ‘authority’ may be a good thing

The modern liberal, progressive mindset in spiritual matters is really clear – we are each our own authority, our own truth and guiding force. We should not be hampered by exterior pressures, controls or authority. We find out own light. Right.

OK – but here’s the thing. A little while ago I spoke to a three people who each told a very similar story. They are all Christians, members of Anglican parishes. Each is also elderly. And each was raised to be homophobic. It was an ordinary part of their culture and upbringing, reinforced no doubt by the church attitudes of the post war era.

All three then reacted mightily and uncomfortably to their church’s openness and welcoming of lesbian and gay parishioners in recent years. It was just not right. All three felt like the church was wrong. Yet, all three stayed within the church, listened to the church and her priests as authority and stuck the course. They did not jump ship to another, less than gay-friendly church (of which there are dog’s plenty).

So each of these lovely people, over many years, met and befriended the occasional ‘gay’ person. They shared communion with them, sat in council with them, worked for the community with them. And in the course of all this  – only because they submitted to the higher authority of the church – all three learnt a lot about themselves. And they learnt about their gay sisters and brothers.

Each of these people spoke openly how they had changed, opened their hearts and become better people – not because they wanted to, but because they were directed to, encouraged to – by the actions of their church. One now has an ongoing and deep relationship with her lesbian niece, a woman she had seldom spoken to for decades. For this she thanks the church and curses her own prejudice that forbade this relationship for many years.

So … maybe, just maybe, spiritual authority can be a good thing. And maybe we do not always know what is best for us … just maybe :) Thanks.

Self Development? Bugger that for a lark!

hero-personal-growthOK – another Gonzo post, because I just want to get this off my chest. Hopefully my memory and writing skill will produce a lovely, cogent argument :)

A recent innovation that has crept into Paganism, esotericism and even the Anglican Church is the concept of ‘self-development’. This is nearly always meant in a personal sense, developing and improving our personal self and attributes and wot-not. This irks me. A lot.

The concept of self-development is modern – coming out of certain schools of psychology in the early-mid 20th century, like those developed by Adler, Jung and Maslow (from memory). Its proponents sometimes harken back to traditional methods of fasting, prayers, and exercise undertaken in various cultures for millennia. However, the linking is completely invalid as it ignores the key focus and purpose of the ancient exercises – religion, which is by-and-large considered as irrelevant, taboo, superstition or primitive psychology by personal development gurus.

Naturally I think they’re wrong. Regardless, the religious context and purpose means there is no link between these ancient methods and today’s modern culture of improving the self. This means it is a modern innovation and thus partakes of all the problems of modernity and contemporary western culture – it can be shallow, appealing to the negative self-image inculcated within us, commercially based and available only to the richer folk of the society, etc. Strike one.

The inclusion of self or personal development within religious and esoteric systems makes little sense to me at all, because a central truth of all religions (except the daft ones) is that we are all going to die. This means our ‘self’. And no matter how much ‘development’ that self has done, no matter how many EST courses we’ve taken, that self will still die.

Even those traditions that maintain a mysterious post-mortem resurrection of the personality focus on the ‘mysterious’. They do not attempt to discern what the resurrected ‘self’ will be. We cannot know if it will be our 3 month old ‘self’, our 18 year old ‘self’, our 45 year old ‘self’ (graduate of many PD courses) or our 75 year old ‘self’ with dementia or some other ‘self’.

We all come to naught in the end and, with or without self-development.

EVERY DAY IN EVERY WAY …

Of course the bleedin’ obvious counter to the truth above is that, “It’s about life NOW not after death”. Ho hum.

The trouble with this argument is the simple fact, from sheer common sense (and some studies I forget) that largely self-development DOES NOT WORK. Strike two.

I think I remember reading that 80% of self-development folk go back for more courses etc, even if they personally felt the first course did not work for them.

Think about it. The number of folk in the west who have participated in ‘self-development’ since the 1970s must be staggering by now. Has the overall enjoyment of life and the socio-economic improvements of life matched the growth of self-development in the west? No.

Of course, we cannot explain this to those who seem enamoured or addicted to this concept. Why? Because, well … I’m going to cut and paste from myself a few posts ago and change a few words:

imagesAll self-development systems are worthless in themselves. They lock us, often unconsciously, into a system of practice that feels good but ultimately produces no transformation. Most self-development systems are predicated on a two value premise and a ‘promise’ to move between the two: ourselves now, ourselves later (developed, healed, more in tune etc.) and the practices/adjustments or courses that move us between the two.

The danger in such a view is that it can become a closed loop. The person I ‘am’ now can never be the person I foresee at the ‘end’ of the process, since my definitions have already separated the ‘I’ now and ‘I’ desired. The gap between the two, while impossible for ‘me’ to bridge, is “self-development” and while I engage in that I have the sense of moving forward. Of course ‘I’ can never actually reach the goal, but simply having this mental structure and doing some practice I will experience the sense of moving ahead.

This is because of this eternal truth: the self cannot transform the self.

LEVELLING UP

The Tree of LifeA key esoteric principle is that the full transformation of any aspect of the psyche or being requires the intervention and inclusion of a force or presence superior to that aspect. Think about your body. Left to its own devices, the body will simply go on until it dies, subject to the changes forced upon it by environment (diet etc). It will not change itself; develop a six-pack or a terrific bum for the beach. It takes our consciousness, our intervention to direct and change it.

It is the same with ‘the self’, and here I will mention a little Qabalah. Most of us function as bodies (Malkuth), Reactions (Yesod), Thoughts (Hod) and Feelings (Netzach), all directed by a mostly underdeveloped sense of self in Tiphareth – when we even think about who we ‘are’ at all.

If we have a reaction (Yesod) to Aboriginal folk (hey we’re in a racist society), that cannot really change unless we direct the reaction by thought (Hod), stemming its hold or explore it with emotional truth (Netzach). Even then it’s still likely to ‘pop up’ at some point.

And so to the other areas of ‘the self’ – our thoughts and methods of thought and our emotional apprehension can only be transformed by the consciousness of Tiphareth, our ‘self’. The ‘self’ itself however cannot be changed by self-reflecting. We need something ‘higher’ than the self to transform it.

In Qabalah this centralising state of consciousness, Tiphareth, looks ‘down’ towards the personal and ‘up’ towards the transpersonal. This shows the interrelation of the two, while recognising that the correct ‘upward’ view – the motivation and awareness of the individual – is required to embrace what is beyond us. That is, and here is the fucking rub:

The self cannot change itself for self-based reasons.

As soon as we want to change our selves for personal reasons we, by definition are working in the personal sphere. We therefore cannot access the transpersonal sphere required to change the self. This is not just me being cranky towards the New Age wankers out there; it is a description of the way things are. Self-change for self-based reasons can at best move the Lego-blocks around but cannot actually produce transformation. Strike three.

IT’S BEEN HERE ALL ALONG

While it would be great to have functioning folk, moral folk, conscious folk within the esoteric, Pagan and magical communities, I do not feel ‘self-development’ is the way forward at all. It does not and cannot, work and can easily distract us from what we are really about and what really causes transformation – the mysteries (for want of a better word). Let’s have a look at this, since it is all there in traditional religious and esoteric methods.

Once upon a time, the esoteric or deeper aspects of a tradition were not normally bandied around for anyone to see and engage in. People had to be vetted or assessed in some way, and if their moral motivation was not of ‘the right view’ – see this post – they would not be invited in. These days things are a little different…

Of course, any decent religion or spiritual path recognises that we are all broken, that we all are motivated by ego and petty interior forces. To counter this brokenness and the ego-focus of ‘the natural man’ as St Paul would say, many spiritual systems teach us to adhere to moral codes and conduct based on how we would act if we were NOT subject to these petty interior forces. Traditionally these moral codes were often supported and enforced by the community. The classic and most wonderful example of this occurs at each Western church service:

Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

Which when we think about it, blows our minds – loving our neighbour as fully as we love ourselves is like loving God!

Anyway, we of course FAIL at this all the time, every day. Every hour. No matter how many times we look in the mirror and repeat ‘every day in every way, I am getting better and better’, we will still fail at this one. Which is why the Service continues with an act of communal ‘confession’ where we acknowledge our own failings and generate a desire to go beyond them. This is also the function of solitary Confession within the Christian traditions, and a range of similar processes in Tibetan Buddhism. I am not sure of any equivalent within the Wicca or GD.

Symeon the New Theologian

This openness to our weaknesses, our real state of being is crucial because it allows the transpersonal blessings we encounter through participation within the mysteries to enter all of our beings, even the most unlovable and ‘evil’ aspects.

“…everything that is hurt, everything
that seemed to us dark, harsh, shameful,
maimed, ugly, irreparably
damaged, is in Him transformed

and recognized as whole, as lovely,
and radiant in His light”.

So it is the presence of the transpersonal, the divine forces, which enter us, even our secret places, that will cause actual transformation, as they/Him/it chooses and wishes, not as we, our ‘self’ chooses. And this the fundamental point: we are actually changed and transformed by that which is outside and ‘above’ unto service. Not because ‘we’ want to change or ‘we’ want anything.

And of course all the authentic traditions provide ongoing opportunities for the divine to enter us. We meditate and we pray.

The stakes are high for real prayer: You must gamble your self and be willing to lose. ~ Sufi Poet Mahmud Shabistari

As Christians we partake of the mystery of the body and blood of Christ – He enters us. In Tibetan Vajrayana we realise we are non-different to the deities and the realised guru. In Wicca we receive blessings from and can touch the Goddess as flesh and blood and enter the sweep of cycles beyond human ken. It is these moments that produce the real transformation in our lives.

Of course the transformation instigated and produced by our Sacred One(s) still has to be grounded and activated in our selves. Real life will give us plenty of scope for that; moments when we will be called upon to love God and our neighbour as ourselves. Change does not occur in church or in circle but in life; even ‘self-development’ teachers will say this. What they do not say, what they cannot say, is the actual cause and power for transformation of the self is beyond the self. THANKS :)

Death of the Golden Dawn III – the final chapter :)

My friend and correspondent has sent me this as a final comment. After this post I think we will move onto something less contentious, like Roller Derby as a feminist-spiritual activity. :) THANKS.

“This should be my final comment on this matter, since my earlier statements sought to report (not defend, argue for or even explain) what I had been told. I cannot now, all my informants being long departed from this life, seek to obtain any further information.

They believed that the GD had originally been established under “Higher Authority” (there were different views as to Who/What that was). That same “Higher Authority” (they said) subsequently withdrew its (Its?) power and authority. As an Anglican clergyman commented: “God giveth, and God taketh away.” [For those interested: Job 1:21, and part of the Anglican funeral service].

As to whether the Tradition would re-appear, or a new version of the Tradition would appear, they would not speculate. Had it been buried like a seed that seemed to be dead but which would grow again? One person, at least, believed that the “seed” had been safely passed on and might, when the time was appropriate, be “planted” and grow again.

Do any “genuine GD lineages from the original Order” remain? In the Masonic tradition in the context of which the GD emerged (as most contemporary claimants to GD status seem not to understand) there has always been a practice of “preserving the succession” of defunct or closed-down Rites, Orders and Degrees, even though these are not now “worked” (the Masonic term) and may not have been “worked” for a hundred years or more. The authority is held, nominally, by and within another Rite or Order. The most notable example is the (Masonic) College of Rites in the USA which holds not only the rituals of but the lineages of and charters to “work” dozens if not hundreds of now defunct Masonic bodies.

I am told that “genuine GD lineages from the original Order” were passed for “preservation” to several (non-Masonic) organizations equivalent to the College of Rites which do not currently work the GD system, and certainly do not make public their GD “holdings” (or even, generally, their own existence). I know of two such organizations – CSM and OSS – to which I was told “genuine GD lineages from the original Order” were passed.

This may be thought to be the equivalent of preserving specimens in a museum; perhaps a better analogy might be a gene bank (a biorepository which preserves genetic material).

The Roman Catholic-Protestant example is completely appropriate. The Masonic tradition might also have been used – again the failure of most modern would-be GD groups and individuals to understand the Masonic context allows them to maintain a fundamentally flawed understanding of the GD.

A group of people can purchase all the necessary Masonic rituals, regalia and equipment, set up a Lodge and “initiate” one another – into all 33 degrees of the Scottish Rite, all 90 degrees of the Rite of Misraim and all the degrees of the SRIA, if they so wish. They might be more knowledgeable and more sincere in their Masonic working than the members of the average Masonic Lodge (not difficult these days!), but no reputable Freemason and no Masonic authority would recognise them as holding a single Masonic degree.

The outer forms are necessary (to use an argument from logic) but not sufficient: inner authority is required.”