Magical Secrecy – a few notes.

This is very rough; I will tidy it and add some nice pics later on 🙂

ctAs I mentioned in the last post the e-publication of ‘The Book of the Tomb’ by Nick Farrell is causing ructions in the GD community. I cannot possibly read all the forum posts on this topic but have read most of the blog posts and am amazed and some of the invective out there directed at poor Nick. Some people even seem to harbour gleeful hopes that the Guardians of the tradition will smite him down with accidents and lightening and some such things. I doubt it. Israel Regardie did far more revealing, was said to regret it a bit in his old age and lived happily and lustfully until a ripe old age. There is no way we can make these connections between misfortune and breaking of oaths and to subtly cast Nick’s fate this way is in very poor taste.

The other point that needs to be stressed is this. The Book of the Tomb really is not very revealing at all. The information contained within it is hardly super enlightening. Morgan Drake Eckstein for example says he passed a temple test on the material within the book before seeing a copy. There is an Order in Sydney which seems to have become independent of Mathers circa 1904, before the compilation of the book and their vault is stunning, beautiful and correctly coloured.

David Griffin on his blog made lots of comments on this subject, which I responded to. He declined to publish my response because of some legal agreement. I have written asking for clarification on this but in the meantime will repeat some of my response here, as I have no legal agreement with anyone. Avoid the lawyers, I say. Some are nice and wonderful but many are simply expensive. 🙂

Some people have questioned the Nick’s motivations for e-publishing the Book of the Tomb. I am sure that Nick, like  Israel Regardie and Pat Zalewski sees himself as defending the Golden Dawn tradition by releasing information that would be of value to Orders which do not have access to this document. Now we can question if this is the right thing to do or not, but not Nick’s motives. As for personal motivations: well he is not making money from this and any personal notoriety resulting from this release must surely be miniscule. Will impressionable young women open their beds to him on the strength of this? Will people stare in awe as he walks down the street? I don’t think so. At best someone may buy him a beer.

I am not sure what oaths Nick has taken, but my own oaths do not preclude me from publishing western magical material obtained from sources outside my Order (since they do not refer to any other Order or what I may find in a book store or what someone may give me). This is why (in answer to David’s question, last post) I was happy to publish those Cromlech papers I have which are not covered by oath or personal commitment to secrecy. I am assuming the persons who gave me such papers without requiring such oaths knew what they were doing. They were members of secret Orders after all. 🙂

I think Nick is in a similar position and obtained the Book of the Tomb from non-initiatory sources. If he has access to AO material from non-initiatory sources then any “fault” lies with the original custodians of those documents. After all once magical documents leave the protection of their original provenance they unfortunately end up fair game. See for example the publications of R.G. Torrens in the seventies. I still shudder at those books. 🙂

Personally, I wish the Golden Dawn was never made public and the material released, but it has been and now there is a whole non-secret, non-Order based tradition. We need to find ways traditional Orders and those based on public sources can exist in harmony. The release of information like the Book of the Tomb, which ensures all Orders have the same information, can help this. From the point of view of Orders and groups based on the publicly revealed Golden Dawn teachings, Nick’s actions are a good thing: they have access to information they previously did not. However, that said all Orders have a right to protect their own veils and secrecy and I can see why some people can get pissed off when there ‘secrets’ are revealed.

Of course, the revelation of various ‘secrets’ of Hermetic and Lodge traditions is almost as old as the oldest of these traditions, Freemasonry. It has been going on a long time and is not a contemporary phenomenon. Whether this is ‘good’ or ‘bad’ is another question, but one thing is clear: despite the revelation of ‘secrets’ the living traditions, such as Masonry, survive and thrive just as the Golden Dawn has in the 60 years since the Regardie revelations.

There is also a very good argument that the broader Golden Dawn tradition is no longer solely a lodge tradition but something else, something new that does not derive its authenticity, teachings and spiritual currents in the traditional manner. We may not like this, but it seems to be the case and is no doubt useful for many people. For example, in a country as remote as Australia there are virtually no Golden Dawn temples within reach for majority of our population. In other countries many temples are corrupt or dysfunctional and therefore physical temple initiation may not be a simple matter of choice. Public information is therefore crucial for these Golden Dawn folk and secrecy which inhibits the release of this information a ‘bad thing’.

The magical, as contrasted to the functional uses of secrecy are detailed very well by John Michael Greer in his “Inside a Magical Lodge”. I cannot really add much to that discussion. In essence John argues magical secrecy is a tool for the transformation of consciousness by keeping information secret, regardless of the utility of that information. So the various passwords and symbols and names of an Order have no meaning outside of that Order, no use to anyone else, yet these are the main secrets of that Order. This is why many Masons, despite their secrets already being revealed will not discuss them with cowans – they still keep them secret, safe and precious and therefore they contain meaning and mystery. This is exactly how and why I value magical secrecy and also why I maintain my oaths, even when straining at the leash from time to time.

It is sightly different in the case of magical practices. Of all the various techniques of magic, some are now published and some are still secret. However, the keen aspirant with the right altruistic and higher intentions can find all they need already. No one of any sense would say we cannot reach the fulfilment of illumination and unfoldment without the secrets of one particular Order in one particular era of history in a few particular countries.

There are real magical secrets of the RR et AC still out there, though many from my experience are not contained within documents at all. The various inner workings of the Grade initiations are one case in point. Personally, I would not like to see these released simply because if performed incorrectly they can stuff up the initiate very badly. There are other techniques and practices along the same lines. Many though can be revealed because they require the inner keys of initiation and meaning to make them work. Again, this is another aspect of secrecy that is very important: the key to unlock the magical secrets are contained within us and we need to unfold in service to release them. 🙂

9 comments

  1. Sincerus Renatus · June 3, 2009

    Care Frater Peregrin,

    There are much that I agree with you regarding your sentiments about the Golden Dawn here on your beautiful blog, but regarding the significance of secrecy I feel we are light years apart.

    It’s no point in me trying to explain my general position, as that may be easily read on my blog:

    http://gyllenegryningen.blogspot.com/2009/05/secrecy-and-golden-dawn.html

    But I will address some specific points that you have raised.

    Regarding Nick Farrell. I am not condemning the man, just his actions. On this point the original Golden Dawn obligation is much more severe than me. For you to be able to understand the position of me and that of my Order you have to try to see the bigger picture. It’s not just about the publication of The Book of the Tomb. That is just a prelude to a greater profanation of the perhaps ENTIRE Alpha et Omega tradition.

    As you are well aware, some of the Outer Order rituals was modified by Mathers to preserve the egregore of that current. My Temple has used these regularily since 1997. Having your sacred rites profaned in this manner, one takes it quite personal. One is entitled to. You say that I cannot question “poor” Nicks motivations. I say that I can. Who is the real victim here? I say that his actions are politically motivated against the current Rosicrucian Order of Alpha et Omega. Others will of course be deligthed in reading these rituals, even though it will not provide them better means for reaching that goal of Knowledge and Conversation with their Divine Genius. But try to picture yourself in my position and you will understand me being upset by this whole matter.

    Regarding the Book of the Tomb itself, you are not correct in your assertment that it doesn’t reveal anything substatial. Read it again. There are some details in the colouring that hasn’t been found anywhare else before, which was enligthening for me at least when I read about it for the first time and in my opinion are important. So I hold that esoteric secrets of the Golden Dawn in fact was revealed by this latest profanation.

    I also don’t agree with your liberal attitude of not revealing the secrets of any sister organization. It is my firm belief that we as initiates are responsible towards not only our personal order and its integrity, but to the integrity of the entire Golden Dawn tradition. The pre-schismatic Golden Dawn, and the later derivatives of Alpha et Omega, including the Sun Order (because of its close ties with the A.O.), the Stella Matutina, and A.E. Waites renditions of the Golden Dawn (i.e. Holy Order and Fellowship) are part of the body which we today call the Golden Dawn. All these members of that body are still active and alive today; they are not a historical curiosity.

    The Neophyte Hall is alike in all three branches. You stand before the “assembly” of the Hall of Maat, i a broader sense, when you take your oath. The oath of Secrecy as contained in the Neophyte Obligation is the very foundation upon which the Order rest. Take that away or water it down significantly and you take away its power. This is clearly a deviation from the hallmarks of the Golden Dawn tradition.

    Regarding how these kind of documents circulate, this broadly can be divided in two categories. Regular transmission and irregular. There is a very easy way to check which. If papers are not handed down together with an oath of secrecy, that is a good sign of the transmission being irregular. Sometimes papers are given, sometimes they are appropriated.

    You also say that you wish that the Golden Dawn never was revealed. Why then do you support further profanation? Why has it to be “all or nothing”? Why not place yourself somewhere between? For me it quite easy. Discuss openly with other brothers and sisters, and people interested in the Golden Dawn about that which already is profaned. But do not profane that which still is secret and unpublished.

    Lastly there is something which is much more important in this whole matter which I only hinted at indirectly in my blog. It’s about the reputation of the Golden Dawn in certain very important circles and eyes. It’s about the question: Is the Golden Dawn a pure and suitable enough vessel to contain the Highest Hermetic Mysteries? Can people attracted to the Golden Dawn be trusted at all?

    Fraternally in L.V.X., Life and Love,
    S.R.

  2. Murray · June 4, 2009

    There is a Druid axiom “the best secrets are hidden in plain view”. It’s all available to those who know where, and yes sometimes how, to look.

    If an individual or group see’s benefit for themselves in relating to some material in a particular way, such as treating it as “secret”, then more the power to them. But to expect or insist that any-one else behave in the same way is surely madness.

    Besides how can knowledge ever be reduced by sharing?

  3. Soror FSO · July 2, 2009

    Just wanted to stop in and say hi! Keep up the good work.

    FSO

  4. Sincerus Renatus · July 20, 2009

    I miss you too Peregrin….

    S.R.

  5. Jonathan Pierce · July 28, 2009

    I’ve read a couple of your blog entries, and I really like your point of view.

    Keep up the work.

    ~j*

  6. Peregrin · August 24, 2009

    thanks 🙂

  7. Peregrin · August 24, 2009

    Trying to get back on line in stable fashion soon, Frater. Thanks for the kind words. 🙂

  8. Soror FSO · February 27, 2011

    I am unsure of the validity of this story but I recall hearing once that Israel died a very painful death, suffering from cancer and that he was quoted as saying that he believed Thoth was punishing him for releasing the grade materials…do you have any info on this Peregrin?

  9. Peregrin · February 27, 2011

    Care VH Sr FSO,

    Thanks for the comments.

    I really doubt this report. The late Gerald Suster in ‘Crowley’s Apprentice: The Life and Ideas of Israel Regardie’ recalls that he was told Israel died from a heart attack while having dinner with friends. This has been repeated and verified by the Ciceros also. His last interview, months before his death in 1985 does not indicate either a final painful period of life or regret at his actions. In fact he seemed to be enjoying himself greatly. Gerald Suster also recounts how, even in his 70s, Israel was full of life and vitality.

    That said, I have heard rumours also that upon contacting Pat Zalewski in New Zealand and becoming fully aware of the length and continuity of the tradition through Whare Ra he did regret his actions. However, the source of that rumour was New Zealand so…. 🙂

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