Whenever I have time I read a lot of magical blogs and online journal entries. I am very impressed by some and amazed by the number of (mostly) men who are happy to share publicly their intimate magical work and spiritual experiences. Sometimes I think I am stranger out of time, as contemplating such a project myself fills me with horror and trembling. I also get very concerned and sad when reading a lot of these blogs. Many of these young men are sharing how our tradition has failed them. Their diary and blog entries show how they have not been taught correctly, or held by our traditions. Or don’t want to be. Some of these bloggers are part of Orders they consider traditional, others are openly against tradition.
I do not wish to point out any particular blog, only the issues involved. So as an example I will refer to a published account of magical workings by Geoff Hughes and Alan Richardson, Ancient Magicks for a New Age. This work gives diary entries of Mr Hughes as he explores the Merlin Current following his removal from the egregore of the Fraternity of the Inner Light. Most of the work was inward and visionary and from a traditional viewpoint lacking the safety and discrimination required for effective spiritual unfoldment. However, his brief diary entries are informative for many reasons. I remember when I first read them I was aghast at how he did not start all his work with the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram or some equivalent technique. Often he seemed to invoke elemental powers somewhere at some point in the working, but without structure or safeguards. As I read each new entry I was almost willing him on, to be sensible and follow tradition. On September 22, 1985 after a year and a half workings Mr Hughes had an experience that caused him to comment:
No matter what Work is carried out on behalf of the Inner planes, one must always acknowledge the Elemental Kingdoms and gain their acceptance.
In the margins of the book I wrote, “LRP”. At the time of reading, I was fairly gormed out that an initiate of the FIL (SIL) was not following the tradition laid down by Dion herself and before her the Golden Dawn and other esoteric schools. The next working recorded was on November 7, 1985 when Mr Hughes describes his opening as first giving salutations and then ‘Opening, using the Lesser Pentagram Ritual’. This time in the margin I inscribed a smiley face and ‘At last!’ This lack of tradition, structure and sense is typical of what I am finding on many GD and Magical blogs.
There are several areas of concern, all of which if students are guided by a teacher, compassion, tradition and honest introspection can be avoided.
Meet my Angel
Many GD and magical bloggers post how they have ‘talked’ to their Holy Guardian Angels. They often describe the HGA and the interaction they have with him, almost like talking to another human being. They repeat the words said, how they felt about the words, how the HGA may be holding something back etc. Often they report extended astral visions and journeys as part of their conversations. In addition some bloggers will report chats with other ‘beings’, daimons , guides and wot all. They will ponder if they are aspects of the HGA, which are useful and which may be part of themselves etc. To be blunt, all of these experiences are taking place in the astral sphere, a sphere ‘below’ that of the Holy Guardian Angel. This is not to say no contact has been made with the HGA, only that the communication has been corrupted. Tradition is clear on this: the Knowledge and Conversation of the HGA refers to an ongoing state of meta-consciouness. There are no visions and chats in meta-consciousness, just pure pristine Knowledge. A Rosicrucian magician knows her connection with the HGA, there is no doubt, no questioning, no possibility of the HGA tricking or holding things back.
Tradition is also clear that like ourselves, like God, the HGA does not actually exist as a separate being. They are an interconnection, a co-arisen dependant being. We cannot really talk of them as a being at all, expect in poetic terms. For once I am with Mr Crowley who apparently chose to us the term Holy Guardian Angel as a poetic device because he felt no one could possibly take this description literally. But sadly, they do, they do. Blogs describe how the HGA ‘checked people out’, removed obstacles to find a parking space etc. Whenever I read these accounts I have a slight tinge of contact embarrassment, like that I describe in a past post discussing Christians (and others) who seem to know ‘how god feels’.
The Power and the Passion
There is still a tendency by many, and sadly probably most, magicians to judge a ritual or a practice’s effectiveness by the amount of ‘power’ it raises. Time and time again I am seeing comments on these blogs saying how wonderful or pathetic something is based on perceived powers and sensations. It is true that some rituals and practices that transform us leave us feeling overwhelmed and in awe. However, some of the deeper processes of transformation are silent and still and can involve rituals that do not require trance and astral visions. Look at Christian Communion for example or Islamic salat, prayer repeated five times a day. Often the feelings of power and strength come about through the ‘flooding’ of the astral self with intense powers and energies also from the astral realm. The astral self or body is temporarily expanded beyond usual and this results in feelings of power, being ungrounded, lots of visions and energy. However, no transformation of any depth will come about since astral powers cannot transform the astral self; only higher, pure and non-self mental level blessings can do that. Which is why a properly constituted Host at a Eucharist is more transformational than any number of spacey and powerful middle pillar ceremonies. This is the traditional view, from antiquity onwards and is included in the authentic western esoteric traditions, including the RR et AC. Right from the Desert Fathers such as Evagrius onwards mystics and esotericists have been clear that depth spirituality is, more often than not, distorted by visions, powers and passions.
Making it all better
The self-help industry and paradigm is so pervasive, especially in America where most of these blogs originate, that it has even infected the Golden Dawn. It will not take much Internet searching to know what I mean. Now there is nothing wrong with ‘improving our self’ or ‘healing’. However, the appropriation of spiritual language, frameworks and techniques for personal and psychological adjustment does not mean the two spheres – personal growth and spiritual unfoldment – are one. While related, the two are not the same and the esoteric traditions clearly distinguish between them. In esoteric Qabalah the 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 of the individual – is required to embrace what is beyond us. Many of the magical blogs out there do not appear to understand this and conflate healing and magic.
True spirituality is concerned with fostering another other state of being to the ordinary, a state which most esoteric traditions recognise as both immanent (within each of us) and transcendent (beyond all of us). Spiritual practices and frameworks will certainly give succour to our personal pain and it is appropriate to seek the One to overcome pain. However, if our motivation for spiritual practice remains within this realm – the realm of the self-seeking somatic, mental or emotional healing – this is where we will remain. We will never go beyond ourselves to the ‘other state of being’; we will never develop the right view and enter the eternal. The homogenisation of healing and spirituality only adds to this tendency and encourages us to remain forever in the personal while seeing it as spiritual.
Young men in a rush, suffering from premature union
This is an age-old problem and definitely not confined to these bloggers. People seem to expect each and every meditation, ritual or practice to produce ‘results’. Look at the suggestions out there for constructing a magical diary and you will see what I mean. Real spiritual unfoldment, like real maturation, however takes a lifetime. Daily meditations, practices, acts of love and compassion all produce a cumulative effect over years and ‘results’ are achieved slowly, steadily as we unfold. There is no rush for premature union, which more often than not is only astrally based dissolution. All the great traditions and great teachers are clear on this; we change slowly or not at all. This is not to say there are not moments of grace and change, of course there are. But they are not result driven and really not focused upon at all. Sogyal Rinpoche describes how after several years of practice, the state of Rigpa, a non-dual awareness was awakening in his mind. Excited and amazed he ran to his teacher, exclaiming loudly. His wise teacher remained calm and told him to settle down, that in the end his experience was ‘neither good nor bad’. The focus is always directed back to the simple practices, the daily love and service rather than any results we may receive.
Ho Hum, another psychic...
There is a very good book by Bishop John Shelby Spong, Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism. I have often played with the notion of writing Rescuing magic from psychism. There are countless bloggers and readers out there who seem to think psychic experience and psychism is somehow spiritual. It is sad that during the development of modern magic psychism became linked to it – at least in some quarters. However, the two are not at all intrinsically linked. Any parapsychologist who has conducted extensive testing will tell you psychic ability is not linked to spiritual or moral development. Some of the most ‘talented’ psychics are not to sort to take home to mother and some of the deepest, most unfolded spiritual people have no psychic ability. Or if they do, they ignore it as a distraction. The number of blogs out there talking about astral travelling, creation of energy forms, reading people’s minds etc is staggering. None of this is spiritual. Some western magic traditions use techniques similar to those used in psychic schools in order to develop the inner modes of perception. This is help us participate consciously on the inner to unfold and serve further. However, these are simply tools, not ends in themselves and to focus on the psychic is to move away from the transpersonal which then obviates any spiritual unfoldment.
I want therefore I am
And still that old chestnut…practical magic. Magic designed to affect the material, mundane world. These days more and more magicians use the term thaumaturgy but it is still practical or low magic, with our without an ancient word. I have blogged on this before and will simply repeat a bit here.
Rather than degenerate into a discussion that ‘high’ magic (that which is not for the self) is better than ‘low’ magic (that which is for the self) I want to point out something that is seldom mentioned: most readers of blogs such as this actually do not need any help from magic. In a world where twenty thousand people will die from poverty and starvation each day, any westerner who can afford time and money to wander around the Internet must be counted as rich beyond measure. To use our magical blessings, which stem ultimately from the One, to increase our station in life rather than to balance out the stakes a little for those who are literally starving to death says something for our personal magical motivation. And in this vein, the profusion of spell-craft manuals and coffee table books bristling with all forms of sorcery says a lot for the general motivation of the esoteric and New Age communities today.
The only way out is the only way in
One of the biggest issues I see time and time again is Outer Order members practicing Inner Order, RR et AC rituals and practices. I know that the line between the two is not so hard and fast these days and one Order has moved all published RR et AC material to the Outer Order (click here for their rationale). However, at least that Order appears to have a graded structure of practice and mentoring which many of these bloggers do not. The conflation between Inner and Outer is, from a traditional viewpoint, very dangerous. I believe practicing magic before the Adeptus Minor initiation or equivalent is one of the most dangerous things we can do. I know I am almost a lone voice in the wilderness here – mainly because most traditional RR et AC folk are silent about it all – but I believe examination of even the published material will prove me correct. In terms of structural, spiritual, psychological and initiatory integrity practicing Rosicrucian based magic without being admitted to the Rosicrucian Order damages both the particular Order and the individual.
The currents, links and entry into the Rosicrucian egregore given at the Adeptus Minor initiation is what makes RR et AC magic work. Not to even mention the required level of maturity and balance, compassion and love to practice magic safely. Let us be clear: RR et AC magic is not a solitary pursuit. At this level there are, in essence, no solo magicians. The Adeptus Minor is an initiated member of the Body of Christ and all her work, even her hours of solo work, is informed by and informs the Order and tradition. This is clearly shown in the Corpus Christi ceremony. So it makes no sense for people not of the RR et AC to be practicing RR et AC magic; it simply will not be as effective, and unless they are already unfolded to a certain extent, it will cause problems. Look around you at the people in the magical communities you know. See what I mean?
Love is the answer
Finally, and most painfully, very, very few magical bloggers ever mention love, compassion and service. Yet this is the test of all spirituality. I have harped on enough about this on MOTO so will not say much here. Of pressing concern however, is the tendency for some bloggers to describe how they use RR et AC magic or are helped by their ‘Holy Guardian Angel’ to engage in psychic battles and warfare. People use RR et AC magic as a means to attack when that tradition is ultimately a Christian Order, based on the Presence and Love of Christ who directs us to love our enemies. It does my head in, it does 🙂