Over on one of the Golden Dawn forums there has been an interesting discussion on the qualities of an adept. Like the lineage question, like many of the ‘issues’ involved discussed in modern magic, part of the problem is an incongruence of terms. The words ‘adept’ and ‘master’ mean several different things to different people. And since we are always talking about subjective spiritual realities there can be no end to these discussions.
Christians long ago had similar problems with all the new concepts stemming from Jesus being somehow the One and human at the same time. Their response was to get all the Bishops and high folk together and define their terms so at least everyone knew what each other was saying. Unfortunately, drawing on the Roman Imperial model (and patronage) this response soon shifted into a mode where they would define, codify, theologise and canon-law the hell out of pretty much everything they could think of. And then censure, ban, pull faces at and extraordinary rendition anyone who thought otherwise.
Now of course the magical community does not want to go down that path (I hope). But I do think we need to have a common lexicon of some sort. How this may come about is beyond me, but perhaps some of the wiser MOTO readers have ideas? I do not think it is an impossible task, only an improbable one. After all, we do have a collaborative Initiate’s Bill of Rights and Responsibilities – perhaps we could do a similar project to create a common lexicon?
Naturally I have my own ideas on adepts and wot all. I go into them at length in my forthcoming By Names and Images, so will not repeat them here. Suffice to say that I seem to be in broad agreement with the majority of GD forum posters in saying that we have gone beyond the old Victorian model of an adept being all sweetness, nice and beyond all human foibles and vices. I think Morgan Drake Eckstein sums it up best when he wrote:
Adepts are created from ordinary men and women, and we remain ordinary men and women despite our Adeptship.
Lineage and lies
Over on Gleamings from the Golden Dawn there was a little discussion that got me thinking about lineage some more. Now I have written a whole, nice neat post on this before, which I still kinda like. However, obviously the lineage question has not been too important for me ‘cos I missed an important point all these years. This is best illustrated in this fictional example of the Enclave of Real Magicians (ERM).
ERM have lots of neat secret techniques available in the higher grades. They also claim a nice lineage going back several hundred years when they evolved, legitimately, out of the Rosicrucian Order of Scunthorpe (ROS – I said it was fictional 🙂 )
However, in reality the ERM was a breakaway from ROS in 1825. One Trevor Tippet, a senior ROS Adept got pissed off after someone ate his junket at the Festive Board. He took umbrage, all his papers and students and formed ERM. Mr Tippet had received all the ROS initiations and had, let’s say, 75 per cent of papers and spiritual transmissions on offer throughout ROS. Naturally, when he comes to write the History Lecture for the new ERM he does not mention the bit about the junket. So later students do not know about it at all.
The ROS, being a secret order, cannot tell people that ERM is an illegitimate order (i.e. not charted) without revealing their own presence and history (and the fact someone in their order is a junket thief). They cannot contact all the potential new students ERM could attract, and so ERM grows without a legitimate charter. Come 2012, ERM is armed with secret teachings, 75 per cent of ROS spiritual transmissions and a false history, which cannot be disproven.
Now unless we simply assume and assert that real adepts would not break from their mother order (which is simply not borne out in history), we have an interesting conundrum on our hands.
Even if ROS was to blog post about ERM only firing on three cylinders (only 75 per cent of transmissions), they cannot prove it without providing evidentiary shared space-time papers, memos etc. which, being secret they cannot reveal. They also can not reveal the additional 25 per cent of transmissions ERM lacks.
And more to the point, how do we know ROS was never a breakaway from some other original order?
Think about it. How do we know any of the ancient and venerable orders on display today were not originally rogues? They write their own histories after all. It’s not like there’s a peer review process 🙂
How do you know your order is not in the same boat?
How do you know the Secret Chiefs who give your order secret and higher teachings are not really from an ERM type order?
Of course, we cannot know. Evidence of any secret teachings, spiritual transmissions I might receive in the higher grades mean nothing with regard lineage, because as we have seen ERM has a lot to offer.
In reality, the whole concept of lineage meaning anything at all breaks down, unless it is well documented, verifiable paper lineage along the lines of Masonic charters. Not, as I said in my original post on lineage, that there’s anything wrong with that.
The way of discerning the validity of any group or order just has to be what work, what teachings and spiritual changes they offer. And when these cannot be scrutinised at will by the outsider, the only discernment a prospective member can fall back on is how the teachings have affected the public adepts of the order or group in question. Do these people display at least common sense, compassion, courtesy, intelligence and a spiritual presence? Are their published works useful, coherent and expanding the tradition or simply repeating the same stuff for hundreds of pages? However, as evidenced time and time again, these good solid qualities are often displayed by people claiming no lineage and absent in those claiming lineage.
So, even if I were to receive an invitation into the order behind the original GD or behind the original Rosicrucians, I could never know the real history and legitimacy. I would still have to discern the people and processes I come across, not accept anything on blind faith. Nuff said 🙂