When I was a teenager and first approaching the highly charged area of ‘the occult’ I was fortunate to acquire a modest collection of books from a Witch who was undergoing a sideways move into Buddhism. The collection included a copy of the 2nd edition of Regardie’s The Golden Dawn and other rarities. In the weeks that followed I discovered a very sobering reality; while many of the books described the rituals, what to say, how to wave our arms around, none one them actually showed how to do the rituals. By this I mean the inner workings, the required visualisation, movements of energy, focus, breath and dynamics that that empower the ritual on the inner levels.
I naively thought these would be available elsewhere and was therefore excited when the assistant at the Theosophical Society bookstore recommended another Regardie book, Ceremonial Magic. Subtitled ‘a guide to the mechanisms of ritual’ it seemed exactly what I was looking for. After an expensive special order I excitedly took it home to garner its secrets. I am not ashamed to admit I almost cried. Not only was it useless it was my first experience of the type of magical work that repeats information and fills out the pages until a respectable book size is reached. Sadly certain authors and publishers still do this. 😦
By then I had entered a ‘lodge training school’, an outer court for a GD Order that existed only in the minds of the couple of dodgy Wiccans running it. About the only thing I learnt here was how not to run a training school. However, months later I was initiated into a well-oiled group whose Imperator stemmed from the same Order as Ithell Colquhoun. Here, I thought I would get taught the inner work that made a ritual magical, rather than dramatic (by then I had seen enough dramatics).
My first lodge attendance following my initiation was a training night on the Lesser Pentagram ritual. I had taught this to myself a while back to the extent it could stave off inadvertent Enochian effects (or mutant rats). Now, I was looking forward to the real magic. My first clue that something was amiss was when the Hierophant and instructor for the night declared he too ‘would take the opportunity’ to practice the ritual this evening. Surely, I thought, he does this all the time, twice a day? But no, he did not. Naturally, no inner workings and secrets were transmitted to me on that, or subsequent nights.
Months later the Order folded and the benevolent Cancellaria and another senior initiate presented me with complete copies of all the Order outer and inner papers. Even here though, there was no mention of what I was looking for, and upon discussion with the Cancellaria it was clear it was never part of the Order’s teaching. Over the years it has become clear to me that most Golden Dawn Orders, even those with ‘lineage’ function in the same way, and any inner work conducted is done so in a haphazard way, if at all.
This lack of inner work, amongst other things, has led to the GD becoming, to quote Nick Farrell, “a bit of a joke in the land of its birth”. Nick’s comments come from his expanded review of By Names and Images: bringing the Golden Dawn to Life. In his review Nick kindly concludes:
Peregrin’s book is the harbinger of what the Golden Dawn will become. It is an introduction to the idea of a magical Golden Dawn which is firmly rooted within the Inner. It might even be a Golden Dawn which appears new to many, certainly it is a Golden Dawn which many will want to suppress because it requires expertise that many “high graders” lack. Nevertheless for the next generation of Golden Dawn student “By Names and Images” is a vital part of any collection.
Out of all the very kind and lovely comments and reviews of my book, this one touches me the most as it goes straight to the heart of why I wrote it. I never want there to be another young magician buying books like Ceremonial Magic in a vein pursuit of magic. The inner dimensions to magic are crucial and are what, in my opinion, makes ceremonial magic one of the most transformative tools available for modern westerners. Done correctly, on all levels, magic has the ability to unfold our beings in ways purely inward paths like meditation cannot. However, as I say in the book, the outer performance of spiritual truth is a dicey thing, and without constant and correct inner focus becomes simply emotive drama.
If the efforts of my teacher (who showed me the magic), Skylight Press and all who helped with the book leads to more discussion and publication of inner workings, and a refusal to accept works that give the outer forms alone, then I will be one very, very happy bunny 🙂 Thanks.