Magical Action to Increase Compassion towards Asylum Seekers and Refugees in Australia

This is part of an initiative I have started to…well, the title says it all 🙂

I will be inviting all and sundry on Facebook to be part of this – and you good MOTO folk here also 🙂 And please, even if you are not Australian, feel free to be part of the magic. I have a nice little outline of the plan and all in good pdf form HERE.

Of course, since some folk like to just read on screen, I will paste the text below also.

This form of magic obviously does not abide easily with the fourth side of the pyramid – silence. The symbol and principles are out there. However, the individual methods people and groups choose, the names of their sacred One(s), contacts and Gods are not on display. So please keep yours mum too 🙂

In my personal experience I have had mixed success with magic like this. As I recount in this post a similar initiative over ten years ago concerning the forthcoming Iraq war failed dismally. However, as I say in this other post:

In my experience the best and most successful forms of practical magic are those performed collectively for altruistic purposes and which work in alliance with spiritual beings under the presidency of the higher powers. These are keys elements: a collegiate experience to go beyond the self; altruistic and transpersonal intentions; working in harmony with beings in the other realms where we at best can but blunder around, and; an attitude of surrender to the One.

And this current magic ticks all these boxes. I’ve seen some wonderful results from this form of magic, as well as failures. So we will see on this one…but remember magic is like hugging a tar baby; it affects the magician as much as it does the world. So working inwardly, magically and working hard and non-personally for compassion will affect each of us and move us towards a more compassionate state. And that can’t be bad! 🙂 THANKS 🙂

– – – – – – – – – – – 

  • This is for everyone concerned about the current government’s actions in regards to asylum seekers and refugees in Australia. Polling suggests this is well over half the population.
  • While magic is predominately the realm of Witches, Magicians, Pagans, Druids and others, the invitation is here for any and all people to help open the group mind of Australia towards compassion for those seeking refuge.
  • This form of magic does not impede on anyone’s sovereign will. But it does provide opportunities for change should there be an inclination towards that change.
  • The daily reports of appalling conditions in offshore detention centres, the military style secrecy of the Australian government, the universal and repeated condemnation of these centres and practices by international sources and the increasing whistleblowing by those working in these centres is a concern for all Australians.
  • These actions by the Australian government are supported by choices and non-choices we have made and are currently making; as individuals, as groups and as a nation.
  • From a magical point of view these choices ultimately stem from the fabric of the collective unconscious, the hidden side of culture and society where our deepest assumptions and beliefs lie. We have all experienced transformation from reworking the weave of our own inner depths. We facilitate these changes in others through initiation, prayer and healing. Now we need to go broader and work directly with our nation and our culture.



To increase compassion towards asylum seekers and refugees within the Australian group mind.


Everyone is invited to contribute to this magic which will be conducted in five phases from 9 January to roughly 7 February. The magic centres around the symbol below as a representation of compassion in balance within the Australian group mind and as a focus for the intention given above (please see ‘Notes on the Symbol’ below).

Compassion Australia web 96 J

PHASE 1 – SPREADING THE WORD (January 9 – 16). During this week, please share this invitation to all magical people you know, far and wide, personally, via social media and other means.

PHASE 2 – CREATING THE SYMBOL (On or around Full Moon, January 16). The symbol is created within the ‘astral’, inner realm and strongly exists ‘above’ Australia, and is ‘ALIVE’.

PHASE 3 – CHARGING THE SYMBOL (January 16-26). Additional magic is done to empower the symbol.

PHASE 4 – BIRTHING THE SYMBOL (On or around Australia Day, January 26). Magic is conducted to ‘bring down’ the symbol into the group mind of Australia.

Time of ‘gestation’ (January 27-31)

PHASE 5 – PRACTICAL ACTION (On or shortly after New Moon, January 31). Practical action such as letter writing to earth the magic.


  • Those skilled in magic can readily apply the principles below and should work as they normally do.
  • All magic should ‘start grounded and finish grounded’. This is very important. It means we begin connected to the earth, knowing ourselves and our boundaries, and we finish the same way. Grounding is normally one of the first skills taught in most magical traditions. Grounding exercise examples can be found here.
  • Another key point is that straight after grounding we connect with our Sacred One(s) and ask them for assistance in the magic.

Creating the Symbol

  • Visualisation is the key here. After grounding and asking your Sacred One(s) for assistance, strongly visualise the symbol. Keep in mind the intention. Once the symbol is strong, see it grow larger and larger and rise to fill the air above the whole of Australia. Keep visualising for as long as possible.
  • At this time experienced folk around the country will be working deep magic to create the symbol on the inner realms, so it will be easy for you to add your bit by simply visualising.
  • When finished visualising, thank your Sacred One(s) and spend some time grounding.
  • More experienced magicians can use other methods to create the symbol. A group can use dance, ritual, chant etc. to empower the symbol. Wiccan groups and couples can raise the cone of power or use the Great Rite.

Charging the Symbol

  • Magic here involves two forms of action. Firstly, the aims and hopes of the people of Australia to make a compassionate society are directed ‘upward’ into the symbol. Secondly, the blessings of the spiritual powers and beings we are working with are also directed into the symbol. These may be seen as being directed ‘downward’ into the symbol, but only because these beings are transpersonal not because they are ‘beyond the earth’.
  • So in meditation, in ritual, in group or solo settings, we charge the symbol in these two ways.
  • As individuals (after grounding and asking for assistance) we know ourselves to be representative of the thousands of others in our locales that wish for a more compassionate Australia. As representatives, we imagine ourselves taking their thoughts, wishes and love, as well as our own, into the symbol. We may create a chant to help with this.
  • We then pray and ask our Sacred One(s) to bless the symbol. We see their love and power and light enter and enliven the symbol. We do this for as long as possible as on each day in this phase, if possible.
  • Remember to thank your Sacred One(s) and ground at the end of each session.
  • If you are in a magical group, create sacred space. Have one or two people in each direction. Raise energy and go into trance. Consciously identify the quarters of the circle with the quarters of your city; see the east of the circle as and overlapping with the east of the city and so on – so that your circle IS your city. The people at the quarters now open themselves to represent the people within that quarter of the city. In trance they collect and channel the good wishes and intentions of the people of the city. They direct these, in unison with the rest of the group, into the symbol above Australia.
  • Now invoke in your usual manner your Sacred One(s) and see them enter the symbol with their love and power and light to enliven the symbol. Thank your Sacred One(s), close your sacred space and ground as normal.

Birthing the Symbol

  • We do this on Australia Day, when our nation is self-conscious and open to influence.
  • Again, after our preparation, we visualise the symbol. Once it is strong we again ask for the blessings of our Sacred One(s) to enter the symbol. We repeat our intention strongly. Then we slowly and clearly see the symbol come ‘down’ to cover the whole of Australia. We see it enter the group mind of Australia – see it enter the land, the towns, people in your neighbourhood, people in your city, politicians and media people.
  • Then clearly see the symbol produce results – these may be visualised as you wish, for example newspaper headlines like, ‘Australia Leads the Way with Refugees’ or ‘PM’s New Approach to Asylum Seekers Heralded by UN’. Or see people you know who are not now compassionate expressing compassionate thoughts. Use some clear and simple visualisation that shows the completed magic. Hold this visualisation for as long as possible.
  • Once again, when finished, thank your Sacred One(s) and ground.
  • In a group setting the ‘birthing’ process can take many forms from a group meditation to a full ceremony. Wiccans may like to link the birth to the Great Rite:
  • The Coven once again creates the circle as their city. Then the Priestess and Priest will take on the Gods, standing centre circle. Then the Coven will dance the Cone around them and draw the symbol down to just ‘above’ the Priestess and Priest who then perform the Great Rite, birthing the symbol into the Cakes and Wine. These are then shared with the Coveners, who are representative of the city, and thereby take the symbol and magic into the whole city. Some Cakes and Wine should also be offered to the four quarters of the city by people who live nearby.
  • Other methods of birthing will present themselves to experienced magicians.

Practical Action

  • We leave the symbol to affect the group mind of Australia from birthing (26 January) through the dark moon until the new moon (31 January). This is an important period where the ‘ferment’ of the magic grows.
  • On and after new moon is the time for practical action to fully ground and make the magic work on the material level. Without doing something physical the magic will not work. Suggestions include:
  • Speaking to people about the issues; sharing accurate information;
  • Writing letters to the media;
  • Writing letters and contacting politicians clearly stating how you wish things to change;
  • Creating a simple flyer and letterbox dropping it for a few streets around your home;
  • Donating to various Refugee and Asylum Seeker advocacy groups; and
  • Volunteering at refugee agencies.
  • Groups may like to spend a night writing letters and emails. Each member is assigned one letter to write (to local MPs, the Prime Minister, the Immigration Minister Etc.). They bring along a template, and all of the group copy and write and sign all the letters. These are sealed and stamped and magic done to bless them before posting.
  • On all letters or emails it would be good to include the symbol as this will help bring the magic to the fore for those reading it. The symbol can be found here: small (jpg), large (png), for letters (jpg).


  • The symbol expresses the intention. Yes, it is a little twee, but we want it to be simple and clear for people from all traditions and backgrounds.
  • The colours are from the Australian Flag to help link to the Australian group mind.
  • The blue in this case represents the raw consciousness of Australia, which we act on and inspire.
  • The red heart represents the compassion we are seeking, rising out of the raw consciousness.
  • The Southern Cross represents the Australian soul, now surrounded by compassion. It also can be used to bring in the stellar forces for those working this form of magic
  • The presence of the symbols of the Sun and Moon represent the balanced approach to refugees and asylum seekers. The symbols also represent the binaries of the Goddess/God for Wiccans and other polarities for those working them.


Again with the practical magic!

Another ‘gonzo’ post – straight from me brain to the keys to the ‘publish’ button. Please excuse the typos 🙂

Sometimes I like to jump on an interesting bandwagon as it goes past. In this case it’s practical, material-focused magic. Recently there have been lovely posts on the subject by folk I admire – look at the blogs of AL, MDK and DMK for some great discussions. (UPDATE: some more cool posts on the subject: Nick, Alex, Scott).

As I discuss in this post on ‘Manifestation‘ even if we do jag a positive result and our practical magic “works”, it is but a small part of a vast interconnected and interdependent rollercoaster of causes and conditions. DMK in his post says it straight:

Still another reason is a misunderstanding of finances leading to guilt. Specifically, some people look at finances as a zero sum situation. The idea behind the zero sum outlook is that the world’s finances are fixed and therefore limited; if you gain, someone else loses. If my slice of the pie gets bigger, your’s gets smaller. So if you do magick to become better off, someone else is going to suffer, and you’d feel guilty about making others suffer.

However the reality is not a zero sum situation. The reality is that if you increase your wealth, everyone’s wealth will increase. In order to get a bigger slice of the pie, the entire pie gets bigger, giving everyone a larger slice. This, of course, assumes fairness in the financial world, something that often doesn’t exist if governments don’t make and enforce rules, much the way that football would be total mayhem without governance and rules.” (Italics, mine).

A Nice Piece of the Pie 🙂

I find this very interesting. As a read the Zero Sum Game concept, it may apply to the insubstantial concepts of ‘wealth’ but it does not apply to the material reality of elements of production – minerals, foodstuffs, etc.  Many of DMK’s readership (I assume) are Pagan orientated and therefore have some ecological understanding. One of the central tenets of the modern environmental movement is that the world does indeed have limited resources and can only take so much battering. Now we can invoke space mining and exploration to get over that in our heads, to remove the concept of ‘zero sum’, but realistically that’s way off and (with current technology) will cause more environmental damage than we can poke at stick at.

With respect to DMK, I think the zero sum argument is valid in some circumstances. There are limited material resources and what we do with those resources matters; who controls them and who has access to them. Even sustainable resources are created on land, which is limited.

Look at the example I refer to in this post, of a new age bookshop owner who was trying to ‘manifest’ a life where she could go travelling (across the globe) six months of the year because she “deserved it”. If the zero sum argument is bollocks, “the pie”, as DMK puts it, can expand so we can ALL travel six months of the year. By aeroplane. Think about that. Really think about it. At any time three billion plus people are travelling around the planet. Thinking about the pollution alone from this shows the zero sum idea is valid, at least in some aspects. I am sure none of you reading this would be happy with such a world (even if it could exist)  Therefore we do not accept ALL negation of zero sum.

A less extreme case. Just imagine the pollution and resources needed to let EVERYONE on the planet live as well as a well paid professional in the USA – with cars, iPhones, flat screen TV, etc. That alone would spell disaster for the world, even if there was enough terrestrial raw materials to make all these consumer products.

I hope this is making sense.

Let’s look at a crucial line from DMK: “This, of course, assumes fairness in the financial world…”. This shows the interdependence I am talking of. Specifically, let’s take the case of African American magician in Tennessee in 1933 and in 2013. Magic for a better job, house, food, life will be more likely to ‘manifest’ in 2013 than 1933 due to the inherent and legal, structural racism in the 1930s. We cannot escape context. We cannot escape interdependence. And to be perfectly frank, I think African American magicians are better off today because of political struggles than magic.

The same with anything we are talking about. If we want to work as if the ‘zero sum’ principle is invalid or limited, it is better to work politically and socially to make the lives – jobs, cars, houses – we are trying to improve by magic available to us, and to all. Again, specifically, without the changes in western society that allow a diversity of religious thought, very few of us would be practicing magic anyway. Our success in magic owes more to the success of the Enlightenment than our own efforts.

Morgan makes a very interesting and accurate point on this blog:

…the documented record of Western magic is all about–weather magic, power magic, legal magic, treasure magic, health magic, love magic–all about fulfilling basic needs in a hostile wolf at the door world. Even alchemy was about the practical nine times out of ten. Yet we in the modern world are not allowed to have these needs or desires.

This is because magic was reframed in the mid-late 19th century as a spiritual art, largely due to the efforts of Eliphas Levi. Now of course there were always elements of spiritual development within historical western magic, but as Ronald Hutton puts it: “Traditional scholarly magic was at basis an elaborate way of ringing for room service”. This has now all changed. Heck, even evocation of spirits, mostly traditionally undertaken because the little buggers had a handy knack for helping fulfil one’s desire, is now seen by many as a complex form of spiritual adjustment.

Now, PERSONALLY, I am very happy that western learned magic was reframed into a more spiritual direction. It makes sense to me. I am also of the opinion that is was the main driving force behind the founders of the major modern western traditions, the two most influential of course being the Golden Dawn (RR et AC) and the Inner Light of Dion Fortune.

In the latter, the requirement for admission to the tradition is succinctly put into the initiate’s mouth: “I desire to know in order to serve”. And entry to the Greater Mysteries requires the “unreserved dedication” to the Higher for life. There was and is precious little practical magic in this tradition or in the writings of Dion herself – except when required to serve the Masters.

In the RR et AC (ever remembering that the GD is not a magical tradition) where magic was taught, we find the Adeptus Minor is required to oath themselves to some pretty interesting things. They are to lead “a pure and unselfish life”. Nor are they to “debase” the practical magic they learn in the Order for evil or “self-seeking” or “low material gain or pleasure”.  They also, and crucially, at the Tiphareth point swear to (from memory):

Apply themselves to the Great Work – to purify and exalt my Spiritual Nature so that with the Divine Aid I may at length attain to be more than human and thus gradually raise and unite myself to my higher and Divine Genius.

Okaay. Now this is dogs-balls obvious. And if it is not so, it is also really clear that the RR et AC is a ROSICRUCIAN order – and the Rosicrucians profess nothing save to heal the sick – and for free no less!

RR et AC Rose Cross

RR et AC Rose Cross

So the problem lies in the simple fact that the root of much (if not most) modern magic, the Golden Dawn and the Inner Light, have clear and direct spiritual aims, not material ones. Yet the techniques, symbols and methods within these traditions are so bloody awesome, everyone – even those who do not approach magic with spiritual and service ideals – wants to use them. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

There is thus a big tension inherent within modern magic itself. Now, as DMK says, there really need not be. Folk can take either take and practise both approaches or work within a framework that collapses the boundaries between material and spiritual magic, where an evocation of a spirit to make one more likely to find a sexual partner is seen as spiritual work in and by itself.

PERSONALLY this does not make sense to me. I think we should let the traditions speak on their own terms, and when we take an oath to apply ourselves spiritually and not to use Rosicrucian magic “material gain or pleasure” we should do just that. Or change the oath.

Magic for me is TRANSPERSONAL not personal, just as my Vajrayana and esoteric Christian practice are. This to me is the essence of modern magic. This does not, in any way, mean I condemn or look down upon those who see and practise differently. And while I not am in position to define what “is” or “is not” Rosicrucian magic, it does seem clear to me that the composers of the RR et AC and Inner Light corpora WERE clear themselves. Thanks 🙂


I have to confess to a certain reaction whenever I hear or read about the New Age concept of ‘manifestation’. On good days, I may subtly roll my eyes. On bad days I actually feel an instinctual curling back of the lips as I prepare to tear the heart out of the proud ‘manifestor’ before me. Despite New Age teachings, workshops, play-shops, give-me-your-money-shops, all designed to teach us how to ‘manifest’, the simple fact of the matter is this:

No one ‘manifests’ anything.

Take a look at something in front of you. Anything. Even better, something you’ve ‘manifested’. Look at it and ask yourself, how did this thing come to be? For example, this lovely pencil. Follow back in your mind all the various actions, causes, people, life-forms, events needed to produce a single pencil.

I may have purchased this pencil – or someone else may have. This involves money, which involves labour, banking, banking staff etc. Then there is the shop where it was purchased from – this involves hundreds of people from architects, to builders, to store staff and security. Then we have the transport of the pencil to the store, probably involving drivers and warehouses (more builders), the petroleum for the driving, which involves millions of long dead plankton and algae folk. Not to mention the wood around the graphite – a tree, with water, forestry workers, manufacturers of chainsaws etc.

So you see my point?

Me ol’ chum, Sir Francis

If I ‘manifest’ anything it has to be as a result of a vast interdependency on countless beings and causes. Even if, at the end of a great and ageless stream of causation and choices, we somehow manage to ‘attract’ a thing or job or person towards us, our own intervention is as but a speck in the unlimited sky of what went before us to produce this opportunity anyway. We are so small in the actual causes of ‘manifestation’ that to ascribe it to us (or anyone) would be even more bizarre than saying the latest Hollywood block buster ‘is’ the movie of the second-assistant to the second set catering service.

To say we can manifest is akin, I feel to saying that Columbous discovered America or Cook discovered Australia or Drake was the second person to circumnavigate the world. Historical inaccuracies and indigenous negation aside, these statements ignore the fact these captains all had crews, most of whom suffered and worked harder than the figureheads they supported. Several died.

These statements of discovery reflect an imperial and class based worldview and so too do statements that I ‘manifested’ a lovely job, or a perfect boyfriend or whatever. It assumes we are the central agency and discounts or removes the supreme truth of radical interdependence. It places us, as in the old medieval model, at the centre of the magic circle controlling the powers, rather than a place from which to observe and consciously actualise our interdependence. This is but one of many examples of the unconscious adoption by the New Age of imperial and class based ideologies while pretending it’s all about connection and light and floaty bliss balls.

Of course, practical magic is also ‘manifestation’ under a different guise. As I have often said, I let the magician side down a bit on this front. I have previously explained why I do not valorise or practice magic like this, so won’t go into it much now. My critics on other blogs have pointed out that magic does work, and they even eat based on their practical magic. I find this interesting and exciting, since most people fulfil their regular need for food etc via paying jobs. You know, something you can depend on, at least in the short term. So if magic is that reliable, that regular, it surely must be testable, verifiable in a controlled setting. In which case I suggest these folk contact the Australian Skeptics who’ll pay a $100 000 prize for such a demonstration. I am sure there are other avenues for easy money too.

The simple, bald fact is that no one has yet proven practical magic – or manifestation – has that level of reliability. I would really like it to have, and I am serious about magicians showing of their skills and being tested – I would love to know for sure practical magic works. Until then, I remain open to the possibility but remain of the understanding, as mentioned in this post, that

…the best and most successful forms of practical magic are those performed collectively for altruistic purposes and which work in alliance with spiritual beings under the presidency of the higher powers. These are keys elements: a collegiate experience to go beyond the self; altruistic and transpersonal intentions; working in harmony with beings in the other realms where we at best can but blunder around, and; an attitude of surrender to the One.

From a traditionalist perspective rather than focusing on ourselves being the manifestor, we are called to become more aware of the supreme sacrament of our own manifestation. We ourselves are the manifested. From a Christian perspective, we are the Body of Christ. From a magical perspective, we are the embodied and active component of the Chain of Being leading back to the One. This so far more exciting and wonderful than anything we can manifest. 🙂

The Golden Dawn, the Inner Light and Leadbeater

Seal of the Theosophical Society

I recently read a very interesting article by the Rev Dr Gregory Tillett, ‘Modern Western Magic and Theosophy’ from the journal Theosophy and History (Vol XV, No. 3). Dr Tillett is an expert in a number of fields, including the history of the Theosophical Society (TS), so the article proved to be very interesting. It looks at how, despite Blavatsky’s misgivings and warnings about magic and theurgy, Theosophy went on to influence the course of western magic through the Golden Dawn and later traditions. Much of this is unknown to more recent magical students, which is a bit of a pity.

Now, Dr Tillett has probably forgotten more about the occult and theosophy than I know, and while there is nothing I would disagree with in his article, his analysis incidentally raised a few issues I wish to explore.  He begins rightly with the following statement:

The influence of the Theosophical Society on the development of modern western esotericism can hardly be over-estimated. Directly and indirectly Theosophy served as both a catalyst and a fountain-source for almost all in Western esotericism that followed the publication of the teachings of Helena Petrovna Blavatsky (1831–1891) and the establishment of the Theosophical Society in 1875. (17)

No one can argue with this fact. Mathers, Westcott and other movers and shakers in the Golden Dawn tradition were members of the TS or TS influenced groups. This is not the case for the majority of contemporary GD folk, but the influence our GD spiritual ancestors have on us is huge, and they were pretty much all imbued with Theosophy.


With the ascendency within the TS of the main subject of Tillett’s paper (as well as his doctoral thesis), C.W. Leadbeater, this influence of Theosophy on modern magic increased. Many of the ideas we in the magical and pagan community take for granted had their western genesis or modern modification in the Theosophical or Leadbeater-Theosophical milieux: spiritual evolution through a series of incarnations, karma, astral plane beings and Masters, devas, Atlantis and more.

In fact, from reading and anecdotal evidence, I would say that the vast majority of magical practitioners in the west today – Wiccans, pagans, ritual magicians and others – practice within a mind set and worldview that is heavily Theosophical. We do not notice it, because it seems a natural and easy way to see the world, and more particularly the inner world, but it is there. I mean, we certainly are not practicing within a traditional esoteric Christian framework, which rejects the monism so easily assumed by most modern esoteric folk. We are not practicing within a classic or traditional pagan worldview, which had very little personal deity relationship at all and was responsible for a mindset which happily bred and sacrificed 8 million puppies for Anubis. And we are not thinking and viewing the world like the majority of cunning folk, who held a craft, not a philosophy and whom happily used a mix of pagan remnants and Christian motifs to get the job done, including combating those evil witchy poos.

There are a few dedicated souls and groups reconstructing  genuine Hermetic, Celtic and other non-Christian and pre-Theosophical based worldviews, but they are in the minority. Most of us hold unconscious assumptions about the interior world that, if we follow them closely, lead back to Theosophy. Not that’s there anything wrong with that. (If you want to argue this point, please go ahead, but do me a favour and read Dr Tillett’s thesis on Leadbeater first. It’s all on line and free and all.)  🙂

Theosophical Ritual

So much for the worldview and in some sense the theory of modern magic, but what about the praxis? Did Theosophy and Leadbeater have a great influence on the practice of magic in our traditions? Initially, they certainly drew on the same raw materials – modernity, Hermeticism, Gnosticism, newly translated manuscripts and the western lodge tradition itself. Dr Tillett’s works are very good in tracing and exposing the early Theosophical use of ritual and traditional lodge practices, such as Masonic styled ritual, secrecy and signs, often unknown to modern Theosophists and others. These practices mostly died out early in the history of the TS, and today exist only in vestigial forms, with most non-Masonic Theosophical folk eschewing ritual entirely. But the ceremonial side was there from the beginning.

Later, Leadbeater would create or adapt a whole host of ritual and Masonic based ventures associated with Theosophy and fringe Christianity. Many of these, like the Egyptian Rite – created to be the most powerful occult order in the world – remain unexplored and secret to modern Theosophists and others alike. Again, most modern Theosophists and magicians know little or nothing about these ventures.

Theosophical Magic

Energy connection on Christian Altar

It is clear that Leadbeater believed passionately in the effectiveness of ritual magic, though he mostly avoided that term. Anyone who has taken the time to study his Science of the Sacraments will see what is essentially a ritual magic rationale being used to empower and explain both traditional Christian liturgy and Leadbeater’s own version of Christian ceremonial. A similar approach was used in Leadbeater’s revision of the Co-Masonic ceremonies, much of which remains unpublished.

Leadbeater’s rationale for and ideas about magical ritual are very similar in some ways to those of the Golden Dawn and later traditions. To quote from the article.

Leadbeater, however, went further: he claimed that the rituals themselves brought about (or at least had the potential to bring about) psychic changes in those who underwent them. The rituals stimulated forces on the inner planes and within the participants and invoked the participation of non-human entities.

Ultimately, Leadbeater taught that ritual magic could hasten the process of spiritual evolution in those who participated in it, and through the forces invoked in it positively affect those beyond, even if they had no knowledge or believe in the efficacy of the ritual, and indeed positively benefited the whole world. (31-32)

The same ideas are stated in several core texts of the Golden Dawn, the Inner Light and other modern groups. However, the similarity appears to be confined to the realm of ideas and principles, not the nuts and bolts of magical practice. Both Leadbeater-Theosophy and the Golden Dawn tradition seem to draw from the same source stock of lodge and esoteric ideas, but crucially there seems to something ‘extra’ within the early Golden Dawn, added before Leadbeater was any significant factor in the TS at all.

A classic example of the something extra are the Z Documents. To quote Nick Farrell, who recently published the earliest version of these crucial documents:

Z1, Z2 and Z3 are what made the Golden Dawn magical. Next to the Cypher Manuscript there is not a single bit of writing which is more crucial to an understanding of the Golden Dawn system of magic. (King Over the Water, 206).

These documents are still being explored by contemporary magicians and they are still yielding many treasures. The magical keys explored and outlined in these documents include:

  • Internal transformation by the virtue of magical practice. Though Leadbeater would later re-state this, the GD was one of the very first groups to practice this principle in a coherent and systemised manner.
  • The linking of the magical formulae that underlie group ritual initiations with personal magical and spiritual practice. This is a hallmark of the Golden Dawn and was an amazing innovation.
  • The creation and utilization of Godforms in which the astral or interior presence of temple officers are cloaked. While the general mental level principles of an officer representing a spiritual force or being had been part of the lodge tradition for centuries, the Golden Dawn took the process much further.
  • The use of colour in magic. Before the Golden Dawn colour was already a part of ritual magic, but without the depth and level of sophistication the GD would bring to it, with its Four Colour Scales. This was partly a result of the times: the range of paints and pigments needed for such an elaboration were not easily available before the Victorian era.

Leadbeater’s published works on  ritual magic show none of these keys to any degree. Nor does it seem they were included as part of any secret teachings he may have passed on to selected students. As Tillett first showed in his work, The Elder Brother, Leadbeater’s secret teachings, given to selected young male pupils only, were of a sexual nature. To quote from Tillett’s thesis:

In simple terms, Leadbeater taught that the energy aroused in masturbation can be used as a form of occult power, a great release of energy which can, firstly, elevate the consciousness of the individual to a state of ecstasy, and, secondly, direct a great rush of psychic force towards the Logos for his use in the spiritual development of the world. (p.888)

 Tillett traces Leadbeater’s sexual magic to tantric influences from his time in India and indirect or direct connection with the Ordo Templi Orientis (OTO) via Vyvyan Deacon. Since Leadbeater passed on these teachings to his pupils without the formality of OTO authorisation, it seems to suggest that that he would have done the same with Golden Dawn secrets, the ‘something extra’, if he was in possession of them. It is therefore probably safe to say that the GD did not unduly influence Leadbeater’s ritual magic, and that the two streams developed side by side.

Dion Fortune

Tillett’s article also briefly recounts the Thesophical influence on Dion Fortune:

…her writings on the inner effects of magical ritual can hardly be said to have developed without significant influences from Leadbeater’s work, any more than her attempt at the establishment of something very much resembling a church – the Guild of the Master Jesus and the Church of the Graal –  is unrelated to Leadbeater’s Liberal Catholic Church.  Fortune had been a tentatively enthusiastic Theosophist but the real reasons for her break from Theosophy, other than her desire to establish her own organization and give her own teachings, remain unclear. (44)

Dion Fortune

While this seems opaque and indisputable, I think a couple of points need to be made. Firstly, the motivations behind the creation of the Liberal Catholic Church (LCC) and Fortune and Loveday’s Guild of the Master Jesus seem quite different. In a nutshell, the LCC was created to allow Theosophists to continue to practice their childhood and historical religion without comprising their Theosophical beliefs. Basically, it was a case of having their cake and eating it too. The impetus and support for the Guild of the Master Jesus however, like all things Dion did, stemmed from her allegiance to her inner plane contacts. Further, the work of the Guild (later the Church) was but one part of the integrated threefold way, advocated and practiced by Dion throughout her Occult career. It was not an add-on to bring in a more religious approach and satisfy the emotional need of members for traditions remembered from childhood. (See this post for more on the threefold way).

Even though Dion first came to the mysteries via a Theosophical cafeteria, experienced her initial contacts with Theosophical imagery and obviously was imbued with the ideas of Leadbeater, her actual magic and that of the Inner Light show little influence. As an initiate of the Golden Dawn tradition and a member of two Orders, Dion would presumably have been exposed to the ‘something extra’ that provided the magic. From her own account though, this something extra would have been confined to the documents not the magicians, for she felt the spark had gone out of the GD branch she was initiated into. Her account matches up nicely with the research done by Nick Farrell and presented in his King Over the Water, showing indeed that for a decade or more prior to Dion’s membership, the Mathers were watering down the rituals and selling high degrees for higher fees. Dion was certainly not given oral instructions on practical magic to any depth, leading to her famous criticism of the consecration method for the Lotus Wand, as I recount and explore in this post.

Instead Dion developed her own methods of magic, being instructed and trained by her Masters year after year. While many of these drew on and belonged to the lodge and ritual magic traditions of the past, many were also innovations. She tended to present these innovations through her fiction. Her novels the Winged Bull, Sea Priestess and Moon Magic contain a number of these potent magical formulae and methods that owe little to the Golden Dawn and less to Theosophy. Her later projects, such as ‘the Arthurian Formula’, shows she continued this innovative approach until her premature death in 1946.


Wiccan Initiation

So the Leadbeater-Theosophical influence on two major streams of modern magical practice seem very little. What about the source of most of modern magic, Neo-Pagan Witchcraft or Wicca? Here the influence is clear, though I would argue only partial. Though most Wiccans and pagans reproduce and accept much ingrained Theosophical concepts, their magic I feel is quite different. Aside from the practical magic techniques, originally encapsulated by Gerald Gardner in his Eight Ways of Making Magic, Wiccan transformative magic centres on the initiations, the religious-spiritual transformation brought about via Drawing Down the Moon and psychic linking to the inherent transformation of the Eight Sabbats.

Regarding the ceremonial initiations, Tillett correctly points out that the Gardernian rites were influenced by his exposure to Theosophical Co-Masonry and Rosicrucianism:

The Wiccan rituals contain elements that seem to be influenced by traditional craft Freema- sonry, but also elements that are not found in that form but are unique to the rituals of Co- Masonry as revised by Leadbeater. (36)

Gardner’s use of sex and sexuality within these initiations however is quite different to the approach of Leadbeater, being one of sacramental worship not the generation of power to accomplish spiritual aims and development. Moreover, the initiations are only one aspect of the transformative path in Wicca; the Drawing Down of the Moon and the Eight Sabbat system show little or no sign of Leadbeater’s influence. Thus we have a definite, though by no means major influence.

Sources of Magic

We can see then that Golden Dawn, Inner Light and Wiccan magical practices have little influence from Theosophy and Leadbeater. They contain crucial elements which are not readily found in the historical forms of ritual and lodge magic Leadbeater had access to and which he developed according to his own peculiar wishes. This is why they stand out from Leadbeater and other forms of magic. Where then do they arise, what is their source?

Doreen Valiente

Some of these are clear. There is no doubt that the majority of the Inner Light tradition stems from Dion Fortune’s relationship with her interior Masters. Much of Wiccan magic can be traced, but some aspects simply cannot. While there is little indication that Gerald Gardner was in touch with inner plane contacts, the other creator of Wicca, Doreen Valiente certainly was for a time, as she recounts in The Rebirth of Witchcraft.

As for the Golden Dawn, the need to create a charter based legitimacy back to a prior physical Rosicrucian Order seems to have muddied the waters a bit. Mathers and Westcott’s descriptions of the sources of the GD are ambiguous enough for modern folk to believe whatever they want to foist onto them, from physical Secret Chiefs to schizophrenic delusion. Sources of the tradition aside however, it is clear where the all important Z Documents came from – the inner realms. As Nick Farrell puts it, “Mathers got the Z Documents from [the Angel] Raphael”.

So we are left with the realisation that in some ways, the main progenitors of modern magic and the Theosophical patriarch C.W. Leadbeater have something in common: all relied upon and gained much from discourse with invisible forces and beings. A major difference though, I feel can be found in their approach. Leadbeater’s vision and interaction with the inner world was obviously corrupted by his own unconscious. This was examined by another Theosophist, E.L. Gardner and summarised in Tillett’s thesis:

Gardner’s basic thesis is this:  Leadbeater unconsciously created an entire, artificial system, based upon his own strongly held views, and, again unconsciously, used his occult power to visualize this system into a state where it had the appearance of reality, and appeared as an objective reality to him when he viewed it clairvoyantly. (p.890)

I would argue Dion’s interaction, though far from perfect, was not so corrupted, for the simple reason that even after 20 or more years of interaction with the inner planes she was known to at least once consult an outside medium to ensure she was not deluding herself. She questioned her material constantly, whereas Leadbeater was 100 per cent sure of himself and his visions. He even cheerfully declared he had got Christ’s own personal imprimatur for the liturgy of the Liberal Catholic Church without so much as batting an Episcopal eye-lid. From such surety delusion ensues.

So when it comes right down to it, Theosophy, particularly C.W. Leadbeater’s version of Theosophy, still has a major influence over the general tenor and worldview of modern magic, but much less so on its practical methods. This may be seen as exposing a discrepancy and mismatch between the theory and praxis of magic, a criticism often directed at modern magical groups, one which I must say most magicians happily ignore. It is after all an orthopraxy based tradition, which emphasis goes some way to explain the continued and hidden Theosophical influence.

Leadbeater Today

Church of St John the Divine, Perth

Leadbeater himself continues to be treated by some as a saint and others as a pederastic child abuser full of self delusion. Either way, his memory continues on. I live in Perth, Western Australia, where he died in 1934 and where a portion of his ashes remain, behind a wall plaque in the Liberal Catholic Church of St John the Divine. Many in the  local Theosophical community continue to revere him. At my first Co-Masonic meeting I was ushered in to meet a charming elderly woman based on the sole qualification that she remembered Leadbeater from her childhood.

Many Theosophical folk in Perth simply refuse to accept the evidence presented by Tillett and others of Leadbeater’s sexual activities with young boys at all. Years back when required to complete an assignment for library school I choose the Perth Theosophical Library. Nearing completion of my interview with the Lodge President she seemed to insist I switch topics from the Dewey Decimal Classification to something more esoteric. So I mentioned I had just finished Tillett’s biography, whereupon I was subjected to a tirade of venom and abuse about Dr Tillett, most of which was certainly un-Theosophical and definitely unladylike. So ol’ Bishop Leadbeater still arouses strong feelings and his presence remains very real for some. However, despite worshipping many times seated next to his ashes, I cannot say I have personally felt it.

The personal and transpersonal in Golden Dawn magic

Recently Abhainn Rivers blogged about his responses to a discussion between myself and Dean Wilson on Dean’s blog, Mishkan ha-Echad. The discussion was sparked from my notes in By Names and Images on practical, or low magic – magic designed to cause changes in the physical ‘out there’ universe rather than the interior sphere of the magician. I’ve discussed this before and though I would probably re-state things today, this post still gives a good overview of my thought.

I am interested today in the broader concepts alluded to in this discussion – the concept of self – who we are, and what makes us who we are. Now, magic was traditionally taught only within the Inner Order of the Golden Dawn. There are many very good reasons for this besides the rather vacuous ‘magic is dangerous’ warning and assumption that the morals of those in the Inner Order are more developed than those in the Outer. A key reason for this structure, I believe, is that by then, especially after the experience of the Adept Grade, the magician has a different, a more expanded, more accurate understanding of themselves.

As has been noted before, the aim of magic is to become more who we are, more ourselves. Yet paradoxically this ‘self’ we find, this intensity of personality, this presence and realness of existence is, at the same time, known and realised to be interdependent and non-existent in essence. We discover ourselves, and lose ourselves at the same time. This is one of the deep mysteries of the Rosicrucian inspired Adeptus Minor grade. True adepts, like my Tibetan Tantra teachers, are some of the most intense and real people I know, having tremendous presence and power. Yet, like their Buddhist counterparts who insist the self is not real on its own side, these adepts are also humble, conscious and aware of the universe that supports their being. Their personal is wedded to the transpersonal.

When the adept initiatory process goes wrong, for whatever reason, the finding and forming of the self is distorted and disturbed. The personal finds and knows itself only through the personal realms, being unable to surrender and wed itself to the transpersonal. This would be fine and not too problematic on its own, as there are plenty of people who are self-focused out there. However, as part of the training and initiatory gifts of our traditions, the personal ego of the magician also becomes connected to the intense inner forces and currents the tradition provides.

The personal ego alone, unwed to the transpersonal, was never meant to be the focus or conduit of these forces, and hence enlarges and dysfunction results. While this is not the place to discuss the various forms this dysfunction can take, a typical result is where the ego seeks to source its power and validation from the personal level, not the transpersonal. Hence the magician seeks energy and validation from the lower levels, from outer praise for their personal achievements, ‘spirituality’, prowess and skill. The results can be seen in any of the self focused leaders around today.  Typically these folk are focused on what makes them (and by extension their groups) wonderful, unique, powerful, true etc. Naturally the whole plethora of outer symbols, grades and titles are used by these folk in an effort to give more self-focused ego feedback

Since my primary tradition has always been the GD / RR et AC, I think I my concern with practical magic is that a focus on personal (lovers, money etc) and non-personal (family friends etc) concerns may hinder the development of the transpersonal, which is the aim of the whole biz as far as I am concerned. As I said in my post referred to above:

In my experience the best and most successful forms of practical magic are those performed collectively for altruistic purposes and which work in alliance with spiritual beings under the presidency of the higher powers. These are keys elements: a collegiate experience to go beyond the self; altruistic and transpersonal intentions; working in harmony with beings in the other realms where we at best can but blunder around, and; an attitude of surrender to the One.

Now, I am not saying it is ‘wrong’ to be self-focused or that it is not spiritual, since as we have seen the personal and transpersonal ultimately should wed. I am just wondering if personal and even non-personal (family, friends etc) focused work partakes of a different mystery to that of the traditional RR et AC approach, which is transpersonal focused.

The majority of practical magic in the west is surely practiced by Wiccan or Wiccan inspired systems, most of which acknowledge and work the ‘path of the Hearth Fire’ as it is poetically called, the path of daily life lived spiritually. This term, I believe, stems from the work of Dion Fortune, who extended, went sideways and introduced a lot more into the magic she learnt from the Golden Dawn. Describing this path, she writes:

…as true a way of initiation as any of the disciplines imposed by the occult fraternities.

However, she also very clearly describes the importance of the transpersonal within this path, as much as the initiatory occult path. The personal work, focus and action must be directed towards the non-personal and thereby, with the right intention and inner direction, moved also towards the transpersonal.

If we rule our homes in a spirit of selfless love and serenity of heart, asking no return, but doing our duty for the sake of the need of those to whom we minister [non-personal], our house will be a true Temple of the Hearth-Fire in which we can receive our initiation [transpersonal].

…let us, in imagination, always put a chair at the fireside and lay a place at table for the Unseen Guest, and live our life and do our work in the light of that Invisible Presence [transpersonal]. (Training and Work of the Initiate, chapter four).

Any concerns I have with practical magic therefore seem to stem from how some people use their spiritual arts for personal or non-personal (family, friends) concerns without the development of the transpersonal. I have seen this happen on a regular basis. Now, as I have said, this may be a different mystery and approach to the RR et AC – not that there’s anything wrong with that. I just wonder if this approach has just sort off slipped into the Golden Dawn since its public expansion with personal and non-personal magic being practiced in the Outer Order. I also wonder how this affects the GD and those who practice magic in this way when they enter the transpersonal focused Inner Order. I use the word ‘wonder’ here specifically – I have no definitive answers and make no moral judgements. Responses appreciated 🙂

Practical or Low Magic

Sometimes I am so in love with universe I want to hug it. Not having arms that wide I tend to go for those close by me; my son, M, my toy rabbit Pooyan. This morning was like this. Driving to work while listening to a Bach Cantata was lovely and I was contemplating two things: this post on practical magic and my sadness that no one had responded to what I thought was a great post on Christianity, Magic and Politics. I get to work start jotting this post during my breaks, and lo and behold – a reply to the post by Stavros whose own post on the use of astrology for “political magic” (my description) is very interesting.

Speaking of doing “good works” – tomorrow my hair is shaved to raise money for the Leukaemia Foundation. You really need to sponsor me! RIGHT NOW – CLICK HERE.

Recently I have received a few requests from students, correspondents and former students on the art of ‘Practical’ or ‘Low Magic’. This is magic designed to create changes in our personal lives, to bring us better jobs, new lovers and so forth. Now, depending on my mood, the grade and mental state of the student, I can be quite curt in my reply. As I wrote in the much delayed By Names and Images, “If you are seeking instruction in this type of magic, stop reading now, as you will not find it here”. Sometimes I can even be quite rude as the Golden Dawn quite clearly views magic as a process of linking with the Divine and the natural forces of the universe. There are very few indications in the GD texts that suggest this wonderful tradition may be utilised to for practical magic or sorcery.

However, magic is one of those unfortunate words that have a number of different meanings and which elicit even more reactions when spoken about. Sadly there is no denying that both today and historically practical magic is often linked to the traditions of spiritual magic. I just wish it and other aspects of internal life, like “psychic abilities” weren’t. But they are, so there we go.

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.

This is not to deny the real hardships, financial and personal difficulties we may find ourselves in. For example, poverty, even in Western countries, creates many social and personal problems. These are real, depressing and damaging. However, to reproduce from the sidebar the comments by a living elder of western magic, Gareth Knight:

For most of us however, we only think seriously of food or sex or money when it becomes a problem, which is to say when we feel we are not getting our share.  When we find ourselves in that situation then I regret to say that meditational visualisations are really not the best way to remedy the lack.  This is simply a way of trying to avoid rendering to Caesar the thing that are Caesars.  We are here in a physical condition in a physical world and while in that state we have to abide by the laws appropriate to it.

wicca2Magic is simply not the best way of solving or even helping to solve financial, sexual, vocational, familial or other personal problems. In the modern western world the community practicing practical  magic the most has to be the Wiccans. Now from personal and anecdotal experience over 25 years and in every survey I’ve ever read, there is nothing to suggest the Wiccans are better off than the rest of us. They are not richer or smarter. They suffer the same vicissitudes in love, health and work and are just as likely to have addicts and dysfunctional folk in their community as in any community. The richest Wiccan I know has made his money from sharp and aggressive real estate purchases, not from spells. Of course there is an argument that most Wiccans, despite their cones of power and sex magic are simply devoid of the solid magical skills which we of the GD persuasion have 🙂 However, despite there being less data for the GD community there is nothing to suggest that we are better off either!

I am not saying that practical magic cannot work. I think it can, under certain circumstances. It is however, far, far more difficult than most people think. Tanya Lurhmann in her Persuasions of the Witch’s Craft describes how magical folk alter their own internal reality to make it seem like their magic has worked. This is something I have observed time and time again in the Wiccan and magic-Gnostic communities (since the only GD folk I mix with don’t do practical magic, I haven’t seen it there).

Basically, it is easier to accept our fate and alleviate our problems via material means than magic. We can go on Seek or a dating/casual sex site, attend family therapy or get some emergency financial assistance from an aid agency. We can do something real, earthed and solid.

Also to be considered are the dangers of practical magic. While many practical magic techniques are not in themselves more dangerous than those of spiritual magic, their practice lacks a crucial element always present in spiritual magic – altruism. As soon as we engage in magic for ourselves we are no longer activating the transpersonal, higher aspects of our beings. Our personal desires and wants, even if temporarily let go off for the performance of the ritual, ensures that our consciousness is not fully motivated and infused by the not-self. This means we are engaging in the astral realm without the protection our higher motivations provides us. While nothing dramatic may occur, over time repeated  self-focused practices will hinder our spiritual unfoldment and development.

In addition there are problems of technique that can be dangerous. As an example, Nick Farrell, who is very sensible and adept in the GD, recounts on a recent post how basically there are no listed angels in the western tradition that can ‘assist’ in money magic. One has to resort to the assistance of a demon. I never knew this. Now different people have different views of demons but even if we see them only as personifications of repressed areas of the psyche, there is no denying they are linked to a cultural egregore that is very unpleasant. The adept may have no problem with this but the novice or journeyman may and could come out worse for the wear.

In my experience the best and most successful forms of practical magic are those performed collectively for altruistic purposes and which work in alliance with spiritual beings under the presidency of the higher powers. These are keys elements: a collegiate experience to go beyond the self; altruistic and transpersonal intentions; working in harmony with beings in the other realms where we at best can but blunder around, and; an attitude of surrender to the One. Even then, depending on the action we often fail in achieving the desired and stated outcome. There is no doubt however that we, the magicians, are changed and transformed. Also the positive ‘energy’ is never lost, the altruism, which is a form of love continues on long after the ritual finishes. Examples of these forms of rituals are sadly lacking in the Golden Dawn and western magical circles, though I have posted one of them here. In this sphere the Pagans out do us so well as the work of the Blessed Starhawk and the Reclaiming Collective show (I’ve blogged about her too).

Finally though, I would be burying my head in the sand if I ignored the fact that there exist many competent writers and teachers who present Golden Dawn derived rituals and techniques as tools for bettering our personal and material lives.  Israel Regardie detailed one such approach in his Art of True Healing essay and recounts how he used such magic to ‘set himself up’ financially upon his retirement. I guess each of us must decide for ourselves on the validity or otherwise of attempts to magically improve our lot in life.

Nine Dangers of the Golden Dawn

This is a long post, so groan or smile, dependent on your point of view:)

The Golden Dawn and the RR et AC are wonderful traditions and many thousands of people owe them a great deal for their spiritual and magical fulfilment, including thousands (like many Pagans) who may not even know it. However, they are dangerous and I think it is important to be honest about this, especially as the traditions shows no signs of decreasing in ‘popularity’. While many of the dangers outlined below also apply to other magical paths, some are particularly germane to the Golden Dawn (by which I include, as per common usage, the RR et AC also). Most of these stem from the transition of the GD from a fraternal tradition to largely a solo based tradition. More on that in a later post:)

Danger One, the self changing the self: In magic, like Tantra, the tool we use to change our self is our self. We form a new being out of the old being via changes within the being itself. While we, our regular lower self, may be directed by ‘the Higher’, this occurs to large degree only in the advanced magician, and in any case requires lower self actions and choices. We alone are the artist (directed by a Master hopefully), the canvas and the paints by which a new painting is created.

Any mistakes we make in this venture can have catastrophic results – after all it is not like we can simply go out and buy a new canvas, like we can with physical paintings. We have to live, forever with the successes and failures of self transformation. Now if that doesn’t scare you, it should as we all make mistakes. It is part of being human and imperfect, even if directed by the trans-human perfection of the HDG.

Two approaches minimise these dangers: one is to practice a tradition where the process of transformation is laid out, clear and guided by elders and perfected beings (Masters), and the other is to surrender to God, being obedient to His wishes for the world. I am using traditional language here as New Age equivalency can often lead to wishy-washy thinking, where ‘surrender to God’ means doing what the “inner” or even “the child” self wants.

Danger Two, ego inflation: Magic, particularly the Golden Dawn tradition can easily promote the inflation of the ego, the small ‘I’ that believes it is the centre and author of the universe. Evidence of this can be found in any Golden Dawn community across the planet, and I imagine it would not take us long to think about someone we know. I am thinking of ‘Baron von Elmann’, the gentlemen whose letter I reproduced a few posts back. Now it is easy to say such people are rare, but they are within our midst. And by and large they are not easily healed away from their ego mania and will damage and distort a number of sincere students before they collapse under their own weight like a neutron star.

The Golden Dawn community, not being centralised, is largely impotent when it comes to countering these people. The Good ‘Baron’ went on to claim the 7=4 status before succumbing to a nervous breakdown – following death threats from an irate street kid who was annoyed at the Baron’s attempts to penetrate his (underage) girlfriend in a magical ritual. Fortunately (for us) after his recovery he left high magic alone and now only infects the Wiccan community.

Ego distortions in the Golden Dawn occur not only because of outward things, like the titles and grades, but also inner difficulties. These mainly centre on the incredible potency and strength of the magic of the Golden Dawn being used at incorrect times. Though this is often said, I sometimes think most people somehow do not think it applies to them personally:

The Golden Dawn is NOT a magical tradition.

Magic was only practiced in the Inner Order, the RR et AC, after the student had completed seven initiations, much preparation and been linked to currents of transformation, the Rosicrucian tradition and their own Genius. If we practice magic too early in our spiritual development, distortion can easily occur.

Danger Three, the temptation of practical magic: While the Golden Dawn is not specifically an operational tradition of magic, designed to transform the world around us to what we need or desire, it does have elements of operational magic within it. This is evident in the Z Documents and elsewhere. The dangers or merits of using magic for practical, operational ends have been discussed by smarter people than me over the years, so I would like to focus on just one point. We are all human, all the Perfected One living as unperfected beings with normal human frailties and emotions. If we are accustomed to using magic to gain jobs, sell our houses etc, when we are hurt, abused or attacked (as we will be, in life) our natural feelings for revenge and anger can easily be channelled, without us knowing it, down inner pathways created by our magic.

If I used practical magic constantly and then my son was molested or damaged, my natural feelings for revenge now have – even if only in my subconscious which, after years of practice, knows magic works – a channel. If I never used magic, there is much less chance the feelings would be channelled. And even on a conscious level, we are all tempted…

Danger Four, missing pieces: The magic of the RR et AC has really only been partly revealed, despite the intense efforts of Israel Regardie, Pat Zalewski and a few others. The inner workings and much which make it work are still not “out there”. Therefore many people are “filling in the gaps”, for themselves, which is laudable in motive, though not necessarily in application. Without a strong connection to the RR et AC currents and Masters, much of what people use to fill in the gaps, is coming from their own inner beings. Some of this may be useful, but much – and again, the evidence is all around you – is like using play-dough between the bricks of the new self instead of cement: at the first strong winter storm of change and trouble, the walls start tumbling down.

Danger Five, astral corruption: This is related to the gap filling and practicing magic too early. The RR et AC relies, for most of us, on contacts to inner plane beings, whether they are perceived as discreet entities or not. Forced contact with these currents and beings however, is not wise as we may easily have an impure or incorrect connection. There is more than one GD magician and more than one Order Egregore that is infected with demonic powers and currents. This is a reality. Rather than attempted conscious connection, as a group or an individual, it is far better to do all the preparatory work slowly and completely, and allow the contacts to emerge when they wish in your meditations and practices.

Danger Six, those around us: This is easily avoided if we’re careful, but it is a danger nevertheless. Basically the Golden Dawn community is full of nutters and people who you’d cross the road to avoid. Some are simply ‘weird’ and not our cups of tea. Others though will drag you, if you let them, into dark and dangerous places spiritually. A few are obsessed with demonic forces, and the occasional one engaged in negative magic or criminal practices.

Danger Seven, established magic: I’ve posted on this before – the Golden Dawn, as the Elder Brother of magical traditions can be chosen and adhered to in a most unthinking way by novices. If that happens, if our spiritual development is part of a trend or is constrained by the easy choice or by dogma, we might as well use our wand to stir paint and give our robes to the dog in winter. We will not transform at all. The Golden Dawn must only become “our” spiritual tradition through a marriage, where we love it and are transformed by it and serve its ends and purposes as much as it serves our own, just we do with our flesh and blood spouses.

Danger Eight, damage from incorrect magic: Some specific GD and RR et AC practices, particularly the initiations bring immense benefit and growth to those on the receiving end. If they are conducted properly. If they are performed incompletely or improperly, immense harm can occur. Again this is a reality, as solid and as real as the screen you are now looking at. It is not subjective, but objective. Initiation is like a medical operation – if part of the procedure goes wrong, the patient can be seriously damaged.

Sadly, with the increase of non-fraternal initiations and groups without lineage or proper training, these incidents are happening more and more. Pat Zalewski, somewhere in some book (it’s too early to look) gives an example where an incorrectly performed Eucharist in the Neophyte initiation caused a serious kidney problem in the initiate. Much of the damage however, is not physical and may not be picked up straightway – especially since the initiator, despite good intentions, obviously is not fully conversant with all the intricacies of initiation. Some damage can distort the initiate’s spiritual progress for many years to come.

An example from my own experience will help make this clear. A few years back I was asked to train a Gnostic based (well…no, that discredit the Gnostics, they just used that term) group in the Golden Dawn initiations, which they had used for many years previously.  The members were all Masons and several belonged to the SRIA and had previously belonged to a GD Order in the 80s.

As part of my training I ran through the tremendously significant part of the Neophyte initiation where, before the Oath, the Hierophant leaves her throne and treads down the Evil Triad/Persona of the candidate. During my description I mentioned the use of the Elder Horus Godform and it became clear that the Hierophant had, for many years, never used the Godform – he simply “forgot” and never relooked at the Z Documents. He had, from his own will, attempted to tread down the Evil Persona of the candidates. Naturally, this would have been a hit-or-miss affair, as it is the Gods that achieve this work, not we. So every initiate under him had been incorrectly initiated. Their Evil Personas would have been “initiated” as well, and would be strengthened by the ceremony. As I realised this, I looked around at his initiates and understood why they all were complaining about not making “progress” after many years (one of the reasons I was invited in to teach).

Now this is a simple example from the published Z Documents for the Neophyte initiation. There are more complex and more intricate inner workings within the other Outer Order ceremonies (not to mention those of the RR et AC), where the initiate is directly operated upon. If these are omitted or stuffed up in some way, the initiate is going to be damaged. There is no doubt about it. It is for this reason every initiator and every initiating team has to receive the highest, most stringent level of training. And it is beholden on the initiator to be sure they are up to the job, on all levels of their being, even if it means candidates have to wait. Of course, it also means we have to be very careful choosing our initiator – there is a lot at stake here.

Danger Nine, it feels likes it’s working: I’ve blogged on this before, but will cut and paste it here, as it is the most dangerous aspect of the Golden Dawn, and of all magical systems. I hope I get the idea across OK.

All esoteric paths and systems are worthless in themselves, the GD included. They can only point us to the One, and at worse they lock us, often unconsciously into a system of practice that feels good but ultimately produces no transformation. Most esoteric paths, the GD included, are predicated on a two value premise and a ‘promise’ to move between the two: ourselves now, ourselves later (enlightened, transformed, healed, more in tune etc.) and the practices/initiations 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 the spiritual practice 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.

Any tradition that has a well developed ‘path’ between the two ‘I’s will naturally draw people, as we all like to see how we get from ‘here’ to ‘there’. The Golden Dawn thus is very attractive with its clearly mapped out path of transformation and rituals/practices at each stage of the way. Ultimately of course, most GD people (like most esoteric students) don’t really transform in any deep way at all – as amply demonstrated by the lives of both historical and contemporary GD magicians.

It is this comprehensive curriculum approach of the Golden Dawn that seems to lure esoteric students today: ‘by doing this, then this, with these initiations, I will develop the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel’. I’ve met people like this, both within and outside the Golden Dawn, and generally they are either very nice but ineffectual with their shadows oozing out in almost visible appearance, or very arrogant and lacking the basic compassion and humility that are signposts of spiritual presence.

What makes an esoteric path effective, what makes it actually able to lead us to the One is death. The ‘I’ now cannot become the ‘I’ we desire, so we must die. Effective esoteric paths shake us all the time; they invite us to die continually and completely. It is up us to choose death or not. The worry I have is that even the ‘death and rebirth’ instigated by the highly developed Golden Dawn initiations, like the Adeptus Minor, is becoming part and parcel of the intellectual and lower self framework of magicians. If this happens, then death becomes just another magical experience and therefore we block to death as it truly is.