The Broken Triangle – modern magic’s approach to religion.

This post has been brewing for some time, on and off in the back of my mind. Nick Farrell’s recent post, The Hegemon’s wand and religion became a catalyst of sorts. So when I respond to Nick’s article it is really a response to much of the modern magical approach to religion. Nick introduced his post on Facebook as ‘one to argue’ about, but I doubt many magicians will find cause to dissent as he wonderfully presents the modern magical approach to religion.

There is however another way, which may be called the religious approach to magic 🙂 So Nick and I are kinda approaching the same elephant from two different ends – I will leave it to the reader to decide which end 🙂

Here I can only really talk about the two religions I know not just know of, Anglo-Catholicism and Tibetan Buddhism. I expect it’s the same for the rest, but I have not lived those, so cannot say for sure. It is also quite a minefield when one starts using traditional Christian concepts and terminology. Folk can easily think I am espousing some religious dogma, or judging or wot not. Of course I am not. Even if I had the time and temperament for such things, which I do not, it is impossible for me (or any human) to judge another’s relationship with the Mystery.

Hegemon's SceptreHowever, I am concerned to point out the modern magical approach and view of religion is not the end of the story and may not present the religious view accurately. I also contend that when the authors of the Golden Dawn Cipher Manuscripts describe the function of the office and ensign of the Hegemon as a “Mitre Headed Sceptre = Religion to Guide and Regulate Life” they were referring to religion that included, you know, religion with pews and sacraments and such. We will see why as we go on.

Throughout Nick’s blog and most of modern magic it is quite clear that the central actant, the key area of concern is the magician. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. From the magical point of view. A magician must “believe in something much bigger than themselves” says Nick. This is the starting point of religion. The reason for this insistence however is clear: it is part of the magic. It serves a function. It stops narcissism and megalomania. It provides moral codes. These are wonderful motivations for religion for sure, but it seems it is still about the magician.

One thing I have noticed since adopting a pagan approach to religion is that I have ended up following a daily pattern of work which is JUST religious. I light candles to different gods and an [sic] invoke them. The purpose of this is not magical, as such. It is using a regular rite to connect to the Gods so that when I do need to invoke them, they are not strangers. They know I respect them because every week I have done a little ritual doing just that. It is not worship, really, but it is religion.” (Emphasis mine).

Nick’s point here is certainly more sophisticated than that of Pagans using various Gods from various cultures in spells, after looking them up in a Llewellyn book, – he knows a relationship has to be formed with these deities first. So, yes, def no worship involved in this, the relationship is positioned as subordinate to the magic. And there is nothing wrong with this, from the magical viewpoint. And of course similar magical views of religion and religious figures are expressed by others in the magical and Pagan community. This from Pat Zalewski, whom I admire very much:

Whatever one has to say about Christ, all will agree that His Name evokes a powerful current or force that fills us with the receptive principle, something akin to the Yin of Chinese metaphysics. This principle of receptivity is one that is needed, for when we invoke it, we pave the way for other forces, fused together, to enter our sphere of sensation. The Christ-like energy will then pacify and control it, so that it conforms to our will and can be directed for many different uses. (Secret Inner Order Rituals of the Golden Dawn, emphasis mine).

Others hold similar magical views of religion and Christianity. Golden Dawn adept Aaron Leitch runs a magical curio shop, Doc Solomon’s Occult Curios, where he sells consecrated items for use in traditional Grimiore magic among other things, like Holy Water. He has Holy Orders stemming from one of the Episcopi Vagantes at the turn of the 20th century. He has discussed on Facebook how one may easily perform the Eucharist at home, on one’s own, but a host consecrated by an ordained priest will hold ‘more power’. Such things make sense from a magical view of religion and Christianity, but from a traditional Christian view they make no sense at all.

From any orthodox view Sacraments are not subject to differing ‘power levels’ but are mysteries instituted and performed by Christ. End of. In the Anglican Communion (and I assume Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism?) the Eucharist cannot be performed by the priest alone: it is a corporate action, not a solo venture.

RR et AC EmblemThese views are strikingly different. I cannot, and am not, saying one is ‘right’ and the other ‘wrong’ in an act of universal judgement. But I do maintain magicians do religion, particularly Christianity, and themselves a disservice when they conflate magical dynamics and worldviews with sacramental and other areas of Christian theology.

Nick’s take on this seems to be: “What each magician does is that they reform their religion until it fits better with the image of god they are working with.” Again, this makes sense from a magical approach, but is contrary to the religious.

One of the key points of religion is conscious and willed surrender of one’s personal concerns, personal images, and personal aesthetics into something greater and more sustaining. Religion is definitely not concerned with reformation from each individual but the reformation of each individual. Folk here may be thinking of religion’s bogeyman status of enforcing strange doctrines and impossible beliefs before breakfast and twice on Sundays. However it is very possible to remain an orthodox Christian and a magician (and it is, imposing western terms, certainly common in Tibetan Buddhism).

It still has not quite entered the discourse of modern magic that not too long ago many, if not most, magicians were regular religious folk. Just as most people in society were. Tony Fuller’s excellent thesis Anglo-Catholic Clergy and the Golden Dawn clearly shows this and also the extent of the crossover of Anglican priests and Bishops within the GD. Since the so called occult revival of the 1970s this has largely been forgotten or unknown. Most magicians since then do not belong to a formalised outer religion. However there remain Christian magicians, members of churches, and some publicly so, like Gareth Knight.

But we are not here to argue for orthodoxy rather to present a key concern in modern magic’s approach to religion, something seldom discussed and focused upon, and that is: religion is not primarily concerned with the individual person at all. Unlike magic. In every service, the Great Commandments:

Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

The Divine and the other. We as individuals are not the prime concern. This is crucial and the practice of religion in this manner is an essential part of the traditional esoteric life, as MOTO has argued for ages and which is neatly summed up by New York theologian Nicholas Laccetti on his wonderful blog, ‘The Light Invisible’. He does this so well, I will quote him again:

…something is certainly lost by the disconnect between esoteric movements and the mainstream churches — for esotericists, the accumulated wisdom and logistical capacities of the churches; for mainstream religionists, the esoteric side of their own religious traditions.

It is why in the anonymous author of the Cloud of Unknowing, a key medieval mystical text, describes an integrated and real-world mystical practice that starts with and continues to include ‘good and honest bodily works of mercy and of charity.’ This is central to Tibetan Buddhism, no matter what advanced empowerments one has undertaken or what status one has reached. This is one of the great gifts of the churches: they provide and integrated avenue for this aspect of the spiritual life, something lacking in many magical groups and magicians. And it is for this reason I believe this is the type of ‘religion’ the Hegemon’s sceptre refers to, something not concerned with the self at all.

Conceptually we can assign the concerns of magic, religion and spiritually to three broad arenas. I first conceptualised these as a Starhawk-struck teenage witch, and only later found Christianity and other religion had worked it all out millennia beforehand. We may label these, as that bodacious Franciscan Richard Rohr does, as:

  • Transpersonal (I first labelled this as ‘mystical’ back when I was 19 and not understanding mysticism involved the whole three)
  • Personal (got this one right)
  • Impersonal (as a young activist, I first labelled this as ‘political’ but that limits things)

We can of course relate this to the Trinity but ever mindful that the Trinity is three separate but mutually interdependent and dynamic Persons, not three faces of a single God, symbolised perhaps by three angles of the triangle or one person being a mother, daughter and wife. This is modalism and is generally considered bad form in Trinitarian discussions (though I have often seen priests slip into it). To express the Trinity we need other diagrams, the traditional Shield and one I prepared earlier 🙂

558px-Shield-Trinity-Scutum-Fidei-compact.svg

Shin as Shield of Trinity

Ideally one’s spiritual life and ‘path’ would have all three modes integrated within it. But that does not always happen. As Tony Fuller posits in his thesis it appears certain Anglican clergymen, following on from the Oxford Movement, entered the Golden Dawn to enhance their access to the transpersonal aspects via magic and other processes. The exoteric religion they practiced and taught had plenty of scope for the personal and the impersonal (Anglicanism was a large influence on the creation of the British welfare state). After a long period where ritual celebration was legally denuded and mysticism virtually abandoned and with a new appreciation of a wide variety of ancient approaches, it seems many of these clergymen saw the GD as an expression of the same perennial tradition of mystery embodied in the Church. And so they set to becoming magicians as well as priests 🙂

On the magical front, if we look at Nick’s blog and pretty much any modern magical book we will see the transpersonal and the personal are included and explored very well. Magicians are concerned about their lives and material expression (personal) and their connection with the transpersonal divinity. However bugger all is expressed concerning the impersonal, the non-personal, where we give out to others without thought or concern or expectation. The triangle is thus broken and incomplete.

triangle personal etc

Religion can teach us to do repair the triangle. Indeed as corporate worship, and now in the west as intentional community, this is one of the key roles of religion. This is also the symbol of the Hegemon’s sceptre, and is why it has the Calvary cross upon it. This cross is the prime symbol of how the transpersonal (‘God) and the personal (nothing more personal than getting nailed up) interact mystically to produce the impersonal.

In Christian terms this expression of the impersonal dimension is often referred to as the working through of the Holy Spirit. She guides and teaches us to love those we do not personally know (and may not actually ‘like’) but NOT from a mystical, transpersonal, ‘everyone is holy – Namaste’, place, but from a lived and grounded action. I think that’s pretty cool 🙂

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Discrimination and teachers in magic

Modern magical training at the apprentice level often includes the need for discrimination and discernment – the virtue of the basal Sephira, Malkuth, on the Tree of Life. I’ve discussed this previously a little in this post.

We are told Neophytes must develop the ability to be able to discern all sorts of things: authentic teachers vs nutters, healthy or unhealthy groups, good material or bad etc. This seems all well and good. But consider the following online response to a video I had linked to. The respondent wrote:

…it made good sense to me – but I still need to work out if that’s because it conforms to my beliefs or because it is true.

And here we hit a snag. Since our perception of truth is just that, perception, how can we be sure are not simply viewing something as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ because it confirms our own preconceptions? Even if there is an outside, immutable truth, as the esoteric traditions assert, it is always (at the apprentice level) filtered through our own personality consciousness. A conundrum indeed 🙂

What I like about the response above is the surrender of the ego, the acceptance by the respondent that she could be wrong – even though it feels right. I am probably losing what few New Age readers I have right now – but let’s press on!

This willingness to dethrone the ego is a mirror, a microcosm of the entire process of spiritual unfoldment. To have such an awareness at the apprentice level then sets up the whole process of spiritual unfolding. Just as the first layer of oranges in a box determines the rest of the layers, how we are as magical apprentices determines the rest of our unfoldment and magic.

This ties in with one of the functions of the traditional magical apprentice vow concerning the hidden knowledge: I desire to know in order to serve. Now the idea of selfless motivation for magic is quite rightly criticised by some wise folk in the magical community – I’ve just read an excellent commentary on this theme and power by one of the senior GD folk around.

If we are serving others, we are consciously moving outside our ego boundary. This changes and effects us, helping us drop and destroy the facade of false identities we run around with – unless we use service as another false identity! And, like so many Neophyte processes, this can be referred back to the symbol of the point in the circle – our locus of interest moving from the centre to the periphery. So the actual function of the oath to serve is a potent magical tool, and in effect mirrors the apprentice stage, in GD terms Neophyte to Philosophus.

This apprentice stage task, to let go of who we think we are and to balance ourselves ready for the adept awareness of who we may be, is a precious and fragile thing. Since we do not, cannot know who we are, we cannot in actuality rely on our own inner discernment. This is bloody obvious if we think about it. Yet, so many groups, circles, teacher and even magical Orders promote the idea that we can, through our feelings or intuition know what is right, and true for us at any stage of our unfoldment. This is not quite the case. Let’s look at it Qabalistically.

By definition the magical apprentice stage is focused on the personality Sephrioth – Malkuth through Netzach. The Sephira of the self, Tiphareth, is not yet fully functioning or able to be brought into conscious and consistent action. If it could, we would not be apprentices 🙂

The personality triangle is centred on Yesod, which in this case is the sphere of reaction, as opposed to consciousness in Tiphareth. Our modes of knowing the world, via intellectual evaluation (Hod), emotional apprehension (Netzach) and sensation (Malkuth) are all filtered through our Yesod. This is the hallmark of the ‘natural man’ in GD terms (borrowing from St Paul). The task of the apprentice is to realise this, become aware of the false ‘I’ in Yesod and balance the personality ready for some rude awakenings as an adept.

So if we were to use only inner discernment as an apprentice we’d be well and truly snookered. We’d be judging from a false self, without all the awareness and knowledge of Tiphareth. This is where another outer form of discernment is required. This involves, like the oath to serve, looking outside and beyond ourselves. Specifically in the case of magic, it involves being held by a teacher and/or a tradition.

Now, the word ‘hold’ here does not just mean a cosy, warm, snuggy cuddle. The teacher also draws us back from danger and pins us down in a sometimes violent struggle. By being guided, admitting we do not know it all, we look elsewhere – to the wisdom of our teacher and our tradition. The teacher functions at the adept level and together with the tradition they give us a ‘bridge’ to these levels, which allows our Hod and Netzach to be influenced  by Geburah and Chesed respectively (through Mem and Kaph).

With the guidance of our teacher our intellectual evaluation is informed by the power and limiting blessings of Geburah – allowing us to cut through the sludge and create boundaries, to be able to see what is true or not. Our emotional apprehension is informed by the brightness of compassion in Chesed (compassion does NOT mean soft or weak, but can be tough as nails), so we may recognise where there is love, harmony and beauty. Again, this method of discerning – by the grace of our teacher  – moves us beyond ourselves and slowly breaks down the notions of who we are.

So in a nutshell, we cannot do it on our own.

These days however the cult and valorisation of the individual and the ready availability of magical material means lots of folk have different ideas. Not that’s there anything wrong with that. I guess. Thinking you can do things on your own is fine; but it is NOT how the magical tradition is structured. The need for tradition and/or teacher is really clear. As shown, the acceptance of this is a crucial part of dethroning the ego.

Back when I was lad, we had bugger all books and internet thingies. So whatever we could find we valued. Including our teachers. And really it did not, should not, matter if we like them or not. Personal tastes are just that – personal, filtered through our Yesod, the very sphere we are trying to break free from (but never transcend). To walk away from a teacher because of personal taste simply increases the ego’s power. To find, accept and learn from a teacher by means that upsets the ego, such as travelling distances, being uncomfortable, having to argue with them over politics etc, means we are moving our consciousness away from our comfort zones and thus our false self. This is why some of the worst teachers are sometimes the best.

We are however lovely beasts and will often come up with ALL sorts of reasons to chuck in a tradition or give a teacher the boot. My advice, for what it’s worth, is to stick with a tradition or teacher  until the adept level at least. Unless of course they reveal themselves as loonies – and sadly, there’s plenty around. But in general, one should stay the apprentice course the whole way through. Consume the complete enchilada, despite misgivings and inner urges – our inner here, by definition, is Yesod.

There are many positive ‘social’ reasons for staying the course as well as magical ones – adept teachers are real people who have invested time, money and energy in their students. To throw that all away because of ‘inner’ promptings is often simply silly and downright rude. Some words of wisdom from Gareth Knight on this matter, lest we judge our teachers too harshly:

I recall a heartfelt remark by Arthur Chichester when Warden of the Society of the Inner Light  saying – “if you see an adept who seems to be in a mess – it could well be somebody else’s mess.” … One thing is for sure, being in charge of an esoteric group with any clout, let alone starting one up, is fraught with problems such as you would not believe. I speak from personal experience over many years. Never mind how many angels could balance on the point of a needle, try doing it yourself, being the fulcrum of a swinging balance between inner and outer planes, and you will never readily criticise a leader of any group again.

Finally, another crucial point is that magical training is not supposed to be fun, happy or even comfortable. I am reminded of that great green guru, Master Yoda in The Empire Strikes Back teaching Luke the way of the Force. Luke is determined to do his best, confidently declaring, “I won’t fail you. I’m not afraid.” To which Master Yoda replies:

You will be. You will be.

Thanks 🙂

A quick note on advanced practices

In my callow youth I was very much focused on the practical aspects of magic and spirituality. I would scrutinise any potential literary purchases with a careful eye – those that did not contain practical instructions were destined to enter the ‘maybe later’ category. This reflected both my own search for inner workings (as detailed in this post) and the emphasis on orthopraxy within the magical traditions.

This very understandable focus on practice within magic contrasts the development of western Christianity’s focus on creed and orthodoxy since the Renaissance.  Christians believe and magicians do – so the story goes. Of course, there are plenty of Christians, such as the Eastern Orthodox, who have a strong orthopraxis element. And interestingly, there are a number of magicians who adhere to certain aspects of their tradition (such as Secret Chiefs) via trust and faith without direct experience. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. 🙂

Now a heavy focus on practice alone can be a problem in itself. It took me a while (and many sighs from my teacher) to realise this, even though the nub of the matter is contained in this pithy saying I heard when a teenager:

Though a robe be washed a thousand times, how can it be clean if it is washed in dirty water?

Lobsang Rampa

This was described to me as a ‘Buddhist’ aphorism, though it’s just as likely to have stemmed from Rampaism for all I know. Here the various methods of practice are the ways to wash our clothes and the water is the context, the motivation and environment in which we practice. So, no matter how many times we practice, no matter what techniques we use, if our motivation and ideas are wrong or undeveloped we will not transform.

This is something I fairly hammer home in By Names and Images, repeating it several times, as I have seen the results of not understanding this principle far too many times in the magical community. To quote that old veteran of the esoteric, Gareth Knight:

To avoid unbalanced conditions of the astral light it is not sufficient simply to perform particular banishing formulae; what is required is the tranquillity of mind and heart that comes from stable outer life relationships and a selfless dedication.

I therefore get a little concerned when I hear of the heavy focus on practice, with people desiring more ‘advanced’ practices (secret, naturally) that they assume will ‘develop’ them further, ‘advance’ their understanding and raise their grade. Or something like that. I have known and know several folk who stay in dysfunctional groups because their leader has a promised advanced techniques in the next grade as a carrot. Since the publication of my book I have been corresponding with a few magicians in this exact situation, hopefully bringing a different perspective to the matter. The trick of course is to look at those promising the ‘advanced’ techniques and see if they show signs of being deeply transformed… or not? Look at their writings, their actions, the presence of compassion and tolerance in their lives… or not.

Now spiritual techniques are wonderful, and there certainly are junior, intermediate and ‘advanced’ forms, the latter type one would not use with novices. However, techniques themselves are not enough. Cutting and pasting from elsewhere:

Put simply, spiritual unfoldment is not the same as ecstasy or altered states of awareness nor is it brought on or developed solely by repeated experiences of the same. Other qualities, such as discipline, morality, compassion, altruism, introspection, and community service are required.

It is in this context we should read this article: Anders Behring Breivik used meditation to kill – he’s not the first.

Ayatollah Khomeini

Some readers of this blog may also be surprised to know that that icon of hatred, bigotry and murder, the late Ayatollah Khomeini was an accomplished and respected practitioner of Islamic mysticism, Irfan.

Meditation is not enough. Mysticism is not enough. Magic – even the most intense and ‘powerful’ advanced, secret-third-order-sex-magic – is not enough. The writer of the above article comes at the problem from a Buddhist perspective.

… the Buddha made right understanding the first item in his eightfold path because he knew that everyone is guided by a worldview and underlying beliefs. His teachings seek to reshape those views so they eliminate attachment and support liberation. Ultimately, that includes attachment to doctrines, but discarding them too soon means that pre-existing beliefs and prevailing opinion go unchallenged.

Right understanding. This is not a practice, but an attitude, a focal point, a giving up of the ego’s sovereignty. It is the neophyte in the Inner Light tradition declaring ‘I desire to know in order to serve‘. Nuff said? 🙂

Rosicrucian Magic as Exegesis

ctOne of the features of modern magic is its diversity. Take the Golden Dawn for instance. These days there are as many varieties of the Golden Dawn tradition as “cheap, really cheap” mobile phone plans. And like mobile phone plans, many are not quite what they appear and can cause no end of problems.

I have blogged before on the difference between the Golden Dawn as a continuing Order and the tradition that has grown in its wake. Both are valid, both are useful and both have their problems and drawbacks which I don’t really want to go into here.

The Golden Dawn tradition has largely grown up within a modern milieu that valorises the individual and without guidance and structure from a parental body. It has had to – most of the contemporary GD groups are not daughters of the Mother Order (often not any Mother Order) and most adepts have relied on public or semi-public sources of information. Not that’s there anything wrong with that. In many cases the lack of traditional structure, support and information has inspired new heights of creativity and genuine spiritual unfoldment.

Other modern magicians have a converse opinion and valorise the original Order(s) and members to a dizzying heights almost bordering on cultish worship. There is a problem when students of the tradition look backward to the historical Order and view the core documents almost as if they were Gospel. If something is not explicitly spelt out in an historical document or practice by default it is viewed as invalid.

Now I am a big one for tradition, probably far more than most, but I think this attitude misses an important point. Magic, or at least RR et AC magic is more akin to exegesis than a reading of the Gospel. The RR et AC is very clear; it provides basic formulae and the adept herself creates the rituals and processes from those to match the specific time, conditions and spiritual requirements of the group or adept. Magic is supposed to be creative. It is supposed to take us beyond the structures, rituals and procedures used by someone else. It is supposed engage our Genius. To quote no less an authority than myself (cos I can’t be bothered re-wording) 🙂

…the only way we can authentically practice Golden Dawn spirituality is by engaging in the same daring paradigm shifts that the original GD did, not by simply following a ‘tradition’. Indeed I would argue that the ‘true’ Golden Dawn tradition is more concerned with recreation and reinvention of the esoteric than any set path. This ‘perennial’ Golden Dawn is constantly re-birthing, remaking itself, directed not by the needs of individuals or individual Orders, but from the Inner Plane contacts and Masters that hold the unformed Order itself . (MOTO)

rc-lamenj

RR et AC Rose Cross

Now this is not to say tradition goes out the window or there are no ‘rules’ to follow. As an example I receive much practical teaching from Inner Plane sources. Like any good boy I always check these out. Many years ago I received some information which was claimed to be traditional RR et AC, as in from a paper that existed in shared space-time back in the 1900s. I naturally wanted to check this out before accepting it (though it was very good and made sense).

This was at the dawn of the Internet age and I was on one of the first GD forum-things. I cautiously posted a question to illicit any responses. What I received was a number of people giving me their ideas on the matter in question. Just what they, in direct response to my post, felt or thought about. This was not at all salubrious and quite a shock as several people decided they would do the processes they had just thought about – which they would not have, had I not posted. I have kept quiet on such matters ever since.

This example shows clearly the type of magical creativity to avoid; something stemming from the personal. Also, we need to remember a very important point: magic is an Inner Order activity. It was never and in all sensible and authentic Orders, is never practiced in the Outer Order. We need a high degree of personal development, compassion, service and removal of imbalance in order to practice magic. This is why it is an Adept’s art and why the Tipharethic consciousness, however nascent, is required to practice magic.

So RR et AC magicians are not actually practicing for themselves. Being connected through years of preparation and the most astonishing initiation imaginable, their spiritual endeavours are not theirs alone. Thus their magical processes are never created or influenced by a personal ‘feeling’ or ‘idea’. They endeavour to create only through the inspiration of the Genius. The difference is marked and wonderful.

Another crucial point is found in the comparison of magic with exegesis: the number one rule for exegesis in Judaism, Islam, Christianity and Buddhism is that it, the exegesis should be compassionate and inspire greater depths of compassion in the exegetes and those who in read it. In magical terms: our personal magical processes and rituals need to be founded on love and compassion; they should grow our heart and love and that of any other participants. They should serve the world. If our magic does not do this, we have failed.

So, Rosicrucian magic is a creative, living art which inspires and creates love. We do not follow any set ritual or process but only the broader, deeper principles and formulae that I have previously called Metaorthopraxy (but I now think really should be Orthometapraxy). I know there is modern school of thought, exemplified by folk like Joseph Lisiewski who focus on the correct performance and practice (Orthopraxy) of Grimoire based rituals. But this is not Rosicrucian magic and is not held by our Master in Christ, CRC. Indeed, I have not seen much talk of love, service and compassion in this school of magic, which is a hallmark of Rosicrucian spirituality. Thanks for reading 🙂

Ritual to Invoke Compassion

I do not ordinarily see the role of MOTO as providing rituals or techniques. And there are God’s plenty of them out there already 🙂 But I came across this one yesterday when cleaning some old ritual accouterments (there were God’s plenty of them too) and remembered it fondly. We used it practice it at least once a month. It is well pass the traditional seven years since the Order that used this ritual has been closed, so why not? It was a bit of a group creation or rather I had to accommodate several points of view. This however, is the strength of lodge work. If it was up to me alone, I would change it to only pray to Christ. Anyway, if it is used or adapted or inspires but one person or group to go to likewise, it has served its purpose being here. If you have questions, please ask.  For ease of use you may want to download a PDF version here. Thanks. 🙂

“The authentic test of ours and others’ and our society’s claims to spirituality is creative compassion. By compassion I do not mean the sentimentalized and privatized feeling our aggressive culture defines as compassion. I have in mind the root sense of that word: to suffer with, to stand by, to support, to share solidarity with, to live on the margin with…that our fellow human beings are truly brothers and sisters with whom it is better always to make love-justice than war; and that gentleness lasts longer and touches more deeply than other kinds of power.”
~ Fr. Matthew Fox.

compassionIntroduction

The aim of this ritual is to bring assistance to those in need through invoking and mediating specific spiritual blessings at a particular level of consciousness. Qabalistically this consciousness and these blessings relate to the Sephira of Chesed. Similar blessings can be contacted through working with Christ, Chenrezig (Avalokiteshvara), Kwan-Yin and other Beings of Compassion, collectively called ‘The Lords of Compassion’ by Theosophy. Specifically the ritual aims (1) to expand the capacity and inclination towards compassion of the participants and the group mind of Perth; and (2) to bring aid to those in need.

Temple Set-up and Props

  • Four quarter altars representing the four termini of the broader Perth Metropolitan Area, at the East, North, West and South. A single candle upon each altar. These may be in the elemental colours but there is no requirement as this is not an elementally based ritual.
  • Central double cubical altar with blue altar cloth, broadly representing (1) the centre of the Group Mind of Perth, (2) the material Universe overlayed by the blue of Chesed.
  • Upon the altar; consecrated symbols of Chesed, images of the Beings of Compassion (all participants are invited to bring an image to be placed on the altar).

Roles: Central Officer; Four Quarter Officers; participants to perform banishings as requested.

Ritual Outline

  • Banishing and Opening to cleanse and prepare the temple and consciousness of participants.
  • Identifying the Lodge with Perth so that the magic we perform affects all within Perth not just ourselves.
  • Aspiration and Invocation to the Highest conception of divinity we know, so that the entire ritual is guided by the higher divine principles.
  • Creating the Portal to the Realm of Unlimited Compassion so we may invoke and invite compassionate blessings into the temple and into Perth.
  • Invocation to the Beings of Compassion to send their blessings through the portal we have just created.
  • Creation of a personal matrix between each person and everyone they know, through which the blessings of compassion will be shared and directed.
  • Direction and channelling of the blessings of compassion to all within Perth.
  • Meditation on how each of us can act more compassionately in our lives.
  • Closing the Portal to the Realm of Unlimited Compassion.
  • Thanks to the Divine Beings.
  • De-Identifying the Lodge with Perth.
  • Closing and Banishings.

Banishings and Opening

Anyone who has an image to place upon the altar does so before the LBRP.

Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram (If the temple is opened in the Neophyte Grade, then the LBRP is not required).

Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Hexagram.

All come to stand around the central altar.

Order and Temple specific Invocations if any.

Central Officer leads prayers:

We acknowledge and honour the spirits of this living land, this land that sustains and supports us today and throughout our lives, and invite them into our temple and our beings.

Spirits and Beings of the North, the East, the West and South, spirits of the still centre, the heights above and depths below; spirits of Air, Fire, Water and Earth; all beings in all the worlds; hear us now.

We are (name of Order and Temple) and with the divine aid, it is our intention today to:

Create a sphere of compassion and love by which we will mediate the blessings, the aid and the consciousness of the great Beings of Compassion to all within Perth, and from there, spreading out to all sentient beings in all the Universe. And to this end we ask for the aid and assistance of: the One; Lord Jesus Christ (YHShVh YHVShH); Chenrezig, Kwan-Zaeon Bohdsti, Ast-Ma, [here the central officer includes the names of all Beings whose images have been placed on the altar]…, the Inner Plane masters and Teachers of our Order and traditions, and the Higher and Divine Genii of all present. Amen.

Central Officer asks ALL to repeat: “May all the powers, energies and consciousness we obtain through this ritual and these practices be shared with all Beings, in all the worlds and may all come to find eternal peace and happiness.  May there be peace, and peace and peace profound.  Amen.’

All: Amen.

Central Officer performs the Qabalistic Cross and leads prayer:

One, unknowable and unnameable, help us today to identify our sacred lodge with the land and people of Perth. Give us the higher strength and inner motivation to be of service to all beings, both within Perth and throughout the Universe.

All: Amen

Identifying the Lodge with Perth

Depending on the number of available officers, this procedure may be modified.

ldignity_devotion_compassion_1_1146048562All move to the East of the lodge facing East.

Central Officer lights the candle and stands ready to knock.

Central Officer or other officer leads Lodge in expansion of consciousness to the Eastern suburbs of Perth and into the group mind of Perth.

Once accomplished, the central officer asks Eastern officer to “hold the vision at the East”. Eastern officer then knocks, and turns inward to face the central altar.

All but the Eastern officer now move to the South of the Lodge facing South. Southern officer standing directly in front of Southern altar. S/he lights the candle and stands ready to knock.

Central Officer or other officer leads Lodge in expansion of consciousness to the Southern suburbs of Perth and into the group mind of Perth.

Once accomplished, the central officer asks Southern officer to “hold the vision at the South”. Southern officer then knocks, and turns inward to face the central altar.

All but the Eastern officer now move to the West of the Lodge facing West. Western officer standing directly in front of Western altar. S/he lights the candle and stands ready to knock.

Central Officer or other officer leads Lodge in expansion of consciousness to the Western suburbs of Perth and into the group mind of Perth.

Once accomplished, the central officer asks Western officer to “hold the vision at the South”. Southern officer then knocks, and turns inward to face the central altar.

All but the Eastern officer now move to the North of the Lodge facing North. Northern officer standing directly in front of Northern altar. S/he lights the candle and stands ready to knock.

Central Officer or other officer leads Lodge in expansion of consciousness to the Northern suburbs of Perth and into the group mind of Perth.

Once accomplished, the central officer asks Northern officer to “hold the vision at the South”. Northern officer then knocks, and turns inward to face the central altar.

All but the Northern officer now move to the East of the Lodge, completing the circle and then move to the central altar facing East.

Central Officer briefly leads reinforcement of the vision, and then says: “Let us open our Lodge.”

Eastern officer: (knocks), “The Lodge is open in the East”

Southern officer: (knocks), “The Lodge is open in the South”

Western officer: (knocks), “The Lodge is open in the West”

Northern officer: (knocks), “The Lodge is open in the North”

Central officer: (knocks), “The Lodge is open throughout.”

Aspiration and Invocation to the Highest.

All come to the central altar.

Central Officer leads all in visualisation of the extension of consciousness akin to expansion in the Qabalistic Cross, asking all to aspire towards their highest conception of divinity. S/he then invokes:

Toward the One, the Perfection of Love, Harmony, and Beauty, the Only Being, united with all the Illuminated Souls, who form the Embodiment of the Master, the Spirit of Guidance.

Central Officer asks all to intone the divine name IAO three times, seeking to connect with the Highest divinity.

All: IAO

All are seated but Central Officer.

Creating the Portal to the Realm of Unlimited Compassion

Central Officer performs Lesser Invoking Ritual of the Hexagram of Jupiter around the temple.

Central Officer goes to perimeter of circle where Jupiter is currently located in the Sidereal Zodiac. S/he performs a Supreme Invoking Ritual of the Hexagram of Jupiter to create a portal to the realm of Chesed.

Central Officer returns to central altar, and asks all to join her/him.

Central Officer invites the Beings of Compassion to be present.

Invocation to the Beings of Compassion

The One! – you who are both the unknowable source of all things,

and the intimate communion within,

open to us, we ask, the realm of ChSD – Mercy and Magnificence.

And through the power and beauty of your name AL, Unity

– by the Grace of the Righteous Archangel TzDQIAL,

– the ministration of they Holy Angels, the Brilliant ChShMLIM

allow us to be thy agent of compassion in this world.

AL, AL, AL, AL – in the Unity of Compassion and through

the willingness of our open and ready hearts,

we do invite and invoke you, all Beings of Compassion to come and touch us now.

Gods and Goddesses of the open and active heart we call you.

(Names all Beings whose images are on the altar) we call you.

And we call upon those who have gone before – the Just Men Made Perfect, the Holy Ones, the Saints and the Masters, the Inner Adepti, who forever guide us into that state of acceptable sacrifice, which is love expressed towards God, humanity and the whole Universe.

All Beings of Compassion, send forth your love and your aid, we ask you now.  Amen.

Creating the Matrix Whereby the Blessings of Compassion May Flow

Central Officer leads visualisation (summary given here): “imagining self seeing all people you know and have a connection with. See your connection to them as a band of light from your heart to theirs. From them see a band of light going to all the people they know. See this connection go from person to person until everyone in the world is included. Now open yourself to the pain and suffering of everyone, feel and experience it from all people and open your heart to it. Feel your innate and human desire and wish to help them, to alleviate the suffering, open your heart to the spirit of compassion and the Beings of Compassion…

Bringing the Blessings of Compassion to Perth

Central Officer asks all to join her/him on edge of circle, facing sunwise near the Hexagram portal of Chesed. S/he asks all to focus inwardly and leads all in extension of consciousness, seeing themselves as mighty figures who will walk the round of Perth, mediating the blessings of Compassion to all within Perth. Seeing also the blessings of Compassion above them as infinite blue light.

Central Officer leads three circumambulations of the Lodge room. Upon completing three circles all sit.

Central Officer directs all to be open to communication or inner knowledge of how they can be of practical and earthly assistance in providing compassion within Perth and their material lives.

Central Officer asks all to come to the central altar.

Central Officer leads de-extension of consciousness back to normal size and being.

Central Officer leads all to withdraw their channelling and de-visualise the web of connection. S/he then asks all to re-affirm being grounded.

All are seated.

Closing  the Portal to the Realm of Unlimited Compassion

Central Officer performs Supreme Banishing Ritual of the Hexagram of Jupiter to close portal.

Central Officer performs Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Hexagram of Jupiter around the Lodge.

Central Officer asks all to come to the central altar.

Central Officer leads prayer in thanks to the One Being, YHShVH and the Beings of Compassion.

De-Identifying the Lodge with Perth

Depending on the number of available officers, this procedure may be modified.

All move to the East of the lodge facing East. Eastern officer standing directly in front of Eastern altar. Central officer or other officer leads Lodge in contraction of consciousness from the Eastern suburbs of Perth and the group mind of Perth to the Lodge and lodge room.

Once accomplished, the central officer asks Eastern officer to “ground the Lodge at the East”. Eastern officer then knocks, remains at East, facing towards central altar.

Rest of Lodge move counter-clockwise to North and face North. Northern officer standing directly in front of Northern altar. Central officer or other officer leads Lodge in contraction of consciousness from the Northern suburbs of Perth and the group mind of Perth to the Lodge and lodge room.

Once accomplished, the central officer asks Northern officer to “ground the Lodge at the North”. Northern officer then knocks, remains at North, facing towards central altar.

Rest of Lodge move counter-clockwise to West and face West. Western officer standing directly in front of Western altar. Central officer or other officer leads Lodge in contraction of consciousness from the Western suburbs of Perth and the group mind of Perth to the Lodge and lodge room.

Once accomplished, the central officer asks Western officer to “ground the Lodge at the West”. Western officer then knocks, remains at West, facing towards central altar.

Rest of Lodge move counter-clockwise to South and face South. Southern officer standing directly in front of Southern altar. Central officer or other officer leads Lodge in contraction of consciousness from the Southern suburbs of Perth and the group mind of Perth to the Lodge and lodge room.

Once accomplished, the central officer asks Southern officer to “ground the Lodge at the South”. Southern officer then knocks, remains at South, facing towards central altar.

Rest of Lodge move counter-clockwise to East to complete the circle and then move to around the central altar.

Central Officer says: “Let us close our Lodge.”

Eastern Officer: (knocks), “The Lodge is closed in the East”

Northern Officer: (knocks), “The Lodge is closed in the North”

Western Officer: (knocks), “The Lodge is closed in the West”

Southern Officer: (knocks), “The Lodge is closed in the South”

Central Officer: (knocks), “In the name of the One manifesting in body and flesh…

All intone: YHShVH YHVShH

Central Officer:…I declare this lodge closed throughout.

All: Amen.

Banishings

Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Hexagram

Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram

The Practice of the Esoteric

This is something i have been meaning to post for a while, and just found in my backup.  We have used similar things in groups and courses to great effect.

These points summarize several of the key values, ideas and perceptions esoteric students must develop to be successful upon the esoteric path. If you have any consistent and strong trouble with any of these points, then the esoteric may not be the right path for you at the present.

The Esoteric

The word esoteric means ‘inner’, referring to the inner aspects of ourselves and the universe, the two being ultimately one. What unites the two is active engagement with the inner dimensions of the various symbols, myths and motifs of our path.

Service

In the union (however brief from our temporal perspective) of limited self and the eternal we are remade. We become aware not only of our own eternal, unchanging self but also of the unity and interconnection of all beings. The outer world expression of such a realisation is active service. In focusing attention away from our limited selves we mimic and promote the Unity, where all beings are one. Through expanding the concept of self we defeat the lies of the ego. All authentic esoteric traditions are paths of service; all authentic esoteric experiences promote service within the individual.

Cultivation of Value

With the realisation of our ultimate identification with all, we become aware of how much suffering and restriction most beings undergo. We re-evaluate our own lives and recognise the incredible blessings we have; as conscious human beings and as westerners living in affluence, having time to practice a spiritual path and having opportunities to be part of an esoteric tradition. We therefore learn to value and hold dear all esoteric symbols and paths for they are the bridge between our limited self and the unborn, real and eternal self. We consciously cultivate respect for the path and the avenues whereby we may walk along it – the various teachers, teachings, books and wisdom so freely given to us.

Transformation

To touch the esoteric, the inner reality both within and without us is to transform utterly. As we practice our path we change completely. By its very nature spiritual unfoldment is unpredictable. We consciously choose to live with change, recognising also that only that which is born can change or die. The unborn, uncreated aspect of self never changes or dies. We learn more and more to identify with that self and to hold loosely all thoughts and ideas, identities and opinions.

Resistance

The esoteric path is one of relentless honesty. We recognise that we are rife with resistance to change and imbued with negative, self-serving patterns of action and behaviour. We do not deny our addictions to the self. Nor do we simply accept them without seeking change. We honestly hold them clear in our minds and choose not to act from them much as we can. We are bound to fail, but we know this is no reason to avoid the attempt. Not even the Masters are free of the petty distractions of the human ego. Their power of choice however, is such they may choose to act solely from the Good.

Disruption and Disturbance

Like a child whose toy is removed from them, when our esoteric work threatens our ego identity, we will storm and tantrum. We know this happens to everyone. This will affect our work and our lives and therefore we make preparations. These include cultivating habits of decent and moral behaviour so that when we are possessed by our lower self we still act in the way our higher would choose. We know we may, through our storming, disrupt our groups, families, friends and teachers. We therefore take great care to develop means by which we limit our tantrums to avoid damaging those who have given us so much.

Practice and Perfection

We know that every esoteric symbol, icon, ritual and practice is a gift from the One and a link to an infinite source of divine blessings. Each of these gifts is a universe unto itself and therefore cannot be exhausted. We know we can never partake fully of that which is transcendent and therefore acknowledge that all practices and rituals – even after we may think we have mastered them – are gifts and teachers for us. We therefore rejoice in every opportunity to learn through repetition and practice. We know that the esoteric path of magic is the Yoga of the West and therefore can learn from the conduct of yogis, who practice the same asanas each class, gaining every time. We know that if we are reluctant to repeat an action of divinity (such as ritual or meditation) it is our thinking that is in error.

The Internal and the Ego

We know that spiritual unfoldment takes place inwardly and has no unique outer sign recognized by our finite perception (service can be ‘faked’). We also recognize our own self identified egos are sources of delusion. We therefore honestly acknowledge that our damage and patterns will distort our inner perceptions of the eternal verities the esoteric path points toward. Our own ego security can become bound up with our perceived success or failure of esoteric activities and practices, knowing that these cannot be ascertained or questioned by all but the true adept (or Master). We therefore may feel bolstered or put down, whichever serves our purpose, by our experiences of esoteric techniques. If our egos need reinforcement, either through positive or negative perceptions, we can create an unconscious pattern that traps us and which uses the esoteric as a tool, simply because only ourselves (other than a Master) knows our inner experience. To avoid this we seek and honestly accept feedback and criticism from those we acknowledge as teachers and adept in the paths we wish to travel.

The Masters and Some Mutterings

Naturally enough since the Equinox the Masters have been at the forefront of my thoughts. This together with the situation in Tibet has given rise to renewed pondering at the state of the western esoteric tradition as compared to the Eastern, the only example I can speak about with any degree of certainty being Tibetan Buddhism. Basically, I think we draw up very short indeed. The main reason is simply that we do not have a living, unbroken tradition embodied in flesh and blood, real people, schools and lineage teachings overseen by enlightened Masters.

I have no doubt there are real embodied Masters in the western traditions – somewhere. But they are few and far between and most of us have to rely on the influence of, and if we are lucky, direct communion with non-incarnate Masters. That these Masters are real is beyond a doubt (for me). One of the aims of the Masters is to guide us towards that state of consciousness known as Illumination, a concept that does not sit easy with many western esotericists. I suspect a few of you are even getting a little uneasy from what I’ve written so far 🙂 And I know that in the past I have refused to talk openly of these things, but I am being directed to do so more and more these days.

Illumination and the existence of a concrete path to that illumination have been real for me since I was 16 or so. I had been sneaking a look over my Dad’s shoulder at the Sunday Times, since as a know-it-all teenager I never read such low brow stuff, when I spotted an ad for (what I know believe to be) the AMORC “Rosicrucian” mail order … esoteric school? … business? … (I never know how to take AMORC). All I remember seeing was the tantalizing word ‘Illumination’ before my dad flipped the page.

Later wandering around in the garden for hours, I couldn’t stop thinking about it – “Illumination” – what was this? I had no idea; I had read nothing more ‘spiritual’ and magical than Alan Garner’s children’s novels (which are very cool). Suddenly though my head ‘opened up’ and I KNEW about Illumination – I knew what it was and I knew there was Path to get there. And with such knowledge I was on effectively ‘on the path’. (It turns out now from reading my Dad’s meticulous dairies that I may have been only 14 – if so, I did nothing practical about this experience for two years!).

It was years later before I was introduced to an inner plane contact and later still, a Master. The experiences are of course still with me. So I am clear, that like the Eastern traditions, we are on a path towards Illumination and the Masters are there to help us along that Path. Otherwise, we live, love, die and are simply reborn. We offer nothing of real substance to the world while conditioned by the world. The esoteric principle which requires us to adeptly operate on the plane superior to the plane where healing is required holds true with our lives. The Illuminated Ones are able to produce healing and change here in ways we simply cannot. Buddhists pray to be Enlightened to end the suffering of all beings. It’s the same for us.

With this in mind, some simple home and up-front truths about the Western Esoteric Tradition:

  • Most western esoteric teachings are at best incomplete and only partially effective; at worst they are harmful and dangerous.

  • The western esoteric tradition is fragmented and scattered to such a degree it can never function as a whole. It is rare a single school can offer all a student requires.

  • The western esoteric traditions have been infected and damaged by the inclusion of ideas and principles from many sources, the chief corrupters being: individualism, psychology and new age thinking.

  • Most people practicing within the western traditions (you) are like the people without the traditions and destined to ‘die like a dog in the street’ (Gurdjieff).

  • This is because most western teachings are incomplete and do not result in the transformation of the self and the development of the higher bodies. As the Gnostic Gospel of Phillip amply explains: “Those who say they will die first and then rise are in error. If they do not first receive the resurrection while they live, when they die they will receive nothing.”
  • The correct type and form of esoteric work involves the traditional approach of (1) Renunciation of the lower self and material desires, so that (2) we may die and thereafter Remake ourselves as directed by the Higher, in order to (3) receive and transmit to all the world the Revelation of the eternal verities and spiritual presence of the One.

  • We have to give up ourselves and our lives. We have to work. We have to be guided in this process.

  • Most western schools are not guided by Masters and therefore cannot offer guidance beyond the Novice and possibly early Adept stages.

  • We need therefore to rely upon the Masters, who can and will guide us in our remaking.

  • We must therefore, if at all possible align ourselves with those schools guided by the Masters thereby completing the chain of Novice-Adept-Master to build a bridge between the One and the world.

  • If we do not have access to a connected school, we must forge our own connection in humility, trust and love, seeking to be of service and being prepared for directions of compassionate action.

May All Beings Be Well and Happy
And May There Be Peace and Peace and Peace Profound.