On the inevitability of diversity (but not schism)

Back when I was a  youth first getting a handle on this magic lark, I had a vision. Well more of a fantasy really. Riding home on my scooter from a Pagan social gathering of many covens, I imagined a similar situation for my beloved Golden Dawn. I envisioned a time where there would be several (or many) different outer Golden Dawn temples in Perth, each approaching the tradition differently, even quite differently. However, there would be a single inner RR et AC College, where adepts would come to serve and deepen in the Rosicrucian magical tradition.

The other day I was reminded of this fantasy by the words on the Ba Iset Order of the Rosy Cross blog describing their Order: “Golden Dawn based in the Outer; Global Rosicrucian in the Inner”. I love the ‘Global Rosicrucian’ phrase, and while I have no idea if my reading of it is what BIORC means, it sounds like what I envisioned.

Though I was not consciously aware of it at the time, my fantasy-vision was based on the esoteric principles inherent in the GD and RR et AC. The outer order is concerned with balancing the personality, and the inner with the use of the balanced personality by the deeper self and the One. Outer order experiences can therefore be quite different for folk, though often following a broad theme. The inner order experience, in the Golden Dawn at least, centres around magic.

The aim of magic is to become ourselves, and yet in doing so we lose ourselves. We become more deeply a person with unique and strong characteristics, but these are subservient to our connection and service to the One. Metaphorically the light of Goddess / God / the One is shone down and focused through the lens of our personality (which is cleaned and purified by the Outer work). In this way the Light of the One reaches the earth unhindered and focused and magnified – which is why the Magnificat talks about Mary’s soul ‘magnifying’ the Lord.

Each of the various magical initiatory streams, through their practices and blessings serve to bring a person towards being more themselves, more real, more solid and present in the material world. So the various GD Orders imagined in my little fantasy would be serving the same ends, though by different outer means. At the same time however, the final aim is more inner than outer. It’s all in these words from the GD Equinox ceremony (or is it MR? AO? SM? – someone please correct me, as some folk are so concerned we get the right initials):

Fratres et Sorores of the Order, seeing that the whole intention of the Lower Mysteries, or of external initiation, is by the intervention of the Symbol, Ceremonial, and Sacrament, so to lead the Soul that it may be withdrawn from the attraction of matter and delivered from the absorption therein, whereby it walks in somnambulism, knowing not whence it cometh nor whither it goeth; and seeing also, that thus withdrawn, the Soul by true direction must be brought to study of Divine Things, that it may offer the only clean Oblation and acceptable sacrifice, which is Love expressed towards God, Man and the Universe. Now, therefore, I confess and testify thereto, from my Throne in this Temple, and I promise, so far as in me lies, to lead you by the Rites of this Order, faithfully conserved, and exhibited with becoming reverence, that through such love and such sacrifice, you may be prepared in due time for the greater Mysteries, the Supreme and inward Initiation.

…the Supreme and inward initiation 🙂 Doesn’t that make you smile? 🙂

Now each of us is different and a unique form of the One. So we will experience our magic in different ways. This is why RR et AC  magic is more akin to exegesis than literal interpretation; we make our own magic by personal interaction with the tradition. It is why the RR et AC and other streams teach us by formulae, not complete unchanging rituals – we are to create new forms, new magic, new rituals. This is very important, as it enacts the mystical connection of the self and personality, the inner and the outer.

Sometimes, once we are connected to the inner and circling that ol’ “Supreme and inward Initiation”, we are directed and called upon to act in the outer in a different way to those around us. This is one reason why, after a certain period of unfoldment some folk are ‘moved out’ or have to leave their mother-lodge. As they become more themselves, they are directed by the inner to work with different symbols, themes, beings, motifs and mysteries. Sometimes, if they are unlucky bastards, the inner tells them to start a group to do all this.

Now a sensible mother-Order rejoices (or at least accepts the inevitable) when this happens, even if it means losing one of their best initiates. Apparently Dion Fortune did this when W.E. Butler started being the receptacle for a different set of inner contacts than the ones currently directing the Fraternity of the Inner Light. Elsewhere Dion writes about the need to give senior members their own tasks and duties to guide junior members, and so avoid any ‘stagnation’ of the ‘magnetism’ they have received from their initiations and practices. As they have received, so too they must pass on, to keep all in flow. Dion asserts this practice helped avoid any schisms in the Fraternity. I am not sure if there have been actual schisms following Dion’s death, but if there have they have kept their dirty washing away from the public eye far better than many GD groups 🙂

So, one form of ordered and healthy expansion of the magical tradition occurs via senior folk gaining a new commission from the inner and going off to form their own outer expression of the mysteries – hopefully at the same time remaining on the Christmas card list of the mother-Order’s leader(s). Really, a good Order would recognise this and even ‘charter’ the departing initiate(s). This is a wonderful thing as it reflects an eternal truth – diversity on the outer, unity on the inner.

Less wonderful is ‘expansion’ via schism which often occurs when senior folk have inner directions to form new outer forms but are not given blessing and support to do so. This has happened far too many times in the Golden Dawn for anyone to feel happy about. Another problem is when a senior initiate is persuaded or chooses to stay within a mother lodge, despite inner promptings, because they are waiting to receive promised ‘higher teachings’ and knowledge. To ignore inner directions for these reasons is very harmful. The senior initiate’s connection will be hampered, and at the same time the presence of new or differently formed currents and contacts, seeking to be earthed, will be introduced into the mother-lodges’ egregore. A messy situation indeed.

Now, since the greater mysteries, or Inner Order work is more concerned with inner experience (contained within the principles of the Rosicrucian tradition) there is a great wealth of wisdom to be gained from the inner itself, regardless of putative ‘higher’ or third Order teachings.

Recently a Facebook friend of mine wrote some beautiful words on this theme. After a certain time of unfoldment, specific spiritual and magical teachings become simply a framework and starting place for further deepening, guided by the inner. Adepthood is where there is no leaning on outer Orders, groups, teachings or masters. While all of these things assist and aid our service and unfoldment, they are simply there to assist our unfoldment not direct or constrain it.

In the GD tradition this is the stage of the completed Adeptus Minor. As I write in By Names and Images:

The Adept connects with the deeper objective forces of Yetzira, symbolised by the full elemental powers, the planets, the Sephiroth and the Zodiac. She learns to navigate and move into the various realms of Yetzira at will. By doing so she is able to connect with and draw down all the powers and blessings she needs in order to re-make her personality self and to promote healing and spiritual growth in others. She also has the ongoing expanded awareness of the Higher and Divine Genius and is more and more able to obtain whatever magical or spiritual instruction she requires without reference to an outside human agency. However, she may often choose to maintain a connection with the physical Order so as to work in harmony with other Adepts in their service to humanity.

The centrality of the grade within the whole schema of unfoldment reflects the centrality of the associated Sephira, Tiphareth on the Tree of Life. All is expressed and combined, reflected and distilled through Tiphareth, which connects to the Utmost via Gimel. This is why, when functioning fully at this grade, there is no need for external teachers. It is also one reason why, I think, when discussing the teachings at higher grades, Nick Farrell says: ” Any new information automatically categorises itself at the 5=6. If it is a system, new or not, it is by its very nature 5=6.”

This is not to say, of course, that there are not wonderful and deep teachings at the ‘higher levels’ – there are certainly some by now, though I am not sure how true that was historically. However, these teachings must be integrated and infused into one’s own individual communion between outer and inner, lower and higher, personality and self, circle and point. The Adeptus Minor can commune with the inner, receive all they need from the inner, so outward teachings from any external ‘higher’ sources or orders are secondary to their mystical Conversation – put simply, they are not needed. Waiting for external, ‘higher’ teachings when one is connected to the inner, and able to be held and guided by the inner (as will happen with the right motivation) misses the whole mystery of the Adept grade in the first place. Right-ho? 🙂