Sunday, April 6, 2014

The Pachyderm in the Pronaos

March 28th would have been Donald Michael Kraig's 63rd birthday.  Although the memories of him are good, it was a fresh infusion of grief all the same.  I find it ironic that so many people, or at least people I know, have death dates so close to their birth dates.  It would seem that karma is more than just a collection of twists of fate.  Sometimes, it's just plain twisted fate.

Yet even before Don's birthday came to pass, there was a suggestion that the magical community was ignoring the "elephant in the room".  What it boils down to is, dozens of magicians performed hundreds of healing rites for Don, and he died anyway.  Well, those are indeed the facts, are they not?  The implication would seem to be then that this was a great failure for the magical community, and the belief in magic in general, but I find that conclusion to be at least a bit myopic.

As far as healing rites go, suffice it to say, "this ain't my first rodeo".  I have been on both sides of this coin that was minted in antiquity.  I have been a participant in rites which have essentially pulled lives back from beyond the veil.  I have performed multitudinous rites for people who were simply beyond my reach.  Experience, is it said, is the best teacher, and I have learned much from this particular brand of experience.

First of all, cancer is hard.  Diseases usually fall under the influenza of the malefic planets, Mars and Saturn.  The nature of cancer is when cell growth goes unbridled, the case of an afflicted Jupiter gone wild.  That's why treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy are effective countermeasures.  They are basically full-frontal Martial attacks on the body, in the hopes that their effects destroy the cancer before they destroy the host.  That's also why most of the magicians I know were not only doing Solar work to improve Don's health, but Mars work to destroy the cancer.

Furthermore, this wasn't just any old cancer we were trying to get rid of.  This was stage IV pancreatic cancer.  That type of cancer alone carries a woeful survival rate, but by the time it has developed to stage IV, the chance of survival is around 1 percent.  Even if all our magical work had improved his chances ten-fold, the odds were still horribly against him.

Over and over again I've seen, when the sick are beyond curing, the energies devoted are directed then to palliative care.  Both the suffering until death, and the transition to the afterlife, are quantifiably eased.  My best friend's mother died from pancreatic cancer, and the suffering she endured in the last two weeks of her life I would not wish upon my worst enemy.  Don died peacefully and painlessly in his sleep.  That alone is a minor miracle in an of itself.

Personally, I think we as magicians have this tendency to fall into a soft narcissism that "my will be done".  There is some rationale for this, as magicians invoke and banish forces and entities at will, and also create living talismans to do much the same.  That which the magician invokes, s/he may banish, and what s/he creates, s/he may destroy.  Magicians are not the creators of other human souls, so it is folly to think that our magic can control human life and death.  Mages can appeal to the Creator to change a human fate, and that appeal may be answered.  Just as often, however, the final effect feels similar to signing an e-petition to Congress, and just as effective.

In the end, no person can change another person's time, and somehow, we need to find the grace to accept that, especially when it is time for the ones we love.  The original mythical temple of the Order of the Golden Dawn was named "Licht, Liebe, Leben", or "Light, Love, Life", and I think those words are ordered specifically for a reason.  Not only does it reflect the tripartite human composition of spirit, soul and body, but I believe it is in the order in which the magician may affect Creation.  Don received a lot of Light and a lot of Love, but we could not extend his Life.  Despite that, if he died knowing how loved and appreciated he truly was, then I say "two out of three ain't bad".

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Requiem for a Wizard

I can still remember the very first time I performed a Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram.  It was sometime in the spring of 1990, and I was on a job assignment in a small city in rural upstate New York.  I was 20 years old, so I couldn't go to the regular bars, because I could get arrested.  There was an underage bar in town, too, but once I saw all the VERY young girls hanging out there, I figured I could get arrested just as quickly there.

But perhaps the very thin social scene wouldn't have made any difference for me.  I was a smart but painfully shy guy, who could have easily been the poster child for social anxiety disorder (if such a diagnosis had existed at the time).  My small but close circle of friends were either back at college an hour and a half away, or back home two and a half hours away.  Suffice it to say, I had copious time on my hands, I wanted to do something constructive with it, and getting hooked on 21 Jump Street wasn't in concert with that agenda (although Johnny Depp was pretty good even then, but I digress).

I had already been dabbling in matters esoteric for a number of years by then.  Astrology was my best focus, but tarot, astral projection, crystals and other such new age stuff was also in my mojo bag.  Magic was still taboo for me then, and having been raised Catholic only doubled down on that dogma, but one cool, rainy spring evening, I made the decision to put my soul in jeopardy and give this LBRP thing a try.

My living room was quiet and dark, save for two lit tapers on a square end table, now situated in the middle of the room.  I sat down and started the four-fold breath, and I distinctly remember a loud boom from an M-80 going off, making me practically jump out of my skin.  I could have taken that as a sign and ran screaming from the room, but I instead chose to face my fear and do the LBRP anyway.  I took my time, taking great care in every little part of that ritual.  When I was done with the ending Qabalistic Cross, I sat back in my chair to feel the change in the room.  What I actually felt was a change in myself.  It was a change that I could not identify right away, but I soon realized that my mind was just as quiet as the room was.  Then I found the word for what I was feeling: serenity.  It was a feeling entirely foreign to me, but extremely comforting.  I was hooked.  My life changed forever that night.

The source from which I got my instructions for performing the LBRP?  "Modern Magick" by Donald Michael Kraig.  I spent the next six months working through the entire book.  The magic and meditations became a daily practice.  As my mind became healthier, I started to work on my body as well, and lost about 50 pounds overall.  I started gaining self-esteem and began to break out of my anxiety-ridden shell.  I became a healthier person.  I became a better person.  I started to attract better quality people into my life.  Those who were not good for me found creative ways to spin themselves out of my life.

Don wrote that "Magic is not something you do.  Magic is something you are."  I'm that period of time, I became magic, and I am forever in Donald Michael Kraig's debt for it.

So here I am, again on job assignment, when I got the news this morning that Don passed beyond the Veil into the Company of the Gods.  It was an inevitable, but very melancholy moment, and it was hard to focus on anything else throughout the day.  Fortunately for me, I had this little tool called the LBRP to get rid of those unhappy and distracting thoughts.  After that, my mind shifted towards contemplation and reminiscence of the magical life that started 24 years ago, thanks to Don and his seminal work.

I never met Don in the flesh, but had the good fortune to correspond with him through email regarding my research and writing on the Rosicrucian Vault, and got the chance to chat with him over the phone once for about half an hour. That was very special to me, and I was sure to thank him for what he did.  I wish his soul peace and godspeed.  I wish his family and cherished ones love and consolation.  If you can, please send a few dollars to help out with the outstanding medical bills.  As I personally move forward, I will continue to hold out the Lamp of Knowledge best I can, the same Lamp that Don made available to so many a generation ago.  How can I not?  Magic is not something I do.  Magic is something I am.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Curing the sick, part deux

For those not already in the know, an urgent appeal was made for healing just a couple days ago.  Donald Michael Kraig, a well renowned and respected author in the esoteric community was recently diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer.

Don is best known for his book Modern Magick, first published in 1988.  Since then, it has gone through a couple evolutions, including a second edition having been published in 2001 and a twelfth lesson later added to the book in 2010.  His very approachable writing style made this a best seller and the premier "Magick 101" book of the time.  Many readers first cut their magical teeth on this book, including yours truly.  We are all affectionately referred to as "Don's Kids".

Nick Farrell has written a ritual and set up an event in Facebook to coordinate healing efforts for Don.  For those who do not have quite as much time, a simple Rose Cross Ritual can be used to send healing light as well.

Please join in this endeavor.  Don has changed many lives for the better.  Let's return the favor.

UPDATE:  The effort to "Heal Don Kraig" has now become a Facebook group.  

UPDATE 2:  Tabatha Cicero has posted a Rite of Healing on the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn blog.

UPDATE 3:  Don is home from the hospital!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Curing the sick, and that gratis

About six months ago, the Golden Dawn community had come together like never before and published a significant treatise on the Golden Dawn Flying Rolls.  One of the major contributors and collaborators on that project was well-renowned author Aaron Leitch.

I've known Aaron for nearly ten years now, and we've gotten into some really fascinating discussions about Golden Dawn magic, particularly of the Enochian persuasion.  When I saw him last, about a month ago, he was wearing a patch on his glasses, but the patch was covering his good eye.  A cataract was growing over its field of vision and would soon completely cover it.  Since he was already legally blind in his other eye, this meant he was slowly, but inevitably, going functionally blind.  Saving his eyesight would require surgery.

Understand that Aaron, like almost all those who write on matters esoteric, does not make a living as an author.  We writers of the arcane are motivated by our love of the subject matter and the hope that we can shine the Lamp of Knowledge for a wayward soul.  That said, the harsh reality is, the profit margin and the sales volume are simply not there.  So Aaron, only able to afford high deductible health care through his employer, would have to pay $5,000 that he simply did not have.

Losing Aaron as an author would be a significant blow to the greater esoteric community.  His writings on grimoiric, Solomonic and Enochian/Angelical Magic have shined a great light in these lesser known and understood areas.  His online correspondences have also provided much guidance for esoteric cyber-seekers around the world.  Also, for me, the idea that he would never see his lady or his daughter again with his own two eyes was practically unbearable.

My first thought was to look to my Freemasonic brethren and call upon the Knights Templar Eye Foundation.  Masonry has been known for ages to help those in need, and the Foundation's original mission was "to provide assistance to those who face loss of sight due to the need for surgical treatment without regard to race, color, creed, age, sex or national origin provided they are unable to pay or receive adequate assistance from current government agencies or similar sources and to provide funds for research in curing diseases of the eye."  However, it seems as if their mission has changed:

"On December 31, 2010, the Knights Templar Eye Foundation, Inc., by direction of the board, ceased participating in direct patient care...The new mission statement of the Foundation is "to improve vision through research, education, and supporting access to care."

Oh, Freemasonry.  I heart you so hard, but at nearly every turn, you find new and ingenious ways to disappoint me.

So the New Year came and went, and then this happened.  A YouCaring fundraiser was set up with the goal of raising $5,500 to cover Aaron's medical costs and other small associated miscellany.  The esoteric community responded in a manner simply not imagined.  The monetary goal was reached within 48 hours.  In fact, the fundraiser was deactivated because they had reached a total of $7,400 donated by 200 contributors.  Aaron has already posted his reaction to his blog.

For those wondering, the extra money raised will be donated to the Himalayan Cataract Project.  As the fundraiser is now deactivated, those who would still like to make a donation may do so at the Project's donation page in Aaron's honor.

I find it amazing how quickly and powerfully the esoteric community came together to help one of its own.  Sadly, the richest nation on the planet seems to think it's acceptable to allow a productive member of its society to lose his eyesight simply for being guilty of the crime of not having enough money.  This fundraiser was a great light, but the simple fact that it had to be done indicates a darkness in the heart of the nation.  Medical bills are the #1 cause of bankruptcies in America, and such a thing should be anathema in the eyes of a Rosicrucian, who professes nothing but to cure the sick, and that gratis.

If you feel the need to further contribute to an organization who supports a similar philosophy, then the Physicians for a National Health Program may appeal to you.  Although single-payer health care his its share of problems, it's a step in a better direction and indubitably more moral than letting human beings fall through the cracks. 

Now that the financial obstacle has been removed, thanks to the kindness and generosity of so many, I wish Aaron a very safe and effective surgery, and also a very speedy recovery.  I'll be checking up on him, so he'd better have his new eyes peeled!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

The brightest gem has many facets

I can remember a time, back about a decade or so ago, when the most recent "Golden Dawn Wars" started.  A person couldn't go anywhere in the online arena, whether it be alt.magick, or the Golden Dawn Yahoo Groups (most especially the Golden Dawn Meeting Place), or the Order-based fora offered up, without witnessing bickering and infighting as far as the eye could see.  Arguments about lineage and legitimacy, who were the REAL heirs of the Golden Dawn legacy, were the most popular.  Then the juiciest gossip about misconduct or malfeasance by certain Order Chiefs would come out, to the audience's relish.  All this did a lot of damage to the Golden Dawn community, and more especially its reputation, to any esoterically-minded person who heard about the mudslinging.

Yet in the midst of these various and sundry skirmishes, there would be a rare, occasional post which would basically say, for each person mired in those battles, there were many others simply doing the Work in silence.

This book is proof of that declaration

The Commentaries on the Golden Dawn Flying Rolls is the culmination of an idea over ten years in the making.  Twenty-seven authors from fourteen different Orders and organizations and one selfless publisher, with a singular vision and love for the Golden Dawn System of Magic, were able to set aside any political differences and complete a very well-written work in peace.

As you read through the various commentaries, you will notice that the authors come from a wide spectrum of backgrounds and experiences, and I'm sure some of them will flat out disagree with some others' commentaries.  (I know I do.)  I do not see this, however, as a dilution nor a dispersion of the original Golden Dawn egregore.  Rather, I see it instead as a rich diversity, in which differing viewpoints can be shared and synthesized, or if not, practitioners have simply agreed to disagree like mature adults.  When all is said and done, we are all much more alike than we are different, and that is just one of the many reasons why this book's author is listed as the Golden Dawn Community.

Having been both a participant of the online kerfuffles and a contributor to this book, I guess you can say I have been both part of the problem and part of the solution.  Ten plus years, though, is plenty of time to learn a lot of lessons.  The main thing I have learned is that those voices that speak the loudest or most prolifically rarely come from either knowledge or wisdom.  Far better to listen to those who speak softly and sparingly, most especially the still, small voice of the Divine Spark within.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Tolerance in Rosicrucianism

I was horrified and saddened to hear of the mass shooting at the Sikh Temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin on Sunday.  The shooter (whom I refuse to name, as he deserves no fame nor remembrance) apparently led a white supremacist band and had many white power tattoos inked all over his body.  Presumably, he targeted these people because they were Muslim...the cherry of ignorance on top of this hate cake.

There just happens to be a Sikh temple about 15 minutes away from me.  I hope to be able to visit soon and offer my condolences, on behalf of myself and behalf of my Lodge.  Anyone wishing to help can support the Milwaukee shooting victims here.

Several weeks ago, I listed sixteen qualities of a Rosicrucian.  A number of them, such as kindness and patience, would certainly imply a tolerant spirit.  But is tolerance a true quality of a Rosicrucian?

Cloistered as a young boy, presumably in a Catholic monastery in Germany, Christian Rosenkreutz set out as a young man in search of knowledge.  In the Middle Ages, if you wanted education, you had to go where the enlightened minds were, the Arab world.  He traveled to Cyprus (where his companion died) and then to Damascus, where "by his skill in Physick he obtained much favour with the Turks".  From there, he travelled to Damcar, where they received him "not as a stranger, but as one whom they had long expected".  Clearly, there was no religious nor racial enmity in these relationships...rather quite the contrary.  The most judgmental suggestion made in the Fama Fraternitatis was that CRC found that in Fez "their Cabala was defiled with their Religion", but then the manuscript says "he knew how to make good use of the same, and found still more better grounds of his Faith..." and continues to espouse a sense of tolerance for the Muslim faith.

In fact, the place where CRC was most ill received was back in Christian lands, when he returned with his great knowledge, as "it was to them a laughing matter; and being a new thing unto them, they feared that their great Name should be lessened, if they should now again begin to learn and acknowledge their many years Errors".  The seed of intolerance can only grow in the darkness of a closed, fixed mind.

Yet the Confessio Fraternitatis practically opens with a strong admonishment towards Catholicism and Islam.  "We do condemn the East and the West (meaning the Pope and Mahomet) blasphemers against our Lord Jesus Christ..."  Even the Fama says "we also steadfastly believe, that if our Brethren and Fathers had lived in this our present and clear light, they would more roughly have handled the Pope [and] Mahomet..."  But there is no evidence of their founding father ever espousing those feelings or actions.  I think it's rather clear that Frater CRC was a lot more tolerant than even the writers of the R+C manuscripts.  Then again, look at Jesus Christ and compare his beliefs and actions to most of today's fundamentalist Christians, and the chasm of intolerance between them is striking.

As suggested earlier, the Rosicrucian movement was obviously Protestant, and that sentiment persisted into a number of modern Rosicrucian Orders.  Take for example the historical Order of the Golden Dawn and its Inner Order, the Roseae Rubeae et Aureae Crucis.  The last sentence on the second page of the Cipher Manuscripts advise the Order to "avoid Roman Catholics, but with pity."  Yet the Golden Dawn was one of the most progressively minded spiritual organizations of its day.  Men and women were admitted on an equal basis, and only a belief in a supreme being was required.  Catholics, Muslims, and even Sikhs and Pagans would have been welcome.  Today, there are even some GD orders which admit agnostics and atheists as well.  Furthermore, in the lecture On The General Guidance and Purification of the Soul, it declares:

"In true religion there is no sect. Therefore take heed that thou blas­pheme not the name by which another knoweth his God for if thou doest this thing in Jupiter, thou wilt blaspheme YHVH; and in Osiris YEHESHUAH." 

Tolerance abounds in the Golden Dawn.

Also take into consideration the Masonic Societas Rosicruciana (SRIA, SRICF, SRIC, SRIS, etc.)  Although membership requires one to be a Trinitarian Christian man, there is clear instruction and direction towards religious tolerance in their Philosophus degree: 

"Worthy Frater Practicus, I feel assured of the good intentions which animate you, but I warn you that the sub­jects of our studies are more abstruse and elevated than those in which you have already become proficient. As a Frater of this Society of the Rose and Cross you are familiar with the Christian Faith, and have learned to know of a Divine Creator and of Jesus Who is the Christ. You have now to study and compare the various con­ceptions of Divinity which have been held by the great nations of the Ancient World, and the tenets of the most famous philosophers, for in all their systems great moral lessons are to be found. By a serious contemplation of these systems we believe you will come to a more just appreciation of the beauties of the Christian Faith, and be well able to show to the world without that our Rosi­crucian Fraternity not only confers knowledge upon its members, but also Wisdom."

So make no mistake, Rosicrucianism is a peaceful, tolerant spiritual path.  Naturally, there will be some who call themselves Rosicrucians, or belong to Rosicrucian organizations, which may not live up to its doctrines and practices of tolerance.  Blame not the faith for its wayward followers, whether it be Rosicrucianism, Christianity, Islam, Judaism or Sikhism.  Our similarities are so much greater than our differences.


Saturday, July 14, 2012

Sub Rosa: The Ceiling of the Vault

The term Sub Rosa denotes that all meetings and activities taking place "under the Rose" are to remain secret and confidential.  This has been a long standing tradition across centuries and societies.  It is said that even some confessionals had roses painted on their ceilings to assure confidentiality between the parishioner and the priest.

The vow of secrecy is focused on again and again in the Neophyte Initiation of the Golden Dawn, even to the point of saying "thy blood may be poured out and thy body broken" if the vow of secrecy is compromised.  The crowning achievement of the Golden Dawn system, and of the aspiring Neophyte him/herself, is then the admittance to the Inner Order, or the Roseae Rubeae et Aureae Crucis, through the Adeptus Minor Initiation.  This initiation takes place in a seven-sided chamber often referred to as the Vault of the Adepti or the Tomb of the founder of the Rosicrucians, Christian Rosenkreutz.  So would it be any wonder that, on the ceiling of the Vault itself, is painted a large, brilliant White Rose?

I have seen a few Vaults in which the Rose on the ceiling is painted as per the petals on the Rose Cross of the Adept.  Although aesthetically pleasing, I find this to be technically incorrect.  In various Inner Order ceremonies, it is said that "The Heaven is above and the earth is beneath, and between the Light and Darkness the Colours vibrate."  It is clear to me that the ceiling is the undifferentiated Light, the floor the Darkness, and the colors vibrate on the Walls of the Vault, and everything that exists in between.  Furthermore, based on the diagram below, if the petals of the Rose were to be colored in, they would at least show some grayscale shading, and they do not.

The diagram below is the common image we think of when laying out the ceiling of the Vault:

Diagram 77: The Ceiling of the Vault from Crowley's The Equinox

As you can see, the Rose is exactly the same configuration as on the Rose Cross, with the Venus door in the West, the Mars wall North by East, and the Jupiter wall South by East.  In Flying Roll XVII, the Chief Adept, when standing in the East "has Mars and Geburah at his right hand, and Jupiter and Gedulah at his left hand. He faces Venus in the West..." 

Now take a look at the following diagram, showing the Chief Adept in the Pastos:

Second Entry: 5=6 Adeptus Minor Initiation

 Again, Venus door in the West, the Mars wall North by East, and the Jupiter wall South by East, as specified.  But note that this is a view from the ceiling downward.  So if Diagram 77 before has the same configuration as per the arrangement of the walls, that view must be from above the ceiling downward.  If that is the case, the view from inside the Vault itself, looking upward, would be a mirror image of what is actually shown in the diagram.

This is actually relatively easy to confirm, by the second layer of petals in the Rose, which are seven in number and are attributed to the planets, just like the walls are.  So the Peh petal, which is attributed to Mars, should be pointed toward the Mars wall, the Resh petal toward the Sun wall, etc.  (So if you're looking up at the ceiling of the Vault wall and the Peh petal is on your upper left, then it is pointing towards the Jupiter wall and your White Rose is technically reversed.)

The proper arrangement actually lines up a number of different elements within the Vault as well.  The Heh petal in the East, attributed to Aries and Fire, should be lined up right above the disc of the Lion, the Fire Kerub, on the Altar.  Just so, the Ayin petal, attributed to Capricorn and Earth, will be above the disc of the Bull, the Earth Kerub, the Lamed petal, Libra and Air, above the Man, and the Cheth petal, Cancer and Water, above the Eagle.  Lastly, the Adept lying in the Vault, will align his multi-colored Rose Cross with the White Rose on the ceiling, petal per petal in columnar fashion.  This makes perfect sense, if you consider the petals as rays of Light, descending vertically in the Vault, passing through the volume where the spectrum of colors vibrate, to manifest upon the Rose Cross of the Adept, whom while laying in the Pastos, is still above the floor, where the black Darkness reigns.