So much attention has been given to the 30th anniversary of the Consecration of the Vault of the Adepti by Israel Regardie, that another important milestone almost slipped under the radar. This Summer Solstice marks the 5th anniversary of the publication of Hermetic Virtues magazine. Vic Sabljic, a tireless and devoted servant of the Great Work, has bestowed a great service to the Western Mystery Tradition. Furthermore, the list of authors who have written for Hermetic Virtues is a veritable "Who's Who" in the esoteric community. From many different walks of life and many different traditions, Hermetic Virtues has also served to bring the community together in a greater sense of sharing and harmony. For all of this, Vic and his Hermetic Virtues team deserves significant accolades.
This edition of Hermetic Virtues also marks my debut as a published author. The article, Change Your Motto, Change Your Destiny, discusses the concept and history of changing one's name, the various reasons to do so, and provides a deeply meaningful ritual in order to effect such a significant change in one's own magical life.
Here is a small excerpt from the article:
Abram was promised to be made a great nation by God, but his wife Sarai was barren. Jacob was a cunning lad who undermined his brother and was sent away. Simon was a simple fisherman, Saul a persecutor of Christians. Aside from all being prominent figures in the Bible, what did all these people have in common? They all experienced a life-changing event, after which they took on a new name.
The custom known as Shinui ha-Shem is exercised in the cases in which a person needs to acknowledge life-changing events, change one’s path of misfortune, or even as a last-ditch attempt to save a person’s life from critical illness and imminent death. The foundational premise of this is, if you change your name, you change your fate.
As a ceremonial magician, our first charge is to create for ourselves a magical motto. It is not supposed to be a title or categorization as such, but a conscious definition and crystallization of our intent and aim in our magical lives. It is our first application of Will, the first thing we truly magically create and, in that sense, it is a self-initiation in its own right. This is the magical rendition of Shinui ha-Shem.
However, the magical life is not all roses and rainbows. We endure trials and tribulations, we come to crossroads and, sometimes, we even get lost along the way. As the Hiereus reminds us, “every obstacle can at length be conquered by perseverance”, and when the dawn of a new day breaks, we arise not the same. As the Angel beseeched Jacob, “Let me go, for the day breaks”, just before giving him a new name, it is such times in our own magical lives that may be opportunities to change our mottos. After all, if changing one’s mundane name changes one’s fate, then changing one’s magical motto changes one’s destiny.
Be sure to go over to the Hermetic Virtues website and get your copy of the Summer Solstice 2012 edition today. Personally, my favorite article is Two Thrones for the Golden Dawn by Aaron Leitch, with Enochian Magic in the Golden Dawn Tradition by Dean F. Wilson a close second. It's a very good edition and you won't regret getting a copy for yourself.
For 30 years, the Light shineth in the Darkness 30 years, and still, the Darkness comprehendeth it not.
Sunday marks an incredible landmark anniversary in the history of the Golden Dawn and the Roseae Rubeae et Aureae Crucis. On June 24, 1982, Francis Israel Regardie, our Very Honored Frater Ad Majorem Adonai Gloriam, consecrated the Vault of the Adepti, tirelessly built by Mr. Chic Cicero. Did either of them at the time realize what forces they would set in motion?
The original Golden Dawn was established in March of 1888. By 1918, it had gone through infighting, uprisings, major schisms, ugly court battles, such bad publicity that name changes were necessary, and the Archon Basileus of the Alpha et Omega, Samuel "MacGregor" Mathers, would be dead by the end of that year. The various splinter factions had already seen their heyday by then, and were well on the decline.
The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn has seen its fair share of trials and tribulations in its history as well, some paralleling the original Order perhaps a little too closely. But after I saw the following honorarium, signed by so many from such diverse organizations, I could not help but think that the Golden Dawn's best years are yet to come.
On the door of the Vault is written Post CXX Annos Patebo, "After 120 years, I will open". On Sunday, there needs to be a new inscription: Post XXX Annos Nitemus, "After 30 years, we flourish and shine".
Dear Chic and Tabby, may the Lord of the Universe bless you and keep you, for He Works in Silence, and naught but Silence can express my gratitude to your endless devotion to the Order and to the Great Work.
LVX in Excelsis,
V.H. Frater Phaino
As one who has taken the circuitous Path of the Serpent around many different orders and organizations, I can tell you I did so out of my own dreamy aspirations mixed with foolishness and inexperience. I like to think of myself as a critical thinker, but there were many times I simply believed what I wanted to believe. It's a very human thing to do, and I learned many valuable lessons from it. I believe it is said that wisdom comes from experience, experience comes from lack of wisdom. Apparently, I resemble that remark.
So when it comes to Rosicrucians, or at least those who make that claim, there are some guidelines you can use to verify, or at least clarify, the nature of the individual. Naturally, there is the old adage "Any man who declares himself a Rosicrucian is not one". That's a good start, but it only scratches the surface and bestows judgment without understanding. For a more penetrating inspection, the section below taken from the appendix of In the Pronaos of the Temple of Wisdom by Franz Hartmann published in 1890 is extremely helpful. Furthermore, if you aspire to become a Rosicrucian, this would make a rather nice initial checklist of personal qualities to attain.
Bear in mind that a person could possess any or all of these qualities and yet not be a Rosicrucian. Even so, I would then classify him or her as a Good Person® and worthy of trust and association. Then again, I am one who believes a person can be a Rosicrucian and not even know it. I would consider my father to have been one of those people.
So please indulge in The Secret Signs of the Rosicrucians. It is a bit of a long read, but it is worth the time. May you gain the wisdom that I didn't have.
There are sixteen signs by which a member of the order of the Rosicrucians may be known. He who possesses only a few of those signs is not a member of a very high degree, for the true Rosicrucian possesses them all.
1. The Rosicrucian is Patient.
His first and most important victory is the conquest of his own self. It is the victory over the LION, who has bitterly injured some of the best followers of the Holy Cross. He is not to be vanquished by a fierce and inconsiderate attack made upon him; but he must be made to surrender to patience and fortitude. The true Rosicrucian tries to overcome his enemies by kindness, and those who hate him by gifts. He heaps not curses, but the burning fire of love upon their heads. He does not persecute his enemies with the sword, or with [torches], but he suffers the weeds to grow with the wheat until they are both matured, when they will be separated by Nature.
2. The Rosicrucian is Kind.
He never appears gloomy or melancholy, or with a scowl or sneer upon his face. He acts kindly and politely towards everybody, and is always ready to render assistance to others. Although he is different from the majority of other people, still he tries to accommodate himself to their ways, habits and manners, as much as his dignity will permit. He is, therefore, an agreeable companion, and knows how to converse with the rich as well as with the poor, and to move among all classes of society so as to command their respect; for he has conquered the bear of vulgarity.
3. The Rosicrucian knows no Envy.
Before he is accepted into the order he must go through the terrible ordeal of cutting off the head of the snake of envy; which is a very difficult labour, because the snake is sly, and easily hides itself in some corner. The true Rosicrucian is always content with his lot, knowing that it is such as he deserves it to be. He never worries about the advantages or riches which others possess, but wishes always the best to everybody. He knows that he will obtain all he deserves, and he cares not if any other person possesses more than he. He expects no favours, but he distributes his favours without any partiality.
4. The Rosicrucian does not Boast.
He knows that man is nothing but an instrument in the hands of GOD, and that he can accomplish nothing useful by his own will; the latter being nothing but the will of GOD perverted in man. To GOD he gives all the praise, and to that which is mortal he gives all the blame. He is in no inordinate haste to accomplish a thing, but he waits until he receives his orders from the Master who resides above and within. He is careful what he speaks about, and uses no unhallowed language.
5. The Rosicrucian is not Vain.
He proves thereby that there is something real in him, and that he is not like a blown-up bag filled with air. Applause or blame leaves him unaffected, nor does he feel aggrieved if he is contradicted or encounters contempt. He lives within himself, and enjoys the beauties of his own inner world, but he never desires to show off his possessions, nor to pride himself on any spiritual gifts which he may have attained. The greater his gifts, the greater will be his modesty, and the more will he be willing to be obedient to the law.
6. The Rosicrucian is not Disorderly.
He always strives to do his duty, and to act according to the order established by the law. He cares nothing for externalities, nor for ceremonies. The law is written within his heart, and therefore all his thoughts and acts are ruled by it. His respectability is not centred in his external appearance, but in his real being, which may be compared to a root from which all his actions spring. The interior beauty of his soul is reflected upon his exterior, and stamps all his acts with its seal; the light existing in his heart may be perceived in his eye by an expert; it is the mirror of the Divine image within.
7. The Rosicrucian is not Ambitious.
There is nothing more injurious to spiritual development and expansion of the soul than a narrow mind and a selfish character. The true Rosicrucian always cares much more for the welfare of others than for his own. He has no private or personal interest to defend or foster. He always seeks to do good, and he never avoids any opportunity which may present itself for that purpose.
8. The Rosicrucian is not Irritable.
It is evident that a person who works for the benefit of the whole will be hated by those whose personal advantages are not benefited thereby; because selfishness is opposed to magnanimity, and the claims of the few are not always compatible with the interests of the community. The Rosicrucian will therefore be often resisted by narrow-minded and short-sighted people; he will be slandered by calumniators, his motives will be misrepresented, he will be misjudged by the ignorant, ridiculed by the would-be wise, and taunted by the fool. All such proceedings, however, cannot excite or irritate the mind of the true Rosicrucian, nor disturb the divine harmony of his soul; for his faith rests in the perception and knowledge of the truth within himself. The opposition of a thousand ignorant people will not induce him to desist from doing that which he knows to be noble and good, and he will do it even if it should involve the loss of his fortune or of his life. Being able and accustomed to direct his spiritual sight towards the divine, he cannot be deluded by the illusions of matter, but clings to the eternal reality. Being surrounded by angelic influences, and listening to their voices, he is not affected by the noise made by the animals. He lives in the company of those noble beings, who were once men like others, but who have become transfigured, and who are now beyond the reach of the vulgar and low.
9. The Rosicrucian does not think evil of others.
Those who think evil of others see merely the evil which exists within themselves reflected and mirrored forth in others. The Rosicrucian is always willing to recognise in everything that which is good. Tolerance is a virtue by which the Rosicrucian is eminently distinguished from others; and by which he may be known. If a thing appears to be ambiguous, he suspends his judgment about it until he has investigated its nature; but as long as his judgment is not perfect, he is more inclined to form a good opinion than an evil one about everything.
10. The Rosicrucian loves justice.
He, however, never sets himself up as a judge over the faults of others, nor does he wish to appear to be wise by censuring the mistakes of others. He does not enjoy gossip, and cares no more about the foolishness committed by others, than he would about the buzzing of a fly or the capers of a monkey. He finds no pleasure in listening to political or personal quarrels, disputations, or mutual recriminations. He cares nothing for the cunningness of a fox, the dissimulation of a crocodile, or the rapacity of a wolf, and is not amused by the stirring up of mud. His nobility of character lifts him up into a sphere far beyond all such trifles and absurdities, and being above the sensual plane, wherein ordinary mortals find their happiness and enjoyment, he lives with those who do not think evil of each other, who do not rejoice about an injustice done to their brother, or make merry about his ignorance, and enjoy his misfortunes. He enjoys the company of those who love the truth, and who are surrounded by the peace and harmony of the spirit.
11. The Rosicrucian loves the truth.
There is no devil worse than falsehood and calumny. Ignorance is a non-entity, but falsehood is the substance of evil. The calumniator rejoices whenever he has found something upon which to base his lies and to make them grow like mountains. Opposed to it is the truth, it being a ray of light from the eternal fountain of GOOD, which has the power to transform man into a divine being. The ROSICRUCIAN seeks, therefore, no other light but the light of truth, and this light he does not enjoy alone, but in company of all who are good and filled with its divine majesty, whether they live on this earth or in the spiritual state; and he enjoys it above all with those who are persecuted, oppressed, and innocent, but who will be saved by the truth.
12. The Rosicrucian knows how to be silent.
Those who are false do not love the truth. Those who are foolish do not love wisdom. The true Rosicrucian prefers to enjoy the company of those who can appreciate truth to that of those who would trample it with their feet. He will keep that which he knows locked up within his heart, for in silence is power. As a minister of state does not go about telling to everybody the secrets of the king; so the Rosicrucian does not parade before the public the revelations made to him by the king within, who is nobler and wiser than all the earthly kings and princes; for they only rule by the authority and power derived from Him. His secrecy ceases only when the king commands him to speak, for it is then not he who speaks, but the truth that is speaking through him.
13. The Rosicrucian believes that which he knows.
He believes in the immutability of eternal law, and that every cause has a certain effect. He knows that the truth cannot lie, and that the promises made to him by the king will be fulfilled, if he does not himself hinder their fulfilment. He is, therefore, inaccessible to doubt or fear, and puts implicit confidence in the divine principle of truth, which has become alive and conscious within his heart.
14. The Rosicrucian's hope is firm.
Spiritual hope is the certain conviction resulting from a knowledge of the law, that the truths recognised by faith will grow and be fulfilled; it is the knowledge of the heart, and very different from the intellectual speculation of the reasoning brain. His faith rests upon the rock of direct perception and cannot be overthrown. He knows that in everything, however evil it may appear to he, there is a germ of good, and he hopes that in the course of evolution that germ will become developed, and thus evil be transformed into good.
15. The Rosicrucian cannot be vanquished by suffering.
He knows that there is no light without shadow, no evil without some good, and that strength only grows by resistance. Having once recognised the existence of the Divine principle within everything, external changes are to him of little importance, and do not deserve great attention. His main object is to hold on to his spiritual possessions, and not to lose the crown which he has gained in the battle of life.
16. The Rosicrucian will always remain a member of his society.
Names are of little importance. The principle which presides over the Rosicrucian Society is the truth; and he who knows the truth, and follows it in practice, is a member of the society over which the truth practises. If all names were changed and all languages altered, the truth would remain the same; and he who lives in the truth will live even if all nations should pass away.
These are the sixteen signs of the true Rosicrucians, which have been revealed to a pilgrim by an angel who took away the heart of the pilgrim, leaving in its place a fiery coal, which is now incessantly burning and glowing with love of the universal brotherhood of humanity.
For certain, the wordplay on the title of this blog post is meant to show that there has been no lack of controversy, nor hyperbole, when it comes to talking about the mysterious, magical Secret Chiefs who "live in the Light of their Perfect Justice", and who "journey as upon the Winds...strike where no man strikes...and slay where no man slays"!
In fact, in 1896, S.L. MacGregor Mathers said the following about his personal connection with the Secret Chiefs:
"Concerning the Secret Chiefs of the Order, to whom I make reference and from whom I have received the Wisdom of the Second Order which I have communicated to you, I can tell you nothing.
I do not even know them by their earthly names.
I know them only by certain secret mottoes.
I have but very rarely seen them in the physical body; and on such rare occasions the rendezvous was made astrally by them at the time and place which had been astrally appointed beforehand.
For my part I believe them to be human and living upon this earth; but possessing terrible superhuman powers…
The strain of such labour has been, as you can conceive, enormous...the nerve prostration after each reception being terrible from the strain of testing the correctness of every passage thus communicated; the nerve prostration alluded to being at times accompanied by profuse cold perspirations, and by severe loss of blood from the nose, mouth, and occasionally the ears."
Such claims seem to be too fantastical to be believed, yet there are Golden Dawn Orders in existence today who claim to have this connection with these Secret Chiefs. So what exactly is to be believed?
As like everything in the Golden Dawn, a Middle Pillar approach of sober moderation is best. Such claims should not be dismissed out of hand, nor should they be taken on blind faith. Furthermore, we are taught to test every entity we encounter, by signs, symbols, names and letters. If there are beings, human or otherwise, which claim to be Secret Chiefs, then they should be able to hold up to the same scrutiny, if not more so. It is abundantly clear that Mathers conveniently forgot his own advice and did not do his due diligence when it came to Mr. Theo and Madame Horos in 1901.
But that is all history. What is relevant right here and now is, have the Chiefs of current Golden Dawn Orders making their claims done their due diligence? The only real way to answer that question is to do our own in the face of those claims.
At risk of sounding pedantic, there are two fundamental claims regarding the authenticity of Secret Chiefs. One, that they are "Chiefs". The other, that they are "Secret".
Regardless of modern cultural mindsets, secrecy has always been an important part of the Golden Dawn Tradition. It is a fundamental exercise of self-restraint, more especially of the ego and, in my opinion, is even more important in today's instant gratification society. So if the Secret Chiefs, who have remained private for centuries, suddenly decide to make themselves revealed to the public, what does that mean? Are they simply coming forth into modern times? The Rosicrucians actually had a process for that. They called it a Reformation. And if the Secret Chiefs decided to come out now, they are either 13 years too late or 99 years too early. Besides, what do you call Secret Chiefs who have "outed themselves"? The Chiefs-who-until-recently-were-Secret? Do they say ecky-ecky-ecky-ecky-p'tang-whoop-boing? And do we need to offer them a shrubbery? Please pardon my sudden departure to snarky humor, but I hope you get my point. If Secret Chiefs are no longer secret, then they are...well...something else, aren't they?
Regarding the claim to the Chiefly title, a member of the Third Order is going to be at very least a Magister Templi, or Master of the Temple. S/he should have mastered the magical system of which s/he is a Chief. S/he should have forgotten more about the First Order than you have learned, be able to give insight into the magical system that you could not have imagined, and continue to build on that tradition without abandoning its fundamentals.
So what is to be thought about Secret Chiefs who are disseminating a new ooh shiny type of magic for the not-so-new millenium? Why would the guardians of a centuries-old magical tradition seemingly start from scratch and throw the magickal childe out with the bathwater? Should not a Secret Chief be able to adapt to new information while keeping the tradition intact? Nihil Sub Sole Novum. Furthermore, if such a new magic is so special, so insightful, so powerful, then why would the Secret Chiefs make it public at their first opportunity and not keep it instead for their initiates? Knowledge is power, and with power comes responsibility. One should expect Secret Chiefs to be wise as well as knowledgeable, and if the knowledge they intentionally share is then purposefully abused by its recipients, is that the kind of poor judgment to be expected from Secret Chiefs?
Lastly, if Golden Dawn Adepts strive to be more than human, then I would hope that the Secret Chiefs would have reached that goal. But being more than human is more than just about power. If the Secret Chiefs possess superhuman power as Mathers had claimed, then I certainly would hope that they would possess superhuman virtue as well. So when these Secret Chiefs hand down this arcane yet freshly modern occult knowledge, what is its effect on the world? Does it make better people? Does it further the Great Work? Also, take a close look at the emissaries of the Secret Chiefs. Are their teachings helping their ambassadors become wiser, more serene, more temperate, more humble, more virtuous?
Simply put, "by their fruits, you will know them."
When I was going through the regimen of the Outer Order, by far the hardest grade for me was Philosophus. I have almost no planets in the Fire signs in my natal chart, and oh, how it showed. I struggled with the spiritual alchemy of it all, sometimes mightily, but most of the time pathetically. My wife sometimes reminds me of the scorch marks I left on her, but then I remind her that she was in Theoricus at the time, just fanning my flames. I had taken no longer than six months in any previous grade. Philosophus would take me a year and a half. There were many a time that I didn't think I would make it, but I managed to overcome, thanks to a little help from my friends and loved ones, scorched or otherwise.
The peculiar thing about it now is, out of all the Golden Dawn initiations I conduct, by far the most efficacious ones are the Philosophus initiations. With a proper opening of the Fire Tablet, salamanders come pouring out and start nipping at everyone's heels. Closing the same, there follows a noticeable draft felt at the ankles. So I boggle at the ease of working with the element of Fire, because it gave me so much grief when I went through its Grade.
I was discussing this paradox with my wife while in the car tonight, and I made a realization. I was reminded of my struggles with social anxieties in my teenage years, and they were much harder and took a lot longer to overcome compared to my paroxysms in Philosophus. The Hiereus tells us in the Neophyte Initiation that "every obstacle can at length be conquered by perseverance", but what I just discovered is, the longer you persevere, the stronger you become.
Besides, I didn't engage in the quest for the Great Work because I thought it would be easy...