Friday, December 21, 2007

Multiply GD group

Today, I spent some time on Multiply--a networking site (a lot of the members of Yahoo 360 are going over there)--updating my profile, things like that. Was searching though the groups there, and realized that there was little Golden Dawn presence there, so I created a Golden Dawn group there. Anything to make it easier to find potential members for the local lodge.

[Edit--June 21, 2013--Multiply officially closed operations on May 31, 2013. Links to Multiply removed. Link to the official Bast Temple page updated.]

Friday, December 14, 2007

What use would an Order have for an enlightened being?

If enlightened beings exist, one must wonder if it is possible to meet them in the Orders. Considering what I know about enlightenment, which is not a lot, I would have to say yes. It is possible for a person to use the tools and methods of Golden Dawn to access mental states that are normally barred to us.

Now does that mean that those members higher in the Grade structure are more enlightened than those below them in Grade--NO. One of the misconceptions about Golden Dawn arise from the correspondence of each Grade to a sephirah, and each sephirah to a mystic experience or state of consciousness. Some people believe that the mystic experience comes automatically with the Grade; this is a belief that Mathers seemed to encourage based on my understanding of his writings. One of his students, and later enemy, Aliester Crowley also encouraged this belief. It is wrong.

I have seen no evidence that the mystic experiences automatically come with the Grades. The Grades are the gateways and stepping stones to those experiences; they are not the experiences themselves. A certain amount of work must be done to realize the full potential of a Grade; a person must work to unfold the mysteries of the rose, or any of the lesser Grades.

Nevertheless, occasionally one does run into someone who has gained the vision of the machinery of the universe, or insight into sacrifice, or whatnot though the tools of the tradition. Most, if not all, of them keep their attainment to themselves. Beware of anyone who brags about their knowledge, enlightenment, or Grade; normally, such boasting is the sign of a sure fraud.

Occasionally, it has been said that the tradition is guided, and sometimes outright led, by people who have became enlightened. To be frank, this puzzles me. What possible use would an Order such as Golden Dawn have to an enlightened being?

Even if at their moment of enlightenment, they chose to come back and guide other beings into the Light, wouldn’t the trappings of our tradition be more of a hindrance than an aid to that pursuit? And how hard would it be to hang onto your enlightened state if one was forced to be the head of such an Order?

Thoughts like these affirm my own personal belief that the Golden Dawn tradition is not so much about enlightenment as it is about magic. It is not that enlightened beings are barred from joining the tradition (though I know a couple of Orders that would expel them the moment their leaders caught on to the fact), or that spiritual development can not happen inside the Order--it is merely that it does not seem to me, at least, to be the ideal vessel for this to occur.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

So who should decide the purpose?

So given the many things that Golden Dawn could be, we need a definition what is Golden Dawn. As a working definition, let’s borrow from John Michael Greer, and say that a Golden Dawn lodge is a group of people who come together to pool resources for a common purpose while using the rituals and material of Golden Dawn to further their way towards that common purpose.

The definition is a little wordy, but it is much simpler than many essay length definitions I have seen. And it does have the advantage of allowing change to happen in the system, the only constant is being the base line rituals and material.

The definition does have the disadvantage of leaving the door open to any group that decides to use the published Golden Dawn material to call itself Golden Dawn. Personally, I would consider not doing that; may I suggest the term “Golden Dawn based group” instead. Between certain legal issues (a small trademark dispute) and the large amount of expectations and misconceptions about what Golden Dawn is, claiming that one’s is the Golden Dawn is a hazard that one should really look carefully at before stepping into that particular bog.

So given our definition, what should the common goal of a Golden Dawn based group be? And who should decide what it is?

My suggestion is that the purpose should be decided by the members of the group. And I would also not set it into stone too solidly. Yes, by doing so, it does allow the purpose of a group to change as the membership changes (as new members join, and old members leave). I realize that having a fluid, ever-changing purpose will distress some people (for them, there are several Golden Dawn Orders whose purpose is set in stone).

Probably the most common purpose, and the one that Bast Temple (and the BIORC) was set up for, is to perform the initiation rituals and study the Golden Dawn material (both the published and unpublished material). And yes, it may seem strange to advise a changeable purpose when the one I belong to has a set purpose; having such a mission statement on the top of the bylaws is always an option, and besides we don’t say what material we are focused on--the focus of the group’s studies changes as the membership does.

So given the fact that the membership of the group decides the purpose, who decides the membership?

In many Golden Dawn groups, this honor goes to the original founder(s) of the group. This tactic is rooted in the General Orders issued by Mathers--one is granted membership by, and is allowed to continue as a member, only by the sufferance of the Chief Adept.

This is where I part paths with a lot of people. I think, that after the initial membership is gathered, the membership should be allowed to determine who is allowed to join. It works for the Freemasons; why not Golden Dawn based groups?

Many people will answer that it completely ignores the whole spiritual development concept of Golden Dawn, something that may not be in play in all Golden Dawn based groups. Besides what new Golden Dawn group, or old one for that matter, can claim to be enlightened, or have made significant progress on that route? After all, what good would an Order have for an enlightened being?

Monday, December 10, 2007

Purpose of Golden Dawn, and who should be allowed in

One of the things I occasionally ponder is what type of people should be in Golden Dawn and the Orders based on its material.

I am not sure if there is a legitimate answer to this question, or rather a universal answer to it. Each of the Orders that I have experience with had their own answer to the question. In fact, I believe that everyone you ask will give a different answer.

For instance, what is an acceptable reason for joining Golden Dawn? Most would say that one should have a desire to further one’s spiritual development. And most incoming members seem to think that is the only acceptable answer.

If you believe that the only acceptable answer is spiritual development, then you will probably believe that I shouldn’t be a member. Spiritual development was the farthest thing from my mind when I joined the Order; it has remained a low priority for me, though I must admit some spiritual growth has occurred despite my lack of interest in it. I joined Golden Dawn because of the material covered; I was already studying the material--why not do it inside the Order. There was also the issue that I like magic, the little known science of using the human mind to access dimensions that are normally inaccessible to us. To say that I have issues with power would be putting it mildly. In my defense, I remind you that I am the oldest of eight kids, and grew up really poor--a lack of an education and resources has made me a deep reservoir of self-interest. And if magic allows me an edge that I would not otherwise have, so mote it be. For many people, this attitude should bar me from the company of upright souls; the members of the lodge that brought me into the system had no problem with my reaching for power--a fact that would cause many people to say that particular lodge was not really a Golden Dawn lodge.

People are welcome to their opinion. People’s views of Golden Dawn are varied; and there is a Golden Dawn based Order that fits whatever views one chooses to have.

If you think that Inner Order Golden Dawn members should be paladins of virtue and self-sacrifice, there exists an Order for you. If you think that Golden Dawn should be strictly for Christians, then there is an Order for you. If you believe that Jews and Wiccans should be allowed into Golden Dawn, then there is an Order for you. If you like to be told what to do, allowing someone else to control your life, then there is an Order for you. If you are the independent type that wants to chart your own course, then there is an Order for you. If you believe that Thelema should be taught in Golden Dawn, then there is an Order for you.

No matter what you believe Golden Dawn is about, there is an Order that fulfills those conditions, (or at least, claims to fulfill them). This is why it is so hard to decide who should or should not be in Golden Dawn, or for that matter, which group represents what Golden Dawn is really about.

In many ways, it is like the differences of opinion that exist about the real purpose of Freemasonry. There are some who consider Freemasonry nothing more than a social club and networking organization; there are others who consider Freemasonry to be a school of esoteric symbolism. Either camp can find evidence of their case in one or another Freemasonry lodge.

The same holds true for Golden Dawn. My advice to people interested in Golden Dawn is to shop around. I would also suggest being patient; some of the best Golden Dawn groups are small and extremely hard to find. Just because a Golden Dawn based Order is visible and easy to find, and claims to be legitimate (and sometimes the only true Golden Dawn), doesn’t make it so. It also does not mean that it is the best group for your needs. Do not be afraid to take some time (maybe even years) to find the perfect Golden Dawn group for you. After all, you probably would not want to join a Golden Dawn group that would be willing to have me as a member, now would you?

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Is Enochian magic dangerous?

One of the great debates in magical circles is whether or not, Enochian magic is dangerous. For the most part, it is a stalemate between the two sides--one that says that Enochian should be something that you prepare and build up to, the other side believing that one can dive right in without too many, if any, serious repercussions.

Personally, I am a fence sitter. I was taught in the long preparation method, though I must admit that much of the noise about the dangers of Enochian magic is exaggerated.

Yet, I must admit that there is a danger to Enochian magic. No, I am not talking about it raining fire, or entities showing up to eat your brain. Rather I am concerned about the effect it (Enochian magic) has on the minds of those who use it.

I was reminded of this concern yesterday. By nature, I try to be nice to people; but occasionally I lose it, and tell people what I really think. And Enochian studies make it worse, turning me into an outright nasty wench with bile for blood.

As I said, I was reminded of this yesterday. Unfortunately, I was on a forum site, and hit reply before I remembered that perhaps telling someone that their ideas annoyed me was perhaps not the world’s best idea.

In part, I believe that my response was just the way I feel about the subject that I was replying to; that and the fact that the person annoying me is one of those internet hounds that occasionally comes though and announces that the Golden Dawn (especially the modern version) has it all wrong, the type of person that I want to heave a brick at in when I am in the best of moods. But some of the vitriol in my reply may have to do with the fact that the night before I was engaged in some Enochian work.

If it was a one time incident, I would probably just rack it up to coincidence. Unfortunately, I have noticed that my ability to tolerate the antics of internet trolls and armchair magicians tends to be low after I have done workings with Enochian.

So does this make Enochian dangerous? Perhaps. I would have to say that it depends solely on your definition of danger; if you consider losing control of one’s tongue to be dangerous, then perhaps one should consider leaving Enochian well enough alone. If on the other hand, you just rake up my venomous replies to me being me, then by all means feel free to summon up the entities of the Air Tablet to open up that box of corn flakes for you.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

So we voted to continue

So a quick update, the members of Bast Temple voted to continue working together. Just in case, anyone was curious about what we decided.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

To continue as a lodge or not...

One of the things that has been on my mind lately is whether or not, the lodge I belong to is going to continue to exist. We are in one of those periodic membership crisises that it seems prone to. And we just lost our most experienced officer.

It is times like this that I look at the mission statement and ask if the lodge needs to continue. The purpose that Bast Temple was formed for was to provide classes and initiation into the Golden Dawn system.

With the arrival of the Esoteric Order of Golden Dawn in Denver, a Sanctuary (whatever that is--I think a Sanctuary is a study circle), does Bast Temple even need to continue?

I guess it going to depend upon who you ask. For me, involvement with the EOGD is just not going to cut it; I am not the right religion to be a member of their Inner Order if the rumors are true. And they do not exactly approve of what some of the things that I was taught, the expansions of the Inner Order material in particular.

Besides, I am a poor college student, and I understand their dues are much higher than Bast Temple's. So for me, Bast Temple still has a function.

I wonder what the rest of the lodge is going to vote. We will see today.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

What I did at the Open Full Moon

So I guess I should talk about what I did at the Open Full Moon.

Babble. That sums it up. Surprisingly, at least to me, I found myself extremely nervous.

Of course, I am customed to my "winging it" to be conducted beyond closed doors, perhaps with a few friends, so doing it in front of strangers made me feel like twitching on the floor.

It had to be winged. I knew that I could grab some voluteers to help me, but I had no idea of who I was going to end up with. In the end, I got lucky to have Carol, Ann and Ann's son helping me. There was also Diane and the Indian woman that I always blank on her name.

After community announcements, and stalling for Ann's husband to get there, I talked about the influence that Golden Dawn had on the wicca movement. It was the standard lecture, Gardner involvement with OTO, and the fact that GD was one of the comparative religion Orders that predated the Wicca movement, along with the fact that the core material that Crowley and Regardie published were consulted a lot during the early days of Wicca.

After explaining the purpose of the ritual, and giving everyone an overview of it, I did the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram. Then Ann's son did the purification and consecration by fire and water, using words right out of one of Waite's books. My voluteers called quarters.

Then we did a talisman charging (I issued index cards to all) using the generic god name IAO. I used that because of its complex symbolism, male and female, creation and destruction and rebirth, it fit the best in my opinion for the audience.

We closed with the Mystic Repast (Carol liked the idea that it was Osiris) and dismissing the quarters.

I talked awhile with some of the audience afterwards. Diana and Skott kicked around the possibility of moving our meetings to a day that they could attend. Next thing, I knew it was ten o'clock.

I bummed a ride from Robert, Ann's husband, because I was feeling a little light-headed. He gave me from food from a delivery that was canceled (he works for a really good restraurant), so I didn't have to worry about dinner.

Overall, I am happy with my performance. I might consider doing another OFM next year, but only if some of the lodge members can make time to help out; it is not fair that I am the sole public representive for the lodge. After all, it is not like I am in charge or anything like that.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Idea behind the October Open Full Moon ritual

The original idea behind doing an Open Full Moon was that it would help give the lodge greater exposure in the local pagan/wiccan community. Unfortunately, even greater public exposure will not increase the local lodge membership unless we can give people a reason to want to join.

Hence, I plan on talking about how there are several Golden Dawn techniques that can be used in a wiccan setting. Such as the Purification and Consecration by Water and Fire, the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram, and the Middle Pillar ritual. I might mention the use of godforms, and how several keys of Gardnerian Wicca came from Golden Dawn though the route of OTO (Thelema and Aliester Crowley). Or maybe not, depends upon the audience.

Hopefully, it will spark some interest. If nothing else, it makes Alia happy that I am doing a ritual (OFM).

[Updated--June 21, 2013: Link to lodge site changed to current official site.]


So today in one of my fits of boredom, I googled blog directories. Which is how I found Technorati. Nice place where you can see how many blogs have talked about your blog.

I registered this blog and Musing From The Pen with them today; I will have to do my other blogs later.

Promoting and such

Today, I did some promoting about the fact that I am going to be doing the OFM this moon. Also added some links in those Yahoo groups that allow such to this blog. Currently on Technorati claiming my blogs.

Denver Open Full Moon Ritual October 2007

As some of you know, I am doing the Open Full Moon for Hearthstone this Friday, October 19th. If you didn't know, now you do.

If anyone wants to attend that has never been at a OFM, it is held at the First Unitarian Church at 14th and Lafayette (that is in the Capital Hill area). The doors open at 7:00 pm and the ritual starts at7:30.

As for what I plan I doing at the ritual, I am still not completely sure. I do know that there will be some GD elements to it because that is who I am.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Hard copying manuscripts

In the good old days before the advent of the personal computer and the publishing of the Golden Dawn documents by Regardie, a member of Golden Dawn had to hand copy all the documents they wanted a copy of. It was simple. You filled out the form and the lodge (Order) loaned you the master copy of a document (ritual, lesson, address, flying roll, etc.) for a specified length of time, and you sat down and hand copied it.

It was slow and tedious, even in the days when people were still used to doing things this way. After doing it a couple of times, one begins to sympathize with the monks who did this for a living before the printing press was invented. One understands the marginal comments of relief, and curses uttered when someone damaged or stole a book.

And it is a thing of the past. Yet there are times that even today it serves a purpose.

I have personally ended up typing rituals and lessons out of books (for me, having something in Word makes my studies easier, especially the type of studies that one does in ZAM and beyond); it is tedious even now that I am better at typing. Despite the difficulty (I started out as a "Biblical typist"--"Seek and ye shall find"), it is worthwhile doing.

There are things I would have never noticed if I won't have been typing them up into Word. "Did he really mean to say this? And if so, why? What would be the point of doing it like that?"

Maybe I am the only one that needs to approach the material like this. If so, I apologize to those who brought the Revised (Three Officer Version) Neophyte Ritual.

There are some who consider the price tag on that book to be too high. And it is if you already belong to a lodge that has enough members to do the version that Regardie published. But there are some students of Golden Dawn who live nowhere near a functioning lodge, and do not know enough people to petition for a Warrant to establish one. It is for them that the modified ritual is meant for.

And I want them to type it into Word. I don't want the book to meet the photocopier, and I don't want numerous copies to be printed out UNLESS someone took the time to hand copy (AKA type) it. After they do that, I figure that they are going to run off copies for the three other people that they gather to work the ritual. At that point, I don't care.

The ritual is meant to be used. And considering that I am not personally there, I did what I could to make sure that some of the lessons that I learned would pass onto them. One of which is that handcopying a text helps you actually read what is on the page--not what you think is on the page, but the actual words that are there. The book is purposely expensive to make sure that it is easier for someone to type it up than it is for the other three to spend that much money on copies of the ritual.

And besides the ritual (as are all Golden Dawn rituals) is an "open document." It is subject to change as it is used. Over the years, the ritual evolved from the original version of it. I expect the same to happen as new groups of people start to use it. Each of us brings something new to the tradition, and our footnotes and comments should make their way into the texts of our tradition.

[Updated: June 21, 2013--Changed the link for the Three Officer version of the 0=0 ritual from the Lulu sales page to the Smashwords sales page.]

Friday, September 21, 2007

Some stuff is going to have to wait...

Some of the stuff that I need to do is just going to have to wait because I am too tired to do a proper job of it. Sorry for any inconvenience that this causes anyone. I was so tired that I almost fall asleep in class yesterday, this is how tired that I am. And the announcement that I had to send to the BT membership and the creation of the one poll (concerning the mass meeting in November) proved to me that I need to take the day off--yes, it was that bad (I rewrote it three times before getting it right, or at least acceptable).

Friday, September 14, 2007

Did some work on website

Did some work on the Bast Temple website today. Started to work on the Microcosm of Man page; it is basically the standard lecture plus a few minor notes about it. I thought about finishing the page tonight, but I am getting fuzzy around the edges. I should have it completed by this time next week--I hope.

[Updated: June 21, 2013--updated the Bast Temple link to the current official site.]

Monday, September 3, 2007

Worked on the lodge's website.

Well, I worked some on the lodge's website today. Added some more of the material from the Z3, including the Sign of the Enterer. It has been slow going, considering that I am doing this between regular writing and college (classes and homework, oh how it piles up). It didn't help that I couldn't access the site the last couple of days. But it is progress.

[Edit--June 21, 2013--removed dead link to the old website. The current official website is the Bast Temple blog.]

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Outage continues

Well, according to OfficeLive, they can get to the website just fine. In the meanwhile, I cleaned out all my cookies, and shut off all of my protective software, and still can't get to the site. Last time, I checked the message "Server not found" meant that the server was not found. It is not how I wanted to spend my birthday weekend.

As I said before, sorry for the inconvenience (unless they are right and it is just me having the problem).

Friday, August 31, 2007

Site outage

The Bast Temple website currently seems to be experiencing a temporary problem originating with the hosting service. Sorry for any inconvenience that this causes.

What?! Me?! An authority?!

Earlier this week (Monday) on my way into the Microeconomics class, a student (who was hoping to get a late admission) thought that I was the professor, rather than the student that I actually am.

Personally, I find such inicidents alarming. They might be amusing if it wasn't for the frequency that such inicidents occur in my world. Considering how often I am mistaken for places that I don't, or for being an expert in a subject that I barely understand, I occasionally find myself wondering why it happens.

My latest theory is that I suspect that I carry the air of authority around with me. I would blame it on age, except that it has been happening for years; there is also the fact that I come across much younger than I really am. It is definitely not my Adeptship, for it was happening long before I took my Inner Order oath.

It probably wouldn't be so bad if it wasn't for one thing. I know how much I don't actually know.

Realistically, I realize that the experts of various fields can not know everything about their area of expertise. Just a quick glance through the pages of an older textbook while comparing it to a newer textbook reveals how much the experts had it wrong. For a good laugh, do the comparsion with a text that is a hundred years old.

So obvivously, it is more of a personal problem of belief rather than one of actual substance. My own belief is that I am the last person that should be an authority. This belief rises its ugly head everytime I recieve an email from someone asking me a question about why something is done the way it is. It also acts up twice a year when the lodge decides to leave me in my current office. There is also that annoying part of it grinding its teeth whenever someone I admire (call them mentors and teachers, loyal friends and people who know where their towel is at) treat me as if someday I will end up teaching others. Or remind me that much of what I am currently doing makes me a de facto authority.

At my age (forty-two as of tomorrow), you would think that my self-image would have caught up with my experience. After all, I have been a lodge officer constantly since the start of 1998, besides serving a couple of years in Hathoor Temple. And there is that whole business of management and being a writer.

But then again, my thought is that maybe it is a good thing that I have a hard time considering myself an authority. Many of the worst experts are those who consider all their opinions true and absolute. This type of expert either has never learned or has forgotten how to say "I don't know"; something that I say at least once a day.

If I am lucky and the lodge is smart, the instant I consider myself an infalliable expert (aka authority), they will remove me from office. Cross your fingers for both of our sakes.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The sad state of book stores today

Yesterday, I was in a bookstore looking for a book. An occult book that I know exists. And it being big name chain store, naturally they did not have it.

Now those who know my tastes in occult books and the state of the book business will not be surprised by this. The occult section of big bookstores has descended into new age, sun sign astrology, and the fluffier wiccan books.

This very bookstore chain has actually canceled book signings that might offend people.

I won't name the bookstore chain; you can guess who they are. The odds of me having to do a signing for them is nil next to none; but there is still a slim chance, so I prefer not to burn any bridges.

But it reminded me of the sad state of the book market for writers of my irk. I write books on ceremonial magic--books that only a few online publishers will touch nowdays. The big pimp of occult books, again no names mentioned, a few years ago cut loose everyone who was writing the heavier, and therefore less read material. If you can't or are unwilling to write new age material, they don't want to waste their time with you.

And for me, that is a problem. Because I am an expert in the deep end of the pool, and the shallow end does not interest me that much. I would sooner consider writing a college textbook (that day may come) than writing fluff bunny material.

I am an initiated wiccan (witch) of the old school, besides being a card-carrying member of a Golden Dawn based lodge.

A lot of the stuff that I would find interesting is not being written becasue it is not economically feasible to do so. For instance, one of my favorite series was Mercedes Lackey's Diana Tregarde series. But because of poor sales, this series will never have another addition to it.

How many good books will never be born because of the state of the current book market? I fear a lot.

But it is not all gloom and doom for the niche books. Thanks to the internet, webpages and POD (print on demand) publishers are cropping up. The internet could save niche publishing. And with companies like Lulu and Google Adsense, one can get paid something for one's niche writing--provided of course anyone can find it or cares to read it.

I, myself, have resorted to putting something up on Lulu. My revision of the Golden Dawn Neophyte Ritual for Three Officers is such a niche of a niche type of work that I felt that it was unlikely that a publisher would ever include it in their catalog. And considering that I feel that it high time for more Golden Dawn lodges to arise, I chose to get the information out there, even if only a dozen people ever saw it.

My visit to the bookstore yesterday was a sad reminder that I am pushing a large boulder uphill. I wonder how many other writers are struggling with the same burden.

This post also appears on my Writer's Blog.

[Updated--June 21, 2013--changed the GD Neophyte 0=0 ritual book from its Lulu sales page to its Smashwords sales page.]

Saturday, August 18, 2007

How long should one be in Golden Dawn?

One of the disturbing things that I notice about the modern branches Golden Dawn, or at least something it is distrubing to me, is the fact that many treat the Golden Dawn system as something you do for a certain amount of time and then stop after you reach the end of the system.

Part of this trend is that many people have no experience with the non-Golden Dawn Orders. Traditionally in such Orders as the Freemasons, the Elks, and the Lions, one is a member for life. This is especially true of the Freemasons--even if you cease to attend lodge and quit paying dues, you are still a Freemason. You may not by in good standing; but unless you are expelled, you are still a Freemason.

And at one time, even if you were not a member of a non-Golden Dawn Order, you knew someone that was. While I was attending High School, one of my next door neighbors was a member of the Odd Fellows. The town, Brush Colorado, also had a Lion's Club. I didn't think anything was unusual about that. And a hundred years ago, it wasn't that strange.

We forget that a cenury ago, the Orders were striving. Forty percent of the adult population were a member of one Order or another. That wasn't just old white dudes; women and minorities had their own Orders.

It is different today. My grandmother was a member of the Modern Woodmen of America, an Order which purpose is to provide insurance policies to its membership. For me, it is easier to do business with State Farm. This lack of experience with the phenomenona of the Orders and the type of people who join them handicaps our system.

Another handicapp which contributes to the tendency to consider one membership in the system as a temporary thing is the truncated revealing of the system. While the publishing of the core documents of Golden Dawn by Israel Regardie saved the system from extinction, it has also had the effect of freezing much of the system into a form that gives itself to chasing a title and then leaving the system.

In many ways, I consider myself lucky to have found my way into Hathoor Temple before I was exposed to much of the published material. For the members of Hathoor Temple, one was a member for life. Recieving the Grade of Adept Minor was not the end of your involvment with the Order; for them, Golden Dawn was a living, growing system.

It was because of this long view that their curriculum was an expanding one. This tradition carried over into Bast Temple when it formed. I encourage members of the system to take the long view and treat Golden Dawn and its offshoots as an organization that one will be a member for the entire length of their lifetime.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Bast Temple Curriculum

The subject of the week seems to be curriculum.

First, Pat Zalewski posted a posting about change in Golden Dawn on his forum: Golden Dawn Group. That is a curriculum issue for as he states, "With the various GD groups using [new] material to fill the void at the Inner Order level, an entire infrastructure is needed to support it." Well-defined steps and levels are necessary according to him to prepare people for the new material. In other words, a curriculum.

Then today, I was talking to someone who wanted to know our curriculum. Which is hard to describe considering that lately we have been focused less on paper lessons, and focused more on Temple Ritual work. I have yet to figure out how to describe the importance of Temple Ritual, other than say it ties into our Inner Order curriculum.

This is not a new problem. I could only show the first intake of members the importance of the rituals by making them practice. The same is still true today. It is fair to say that I teach the way that I was taught. Doing was more important than theory.

The closest thing Bast Temple has to an official curriculum is the summary that was done for the original contact sheet (public flyer). It said:

Neophyte (0=0)"newly planted"
Learns the basic symbols of the elements, astrology, and kabbalah. Also learns basic lodge protocol and lodge-kit.

Zelator (1=10)"zealot"
Continues studying of astrology and kabbalah. Starts the study of alchemy. Learns about the various elementals, Earth of Malkuth in Assiah, and Malkuth of Malkuth in Assiah. Studies the theory of geomancy.

Theoricus (2=9)"student"
Continues studying of alchemy and kabbalah. Also continues studying of astrology, including how to erect astrology charts. Learns about the various kinds of spiritual entities, Air of Malkuth in Assiah, Yesod of Malkuth in Assiah, and the Moon.

Practicus (3=8)"practitioner"
Continues the study of kabbalah. Learns about the lineal figures, magic squares, sigils, Water of Malkuth in Assiah, Hod of Malkuth in Assiah, and the planet Mercury. Starts the study of the Golden Dawn Tarot.

Philosophus (4=7)"lover of wisdom"
Continues the study of kabbalah, alchemy and the Golden Dawn Tarot. Learns about Fire of Malkuth in Assiah, Netzach of Malkuth in Assiah, and the planet Venus. May chose to study the electionals of isopsephos ("Greek kabbalah") and the tattwas.

Today, that summary is a little out of date. It was written when the lodge had deeper ties (reciprocal recognition of Grades) with the Hermetic Sanctuary of Maat (Hermetic Order of the Stella Matutina). We were trying to match our requirements with theirs. Today, it is more of an issue to figure out how to properly stage (prepare members) for the incoming changes of the Inner Order material.

Naturally, given the fact that I am involved, a lot of the changes are written on the backs of pieces of paper. Some of the material already exists in our documents (there are currently over two hundred and fifty items that have been issued to at least one member of the lodge); other parts of the material are still deep in the planning stages.

Like for instance, the following planned lessons for the Forty-two Assessors:

Adept Minor Neophyte (5=6 AMN): Z documents
Adept Minor Zelator (5=6 ZAM): Assessors' placement and purpose in ritual
Adept Minor Theoricus (5=6 ThAM): Enochian attributes of the Assessors
Adept Minor Practicus (5=6 PrAM): Coloring of the 42 Assessors
Adept Minor Philosophus (5=6 PhAM): [nothing has been noted for this subgrade yet]
Adept Minor Adept (5=6 AMA): Assessors' use in minor talismanic work
Adept Major (6=5): Use in "Justice" workings
Adept Extemptus (7=4): Use in "personal development" [spiritual] alchemy
Magister Templi (8=3): Comparsion between Outer Order and Inner Order judges

It will be awhile before most of these lessons are written. For one thing, as much of the seven layers (Physical, Etheric, Astral-Emotional, Lower Mental, Higher Mental, Causal {Archetypical}, and Spiritual) information as can be gathered must be assembled before the lessons can be written.

In the end, I think my problem with being able to sum up the curriculum rests in its scope and how much of it has yet to be charted out. Hopefully, I do a better job of it the next time the question arises.

[Updated--June 21, 2013--removed the link to the Hermetic Sanctuary of Maat (HOSM), for it was a dead link to a group that no longer exists; the HOSM still exists; it is merely the self-initiation web support site that no longer exists. Eventually, the BIORC will provide some support for self-initiates.]

Saturday, August 4, 2007

How to contact with Golden Dawn in Denver

I realized that perhaps I should mention how one would go about finding us (Golden Dawn) in Denver. The first thing to do is to send us an email. At the moment, all of the inquires come to me anyways, so lets just use the account I check everyday--rather than the official email address which I only check once a week.

After receiving the email, I will arrange to meet with you. My chosen meeting spot is the coffee room at the Tattered Cover across the street from East High School (on Colfax). Either that or we will try to obtain you a pass to the lodge's next public meeting (which is always the first Sunday of the month) and occurs at the house of one of the lodge's members who lives over by the zoo.

After the meeting, whether the public or the lodge's "meet and greet," you can decide whether you want to pursue the route to membership any further.

It is relatively easy to apply, provided that you can find this blog posting.

To inquiry about membership with the local Golden Dawn Denver lodge of the BIORC, visit the Bast Temple official blog for the latest information.

[Updated--June 21, 2013--updated link to current Bast Temple membership information page.]

Friday, August 3, 2007

Hathoor Temple

One of the things that vastly affects one's opinion of Golden Dawn is the first group that one belongs to. My Mother Lodge, so to speak, was Hathoor Temple. Located in Denver, Colorado, it served the local Golden Dawn community for over a decade. Extinct now, it still colors my opinion about what Golden Dawn is and can be.

I first encountered one of its members in mundane circles. At the time, I was working in fast food. During my breaks I was reading Donald Michael Kraig's Modern Magick. I was also practicing my flash cards and drawing my Hebrew Letters. It was the latter that Andrew spotted. After getting to know me very well over the next few months (I call it haressment--he had a wicked sense of humor), he told me that he knew some people who believed in the same things that I was studying and asked if I would like to meet them.

I said, yes. At the time, I didn't know that he was a member of Golden Dawn. Or rather a Golden Dawn based group. I did not learn that until my Neophyte initiation in March of 1992. All this time, I thought that he was just a lonely old man who took great joy in mocking my beliefs and rolling his eyes at my studies. While that was true, he was also the Chief of Hathoor Temple. His mocking turned out to be that of an initiate laughing his head off at how far off track a self-taught person could be.

There are some that have observed that I seem to function best in lodge when things are falling apart. Call it crisis mode, battle field conditions, or whatever you like; truth be told I am more comfortable during those times. And a large part of this comfort arises from the fact that Hathoor Temple was a lodge in crisis when I joined.

The crisis was a simple one. They knew that they were losing their Chief Adept in a couple of years. In fact, they had closed their membership by the time Andrew met me. To this day, I am not sure why Andrew pushed to make an exceptation on my behalf. Maybe they just needed a warm body to help organize their archive of documents.

I do know that I got to serve in a lot of offices during my brief stay in Hathoor Temple. Two weeks after my initiation into Neophyte, I got elected to be Sentinel. Before the doors closed completely, I also served as Kerux (an awkward position for me), Hiereus, and as an Archive Officer. Besides the service, I got a whirlwind training course in how to be an officer in Golden Dawn.

I admit that this training affects how I view the system. It was pounded into my head that officers serve the lodge and its members. Ideally, the best people are supposed to be elected to these positions, though there are times when you cope with less than the ideal. First sign of an officer taking a walk to the padded room, the membership should remove them from their position. Only the Archive Officers were officers for life, but that was because their duty (function of the office) required that condition.

Officers were to fulfill the function of the system. In Hathoor's view that function was teaching. Therefore their Chief Adept was actually the Praemonstrator. This is something that a lot people consider strange in Golden Dawn, but for me the Chief is supposed to be a teacher while his (or her) Co-Chiefs are responsible for taking care of enourgh daily business and problems for them to actually be able to focus on that job.

This difference in opinion is one of the reasons that Hathoor Temple referred to themselves as "Independent and Irregular." Or to put it another way, "Golden Dawn based." This particular term has carried over into Bast Temple. It simply means that just because someone else claims that Golden Dawn is ran this way and this way only that it is necessary true for us.

Having not been exposed to the majority of the published Golden Dawn documents at that time, to this day, the Hathoor rules and customs seem normal to me. It is the variations drawn from literal interpretation of the published material, or due to new revelations that seem strange to me.

The silliest notions I have heard is that everything has to be done the way that the original Order did things, or conversely that everything that has been published is now Outer Order material. The members of Hathoor Temple believed that things could change, bylaws voted on, officers elected, and new material added to the system. But they also believed that the material was graded in such a manner for the benefit of the students; while most people know far more about occultism than the original members of the system, even today there are real Neophytes, who enter the tradition knowing nothing about occultism other than it is there.

So while Hathoor Temple believed in a certain amount of tradition, they tried not to be slaves to it. Exactly where they picked up this strange (to some) notion I am not sure.

Did they have a lineage tracing back to the original Order? No. They did break off from an earlier group, but it seems to have been based on the published material of Regardie--the earlier and more distorted version--or at least, that is how I interpret what I seen in their Archive. That group I am guessing started in the seventies, with Hathoor breaking off in the early eighties. Another reason for the label "Golden Dawn based."

I never asked about why they break away from their roots. But I do have a good idea--abuse of power by the leadership. On one occasion when the possibility of just appointing someone to the position of Chief Adept came up, the Co-Chiefs stated that they had no desire to go back to that state of affairs. The next Chief Adept needed to be elected and able to fulfill the office, not be a figurehead without the knack to do the job. They believed that a certain amount of raw ability coupled with experience and training was necessary to do the job. And none of the newer members were ready yet, and the existing Co-Chiefs knew that they could not fill the position.

Hence the membership's decision to finish training its current members and then disband. They chose to lay the groundwork for a possible future lodge in Denver, rather than became a fossil themselves. Whether it was the right decision or not, I am still not sure. I do know that my subsequent adventures with various groups were the result of being "an orphan;" and if the claims of certain leaders be true, my own personal lineage is actually better than those who originally brought me into the tradition. (If you believe their claims, my own lineage, having to re-undergo Outer Order, trace back to the original--but that is an entry for another day.)

When Hathoor Temple closed its doors in late 1994, I was an Adept Minor, and bore an Administrative Grade of 9=2 because of my position as an Archive Officer. Many of their lessons and customs ended up in Bast Temple, due to my involvement in its formation. And to this day, the Hathoor way of doing things looks (more often than not) like the correct way.

Which just goes to show that your Mother Lodge will affect the way you approach the system for the rest of your life.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

History of Self-Initiation

One of facts of life if you are interested in Golden Dawn today is that most people are either self-initiates, or long distance members. Very few people are members of an actual lodge. Most people experience the system through self-initiation or "astral initiation" rather than actually undergoing the rituals in a Temple setting.

There is a whole can of worms involved with both self-initiation and astral; you can boil the worms down to that sticky, dark goop of a question "Do these variations work?" Being a little fuzzy around the ears today, I chose to delay addressing that question.

Instead I want you to consider how long the concept of self-initiation has been around. When I became interested in ceremonial magic in 1991, one of my text books was Modern Magick: Eleven Lessons in the High Magickal Arts by Donald Michael Kraig. This book came out in 1988, and has been in print ever since, much to the surprise of its author.

When I encountered Andew W., the man who was to become my sponsor and mentor in Hathoor Temple, I was reading this book. In fact, it was how Andrew spotted me. Upon leafing through the book, he laughed. At the time, I was under the impression that he had a low opinion of all who studied such things--later I realized that he had a low opinion of the book as did most of the members of Hathoor Temple.

In hindsight, with fifteen years of Golden Dawn experience under my belt (most of it Temple based), I have to agree that perhaps Modern Magick is not the most ideal book for the purposes of self-initiation.

But it is not the first book on self-initiation, nor is it the last.

In 1995, Chic and Tabatha Cicero had their opus Self-Initiation into the Golden Dawn Tradition: A Complete Curriculum of Study for Both the Solitary Magician and the Working Magical Group published. I know quite a few people who have used this book. As a Temple Initiate, I must say it hardly prepares one for the curriculum of the SubGrades of Inner Order (ZAM, THAM, etc.) or at least not the program that I have the most experience in; that particular Inner Order curriculum depends upon knowledge of the Temple versions of the rituals.

The Ciceros will not be the last to publish such a work. Why? Because with the inability of individuals to find local Temples, and the problems with long distance memberships, self-initiation fulfills a need. As long as the need is around, self-initiation will happen.

This need has been around for a long time. The Hermetic Brotherhood of Luxor had an initiation script "The Hermetic Ritual For the Private Initiation of Neophytes" which was to allow for their members to self-initiate. Most of their members were self-initiates, especially after their system of lodges collapsed.

The A.A., the famous (or infamous) organization detailed in Crowley's Equinoxes is primarily a loose band of self-initiates.

In fact, advancing a member without them undergoing a Temple ritual has been so common throughout the history of the Orders, there is a Freemasonry term for it--communicating the degree. Basically, you sign your oath, and are issued the relevant papers for your new degree.

How far does the concept of self-initiation go?

My personal opinion is that it extends all the way back to the writings of Agrippa. His is the first book that I can look at and see a set of lessons for the self-initiate in. Whether that was his intention or not is hard to say.

Self-initiation is going to be around for awhile. Besides the sources already mentioned, there are some non-Golden Dawn systems of self-initiation--the works of Mouni Sadhu, Edred Thorsson, and Franz Bardon are all designed on the principle of self-initiation. For those who are more interested in Golden Dawn with a side order of Thelema, check out the webpage of the Thelemic Golden Dawn. And for ceremonial magic, there is also the works of John Michael Greer. Wicca has Scott Cunningham as a source.

And there are probably many works and options that I do not recall, or have not read.

Bottom line, if you are interested in doing the work and can not find a suitable Order, there is self-initiation.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Ongoing failure to recruit new members

One of the ongoing problems in Golden Dawn is our resounding lack of membership. Either you are one of the big Orders and are forcing members to travel across the country to recieve their initiations (ignoring the routes of self-initiation and long distance initiation--I will address these at another time), or you are a small lodge struggling to get (and maintain) a large enough membership to do a Grade ritual.

There seems to be no middle ground.

As a member of a smalll lodge, I have seen us struggle since our formation to attract enough members to maintain operations. And while I have learned a lot about the system thanks to having to learn work arounds for procedures normally outside of my office's responsibilities, there are days where I wish to be able to spend the workload around a little bit more.

Our problem is that no one seems to know that we are here.

Bast Temple, Denver Colorado (Golden Dawn based) is who we are.

When people do find us, they always say that they never knew that we were here. And we have yet to find a successful way of letting people know that we are here. I have seen the figures; no one has ever seen our website. LOL. Not exactly true, a half dozen people look at it every month, and then don't follow through.

Why? My current theory is that we are not a big name Order. That unless you have hundreds of members--which requires tossing out the concept of electing officers amoung other things--that no one believes that your Order is serious. If we had a full blown correspodence course, at least one paid officer, an expensive hall rental, a splashy web page, and tons of online advertisment--maybe then people would be able to find us and consider joining.

Or maybe not.

Anyway, that was my gripe of the day.

Yours in the Great Work, MDE

Monday, July 16, 2007

Who is Morgan Drake Eckstein?

Exactly who is Morgan Drake Eckstein? Occasionally, even I wonder about that.

The short answer is that I am a forty-one (forty-two come September) year old college sophomore who goes to the Community College of Denver. I am also a freelance writer, more by luck than by talent and ambition. And an elected officer of a small Golden Dawn lodge here in Denver, Colorado.

It is that last fact that is probably the most concern for the readers of this new blog. After all, this is a blog about Golden Dawn and the Western Mystery Tradition (though to be fair, I will probably talk about Wiccan and other systems too--I am slightly eclectic in my personal studies).

My history as an occultist started when I was young. My aunt was a Gardnerian witch, and my mom was a believer before she became born-again. My father knew some rune lore (from where he learned it is a mystery to me) and hexcraft (Pennsylvania Dutch). So I was raised around strange happenings, including a house haunting by a dog.

So it was natural for me to get involved with Wicca and Heathrenry. It also seems natural that I got involved in Golden Dawn. After all, I like complicated systems and having to read and research things.

I got involved in Golden Dawn officially in March of 1992 when I became a member of Hathoor Temple. While there are some who claim that it was not really Golden Dawn, I do consider it legitimate (just like I consider my current lodge legit). In late 1994, it disbanded. I left it an Adept Minor Neophyte. I also left it bearing an Administrative Grade of 9=2, as my last office in the lodge was that of an Archive Officer.

For several years, I bounced from group to group; some of them Golden Dawn based, some of them not.

In October 2000, I became one of the founding members of Bast Temple, which eventually would turn into the Mother Lodge for the BIORC. I have been elected officer of Bast Temple since its formation. I am also currently the webmaster and Praemonstrator General for the BIORC.

This blog, unlike the official BIORC blog, will be more about my opinions and personal experiences than official statements concerning Golden Dawn. I hope that my readers find it useful.

Yours in the Great Work, Morgan Drake Eckstein

Bast Temple (Golden Dawn in the Outer, BIORC in the Inner)
[Edit June 5, 2012: Changed web address of preferred contact point.]

Weekly Thoughts about Golden Dawn (the official BIORC blog)
[Edit 17 May 2010: This blog no longer exists; it was lost when Geocities shut down.]

Official Ba Iset Order of the Rosy Cross blog
[Edit June 5, 2012: Added the web address of this blog.]