And thus we come to our finale post on one of the most interesting secret societies to grace the stage of Victorian England. For those who are curious what the heck a group like this DOES or why they do it here is a general overview.
Of course, i’\m not actually a member of the Golden Dawn, which has experienced a resurgence in the past 30 or so years. There is no longer a single organization which can claim direct lineage to the original (although some do anyway). There are many different organizations which use the Golden Dawn title in some way and base themselves on the instructions and techniques of the original, all of which have been long since published (although one branch does claim it has secret unpublished rituals, but let’s not worry about that). Should my interpretations be off i welcome correction and insight.
First of all, the entire practice of Western Hermeticism revolves around the idea that there are spiritual worlds above us and yet interconnected to us. Actually almost all religions posit this and from a scientific point of view we have discovered many other levels of reality, from microplanes unimaginable before a century or so ago (quantum mechanics and string theory) to the theories of other dimensions and universes outside our own. So who knows?
We start from the notion that there are higher worlds interconnected with our own and then add the basic principle “As above so is below”. This means in essence that one can perform certain actions on this level which can have direct effect on the upper ones. Also, one can learn how to visit these upper levels. (and if there are upper levels ipso facto, there would be lower levels too.)
Symbols play very importantly in this. Places and things in the upper levels have very particular characteristics, so if you use a combination of symbols all of which represent a certain aspect of above such as tones, color, an object, a drawn or carved symbol, and most importantly, focused, concentrated intention and will, you can use use these things to create a “key” and unlock, effect or enter the upper worlds.
There is indeed a map of these upper worlds and the most basic, essential map is the Jewish Qabalah (usually spelled Kabbalah when talking about the actual Jewish theosophy).
The Jewish Qabalah is a mystical aspect of Judiasm which emerged between the 11th and 13th centuries, paritucalrly amongst Rabbis in Spain. It attempts to “explain the relationship between an eternal and mysterious Creator and the mortal and finite universe (His creation)”. Thus it includes a “map” of how Gd or The Infinite connects gradually down to our world on the bottom.
There are 10 Spheres. Each is both a place and a concept. The Crown of Gd is at the top, our material world is at the bottom. The map charts the progression from the transcendental as it makes it’s way down the down in a series of increasingly material manifestations. And vice versa on the way up.
There are as you can see 22 little paths that link these spheres to one another, and these paths correspond to the Major Arcana of the Tarot cards.
If you look at a tarot deck, these Major Arcana are all specific characters with very specific qualities and attributes. these qualities and attributes correspond to the exact qualities and attritbutes of the specific paths, and the spheres (or Sephiroth) are themselves very specific concepts, such as Wisdom and accross from it Understanding.
Justice and across from it Mercy.
Polarity is a key concept, although things are not opposites, they are simply the two ends of the same concept.
The Qabalah works top map both the upper worlds and numerous aspects of our lower one. As a template it is a consistent pattern/map found across existence.
Everyone still with me?
Each Sphere, each path, has a vibration and each vibration can be experienced as a state of consciousness amongst other things.
Probably one of the best spokemen for how the Golden Dawn and all of this stuff works is Israel Regardie, whose ability to discuss this stuff clearly and sanely and warn of where and how it can go off the deep end into quackery is unparalled. (i know some of you think this is quackery from the get go, but let’s just keep going anyway, shall we?)
The ultimate goal of the Initiate is to climb the ladder, experience the different spheres and paths as fully as possible until one can reconnect with Gd and the Heavenly Glory. Whether you buy any of this or not here’s something to be considered: Prayer, meditation, Pathwork on the Qabalah, these all acheive very, very real experiential results.
You can be an absolute atheist but still admit that someone who puts themself in a state of prayer for periods of time every day does actually have a subjective, internal experience. You would argue that this experience has nothing to do with Gd and everything to do with hard wiring in the brain, but my point is that you can indeed put yourself into potent states of consciousness (without the use of drugs) and these states are very real to the devotee, regardless of what you think is actually occuring in reality.
Where there is great danger, GREAT danger, is in one’s ability to delude themselves. It is quite easy to entre a belief system which you then see the rest of the world through, and interpret every single thing that happens to you as falling into it, to the point where you do not perceive reality as reality, but as the story you are living out in your head.
This is great pitfall of human belief, of all religions and especially of esotericism. Regardie warns of this over and over again and urges anyone interested in this kind of work to make sure they are quite sane and balanced and seek out psychotherapy if they have to get themselves grounded.
Along with experiencing the Qabalic worlds, the visions, all the aspects i just can’t go into here, there are some techniques that one can work on and aquire which can be good fun, offer many discoveries and new lines of interest, but of course which hold great dangers in that one can become so enamored with them one can forget that they are tools to ascend the Tree. These include Skrying, that is having spiritual visions which include the notion of astral travel (you know, out of body experiences, but which could also be described as controlled dreaming)
Skrying can include Clairvoyance, which is gaining knowledge of something by through means other than the bodily senses. This may include remote viewing, but usually includes going into a trance and seeing places, things, receiving potent insights, or, the real kicker, channeling another entity.
Channeling another entity is usually the bit that scares the bejeezus out of a certain crowd, but honestly, i’ve read some books by people channeling “higher beings” and these “higher beings” do nothing but spout arrogant moral platitudes and say nothing, NOTHING that the host’s subconscious can’t say. They always claim to be so vastly more intelligent than us little wretches and yet NEVER say ANYthing that proves such intelligence. Just once i’d like to see them solve a mathematical formula that’s been stumping our mentally challenged mathematicians, but no. This never happens. Moral platitudes and really creative stories about Atlantis which i and my overactive imagination can come up with myself. So there’s my little grumble.
Then there’s Divination.
Everyone loves to dabble in Divination. The stars can tell you your future or even how your day will go, the Tarot can do the same, some throw Ruins, some do this, some do that, everyone wants to know what will happen next. This annoys me to no end, particularly because if you want something to happen, you gotta get off your ass, go out there and make it happen. I’m neither completely against it nor unbelieving, but it is SO often a crutch and can never be truly accurate.
Physics says that if 5 bodies in motion continue at their present speeds, a particular event is likely to happen. Perfectly true. And one may theoretically use Divination to see this and thus know where to effect a different outcome. (the question of acting in accordance with Gd’s Will comes up if you do indeed believe in Divinity) but the truth is there are 5 possible outcomes at any given moment and Divination can never be a perfectly accurate tool and i’ve never seen it be consistently reliable. (i have seen unbelievable predictions come true, but even the most talented person i know still only has a 50% percent success rate) I do not throw the tarot that often, i am more interested in tarot for other reasons, although admittedly it has always been accurate, usually not in my favor, though. And come on, what we all WANT is to be told something awesome is right around the the corner.
Divination is an area where i’ve seen a lot of over obsession and self delusion is all i’m saying. It is an easy and inaccurate crutch, although some do simply use it to determine where they need to work on a given area to effect change, which applaud as the best approach. Although i’d mention my daily horoscope (which i only read because some Facebook people have the same sign and it appears on my feed) is NEVER ACCURATE. EVER. It’s almost supernaturally INaccurate. The law of averages says it has to be accurate at least SOMEtimes, but no. So… what? The management says wrap it up? Alright. Never mind.
Let’s finish. What one might do on a Thursday night: So, you go out and make 4 objects, a wand, a cup a dagger, a pentacle (tarot, remember?) You learn a ritual to cleanse your space, you then do any number of things, let’s say attempt to put yourself into a certain sphere and explore and experience it or maybe communicate with an Entity, use Tarot and Qabbalah to gain insight or prediction, then you then do a banishment ritual to close the space and you are done. An initiation might happen to bring some people up a grade, etc.
As far as i know, and i don’t, that’s what they were more or less up to.
Well that was fun and interesting. Thanks for tuning in.