“Outside of the potential, seeming, hypothetical nature to my previous question, I truly am interested in knowing what you are currently studying.
The GD in wrought with in-fighting and ego-dramas amongst its supposed higher members. Occasionally, a balanced individual will speak their perspective, but that seems more often to be the exception instead of the rule. Largely, it speaks poorly for the system.
What are the alternatives?”
A reader made the above comment on my previous post and I thought the answer necessitated a new post.
First of all the Golden Dawn is primarily a lodge system and I believe it has limited applicability to the lone practitioner. There are two sides to this. The first is that the system can be effective enough for a sole practitioner to launch one’s spiritual career and that this can be effective up to a point. The second is that joining a lodge can potentially be as much of a dead end. The existence of any organization calling themselves a Golden Dawn group does not at all ensure that it will be good for a person’s spiritual health. And since Golden Dawn lodges use oaths of secrecy there’s really no way of telling outside of the few public voices whether a lodge will be healthy for one’s spiritual progress.
On the other hand for every public figure, there’s probably 100 or more who do not engage in the type of in-fighting or flame wars we see on the internet, and so I don’t think the flame wars truly reflect on the system itself. Also, the system is applied in a variety of different ways from lodge to lodge and book to book, and each tweak to the system will have some sort of effect on how it works. My personal experience with even some of the public members of the Golden Dawn is that all of them have been immensely helpful, not even remotely unapproachable and mostly concerned with the integrity of the system, how it works properly. Every student who approaches the system does so in a damaged and fragmented state and even at its best, even if a person can get the system to work, even if a student can get the system to work in a fudged sort of manner, a person will be changed in some way. The nature of that change, however, is unlikely in any way to be comfortable or accommodating or designed to placate or reassure the student, quite the contrary, at its best the system should bring the student to a personal crisis. And likewise those who teach the system are not there to be comfortable or accommodating either. If your teacher isn’t challenging the hell out of you then they’re not really teaching you.
So I think it is of upmost importance when we’re reading various Golden Dawn bloggers and writers to discriminate and understand what the purpose is behind we’re reading, otherwise we may throw the baby out with the bathwater. Sometimes what seems negative is actually sound magical practice. We can discriminate pretty clearly when someone talks if they’re talking about the system or magic or if they’re largely involved in character assassination. Engaging those of the latter persuasion is usually what I consider tilting at windmills, even if we’re not naming names, but on the other hand sometimes engaging with them can lead to a sound magical lesson. Surely there is a lot of public, distasteful material coming from people who claim to be a part of the Golden Dawn, but there is a lot of public, distasteful material coming from people who call themselves Christian or atheist, liberal or conservative, sole practitioner or lodge practitioner.
Also, one aspect I think is of primary importance is the relationship between one’s personal ego and how the statement of a teacher in the field may impact that ego. Everybody who comes into hermetic work is far more inclined to take every statement read as personal when often that is not intended. Someone who comes out saying self initiation does not work is not personally insulting any particular self initiate, they’re making a statement of the applicability of the system to a sole practitioner. A teacher who claims that some people are not real magicians is stating something of a fact but it doesn’t necessarily mean they think you’re a real magician or not. If a person is crumbling and withering under these sorts of observations and lashing out at them, we have to assume that not a lot of progress has been made. It is the ego that needs to divide and separate and categorize.
And so the question is really how do we move towards the higher self, to a universal perspective. How do we move through the purification of our lower selves and make that transition to Oneness. And most important how is it possible to do that on our own. I’m not really sure it’s possible on our own. When we approach the realms of Tiphareth, we are approaching a perspective that is at first completely unknown to the mind and ego. If we’re only trying to figure this out on our own from books, we’re still coming from a mental perspective and the mental perspective does not in any way have a grasp on the transcendent. And so it is incumbent to find an effective teacher, one who isn’t interested in reassuring ourselves or making us feel comfortable about where we are right now. If we’ve been diligent with the work, even if we’ve been working on our own, it won’t come down to choice at some point, because the Light has been invoked and it will begin to ferret out what’s been hidden in one’s shadow. Everyone’s shadow is different in some way but spiritual work will not allow it to remain buried, at some point it will come up and have to be dealt with.
I don’t think there’s a lot in public Golden Dawn literature that deals with these crises and how to resolve them and I think that’s a huge weakness in self initiation literature. I can’t judge in any way how different lodges deal with these resolutions and it’s true that some of what you read will imply that no resolution may have actually happened. But I do think that if one has been diligent at the work, even a self initiate will be forced in some way to deal with the fallout that occurs in the Practicus and Philosophus curriculums. I’ve occasionally read public statements that intimate that there is a great deal of fallout from these grades even in lodge systems. My personal experience is that this type of fallout occurs largely because there can be a failure somewhere in the system to resolve an initiate’s emotional crises. A lot of Golden Dawn curriculums are perhaps frontloading the initiate with a lot of spiritual energy before an initiate is truly ready to deal with it, and this has the potential to cause immense mental and emotional damage. I think it is a cop out for teachers to blame that entirely on the student when there actually are systems, perhaps not Golden Dawn, that can deal with these issues effectively, but on the other hand it is still ultimately the student’s responsibility to stick with the program and not bow out when it gets difficult.
I was fortunate to find a teacher who could teach me the tools to deal with the crisis my initiation brought me to and it largely happened because it brought me to a level of pain and discomfort that was previously unimaginable. I don’t go into specifics because I don’t consider it a Golden Dawn vs what I’m doing now issue at all and I struggled greatly over the change as I’ll always consider the Golden Dawn system my home. But the efficacy of the system was unmistakable and I would have been misguided to not learn as much as I could. The system I am working in at the moment is largely unpublished for at least one of the reasons I mention above, if it’s in a book then it becomes a matter of reading and thus getting back into ego perspective which is why the crisis happened in the first place. When I started it was time to begin to work with energy and oneness and most important working on surrendering to the experience. Talking about it and describing it isn’t so much the point anymore, it is dealing with that beyond what can be talked about and described. I think in the end any diligent and devoted student, who wants this more than anything else will be led in the direction of a teacher who can help them achieve this. And I’m sure there are Golden Dawn lodges who are quietly making this happen in their own way.
Anyway I hope this helped in some way and demonstrates the way I’m thinking about all of these things of late and isn’t too inaccessible.