Mike’s Prattle


Issues of Therapy and Body Work in the Golden Dawn

Posted by Mike on December 8, 2012

The following is the first of several essays planned to cover topics related to the effects of emotional repression and verbal abuse in relationships on the path of a Golden Dawn initiate. I am of the opinion that when there is initiate fallout, whether in group of self work, that the paradigm of blaming either student or teacher for the fallout is counterproductive and that it is possible that the source of these issues can come from latent emotional blockages sourced in early emotional repression and verbal abuse that aren’t being resolved through the work. In the United States, where antidepressant use is skyrocketing, this is an even more pressing issue, one I can imagine has some bearing on the sometimes poor state of communication between temples and individuals. I hope to further explore and elucidate on the idea that despite the structure of the system, the true Initiator is the Higher Self and as the system is designed to purify the lower self for reunion, it is inevitable that there will be initiates with deep seated emotional blockages that will have these complexes highly exacerbated by latter stages of First Order work. In fact I’d even argue that esoteric systems like the Golden Dawn are magnetic to people who have had difficult childhoods and who are seeking healing and that often the journey begins by the Higher Self leading the person to seek greater healing. 

Few seekers of the Golden Dawn will fail to read caveats by Israel Regardie and others over the need for therapy or other body work as a precursor to or part of the Great Work. One of the real failings of keeping such an important issue as an almost separate entity from the work itself is that it ignores the very real challenges of the path and the phases of it when the surrendering and releasing of old patterns become very real issues to be faced.  While the elemental grade structure of the Golden Dawn should give the student plenty of time and space to work on releasing damaging old patterns, release only comes with the recognition of the issues that are coming up themselves and in many cases the refining fires of the Great Work will create the pressure for these issues to come to light, only for release to seem always outside of grasp and for suffering to become a loop.

In 2011, the National Center for Health Statistics in the United States found that there was an almost 400% increase in the rate of antidepressants use between 1988-94 and 2005-08. Such a statistic poses a challenge for the country’s future initiates in that not only is it becoming increasingly more common in mainstream medicine to treat the symptoms before the causes, but there is also an epidemic of severe emotional damage that seems ready to spiral out of control. Emotional repression is common not only as a symptom of fundamentalism, but it is often a built in cultural value: it is not usually considered polite or even sane to express extreme emotion in public. It is virtually tragic that the void the repression of these emotions has created has been filled by pharmaceutical companies rather than Spirit and as time moves forward, it is likely more Golden Dawn initiates will come into a powerful system with severe emotional damage without even being aware of it.

As repressed emotions can lie latent for long periods of time before a trigger releases them, it will not always be possible for initiators to recognize these difficulties until the pressure of the Great Work brings them to visibility. While one begins working with the emotional body in Hod, the process of bringing deeply repressed and damaging emotional patterns to light is a task that can be part of an initiate’s baggage all the way through the Portal grade. One of the reasons the process leading to Tiphareth can be so painful and agonizing is because one’s ego is expressing itself through the negative emotions and complexes that have arisen in the wake of the Fall of Eden. However it must be understood here that release is in no way a certainty and one of the likely reasons so many adepts before have counseled on the need for therapy and body work is precisely because this emotional release is not a guarantee, nor built into many Golden Dawn curriculums.

In fact, it could be argued that the need for this isn’t as important in the early stages of the work as it might be during the stretch from Hod to Tiphareth entirely because the student hasn’t reached the critical mass where one’s life begins to crumble to pieces, usually due to a personal catastrophe or event that, as a part of the overall process of enlightenment, shatters one’s reality but does so on the basis of one’s prior esoteric work. The proliferation of such events in the latter stages of first order work largely begins when the initiate traverses the path of Peh on the Tree of Life and even if this difficulty is successfully navigated, the initiate has Ayin, Samekh and Nun to look forward to. This further underscores the need to manage severe emotional events when they happen, so that a student can be guided to their spiritual heritage rather than becoming another esoteric casualty.

In Golden Dawn Rituals and Commentaries (p 430-31), Pat Zalewski describes “a second type of purging process” in the Portal grade “regarding any elemental imbalances in the psychological and physical makeup that have not been rectified in the previous rituals.” Unsurprisingly we have highlighted what happens with a person with a “deep seated emotional problem,” “the alignment being corrected can cause problems in the Astral body where the negative excessive energy was either blocked off or being thrown directly down into the Etheric body. This will manifest in a number of small ailments such as skin rashes to strong mood swings, again this all depends on individuals and how well balanced they are when the undergo the Portal.”

At this point in a student’s progress, the fog is just starting to lift and the presence of Briah is growing as a very real presence in one’s life. This is not an event the lower ego can make sense of in any way. Used to controlling its entire world, it will begin to try and figure it all out by thinking about the “problem.” As our growing relationship with our Higher Self largely reflects the serious and broken relationships we have had in life, our ego will animate the remaining illusions in an initiate’s life and seek to maintain its losing grip in any way it can. As the intensity of the Higher Self begins to increase, the emotional intensity of the damage left behind by these broken relationships can also increase, causing what may seem like endless grief and suffering, because the ego is doing its best to identify this new dawning in the best way it can, which is usually through an initiate’s highly damaged idea of what love is.

While qabalistic pathworking has proven to be successful in uncovering and ridding oneself of damaging psychological behavior, its successes entirely relate to being able to identify the psychological triggers that are causing the behavior and by doing so change one’s perspective and life. The key here is that there is a release, the associations causing the negative behavior are disconnected from their original source and there is not only the conscious realization of the issue but this realization leads to a change in behavior and relief. This, however, creates further cascades as the release of one complex unburies others even deeper and, often, one is led to further difficulties. Which is very much the point. In fact, it might be argued that difficulties could be more prolific in later stages of the work if this type of pathworking isn’t built into a curriculum.

It can be a matter of debate over the origins of where our most deeply buried and pathological complexes come from, but during the latter stages of First Order work, they will undoubtedly rise to the surface, often without clue as to their origin, yet they must be dealt with before further progress can be made. However, what is important is considering the elimination of these complexes in terms of surrendering to one’s Higher Self. In many ways these complexes are the ego’s way of not coming to grips with the transcendent and very real presence of the Higher Self, the avenues the ego runs down to hide and avoid the onslaught that is purification. And so if the ego is playing tricks in order to survive, it seems fair to also use some tricks in order to help continue the Great Work. One of these can be body work, methods to release negative emotional patterns without playing the mind games that come along with analyzing patterns. When the Tower comes crashing down we may see the façade behind the illusions, but that doesn’t always mean we can immediately divest ourselves of these illusions when the ego is in bearhug mode. We may now know there is a problem and want to get rid of it, without actually being able to.

Conventional therapy may be of little use here and many initiates may not have access to psychologists who lean in Jungian and/or spiritual directions who can help manage these types of difficulties and who understand them. This isn’t to say the student won’t find value in conventional therapy (particularly early in the path), but there will be a point upon the way where the disconnect between being a spiritual practitioner and a therapy program designed to help you to a “normal” life may become too great.

Finding someone to help you release blocked emotional patterns can be much more difficult, due to the proliferation of techniques in the new age field that may offend one’s intellectual, practical and skeptical sensibilities. However, one of the strongest guides a person can have in finding someone who doesn’t’ fall to the negative side of Sturgeon’s law, is to remember the idea that “the map is not the territory” and that the Golden Dawn should have trained you to see the Truth in all religions. If you’re researching someone to help deal with the complexes and emotional difficulty that come up as the result of profound change, one is likely to have already developed and/or purified the critical and discriminative intellectual functions to sort out an ego-based practice (usually brightly commercial, filled with channeled messages  and full of newly coined terms in order to make you feel more “special” than everyone else) from a serious and effective bodyworker (much harder to find because they lack flash and commercialism and usually tend to state what they do in as plain language as possible with a goal that should be in complete alignment with your own).

An effective body worker will not only show you what needs to be done, but will give you the tools to keep working on it your own. And in the end if you are releasing negative emotional patterns such as codependency, abandonment and self esteem issues and they’re leading you to deeper areas, than not only will you be dissipating some of the nefarious ways the ego uses to hold on to its illusions, but best of all you will start to manage the suffering that comes with the process and start releasing the things preventing you from union with your higher self. And as the initiates of the Golden Dawn are being trained to be healers, making sure that people and organizations have access to their own healing is of prime importance in an era where more emotionally damaged people will be seeking the Light.


Nick Farrell – Magical Pathworking
Peregrin Wildoak – By Names and Images: Bringing the Golden Dawn to Life
Richard and Iona Miller – The Modern Alchemist
Israel Regardie – The Golden Dawn/The Complete Golden Dawn System of Magic
Israel Regardie – The Middle Pillar
Pat Zalewski – Golden Dawn Rituals and Commentaries.


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