Thursday, February 19, 2015

Treating the rituals of Golden Dawn as a literary text

(Please remember that one of my majors in college was literature while you are reading this. I wrote this as comment in a Facebook discussion on associating the officers of Golden Dawn with various Tarot cards, and believe that some of my readers might be interested in this comment, even if they do not belong to that FB group.)

I think that a lot of the layers in the GD rituals are hardwired into the system by the Cipher Manuscript and the basic set of assumptions that eventually find their expression in the original Z documents. It does not matter if you use the Spirit model or the Psychological model or whatever other model you want. The Cipher Manuscript, the ritual scripts, and the Z documents are a piece of literature, and it can be analyzed though the lens of literary studies.

The Cipher Manuscript associates the Tarot with planets and deities. Once you bring in the idea that the officers, and other forces (places of potent power on the floor of the lodge) are associated with deities (in the form of god-forms), it is natural to make the link between the officers and invisible stations to the Tarot (though the planets and deities).

This linkage creates a situation that once the idea is put forth that (for instance) the Hierophant is the Sun, that we will also associate the Sun card with the office. Furthermore, it opens up the box that says the other six officers who move in the Neophyte ritual are associated with the other six classical planets, and their associated Tarot cards.

Because the creator of the Cipher Manuscript did this type of linkage, and the first generation of GD initiates read this type of linkage into the system, following generations have discovered that though a process much like literary analysis that they can puzzle out more linkages that have always been present, but invisible upon first reading of the text of the rituals. (Note that a performance of a ritual is a reading of the text, much like the performance of a Shakespeare play is a reading of the text of that play.)

What students of the system, such as Jack Taylor, Pat Zalewski, and myself, are doing is merely exposing the implications of what the original authors of the text (Cipher, ritual, Z docs) wrote into the text itself. Now what you do with it will depend upon what model you are using, but the task of literary analysis remains the same no matter what model you choose to use (just like in literature, you can read the same text using several different literary theories).

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Leave me out of your peace treaty

This is just a short and sweet open letter to David Griffin and Nick Farrell, and the multitude of their various and sundry supporters:

Good luck with your peace.

But beware that I will not take down a single post.

I stand behind my words---I do not rewrite my history.

If you want people to quit talking about you in a negative manner, quit talking about conspiracies, the unfitness of other teachers and authorities, and get a bloody sense of humor.

If you want people to talk positively about you, do something positive. Write another book. Write a blog post with actual information in it. Make a video that is not a bloody commercial filled with eyesores. Tend your own garden of students and do not worry about the rest of us mismanaging our responsibilities.

Do not expect the entire internet to confirm with your wishes to only have good things said about you. Contrary to conspiracy theory, the internet is made up of individuals, and some of us just do not like you.

And yes, I am moderator in the Golden Dawn Facebook group that Nick runs as a public service. That fact does not compel me to be part of your peace. All that requires of me is to keep out ads for Raybans and Ugg boots, and to delete any discussion that is going to result in a stabbing.

Honestly, if I had my way, I would have deleted every reference to David Griffin as soon as I became a moderator of that Golden Dawn group. And I would have deleted all new conversations about Griffin as soon as I became aware of them. All conversations about Griffin end up with people having hurt feelings---Griffin has simply made too many enemies over the years, therefore no conversation about the man is going to remain polite.

I realize that this response will get me labeled an enemy...but I was already burdened with that label before today. And in fact, I have grown comfortable in my knowledge that I will never be a member of the One, True, dating back to the Ancient Egyptians, trademarked until the cows come home, Mystery Tradition. That is actually a good thing--after all, I might feel like punching you in the nose if I ever met you in person, and you are not worth going to jail for.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Oracular anomalies (Tarot Blog Hop)

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Today's Tarot Blog Hop subject is Oracular Anomalies, those cards that do not match the standard, yet nevertheless actually work. I must admit that I struggled to find a card that fitted into this scheme. Either there were none because each deck is a creature onto itself, and therefore correct in its own way; or there was a blizzard of cards to pick from because most decks stray from the initiatic system which I trained with.

Then it finally hit me at the eleventh hour, it is the initiatic system that I am used to using that is the anomaly.

As most of my readers know, I am a student of the Hermetic Golden Dawn, a lodge organization that sprung out of 1888 London. During one's studies in Golden Dawn, the student memorizes a set of attributes assigned to the Tarot, including astrological, elemental, and sephirothic attributions. In addition, the Major Arcana are each associated with a Hebrew letter.

Golden Dawn attributes of the Major Arcana on the Tree of Life.
 As can be seen from this chart, each of the Major Arcana has a Tree of Life path. a Hebrew letter, and an astrological energy associated with them. Every card of the Tarot deck can be placed on the Tree of Life.

Paths of the Tree of Life, as mapped out in the Golden Dawn system. 
As a result of this, a Golden Dawn student uses the Kabbalah, in the form of the Tree of life, and astrology, as well as the numbers and elements of the cards, to build their readings of the cards.

So how is this an oracular anomaly?

Simple, the Kabbalah in the hands of the traditional Jews never had anything to do with the Tarot. Not a single word about the Tarot can be found in the Kabbalah before the nineteenth century. So all the Kabbalistic attributions of Golden Dawn are actually wrong...well, at least as far as the traditional Jewish Kabbalists are concerned.

So how did the idea that the Tarot was connected with the Tarot come about?

The association of the Tarot to the Kabbalah, in the form of the Hebrew letters, was first put forth by Louis Raphael Lucrece de Fayolle, the Comte de Mellet, in a small essay included in the 1781 printing of Volume Eight, Book One, of the Monde Primitif, analysé et comparé avec le monde moderne (The Primitive World, analyzed and compared with the modern world), assembled, contributed to, and edited by Antoine Court de Gébelin.

In his essay, the Comte de Mellet associates each of the twenty-two Major Arcana with one of the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Gebelin adds fuel to the fire by claiming that the Tarot is a book of mysteries handed down though the ages from Ancient Egypt, another "fact" that is actually false. Both French and English occultists would inherit these ideas, and build systems around these fairy tales.

So why does a system of Tarot attributions built on mistaken ideas work?

In the case of the Golden Dawn Tarot, I believe it is because the human mind steeped in the attributions, learns to communicate with oneself, and the spiritual universe, using those attributions. It does not matter that the symbols assigned to the Tarot cards are a recent invention, and have no actual correspondence to the older mystery system that they are linked to---what matters is that the human mind communicates though symbols and associations. In other words, the mind is quite willing to act as if the fairy tale of the Tarot being a Kabbalistic tool is actually true.

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