Exploring the intersection of magic, culture, spirituality, and humanity

Author: Nicholas Chapel (Page 1 of 5)

The Elemental Middle Pillar Ritual

OmE on the Hermetic House of Life Discord server recently brought to my attention Israel Regardie’s “Revised Version for 5=6” of the Middle Pillar Ritual, found in the Llewellyn edition on page 212. It’s been so long since I’ve read The Middle Pillar that I had forgotten this ritual existed, and this was long before my own 5=6 initiation, so I didn’t pay it much attention at the time.

While this is a long ritual composed of six parts, with lengthy orations in each, the rubric itself is reasonably straightforward. After the opening LBRP, the ritual proceeds with sections dedicated to Spirit, Air, Fire, Water, and Earth, corresponding to the ordering of the elements found in the Four Winds system and of the LBRP. For each of the sections, a sphere of the Middle Pillar is activated, corresponding to the same locations found in the standard Middle Pillar Ritual but without the Sephirothic connotations. In the elemental sections, the divine and angelic names corresponding to each element are vibrated (the elemental angels deriving from the Key of Solomon), and the prayer of the corresponding elementals (derived from Eliphas Lévi) is said.

The section for Spirit is a bit different from the rest, using only the divine names and the vibration of the four angelic names from the Enochian Tablet of Union. Oddly, these proceed in a different elemental order: EXARP, BITOM, NANTA, and HCOMA, corresponding to Air, Fire, Earth, and Water respectively. This is also different from the ordering on the Enochian Tablet of Union. It is possible that NANTA and HCOMA are inadvertently transposed, but Regardie repeats this ordering in his commentary on the ritual so it is more likely that the ordering is intentional but opaque. The oration is also different, drawing upon a combination of Christian scripture and the oration of Osiris Onnophris, the Justified One from the 5=6 ceremony, the Consecration of the Vault of the Adepti, and several of Regardie’s Z.2 rituals.

Finally, the Light is circulated in several different directions and the Osiris godform is assumed before the closing LBRP.

What struck me most about this ritual is that it uses some of the form of the Middle Pillar Ritual, but it works with a completely different language–the language of the Elements, rather than the language of the Sephiroth. While the Middle Pillar Ritual works with the Sephiroth as the primary language and Regardie’s revised 5=6 version works primarily with the Elements, the reason why this is a “revised for 5=6” ritual is because when one reaches the Adeptus Minor grade the Outer Order elemental work is complete, and 5=6 is all about integrating the perfected elements back into the self in harmony and balance. And that’s the primary goal of the revised/elemental Middle Pillar ritual. This is as opposed to the “vanilla” Middle Pillar, which is all about striking the balance in the Middle Pillar with reference to the energy dynamics of the Tree of Life. Both are designed to cultivate balance and harmony, but while there’s a structural similarity the two go about that task in very different ways. And the two rituals are establishing a very different kind of balance. It’s almost like black tea versus green tea. They’re both tea, but the taste is really different.

Invocation of Heka: Context

I posted my Invocation of Heka without any accompanying text because I wanted it to be able to stand alone as a ritual for others to conveniently print out or otherwise follow along with, but some context and thanks are due, so I’m breaking those out into this entry.

First and foremost, I want to once again thank JoeyJoJo from the Hermetic House of Life Discord server for providing me with the original Egyptian for Coffin Spell 261. For the Egyptian of the invocation I have taken the Egyptological spellings and rendered them phonetically; I claim responsibility for any errors in the text. To the best of my knowledge this is the first time that the Egyptian text of this spell has been available on the Internet, and I’m pleased to be able to offer this to the community. This would not have been possible without Joey’s gracious contribution.

Secondly, it’s probably clear that this invocation was designed in the Golden Dawn style. This is my own background, but I encourage anyone reading to chop it up and adapt it to your own purposes.

May this invocation lead you to communication and a greater relationship with Heka, the source of all magic and the Lord of the initiatory current. It is in his honor that I present this to you. Hail and praise be unto Heka.

Invocation of Heka

Preparations:  Altar in center of Temple, with representation of Heka (statue and/or hieroglyph), cup of lustral water, censer of incense (myrrh is always a suitable base).

Open with LBRP.  Optionally, purify and consecrate the hall.

All present recite the following:

Hear me, O Heka, bright shining god of magic and creation

You who spoke the Great Word, and all that is came into being

Without you, the universe is not

You who weave magic like the fibers of the flax braid

You whose power makes the other gods tremble

Ruler of the House of Ma’at and Lord of the Natural Law

We call upon you

By Names and Images are all Powers Awakened and Reawakened

By your Name, O Heka, and by this image present on the Altar, we call you

Awaken within us

Flow through us

Commune with us

For you are the Initiator of Kas and the Lord of the Magical Current

Wer-Hekau, mighty of magic, hear us

Bright shining one, hear us

Eldest Magician, created of Atum, son of Khnum, hear us

You who wield the twin powers of Hu and Sia, of Word and Will

Be our shepherd, guiding our ka so that we may be made full of your sacred Light

Conquerer of the Face of Terror, help us to be steadfast and face our fears

Blinder of Crocodiles, Lord of the Dual Serpents, preserve us and sustain us

You who safeguards the Solar Barque against Apophis and the forces of chaos

Shine forth your spells upon us as rays of sunlight with the opening of your mouth.

O Heka, we praise you and we adore you

Dwell within us, and heed our call

Vibrate:  HEKA!  HEKA!  HEKA!

Recite Coffin Spell 261 as follows:

[Note:  In reciting the below, you may use the Egyptian original or the English translation.  If using the Egyptian, it is encouraged to recite each verse followed by its English translation.]

I shepsu m-baḥ neb-tem

O noble ones who are before the All,

m-ten wi i’i-ku kher-tjen

behold, I have come before you.

senedj n-i khefet rekhet-n-tjen

Respect me in accordance with what you know.

inek ir-n neb-wa’

I am he whom the Unique Lord made

ni kheperet ishet seneti m ta pen

before duality had come into being in this land

m hab-f wat iret-f

by his sending forth his unique eye

m wen-f wa’i

when he existed alone,

m peret m r-f

by the going forth from his mouth

m wenen ḥeḥ-f n ka m sa wenedjut-f

when his myriads of spirits were the protection of his companions

m medu-f ḥena kheperi ḥen’af

when he spoke with Khepri, with him,

weser-f r-f

that he might be more powerful than he;

m itshet-f ḥu tep r-f

when he put Hu upon his mouth.

inek wenenet za pu meset tem

I am indeed the son of the All who was born before his mother yet existed.

yu-i m sa wedjet neb-wa

I am the protection of that which the Unique Lord has ordained.

inek se-‘ankh pesedjet

I am he who caused the Ennead to live.

inek merer-f irer-f it netjeru

I am ‘if-he-wishes-he-does’, the father of the gods.

qa yat

The standard is high

semenekh netjer khefet wedjet mes tem

The god is endowed in accordance with the command of Her who bore Atum

netjer shepesi

the splendid god

wenem medu m r-f

who speaks and eats with his mouth.


I have kept silence,


I have bowed down,

i’i-n-i tjeb ka’u nu pet

I have seated myself,

ḥemes-n-i ka’u nut

O bulls of heaven,

m sa’ḥu-i pu wer n neb ka’u

in this my great dignity as Lord of kas

yua’u n re’-tem

heir of Re-Atum

i’i-n-i itjet-i neset-i

I have come so that I may take possession of my throne

seshep-i sa’ḥ-i

So that I may assume my dignity.

nenek tem

For to me belonged the universe

ni kheperet-tjen netjeru

before you gods had yet come into being

ha n-tjen yu ḥer peḥwi

Descend, you who have come afterwards.

inek ḥeka

I am Heka.

Meditate silently upon the god, and allow any communication to take place.  Once all are finished, recite the following:

We thank you and we adore you, O Heka, for gracing us with your indwelling presence.  May there always be peace and harmony between you and us, and may you lead us ever to walk in the ways of Ma’at.  AMEN.

Close with LBRP.

Shining Forth Ḥeka

Ḥeka is the Egyptian god and principle of magic, and is perhaps one of the most important deities in the Egyptian pantheon, but has received almost no attention within the Golden Dawn tradition. I recently wrote a paper which represents my own attempt to shed light on the person of Ḥeka as well as the related concepts; to detail the surrounding vocabulary; and to explore the corresponding interrelationships, especially as they may touch on or inform areas of Golden Dawn theory and practice.

You can find a PDF of the essay in the Articles section of this site, or simply click here: Shining Forth Ḥeka: New Perspectives on the Eldest Magician

LBRH – Advanced Theory

In my last video on the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Hexagram, I gave the bare rudiments of practical information so you can perform the ritual competently in the Golden Dawn tradition. Now it’s time to dig into the whys and wherefores behind the ritual, and take a deep dive into the theory.

The Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Hexagram was historically one of the first rituals that an Adeptus Minor in the Golden Dawn would encounter, and among the first they were expected to master along with the rest of the Pentagram and Hexagram Rituals.

Whereas the Pentagram Rituals are intended to work with the Elemental realm, the Rituals of the Hexagram are used specifically for working with the Planets.  In the same way that the LBRP is not an Elemental ritual, however, but rather a general Microcosmic banishing, it may also be fair to say that the LBRH is a general Macrocosmic banishing rather than a specifically Planetary ritual.  Regardless, because the Hexagram is especially referred to the Planets and their corresponding Sephiroth, it can be said that the LBRH “shakes the cosmic Etch-a-Sketch” on this level, so to speak.  As a result, you should use it to clear the astral air before doing any sort of working with the planets or the Sephiroth.

So the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Hexagram is a planetary banishing, and also a general Macrocosmic banishing.  In the Golden Dawn system, the Hexagram Ritual is also used to create the magic circle for a planetary or sephirothic working (which is a different operation from the banishing!), but this is done via the Lesser Invoking Hexagram appropriate to that specific planet rather than the general Lesser Banishing Hexagram. 

This is different from the Pentagram Ritual, in which the LBRP is always used as a preamble to any more advanced working and is done again at its conclusion.  By contrast, the banishing forms of the Hexagram Ritual are used only to clear the air prior to performing a Lesser Invoking Ritual of the Hexagram in an unconsecrated space, or to “tear down” the magic circle previously built up in ritual with the appropriate Lesser Invoking Hexagram.  The one circumstance where the LBRH would be used in a specifically planetary context is when you’re working with the energies of multiple planets at the same time—in which case you’ll still open with the Lesser Invoking Ritual of the Hexagram, and only use the LBRH to tear down the circle afterward.

Just like the LBRP uses Earth, the densest and heaviest element, as a shorthand notation for a general banishing ritual, the LBRH uses Saturn, the densest and heaviest planet, as its own shorthand notation for general banishing.  Saturn, the planet of limits and of boundaries, is also symbolically appropriate to the task—just as the LBRP is suitable for “grounding” to microcosmic earth.

Each Hexagram in the LBRH is composed of two triangles, and the corners or vertices of these triangles correspond to individual planets as laid out around Tiphereth on the Tree of Life.  The first triangle is always traced starting from the point of the planet you’re working with; the second one is traced starting from the point directly opposite that planet.  In the case of the Saturn Hexagram, used in the LBRH, the first triangle always begins at the point of Saturn and the second triangle always begins at the point of the Moon.

The four forms of the hexagram were originally spotted by S. L. MacGregor Mathers in a manuscript of the Key of Solomon on one of the Solomonic pentacles, and were adapted to the four directions in the LBRH.  The Hexagrams do have distinct elemental attributions according to the direction in which they’re drawn.  Additionally, the hexagrams are always formed of a triangle of Fire and one of Water, thus maintaining a state of equilibrium.  In the LBRH, the Fire triangle is always drawn first as Saturn resides at the apex of this triangle when it’s superimposed on the Tree of Life.

Unlike the Pentagrams, which are assigned to the directions according to the Four Winds attribution, the Hexagrams are assigned to the directions using the astrological scheme.  The cardinal directions correspond in this case to the four Cardinal Signs of astrology:  Aries, Cancer, Libra, and Capricorn.

In the East, in the place where the Sun rises in Aries at the Vernal Equinox, the Fire Hexagram is composed of two upright triangles—the only hexagram in which this is the case.  The Water triangle in this case is flipped, and is the bottom of the two.  This hexagram was given to the East because the two upright triangles echo the elemental symbol for Fire, and like Fire they reach toward the heavens.

In the South, corresponding to Capricorn, is the Earth Hexagram.  The Earth Hexagram is the form we’re all familiar with, with two interlocking triangles.  This echoes the symbol of the Hexagram on the Earth Pentacle of the Adept, and represents the Microcosmic realm of Earth on the Macrocosmic level.

In the West, the place of Libra and the Autumnal Equinox, is the Air Hexagram.  The Air Hexagram is formed out of two triangles that touch on one side, and this form of the Hexagram was assigned to the element of Air because the diamond shape resembles the octahedron, the Platonic solid corresponding to that element.

Finally, in the North, the direction of Cancer, we have the Water Hexagram.  Unlike the Air Hexagram, the Water Hexagram is made out of two triangles that touch at one point.  This form of the Hexagram was referred to the element of Water because the shape is said to resemble a cup.

A full discussion of the Analysis of the Key-Word really warrants its own separate treatment, and is beyond the scope of the LBRH—but suffice it to say that the L.V.X. signs are the grade signs of Adeptus Minor; and they’re used in the macrocosmic Hexagram Ritual in the same way that the elemental and Portal grade signs are used in the microcosmic Pentagram Ritual, in its Greater and Supreme forms.  The Analysis of the Key-Word that summarizes the L.V.X. formula is an expression of equilibrium and balance similar to the Qabalistic Cross, insofar as it expresses the macrocosmic currents of Chesed and Gevurah harmonized on the Middle Pillar in Tiphereth.

The Divine Name used in each of the four quarters in the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Hexagram is ARARITA.  This is a notariqon, or Hebrew acrostic—much like AGLA in the LBRP stands for “Atah Gibor Le-Olam Adonai”, or “Thou art great forever, O Lord”.  In this case, ARARITA stands for “Echad Rosh, Achduto Rosh Yichudo, Temurato Echad” (אחד ראש אחדותו ראש יחודו תמורתו אחד).  This is traditionally translated as “One is His Beginning; One is His Individuality; His Permutation is One”.  A better translation, however, might be something like “One is the Beginning of his Unity/Oneness; his Beginning is his Uniqueness; his Permutation is One”.

According to Éliphas Lévi, in Dogme et Rituel de la Haute Magie, translated into English by A. E. Waite as Transcendental Magic, ARARITA is the sound by which the Tetragrammaton was pronounced.  Lévi includes some typically dense prose about the significance of the way the word is formed, but most notably for our purposes, the name ARARITA is composed of seven letters—ideal for use when working with the seven planets; and indeed the Hexagram Ritual assigns one of the letters of the name ARARITA to each specific planet.  This comes into play when performing the Greater Ritual of the Hexagram, but you need not concern yourself with the finer points of detail for the purposes of the LBRH.

The name ARARITA itself originates in Jewish Kabbalah around the beginning of the 13th century.  The expanded notariqon itself also appears in gate 21 chapter 3 of the 16th century Kabbalistic text Pardes Rimonim, or the Garden of Pomegranates—the same text Israel Regardie named his book about Qabalah after.  But I digress.  The composition of the name ARARITA is interesting and contains Kabbalistic significance, but since it’s beyond the scope of the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Hexagram, I’ll leave you to pursue that rabbit hole on your own if you like, alongside the Analysis of the Key-Word.

That wraps up the theory of the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Hexagram.  Thanks for reading and/or watching.

Golden Dawn Self-Initiation – Ciceros vs. Lyam Thomas Christopher

I was just giving some opinions about this the other day on a different server. I’ll copy what I said over there, but the upshot is that both work, both have different approaches, and it’s really a matter of personal preference. You can probably also mix and match effectively to some extent, you’ll just have to be proactive in understanding what part of the material is there for what reasons.

I’m familiar with both curricula: I actually started with the Ciceros’ SI book about 20 years ago when I was first getting into the system myself, back before I got into a more traditional temple setting, and I’ve read through LTC’s curriculum as well. The two have very different approaches.

Firstly, on an energetic level, both the Cicero route and the LTC route appear to “work”—which is to say, they both do the job of connecting you to the Golden Dawn Current. How they go about doing that differs, and the education they present alongside it differs almost as starkly. The strategy the Ciceros take is ceremonial, and if you’re drawn to the ritual aspects of the tradition that might resonate better with you. LTC takes a more meditation-based approach. You get meditations in the Ciceros’ curriculum as well, they just don’t do quite the same heavy lifting.

LTC also departs a bit from the mainstream of the tradition in that he gives a lot of Adept magical work in the earlier grades, and in particular I look askance at his decision to use the unicursal hexagram in the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Hexagram (it has precedent within the tradition, but it’s nonstandard). So LTC diverges from the mainstream not just in the way he handles the initiatory current, but also the traditional learning curriculum.

(To be clear, I don’t necessarily take issue with the way that LTC does this or the reasons for which he arrives at it, I just find that where he ends up at looks different from the Golden Dawn tradition the way I learned it in some manners that make me a bit uneasy—but this is my own bias and my feels, not something I’m arguing as a point either in favor or against.)

Both the Ciceros and LTC are fond of giving students a lot of busywork and information that isn’t directly pertinent to the alchemical operation of the grade energies of the Current, if you want to talk about what’s strictly necessary for the alchemical growth and development. If you look at the material you get tested on in the Ciceros’ SI book versus what you get tested on in traditional temple-based systems (I was a member of the Ciceros’ HOGD for about ten years, and was an Adept and a temple chief), you see that they require you to learn a lot more. Which I find problematic. But LTC isn’t any better on that front.

But again, both approaches work. I personally prefer and recommend the Ciceros’ SI book if you’re going to choose one over the other, just because it’s more representative of the wider tradition that other people are following; and if you’re working with the Ciceros’ material, you’ll find a lot of other people with the same foundation. It’s also easy to work LTC’s meditations into the Ciceros’ curriculum as well, or to use the Ciceros’ ritual self-initiations with LTC’s. I don’t think mixing and matching is at all an issue here.

So to sum up, the best thing to recommend the Ciceros’ course is that they follow the Regardie-traditional rubric common to most of the living Golden Dawn community, and being in step with that living Tradition is especially important to me. If you prefer solitary work or if you don’t plan on joining an order, that’s probably not going to be a factor for you.

Finally, a word on the commonly-stated advice that one shouldn’t practice other (non-GD) rituals when it comes to Outer Order curriculum. This advice can generally be read in two ways. Firstly, you’re trying to learn a language; so you want to avoid taking on too much information outside the GD system in order to avoid “muddying the waters” by confusing yourself or getting your wires crossed. And that’s entirely a matter for your own honest assessment of your capabilities. Some people have no problem studying multiple systems at once, some people do. Use your discretion. The second reason largely comes down to concerns about systems that may be at actual cross-purposes with each other. It’s perhaps debatable whether it actually does any harm to pursue GD and OTO initiation simultaneously, for example, but it’s generally considered a) weird, since Thelema rejects what it perceives as the Old Aeon; and b) bad form, because you’re splitting yourself thinly. This particular kind of objection may have more substance, but it’s a rarer situation—and even then debatable. Either way, it is probably not wise to “cross the streams” of multiple initiatory energies from multiple currents at the same time. Bottom line, assess your own capabilities and act accordingly. Nothing catastrophic is going to happen from attempting to study multiple systems at once.

The Arbatel — Not for Beginners?

Over on the Hermetic House of Life Discord server, someone shared a link to Robert Powell’s post “The Arbatel of Magic is NOT for Beginners” on the Logos of Ophiel blog. It’s a well-written take on things, though I believe there are some foundational assumptions and conclusions with which I personally disagree.

Powell appears to write from a largely grimoire purist perspective, maintaining that it is impossible to separate the Arbatel from Christian notions of piety and purity, and holding that asceticism is required for the practice of Arbatel magic. The author writes about his own experiences which led him more deeply into this stance with respect to the Arbatel, and this insight into the personal history behind the author’s conclusions is both welcome and refreshing. That said, while the author’s opinion is likely the correct one for him based on his own experiences, we have to be careful in this work to draw a line between our own experiences and what’s worked for us on the one hand, and what we deem prescriptive on the other.

Based on my own experiences, whenever I encounter assumptions that certain spiritual perspectives or practices are necessary, or that certain parameters of a grimoire must be followed exactly, I always respond by going “oh really?” My own experiences of grimoiric magic have been much more flexible in contrast, and seemingly no less efficacious for it. While Powell notably speaks from a perspective of experience with the system rather than simply parroting inherited prescriptions, I have found in my own practice that there is often both much more leeway within the systems than is apparent from the texts, and much more flexibility than one might initially suspect. In the end, however, the only way to determine whether a particular component of grimoiric magic is truly necessary is to experiment for oneself. I tend to think these frameworks are more flexible than we often give them credit for, based on my own experiences; but this is one of those things I think every magician sort of has to figure out for themselves in their own practice.

As for the Arbatel being “not for beginners”, that’s practically standard boilerplate in my book. Magic will upend your life, no matter how you do it. If you aren’t prepared to roll those dice you should probably reconsider practicing magic—but that’s true of all magic, not just the Arbatel. As long as you’re prepared for some upheaval going into it, as is normal with any magical practice, I don’t see anything in the Powell’s post which appears to me to be anything insurmountable or which seems a significant disincentive to pursuing that practice.

Consequently, I would invite the reader not to be dissuaded from pursuing the Arbatel based on Powell’s post; but rather to consider it an invitation to (cautiously and deliberately) engage further with the source text and tradition, and to experiment with it. Magic is nothing if not experimental, and we make little headway if we are not willing to experiment and innovate. As long as we proceed carefully and with both eyes open, we can allow our own experiences to speak for themselves.

“The Kybalion’s New Clothes” in Portuguese

Back in 2016, Lucas Moraes translated my Kybalion paper into Brazilian Portuguese. You can find the PDF in the “Articles and Other Writings” section of this website (or simply click here). You can also find mirrors of the translation at the O Alvorecer site or at transaberes. Big thanks to Lucas for taking the effort to translate the article! I wasn’t aware until I did an episode of the Projeto Mayhem podcast on the subject that the Kybalion has a very large following in Brazil, and I very much appreciate Lucas’s effort to ensure the paper reaches a wider audience.

On the Efficacy of Sigil Magic

Someone on the Hermetic House of Life Discord server asked recently whether sigil magic actually works. I’ve worked with sigils for a very long time—in terms of praxis, it’s how I got started along the magical path—and yet I still ask myself that question as well. At least part of the answer for me, however, seems to depend on how exactly those sigils are being used within a given magical operation.

The vast majority of the sigil work I’ve done has been with Agrippa’s planetary squares. And I’ve had some really good results. But those results also came from using not just the sigils themselves, but also prayers and offerings to the planetary spirit/intelligence in question. That’s very different from something like my OTP cryptographic sigil methodology, which I’ve really only demoed for myself as a proof of concept.

My experience with Agrippan planetary sigils has been excellent, when using those sigils as a material basis for invoking and working with the planetary spirits. But that’s different from just charging a sigil and letting it do its own thing. The closest I’ve come to building a body of experience with that latter sort of work has been with pentacles from the Key of Solomon. I haven’t seen the returns on my efforts there that I would have liked, but to be perfectly honest I’m also not entirely sure that I was going about things the right way either—and I was also working with too many sigils at once at the time, so that unhelpfully muddies the waters.

Basically, the jury is still out when it comes to my opinion on sigil magic as it’s commonly understood. From my perspective, the crux of the matter lies to some extent in whether you’re using a sigil as a tool in a magical working (to signify a spirit you’re invoking, to articulate an intent that you’re doing other work around, etc.) or whether the sigil is itself the magical working. My experiences with the former have been a lot more profound and clearly effective for me than the latter.

The Experience of the Ritual Godforms

I recently listened to the Glitch Bottle Podcast interview with Dr. Al Cummins on Cyprian’s Mirror and the Four Kings. It sparked some good food for thought in several different arenas, but one quote from the episode stood out especially strongly to me:

You can be paying attention to what’s going on and what you’re feeling mid-sentence…and the feel of the words and the sense of where you find yourself emphasizing things can also be ways of not just calling the spirit, but feeling the presence of the spirit. Noticing one’s own speaking voice changing as an instrumentation of measurement of the spirit’s presence and movement and virtues and things like that. So conjuration is not just about pulling a spirit to you, it’s also about feeling the rope of the spirit pulling back.

Dr. Al Cummins, Glitch Bottle Podcast Episode #114

I have encountered this phenomenon a number of times when reading invocations, and couldn’t agree more with Dr. Al’s assessment here. But the reason I wanted to highlight this dimension of experience is because long before I had my first successful scrying session and achieved two-way communication with the spirits, I began to notice this phenomenon spontaneously emerging during Golden Dawn ritual.

The words of Golden Dawn initiation rituals are scripted and static, of course, but as with any performance the art is equally in the delivery. I had been doing Golden Dawn magic for many years prior to my Adeptus Minor initiation, but shortly afterwards I noticed that I would begin to feel things as I was reciting the texts as an officer during initiation ceremonies. I would get strong emotional impressions. These would guide my reading, and my speaking voice would change as I let the impressions wash over me and fill my speech. It was like the “character” of the script inhabited me and I was a vessel merely conveying that which was given to me. And as I yielded to these intuitive pulls, I found that the intensity of the overall initiation experience became much greater–for myself as well as for the initiate.

It wasn’t until later, when I started doing Trithemian-style spirit conjuring, and started having encounters that weren’t on scripted rails, that I started putting the pieces together as far as recognizing the real significance of these initial experiences. As psychologized as the Golden Dawn system has sometimes become, it can be easy to forget that we are still dealing with godforms, and when we assume those godforms in ritual we are effectively inviting them to inhabit us in precisely the ways that I have experienced–and in the same ways that Dr. Al describes with reference to invocations in the grimoires.

The thing is, nobody prepared me for this experience. Nobody recognized it when it was happening and let me know that while what I was experiencing was new, it was not only perfectly normal but a desirable and intended consequence of the rituals themselves. I had to connect these dots on my own. When you have weird and new experiences in the magical arena, it can help to be able to contextualize them and recognize that they are an expected part of the journey. The Golden Dawn system is great as a system, but it often does a less than stellar job in practice of actually laying out the benchmarks of experience by which you can recognize magical attainment or encounter.

So for any of you out there who find that you feel the ceremonies more deeply than usual, that you instinctively inhabit those roles and that the feelings of the words and the interactions wash over you like a wave compelling you to swim with them, don’t second-guess yourself: embrace the feeling, run with it, and allow it to well up within you. What you are feeling is real. Provided that you’re able to maintain the necessary degree of control over the experience to keep it from disrupting the ritual rather than merely informing it, you will almost certainly find as I have that it adds an entirely new dimension to the experience of initiation. And if you are a Golden Dawn magician, this is likely to be your first taste–on training wheels–of what it’s like to begin spreading your wings and soaring magically.

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