Author Archives: John Griogair Bell

About John Griogair Bell

My name is John. I'm the enigmatic super villain, known only, to some, as the Librarian.

Golden Dawn Rituals and Commentaries

J S Kupperman reviews Golden Dawn Rituals and Commentaries by Pat Zalewski at Temples, Portals and Vaults in Journal of the Western Mystery Tradition, No 0, Introduction to the Western Mystery Tradition.

Zalewski Golden Dawn Rituals and Commentaries

Zalewksi brings student of the Golden Dawn tradition previously unpublished material from one of the original off-shoot Temples of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn.

The work is published in three volumes, each dealing with a differing aspect of the Golden Dawn. Volume one includes an introduction and history of the Golden Dawn and the Smaragdum Thalasses (ST), the New Zealand branch of the Order founded by Dr. Felkin after the schism in 1903. The rest of the volume contains the grade ceremonies of the Outer Order as used by the ST. The reader may find that these ceremonies somewhat different from previously published versions. Zalewski states that they more closely resemble those used by the original GD and Mathers’ Alpha et Omega than those used by the Stella Matutina.

Volume two consists of Zalewksi’s commentaries on the rituals, as well as anecdotal accounts from his teacher Jack Taylor, a 7=4 and long-time Hierophant under Mrs. Felkin. Each ritual commentary has its own introduction, diagrams, and figures, including tarot cards for each path. Those familiar with Zalekwski’s The Magical Tarot of the Golden Dawn will find that these tarot cards differ from those used in his first self-published book. Where this volume shines, however, is in its publication of parts of a 6=5 paper on the god-forms and currents of energy in the temple by Moina Mathers.

Volume three of Rituals and Commentaries focuses on the Portal and Adeptus Minor initiation rituals. This volume contains both the ritual texts and commentaries on these ceremonies, as well as the list of 302 endnotes.

Aside from material written by Moina Mathers, Zalewksi provides a great deal of information on Golden Dawn ritual from a point of view that may be completely new to many readers. Not only does he discuss some of the standard interpretations of Golden Dawn material, but he also provides his own interpretations based on his experiences with Taylor and Chakra and Kundalini practice.

Rather than reproducing the Mathers material in full, Zalewski instead incorporates it into his commentaries and diagrams, demonstrating where the various god-forms are stationed and their relation to the pattern of energy in the hall. It is interesting to note that the god-forms used throughout the grade ceremonies differ radically from what might be expected. God-forms used in the 0=0 hall are not necessarily the same as used in other halls, and the same god-form may be used by different officers or stations in different halls. Numerous diagrams are included in these volumes, some of which have never been printed before and many of which differ from those used by the Stella Matutina.

As interesting and informative as this book may be, it still has its problems. Chief among these is the numerous typographical errors. A more thorough editing job would have easily remedied these difficulties.

Originally the publication was meant to be released as separate books by Llewellyn Publications as the Z-5 series. Zalewski did not, however, adequately revise his work to compensate for the merging of the separate works into one whole. The result is noticeable redundancy. The introductory paragraphs to the ritual commentaries are largely repetitive, indicating that they were intended to be printed in separate books, providing minimal new information in each introduction.

Published in 2000, the book was written in the early and mid 1990s. The historical information provided in the first volume, while interesting, is in some cases outdated, and includes several references to the publication dates of Zalewksi’s own work. These volumes were apparently intended to be released before the publication of The Magical Tarot of the Golden Dawn, which was published a few years before.

While the typos and occasional redundancy contained in Golden Dawn Rituals and Commentaries can be annoying at times, they in no manner outweigh the importance of the new information in its volumes. The Mathers information alone will make this book invaluable to Golden Dawn scholars and magicians alike. The anecdotal information from Taylor as well as Zalewski’s unique insight (whether one agrees with his conclusions or not) more than make Golden Dawn Rituals and Commentaries a worthwhile book and an excellent addition to anyone’s Golden Dawn library.

Summary for the week ending Aug 12, 2018

Here’s a summary of activity for the week ending August 12th, 2018.

You may recall I was talking about dealing with some technical stuff. Turns out, my computer is terminal. So, there’s that. I go to pick it up this week, but it, for all intents and purposes, is a shiny metallic doorstop. I’ll put it next to my other shiny metallic doorstop. Oy.

In better news, I’ve been having some conversations about my idea for, apparently this is what I’m calling it now, an Hermetic Library Vade Mecum. I’ve lined up two awesome, well-known luminaries to help. So, I’m currently thinking about a crowdfunding effort starting in November. I’ll have a standard edition of the little portable box, which contains a local copy of the entire Hermetic Library, and all the PDFs, digital publications, and every track from the music anthologies for $666 … and offer gratis annual updates with everything new for as long as I am librarian. Then, there will also be some special edition boxes, custom and unique and limited edition works of art, as well! I’m excited by what we’ve been talking about doing, and I think you will be too! More details as we get closer will be revealed …

Don’t forget that I announced the call for submissions to Hermetic Library’s anthology album for 2018, Magick, Music and Ritual 14! The first submission has arrived, so it has begun!

Hermetic Library Anthology 2018 Magick Music Ritual Call for Submissions

Still looking for help and others to join me in a working community around the library, of course.

Lots of new pages and work on old pages on the site, which is pretty much every week, really. You can always check the front page of the site which shows the most recent changes and new pages, or check out the Recent Changes special page for a full list.

Want to join me on this blog and create new art or writing for Hermetic Library? Pitch your Idea.

Help get some conversations started over on the BBS and Chat.

Be sure to check out the actual Hermetic Library, and drop a buck in the tip jar or become a Patron.

Consider also checking out what I’m up to on my personal blog and at Odd Order.

Here’s a summary of posts on the blog from the last week

Some top posts on social media

The Magical Household

Bkwyrm reviews The Magical Household: Spells & Rituals for the Home by Scott Cunningham and David Harrington in the Occult Book Reviews archive.

Cunningham Harrington The Magical Household

Let me preface my review of this work by mentioning for what seems like the nine millionth time that Cunningham wrote beginner books. If he had lived longer, he probably would have written intermediate and advanced texts on Wicca, but he didn’t. He died before he had a chance to write anything beyond the absolute basics. If you’ve been practicing for a while, and you’ve got a fair number of books on your shelf, Cunningham works are not going to be all that helpful to you. This is a work about hearth-and-home Wicca. It is intended to guide the reader through charms and spells to make the home happy, productive, and magical. Nineteen short chapters include Thresholds of Power, Bathing and Brushing, The Mystic Garden, Household Purifications, and suchlike. The writing is clear and easy to read – the usual standard Cunningham fare. Charms and rituals are scattered throughout the book, together with folklore on the home from many cultures and traditions. Each chapter stands on its own, as a self-contained essay on a particular subject. It might be because the book was a collaboration project, but I didn’t find this book particularly interesting or useful. The sections seem disjointed – while there is an overall coherency to the style, the varied topics are arranged in such a way that the reader is shifted from one concentration to the next, with no transition. The different cultures and traditions that the spells and charms come from are given a very superficial treatment, with no materials suggested for further research and study. As Cunningham’s books go, this is certainly not one of the best examples of his work.

The Lord of the World

Julianus reviews The Lord of the World by René Guénon in the Occult Book Reviews archive.

Guenon The Lord of the World

Rene Guenon is the founder of the Traditionalist school of religious philosophy. They consider that all “authentic” religions are derived from the “Primordial Tradition” and spend a great deal of time denouncing the anti-Traditional trend of modern civilisation. This odd little pamphlet is all about Lord of the World who is sort of a Secret Chief behind all valid Traditions. Much of this material comes from Theosophy, which Guenon denounced as a “pseudo-religion” in an early book, and this edition is published by some Gurdjieffians, who Traditionalists abhor as horrid anti-Initiates. This strange bedfellowship suits the odd mix of Hinduism, Grail mythology, 19th century occultism, and Qabalah in the text. Not bad for a guy who looked like a dead fish.