Tag Archives: Journal of the Western Mystery Tradition

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Zalewksi brings student of the Golden Dawn tradition previously unpublished material from one of the original off-shoot Temples of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn.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

The Occult Novels of Dion Fortune

Alex Sumner reviews the works of Dion Fortune at The Occult Novels of Dion Fortune in Journal of the Western Mystery Tradition, No 0, Introduction to the Western Mystery Tradition.

The Occult Novels of Dion Fortune

Introduction

“Dion Fortune” was the pen-name of Violet Mary Firth, 1890 – 1946: it is derived from “Deo Non Fortuna” (“By God not Luck”), which she adopted as her motto when she was a member of the AO.

Dion was (along with Israel Regardie), one of the most prominent members of the first wave of occultists who joined the Golden Dawn tradition after the split at the turn of the 20th century. A former member of the Theosophical Society, she was inspired by Annie Besant’s description of the later Masters, and believed that she herself had made contact with two of them. It was whilst attending a Theosophical meeting that Fortune discerned she had a gift for psychism. Indeed, when she later joined the AO, it would appear that Fortune already had enough confidence in her abilities to believe that she didn’t have to thank her superiors in that Order for them.

It is crucial to understand Dion Fortune that she was a “Free Thinker”. She developed her own views on the Qabalah, on mystical cosmology, paganism, etc which were unlike those taught by either Theosophy or the AO – in this she relied purely on her own genius. It was this tendency to be a Free Thinker which eventually got her into trouble with Moina Mathers, the head of the particular lodge of the AO to which Fortune belonged. Moina pointed out that the writings which Fortune was channelling from her occult sources were not consistent with AO teaching – this lead Fortune to leave, and eventually set up her own occult organisation, the Society of Inner Light.

Dion’s writing career can be divided into two phases, corresponding to her AO and post-AO periods. It was in the first part (which lasted up to about 1930), she seems to be careful to appease her superiors, and conform to the loyalty and confidentiality expected of a “good little initiate”. However, this was completely against her nature, and towards the later part of this first phase one can recognise Fortune asserting her own Will and her own ideas through her writing, leading inevitably to the confrontation with Moina. It was during this time that Dion wrote Psychic Self-Defence, and the fictional works The Secrets of Doctor Taverner and The Demon Lover.

In the second, post-AO phase, from 1930 until the end of her life in 1946, Dion gave up any pretence of toeing the line as just another initiate, and was quite blatantly using her writing to set out her own magical manifesto. It is from this period that her classic work The Mystical Qabalah dates, as well as her fictional novels The Winged Bull, The Goat-Foot God, and her pièce de resistance, The Sea Priestess. Dion also worked on a further novel, Moon Magic, though this was unfinished in her lifetime, and published posthumously in 1956.

Fortune herself said of her fictional output from the post-AO period:

“The ‘Mystical Qabalah’ gives the theory, but the novels give the practice. … [T]hose who study the ‘Mystical Qabalah’ with the help of the novels get the keys of the Temple put into their hands.” [1]

The Secrets of Doctor Taverner

Dion’s first attempt at fiction was this collection of short stories. John Taverner MD is a Harley Street physician, and the proprietor of a sanatorium in the west country. He engages a young doctor, Eric Rhodes, who has been discharged from the Army following World War One. Rhodes soon discovers some strange things about his employer: that he belongs to some kind of secret society, that he believes in astrology, that he regularly deals with paranormal phenomena, that mysterious people address him as “Greatly Honoured Frater”, etc.

In short, Taverner is a powerful Hermetic magician, who uses Magic to cure the afflictions of the patients that come to him. It appears that “Taverner” is based on a real-life character – Theodore Moriarty, a 7=4 of the AO under whom Fortune studied – whilst the character of “Rhodes” is Fortune herself in the thinnest of disguises.

Fortune therefore uses this scenario to relate a number of incidents which she apparently witnessed whilst under Moriarty’s tutelage. For example, in the story “Blood Lust”, Taverner deals with a Vampire, which is in fact an etheric being or ghost which is sucking the vitality of the living: an incident which Fortune later stated happened in real-life.

Fortune uses the various stories in this book to outline her views on reincarnation: not just the fact that it occurs, but that previous lives exert a strong influence on the present one. Unusually strong in fact: it seems that the characters who become involved in the various plots of the stories are usually destined to have done so by their “ante-natal” activities. Fortune takes this to the extent that people who were lovers in former lives are again drawn together by their karma.

There is at least one incident inspired by her connection to Theosophy. In “Recalled” Fortune writes about a messianic child, The Reconciler between East and West, described as a “mahatma-soul”. The imagery is pure Besant, with “the Reconciler” being modelled on the concept of “the World Teacher” which Besant was grooming. Indeed in The Training and Work of an Initiate Fortune admits she believes in this concept. However, this dates the story terribly, as “the World Teacher” idea disappeared in 1925 when Besant’s protegé, Krishnamurti, publicly disowned Theosophy. Yet in this story we have a quote which reveals another of Fortune’s ideas. When a woman discerns, through occult means, that her husband has had an affair with a native girl in India – and that the girl, pregnant, committed suicide – she says of the girl:

“…[I]t was a woman, and I am a woman, and it seems to hurt me because it hurts womanhood. I can’t put it plainly, but I feel it, I feel it as a hurt to all that is best in me.”

Clearly, Dion is an early Feminist, and is using this story to put forward her beliefs.

However there are a number of problems with “The Secrets of Doctor Taverner” which mark it out as Fortune’s least successful venture into Occult fiction. Firstly, it is written from the viewpoint of a non-psychic (Rhodes). All the interesting phenomena happen to Taverner. Thus whilst Taverner is off in the various regions of the Astral plane, we are often left with Rhodes’ description of these incidents, i.e. that he watches over Taverner lying on a couch. This is quite a serious flaw, as the plots of several of the stories rely on the fact that Taverner gets a number of psychic messages via his astral contacts, and often works his cures on the astral. Hence most of the action is happening in invisible realms which, because the narrator is a non-psychic, we are unable to observe.

Secondly, Fortune unwisely decided to tone-down some of the more interesting incidents. For example, in “Blood Lust”, the Vampire is dispatched in the following manner:

“Then the end came. Taverner leapt forward. There was a Sign then a Sound.”

This is the extent of the detail concerning the method which Taverner used to destroy this fearsome entity, and note that neither the Sign nor Sound was defined. Taverner makes a lot of undetailed Signs throughout the book. Yet in Psychic Self-Defence, Fortune goes into much more detail about what Moriarty did: apparently he surrounded it with Love, and absorbing it into his own aura, he neutralised the creature by meditating on Peace. As a result of this venture, Moriarty lay unconscious for three days – but the Vampire was successfully consigned to oblivion. Clearly, the version in Psychic Self-Defence is both more dramatic and gives a better idea about the magical principles involved. It would appear that Dion was still trying to observe her vows of secrecy and loyalty at this point: hence, she was unwilling to give away anything that might be construed as a secret of the order.

Read the rest of this JWMT article at the library!

Journal of the Western Mystery Tradition, Vernal Equinox 2014

Journal of the Western Mystery Tradition, No. 26, Vol. 3., Vernal Equinox 2014, is available and may be of interest.

J S Kupperman Odin JWMT Vernal Equinox 2014
Odin by J.S. Kupperman, cover art

“What can be said about the Gods that has not already been said or written? Humanity’s oldest surviving writings are about Gods and heroes. We haven’t stopped writing about them, telling stories about them, or otherwise being engaged with them, ever since. The presence of the Gods in magic and theurgy has been, until very recently, ubiquitous. And today, after the spread of monothesim for some 3,000 years, we begin to see a revival of old ways combined with new traditions dedicated to Gods that have sometimes not seen steady worship in hundreds of years.

This issue of the Journal of the Western Mystery Tradition is dedicated to the eternal Gods, may they forever raise us to their presence!” [via]

Journal of the Western Mystery Tradition, Vol 3 No 25

Journal of the Western Mystery Tradition, Vol 3 No 25, which is organized around the theme “Eros and Agape”, was released for the Autumnal Equinox 2013. Contents listed include:

All You Need is Love, Editorial by J. S. Kupperman
Eros, Orpheus and On the Origin of the World by Alex Rivera
Eros and Agape in Dionysius the Areopagite by J. S. Kupperman

… as well as book reviews and other sundries of interest, including the theme “The Gods” for next issue.

Journal of the Western Mystery Tradition, Vol 3 No 24

Journal of the Western Mystery Tradition, Vol 3 No 24, which is organized around the theme “Platonism”, was released today, for the Vernal Equinox 2013. Contents listed include:

To Become Like God, So Far as Possible, Editorial by J. S. Kupperman
Theurgy in Antiquity by J. Pedro Feliciano
The Gnostic Stranger in Unpanishadic Thought by Alexander Rivera
The Kybalion’s New Clothes by Nicholas E. Chapel
Interview with Michael Wilding by Teresa Burns

… as well as book reviews and other sundries of interest, including the theme “Eros and Agape” for next issue.

The Apocalypse

The Apocalypse” is the theme for the Journal of the Western Mystery Tradition, No 23 Vol 3, Autumnal Equinox 2012, which is now available online. In addition to several interesting articles, including the first of a series of translations of and commentary on writings of the Bavarian Illuminati, there are book reviews for a number of recent publications you may wish to check out.

 


Cover: The Angel of Silence by J. S. Kupperman

 

“This issue of the Journal of the Western Mystery Tradition offers two featured articles. The first of these, The Apocalypticism of Joachim of Fiore and the Western Mystery Tradition, by Dr. William Behun, explores various approaches to apocalyptic literature within the framework of Joachim of Fiore and applies them to the Western Mystery Tradition. In doing so, Dr. Behun advances perspectives on the subject that should prove important to anyone engaged in either the study or practice of the various WMT traditions. The second paper, In Search of the Illuminati: A Light Amidst Darkness by K. M. Hataley is not so much about an apocalypse, but is itself a revelation. This issue marks the first of a series on the Bavarian Illuminati, including not only elements of its history, but, for the first time, English translations of original Illuminati texts!” [via]

The next two issues will focus on Platonism and Eros, respectively, so you may wish to check out the current submissions guidelines and contribute.

Journal of the Western Mystery Tradition Conference 2012 – Call for Abstracts

The Journal of the Western Mystery Tradition has been working on creating their first conference, and the call for abstracts was just announced. The conference will be a two-day event on July 14-15, 2012 in Milwaukee, WI. You may be interested in attending, presenting and supporting this conference from a venerable online web journal. Find out more on the conference page.

 

 

“Since 2001, the Journal of the Western Mystery Tradition (JWMT) has worked to publish diverse perspectives on the occultisms, magical practices, mysticisms and esotericisms commonly known as the ‘Western Mystery Tradition.’ The JWMT is expanding the work of the web journal through its first conference.” [via]

 

“The study of western esoteric practices has risen greatly over the last decade, focusing on Antiquity, the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Modern magical practices and beliefs, outside of the realm of modern Paganisms and the New Age, have received little attention. Further, practitioners have had little opportunity to present their work, either as papers or in the form of ritual practice, outside of the internet or small groups. The focus of this conference is the movement of contemporary western esotericisms, loosely construed as the “western mysteries,” and their transition from the 20th to the 21st century. The Journal of the Western Mystery Tradition Conference 2012 is seeking abstracts for presentations, panels and practices centered on this broad subject.

Topics may include, but are not limited to:

  • Esoteric traditions such as Freemasonry, Rosicrucianism, Martinism and chivalric organizations,
  • Ritual magical practices from organizations such as the Golden Dawn and the Aurum Solis and modern initiatory Paganisms,
  • Esotericisms from earlier periods, such as alchemy, Gnosticism and Neoplatonism, the magical work of John Dee or the medieval grimoire traditions, and their re-emergence and relevancy to modern praxes,
  • Theoretical, paedogogical, and methodological approaches to the study of the western mysteries,
  • The relation of the esotericisms to orthodox and mainstream practices and society at large.

We welcome presentations, panels and practices focusing on methodological and theoretical issues in relation to the contemporary study and practice of the various western esoteric currents. The conference encourages an interdisciplinary approach and welcomes perspectives from the disciplines of religious studies, theology, anthropology, sociology, psychology, philosophy, history, political science, as well as active practitioners. Papers should last 20 minutes, with time for questions and answers. Panels and practices will be scheduled for up to an hour, with time for questions and answers afterwards as necessary.” [via]

Astrological Magic issue of the Journal of the Western Mystery Tradition

The Astrological Magic issue of the Journal of the Western Mystery Tradition, is now available online. The next issue has been announced as Demonology, and you can read about the submission process on the journal’s site.

You may also be interested in an updated survey about a possible JWMT conference.

Zombie philosophers gang war!

Last night, I think I got served. Here’s an exchange between Jeffrey S. Kupperman (publisher of The Journal of the Western Mystery Tradition) and I about starting rival motorcycle gangs:

@Demon_Writer: I’d start a Platonic motorcycle club/gang called the Logoi, except for the not having a motorcycle thing. Or a gang.

@jgbell: Stupid rules always get in the way of having fun anyway. I’m in the same boat! * looking enviously at @IlluminatiMC *

@jgbell: And @LogoiMC in 3 … 2 … 1 …

@hermeticlibrary: My biker gang of dead white guys can beat up your biker gang of dead white guys.

@Demon_Writer: Zombie philosophers gang war!

@hermeticlibrary: Now I just have to come up with my rival biker gang name …

I helped grab the twitter for @LogoiMC so no one would squat in before Jeffrey got around to it and turned that over this morning. (I really should have held it hostage for coup! I may be too nice to be the leader of my own gang.) But, now I’m in a pickle. Can’t let this go unanswered. Must represent!

So, what is the motorcycle gang for the Hermetic Library to be called? Shall it be the Pneumatikoi MC? Perhaps the Eleutheroi MC? Then again, what about a Liber OZ inspired Anthropoi MC? οί ελεύθεροι άνθρωποι? Or something else entirely?

And, does any one or more people want to take a run at creating a design for the gang’s colours and patches? I’d think seriously about putting Abraxas on a motorbike (on a penny-farthing?!) for this, but I fear it would look like cosplay for George A. Romero’s Knightriders … but, maybe that’s going so far as to come around the other side to being cool again.

I like the motto “My biker gang of dead white guys can beat up your biker gang of dead white guys.” But, I’ve also got stickers over in the swag shop with “This machine kills Old, Dead White Guys” which would be perfect for this also. No reason to settle on just one, of course.

 

I have the vaguest memory left over from being in The Orpheum, a specialty music shop, on the north end of Broadway atop Capitol Hill in Seattle, WA back in the 90s. One of the guys that worked there, and I think lived in the house behind the place, had on a leather jacket with a motorcycle club patch on it. I’m pretty sure it was for the Illuminati MC. Did they exist then? Anyhow, that patch immediately caught my eye. When I asked about it, the guy, who I only really knew because I was hanging out in the store regularly, asked if I wanted to join. I thought about it, asked if I’d actually need a motorbike which I didn’t have; and, reflecting on how I’d probably end up killing myself way too easily riding; I declined. I think about that moment every once in a while as a missed opportunity of epic proportions.

Journal of the Western Mystery Tradition conference survey

You may be interested in helping out by providing answers to a survey about a possible Journal of the Western Mystery Tradition [also] conference. Check out the journal if you haven’t before, and consider getting in on the future conference they are planning.

Also, right now the journal is still accepting submissions for their next issue focused on Astrological Magick.