The obscurity reigning in the public writings of those who have treated of Occult subjects has had the effect of veiling to a very large extent, any clear conceptions, which might have otherwise been apparent, respecting the methods of the sacred Science, and it has occurred to me that it might be of service to such of our members who are entering the Second Order if I put down some ideas which it is well to have in mind upon approaching these studies.
To the merely intellectual eye, much of the more spiritual instruction hereafter given out will, perhaps, appear mere wild fantasy and be difficult to comprehend, and much more so to put into practice, unless, indeed, the real significance of the symbolism and teaching of the Outer Order has been to some degree assimilated.
The system before you is now only to be appreciated by a refinement of faculty, to be engendered through the recognition of certain principia which may be said to underlie all Occult operations, and the practices consequent thereupon.
These principia all logically proceed from one postulate,—viz. the Unity of all things in the Divine Being,—a conception which beautifully harmonises with the most venerable instincts of the Soul: ‘In Him we, live, move and have our being!’
This divine basis of the Universe is omni-present,—endowing total Nature with consciousness in varying modes: no particle can be said to contain more or less of the Divinity than any other, but the modes of expression differ according to the type. Essential Divinity was called by Plato ‘the same’ and manifested Nature ‘the other’: Divinity is archetypal—Nature is anarchic. As it is said ‘Between the Light and the Darkness the colours vibrate’.
‘The colours’ are due to the mingled proportions of the Elements which engender variety and form. The World of Formation is Yetzirah—the region compounded by the Six Sephiroth of Microprosopus.
Yetzirah is the Astral Light, which is especially the medium wherein operate the Ethers of the Elements under the presidency of the Planets: I use the expression Ether of the Elements in order to convey the significance of the Hermetic conception of the ‘Elements’. The Elements of the ancients (called respectively Fire, Water, Air and Earth) are not at all the physical Elements but the subtle Ethers underlying these,—the presence of which is necessary before the gross Elements can be manifested. Hence the Altar symbolism.
Everything formed by Nature in the Yetziratic and Assiatic Worlds is ensphered and thereby individualised: such intangible and magnetic circuli are forces evolving form, form being static force. Each individual or entity,—whether a stone, a planet or a man, energises according to its nature, i.e. gives expression to the archetype of its sphere, and this is the work of evolution. All entities are vested in the Anima Mundi, directly or indirectly according to vehiculum. In the higher kingdoms increased complexity obtains, culminating in the human being, as it is said ‘Oh Man thou subtle production!’
The Unity of the Divine One—’circumscribing the Heavens with convex form’—which is considered to underlie all manifestation is a necessary conception to the doctrines of Macrocosm and Microcosm,—the Greater and Lesser World: that which is a part, of necessity partakes of the nature of the Whole, and thus every entity is a Microcosm or Little World—reflecting the Greater World or Macrocosm after a certain formula. Reflection involves reversal and thus it is said ‘Kether is Malkuth after another manner’.
For Occult purposes the crown of manifested life is considered to be the production of spiritually perfect Man. Spiritual perfection is the work of evolution, as physical perfection is that of evolution.
Once the projection into Malkuth is affected (for the second Adam must first descend and be born of her) the re-ascent commences: — with the ‘recession of the torrent’ comes the interior unfoldment, while instincts of assodation, co-operation and community enlarges the interest of beings,—spreads consciousness over a wider area,—and strikes a death-blow at the egotistic life.
Every thought evolved takes form: elementals coalesce with such forms and thus impart thereto, as it were, life of their own. The inherent force of any thought is proportionate to the intensity of the volition which generated it.
Most people are more or less at the mercy of their own creations having thereby gained a definite temperament, or character. Every man is thus the sum total of his creation plus X,— the forever unknown quantity; but as the creations of life increase so the power of X may be said to diminish and for this reason it was said ‘Enlarge not thy destiny!’
At the dissolution the Soul enters the region of its own Yetzirah, and unless during life it has learned to be positive to its own astral nature, the unimpeded fantasy of excarnate life would involve a fruition of good or evil to which its creator would be subject. Such post-mortem experience is therefore considered illusionary, and hence the work of the Occultist is to render himself positive to his own astral nature by living as much as possible on the creative plane,—his Briatic World,— for, be it remembered, the Creator is also the Destroyer, and thus the true dignity of the Soul is maintained when in alliance with its own divine summit,—a condition involving a more or less complete detachment.
It is not necessary to study Occultism in order to become good,—but rather to become wise. The means which you are taught to employ are calculated to equilibrate the spiritual nature and implement spiritual growth.
The effect of spiritual growth is to extend the Consciousness in the direction of divine and superhuman things and correspondingly restrict the ‘Automatic Consciousness’ of animal Appetites and desires.
The methods handed down by the Golden Dawn tradition are those of the divine Theurgy.
Theurgia is the science of communion with planetary Spirits, the powers composing the Hierarchies of Being and ‘Gods of Light’. Two conditions are necessary for practice. The first is absolute purity and devotion to Truth. The second, the thoroughly trained knowledge of corresponden--ces, the correspondences, that is to say, between the forces of the greater World, or Macrocosm, with those of the lesser World, or Microcosm, and the respective interaction of these.
The normal method of Occult development is a gradual retreat within—first to the Yetziratic World, and, then beyond it. The World of Formation which the student is now called upon to traverse, is the Yetzirah of Assiah,—hence the Elemental and Planetary forces are especially those with which he is brought into contact.
Man as the most completely evolved Microcosm of the Macrocosm synthesises in his own constitution the forces of the greater World of which he is a part; every entity is thus related to him,
—and he to them. The World is, as it were, a vast animal, and its parts respond, being moved by mutual sympathies: sympathies obtain through approximation to type, antipathies when the types are imperfect.
Theurgia is operated through the harmonious combination of the forces of sound, Colour, Number and Form,—the whole attention being powerfully concentrated upon the plane of the force the signature of which is expressed.
The numbers from i to io constitute a complete progression:
these are primal powers and the roots alike of force and form. Occult practice derived from the decimal numeration rests upon a basis of mathematical accuracy,—mathematics being an exact science. The number 3 is the first manifesting power, the number 10 is a return to Unity, or the commencement of a fresh series. For this reason the forms of manifestation are septenary and these are the roots of colours and of sounds.
The Theurgist commands mundane natures by virtue of his own divinity, but until apotheosis be achieved it is necessary in certain higher operations to stimulate the Consciousness by identification with the divinity.
The rule is ‘Appeal to the Divine and Superhuman presences, and conjuration of those which are inferior’. The right to command is extended by subsequent progress.
When in mundane affairs you wish to gain information about a distant country, you do so either from those who have been there, or by yourself proceeding thither,—so with Theurgic operations,—you can either invoke the simulacrum of your subject, or travel by projection.
The intimate connection between forms and elemental forces has to be learnt and appreciated. ‘Think of a place and thou art there already’ says the old Hermetic axiom, and it might have added ‘whether you realise it or not’;—the Adept does!
The endeavour to picture to yourself persons and things seen is an invocation of the simulacra and presently, with practice, much plastic power of formation will be developed and the tinge of personality overcome. Of any place or being to which such thought direction is made the true conformation thereof serves as the ideal and archetype upon which the formative power builds and to which it tends to conform naturally, unless impeded by preconceptions in the sphere of the mind.
In ceremonial, let the drawing of a circle which, as you are told, is the key to all the rest, be the formulation of a true magical vortex,—raising about the sphere of the mind an absolute barrier to all extraneous impression,—thus enabling perfect spontaneity: as you are told the Mystic Circumambulation symbolises the dawning of Light.
It will be seen upon consideration that every thought which is creative and positive (as distinct from a passive and mediumistic reflex) must contain, as it were, within itself the complement and completion thereof,—i.e. Intuition. In just the same way as when along parallel wires an electric current is passed down one only, simultaneously inducing a reverse current up the other,—so the fruition of thought, which is perfect intuition, complements the centrifugal action of intellectual energy. The external mode of mental activity has engendered oblivion of the fact, and so men fail to realise their own possibilities: but that Invocation involves response is the testimony of psychic sensibility.
Thoughts which are expressed in some way, whether by speech or symbol, are by so much the more powerful than those unexpressed. Expression is the consecration of Will. ‘The Paternal Mind sowed symbols in the Soul’,—and regenerate fantasy shall reveal them.
Forces are entities; all entities are expressible by formula or signature. The Sigilla of Occult forces are employed because whatever has but a casual similitude to these forces directly participates therein.
Will is the grand agent of all Occult Work; its rule is all potent over the nervous system. By Will the fleeting vision is fixed upon the treacherous waves of the Astral Light, but, as it is said, you cannot pursue the Path of the Arrow until you understand the forces of the Bow.
The use of bright colours engenders the recognition of subsisting variety and stimulates that perception of the mind which energises through imagination, or the operation of images.
A picture which to the cultured eye beautifully portrays a given subject, nevertheless appears to the savage a confused patchwork of streaks,—so the extended perceptions of a citizen of the Universe are not grasped by those whose thoughts dwell within the sphere of the personal life.
It is selfishness which impedes the radiation of Thought, and attaches to body. This is scientifically true and irrespective of sentiment: the selfishness which reaches beyond the necessities of the body is pure vulgarity.
The road to the Summum Bonum lies therefore through SelfSacrifice,—the sacrifice of the Lower to the Higher, for behind that Higher Self lies the concealed Form of the Ancient of Days, the synthetical Being of Divine Humanity.
These things are grasped by the Soul: the song of the Soul is alone heard in the Adytum of the God-nourished silence.
The force of association, or community, even in wordly affairs is very great, but far more so when the ties which link together take their rise in the profoundest recesses of Being.
Having entered the Second Order, you come within the radius of a psychic spiritual force, which, generated centuries ago, has acquired a momentum of its own, and silently exerts a protective influence. The isolated student lacks this advantage. The history and existence of this secret organisation is a monument to the energy put forth by our Golden Dawn Ancestors, ‘Those who are of a most excellent genius, cultivated the divine science, while yet upon Earth.’
The legacy which they have bequeathed is perhaps something more than the actual knowledge preserved, great though this be, for, consciously or unconsciously, the forces they have put forward devolve upon us, and the very shades of the mighty dead stimulate to further exertion.