Review by: V.H. Frater I.C.L.
equinox-ceremoniesWhen the book by Pat and Chris Zalewski arrived at my desk for evaluation, the Initial reaction was that of praise and acknowledgment. Then I read the title one more time, "The Equinox & Solstice Ceremonies of the Golden Dawn." There must be an explanation to that error, because the Golden Dawn never had a solstice ceremony. The answer to that question is to be found in the book itself, "When we first became associated with members of Felkin's Whare Ra Temple.....a number of those with grades from 6=5 to 9=2 (!) repeatedly expressed disappointment that the Golden Dawn never had a Solstice Ceremony." -(Pages XVII-XVIII).
My apologies to all those disappointed people, but the original Hermetic Order of
the Golden Dawn didn't have a Solstice celebration, period.
As we evaluate the content of the book, let us begin with the overall production. The result is a wonderfully printed, and illustrated manual and thesis on the topic. The authors went out of their way to present the Equinox ritual and make it a valuable key for growth. The ritual has been printed in the Golden Dawn by Regardie , yet, with the size of the book and complexity of content, it took a shadowy position. That position has changed into its rightful throne, thanks to the book by Zalewski. In contrast with many other books on magic, the pictures and illustrations make it easy to comprehend and appreciate by the general practitioners and students. I highly recommend the book for purchase, regardless of the discrepancies from the original tradition, to be discussed below.
The Equinox (Aequus=equal , Nox=night), is celebrated twice a year, the Vernal Equinox and Autumnal Equinox. In both these periods, the day and night is in complete balance. In the first equinox, the Sun enters into Aries, allowing for a period of outer growth and new beginning. This is where the magician is beginning to work hard, preparing for the period of gestation. In the Autumnal Equinox the Sun enters into Libra, a period of inner growth and meditation. Even so, they are both heralds of opposite seasons. In both celebrations, equality is present. Neither of the equinoxes are held at a period of light more than darkness nor darkness more than light. This balance point is very important throughout all of the classical Golden Dawn teachings. Its emphasized in every aspect of symbolism all the way through 0=0 and beyond.
The Solstices (Sol=sun , Stitium= to make stand still), are not celebrated twice a year, for both periods are a point of unbalance. The first period of Summer Solstice begins with Cancer, a period where the day is longer then the night. Let us remember that even the Sun can burn us if we are exposed to it for a long period of time. The Winter Solstice is where the Sun is at its weakest point, in Capricorn. This is a period of great darkness and the light has receded away. The celebration of these two periods can produce unbalanced vibrations both ways. The Golden Dawn felt the periods of the Solstice can fit very nicely within the Equinox timeframe. "Unbalanced power is the ebbing away of life. Unbalanced mercy is weakness and letting evil go unchecked, therefore becoming an accomplice of evil. Unbalanced severity is cruelty and the bareness of mind." - (0=0 Initiation).
The book continues to discuss the concept of the Equinox Ritual presenting the original version, plus two additional ones. No solstice ritual is presented, for there has never been one for the reasons mentioned above. The commentary on the ritual is very detailed and informative. The two additional variations are very good additions for historical and practicality reasons.
Let's now bring up a serious issue that have been brought on by the new "Felkinized" trend. On both pages 115 and 128 the author mentions that the avenging angel is Hru¹, thus leaving Hua² as the angel of Divination! This is a very serious and dangerous switch. It is in no way in harmony with classical & original teachings of S.L. MacGregor Mathers and the Order. Even the Golden Dawn book by Regardie and all material on the Golden Dawn before (not including Zalewski), the switch is not made, Hru is the angel of Divination , Hua is Great Avenging Angel. This switch in the material is not fair to the readers, especially the new ones, for it can deceive them into believing that Hru is the avenging angel. The author's personal prejudice when presenting historical material should not tint his work in such a fashion. This negates historical and literal honesty. Therefore,he has no right to rewrite part of it as if it was the truth. The book does not read the "The Equinox & Solstice Ceremonies of the Whare Ra Temple & Ara Ben Shemesh.³"
My last word on the book is good. Its good to have as an addition to any magical library. Good to read, good price, good illustration, good pictures, good commentary, and good job. Just highlight the errors starting from the front page on, and study the work.
1) Hru is the angel of the Tarot, as reproduced in the Golden Dawn Book by Regardie.
2) Hua is the avenging angel. He appeared first in the Quran as one of the names of God , then reappeared in the Cipher Manuscript as the avenging angel, invoked by the Adept in his/her vows unto the Lord of the Universe.
3) Pat Zalewski claims lineage from the New Zealand temple founded by Dr.Felkin, a member of Stella Matutina who was obsessed with contacting the Secret Chiefs. He eventually contacted a disincarnate spirit named Ara Ben Shemesh who claimed to be a Master from the Middle East.