These types of questions are to be expected from individuals not looking beyond stuff written about the Golden Dawn tradition and any modern developments or deviations of it made by Anglo-Saxon authors, such as Israel Regardie, Aleister Crowley, Dion Fortune, Paul Foster Case, etc. That is, individuals with big blinkers preventing them from seeing the Golden Dawn Tradition as being but a petal (but a most beautiful one!) on the grand Rosicrucian Rose of the Hermetic Cross.
The big question that pops up in my head is: Why should the Secret Chiefs of the Third Order stoop down to any post-modernist reconstructions of what actually is lacking in the Golden Dawn Tradition? Not all aspects of the Second Order / R.R. et A.C. teachings as presented in published literature has been condoned by the Third Order in the first place. The fact is that the Third Order severed its communication with the Golden Dawn Tradition following the publications of Aleister Crowley when they saw what S.L. MacGregor Mathers had done to the teachings, taking liberties and not taking into consideration the importance of not blending egregores traditionally foreign to each other. To cut it short, MacGregor Mathers went somewhat to far in his syncretistic endeavours. Why should They even condone any further deviations from the Tradition?
That said, I know for a fact that teachings with extremely important practical implications are given on Golden Dawn ritual that has uncovered layers which no-one would have even dreamt of was possible, especially in post-modernist circles, and which properly reconnects the “classical” Golden Dawn symbolism with the ancient Tradition. And it has been there before everyone’s eyes all the time! It’s just too obvious to be noticed.
The rituals of the Outer or First Order should be studied in detail by the Second Order, at the level of the 5°=6° and its sub-grades. The 5°=6° is the proper study, in my opinion, of the 6°=5°, while that latter Grade should be the study of the 7°=4°. The Third Order is definitely not the place to study freemasonic style rituals. Somewhere along the path of the initiatory system rituals must change in emphasis and structure from symbolical to direct manipulation of the energetic body. Thus the higher you go, the more “simple” the rituals may seem. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the higher Grade rituals are less complex or intricate in their composition, however this is not on the symbolical or intellectual level but rather energetic. After a certain point initiation rituals are only supposed to be experienced and integrated magically and alchemically, not through intellectual study of symbolism. MacGregor Mathers and W. W. Westcott already knew this when they created the 6°=5° and 7°=4° rituals, which are much more simple, cut down and direct compared to the 5°=6°. This means that the freemasonic emphasis and preoccupation with symbology and analogy fades away already in the Second Order.
Regarding alchemy, there is no such thing as a “non-material alchemy”. That is simply a modernist reconstruction (even predating our post-modernist age) which is based upon a faulty and un-initiated understanding of the Royal Art. Alchemy is about the restoration of matter into its original state. Anything else is simply allegorical speculation which properly doesn’t concern the Third Order, and hardly even the Second. Post-modernist authors have recently made suggestions concerning Alchemy that from a strictly Hermetic point of view aren’t even properly speaking allegorical, as they represent pure intellectual speculation.
For me it seems that the most important aspect of the training of the Adept, in a post-modernist vision of the Golden Dawn, is that of intellectual understanding and to create even more convoluted teachings. Whereas the actual goal of the Adept in the Traditional Rosicrucian system of initiation is that of emancipation from the restrictions of ordinary or mundane (mediocre) life – that of the accomplishment of the Philosopher’s Stone and the attainment of Immortality. Where is the Stone to be found or extracted from further intellectual speculations?
Many aspiring or prospective students are being put off by the Western Esoteric Tradition, and in particular the Golden Dawn Tradition, as it is presented in published litterature, because it already lays to much emphasis on intellectual studies compared to presenting practical formulae. Today students expect noting less practical as compared to the Eastern Traditions, and rightly so. They want and need tangible transformation of their physical and sublte selves. Today, a Golden Dawn Order must stand ready to deliver the goods, so to speak. So what then is its higher teachings supposed to deliver? Even more complex intellectual study and speculative convolutions? Do people really believe that analysis provides true Illumination? Or do they mistake enlightenment for Illumination?
Remember that enlightenment only concerns itself with the rational mind while true Illumination instead concerns the True and Higher Self, and ultimately God or the All. If you prefer the enlightenment of the analytical rational mind over the Illumination of God you will let your ego or lower self usurp the throne of the True King, the Solar Self. Thus will you be condemned to ignorance from the Ultimate Truth, satisfying yourself with small bits and pieces of facts, always missing the bigger picture. Even worse than that, actively inhibiting your process of transmutation – of the Great Work – you will also choose death and corruption before immortality and emancipation.
Whatever teachings originating from the Third Order that I have been fortunate enough to encounter on this topic (of Alchemy), they far surpasses anything that lately has been presented in a purely speculative and convoluted manner. I am especially disappointed lately with certain understandings of Golden Dawn Alchemy, recently published, which will take the serious student nowhere in his alchemical understanding.
But then again, you won’t find any of these Third Order teachings being profaned in the same manner as has become the custom of certain post-modernist authors. True Second Order material is not for the armchair magician to receive without any personal effort at all. If you want to receive the benefits of the Traditional teachings originating from the Third Order, you have to do that in the traditional way – that is through initiation. This material is sub rosa, as it traditionally is supposed to be.
However, that doesn’t mean that it is not available. In fact the Rosicrucian Order of Alpha et Omega has invited Adepts from a wide variety of Rosicrucian Orders to have a share of this unique material as well. I know for a fact that several well respected authorities on the occult and accomplished Adepts already have become privy to these teachings. But my oaths of secrecy prohibits me to reveal the identities of these Adepts. So, the fact is that the Alpha et Omega isn’t at all withholding any new information from the general esoteric community. But it must be remembered that this sharing can only be administered under strict traditional rules which involves severe oaths of secrecy. Individuals who have proven themselves to be untrustworthy through profanation or cannot follow basic and traditional rules of the Golden Dawn and that of Rosicrucianism cannot expect to receive any secret traditional teachings.
But that doesn’t mean that the teachings coming from the Third Order into the reformed Second Order necessarily take off from whatever has been presented in post-modern publications, developed according to the personal reconstructionist preferences of the authors. What the Third Order has presented constitutes Traditional teachings on different aspects of the standard Golden Dawn teachings, such as the symbolism of the Neophyte Hall and a full alchemical explanation of the Outer Order Rituals which goes way beyond anything that has been presented lately on Alchemy and Golden Dawn Ritual.
Also, it must be made clear for my readers that there are secret teachings reserved for Third Order initiates as contrasted to teachings that have originated from the Third Order as well but are meant to be applied in the context of the reformed Second Order. I know from personal experience that the sub-grades of the 5°=6° have already been expanded upon. But the teachings of the senior Grades of the Second Order, i.e. the 6°=5° and 7°=4°, are being expanded upon in a much more grander scale.
One such aspect of the teachings recently transmitted to the reformed Second Order, hermetically sealed from the Outer World, is the true meanings of the Kameoth or Magical Squares corresponding to the Seven Planets, which clearly interconnects in a direct way with both Golden Dawn initiation rituals and the magical system of the Lesser Adept. The student of the First Order and the Lesser Adept of the Second Order encounters the Magical Squares presented in a simple two-dimensional format, such as they are found in published literature. The Third Order has recently transmitted teachings that instructs the Major and Exempt Adepts how to decipher these enumbered grids so that they may create three dimensional cubes, using the Planetary Seals to unlock the encrypted published Kameoth. These cubes are then used to access parallel dimensions on the inner planes, through secret magical hierarchies and their accompanying names and sigils, which leads to the centre of the Cube and the purely Divine. Thus, what we see here is an extremely advanced form of Planetary Theurgy.
However, the newly received teachings from the Third Order must bee seen against the context of the initiatic system of the Adeptus Grades of the Second Order. A basic understanding of this system has recently been unveiled by Lux E Tenebris. Let me make a brief summary of these teachings. Basically the three Adepti Grades represent a mental, energetic and physical process of change and unfoldment. The Adeptus Minor 5°=6° Grade represents a death process and constitutes a self-sacrifice, in order to initiate a transformation of himself into a new form. In the Adeptus Major 6°=5° Grade the soul is detached and separated from the “dead” body and in this state the candidate encounters his own complexes during a sojourn to the underworld, as well as seeing both his own microcosmic nature and the greater nature of the macrocosm in a different and true light, resulting in a full and stabilized contact with the Holy Guardian Angel. After this revelation the soul is returned to its body and the Adept becomes resurrected unto a new species of life and thus emerges as an Exempt Adept. As an outcome of this encounter with the upper realms of the astral, the hidden powers of the Adept are awakened, and in the Adeptus Exemptus 7°=4° Grade he learns to harness these powers for the common good as well as to govern the Order, as all necessary lineages are bestowed unto him at this final Grade of the Second Order. Further Magical and Alchemical techniques are transmitted to the Exempt Adept, which will help him to pass across the Abyss into the Third Order, where the final accomplishment of the Great Work is supposed to occur.
I personally have found these teachings on the Adepti Grades to be remarkable and as such they constitutes evidence of true traditional Hermetic teachings. I really recommend the reader to study the text in full. Furthermore, and to my personal satisfaction, they confirm most of my own beliefs about the initiatic journey that I have gathered through my own experience of the Second Order / R.R. et A.C. initiatic and magical process. I have published a series of essays on this subject in the following order:
- The Mystery of the Crucifixion
- Grades and spiritual attainment
- Who is an Adept?
- The Bodhisattvas of the West
- What is Apotheosis?
Many students interprets the words “Knowledge and Conversation” as depicting a union with the Guardian Angel. However, these two occurances are distinct experiences, the Knowledge and Conversation signifying the first stage which eventually may lead to a full union. The Major Adept experiences a stabilized communication with his Guardian Angel, which means that he is more fully introduced to its presence compared to the dim and clogged communication between the Lesser Adept and the Angel. The difference in communication between the Lesser and Greater Adepts being that of separation (or “death”) of the physical body, representing an alchemical separation and a major leap in the spiritual unfoldment of the initiate.
If someone rejects these teachings as irrelevant it says more about that person expressing this opinion that it does about the teachings themselves. Anyone that has passed through the ordeal of the Second Order, as it was originally and traditionally intended, will immediately acknowledge the truth in L.e.T.’s words. Furthermore, his disciple G.H. Fra. L.e.S. has clearly proven that there are substantial teachings that has been approved for the senior Grades of the Second Order of the Alpha et Omega. But what has been said in concrete terms regarding these are only teasers that cannot be put into any practice without proper initiation. Enough proof have been shared to the Outer World just to show what can be expected from any serious students who are prepared to meet the requirements of receiving them.
Those who had been fortunate enough to study this body of traditional instruction are amazed at the quality of the teachings of the deeper symbolism of the Golden Dawn. But these teachings doesn’t concern itself with any post-modern opinions about what the Golden Dawn is supposed to be reconstructed into; it concerns itself with the original Hermetic teachings behind Rosicrucian Traditions such as the Golden Dawn. And in this respect, even aspects of the teachings which MacGregor Mathers took himself liberties with would become subject to correction. The Golden Dawn Tradition, having lost its guidance for the last century, has to be subjected to some necessary purging. Initiates must be prepared to rid themselves from some of their precious preconceived conceptions; they must be prepared to “kill their darlings”. Remember the Stella Matutina version of the 0=0 ritual which says that “only those who are lightly armed can attain the summit”.
Now, the Rosicrucian Order of Alpha et Omega has been accused of rejecting astral contacts and that we have stated that the Third Order only works upon the physical level in transmitting secret teachings. It is true, to a certain extent, that we have opposed “astral contacts” as a valid substitute for live encounters. The reason behind this is the New Age movement popularising the dangerous practice of “channelling” astral entities, something that unfortunately has also spilled over into the Golden Dawn community.
But let us problematize this somewhat, remembering well that I cannot speak candidly about this sensitive subject. What I may say, or rather repeat what G.H. Fra. L.e.S. already has said before, is that the Third Order operates on different levels, of which the physical is but one. But there also exists Hermetic Masters of the Third Order that operate on the Solar Plane, as an outcome of completing the Great Work. The Third Order is governed by two councils, each having 12 members. The council that operates on the Solar level presides over the council of 12 Magi in physical incarnation. Thus, if you encounter a Third Order which cannot manifest any living or incarnated Masters, chances are high you have arrived at a dead end which will lead you nowhere or worse provide you with a erroneous understanding of the Tradition already manifested. It is obvious, at least for those who have encountered it, that the Third Order primarily uses its physically incarnated Magi to guide any outer vehicle and public or semi-public initiatory school. Solar Masters doesn’t contact just any initiate or Adept, only true Magi that had done the required Work.
Post-modernist teachers within the Golden Dawn community reject the notion of incarnated masters, comparing it to Theosophy and as such of being foreign to the Golden Dawn Tradition. Suffice to say is that Theosophy has lot of fanciful theories of “Mahatmas” and the like. This has nothing at all to do with any Third Order teachings. If anything Eastern, one has to look at the Tibetan Buddhist Tradition to find anything remotely similar. But what post-modern teachers and students with reconstructionist tendencies doesn’t understand is the full implications of the Hermetic Tradition, of which the hierarchies of initiates is but one. There are many layers of this Tradition in which Rosicrucian Orders as the Golden Dawn constitutes but the Outer Vehicles. And, as has been shown, even amongst the ancient Third Order there exists hierarchal layers which goes beyond the pale of the outer or physical world. The fact is that the Occidental Alchemical Tradition is as interesting as anything similar in the Orient, including Tibetan Buddhist Tantra which it approximates in its richness and variety.
The Rosicrucian Order of Alpha et Omega has also been accused of being a teacher centred organization relying heavily on Masters and apprenticeship, and that the Secret Chiefs stands in between the initiate and his illumination. It is true that a student in our Order may experience more guidance compared to a majority of contemporary organizations. However, the Third Order doesn’t stand in between Man and the Divine. This is a Catholic or Orthodox Christian viewpoint. What the Third Order and its Secret Chiefs does provide though is the Hermetic Tradition, both in theory and practice, in its most true and uncorrupted form. This Tradition in itself provides the means for humanity to restore itself into its original and true form, in which spirit and matter, mind and body, becomes as One. No Master can grant you this, beyond being the yeast or catalyst in initiating this process; substantial result actually comes from hard work and personal effort on the part of the initiate. Thus, the Master provides you with the initiation and the transmission of a body of teachings you yourself have to apply in your daily work.
The Rosicrucian Order of Alpha et Omega is a Traditionalistic Order. But being such doesn’t limit itself into scholarly study of old or ancient manuscripts in libraries or private collections. Rather it concerns itself with traditional initiation and esoteric lineage, i.e. the passing on of a magical current and any oral teachings that follows with that from Master to disciple, from initiator to initiate, of an unbroken chain that has hundreds of generations behind it. There is no other way of fully receiving a genuine and living Tradition; you will only find bits and pieces of incomplete information in published literature and in libraries, dead tracks as it were, which in no way will lead you to a full understanding of the Tradition and especially grasping its practical formulae. The Question of the Magical Squares, which everyone takes for granted through published literature, serves as a good one example of this. The practice of Internal Alchemy being yet another. Of course anyone with power ambitions in the Golden Dawn community, being outside the pale of this wonderful experience of true initiation, will only scratch his head in reading this and surely also feel intimidated by the very idea, as this ruins his own reconstructed franchise.
Another strange notion recently suggested by the post-modern mind is that having an older Order and its teachings at the apex of the system makes the First and Second Orders of the Golden Dawn redundant. Why not go straight to the source, they ask? However, this assumption only betrays a faulty understanding of initiatory processes and the traditional way of the training of the initiate. There are three levels of the initiatory process. The first one, which properly belongs to the Outer or First Order, is the symbolical, which I here propose also may be referred to as the “saturnian mysteries”. The next level is the analogical, also referred to as the “lunar mysteries”, which properly belongs to the Second Order. The last step is the direct way of initiation, also referred to as the “solar mysteries”, which constitutes the formulae of the Third Order.
Although the modern initiate stands prepared in a quite different way as compared to the one belonging to the former Reformation anno 1888, making purely “saturnian” Freemasonic style initiation and instruction redunant in our age – the Reformation of 1999 has made the Outer or First Order into a analogical one by all practical means, albeit on a basic level – to properly prepare the initiate he or she must proceed first with the “lunar” work before he or she may start with the “solar”. To skip the preliminary analogical step may have serious or even disastrous consequences for the initiate, depending on his or her qualifications, both spiritually and energetically. But the general scheme of initiation must follow these steps. For a fuller grasp of the role of the three Orders of the Golden Dawn I recommend the essay written by G.H. Fra. L.e.S. on this subject entitled Types of Esoteric Orders and the Reformation Fraternitatis, Anno 1999.
Furthermore, individuals making such propositions have entirely missed one very important fact regarding the nature of the Third Order. It is not a public or semi-public organization that anyone may contact through an e-mail address or just by clicking on a message button of a website on the Internet as with most big-name orders. Contrary to the Rosicrucian Order of Alpha et Omega, or any visible and external collage, the Third Order is an extremely secretive Rosicrucian Internal Collage. They cannot be sought after and found in some kind of a Knights Quest, as in the tragicomic story of R.W. Felkin, the Chief of the Stella Matutina. He did find a teacher in Rudolf Steiner but not an actual Secret Chief. Contrary to this idea, the fact is that the Third Order must find you instead; if you are deemed worthy they will eventually contact you.
Thus the only way in being spotted by them is by joining any of the true and authentic Rosicrucian bodies. The Rosicrucian Order of the Alpha et Omega is but one of these outer and modern vehicles of the true and ancient Order. However, even in such a legitimate body not everyone is admitted into the highest Hermetic initiatory cycle. The Third Order only admits the most promising and advanced Adepts. And even among these only the fewest of the few are admitted by invitation. If working in the Golden Dawn system to be even considered for admission one must already be an Adeptus Exemptus (7°=4°). And to reach to that exalted initiatory stature in itself, you must progress through the entire First and Second Orders. As I have said repeatedly, the initiatory system of the Golden Dawn represents true spiritual progression attained in graduated steps. You simply cannot cheat the natural way of spiritual development; alchemy imitates nature!
Moreover, the teachings of the Third Order, amongst else, contains the true secrets of Alchemy. But I must repeat, this doesn’t mean that you must skip neither the First nor the Second Orders. In alchemy the Matter must be properly prepared and the heat gradually raised, also inside the initiate. In your Alchemical and Theurgical training, you have to work first with the external processes, which in the case of Alchemy involves the external laboratory of cucurbits, alembics, crucibles and ovens, and in the case of Theurgy our well known gowns, altars, tablets, implements and talismans, etc. When these analogical or “lunar” tools have been properly worked upon and integrated into your own Sphere of Sensation, you are then ready to work with the direct or “solar” processes of Internal Alchemy and Internal Theurgy.
Having succeeded in creating the external Philosopher’s Stone through the Mineral Great Work doesn’t make you a Magister Templi (8°=3°) by default, as has been suggested. At most it makes you an Adeptus Exemptus (7°=4°) and as I just said that Grade is a requirement for being prepared to proceed with Internal Alchemy and initiation into the Third Order, which solely concerns itself with the creation of the Internal Stone and development of the Solar Body of Light.
Since writing this blog yours truly is no longer affiliated with the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, Outer Order of the Rosicrucian Order of Alpha Omega® (H.O.G.D./A+O®). However, my general view on this subject stays firmly unchanged, as expressed in the above written text, and what I have authored previously on the Gyllene Gryningen blog still represents my overall opinion. Any practices referred to in reference to the H.O.G.D./A+O® also apply to the Order that I am currently affiliated with, namely the Hermetiska Orden av Den Gryende Morgonrodnaden (“Hermetic Order of the Nascent Aurora”) or H∴O∴G∴M+R.