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Magick 101: The Proper Attitude Toward Mind & Body (Part 2)



THE PROBLEM OF RELIGION AND THE GREAT WORK

This opens the way to a discussion of a very serious point which has long been on my mind. It emerges into the open by the inclusion in this volume of some of the Rituals of A.E. Waite. Mathers and the Order he founded were only nominally Christian. One has to search meticulously through the Rituals and other teachings for serious literal interpretations of the historical Jesus. In reality, they are absent. The references to Osiris as a symbol of man - made - perfect could be those of any of the mythical Mediterranean crucified Gods, of whom there were many. The Order was a Hermetic Brotherhood and Christianity played only a minimal role in its operation. Mathers was on friendly with Anna Kingsford who had founded another Hermetic Society in which Christianity did play a prominent part. But he never permitted this friendship to influence him to make his Society similar to hers. There is a very interesting set of concepts here that need only to be touched on. And that is the constant effort made by some occult teachers to Christianize the ancient wisdom-religion. I have already mentioned Anna Kingsford as one. Another, who influenced Dr. Felkins tremendously was Rudolph Steiner who seemed determined to Christianize occultism in grotesque ways that are fundamentally opposed to the innate conceptual nature of Magic. In this, he was following in the footsteps of Annie Besant and Bishop Leadbeater who had already succeeded in corrupting Blavatskian Theosophy, transforming it into a Christian occultism with Eastern overtones. Though Steiner was in conflict with them, nonetheless their doctrines must have affected him profoundly, despite his so called clairvoyance being in opposition to the so-called clairvoyance of Leadbeater. While this was going on Waite who had been raised as a Roman Catholic seemed determined to follow in the footsteps of the above-named teachers. After the revolt of 1900 in the Order, he was one of the several committee members who ran the Order. Later he pulled out from this committee to form his own Fellowship of The Rosy Cross. When this happened he totally revised not merely the rituals of the Order but the entire philosophic context of the Order. In this volume three of his Rituals are included. From them the discriminating reader will be able to determine to what extent this perversion of the Order methodology had advanced. There is almost no relationship between the teachings originally laid down and the later biblical emphasis introduced by Waite. This of course resulted in the introduction of Church concepts of morality and purity which are evident in almost everything that Waite wrote. His whole attitude became sex-negative as well as occult-negative. He made it almost a point of honour to eradicate any reference to every item in the Magical cut riculum laid down by Mathers and Westcott. Fortunately when he died in the late 1930's his Order died with him and so did his sex-negative attitudes, as well as his wretched pompous English -- characterized by a need to use Latin phrases where simple English would have been much better. Contrary to the common point of view he must have been a very ambitious person and this is made evident by the pompous titles he gave both to himself in the Rituals as well as to his attendant officers.

EGOTISM

One of the great dangers inherent within the practice of Magic and indeed of all the occult arts -- is the development of an enormous egotism characterized by messianic feelings, infantile omnipotence and the utter destruction of any capacity for effective self-criticism. It appears that as the student becomes more adept in the skills of meditation, skrying, or ceremonial work, he becomes more threatened by an inflation of the ego. It appears slowly and insidiously, without apparent warning. Only those people who are closely related to or associated with the student become aware of the subtle metamorphosis that occurs. The student rarely is conscious of this unconscious transformation. Attempting to make him aware of this egotism is doomed to failure; it is like knocking on a stone wall. It seems to afflict the aspirant who functions outside the borders of an occult order or legitimate magical school. In this sense, most students come within the jurisdiction of this definition. Those who practice their occult work under the aegis of a legitimate magical body or under the guidance of an experienced and wise guru or teacher seem to be more protected from this inflation -- unless the guru has himself fallen under the spell of his own messianic fantasies and inflation. If he has, then he communicates his fatal sickness to his students. Or else he is wholly blinded to the debacle about to occur to his student. One has only to look at the history of most modern occultists and I use them preferentially because their history is more readily authenticated than those of earlier times - - to perceive how valid this phenomenon is. So many of them developed fantastic notions of their own unique importance and role in the world or even cosmic picture. Only recently I heard of one who claimed to have been the teacher of Jesus! There are an almost infinite number of variations of this theme. It is a definite and ever present danger, and all students of occultism within or without occult orders must become conscious of this phenomenon. Otherwise they are doomed. They experience what appears to be at first an enhancement of life-feelings, a rich harvest of previously unknown information and knowledge, and the awareness that destiny has suddenly acquired a new direction, -- only to collapse later in total frustration, ignominy, and exile from all of society. From the theoretical viewpoint, the gradual expansion of the confines of the limited ego by magical practices, leads to contact of some kind with the `unconscious'. A new source of energy is released, an energy which is seen as carrying with it not only new feelings but new knowledge and a greater capacity for self-confidence with the ability to impress and motivate one's fellow man. This energy floods the unprepared ego with almost infinite promise. Unless the candidate is properly prepared for this phenomenon, or is guided and guarded by a competent experienced teacher, he is likely to take this seriously. Effective self-criticism seems to have vanished in thin air. Crowley seems to have been most conscious of this in some of his earlier work. He himself had a couple of admirable teachers -- Alan Bennett, George Cecil Jones and Oscar Eckenstein. For example in one section of Liber 0 he wrote: `This book is very easy to misunderstand; readers are asked to use the most minute critical care in the study of it. even as we have done in its preparation. In this book it is spoken of the Sephiroth and the Paths; of Spirits and Conjurations; of Gods, Spheres, Planes and many other things which may or may not exist. It is immaterial whether these exist or not. By doing certain things certain results will follow; students are most earnestly warned against attributing objective reality or philosophic validity to any of them. There is little danger that any student, however idle or stupid, will fail to get some result; but there is great danger that he will be led astray, obsessed and overwhelmed by his results, even though it be by those which it is necessary that he should attain. Too often, moreover, he mistaketh the final resting-place for the goal, and taketh off his armour as if he were a victor ere the fight is well begun.' Some few other occultists familiar with the practical side of things also utter similar warnings. Blavatsky in her Voice of the Silence also warns that `under every flower a serpent coiled.' And in a footnote in this warning, she adds: The astral region, the psychic world of supersensous perception and of deceptive sights -- the world of mediums. It is the great `Astral Serpent' of Eliphas Levi. No blossom picked in those regions has ever yet been brought down to earth without its serpent coiled around the stem. It is the world of the Great Illusion.' Only a good guru of almost superhuman powers of effective self-evaluation and examination provide the means of avoiding inflation and the consequent disaster. A third means is almost any form of good psychotherapy. The latter appears to be able to drain off the massive uncontrolled quantities of energy that are released and direct them into new and constructive goals. Those Reichians who have an understanding of `occult' matters would appear to be more effective than most in dealing with the phenomenon. Jung has also described it most extensively in an extraordinarily good essay in a book entitled Two Essays on Analytical Psychology. However, the methods of therapy described by Jung and practised by his followers leave a lot to be desired. Every occult student should not merely read this book but own it, in order to provide the opportunity to read and re-read many times the chapter dealing with inflation of the ego. It is his contention that the analysand, the patient undergoing therapy -- analagous to the enterprising student beginning his occult work -- attempts to identify his ego with the collective psyche. He does this as a means of escaping the pain and anxiety resulting from the collapse of his conscious persona or self, which is one of the primary effects of the analysis. To free himself from the seductive embrace of the collective psyche, instead of denying it as some others have done, he accepts it so totally that he is devoured or overwhelmed by it, becomes lost in it, and thus is no longer capable of perceiving it as a separate entity. As another student once put it, instead of realizing that they have become illuminated by God, they affirm that they are God. Thus the inflation begins. It ends disastrously when or if the `God' discovers he is not omniscient or omnipotent. But by then it is generally too late.


(taken from the Complete Golden Dawn System of Magic)

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