Thursday, November 15, 2012

Frater YShY - Biography

Frater YShY (pronounced: Frater Yod Shin Yod) is a Past Imperator and one of the founding members of Thuban Temple in Victoria, BC; the Mother Temple of the Hermetic Society of the Golden Dawn.  He is involved in various other lodges of the Western Mystery Tradition and Freemasonry, including the modern Asiatic Bretheren.  
He has a keen interest in the Golden Dawn, Jewish Kabbalah, Greek and Roman studies and tarot; as well as Talismans, Enochian scrying and Classical Evocation.  His first book, entitled The Path of the Chameleon, is the modern al Tinnin Vault Zelator Adeptus Minor papers from HSGD.  This presents his work on the Neophyte Formula and examples of his own completed Z2 rituals.  The Path of the Chameleon is upcoming from Kerubim Press in 2013.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Review of "King Over the Water"

Review of King Over the Water, authored by Nick Farrell
Originally published in Hermetic Virtues, Summer Solstice 2012
By Frater YShY

Every so often a publication comes along on the Golden Dawn that has the potential to change a bit of the history of the old Order; this is definitely such a book. Within its pages we find a new depth to old topics we have not seen considered in print before, and it offers previously unpublished documents that show a slightly different method of how the rituals could have been worked. There is also a commentary by the author that threads its way through each section that is both interesting and provocative. So, this volume provides a variety of content, and I am of the opinion that it will make a valuable addition for any serious magical library, being a must for anyone studying or practising Golden Dawn magic.

King Over the Water starts with a section on the history of Samuel Liddell "MacGregor" Mathers, Golden Dawn co-founder, and Chief of his later GD off-shoot which he renamed the Rosicrucian Order of the Alpha et Omega, or AO for short. An important quality of the book is its historical approach. It has not been composed with the methodology or rigorous standards of history, anthropology; but rather from the magico-psychological perspective of a practitioner of the Golden Dawn tradition. Any brief perusal of its pages shows that it indeed dances between speculation on the psychology of Mathers, and the facts of various detailed historical events; all of which is informed by the knowledge and consideration of magical theory from the perspective of an operative magician.  As magic does not yet have its own characteristic methodology or discipline, the book does not require itself to operate under the rigorous standards of another field of study; and the finished product takes advantage of this latitude. What it is, is a magical book written under the auspices of the Golden Dawn tradition; it is an internal history of GD magic written by a magician, for magicians.

The places King Over the Water  in a different category from the other extant works of GD history. While some other works demean the practical side of the subject, and others are written from a clearly demarcated historical perspective, King is accepting of the magical world-view, and takes a personal approach. All of the above are acceptable positions in my own opinion, depending on the author’s relationship to the historical material. Even the kindest scholarly representations of GD history have been penned carefully to avoid any discussion of the internal and transformative reasons for practising the tradition; in short, they are carefully written to avoid any discussion of magic.

King Over the Water  is not unlike other very popular books on Alternative History and Freemasonry in particular; such as the prolific publications of Knight and Lomas. Like these other books of Alternative History, King Over the Water indeed shares a similar, more casual, writing style. I did notice the use of the common vernacular was consistent throughout the book, and that the same cultural idioms that were oft-repeated.  Some of these slang phrases were unfamiliar to me, and in places I found that a bit difficult to follow. As I progressed past the introduction, I grew accustomed to the style of presentation, which was more conversational and informative than the dry academic reading that I am more used to, and was actually expecting from this book. There was also a dour and surprisingly humorous quality to the content that I fancy will catch a few of the more serious amongst us a little off-guard. I quickly settled into reading King Over the Water and began to enjoy the content immensely.

I agree with most of the conclusions and suggestive interpretations made about Mr. Mathers in these pages. I found the assessments of his faults and strengths to be accurate assumptions, and I was surprised how King Over the Water actually mirrored some of my own speculative opinions closely.  In many cases this amounts to an undignified look at Mathers, but it is not necessarily an unwarranted characterisation, for at times there were indeed very foolish or unsavoury tales that must be told in order for the book to fulfil its stated objective as a historical work. In essence, it was a life story that was at times difficult for me to hear and discover portions of as a reader and GD aficionado, and a few times I found myself wincing at some of the stories.  However, I recognise that the candidness was warranted and provided a most honest picture of the man. In this regard, and most importantly, I found the book's information to be detailed and accurate, and in my opinion the assessment of Mathers’ personality was fair, astute, well-thought out and reasonably communicated. The addition of the detailed obituary by John William Brodie-Innes is of course priceless and well-placed at the end of the book. Because as he was a close associate of Mathers, its fond and lengthy characterisation serves to confirm much of this book's main hypothesis about Mathers personality; all the while soothing out some of our impressions of his foibles with the kindness that a good friendship and long association can sometimes bring between two men.

The book recognises that in any lay person's psychological analysis it is hard to be certain of conclusions such as this with anyone, even with ourselves, and much less with a long-since deceased person. At the same time, the book does not shy away from some of its more difficult descriptions about Mathers. This is a position I respect, for going back to my characterisation of the book's approach as 'magico-philosophical', in modern GD practise this level of self-conscious consideration should be present in the work of every a magician, and encouraging this open analysis is an important process to undergo personally as well as when considering the possible motives of others. In this regard, I heartily appreciated the attempts to interject only the right amount of uncertainty into the research being presented, and in this an academic method is emulated. This has the very much desired effect of rendering the new interpretations presented in King Over the Water as more plausible. For those of us in other areas of expertise who are perhaps unused to reading or participating in this sort of academic work, I would kindly share or volunteer that this is a standard methodology in historical works.  Typically a paper or book presents factual information; makes conclusions which are sometimes new or difficult; provides some possible objections to its own thesis that seem logical, or may be from the intended audience’s perspective or the status quo; and then it finally overturns each of those objections and verifies its original thesis. It will not be hard for the average interested reader who is a non-expert to readily distinguish where the blanks are being filled in by speculation between the harder facts which are usually cited.

While it is not mentioned in the body of the text, the biographical notes in the back cover make it clear that the author is drawing on initiatory experiences and oral traditions in the various GD related groups he has been active in. While reading, one is left with the impression that much of the information without citation is blended oral tradition and the author's own opinions, all of which I enjoyed reading. While it is written from the attitude of a practitioner, and as has already been mentioned, therefore has no obligatory requirement to take up a specific methodology in its approach; nonetheless, as a reader I was so captivated by some of the stories so much that I wished to know more about the sources of some of the information. A small criticism and request would therefore be that I would have liked to have seen even more historical citations presented whenever it was possible. As this book already shows all the hallmarks of a title that will be much sought-after for years to come, I expect will likely be slated for re-prints. Perhaps the need for more citations is something that could be rectified in future or new expanded editions.

In a final analysis, the foray into Mathers and the old Golden Dawn’s history was well done. Particularly the sections on Mathers possible political motives and some of his unsavoury and extreme associations in Right Wing politics were new to me, as I expect they will be to many of King’s readers. I thoroughly enjoyed the political section of the book, while the publication of some of these older documents has been long overdue. The slight dabs of layman's psycho-analysis were warranted and will be much appreciated to anyone following a magical path. I have always felt that a genuine magician’s primary goals would be tertiary in nature: first, to develop a specialised skill-set; second, to better oneself; and third, to improve the world around us. Wisdom and insight are two inner constitutions life's maturity can take, regardless if one is working to better oneself through a magical path or not, and in this regard, ribald humour aside, King delivers.

These commentaries were interesting, and I particularly valued those on the Vault.  The section on the Vault walls was good, as well as the typescript and reprinted sections from an original MSS of Book of the Tomb, which is not available in print anywhere else; it has literally been a long-lost document to many of us. Now we finally have the painting instructions for the inside of the Pastos that are missing from all other published Golden Dawn books.

Furthermore, the author offers a personal dialogue about his efforts building a Vault. While I do not always agree with the more personal magical theories presented in King Over the Water, no matter, because they are worthy as an Adept-level considerations, they are thought-provoking and intelligent, and so I enjoyed pondering them.  I really can not emphasise this enough.  This level of Golden Dawn work is valuable, and by finally printing the Book of the Tomb and providing an insightful Commentary, this book proves to be an excellent reference and will take its place as the primary resource for Vault construction.  For anyone serious magical practitioner of the Golden Dawn tradition, this tiny section alone is worth many times the cover price.

I also thought some of the cipher musings were pretty astute. I have been a proponent of what the book terms as the "reverse-engineered" school for going on 20 years, which is the suggestion that the cipher itself is forged after or during the same time period as the rituals were worked out. I will not support this assertion in this review; rather, you can read all about it in King.

The section on S.L. Mathers is about two-thirds of the book, and is therefore the main feature of attention; however, the original documents such as The Book of the Tomb and the full versions of the Alpha et Omega’s Z Documents, which are both printed here in full for the first time, are where this book really shines for the researcher. There is also a solid document on colour written by an anonymous modern Adept that is informative and helpful.

There are only the most minor editing details that were missed and some Hebrew misspelling, but that is par for the course in any major undertaking such as this book obviously has been. I recall finding far worse mistakes in the various editions of The Golden Dawn by Israel Regardie, mistakes that we have all had to contend with for many decades before they were rectified in the newer editions. As always, when using information of this nature several texts should be compared, as the maxim goes: caveat lector. This small observation should not deter anyone from picking up this excellent book, there were fewer mistakes in King Over the Water than in your average popular novel has these days, and in this regard the editing staff did a good job.

The pencil or charcoal sketches by Paola Farrell also deserve mention. They are very beautiful, and these pieces add a dimension and an elegance to the book that is lacking from other new books on the same subject that are inexplicably peopled with the usual fare of clip-art, or photocopied and pixleated wood-cut images.

All-in-all, I think this book is an invaluable addition to the corpus of Golden Dawn reference books, and I am appreciative of its variety of contents. As the years pass, I feel this is a volume that generations of magicians will be grateful to have access to; and I would not be surprised if various Adepts are now repainting sections of their Pastos and Vault based on these newly available instructions! I have really enjoyed reading this book, and I encourage people to buy this and study it well, your efforts will be well repaid.

King Over the Water by Nick Farrell.
Kerubim Press.  ISBN 978-1-908705-01-3.  362 pages.  (£16.50)

Monday, June 25, 2012

HOGD 30th Anno!

Congrats to the HOGD on their big event. 

This "birthday e-card" below went around over the last few weeks to most of the GD and other Orders who are "fraternal" or rather co-ed "societal" with each other, as well as to authors and individuals of note, not all of whom are GD.

Kind of like a birthday at the office.  ;)

Check out the Facebook Group:

Because of the distance from the States, our Temple ( do not get to meet a lot of people face to face as often as some of the American temples and Orders; but we sure do correspond online whenever possible, and when we do meet up, it can really be worthwhile.  After this announcement, and the Facebook posts, the folks in our group have been sending me private emails saying how proud they are to be part of GD in general, and happy for the HOGD in their accomplishments as well.

Nice to see that the GD groups around the world are populated with healthy, well-mannered people who are in contact with each other, and get along well; even if we are in different orders.  ;)

Thank you to the Cicero's and the HOGD, 30 years is a long time these days, that is way longer than the original Order ran without interruption for in Europe and the UK; you folks must be doing something right.  Keep on writing and keep up The Great Work!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

An Equinox Paradox

It is that time of year again where our members and many GD temples around the world are getting ready to celebrate the Autumnal Equinox. For many years that the mind of our membership runneth not to the contrary, after the meeting the members of Thuban Temple have happily debated the Element attribution to the Hall in the Equinox in the banquet room over a few pints. Most GD practitioners will have noticed it is slightly different than in the 0=0, as the Cup of Wine and Paten are switched in the Hall of the Equinox. I would like to share my own opinions on the matter.

To begin, I feel a dogmatic summary of what we know from the rituals is needed, it is presented is in 3 points. This is followed by a few posits, and finished with an assumptive summary and a possible solution.


1) The Altar is the same in both rituals:

East - Rose
South - Red Lamp
West - Cup
North - Paten of Bread and Salt

We know that the altar setup is attributed to the "four prevailing winds of Britain", which is also used in Modern Wicca.

2) In the 0=0, the Elements are placed in the Hall as follows:

Hierophant - Rose
Hiereus - Paten of Bread and Salt
Stolistes - Cup
Dadouchos - Red Lamp

We know this as the "Tree of Life" Attribution, which are the elements of the four lowest spheres, notably with the Rose in Tiphareth and the Hierophant and not Yesod and the Hegemon, as the Hegemon rather works with the Element of Spirit in balance during the Equinox. This is fitting to place the Hierophant as Air, for that Element is attributed to the Middle Pillar of the Tree. (While not central to this paper, it is interesting to note that the Air and Spirit attributions change in the Portal, where the Hegemon becomes Air, and the Chief Adept is Spirit.)

3) In the Equinox, the Elements are not placed in the Hall as in 2; but rather the same as in 1:

Hierophant - Rose
Hiereus - Cup of Wine
Stolistes - Paten of Bread and Salt
Dadouchos - Red Lamp

While we know the rituals are written at different times, and this often creates different contexts, this alone does not explain the difference between the two placements in the Hall. In other regards, the setup for the two ceremonies is identical. So, why the change?


If we take the Altar as symbolic of a type of Adamic Ark, bark or coffin; and the Elements as a four-fold representation of the sphere of sensation, the body of Christos, the Osirian Pharaoh's body in subdivision; the Astrological and Alchemical Elements which are the magical origins of the Jungian and Myers-Briggs personality traits and types, if you will, then it takes on a most personal interpretation; in a word, it is microcosmic.

Therefore the 0=0 Hall becomes the tree that captures Osiris; the path of the flaming sword that guards the way to paradise; the world temple or universe; the esoteric Jewish traits that allow the divine presence to arrive and flow through the Kabbalist who faces the veil of the Shekinah which covers Yod Heh in the East; or even if it represents the simple, secular ideals of positive and healthy traits required to be present in a positive society; in a word, it is macrocosmic.


If we agree on these above posits, then the Equinox must be a different model, one where the microcosmic prevails, it is a type of detailed analysis of the microcosmic. Few would question that it is composed of a theme that includes the elements. That it is different than simply a mirror of the 0=0, that it is more than just another event that we are now allowed to attend as Neophytes is another posit that will need to be explored. Portal also has a similar floor-plan as the 0=0 and the Equinox, with the addition of the veil before the pillars and not behind the dais as in the other grades. As it says in the opening ceremony "Fratres and Sorores of all Grades of the Golden Dawn in the Outer..." So, as we know, this ceremony is intended for all GD grades, and therefore it is probable that there are similarities. So what is the significance of these differences?

The 0=0, among other things, explores this micro and macro relationship in relating the candidate to the universal. The elements of the altar are dismembered and placed on the tree, and then returned for the Eucharist. The Neophyte is therefore, among many other things, shown the method to be made holy by this process. As it is later echoed in the 5=6 rubric: "There is no part of me that is not of the Gods!" I can only assume Crowley understood this when he made the above 5=6 line originally appearing the the Book of the Dead central to the other great Eucharist of the magical tradition, his Gnostic Catholic Mass.


So, if the Equinox does not simply mirror the 0=0, then what is it a model of? You may recall that during the Equinox, each Elemental Officer makes a cross in his or her station with the attributed Element, and the Hegemon with the Kerux's lamp. I suggest that with all its crosses, it is a series of five 'Elemental buds' if you will, that will later bloom into the Outer Order Grades. The Elemental crosses in the Equinox are referencing the Watchtowers of the Universe, acting through the agency of the four winds or directions. Why? Because the attribution used in the Equinox is where the Enochian Tablets of Watchtowers are or are to be located in the Hall during the Outer Order Grades; because the Elemental grades are also personal and therefore microcosmic; finally, and most importantly, because the Equinox ritual itself is based on Solar and seasonal themes more than it is only the Kabbalistic tree facing Yod and Heh as in the 0=0. It is instead to represent a more myopic focus as its main feature, the altar is expounded upon personally before the Eucharist common to the 0=0 and the Equinox. It is the seasons and the individual that is to be concerned here, the ritual is representing the two points of the year that are in balance between light and darkness, just as in the various Solar myths common to the assumptions about the Egyptian and Mediterranean Mystery Schools made by 18th Century Freemasonry, that, for good or for ill, informed the writers of the Golden Dawn ceremonies.

These Elemental Crosses mark the locations of the Enochian Tablets, and are similar in nature if not identical to the Black Cross of the Tablet of Union and the Great Crosses of the King and Senior's names that are used in the Elemental Grades and the Ritual of the Portal. These also mirror the Crosses that are brought upright into Pentagrams by the forces shown in the Portal Ceremony. Therefore the Equinox becomes a sort of Microcosmic model that summarizes the entire process from the 0=0, through the Elemental grades, and crowned in Portal.

In other words, the Equinox is a map of the personal territory the initiate is about to undertake in the Outer Order, but it is not the journey yet. It is appropriate for the initiate to experience balance and wholeness in a representative ceremony at the Equinox twice yearly. This is a social and internal affirmation in the Eucharist, but not the complete accomplishment of the great work; it is a taste of self-balance and individual wholeness before these traits are actualized in the personal success that characterizes the ideal of a full Adept. As the Hierophant says in the closing ritual "May what we have partaken maintain us in our search for the QUINTESSENCE, the Stone of the Philosophers. True Wisdom, Perfect Happiness, the SUMMUM BONUM."

The Equinox is a microcosmic representation of the raw matter in form, like the 0=0, but not only as compared to the journey up the tree collecting the divine sparks as in the 0=0 and the Elemental Grades. Instead it is showing the perfected being as an ideal in the Solar myths through the Elements and Watchtowers; it is the entire subject of the Seasons in relationship to the unrefined soul in each of us; elements, dross, gold and all.

Equinox blessings, and light in extension,


Friday, October 1, 2010

The Grade Signs

Grade signs and words given by an initiate in rituals like the SRP and Hexagram rituals can be used to flood the temple and psyche of the initiate with the encapsulated experience of the powers in each grade, and in the universe itself. "For by names and images are all powers awakened and re-awakened."

One proof of this is simple. When Adepts are invoking the elements, it is sufficient to use the solo 0=0 and the SRP, say opening before a ZAM working. If this were not true, and the signs did not do anything or move any energy, you would need to repeat the rituals of the entire Outer Order to properly invoke the elements. I don't think I am going out on a branch if I contend that in the SIRP the Pentagrams, names and signs suffice to invoke the same forces. (Sometimes I do longer personal openings, but that is optional and not required, IMO).

I think it is fair to say that we can all agree that the foundation of the Outer Order is needed to raise the solid super-structure or framing of the Second Order. The above is just another way of stating the more important details of how this same idea of building upon the earlier teachings works in Adept practice. If we follow the metaphor, then a very succinct picture develops.

When the workers go to build the foundation, they have labourers dig down to the clay, then they build a mould, pour the concrete and set thick bolts into the top of it for later. When it drys, they tear off the mould, and are done. This foundation could be likened to the Outer Order.

When the framers show up to work, they bang the frame together and bolt the bottom plate of each wall to the foundation. The security of the rest of the structure in the house is built off of this. For my purpose of an example, this framing is the Inner Order NAM or ZAM building his or her tools and consecrating them (exactly when this occurs depends on your own Order's structure).

When the framers show up (ZAM), they certainly don't have to tear out the foundations (Elemental Grades) and start again. They simply double-check that the foundation is level, make small measurement adjustments if it needs it, and build on it! The whole structure doesn't redo the past work, it uses it by distributing the weight of the house on the foundation, and anchoring on the strong but comparatively little bolts that secure the bottom of each wall frame to the foundation. These are the signs and symbols, the colours of the MM, the Tarot system, astrology, etc.

Our work with the signs, words and Grand Words is that very pinning that connects the Inner Order or true Temple structure of practical magic to the foundation poured in the Outer Order with its heavy reliance on sound theory. Without these little symbols and gestures are supposed to summarize the cosmic forces, and that this relationship is the anchor to all our learning in the Outer, the temple or home would be unsecured and you would have it just blow away in the first bad storm, or thieves could abscond with it whole. When the house is built upon a solid foundation, then those who dwell within are not only sheltered, but are happy and well kept, and the workmanship will last for hundreds of years.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

More Information

Just a quick note, I have another blog geared to the R.R. et A.C.

I have kept them separate to keep my thoughts one the two Orders distinct.