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,


1 comment:

  1. Frater,

    I love the discussions this time of year. It's like Christmas for the GD groups, only twice a year!
    One thing we're considering is when a member who's taking an officership cannot be there for the full Equinox ceremony. I'm trying to create a ritual based on the Eq. that invokes the energies and allows for the placement of a new officer.

    Thanks for the post!