Monday, April 12, 2010

If you're happy with the LBRP...

...then chances are pretty good this blog will, at times, offend you. I do not like it, Sam I am, I do not like lame rites in a can.

That said, have you ever said something in the heat of a moment that you later realize was perhaps a little more vehement and exaggerated than you really feel? In response to Jason's first comment on my previous post, I said:

As for the LBRP, it's a bullshit ritual, completely overblown, overanalyzed, and remains a shit stain on the underwear of the occult left by incontinent old men who pulled the teeth from the Hermetic Tradition trying to make it reflect the fairy tales of the Theosophists and their own made up "history" of their Masonic roots.

If occultists spent as much time reading chapters of Agrippa as they do analyzing that stupid fucking ritual, we'd probably have reached global Enlightenment by now.
Now, I really do believe that statement sometimes, but it's totally hyperbolic and should be put in context, because there is one instance that I can think of where the above statement is completely false, intolerable, and should never have been uttered. So let me explain.

If you are in a Golden Dawn Order, if you are planning on going through all the initiations and achieving the Great Work following the path laid out within the Golden Dawn, the LBRP is a fantastic, and truly necessary ritual to perform daily. It creates in your sphere contact points, like a circuit, that are activated at various stages of your initiation. It prepares you for specific revelations and empowerments that you will achieve at later grades. From the first time you stumble through it, through the mid-career point when you realize you've been saying it wrong for the last two years, to the last gasping "within me shines the six-rayed Star" before you die, you are performing a ritual that is the keystone to an entire transformative process that can only be properly completed in the framework that originated the rite.

Do you know why you're supposed to start a "Banishing pentagram of the Earth" by your left hip, trace up to your forehead, then go to the right hip, then the left shoulder, right shoulder, and end at the left hip? Or why the Qabalistic Cross puts the "vigiburah" at the right shoulder and the "vigedulah" at the left? It's because you're building the Tree of Life into your sphere, tracing a path along the Tree of Life, a graphic designed by Athanasius Kircher to reflect his understanding of Christian Kabbala and the Sefer Yetzirah.

In the Golden Dawn, the rituals performed create a spiritual, astral form of the Tree of Life in your own sphere. The left hip is the starting place of the Earth banishing Pentagram because that is where one of the spheres falls within your sphere. It's Hod, or Netzach, depending on whether you believe you're standing facing an image of the Tree of Life, or standing inside the image looking out.

Do you know which sphere the banishing pentagram of Earth is supposed to start in? The source of the powers you're activating? The right side is the Pillar of Severity, the left is the Pillar of Mercy, and the Middle Pillar runs along the spine, but continues into the Earth and extends to a point well past Kether. It's really a Circle, but that's ... a Mystery! Anyway, the banishing Pentagram of Earth begins in Netzach, which is really interesting when you learn what the Golden Dawn meant by the "natural magic" that is sourced in the Sphere of Netzach.*

If you didn't know, then really you don't know what you're doing, or why you're doing it. And that's ok, for a Novitiate within an Order. They aren't supposed to know everything.

I don't know how much of the original Golden Dawn's structure and instruction survive today. I hope that people who knew the original founders managed to get a complete rundown of what's supposed to happen at each Grade Initiation. I know Regardie never made it past the 4th degree, and whatever he wrote was incomplete. All those people basing their Golden Dawn Orders on the published materials of Regardie are working from half, or less than half of the full understanding of the Order. Folks who have access to the Inner Order's original curriculum and overall goal are better situated to form a complete system of initiation as envisioned by the original Golden Dawn founders. Whether or not their system actually does what they intended it to do is another topic.

Assuming some order out there has all the original plans for the initiatory process (or has guessed right about what they filled in the blanks with) and what has to happen to the sphere of the magician at each Grade in order to integrate the powers and lessons of that Grade, the LBRP can be an invaluable tool in the magician's kit, one that is necessary for everything else to stick and manifest.

But if you're not in the Golden Dawn, most of what it does is useless to you. You're building a spiritual model of a tree of life into your sphere that may or may not line up with the forces you're going to end up Working with in the course of your path. You're creating a resonance that will mesh harmoniously with the more advanced Work of the GD structure, but may cause discord when you try to do something outside that very specialized field of occult practice.

When I see non-GD folks recommend the LBRP, I cringe. Most of it is based on traditional enough sources that it won't likely interfere with your Work, but enough of it is specialized that it's a waste of time, time that could be spent building the kinds of things into your sphere that will cause harmony and power to manifest over the course of your Work.

And that's what I plan to focus on going forward. I've noticed lately that a lot of my posts tend to be me bitchin' about this, or complaining about that. When I started this blog, it was a lot more about doing magic, and the neat stuff I was learning. The thing is, I've learned the pieces of a system that seems to do amazing things, and to find out how effective the system is takes Work. Now that I know the pieces and stages for each phase of the Work, I need to Work them to prove that I've properly understood what I've read and heard from the spirits.

So I'll be writing about things that I do that form the system I use. Hopefully it will help people who are interested in finding a system to put the grimoire pieces into that accomplishes the Great Work. Instead of just pointing out what's "wrong" with other people's interpretations or techniques, I'd much rather focus on laying out what works.

Which doesn't mean I'll stop bitching. A man's got to be what he is, after all, and sometimes this man's a bitch.

* Fuckin, fuckin', and more fuckin', in case you were curious.