The Magic Of Golden Dawn

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   There is not one but an infinite number of qabalahs, but the central symbol of the qabalah is the Tree Of Life or The Sephiroth.. Each of us has a unique relationship with the symbols used in qabalistic magic. Therefore each of us are building a personal and unique version of the Tree of Life. Every qabalist must chose and construct the symbolic pattern that is best suited to cooperate with the subconscious. There are a number of main streams to choose from. This website gives emphasis to the line of Hermetic Qabalah, which was developed from a number of sources through history.


The Jewish Roots

    The core of the qabalistic tradition are the teachings of Jewish mystecism, based on an esoteric interpretation of the first five books of the Bible, the Pentateuch of Moses. In this tradition appeared between 400 and 700 A.D. a significant kabbalistic treatise: The Sepher Yetzirah (Book of Formation). It describes the creation of the entire universe through the twenty-two Hebrew Letters, and defines concept of the ten Sephiroth. In the late Eleventh Century, another influential paper was published: The Sepher ha-Bahir. It refers to a secret Tree composed from the Sephiroth which were considered emanations of divine light (it has been translated into English by Aryeh Kaplan).*

    During the thirteeth century Isaac the Blind of Narbonne wrote a commentary on the Sepher Yetzirah and the Bahir that spurred an intellectual opsurge of kabbalistic philosophy in Spain and in France. Around 1280, it culminated with The Zohar (Book of Splendour) written by Moses de Leon, a commentary on mystical cosmology and the Bible that became of paramount importance to kabbalist theologists for centuries (a small part of it has been translated into English by MacGregor Mathers as "The Kabbalah Unveiled").*


The Merging With Hermeticism During The Renaissance

This originally Jewish mystery tradition was brought into Christian circles during the Renaissance. Cosimo de Medici, of the well-known family that ruled the city of Florence, Italy for three centuries, established a Platonic Academy. In 1460, he let scholar and magician Marsilo Ficino translate the so-called Corpus Hermeticum into Latin. It was believed to be a work of the god Hermes Trismegistos (Thrice-Greatest Hermes) a Greek form of Thoth, the Egyptian god of wisdom and magic pictured on the top of this page. It covers many issues from cosmic principles and magic to astrology, alchemy and medicine.*

Some decades later, count Giovanni Pico della Mirandola, who was studying at the Academy, translated a number of the major qabalistic texts into Latin, and argued in the thesis "Oration on the Dignity of Man" that kabbalah and magic together revealed the true foundation of Christianity. In this open-minded Renaissance atmosphere, a line of thinking was eventually established, where hermeticism and kabbalah became increasingly intertwined. They were later influenced anew by systems like John Dee's Enochian magic and rosicrucianism.*


The Revival Of The Late Nineteenth Century - The Golden Dawn

    Most of today's Hermetic Qabalah was developed by one particular mystery lodge of the late nineteeth century: The Hermetic Order of Golden Dawn, founded in 1888. The prime members of this magical society influence the qabalah of today in both theory and practice: S. L. MacGregor Mathers, William Winn Westcott, A. E. Waite, Aleister Crowley, Israel Regardie and Dion Fortune. Most of the material, lectures and rituals of the Order was published in 1937 by Israel Regardie in his multi-volume "The Golden Dawn". The work of the order has been influencing almost any modern mystery school to this day, and you will find an infinite number of "Golden Dawns' represented on the Internet.*

    Eliphas Levi was the first mage to discover the correlation between the 22 Major Arcana of the Tarot and the 22 paths that connect the spheres of the sefiroth in conjunction with the 22 letters of the Hebrew Alphabet. This made the symbolism of tarot, the tree of life, the Hebrew Alphabet and the Qabalah available as a vehicle for pathworking. Mathers himself designed the Golden Dawn Tarot deck, Waite was behind the Rider-Waite deck, and Crowley was, of course, fathering the Thoth Tarot.

     Golden Dawn was constructed with a system of grades similar in structure to a Masonic Lodge.  This should really come as no surprise due to the fact that Wynn Westcott and S. L. McGregor Mathers were both Masons.  However their true genius is revealed by the fact that as you Initiate up the grades in Golden Dawn, you actually travel the paths on the tree of life. This is due to the fact that each initiation ceremony from neophyte up causes a corresponding change in consciousness.  For example in the neophyte ceremony the four elements of consciousness (Earth, Water, Air, and Fire) are expunged from your state of consciousness.  Then as you pass through the elemental grades you reacquire each of these elements as you pass up through the elemental grade structure on your way to portal. As this reacquisition takes place your consciousness encounters certain energies and states of mind that are in intrinsic to the path on the tree of life that you are traveling.  Depending on the extent of inherent character flaws in the person concerned this can be a smooth trip or a wild ride.  hearing this experience the person concerned obtains a more accurate awareness of the conditions of life and his or her place in the universe, which is what this is all about.

The Difference Between Qabalah and Kabbalah

    The spelling of qabalah with a Q was introduced by Mathers to seperate the Hermetic Qabalah from the Kabbalah of the Jewish tradition which has developed on a path of its own. A highly important difference between these two traditions is the role played by symbols.*

    In short, symbols are considered doors to the divine by the hermetic qabalah, while Jewish mystics seek to experience consciousness undisturbed by symbols (Mosaic Law even forbids symbolic representations of the human form). Therefore, Jewish oriented kabbalists normally don't accept the whole branch of hermetic influence, even when combined with the Hebrew godnames of the Pentateuch. For a taste of kabbalah, visit for instance the Bnei Baruch, the Inner Dimension or the Kavannah websites


The Ten Sefiroth

The Ten Sefirot - from Regardie _Garden of Pomegranates_     According to the teachings of Mathers, Fortune, Crowley, and others, the cosmos is divided into ten fundamental archetypal essences; the ten sefirot (or "sephiroth"), which are organised in three pillars.

    The Sefirot as understood in the Golden Dawn system are not so much attributes or structures of the body of God (only remnants of the original Jewish theology remained), as occult or psychic  powers or archetypes, which were secondarily located  within the human body.

    Mathers also divided the Sefirot into three triads, which he called the "astral", "moral", and "intellectual", the lowest sefirot meanwhile representing the physical world.

    This system of ten sefirot and twenty-two paths is used as a stylised "map" of consciousness in ritual magic of the "Golden Dawn" tradition  And while this form of Qabalah is certainly a workable magical system, it bears little similarity to the original Jewish metaphysic from which it was ultimately derived during the Renaissance.

   As you work with the tree of life you discover that not only is the tree a symbol representing the universe, but it is also a symbol which represents the consciousness of man.  You also discover by experiencing the mental states of the spheres on the pillars of Mercy and Severity that you encounter immense energies and are quite out of control. That only when your consciousness exists in a state of balance on the pillar of mildness or the Middle Pillar are you truly sane.  You also discover that power exists because energy flows from a state of higher potential to that of a lower one.  Through this realization several conclusions can be drawn.  Power exists only in a state of imbalance.  Powerful people exist in a state of imbalance and are therefore insane.  Therefore it is the objective of the Mage to exist in a state of equilibrium where no energy flows.  In other words to give up his power, for only in doing so will he/she become sane.


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