Hall of Mirrors, Personal Growth, Spirituality

Which finger holds the power of the universe?

A friend recently asked me to clarify what I saw as the link between my energy work and how that led me to “loose myself”.

I spent quite a bit of time writing up a draft answer, only to delete it when something new surfaced. Then again. Then finally….

A truth just came flying out of the darkness and hit me.

OUCH.

The link is that I was using spirituality as a means of escape, rather than a means of understanding.

So, I was literally escaping myself rather than understanding myself … and therefore getting “lost”. By design, I might add. *hangs head* Damn these truth bombs bring the pain.

Tying in that post on Pride, part of my motive for experimenting was pride based. A “look at me the ubie special snowflake!” sort of idea. This attitude necessitates looking outside myself for approval, recognition, acceptance, appreciation.

A memory surfaces and I have to laugh because da-yam – this is a huge truth bomb and I’m not sure it will translate well into words. Here’s the memory:

I was about 20, trying to go to sleep one night. I was in that hypnogogic half asleep/half awake state. Something unseen climbed onto the bed and I mumbled a hello, not bothering to look. I had no fear, until suddenly, I did. The moment fear entered the picture is the moment hands grabbed my ankles and yanked my energy body about 3″ down the bed. This scared the bejebus out of me and I scrambled back up, clutching at the pillow as if that was an anchor. Again, the hands grabbed my ankle and pulled me this time almost half way down the length of the bed. Utterly terrified, now I’m scrambling to get back into position and I remember there’s a Bible beside the bed. In the waking world, nope, not there. But in this half-asleep dream state I put it there. I’m reaching for it, heart pounding, completely sure that if only I could touch it then God or some force bigger than me would act as a shield through this book to protect me. My fingers only a breath away, the invisible hands again grab my ankles and almost pull me completely off the bed. Nearly mindless with terror, I’m leaping for that damn book when an epiphany hits me hard and blows everything away. The strength I need is not “out there”. It’s “in here”, within me. Fear means I don’t trust what is within, and so I turn to without for protection. In this case, it’s a purely spiritual thing – we’re not talking physical protection here.

I snapped fully awake on this realization, completely awed by the entire experience. And until just now, right NOW, I missed the full lesson. At the time, I understood the fear part, the understanding of in-here is where the real power resides. What I missed is that in order to fully access it, there must be a path to it — an understanding of the road, the geography of the inner self. By knowing that inner core, truly, being unafraid to face it and see what lies there in all its terrifying heinous glorious beauty, that’s where spiritual strength lies. I can learn all the buzz words and practice with just the right tools, but those are all trappings. Window dressing. Meaningless … without an active path to the interior.

What I just said, about using spirituality to escape rather than understand, is exactly the situation in my dream. Reaching for something “out there” will never give me what I needed. In my case, I got lost and had to find my way back to the core to some degree. And it wasn’t until this latest round of getting lost that I’d finally decided “No, I really need to understand myself if I’m going to be doing this for reals.”

*chuckles*

So with asshat one, I was pulled down that metaphorical bed just enough to realize “oh shit”.

With asshat two, I was pulled down half-way and really reaching for something outside of myself to anchor me. Of course those external anchors had to go! (so says Soul).

And with asshat three, I was pulled almost off the bed, terrified out of my mind only to suddenly realize … the power I seek is inside, not outside. Always. But to truly access it, I first have to understand it as it exists within me, because mine is unique to me alone.

Guess that makes me the real asshat, eh?

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Featured Image: A scene from the movie Willow.

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Magick, Personal Growth, Spirituality

A Leap of Faith

So I have a chance to join a group. Finally. A real chance.

The question I’ve been given is: Why? Do I want to join a group?

I have my answers based on imagination, but I figured I’d ask those in my life who do ritual work every single month – my masonic friends. What do you like and don’t like about ritual?

Here are some of their answers, paraphrased:

Cons: Can’t pick who else is in the group, so just deal and move on. — Sometimes, the ritual just doesn’t work well, it’s an off day. That happens.

Pros: When it flows, and the energy of every person is added to the objective, it’s an amazing feeling. — Because the goal is to be a better person, when you step into ritual you bring with you what you hope is your best person. Everyone else does the same. This makes it easier to bring that ‘best of me’ into everyday life more frequently. — …

There were several more pros and they were all great, but one stood out to me.

This is a system that has been refined and worked with for centuries. They’ve figured it out by now and it wouldn’t have survived so long without having tangible results which fulfilled the objectives. Trust in the system and explore each step fully. Just because you know the material mentally doesn’t mean it’s sunk into the heart level of understanding yet. Progression takes more than knowing, it takes understanding.

And this one is something I’ve never thought of before. I’m an experimenter, a dabbler, a dilettante. And by taking this step, I’m committing to something with set steps, clear rules and lines to color inside of. Is that something I can do? Well, being able and be willing are two separate questions. I know from experience that if I have a system and stay with it, exploring that system earnestly, then results happen. Fact.

The analogy given to me was the difference between the inventor who has no clue about mechanics, and one who does. One will not be very effective, since they are attempting to re-invent the wheel … while the other will be able to build amazing things because they have a foundational knowledge that the other lacks.

So by committing to this route, I’m also saying “I want to be effective”. There is plenty to explore and experiment with on this path. It’s hardly like creativity and personalization is being squashed. As I hear in the writing world: “You have to know the rules of the language like a master, so you can break them like an artist.” In order to be truly insightful, truly effective, innovative, the rules have to be known backwards and forwards. The symbols need to be alive in my mind. Granted, the rules of spirituality and energy are pretty fluid but each system has its own set of rules, paradigms, foundational understanding of How The World Works. Buy into the system, any system, and apply myself earnestly. I know I can do that.

With all this mind, I realize that this concern is actually a mental excuse I’m using to deflect my attention from the real issue. The real question is: am I prepared to deal with success?

If I’m completely blunt, I’m terrified of loosing myself. I hear my mom’s voice telling me to be careful, that energy work is dangerous. And I know that I’ve lost myself multiple times, as I’ve written about before. It’s still a real fear and it’s what rises to the surface when I think about ‘prepared to deal with success.’ Am I secure enough in who I am now to handle those boundaries being seriously tested? This is energy work, and mental/spiritual boundaries are the bread and butter of it.

I’m re-reading Seth Speaks and I’m at the part where Seth is admonishing not to be afraid of loosing our self, our identity. The soul knows exactly who it is. I’ve lost myself I think about 3 times by this point in my life, usually years at a stretch. Do I trust myself yet? Do I trust that I have the strength to find my way out of the darkness? The fortitude to deal with whatever gets stirred up?

I feel like that moment in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade where he has to “take a leap faith from the lion’s mouth”. He puts a foot out, closes his eyes while giving a prayer, and steps off into nothing… (It’s that moment in the movie which is my featured image for this post.) In this case, I’m not praying that the system will hold me up. I’m praying that the unseen support structures I’ve built up after every scenario of getting lost and re-finding myself will serve me well.

*chuckles* Now I hear the Skeksis shouting “Trial by Stone! Trial by Stone!”. Earth first, after all, Earth first (a reference to boundaries).  I will never know until I take that leap from the lion’s mouth.

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Personal Growth, Spirituality

The Sin of Pride

In talking with someone a few days ago, I realized something painful. I never really thought of myself as a prideful person, but there is one area that I am now capable of seeing and owning that indeed I am quite blinded by pride. That being said, it’s still not easy to admit – especially out loud, or rather, in print.

I’m prideful about what I have accomplished or done in the spiritual arena – and ironically, it’s also the area where I’m the most blocked. When I do focus attention here, I get results. And the instant I get results, I shut it all down and then pat myself on the back for what I did get … though a secret, unspoken part knows full well it’s a scratch compared to what is possible.

And when someone does try to educate, share, question, that’s when I start to get defensive. I use pride as a weapon then.

All in all, it’s a mechanism to shut myself down, keep it on lockdown and yet feel good about myself while I do. I did my occasional-should-be-daily-but-isn’t QC-LBRP ritual, and at the end under the super moon I asked for help in learning how to be humble and sincere and thus open to actual growth on the spiritual path. I then started to go into a mini-rant against myself, but caught that before it went past a sentence. Berating myself, abusing myself is not helpful either, and it doesn’t open doors. It closes them. So I stopped, and consciously took a breath to let go of that judgment. With a clearer head, I admitted out loud to myself how I’ve used pride as a means of defense, protection, ego stroking and hiding.

*tangent warning* I think I’ve mentioned before that I have a friend that I’m emailing dreams back and forth with. Occasionally I’ll spot something for him, but this week he’s sent me some doozies that had me reeling. As in “how the hell did I miss that?” One was about noticing a pattern of community within a spiritual pursuit, and since I’ve been alone for the bulk of mine it seems an odd contrast. Subconsciously I want a community of some sort for this work. I know this was truth because the moment I read it, I very nearly burst into tears. The level of emotion which was immediately released upon that thought being consciously taken in was almost overwhelmingly powerful.

Tonight, he sent me another doozy. And that’s why the Featured Image was chosen. It’s from Mystery Men, when Captain Amazing realizes he’s just chloroformed himself and is now going unconscious in the hands of his enemy. Essentially, how could I miss something so obvious? I’ve always had lots of chase dreams, but the past month my subconscious has been doubling down on the captured/detained/drained/undead dreams. And they are all about loss of power/energy, loss of control over what happens, feeling at the mercy of otherwise unstoppable powers.

How does that relate to being prideful? To using pride as a shield to fend off or push back things outside of my control? Well, there it is. Pride is a tool I use to give me the illusion of control. And that was the piece of prideful that I was overlooking. In this case, I’m not sure if the control is internal or external – but I know it was about attempting to control how I saw myself. It was an ego thing run amok, being butthurt when my genius went unnoticed. *chuckles* Ok, I never really thought in those words, but I was often hurt when my spiritual acumen was “unrecognized”. (Even now I’m fighting to keep the self-recriminations from taking over as a show of self-flagellation to prove something. Not easy!) And that was pride, working to protect the ego, to protect the story I’ve been telling myself about Who I Am. Alas, it’s a false story.

*tangent warning again* I spent tonight giving a very brief synopsis of my Hall of Mirrors concept to a friend who could use the perspective. I told her my goal was to stop being caught by, caught up in projections – mine and others’. She said that was impossible, and I agreed, but the goal was a worthy one to pursue. She remained skeptical, so I put it in language she could understand. She’s deeply religious, so I asked her “Do you think it’s a worthy goal to attempt to live up to the example set by Christ?” That IS the core definition of Christian, after all. Her reply was an immediately “YES” and I said “even if you know the chances of actually living that way permanently are low?” Dots connected. Yes, some goals are worthy even if you know you will never really succeed.

And that’s kind of what it’s like to know yourself. Every time I think I’ve got it, something happens. A new layer is revealed and I realize: ah dang.

Still working on the loss of control and vitality warnings. One source? Multiple? Internal? External? Yes to all of the above? But in the meantime, I think I have my hands full with trying to reconcile pride with sincerity.

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Hermetic, Magick

Hegemon

The third and final of the higher offices which begin with the Greek Aspirate is the Hegemon. I was imagining this word was like the others – derived from or related to something religious or spiritual. Nope. The root word means “a leader, commander, chief”, and this includes the connotation of “guide” (1) and “an authority figure” (2). Primarily, the word in context is used in relation to having power over another who might otherwise be seen as a peer.

When I shifted my search terms a bit, I did discover that a fraternal organization called Tau Kappa Epsilon also uses this word for an officer position. Considering how similar in verbage the TKE is (building better men for a better world) to the Masonic stated mission (making good men better) and tossing in the founding of the TKE in 1899, I have to idley muse on whether or not the GD had any influence at all on the naming of this officer position (since all the major male movers of the original GD were Masons and I know for a fact there is no Hegemon officer position in Free Masonry). No idea though not very probable, and I don’t really care enough to go digging for it, but it amused me to imagine so. Regardless, the TKE DOES have an officer position called the Hegemon, and according to their website the position is the Educator who is responsible for “the preparation of Candidates for Initiation” and “manage the Candidate education program and monitor the progress of Candidates towards Initiation” (3).

So what does the Hegemon do in the GD-descended traditions?

My station is between the Two Pillars of Hermes and Solomon and my face is towards the Cubical Altar of the Universe. My duty is to watch over the Gateway of the Hidden Knowledge, for I am the Reconciler between Light and Darkness. I watch over the preparations of the Candidate and assist in his reception and I lead him in the Path that conducts from Darkness to Light. The White color of my robe is the color of Purity. My ensign of office is a Mitre-headed scepter to symbolize Religion, which guides and regulates life. My Office symbolizes those higher aspirations of the soul which should guide its action. (4)

When I was reading the description, the image that came to mind was Maat – the Egyptian goddess of Balance and Truth, among other things. Interestingly, this is indeed exactly who this office is supposed to be. (5) Also, the very statement “I lead him in the Path that conducts from Darkness to Light” is a very educator statement which I am translating as “I lead the candidate from ignorance into knowledge.” Ma’at is actually one of my favorite of the many pantheons of Gods/Goddesses because of her role in the entrance to the Underworld. She tests all candidates by weighing their heart against a feather, and only those who pass are allowed into the afterlife.

Personally, I take this to be a test to see whether or not the earthly existence has been left behind. If a heart is heavy with regret or sorrow, the soul is still attached to the material plane and simply cannot proceed further. I don’t really take this to mean that the spiritual aspirations are better than any other aspirations, but I do think that if the heart is heavy then the focus is behind to what might have been or has been, rather than ahead to what might be. A journey simply cannot proceed when the attention lies on steps already taken.

But I digress. I think how I will choose to view the title of Hegemon is that the word was chosen for this office because it’s the office that will help the candidate gain power over themselves through education into a larger Truth.

 

About the Featured Image: Scene in The Dark Crystal. Every time I think of the standing between the Pillars of Hermes and Solomon, I just hear Aughra’s voice saying “What was sundered and undone, behold! The Two made One.” That’s not a direct quote from the movie, but it’s my memory of the prophesy: What was sundered and undone/Shall be whole, the two made one. The ultimate in balancing – the Skeksis being the manifestation of the Pillar of Might and the UrRu being the manifestation of the Pillar of Mercy. Individually unbalanced, incomplete. In this scene, the two unbalanced halves of the whole are literally being reunited. Brilliant effing movie!!!!

1 https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/hegemon
2 http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=hegemon
3 http://www.tke.org/resources/duties-and-obligations
4 Regardie, Isreal. Golden Dawn. Pg 119
5 http://goldendawncollegium.com/Resources/Documents/Characters%20and%20natures%20of%20the%20seven%20officers.pdf

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Hermetic, Magick

Hiereus

A Greek word that literally translates as “person concerned with the holy” but in those days, those who were most concerned with holy matters were also those either made the sacrifices to their god or received them from the supplicants. The most common definition I found apart from ‘priest’ was “one who offers sacrifice to a god” (1), but considering the word components this is most likely a word used for someone who is dedicated primarily to serving their god, rather than a word applied to any supplicant who makes a sacrifice to support whatever their prayer is before they go back to their daily life.

In GD, this position is equated to Horus (2), and I’m not sure if there is any relationship between a Greek priest and the Egyptian god Horus even though “Horus” and “Hiereus” sound somewhat similar. At least I could find no etymological link between the two words, though I am hardly a scholar of that field and didn’t spend more than 30 minutes searching the easily obtainable records on this subject.

With regard to the position of the Hiereus, the Neophyte ritual states:

My station is on the Throne of the West and is a symbol of increase of Darkness and decrease of Light and I am the Master of Darkness. I keep the Gateway of the West and watch over the reception of the Candidate and over the lesser officers in the doing of their work. My black Robe is an image of the Darkness that was upon the Face of the Waters. I carry the Sword of Judgment and the Banner of the Evening Twilight, which is the Banner of the West, and I am called Fortitude by the Unhappy. (3)

I would expect that the line “My black Robe is an image of the Darkness that was upon the Face of the Waters” is a reference to the Christian OT Bible Genesis 1:2 which states: “And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.” Of course the exact wording depends on the version being looked at, but the message is the same.

“I am called Fortitude by the Unhappy” … Now that’s a turn of phrase that means something specific, I’d suspect, but I have no idea what it refers to. I found the quote from Sir Francis Bacon (Featured Image) though, perhaps that applies in some measure? If there is a specific reference to a Sword of Judgment which is not from the Marvel universe or Dark Souls, I’d like to find it as well. Note to self – look into these more.

In terms of the description of being the darkness, in the West, and being the master of darkness, that I think I understand. Definitely nothing particularly “sacrifice-y” going on within this position, and the description doesn’t strike me as a particularly priestly sounding position – unless the missing pieces that I’m noting for future work will call in more of these aspects that I am ignorant of right now. I’ll pay specific attention to how the position interacts with the Candidate in the ritual. That will be as revealing as a paragraph description.

1 https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/%E1%BC%B1%CE%B5%CF%81%CE%B5%CF%8D%CF%82
2 http://goldendawncollegium.com/Resources/Documents/Characters%20and%20natures%20of%20the%20seven%20officers.pdf
3 Regardie, Isreal. Golden Dawn. Pg 119

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Hermetic, Magick

Hierophant

There are two ways to approach looking at understanding titles: one is through the word itself, and the other is through its use in history. I think here, I’ll try both.

In terms of the word itself, it is a modernized version of an ancient Greek word-combination. The term “Hierophant” comes from ancient Greek, ‘hieros’ meaning ‘sacred‘, and ‘phainein’ meaning ‘reveal‘ or ‘bring to light‘. (1) Apparently, the word in its modern form here first appeared in the 1670s. This is the dawning and proliferation of the Age of Englightenment and is withing in the same 50 year period where organizations such as Masonry also saw their founding and rise. Secret orders were being founded all over the place throughout here, but I’m no scholar on this particular era – it was my absolute favorite era and one I focused a lot on, but it’s been a long time and my knowledge is rusty. Suffice to say, that the word in its modern incarnation and use being coined at the point in time is quite fitting.

But in terms of historical context, the hierophantes was a very specific role within a very specific tradition – as the head priest of the Eleusinian Mysteries in Eleusis, Greece. The Eleusinian Mysteries (Greek: Ἐλευσίνια Μυστήρια) were initiations held every year for the cult of Demeter and Persephone, and while we do not know specifically what went on, we do have a lot of references by those who were initiated — considering the rites were practiced for well over a thousand years, there are a quite a few comments available to us today. Essentially, to those intiated, the hierophantes demonstrated/ instructed/ guided/ showed them the sacred symbols and knowledge and thus helped them to understand “the truths of life, of death, and the promise of rebirth.” (2) It’s really no shock at all that Theodosius closed the temple in 392 CE due its threat to the budding Christianity, but the temple was actually destroyed in 4 years laters when the city was sacked by the Goths.

As for the modern role of the Hierophant within a GD lodge, the Neophyte grade ritual has this to say:

My station is on the Throne of the East in the place where the Sun rises, and I am the Master of the Hall, governing it according to the Laws of the Order, as HE whose Image I am, is the Master of all who work for the Hidden Knowledge. My robe is the red because Uncreated Fire and Created Fire, and I hold the Banner of the Morning Light which is the Banner of the East. I am called Power and Mercy and Light and Abudnance, and I am the Expounder of the Mysteries. (3)

While I’ll leave the references to the Uncreated Fire and Created Fire as well as the Banner and the “as HE whose Image I am” for another post, the role of the Hierophant here is very similar to that of the Eleusian Mysteries, as least as can understand them. The role is one of not only governance of the order (master of the lodge), but also one who shows/explains/demonstrates to the initiates the symbols of the order.

 

1 http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?search=hierophant
2 http://www.ancient.eu/article/32/
3 Regardie, Isreal. Golden Dawn. pg 119

 

About the Featured Image: from the Art of Cathy McClelland and her work on the Hierophant tarot card.

 

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Hermetic, Magick

Peculiarity of the Chief Officer Titles

Been trying to learn all the information in 0=0 ritual, using Regardie’s “The Golden Dawn” book (pgs 117-133). Specifically, I want to understand the 3 chief officers in more detail: Hierophant, Hiereus, and Hegemon.

First up: an analysis of the stated peculiarity of the chief officer titles.

The ritual tells us specifically that the names are of merit because they all begin with H – which presents “life; because the Letter H is our mode of representing the Greek aspirate or breathing, and Breath is the evidence of life.” (1)

I will admit, that when I first researched this, I focused on the Greek letter H – but then I noticed something: The wording does not say “because the Greek letter H represents…”, no. It says the letter H – our regular letter H from the modern alphabet – “is OUR mode of representing the Greek aspirate or breathing”. Huh. So not the Greek letter H then. *chucks out the Eta research*

Now I gotta ask: What is a ‘Greek aspirate’? So I did a little digging and found something cool.

During the Hellenistic period (3rd century BC), Aristophanes of Byzantium introduced the breathings — marks of aspiration … and the accents (2)

Marks of Aspiration in the Greek language appear for “every word that begins with a vowel” and that initial letter “will have a breathing mark above the initial vowel (or vowel sound).” (3) So a Mark of Aspiration is also called a Breathing Mark and there are two kinds: Rough and Soft.

If the mark looks like a reverse comma, this a “rough breathing mark” and denotes that an initial “h” sound is to be pronounced. If the mark goes the other way, like a comma, then there is NO “h” sound and it’s called a soft breathing mark.

For illustration purposes, think of the word “horse”. A rough breathing mark would have you saying the letter H as in a typical American pronunciation for this – hhhhhhorse. A soft breathing mark would have you skipping the H part and going straight for the vowel as in a common British pronounciation of ‘orse. Another common one — a rough breathing mark gives me hhhhherbs while a soft breathing mark gives me ‘erbs. So think Hhhhegemon verus Egemon, or Hhhheirophant versus Eirophant.

Well, then. How are the those 3 officer titles spelled in ancient Greek?

ἱεροφάντης (4)
ἱερεύς (5)
ἡγεμών (6)

While all three of these titles in English begin with an H, only the Hegemon actually begins with the Greek letter Eta (H, η) – the others begin with Iota. But all three are vowels, and so all three have the Greek Marks of Aspiration indicating ‘rough breathing’, meaning they need to be pronounced with the breathy hhhhh sound when starting.

Let me restate this: “because the Letter H is our mode of representing the Greek aspirate” … Because the Letter H is how we denote the use of the rough breathing mark on all three officer titles when written in their original Greek.

“And Breath is the evidence of life” is a pretty obvious statement and fairly world-wide. I know that for astrology (a largely Greek system), the time of birth is actually marked as “when you first drew breath”. It doesn’t matter at all how you came screaming into this world – ceasarean or otherwise – what matters is when you took your first breath on this planet.

Well cool. I learned something today! (Featured image is South Park’s Kyle Broflovski’s signature line at the end of many an episode.)

1 Regardie, Isreal. The Golden Dawn. pg 118
2 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greek_diacritics
3 http://www.ntgreek.net/lesson11.htm
4 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hierophant
5 http://biblehub.com/greek/2409.htm
6 https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/hegemon

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