Hermetic, Magick

Greek Aspirate

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: Hierophant, Hiereus, and the Hegemon and I’m going to do this by first looking at what I am informed is the significance of the names. 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.” (pg 118)

I know wikipedia is not a particularly reliable source, but here it is:

Eta (uppercase Η, lowercase η; Ancient Greek: ἦτα Greek pronunciation: [êːtaː] or Modern Greek: ήτα Greek pronunciation: [ˈita]) is the seventh letter of the Greek alphabet. Originally denoting a consonant /h/, its sound value in the classical Attic dialect of Ancient Greek was a long vowel [ɛː], raised to [i] in hellenistic Greek, a process known as iotacism.

In the system of Greek numerals it has a value of 8. It was derived from the Phoenician letter heth Phoenician heth.svg. Letters that arose from eta include the Latin H and the Cyrillic letter И. (1)

And this:

Heta is a conventional name for the historical Greek alphabet letter Eta (Η) and several of its variants, when used in their original function of denoting the consonant /h/. (2)

Trying to find out more about this, I learned some things about ancient Greek. Specifically, that “Every word that begins with a vowel will have a breathing mark above the initial vowel (or vowel sound).” (3)

So if these Greek names are pronounced, the Eta would have a little mark in front of it. If the mark looks like a reverse comma, this a “rough breathing mark” and denotes than an initial “h” sound is to be pronounced. If the mark goes the other way, like a comma, then there is NO “h” sound. Kind of like listening to a British national saying “‘orse” and an American saying “horse”. This sound differential is why the Standard English Rules of Grammar call for an “AN” before any word beginning with a vowel or the letter H: because in some English dialects, the H is silent so “an ‘orse” makes complete sense, but for those dialects that pronounce the breathy “h” then “an horse” sounds completely stupid.

Bear in mind, this breathing mark is for EVERY word that beings with a vowel — not just the Eta. So the eta in the middle of a word does not necessarily have the H sound, and an Iota at the beginning of a word might or might not be pronounced with an H sound depending on the breathing mark.

Anyway, the very hhhhhuhhh sound belonging to the H (or ἡ) can definitely be associated with breathing. I know that for astrology (a largely Greek system), the time of birth is actually marked as “when you first drew breath”. If an infant died before it ever drew breath, it was never really alive in that world-view.
So I get the H association with breath. Got it. Why Greek? Why throw in a reference to Greek at all? The wording does not say “because the Greek letter H represents…”, no. They say the letter H – our regular letter H from the modern alphabet – “is OUR mode of representing the Greek aspirate or breathing”. What is the Greek aspirate? Why is the Greek reference important rather than just “representing the aspirate or breathing”?

Attempting to find this answer is where I came across the breathing mark references. In fact, …

“During the Hellenistic period (3rd century BC), Aristophanes of Byzantium introduced the breathings — marks of aspiration … and the accents” (4)

I think indeed calling out “representing the Greek aspirate or breathing” is indeed a reference to the breathing marks and an indicator that the hhhhuhhhh sound is what is being sought, since an H is not necessarily an H as I pointed above in the ‘orse/horse comparison.

Alrighty. I think I beat that one to death.


About the Featured Image: included in a post entitled “Your Breath of Life” by Lisa Gawles. I’m not sure if she was the creator of this or just used it, but this is where I got it from.

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.

Hermetic, Magick


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

Hermetic, Magick


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

Hermetic, Magick


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.


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

Hermetic, Magick

Starting Memorization Work – New Skillz

In a recent entry, I was talking about how the over-achievers around me had succeeded in their goals while I, the under-achiever, had not. On top that, they were talking about how the memorization of larger rituals enabled them to make connections when new rituals or knowledge lectures were presented. Tired of being an under-achiever, I decided to step up my game. After speaking with someone who is a memorization coach to other members of his lodge as well as the one that the local Inspector turns to for help, he gave me some excellent tips. I have never attempted to memorize anything of any length, so this helps.

Here’s what I’ve learned: Make it as multi-sensory as possible.

  1. Come up with hand signals to give which help me tell the story that I am reciting — kinetic memory
  2. Visualize specific items which give me a visual cue to help me tell the story that I am reciting — visual memory
  3. Understand the story within the larger context — contextual memory
  4. If anything else will help to cue the brain for the correct wording, use it. This includes smells or tastes. If your ritual uses fire/incense this is an example.

Of course, no tricks will replace actually doing the work. He had me recite the first line, by itself, like 10 times. Then he added half of the next sentence, and repeat the whole thing multiple times. Then we did the next sentence repeatedly, then added back in the first to the second. In the process, he had me figure hand signals to use for each section where I kept stumbling. “In the portal” was me drawing a little square, while “properly positioned” was me putting my palms almost together and then moving them back and forth, as if adjusting something. By the end, I felt like the Newsreader (Ian McNeice) in the HBO Series Rome:


I kept giggling because I felt like an idiot. But it was also working! He suggested I start with the Obligation, which is what he recommends for all Entered Apprentice Masons to start with. Here’s the order he suggested:

First: read the entire obligation.
Second: Any words I’m unclear on, look them up. In other words, know precisely what I am saying.
Third: Know the context. Does it ask Y? Then know the circumstances surrounding the question. Anything unknown, look it up or ask.
Fourth: Examine the Obligation and its impact on me personally.

He suggested a journal entry in which I examine specifically what is being asked of me and seriously consider whether or not these were things I could do. Am I really going to do X or Y? If so, how will that affect my life? If not, can I honestly go through with things?

Those all sounded to me like extremely reasonable approaches and I have already started on some of it. Once that was all done, it was time for “brute force” memorization – saying everything repeatedly. I spent today getting the first paragraph of my Obligation recorded so that I could practice it using the way that I was shown. Now I can listen to it in the car, practicing my hand gestures and my visualized memory cue images as I say the words.

In preparing, I read through the entire thing and flagged words that I wasn’t positive on.

  • pale – noun: an enclosing or confining barrier; enclosure; limits; bounds; a district or region within designated bounds
  • Praemonstrator – “An officer of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. The word itself is Latin for “prophesier.” He is responsible for teaching members either verbally or through issuing manuscripts. He may also assign others to do this. When a woman holds this office, she is known as the Praemonstratrix.”
  • severally – adverb: separately or individually; each in turn; one at a time; each by itself; respectively
  • demitted – verb: To dismiss; de-admit; remove; resign

Ok. Now looking for any context specific statements. Do I know what the chiefs of the Order are? Yes. There are no other context specific things in this Obligation.

Finally, look at exactly what I’m obligating myself to. I’m not quoting a damn thing below, I’m over simplifying and paraphrasing and there’s really nothing unique which hasn’t been published elsewhere, so by reading further you aren’t getting any ‘secrets’.

  • Secrets. Can I keep secret what I am learning, with whom and any individual specifics? I think so. I will allude to things, but if I have to quote something in order to explore it here then I’ll use a published and publically available version — exactly as I did with the LBRP examination from last post. That came from “High Magick” by Kraig. Yesterday’s practice work was done using Regardie’s “Golden Dawn” book. The Masons have the guideline that if something isn’t already publically published, then don’t talk about it. While you can speak about concepts and contexts, don’t give specifics to those who aren’t committed to the work. That, I can do.
  • I have a problem with the statement about not seeking to obtain anything about the work without specific permission, but I think what it means is that I promise to work within the confines of the system espoused by this particular lodge. That when I’m working on Grade XXX I will only have the materials that refer to that grade. Yes, technically I already have all the lectures in some form or other in various books, but how this or that lodge presents it and wants it worked with is unique and should be respected. That interpretation I can honor without any hesitation.
  • Do I promise to label the information I’ve been given appropriately and not make copies of the work for distribution, or allow others to make copies? No problem.
  • Will I be serious in my studies? Sincere in my search for occult knowledge? Absolutely.
  • I swear not to use what I learn for evil purposes. Not generally disposed to evil so I don’t think this will be a problem either.

Overall, I’m not seeing any glaring issues or even hardships in this Obligation. It’s straight forward, makes sense, asks me to be serious and honor the work of others as well be respectful of the knowledge provided. All very solid things I can get behind.  I don’t really foresee any hardships, though I’ll have to make sure to obfuscate or veil any specific things so that I’m not betraying the secrets aspect, which is the most important and first one. Besides, most of it I’m already doing and I tend to be secretive by nature anyway.