Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Golden Dawn Interview With Samuel Scarborough

This interview will be the first in a series of dialogues with members of the Golden Dawn community. The goal of these will be to give those seeking or interested in this path an idea of what the Golden Dawn is truthfully. I hope that my readers will not only enjoy hearing about the experiences of Golden Dawn magicians, but will learn more about the true nature of the Great Work; its benefits, its pitfalls, and its magnificence.

Today I am presenting my interview with Samuel Scarborough. He is a contributing editor for the "Journal of Western Mystery Tradition" and also writes for the magazine "Hermetic Virtues". A senior member of the Ordo Stella Matutina, a modern Golden Dawn order that carries on the work of the original Stella Matutina, he currently resides in North Carolina. His esoteric interests lie in both practical and spiritual alchemy, tarot, astrology, Golden Dawn, Qabalah, ritual magick, and Hermetisim.

My personal experience with Sam is of a man who is not only kind and generous, but absolutely knowledgeable in his craft. Not only does he have a firm understanding of the Golden Dawn, but he also exudes its true nature in his attitude about life and in his correspondence with others. Unfortunately, this interview is only a small sample of what he has to offer the community but I hope you will enjoy it as much as I have enjoyed making his acquaintance. So, without further ado...

Golden Dawn Interview With Sam Scarborough

FSO: How would you describe spiritual growth in the GD system?

SS: Like the growth of a tree. Slow and steady. The seeds for spiritual growth are planted in the very first ritual work and studying the First Knowledge Lecture. It slowly grows as you do the Work and advance through the grades. Doing the Work and fully integrating the energies that are raised from the initiations and work nurtures that first seed in my opinion.

FSO: When you first began studying the Golden Dawn were there certain changes in personal growth that you expected to see? Where these accomplished? If so, how quickly after being initiated?

SS: There were changes that I expected to see, but in the beginning I was a bit na├»ve and had lots of preconceived ideas about what I should expect. I thought that I could summon wind, control the physical elements, and other things which were a bit “Hollywoodisms”. Eventually, I learned that those sorts of things were not what the Work was truly about. It was about balancing out those parts of yourself so that you are more balanced and can draw closer to your own Divine Nature. Once I got this through my head, I began to see that I needed to work on things like being lazy, or daydreaming too much, or a volatile temper.

Over time and with very hard, diligent work through the Outer Order Grades I slowly began to fully integrate the positive aspects of the various elements into myself, and began to overcome being lazy, daydreaming too much, etc.
I did wind up overcoming lots of those shortcomings once I had identified them, but have found that it is a continuing job to keep them up and deal with the new issues that arise from doing the Work within the Golden Dawn.

None of those negative traits of laziness, daydreaming, or temper just “magically” disappeared because I had been initiated – instead I had to work at overcoming them as they were brought to my conscious attention through the grade material and the energies of the initiations themselves. In fact, I find that I must constantly work on myself to improve, plus the longer that I do the Work the more new issues arise that have to be worked through and overcome. There has been no set time frame from initiation to overcoming a negative trait for me and I presume that it is a different time frame for each person that works through the Golden Dawn System.

FSO: LOL. Well outside of not being able to shoot fire balls have you had what can be described as “peak experiences” of consciousness while doing magic or as an effect of magic, for example unified consciousness, one-pointed awareness, out of body experiences, levitation, etc…if so could you please describe a meaningful one? Have you found these to be common within people who study magic and the Golden Dawn?

SS: When it comes to my personal Work I mostly adhere to the concept of Tacere – "to be Silent" – in relation to it, but I have had a couple experiences of heightened consciousness from performance of specific rituals and to some degree in acting as an officer for initiations.

One experience that I will share though came about when performing the Middle Pillar Exercise with a full "Circulation of the Body of Light". I had been performing the "Four-fold Breath" in preparation to performing the "Middle Pillar". I began the visualizations and appropriate vibrations (vibrating the Divine Name as many times as there are Hebrew letters in the Name). I went through the whole "Middle Pillar" and then began the "Circulation of the Body of Light".
During the final “fountain” portion of the "Circulation of the Body of Light" I had this experience of snapping away from my body through my Kether-Galgalim and rising above the shower of light towards that infinite point far above myself. It was exceedingly peaceful and very comfortable – almost as if I belonged there rather than in my own body. The moment seemed to last forever as I lost track of time and to some degree, of space. Luckily at some point I sat down or else I think I would have fallen down in my ritual space. In any event I finally returned to myself feeling more relaxed and calm (peaceful) and realized that an hour and a half had passed since I had started the Middle Pillar.

In my experience there are a lot of moments similar to what I described above. Everyone experiences something at some point in their Work, especially if they are diligent and sincere in what they are doing. I do not think mine is a common experience, but things similar occur for a sizable portion of those doing the Work to not be “uncommon” at least.

FSO: Are there any particular techniques in the system that you believe are absolutely necessary to master for personal and spiritual growth?

SS: The "Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram", meditation, and the "Middle Pillar" ritual are absolutely essential elements that need to be mastered for personal and spiritual growth. I am not talking about just blindly following the material and just performing these things, I am talking about in reality experiencing these rituals and meditations; making a genuine connection with the forces that are generated through the performance of these. Couple with these a full understanding what these basic rituals and meditations do, and you will be well on the way to mastering yourself and growing in a positive manner.

FSO: What types of personal changes should someone expect to see when learning the Golden Dawn tradition?

SS: This is something of a loaded question. In a lot of ways this sort of question can set up preconceived ideas of what to expect and when certain things should occur from working the Golden Dawn system. There are some things though that everyone who is looking at beginning to work in the Golden Dawn system should realize, and this is that there is a lot of hard work. Like anything else, the more you commit to doing the work and actually do the work as outlined, the bigger the rewards will be. Hopefully, through doing the various exercises and grade work, a person should balance out most (if not all) of those negative traits that they do not like about themselves. This takes serious, hard work to accomplish though. In addition, the energies generated from the initiations and the work will need to be fully integrated into yourself. Again, this takes hard work, but the Golden Dawn system provides a solid framework to accomplish this sort of thing.

FSO: It seems many mystical traditions throughout the world have similarities in mystical experiences, as well as ones that are primarily within their tradition…how would you describe the spiritual experience of the Golden Dawn?

SS: The spiritual experience for me within the Golden Dawn has been one of slow illumination and self examination. The symbol set that is used within the Golden Dawn helps to fully integrate the specific energies into the Self- this is especially true during the Elemental Grades in the Outer Order. The principle thing is that each of the Elemental Energies from the Outer Order Grades must be fully incorporated into a person’s sphere of sensation. Once they are incorporated, then the person must balance these forces out so as to achieve equilibrium. This process is rather alchemical in nature, particularly in the spiritual sense (that is through mediation and working with the diagrams and symbols related to a particular grade ) rather than from practical alchemical means (the use of a physical laboratory to produce results in flasks, etc.).

FSO: What have you found the biggest pitfall in the Great Work and what advice do you have to give about overcoming it?

SS: There are several big pitfalls in working towards the Great Work. Taking yourself too seriously is obviously one. The Great Work is serious business and the Work is hard, but that does not mean that you have to think of yourself as always right or not laugh at yourself when you make a mistake. And make a mistake we all do, since we are still human and prone to making them. Take the time to enjoy life and your mistakes. Laugh at yourself, especially when you start taking yourself too seriously. You are not the center of the universe and you are not yet god.

Ego is the other seriously big pitfall that plagues those that are striving towards the Great Work. To begin with a magician (a person doing the Great Work) needs a strong ego just to try to reunite with the Divine. The problem is that too many of us doing the Great Work have strong egos that are not balanced but which run rampant. Many people fall into this trap of being “right” or having such-and-such title or degree, or that because we have such-and-such degree, we obviously know more and thus must be correct.

My biggest advice is to try your best to maintain a healthy balanced ego. Learn how to moderate yourself and to examine all your words and actions to see if they are egotistical. Also, go get therapy from a professional therapist or psychologist. Things come up in the course of the Work that you may miss that may feed our egos or other aspects that we are working on through the grade material. It helps to have an unbiased professional to advise you through those trouble spots and to keep us grounded.

Another piece of advice is to work with a solid group of well grounded magicians – a local temple or Order that has members that are rooted in common sense.

FSO: Some people believe the Golden Dawn can be tailored to anyone, do you believe it is for everyone, or do you think it is really for the niche, ceremonial magician?

SS: I am something of an elitist. I believe that the Golden Dawn is not for everyone, anymore than Wicca or Witchcraft is for everyone. Certain people will be drawn to either a more ceremonial approach to magic and theurgy or they will be drawn to something else.
The Hermetic Tradition, which the Golden Dawn is certainly a modern manifestation really lends itself to those more interested in ceremonial magic and theurgy.

FSO: What do you think is the current state of the tradition? How would you describe the climate? Do you think that it is really just a lot of in-fighting as the Internet makes it seem, or do you think that the Internet does not represent what it really going on in the community as a whole?

SS: Personally, I think that the current state of the Golden Dawn tradition is one of growth. The overall system has grown tremendously in the last 120 years, and with various modern Orders putting their own spin on the traditional material, the system can only grow.

The Climate in the Golden Dawn Community is one of guarded work in my opinion. There are several serious Golden Dawn Orders around the world that communicate and get along, even share some material, but there are outside forces that constantly threaten the overall Golden Dawn Community. Many of these outside forces claim that they represent the Golden Dawn or the Golden Dawn Community as a whole, but they are really on the outside looking in trying to tear apart something they do not wholly comprehend. Because of these outsiders, the other serious groups are very cautious in their dealings with others within the Golden Dawn Community.

The apparent “in-fighting” that is routinely seen on the Internet does not accurately portray what is going on in the overall Golden Dawn Community. This “in-fighting” is brought on by a few bad apples, as it were, that do not represent the overall community, but they certainly tarnish the rest of the community by their words and actions.

The Internet is a great tool, especially for magicians to share information, talk, and network amongst themselves. It is this that is overshadowed by the bickering and “in-fighting” that is more often seen publicly. There is more communication behind the scenes than the average person really sees on the Internet. Various members from several Orders communicate and network sharing and just talking among them. This is not just the average member of an Order, but also senior Adepti and even the various Chiefs of the Orders communicating.

FSO: Is there anything that you personally would like to express to the community? Any advice, words of wisdom, anything that you have always thought it was important for people to know?

SS: The only advice I have is to be fraternal with each other. Sure we can disagree on various points of doing the work of the Golden Dawn System, but do so without becoming person in the debate. Remember that all of us had to start some where nothing was fully formed at the beginning in doing this Work.
Do the Work. Be diligent, be discriminating in your choices and actions, and take responsibility for your words and actions, but be fraternal to those whom are doing the Work in another Order within the Golden Dawn Tradition as well as those that are in your own Temple and Order, after all we are all doing similar grade work and striving towards the same goal in the Magnum Opus.
Try to live up to the Hermetic maxim of Scire, Velle, Audere, Tacere (To Know, To Will, To Dare, To Keep Silent).

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Golden Dawn Magician's Diet

Recently there was a post on the Golden Dawn World Wide Forum concerning the importance of diet in a magician's path. Since this is a topic that seems to come up on a fairly regular basis (especially since we in the U.S. are finally starting to get on the health-kick) I thought I would re-post my reply to the gentleman here. My comments are based on my years spent as a yoga teacher and how I melded it with the energies surrounding magic and the beliefs of Rosicrucianism.

It is an eternal debate within spiritual circles, how do we treat the body? Should it be ignored as and all our intention on the spiritual realm, should we keep it strong as a way to help us maintain focus on our studies and practices, is the answer somewhere in between, or does it really not matter at all? After having studied a wide breadth of spiritual traditions around the world, what I have found is that the answer to this question solely depends upon the tradition and the focus of its practices.

In Kabbalah we use the Tree of Life as the map of the universe and as our guide on how to return to the Divine. If we study the correspondences on the Tree of Life we will find that Malkuth is associated with the Gu'ph or physical body and the material world. However, it is also associated with the Shekinah aka the presence of God. Our physical bodies act as the temple which houses our consciousness as well as that which expresses the presence of God within us. Here she continually strives to be connected to her bridegroom the Spirit so that it can be manifested in the world. Therefore in the Kabbalistic tradition, the body takes on an important role, however due to our need to overcome the physical realm when astrally projecting, traveling in the spirit vision or in spiritual goal of not being attached to those things which are not of the spirit, it is essential in the path of a magician learns to take on a special attitude about the body. It cannot be overly exulted through vanity or gluttony nor overly emaciated through intense fasting.

Although intense fasting is this is a tool used in many traditions, it has limited use in the nature of magic. Whereas in the internal traditions (Buddhism, Vedanta, Sufism, etc.) , fasting is key in purification and in overcoming the desires of the body so that one's consciousness can be solely focused on in meditation, breathing techniques, and sense-withdrawal this does not work for the magician. Magic is expressive rather than internal and the magician must be strong enough to deal with banishing forces in the Temple, controlling and directing one's Will and other energetic forces so maintaining a balanced and strong constitution is key. Keeping your body clean from impurities helps the energy to flow more freely as it allows that which reflects the Light within to be less weighed down, but making sure to keep your body strong and vital will help with things such as long skrying sessions, healing work, banishing rituals... essentially any work the magician seeks to do, as one is raising and maintaining power.

In comparison, using fasting from time to time can help when you are doing astral work or engaging in a Vigil as in those instances overcoming the pull of the physical body becomes either needed or symbolic. As a magician it is your goal to find what works best for you as we are all our own expression of the Divine. Magic is an art, and after the rubrics have been learned and mastered it is that aspect of being an Art which denotes that you must now take these rubrics to express the Work properly within you. What works for some does not always work for others, and having a cookie-cutter diet or practice is more like training wheels for someone who is learning to become more adept at knowing their body or spirit. However, Here are some suggestions that might help you on your magical journey.

1. Keep a food diary- write down what you ate, the quantity, and how it made you feel afterwards, also right down your energy level. In magic, energy is try to pinpoint what foods give you the most energy and which make you feel weighed down, lethargic, or ill. I guarantee there are many foods which may not be compatible with your body, but which you may not realize since we pay so little attention to our body in this culture, eating in front of the t.v., while talking, or working on a project.

2. Experiment with foods for ritual. For example if you are working with Mars eat some red meat before hand, Mercury- fish, doing a Vigil-fast, Jupiter- fruits and nuts. Look up correspondences in magical manuals or commune with angelic beings to figure out what will empower your magic the most.

3. Combine your diet with exercise. Purifying your body by adding heat helps to clean out the deeper energy channels. Don't exercise to exhaustion, this actually depletes the body of energy reserves and nutrients (remember energy is our currency and must be protected)...exercise until you feel as if you've just pushed past what you feel comfortable with then stop,this will build your endurance slowly overtime. (yes, that may mean over-coming the ego and not training "as hard" as others) When you are done exercising you should feel energized not depleted. Trust me, I was training for a triathlon for awhile and going into the Temple after you have wasted yourself at the gym does you no good.

4. Oil massage- this is something that I learned while studying Ayurveda and I still practice it, it's called abyanga. Its not magical and its not a part of the Golden Dawn..but I love it. Get some organic sesame oil or olive oil, cure it by heating it to 212 degrees, let it cool, then store in a glass, not plastic container. Massage your body focusing on your hands, feet, and scalp (I massage my scalp without oil) then take a hot shower...the oil helps to flush toxins out of the body and calm the vata dosha (air) which I have found is often out of balance in magicians... plus its a super relaxing way to start the day! I only take about five minutes to do it..but I really focus on how it feels and visualize the energy channels opening and the toxins leaving my body.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

I Heart the Golden Dawn!

Compared to my other blogs this one may seem a little bit more informal...the reason being that I would like to express something from my heart and my life experience rather than my intellect.

If one were to judge the Golden Dawn by the internet alone, really, who would join? Seemingly it is one negative comment after another.

But, I would like those people who read my blog to know that my experience of the Golden Dawn and the experience of many, many, other people is one of joy, growth, love, harmony, self-sacrifice, knowledge, gnosis, prosperity, and fulfillment. I am blessed everyday to be apart of this community, and the only time I ever experience negativity is when I get on the internet, and have to read blogs and posts about how someone is a fake, a cheat, or fill in the blank with some slander. Yes, I have witnessed and experienced the frailty of the human condition in this community and in every community I have ever been apart of... work, gym, church, meditation group, family, Golden Dawn, but how many people in this world have actually reached the status of an ascended Master ? Not many, but there are those who are striving for it every day, and I am lucky enough to see it....everyday! 98% of my Golden Dawn experience is amazing.

I am a proud member of the Esoteric Order of the Golden Dawn. I have lived by two large Temples and now I teach at another blossoming one. Because I found the Golden Dawn I am excited to get out of bed every morning. I am excited about life, and I can't wait to share that with my students, teachers, friends, family, and people I meet on the street. Before I found the Golden Dawn I had gone through a variety of traditions seeking the right path for me. When I was finally initiated into the Golden Dawn I saw more positive changes in the time I went from being a Neophyte to a Zelator than in the year I had spent at the yoga ashram meditating 8 hrs a day. Hmmm..if this path doesn't work, and if the Order I am apart of is a farce...well that's one heck of a placebo effect.

I have found this to be a true path of the Light, and I am sorry for those who have to see all this scandelous trash that is being spewed all over the internet as its only representative. Not only am I enjoying the fruits of its teachings and technique, but so are my students, my brethern, and the people whose lives I have found I can touch through the growth I have experienced here.

I am always blessed to be provided with new stories about how effective and inspirational this path is. Right my favorite inspiration is a student I have who came to the EOGD a few months ago. When I first met him he was already a deeply spiritual person, having an intesive practice everyday. But, he had some issues that he just couldn't seem to get past...years ago, he was held hostage for five hours, shot, and then witnessed his abductor commit suicide. Now, I would be comfortable saying that this would be something that few people would be able to get past their entire life. I would also like to say that if anyone were to be able to do it, it would have been him in the state of elevated consciousness he was in when I met him. But, it was a barrier he just couldn't seem to break through and it took the magic of initiation and only two rituals that he learned in the Neophyte grade for him to finally overcome what he said was the worst experience of his entire life. Amazing. This Work is amazing, and when I see people's lives change dramatically everyday I am continually inspired to continue on in this Work.

Seriously, I don't know what other people are doing, but I'm having a great life and I love the Golden Dawn. I talk to a lot of people in and out of my Order everyday...and they are doing great too! According to our forums and the people who show up to our Power Week event, there are about 3000 people world-wide who are having a great Golden Dawn experience. I think most people who are in the Golden Dawn community are having a great time doing magic, being apart of Temples, learning, teaching, communing with Angels, healing. In fact, most people are probably having such a great time...getting on the internet to talk about is probably the last thing they think about. I'm saying that because I was blogging a few times a week at first and then realized I really missed all the magic I was doing. I would gander to say if someone is spending so much time spewing up crap for you to read and get discouraged about...they probably aren't spending enough time having a great time doing magic and leading a fullfilling life....I'm just saying ;)

Nosce te Ipsum