The Initiate’s Bill of Rights and Responsibilities
Written by: Rachael Walker, Peregrin Wildoak, Samuel Scarborough, and Nick Farrell
The following is a document entitled The Initiates Bill of Rights and Responsibilities. Its purpose, to open perspective to the needs of individuals, organizations, and mentors in the esoteric community as well as to offer some food for thought to the individual regarding various experiences they may have on their magical and spiritual path. It has been written by representatives and leaders of a variety of Golden Dawn organizations with the input and suggestions of people from the esoteric community. Due to the vast number of such organizations, not all, course, could be represented, and it is of the understanding of those who worked on this project that the breadth of the needs of every individual organization or person could not be met in a succinct Bill. There is also the understanding that everything included in this Bill may not be agreed upon by all, as each person has their own experiences and opinions to draw from. Instead, we hoped to make the “Bill” as universal as possible, and furbished in a way that would inspire those on a magical/spiritual path to travel it with common sense, contemplation, and guidance from the Divine at each turn. Truly, this “Bill” is merely a document of suggestions, based on the experiences of contributing individuals to help one to be aware of the various personal, political, social, and spiritual intricacies that may present themselves on the path of the initiate. I would like to thank all of the individuals who put their time and effort into helping me write or review this document, Peregrin Wildoak, Samuel Scarborough, Nick Farrell, Xandyr Walker, Nineveh Shadrach, J. Randich, and all of those in the esoteric community who chose to come forth and make suggestions on various fora, networking sites, and the blogosphere during this process. As of this publishing there are a few Orders who have chosen to ratify this Bill or parts of it into their by-laws or constitutions. It should be made clear that this document is meant to be a service for the community, to be used by individuals and organizations as an inspiration to help better the lives of others. If you have a group or organization and believe that this document or its ideas will be of a benefit to you, please use it as you see fit. Although intellectual property rights are maintained on this document, its ideas belong to the community.
On a personal note, I would also like to especially thank the individual who first recommended this idea. Unfortunately, his suggestion came in the form of an anonymous commentor on one of my blog posts...none-the-less, it's a perfect example of the power that each one of us has in this community to bring forth positive changes every day in ourselves and in the community.
Rights and Responsibilities in the Practice of Magical Spirituality
We as followers of the magical way, profess that no magical path is the same, nor is any individual Lodge, Order, Group, Initiate or person who chooses to follow a magical or spiritual path. We do recognize that as followers of various mystical traditions we share a common ground based on the right for each person to follow his/her particular spiritual calling and for each individual to have their basic human rights respected while engaging in such practices alone or with others who have chosen to follow the most honoured and illustrious methods of the Spirit. We understand that as humans we posses human faults and that no man or woman however seemingly elevated is beyond risk of the temptations of the ego or flesh and that these temptations should they overcome any one of us can and may put others at risk. Therefore we present this Bill of Rights and Responsibilities as a service to the magical and spiritual communities so that in times of confusion a person or group may have access to a resource which may provide guidance to them during times of need. This Bill is not put forth by any one person or group, but instead at the request of the magical community and with input of various traditions, teachers, students, and organizations. We recognise and respect the incredible blessings we have been given by the Divine and seek to honour the Immeasurable One through our efforts to cultivate a magical society that is based in love, respect, equality, and the promotion of human rights and actions that are becoming of our most perfect and unblemished souls. To this end we claim, that regardless of tradition or path we:
Value and hold dear all magical symbols and paths, for they are the bridge between our limited self and the Unborn, Real, and Eternal Truth.
We consciously cultivate respect for the magical way of life and the avenues whereby we may walk along it – the various teachers, Orders, teachings, books and wisdom so freely given to us.
We understand that Magic will transform us and that as we practice our path we will change completely. We consciously choose to live with change, recognising also that only that which is born can change or die. The unborn, uncreated aspect of the Self never changes nor does it ever die. Magic guides us more and more to identify with the True Self.
We recognize that the magical path is one of relentless honesty. We understand that as beings who may have not yet become one with our True Natures we are rife with resistance to change and are imbued with negative, self-serving patterns of action and behaviour. We do not deny our addictions to the lower or ego-self, but seek to change them in accordance with the higher or Divine Will.
We know that spiritual unfoldment takes place inwardly and has no unique outer sign recognized by our finite consciousness, other than Truth, Love, and Compassion. We also recognize our own self identified egos are sources of delusion and that we must refrain from consciously and irrecoverably judging another, but seek to engage with all people in the spirit of genuine fraternity.
Based upon these edicts we therefore present this Initiates Bill of Rights and Responsibilities as an honour to the Divine, our Souls, to the Masters who have gone before us, and to each person who has been brave enough to choose the Noble Path.
Section I: The Rights and Responsibilities of the Candidate
Section II: The Rights and Responsibilities of the Initiate
Section II: The Rights and Responsibilities of Leaders, Teacher, and Mentors
Section IV: The Rights and Responsibilities of Orders, Lodges, and Magical Groups
Before Joining A Spiritual Organization A Candidate Has the Right To:
· Know the purpose for why the Order or group exists
· Know the oaths, obligations, and by- laws he/she may be responsible to make and adhere to upon initiation as well as what will be expected of them in terms of time, finances, resources, and loyalties
· Have any general questions regarding the group, its history, its workings, its materials, and its beliefs fully answered before initiation or admittance.
· Take as long as one requires before committing to join
· Be given proper reasoning in a compassionate manner if one is refused admission
· Have any financial obligations handled appropriately before joining
The Candidate Has the Responsibility To:
· Accept that certain information, including but not limited to the exact name of the group, is not available to non-initiates
· Fully understand that if one joins a secret, occult, or magical group that his/her involvement including the possible requirement of maintaining certain secrecies or obligations may affect one’s personal life, as well as others who are a part of one’s life outside the group such as spouses or children
· Understand all of the requirements of membership before joining (and ask for assistance if required in gaining this understanding)
· Engage in all appropriate research of the group and it's history so as to have an appropriate understanding of it's full reputation, purpose, and goals
· Gain a general understanding of the broader magical traditions through published literature and internet content to understand the many options available to one seeking a spiritual path and to use this knowledge to make an informed decisions about which magical/spiritual path to follow and/or which group may best serve the purpose of one’s path
· Inform, upon request, the history of one’s spiritual work thus far, so that one’s future mentors may have a better understanding of one’s level of understanding of the mystery traditions
· Take care of any financial obligations before accepting membership
· Begin to address any culturally instilled fear of magic or ‘the occult’ which may impede his/her connection with the group or one’s spiritual practice
· Fully contemplate the nature of following a magical path, living a magical life, and the responsibilities of being a part of a magical group
As a Member of a Spiritual Organization an Initiate Has the Right To:
· Be treated with respect and integrity, regardless of grade or background, as a member of the fraternity
· Fair and equal treatment regardless of age, race, religion, sexual preference, lifestyle, gender, disability or other difference in life circumstance
· Follow one’s religious path and private spiritual practice, and to develop themselves individually where desired and work beyond the set curriculum of the Order and to pursue complimentary paths of magical/spiritual practice as long as it does not violate the natural progression of the system one has chose to follow nor one’s oaths or obligations
· Know that the institution is functioning with financial and legal integrity, and know where any monies donated or requested are going, as well as to be given proof of such upon request
· Be given a copy of the group/Order’s constitution, rules, regulations, by-laws and other information concerning the administration and rulership of the Order, and to be informed promptly of any changes to these
· Be able to vote as an equal on Order matters as outlined in the Order’s constitution, rules, regulations, by-laws
· Have one’s personal, familial, work/school, or religious responsibilities and the required time needed for such outside of the group respected
· Have one’s level of comfort in ritual involvement, or level of service outside of what was informed of them upon entering the Order or group respected
· Autonomous decision making with respect to any ‘higher’, ‘received’ or ‘Third Order’ teachings
· Be free from sexual, spiritual, mental and financial abuse, bullying, exploitation or manipulation
· An Order free from the promotion of leaders’ or members’ business, politics, financial interests or promotion of lifestyle, sexual preference, religion or other spiritual group
· Be told and given the outline of training and method of progressing within the Order and the requirements for progress
· Raise objections and questions regarding leaders’ decisions they think are unethical or against the good of the Order, and to receive an answer in a timely and fraternal manner
· Have the ability to suggest changes to the method of Order administration, the Order’s constitution, rules, regulations and by-laws and have those changes discussed and voted or acted upon at the appropriate venue and time
· An Order free of slander, defamation, verbal and other abuse directed at members of the group or other Orders or magical groups or their leaders
· An Order that is free from activities that are illegal; nor should there be suggestions from Order leaders or members to engage in any illegal activities in the privacy of their own home
· An Order free of magical attempts to harm, hinder, control, dominate or attack any other person
· To uphold their Oaths and Obligations made to any Order or group, and never to be asked by the leadership of an Order or group to do anything contrary to those Oaths and Obligations. These are not limited to, but include, being asked or commanded to violate the Religious, Moral, or Civil Obligations of the Initiate
The Initiate Has the Responsibility To:
· Respect the Order, its members, teachers, symbols and teachings and to follow all requirements set forth and agreed upon before initiation
· Support other Order members in following their own religious and spiritual paths
· Request access to Order records only for genuine and serious reasons
· Read and study the Order’s constitution, rules, regulations, by-laws and other information concerning the administration and rulership of the Order
· Vote with consideration based on the ‘good of the Order’ and not upon the notion of fear or favour in regards to gaining or losing position, title, access to higher grade materials or personal gain in any other terms
· Be open to the Order’s teachings and those of individual teachers, evaluating them without bias or prejudice
· Support other member’s choices regarding any ‘higher’, ‘received’ or ‘third Order’ teachings.
· Treat other members with fraternity and love regardless of age, race, religion, sexual preference, lifestyle, gender, disability or other difference in life circumstance
· Protect other members from any sexual, spiritual, power or financial abuse, bullying, exploitation or manipulation
· Accept and welcome their group leaders as human and imperfect
· Contribute to the upkeep of the Order through equally shared resource and financial contribution to the best of one’s ability and to help support members of the fraternity on their path of spiritual development
· Refrain from judging other member’s level of ‘spiritual development’
· Keep secret and confidential all information they have obligated and agreed upon
· Work through the spiritual practices and lessons set by their teachers with respect, dedication and honesty and to not request advancement beyond what one has received until all obligations of one current and past grades or positions have been fulfilled
· Refrain from using magic to harm, hinder, control, dominate or attack any other person
· Not teach other members material or knowledge outside of their particular level of advancement nor share with them secret knowledge obtained in confidence
· Not engage in slander, gossip, or action against a brother or sister
· Understand that although one has the right to study complementary spiritual paths and practices that when being a part of a magical group, one may be required to fulfill particular obligations before becoming privy to higher teachings and, to know that if one should seek out these teachings before the allotted time, one may find themselves at spiritual risk of not fully understanding the consequences of working with more advanced levels of magics and entities involved.
· To apply common sense to any and all situations, both within and outside of the Order or Group that they are a member, and to have one’s decisions respected
· To pursue the Work with integrity, discrimination, patience, diligence, moderation, responsibility, self-sacrifice, and service to others
· To report any criminal offense should it be witnessed or brought to light that anyone within the group including its leadership is or has engaged in violations concerning theft, sexual misconduct, extortion of finances or otherwise and to request that if a person be proven guilty that he/she be appropriately reprimanded
· To honor and respect the Sacred Tradition and one’s True Self by behaving in a manner that is becoming of the Sacred Traditions not only in an Order setting, but also in one’s private and public involvements.
· To understand that the members of the Order or group including other members, leadership, mentors, or officers of the Temple have other obligations outside of the Order that may affect their own involvement and ability to perform duties
When Leaving an Order An Initiate Has the Right To:
· Leave freely at any time, for any reason
· State freely to the leaders why they are leaving
· Have their decision to leave met with respect by Order leaders and members and be free from any verbal or other retribution or malice directed at them, nor to be inappropriately pressured to stay
· In cases of great concern, to have their views relayed to the entire Order at the appropriate time and through the appropriate media
When Leaving an Order the Initiate Has the Responsibility To
· Accept the Order may wish to conduct an ‘exit interview’ or questionnaire to ascertain reasons for leaving, and to honestly answer these questions where possible
· Try and find replacements or alternatives for any duties the Initiate may have committed to in the near future and to appropriately resolve any financial obligations agreed upon by the Initiate
· To return to the Order any property, manuscripts, tools, rituals, robes, implements of office etc, that were loaned to the Initiate, and to destroy any items that the Initiate committed to destroy via oath or obligation, including any Order rituals the Initiate was obligated not to copy.
· To refrain from slander, defamation, verbal and other abuse directed at the Order, its leaders or members
· To maintain the oath and obligation of secrecy regarding the Order as laid out in the oath or obligation in the section pertaining to leaving the Order
· To act with integrity upon leaving by not revealing the identities of the members of the Order or group, not engaging in destructive acts upon its materials, instruments or places of worship or sacred spaces, not stealing or committing crimes against the institution, nor distributing on the internet or otherwise its teachings, grade materials, pictures of members, events, ritual tools, regalia, or places of sacred ground
A Teacher, Leader, or Mentor of an Order has the Right To
· Be treated with respect by all students and members of the Order
· Have responsibilities and a life outside of the Order and their teaching obligations, as well as to have their time and responsibilities respected
· Be given appropriate time to respond to student requests or questions
· Continue to be trained and taught by their mentors.
· Be given the needed materials and lessons needed to teach others in light of the Tradition of the group or Order.
· Be supported in their mentorship by other mentors and leaders.
· Be seen as another human being who still has faults and treated with compassion and support should he/she succumb to these faults
· Refuse advancement to students who have not met the requirements set forth by the organization or present and past grade levels and to ask for assistance in responsibilities given if one is unable to fulfil or complete them
A Teacher, Leader, or Mentor Has the Responsibility To
· Inform their students and their organization of time constraints , and the best or preferred way of contacting them when outside of Order functions
· Inform a student honestly if one’s knowledge in a certain area will not answer or fulfil their educational needs and to take the time to research to the best of their ability the answer to the question.
· Interact with all students and members in an appropriate manner, and with the highest sense of integrity never engaging in gossip, improper sexual advances, or other actions that would break the bonds of the sacred student-teacher relationship.
· Step down from position if displayed or un-displayed faults begin to interrupt the spiritual development of others or in any other way cause serious harm
An Order Has the Right To:
· Have its teachings and rules followed by members who have been properly informed of them and who have agreed and given oath to do so.
· Have its teachings, materials, secrecies, workings, members, and rituals protected.
· Have autonomy and not be controlled, threatened or defamed by another Order/Lodge or group or person within or without the Order.
· Not recognize grade, position, or title given to an Initiate by another group or Order nor is required elevate them to such position if an Initiate seeks admission into their Order.
· Ask that all responsibilities that were agreed upon before admission be fulfilled by the members of the group so that it may maintain proper functioning as an institution.
· Have the ability to reject membership by any person, or remove any member should they violate their oaths, engage in poor behaviour toward the Order, its’ Temples, or members, or engage in illegal activities which may harm the Order or any of its members.
· Create its own rules, regulations, by-laws, offices, and voting structure and to require that these guidelines be followed in agreement for admission.
An Order Has the Responsibility To:
· Maintain behavioural and legal integrity to its members as well as to other groups and Orders.
· Respect the teachings of other groups, even if their chosen beliefs or practices are not agreed with.
· To keep detailed records of finances, and distributions of monies and to share them with the members upon request if it is believed that ill practices regarding them are being set forth.
· Not claim to be the only path to salvation, enlightenment, the Mystery Traditions, spirituality, nor the only beneficiary of certain Currents, Energies, Knowledge, or Lineage that is known to be shared among the practices and beliefs of other groups.
· Not to engage in “member-poaching”; which is defined as the active recruitment of another Orders’ or groups’ members.
· Not misrepresent the functioning or purpose of an Order to those outside or seeking admission, to appropriately and honestly answer all questions pertaining to the Orders functioning and rule, and to bestow knowledge of vows, oaths and obligations that will be required of a candidate before admission into the group takes place.
· Not function as a business used for economic or personal gain of an individual or persons but instead to function as a school of spiritual enlightenment designed for the improvement of its members, unless otherwise stated to the members before admission takes place.
· Not to use threat or promise of elevated or demoted status, grade-advancement, secret teachings, defamation, or otherwise to manipulate, coerce or control a member or members to engage in any actions that are against his/her personal beliefs, vows, integrity, or outside responsibilities.
· Not to proclaim seniority or lineage over another group or Order, nor publicly defame or slander another group or organization or person’s within.
· Not to interfere with the internal workings of another group or organization nor attempt to create schism.