The Kabbalistic meditation group we started with some fellow majicians last year is still going strong, meeting every Tuesday night for nearly a year now. We’ve begun a ‘second phase’ of work after a couple of weeks break during the Winter Solstice period. Last year we concentrated on the bottom four sephiroth, building a strong temple base in Malkuth and exploring the other three sephiroth as part of a process of QShTh (Koph, Shin, Tau) or ‘building the rainbow’. Once this ‘bow’ is built, the arrow is then drawn and fired towards Tiphareth and that is indeed where we have been heading recently.
We began by getting a second ‘temple base’ centred and fixed, this time not the temple of Malkuth but the temple of Tiphareth, the walls of the temple no longer in stone but now golden, forming a golden castle on a hill which we entered by drawing the bow, focusing on the tip of the arrow-head and then becoming the arrow as we release the bow, landing inside the golden castle to meet the child of light. We spent some weeks just going there, spending some time with the child of light, allowing the connection to be made through the solar plexus. Now, however, we’ve begun to explore the pathways towards Malkuth, notably 24 and 23 – death and the devil respectively. The last two weeks have been focused on path 24, death.
Here, on the path of transformation (a vague term if ever there was one and one that might be said to apply to the whole of the tree), the taste of earth is again predominant. Lions and sparrowhawks and battle cries abound, the clash of metal ringing out in the expanse of the heavens. The flaming red elemental triangle is strong and there is a connection to Geburah, somewhere, though I am unclear about that as yet – I’m assuming, no doubt incorrectly or only partially, that it’s a reflection from the other side of Tiphareth but more will come about that later.
Having moved from the first supernal to begin working on the second it is appropriate to change some of the techniques we’ve been using as well. The Kabbalistic cross, the LBRP and the Middle Pillar still form the beginning, although I’ve been thinking of bringing the Hexagram ritual to the group as well but perhaps towards the end of this period in preparation for the next move up. Following these openings, however, we had previously been doing a simple 20minute empty mind meditation, primarily because this is a ‘no preconceptions’ form which, whilst difficult to achieve ‘perfection’ in (whoever wants to do that is a Fool, literally), is useful in producing a relatively simple state of ‘sit still, be quiet, allow the sounds of the world and your mind to just pass through’. It was occasionally added to with the three steps a fellow chaote once suggested – Be Still, Be At Ease, Be Aware, in which you simply go from step 1, to step 2 through to step 3 and repeat the process each time you ‘interrupt’ yourself. Now, however, we’ve begun using the more traditional ‘single point’ meditation of the Golden Dawn neophyte grade, as found in the First Knowledge Lecture, albeit minus the four-fold breath. Interestingly there’s an ambiguity in the original, in which the meditation appears to be not on the point itself but on “the ideas to which it gives rise” and so we may not be doing anything similar to the practices of GD neophytes at all. I find the idea of meditating on ideas far too strange, however, no doubt because of a certain hostility to the latent Platonism that I smell there. The simple image of the point seems far more powerful and appropriate, not least because it is commonly encountered as dynamic, as an auscultatory phenomenon and thus the focus on the ‘breathing’ point allows the practice of settling the breath to occur.
The other key notions of the First Knowledge Lecture are things I want to build into this stage of the pathworking as well. We’ve already begun the process of learning the Hebrew of course as well as the sephiroth themselves and as we do we also learn the planetary and conceptual associations as well. The practical elemental aspects have been limited so far and these and the astrological associations are probably the next layer on the cake that needs adding. I’m unsure about the Pillars material, however – some sort of decision will have to be made regarding the whole Egyptian thing…not something I’ve ever resonated with myself but obviously central to any continued work with the GD tradition once we’ve established the basics, as it were. Perhaps the group is just there to establish the basics…we’ll see.
It is a strange thing to be working through this material again in a group, having last worked it over a good few years ago and then in a solitary situation. The whole is very familiar but last time I remember – I might see if I can dig out my diaries about this – that the main lesson that I drew was regarding the whole ‘Judaeo-Christian’ aspect of the work. I came into pagan and majikal practice with a considerable hostility to religion and in many ways still maintain that, though in general I now conceive the hostility as one directed at Priests and the Priesthood rather than Judaeo-Christians in particular – a kind of anti-authoritarianism, I suppose, partially informed by a general political hostility to authority, partially informed by Nietzsche’s genealogy of the slave revolt and the ascetic ideal. Asceticism, priestliness and that whole monk thing is both powerful and destructive. My first moves towards exploring any sort of ‘spirit’ (a word I still find peculiar and not altogether comfortable) was via Buddhism, which I soon found to be as deeply imbued by the Priestly ethic – if not more so – than Judaeo-Christianity. It was Rae Beth who was the first to offer a path that seemed to somehow be inherently anti-authoritarian and yet still able to handle the sacred. I soon found, however, that witchcraft and majik had its roots in Judaeo-Christian ideas, at least in terms of the language and symbolism with which it articulated itself if not in its inherent ‘spirit’ and so the Golden Dawn proved to be the way in which there was a coming to terms with this symbolism and history, or at least the beginning of such an accounting.
Now, however, the ‘JC religion’ thing is much less important. The child of light, for example, found in the castle of gold of Tiphareth, might be associated with the Christ figure but is associated with a whole gamut of other sacrifice symbols. If we understand sacrifice through Christ then we forget that it is only through an understanding of sacrifice that Christ means anything anyway. Sacrifice is something inherently other than the simple figure of Christ, whilst at the same time incarnated in that figure amongst many others, many of whom I’d probably prefer the tone of. The Christ figure is bound up with sin, guilt and the appalling trick, as Nietzsche says, of the ‘infinite debt’, a concept so bound into power, authority, capitalism and hate as to be almost inconceivable. The sacrificial aspect barely remains in the JC religion because of the telos of that particular act. Distinct from this I would suggest that it’s anathema to a pagan practice to begin from some sin that needs expunging – that is an inherently Judaeo-Christian, perhaps even simply a monotheistic concept (I know little about Islam so wouldn’t comment). I think the Nimbari’s ‘third principle of sentient life’ – that it is capable of sacrificing itself for the greater whole – is a far more powerful way of understanding what is positive and what is dangerous in the general idea of sacrifice. The image of sacrifice, however, that symbol, is bound into the body of the Christ figure within the Western majikal and pagan practices and so one way or another needs to be encountered and encountered not just as a danger or as negative. That, as I say, was the original lesson that I drew from the Golden dawn material – now, however, the question or problem is which other figures might also be bound into that concept, who are these figures and is this in fact the heart of the tree, this notion of sacrifice?