Response to Nick Farrell: Judgement & the Adept

As you may have guessed I’ve been rather bogged down with work life and study pressures. While this has been stressful in its own right, I’ve also found that I haven’t been able to be as focal on some of the issues facing the world, humanity or even my own little corner thereof. I’m not naturally an activist, whether it is the occult/pagan aspect or whether it is the gay aspect to my life. In fact, I’ve always presented myself as an advocate – someone who can speak up for someone who can’t speak for themselves but who was there ultimately to help others speak for themselves.

In recent months my attitude to protesting and activism has changed. While Facebook and other social media remain active with people protesting or voicing their disagreements with the system (in Ireland we’ve had the establishment of water charges being fought, accusations of tax evasions between ministers and even the covering of child abuse by former Government officials). From these visible pagan or occult commentary has been somewhat lack lustre – don’t get me wrong, many of my pagan friends have been commenting but in a markedly reserved fashion.

A few months back I made concerted effort to post and remediate (reposting with critical commentary) on some of the issues facing the occult and pagan communities. Namely I posted on issues of child abuse and so-called “Big Name Pagans” or career occultists who were using their position of respect and authority to abuse others. Some of these individuals were not, shall we say, “avouched” members of the communities and one was even a fraud claiming initiation.

In my post I criticised the occult/pagan communities’ reliance on vouching (a system of private or “back-channel” checking of credentials) because this system does not engage with the mainstream and check for abuse. In fact, checking for a person’s vouch merely checks whether they were “duly initiated” in the manner befitting the particular tradition. This has often lead to a state of “out of sight, out of mind” for individuals accused/found guilty of abuse (either emotional/mental, physical or sexual) to move along. The Roman Catholic Church in Ireland and elsewhere found this tactic to be very manageable in terms of protecting Holy Mother Church.

One of the reasons I chose to speak out on these issues is because they are so rampant. I’d also seen and experienced what it was like for someone to be ousted from a group on false claims based on innuendo and had some well known occultists telling me to keep my mouth shut because my vocalising the issues was messy and not indicative of someone developing in the magical community (this particular commentator was less articulate at the time and ironically used a lot of profanity to express his ideas of who I was into this situation). I had others accuse me of breaking my oaths – others who were not present for my Oath within MOAA and therefore haven’t a clue what I swore to do or not do! (FYI: the Golden Dawn obligation, before someone takes it they are assured that nothing of the Order or its members or the obligation will run counter to one’s moral, ethical or legal obligations – basically you can’t use your oaths to hide criminals or wrong-doing!) While what happened to me was not on the level of some of the issues I posted about this year, it was indicative of our attitudes toward dealing with problems around making judgements and decisions based on those judgements.

Over on his blog Nick Farrell posted two entries. The first was called Modern Esoteric Groups Have a Judgement Problem, in which he outlines several of the issues with covering up mistakes and staying out of it because of attitudes toward the idea of group wars. Yes, group wars happen and they often happen for inconsequential slights (perceived or otherwise) but sometimes they also happen because someone has royally f*cked up! Nick sums up his point quite well when he says:

My biggest concern was that I was in two esoteric groups where the leaders went off the rails. It was never mentioned publically and those groups continued with their reputations untarnished by problems which should have haunted them. I often wonder if by not judging I put others in harms way. (emphasis mine)

Whether you are aiming to cultivate a rose or a lotus, a tree or a garden some general gardening tips are to let the plants germinate in the soil of course. They do need the dark, moist earth to help them break out of their bulbs and journey to the light. The same is true for initiates which spring forth on budding petals from that seed. We should not be asked to remain in the dark because “it is better” for the Tradition (seed). I hold a lot of guilt for what happened in the esoteric group I was with because had I not being so reserved in my judgements things may well have transpired differently.

Nick’s other blog, 20 Things An Adept Never Does, is more of a humourous slant on things…if you’ve not had a look do so now! Done? Good now you know what not to do to become the next Supreme!

Honestly, though Nick’s list is satrical in nature it does prove a point lists of criteria for what marks an adept or elder in a community can just be as crippling to the community or tradition especially if that list is premised of some lofty ideals which ignore the world around us.

In recent months, there have been some measures taken by some individuals to form actionable plans to mainstream reporting of abuse or other illegal activities from marginalised groups that may not be reported in social media.

 

Who watches the Watchers?

I’m nicking a topic from Nick Farrell (get it?!) because to be honest I’m feeling the need to comment as someone who’s enabled Watchers by agreeing to be interviewed by them and the way I figure it considering that my own posts about the interview tend to be so popular (there’s a steady following for the Training Day posts too but no where near same heights) it’s better to air any notions people may have.

  • I’m NOT currently a contributer to Watchers of the Dawn blog. I have been interviewed by them because of a personal encounter with former friends who’d broken away from the parent Order to form their own.
  • I am a member of their Facebook group and occasional commentator as my conscience and sense of ethics (with some black humour often thrown in) dictates. Many witches and magicians have challenged me on this point, pointing out that participation is agreement and the truth is I think our previous systems of vouching for people are failing us. We need a counter perspective because leadership thrives when it is challenged to be healthy.

Now that that has been stated lets take a look at the objectives of Watchers and see how they might operate.

220px-Guetteurs “For as long as your kind’s been around, we’ve been watching … We observe, we record, but we never interfere… Too much of man’s history has been lost. When you get through all of life’s crap, the only thing that matters is the truth” – Joe Dawson (Highlander).

Watchers of the Dawn is far from a secret society existing for thousands of years to record the misgivings of the occult leaders but even so working clandestinely as they do seems to work. Now no more than Nick Farrell I don’t claim they are perfect by any stretch of the imagination. Nick comments, “These guys are not real journalists and rely a little too much on what people actually post on the Internet, rather than digging out the real story”, and I tend to agree with him. I studied New Media in my undergraduate degree and so I understand the power media can hold on a public audience. Heck I used it to my own defense when I agreed to be interviewed – no point fibbing I had an agenda.

Where I begin to recoil with Nick is in the concept that Watchers is a default policing system. I would wager that Nick is being facetious here because he knows that the abuses like those he is aware off or even those I’ve posted about on my blog in last few weeks aren’t so-called “in-house” crimes. They are simply put a matter for the authorities. Any self-respecting High Priest/ess, Archdruid or Imperator/Hierophant should really know the difference – a lot of it is common sense. I’m all too aware that people have to be concerned with job security and family concerns if it comes to light through the media that a witch reported another witch for violence or sexual assault/abuse – it’s sensationalistic and any editor would LOVE the chance to play with that title but if our titles and efforts to be awarded those same titles are to stand to anything we need to have courage. You’d be surprised at how fleeting judges can be as they don’t rightly care about your pseudo-Egyptian Order but whether there has been wrong-doing.

There is a difference between a self-appointed policing system and that of a counter-cultural or anachistic media outlet. Both fullfill their respective roles in the larger social system but the latter is outside the system while the former is part of the system.

Another reason why I feel Watchers are necessary is that while the rumour mill is ever so busy rumours are often the tools by which the socipaths and narcissitic leaders brow beat others to get to the top. Case in point the first thing my former brothers and friends did was to issue an email, which they’d falsely assumed was private, to all the Temple members to undermine my voice within the group. Remember too that their attacks were founded in half-truths and colourful retellings – so while the truth doesn’t paint me in a very favourable light their lies paint them in the best light imaginable.

We cannot put the lens aside in order to judge which perceptions accurately portray the world and which do not. Given this impossibility, why are humans committed to the search for “truth”? Because, Nietzsche answers, truth is a useful illusion, one that serves a fundamental drive to survive. — ‘Nietzche’, The Norton Anthology of Theory & Criticism, 2nd Ed. (2010).

The commonality between the Witch and the Magician is the search for ‘truth’. Both are essentially searching for a/the truth behind existence to divine meaning from the world around them. However, few of us ever really stop to consider the concept of truth, we know it is precious and needs to be protected from the profane. Even non-initiates of the WMT some how hold that some things must be discovered rather than imparted to the wandering soul before us. Perhaps its time to rethink how we perceive truth as a precious commodity but rather a liberating force that can drive our traditions and our systems further into the future. As such I propose that we endeavour to honour the preciousness of truth when we see it and learn to advocate for others in our shared communities.

It would be nice if Watchers wasn’t necessary but as I said I know people who cannot come out publicly and state things on the record because doing the right thing would punish them in the eyes of society. These people do have very high moral compasses which is why they do tend to be locked in perpetual “witch wars” and “bitchcraft” and it can get messy. Anedotally I’ve heard of three cases of children being removed permenantly/temporarily from parents arms as the spotlight focused on them rather than the perpetrator. Clever showpersons can do such things, eventually courts figure it out but takes time. In my view, I suspect that while Watchers is far from my own cup of tea that their approach is saving people from being attacked and undermined for doing the right thing.

Time is telling and keeping an open, yet critical eye on Watchers and those they report on will tell a lot more. So too will developing supports for pagans/esoteric whistle-blowers.

LGBTQ Tolerance in the Golden Dawn

Kinda nice to read something on this from the more ceremonial angle in ritual. The literary student in me wonders about the use of female psychopomps for male characters as I believe Dion Fortune did in Sea Priestess? (Anyone any clues as I only read a few pages in before college work overwhelmed me again)

Sol Ascendans - The Website of Alex Sumner

Eddie Izzard Got Wand, will do Magick! 🙂

Say what you like about MacGregor Mathers, but on one point he was resolute: he would not brook gossip about Fratres’ and Sorores’ lives – this being a matter purely between themselves and their God.

Mathers may well have had an ulterior motive: i.e. the members who had “questionable” private lives were also the ones who were supporting him during the various schisms. However, Mathers’ firm stand has led to a progressive consequence: the Golden Dawn was the first magical order to adopt a modern approach to tolerance.

However, the Western Mystery Tradition was almost derailed by the efforts of Dion Fortune. Her insistence that magick was based on strict male/female or god/goddess polarity has led in some quarters to a rather dogmatic insistence on heterosexuality which borders on the homophobic. I have read some neo-pagans saying that gays were allowed to join covens…

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MOAA and the Solstice

newsfileHi folks,

So let me first start off by saying that I hope you’ve all had a lovely and enjoyable Winter Solstice (Grianstad an Geimhreadh).

I’ve had a hectic few days as the Magical Order of the Aurora Aurea (MOAA) announced it’s decision to remove itself from the egregore of the Golden Dawn. This caused many people to scratch their heads and ask if we’d still be working the Golden Dawn rituals or were we completely disavowing them. Nick made his response over on his blog today.  As you can see we’re not disavowing the rituals of the Golden Dawn but questioning the healthiness of the original Order’s egregore. The importance of this egregore is that whether one is new or old to the Golden Dawn system they are, by virtue of the name combined with their goals and praxis, linked to the original Order’s egregore.

As the announcement was made viral I was travelling home for the Christmas break. I was actually travelling home on the day of the Winter Solstice. In general this time of year marks the pinnacle of the winter season as the Child of Light returns bringing with it a sense of promise for a new dawn so to speak. Considering this motif and the timing of MOAA’s announcement a new dawn seems ironic.

With MOAA’s announcement Nick also outlined some of the Order’s principles in a more succinct manner:

  1. Fuse the Inner and Outer plane traditions of the Smaragdum Thallasses (as expressed by the Dion Fortune tradition and the pure Golden Dawn). This may seem like someone bumped their head and forgot that the S.T. was a part of the greater Golden Dawn tradition but no, as Nick has pointed out S.T., though a Temple of the Stella Matutina to begin with became an order and the temple became known as Whare Ra Temple of the Smaragdum Thallasses.
  2. To develop a scientific and individualist approach to magic. I know, magicians aren’t scientists and we don’t need to prove ourselves, but shessh does that ever miss the point! Scientific methodologies are an important method for self-reflection upon the magical path. 
  3. Restore a balance between religions within magic so that a person might develop their own religious understanding free from [dependency on] any dogma. As you can see I’ve inserted the phrase “dependency on” as an understanding that religion is not the baddie here but that over-reliance on religion diminishes the individual’s ability to function.
  4. To provide magical training to those who are ready using the latest communication methods.
  5. To experiment with new methods of magical expression and to share that information. MOAA has always strived to develop fraternal relations through a certain amount of information exchange. The Western Mystery Tradition has suffered enough from individual’s capitalising on information as if it were bitcoin or something.
  6. To eliminate any discrimination within occultism on the basis of sex, religion, race, sexuality or beliefs.
  7. To establish better communication between Western Mystery traditions to the enhancement of our own. See point 5. 
  8. To encourage each student to develop their magical gifts to the best of their ability so that they can take a pivotal role within an evolving humanity.
  9. To assist [each] student and adept in the attainment of their own spiritual destiny.
  10. To continue to study and adapt the Smaragdum Thallasses system. This one really could and probably will be a post of its own at a later stage. There has been a lot of confusion over the work and development of the Whare Ra Temple of the Smaragdum Thallasses Order from it’s foundation in the Stella Matutina Order and how it later influenced other magicians such as Dion Fortune and the Servants of the Light school. 
  11. To create a magical order where practical techniques are given priority over intellectual understanding. Well, this may sound like we’re being overly pompous but its been our experience time and tide again that people coming to the WMT prioritise the intellectual to the detriment of all practical magic and invariably an experiential knowledge is never developed. In my own view, this is not simply a case of “oh we have oral lore you don’t know about from that book” but rather that there is a lot missing from the book that one can’t know.

There’s a lot of these principles that lend themselves to more active participation in society and the world around us. As many of you will be well aware of by now I’ve LONG been of the opinion that magic is there to help us and to help us help our loved ones and community. This isn’t to say that we should spoil ourselves demanding all sorts from the universe but that a healthier self, family, friends and community circle is beneficial on a larger to all.

There are many members of the Magical Order of the Aurora Aurea, and everyone has their own spiritual destiny or path to walk and many of them may have different understandings than myself.

Tomorrow is Christmas Eve, if you celebrate I hope its a good one for you. If not, then may you find your path in Life and live it as beautifully and fully as you can.

Signs one is a Magician

Normally I straddle the lines between being a magician* and a witch* and today will be no different because a discussion online emanating from Nick Farrell’s blog entry, “Signs that you might not be a real magician” has given me something to wonder. Like many people I had some knee-jerk responses to Nick’s blog-post and really felt he had overstepped the mark and just what was he trying to accomplish here anyway! Upon reflection I’m sort of wondering about his points myself…

  1. You always wear black, have a pentagram, or an esoteric tattoo which can be seen.
  2. Each day you do not do at least half an hour’s PRACTICAL magical work.
  3. Your life is the same.
  4. You have not lost at least one relationship because of magic.
  5. You own a ton of magical gear which you use in all your rituals.
  6. You talk about occultism more than you do it.
  7. You have lots of hobbies.
  8. You have an active social life.
  9. You think that something else is important.
  10. You do what you are told.
  11. You think that things in magic are literal and physical.
  12. You think magic is about what you can get.

My take on things…

  1. Nick makes the statement that a magician is someone you’d assume is an ordinary person and immediately my retort is “pfft, what IS ordinary anyway?” but let us remember that witches and magicians may be marked out as liminal figures in mythology or modern fiction but the work we do is amongst the community and people. So really what we’re looking at here is being marked out as liminal in what we do but very much a part of the world. Dress, in terms of costuming, means that we can learn to develop other attributes that help us relate to others.
  2. Each day you do not do at least half an hour’s PRACTICAL magical work.
  3. Commitment to working magic on a PRACTICAL level can be seen as a self-serving venture designed to ‘condition’ oneself to learn to focus. In my view magic is like a muscle one needs to flex in order to be able to be a strong conductor for the magical operation. Many of the Training Days I’ve been blogging about talk about working on one’s core muscles as a means to develop one’s magical core.
  4. This follows on from Point #2 as practical magic causes change and if one is doing it right ideally in conformity with one’s will. Daily magical work aims to work with and integrate the particular energy in one’s life so naturally what you’d like to see is that being a reflection of the larger world around us we can be more effective in expressing those aspects of ourselves.
  5. Okay, so I found this one quite a strong position for Nick to take, that being said I know of one person who having gotten married left her magical life behind because her husband wasn’t a Witch too. Now admittedly this was a Wiccan High Priestess and Traditional Wicca can be sexual and so one needs complete trust between couples and covens when bringing in sexual energy. So why then is Nick making such a claim when he’s a Golden Dawn magician? Well, knowing how much I’ve changed mentally, emotionally and even physically and I wonder if I were dating someone who isn’t interested in magic could they understand? If I date a Wiccan would they get the Golden Dawn or if I date a Golden Dawner will they get my involvement in modern Paganism? These are all mystery traditions but different ones.
  6. I sort of feel vilified with Nick’s take on this one because I have lots of tools from my witchcraft and more from my Golden Dawn work I can draw upon and different rituals require different items but space is an issue. So being pragmatic about it I’ll use what is needed.
  7. Hmm 1 hour of ritual = 1 hour of conversation? What sort of conversations is Nick having? Sorry I’m a jabber-er by nature and I do learn to air out ideas with others. But heres the thing we’ve all met those *ahem* people who talk before doing and refuse to learn.
  8. I don’t agree with this one as I think it countermands Point #1 in some respects. Hobbies can open up conversations and I’m weary of people who talk so much on magic because even if they are *somehow* doing magic somewhat regularly I wonder how they chart it’s effects in their lives? Given that hobbies are also good for mental and in some cases physical health I personally like to see people exploring hobbies. I suppose comes back to commitment again, how committed a person is to magic and what they’re aiming to get from their magical path.
  9. This one is awkward to explain to those that don’t do magic, especially those who see it as only serving themselves. Personally, I’ve found that magic for me means my social life invariably is taken over by magical and spiritual needs in others. Its not about me doing magic for them but that I am more capable of being present for people under the strain of personal difficulties.
  10. *Snigger* – Nick sort of has a cheeky point here. Occultism is a way of codifying one’s outlook on life and environment so yes it does become all pervasive in a certain sense of the word. He goes on to say, “A magician helps the world but through different methods.  That does not mean that they will not get their hands dirty helping people directly. But the “idea” thing is dealt with a magical level, they do not sell their time to causes”, and well hasn’t that been what I’ve been saying all along?
  11. I tried not to agree with Nick on oh-so-many points throughout this post but having the respect I do for the guy I find the best I can muster is an expansion of my own thoughts on the matter. I have been guilty of sitting and mulling over certain ideas in occultism for ridiculously long periods of time but this is tempered by the understanding that there’s skype, mobile text, Facebook and oh so many ways for me to reach my teachers when something stands out but to be honest aside from certain situations I’ve found myself agreeing with my teachers more than disagreeing… I’M AN INDIVIDUAL JUST LIKE EVERYONE ELSE I SWEAR!
  12. Oh boy… see what Nick said! I’m a study of literature so I often forget that others don’t see things from my perspective but storytelling is a potent force in magical life of a magician. We all have mythologies, folklore and such in our background and I don’t know a single magician or witch who isn’t a natural story-teller.
  13. Again what Nick said.

I’ve put a spell on you

Forget women in black hats cackling around a cauldron – today’s followers of paganism are more likely to offer you spiritual healing, says Andrea Smith

ANDREA SMITH – 24 AUGUST 2013

Niall MacSiurtain (27), known as Abhainn, is originally from Sligo; his family moved to Leitrim when he was a teenager. He has just completed the first year of a master’s degree in English literature at the University of Limerick…

IrishIndo
Click image to read entire section!

The interview was conducted via email and explores my path into modern craft practices and eventually the Golden Dawn system of magic and how I see it playing out in my life and the lives of those around me. I had a lot of fun putting my ideas into words and it was strange being on the receiving end of the interview process for once. Hope everyone else enjoyed the interview with myself the the other three ladies… I’ve only briefly met Janet Farrar before with a lot of friends in common but its always lovely to see other Craft practitioners sharing their stories.

And thus begins my career as a poster child of paganism! I jest of course. Paganism, witchcraft and magic as a whole is far too diverse to accurately reflect it all but Ms. Smith was a wonderful interviewer. And I’d also like to thank the staff photographer who drove all the way from Sligo to take the wonderful picture! I really want to use it for my profile pics online now! lol

Check out the info section for details on the U.L. Pagan Society and how to get in touch. We’d very much like to meet you and share in some great events as well as create new ones!

Golden Dawner expelled for following doctor’s advice

Watcher of the Dawn is a “news-style” blog aimed at highlighting various injustices and problems within the modern Western Mystery Tradition as a whole. Following on from my previous blog post on here ‘the Watcher’ got in touch with me to seek clarification on some of my claims posted before as they found it shocking that anyone would have done such a thing and felt others ought to know too. Like I said yesterday this was my reason for posting the original rebuttal so I agreed to answer some questions. Check out the main article on their blog for more information.

Watcher of the Dawn

A Golden Dawn member was expelled because his fellow chiefs believed he should not have been following them and not his doctor’s advice.

In a blog post , which was cross-posted on Facebook, Níall MacSiúrtáin has recounted his expulsion from the Ancient and Honourable Order of the Golden Dawn.

MacSiúrtáin has epilepsy and he had taken medication which gave him weight gain, concentration problems, and extreme reaction to Sun.  The Irish sun would leave him with bad sunburn.

Since he had not had a major seizure since 2007 MacSiúrtáin’s doctor decided to take him off his meds. That did not sit well with his chiefs, Dean Wilson and Gerald Dempsey, who mentioned it as a reason for his expulsion to members.

A letter written by Dempsey, which was leaked to MacSiúrtáin by people within the Ancient and Honourable Order of the Golden Dawn, effectively claimed that MacSiúrtáin had a psychological…

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