Wednesday, July 25, 2012

MAGICAE NIGRAE SPECULUM

One of the tools of a Magician is the Magicae Nigrae Speculum, or black magic mirror. 
What is most interesting about a mirror is that it reflects the environment around it in an exactly perfect manner.  However, this replication of the image can vary.  With a black mirror, this variance is intentionally skewed according to the convex measurements of the surface, and the quality of the glass or stone of which it is composed.  A convex surface naturally distorts the image according to certain parameters; while the glass itself is very dark, and thus it lends a black or dim quality to whatever is perceived. 
 
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Symbolically, we have the natural world, Assiah or rather the Earth element all around us; and so this is reflected by Water, the emotional world.  A mirror is a type of Water inasmuch as it is reflective.  In the shadowy realm of the intentionally distorted black mirror, the surface lends a Kellipotic quality to the image.

In modern practise, the Magic Mirror is of course the first choice for many Magicians who are performing an evocation involving Goetic or other base and evil entities.  Meanwhile the crystal ball is usually the first choice for scrying Angelic and other Spiritual Creatures.

The nature of a plain mirror itself is interesting.  The oldest mirrors are made of polished metal, and pre-date glass.  The clearer the polish and the less pitted and distorted the surface, the better the reflection of the true image around oneself.  This metaphor is taken further in "The Bezels of Wisdom" by Ibn al Arabi, a Sufi (Gnostic) Muslim, where Sun, used as an image of The Most High, is attributed to the reflected light of Allah upon the mirror of the soul. 

It may seem strange to the beginner to bring up Arabian magic, but in fact, most of the magic in The Golden Dawn, such as the Kameas, Geomancy, and possibly scrying (the last is implied and not proven) has all come to us from Arab and later Muslim sources.  This connection is something which we should all be proud to recognise, as during the dark ages, the Arabs were the caretakers of the Neo-platonic knowledge while most of Europe was illiterate and ignorant.  We are literally indebted to them for this service.
Modern Magician's intentionally use a black mirror to work with the darker entities, inasmuch as this is under Divine or Angelic control, seems to have a remedial effect upon the soul. The evocation may be done by any magician who has the ability to pick up the necessary skills through repetition; but like any endeavour, it is a special person that can make even his or her most mundane experiences a lesson in personal growth.  The best of us will not focus only on ourselves, but rather take altruistic care for others, such as offering friendship, a kind ear, or even in offering healing; even if it is not of a medical nature, but rather in the form of an empathetic demeanor.

However, the danger in magic as a skill, rather than as additionally as a transformative process, is that many of us cannot see the mirror operating in ourselves.  We can be well skilled in magical practice, we can be knowledgeable, but if we do not endeavour to Gnothi Seauton, which is Greek for "Know Thyself", there is little by way of spiritual substance or maturity to a Magician.  

There is a well-known metaphor in modern parlance about mirrors that may have been recently used in psychology, but it has been adapted from much older observations, such as al Arabi above.  It is upon the nature of the soul. 
Or as Crowley said in his hilariously demeaning book review of A.E. Waite's Book of Ceremonial Magic:
"Ah, Mr. Waite, the world of magic is a mirror, wherein he who sees muck, is muck."

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The SRIA and me


A few years ago, I became interested in the SRIA.  There is very little information available on this obscure group, especially on the Internet, so I though I would make them the subject of this new post.  The SRIA ritual is some very serious secret stuff, like one would expect from any other masonic, magical, or boy-Scout Order.  So, while I can't tell you much about the funny handshakes used in the organisation, I will say that anyone who has been involved in Golden Dawn will find it less complicated, but just as interesting.  Westcott and Mathers really did engineer GD to be for those who are Kabbalistically inclined to the practical.  However, I thought it might be great to share some heart-warming anecdotes about the people involved, just to giove a true picture of what the Order is really like.

It has been about 10 or more years that I have known the SRIA folks in the other different orders I belong or have belonged to: AAFM, AASR, HRA, OTO, GD, RR et AC; plus in a few groups I don't belong to, like a Wiccan Coven a few miles from here, SOL, as well as the local Martinist group.

Working within the auspices of our local GD group, we have open communication with all of these other societies, many of whom I shared community projects and teachings with such as tarot classes, chakra workshops, that sort of thing.  We also have an informal network where we can give each other a 'heads up' when difficult people make the rounds for occult membership, or to recommend good people to the other groups when they are better suited for something other than our own. 

For the SRIA, I am told that the only impediment to joining is that you have to be a Freemason in good-standing, and a Trinitarian Christian.  But, most Christians these days are non-practising, which I would think would be a major X-factor to contend with in populating these modern groups.  So I had to ask: "How do you let someone in if they are not really a church-going Christian?"  The Fratres I initially spoke with said that how they define "being a Christian" has more to do with being open and respectful to the content of what their Christian rituals and the RC tradition is about, rather than being a full-blown practising church Christian.  They know that most spiritual people in this day-and-age are not always traditional in their approach.  The SRIA is looking for decent people who will advance their organisation, and keep it running smoothly; they are looking to be inclusive whenever possible, and not exclusive at all, save to those who are not suitable. 

So, what that really means is that a Master Mason who is dues-current, interested in the esoteric, who is able to self-proclaim a Christian, and most importantly, is not a known troublemaker; he will be offered membership. 

These fellows also advance through the grades by doing a paper at every grade.  These men know the difference between what can be proven about the history of the RC Order, and what is myth.  In a nutshell, actual historic records prove that even the oldest RC orders active today and in the past started as re-enactment groups.  We all know and love the myth of the RC Manifestos, and this sort of stage presentation is possibly repeated in the myth of the GD Cypher Manuscripts; but we really don't know for sure.  The methodology of Academic History is all about collecting what was written down in more than one source; this creates corroboration. 

Sure, the real truth of anything might not be written down, and so written history can be wrong, but historians know that.  The discipline of history is just that; a rigorous set of disciplined rules applied to the information at hand.  No source?  Then we can't really say it happened under those rules, simple as that.

So why do these sort of RC groups flourish, seeing as they self-define as a new tradition, and happily state that 100% of them are merely re-enactments of what the myth in the RC Manifestoes could have been referring to?  I think it is because it is personally meaningful to participate.  Same with GD re-enactment groups, it is simply a worthy persuit as it stands, without needing to invoke some shadowy past lineage to validate today's important work.  Even in GD, the central mystery is plainly spelled-out in the Adeptus Minor as being "in the alembic of thine heart...".  Anyways, SRIA is a body which is populated by those who are not impressed by fools or common mendacity.

The men in our local SRIA college are fantastic.  They are intelligent, most have degrees, all have successful careers, and they are Freemasons that have an active interest in the esoteric!  The real spirit of the RC tradition is in learning and enlightenment through knowledge and altruism, not through elaborate or false traditional pedigrees.  I always think about the myth of Christ or Buddha as representing those beings who broke from the older traditions that had become stifling spiritually and politically, and therefore went on to start something (relatively) fresh and original in their day.  These exemplars were individuals, not pin-collectors.

Perhaps I am getting a little older myself, so I ask you to forgive me in advance and ask that you indulge me in a little reflection and story-telling about the Fratres I met in SRIA.

One of them who is in his late 70's now, caused quite a stir back in the 1980's when he  helped pioneer the first Masonic visiting with Prince Hall Freemasonry Lodges in the North-West USA.  For those of you who don't know, Prince Hall is African-American Freemasonry, an organisation that had previously been operating separately from Regular Freemasonry, which is another politely horrible way of saying it was still segregated!   As there is no Prince Hall Freemasonry in Canada (where we live), he and a few of our masonic brothers from his lodge, travelled around the North-West USA on their own dime to make these Prince Hall connections.  This was because he felt it would be fabulous to get to know these Brothers and see what kind of ritual work they were doing.  Now, because of his efforts, a Freemason from Canada can travel down to the States to visit a Prince Hall Lodge, be accepted down there as a full Brother, and get to see their fabulous ceremonies; and visa-versa.  Apparently they are chock full of powerful music and vibrant Baptist-style songs, with all the brethern singing.  Offering Masonic recognition was quite an achievement in the Regan era!

Another high-ranking SRIA member is a local Judge, who also holds a high rank in OTO, HRA, AASR, etc, and has always been a practising Wiccan and a Christian.  When I asked him about our OTO involvement and how he sees Christianity working with that, we had a chuckle about how the different religions often take a hard-line attitude to literal facts; but that the mystical or esoteric side of the different religions can really transcend and merge with the other esoteric versions of these other faiths.  I mentioned the Sufi and Christian nature of some of the OTO degrees, and Crowley's sexual interpretation of the RC, and he particularly agreed with me.  His coven is apparently writing just the most amazing new Wiccan rituals.  Nothing like seeing a Judge who holds wise-women in high regard schlepping around naked.  Don`t slip on that puddle of water, brother!

Another member has a high rank in SOL, and is a very nice fellow; a person whom I look forward to seeing when I am out.  He has also offered me online assistance in the minor projects I was working on.  Very decent to take an interest and lend a helping hand without even being asked.

Another is a kind and very elderly Freemason in my Mother Lodge, who these days puts most of his Masonic time into the Eastern Star.  Because it is one of the larger co-ed Orders, he just loves it when he and his wife attend Masonic meetings together.  When I think about the two of them, I immediately recall them hunched over a picnic table cutting out the used stamps from old letters for charity drives they do.  (That is retirement for you).  It is so cute it actually brings a genuine tear to my eye.

There is a very handsome East Indian man that I have only chatted with once, but is very well educated in world myth; and whom I look forward to meeting again.

Plus, there have been a few GD people from my Temple that proceeded me into the SRIA, which was just fabulous to be an initiate at their hands instead of the other way around.  Contrary to what some might think, sometimes it sucks to be "the Dungeon Master" all the time.

One of my GD Temple members and closest friends is enamored with Sufi mysticism, which has some pretty interesting links to the RC tradition.  A body-builder and an imposing figure, his mother is Norse, and his Father is part African.  By some trick of genetics, he looks completely Caucasian; and he never tires of telling new people he meets about his heritage and watching them be surprised.  His ascent to Adeptus Minor in SRIA took 2 years, which is meteoric considering they meet quarterly, and he had to present a paper at each grade.  I am told they made allowances to move him ahead quickly due to his obvious occult knowledge and merit.

These are the Fratres I know there so far.  As far as my own membership is concerned, I have an unmistakeably Semitic name, and they were proud to invite me with my Greek Orthodox, Catholic and Jewish family background.  Like I said, they seem to be more interested in those who are peaceful and interested, than solely in initiating your average Masonic church-goer.  When you think about it, this makes sense, considering that this is still occult study that we are talking about here!  I am constantly chatting with them about Kabbalistic and Orthodox Jewish ideas, and how these relate to Christianity.
 
So there you have it, a little survey of my experience with SRIA.  A multi-cultural Trinitarian Christian organisation that also contains those who are interested in or are self-professed Thelemites and Wiccans; an Order that is decidedly anti-racist, pro-feminist, pro-Semetic and actively involved in charity and other random acts of kindness.  

Truly the best people that esoteric Freemasonry has to offer.

YShY


Edited for grammar, 3pm 2012/07/10