Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
Some people who approach fraternities like ours for initiation have a particular idea what the experience will do. It will empower them, they assume, granting superior insight and magical ability, and reasonably soon they’ll be able to move on past Knowledge & Conversation to crossing the Abyss.
And, if they work hard at it for a dozen years, or a couple of dozen, that might well come true. But that happens only if they realise the key fact about initiation: it empowers the whole of the psyche, and not just the wisdom-and-light bits. The whole psychospiritual Christmas tree is lit up, including the tackier light-bulbs and the chipped and faded decorations they illuminate.
Some months ago, I read an article opposing systems like our Temple uses. It claimed schools such as ours are basically ego-trips for the people running them, and they prevent interested students from doing the really important work, such as directly entering Enochian realms. Problems that crop up in this approach, or errors that are made, could be easily corrected, the author wrote; and the student would progress more rapidly as a result.
I have to describe this as misleading bullshit.
Initiation is a process, not an event; essentially it’s unending. We could even say there’s no There there, because when we finally arrive, there’s always the next There to be reached. The initiation of Tiphereth opens up the vistas of Adeptship, and crossing the Abyss opens up a vast sense of Wonder. The journey, not the attainments, is the entire point of the exercise, even if teachers might say otherwise to keep us on track.
For almost all aspirants, there’s a process of four or five years – or longer – required to explore, in a realistic manner, how the personal psyche supports and obstructs our efforts. Graduated training, of the kind developed in the mystery schools over many generations, takes us – drags us, really – through the shabbier aspects of our own nature as well as the finer ones, and thus we develop the necessary compensatory attitudes and methodologies. Any short-cuts we take just come back to bite us. Sometimes the process has to be halted by a shift in life-circumstances, as the HGA applies the brakes while the psyche educates itself sufficiently.
Thus, for example to open ourselves to the Aethyrs and their inhabitants too soon means that we experience and absorb their energies into a murky swamp of half-acknowledged, half understood tendencies in ourselves. The result might seem like a clearing or even a blasting away of human limitations, but all the time, shadow aspects of ourselves are being ramped up and intensified. The subconscious equivalent of a violent street-gang comes out to enhance its turf. What to a fully prepared Adept is a moving experience of Light and Power, will probably strike the erring student as a really cool Power experience; but the psyche is not set up to experience that level of Light as Light. That means the energy, the influx, moves into and through the sewers of the mind, not through its temples and courtyards.
This, I think, is why Paul Foster Case, no slouch in Hermetic matters, was so opposed to using the Enochian system, which he insisted caused harm to the people he’d observed employing it. Case’s reaction was extreme, but he understood the absolute importance of proper preparation for deeper magical work.
Such preparation means spending years in training that make it seem as if our finest aspirations are being frustrated. Everybody yearns to bust out of it at some point. Hopefully, the busting out is brief enough to teach us to stay on the primary track. Frustration with the process isn’t an indicator that the process is wrong – it’s an indicator that the process is working, but we haven’t recognised how and why. Almost all ordeals relate to our feeling thwarted without comprehending why. Solve the riddle, and watch the positive change that happens.
If people won’t see this … well, from the few examples I’ve known the outcome isn’t pretty. A dozen years ago, I watched one friend descend back into the alcoholism he’d nearly beaten because he had a desperate need to be an Adept, and be seen as one, and didn’t examine what was driving him. He simply couldn’t see that what he thought ws objective activity – invocation – was subjectively toxic for him. Such people recover in time, and I’ve heard he’s now prospering. But pushing ahead too far, too often, means the psyche has no time and opportunity to align itself on all the levels on which it needs to align. And the river of pure water people think they’re navigating becomes progressively muddier.
To a true aspirant, all experience is learning, and a rough, dark ride and a relatively smooth one amount to the same in the cosmic scheme of things. But no serious teacher would want students to descend into addiction and its accompanying self-mistrust and self-loathing. The apparently slow track that serious occult orders insist on usually turns out to be the faster one as the years roll on.
Love is the law, love under will,