The Probationer advances in his authenticity as much as in his mistakes, the Probationer is inclined to himself and to his way only, and in this self-sufficiency, he finds further progress. He advances further until he finds himself on the shore of the great ocean, stranded in the City of the Pyramids. As he advances, he watches his sun-boat and all belonging to him washed and lost in those waters, like in the aquarelle of Self. As millions of years advance and disperse every atom of his being, dissolving him in the mass of a monotonous empty ocean, everything remaining will be that progress, going forwards, endlessly forwards, without a form, without a body or self, for no reason nor cause. This quiet, impersonal progression is all that the A∴A∴ is.
As the Probationer progresses further through his Grade, encountering various Eastern and Western thoughts, theories and practices, he must be aware of what is needed and what is not. Soon he will conceive that one of the highest arts is to separate essential from irrelevant. Magick and Mysticism are like the left and right sides of your body; you cannot have both equally developed. One is always more active than the other, with more control and awareness. At this place, the Aspirant will find a worthy attempt to make a difference between the path of Magick and Mysticism. In general, the definition of Magick is referred to as a change in nature that is in accordance with Will. But no one says whose will. It seems that Mysticism is a bit more flexible. The relation between Mysticism and Magick perhaps can be properly compared as the relation between our imposed Fate outside (without) and our chosen Will inside (within). Let us focus on Magick; what we know about it today is mostly misinterpreted as the system of Thelema. And, of course, the overwhelming majority in our world identifies Magick solely with the work of Aleister Crowley. It is certainly true that thanks to him we have a system that we define as Magick, but it is important to bear in mind that Crowley himself was the result of many influences and traditions which have left an impression on him, as he left to us.
Many branches of our tree of knowledge interweave, twist, support each other, but often shave the sun to one another, from that childish need to grab that light only for us. It is essential to realize that our entire system consists of inseparable subgroups that all together contribute to the whole in specific symbiosis. Our art should only be understood as a whole; it is completely impossible to understand the system of numbers if we would favor the value of one number more than the other, or if we expel any number from the numeral system, whether it is a decimal, octal, binary, or any other. We are firmly against any specialist doctrine; our path is in interweaving and intercourse, not in exclusivity. We look at Magick and Mysticism as two lanes of one street. Both lead to the same goal. Illumination. Magick is based on the premise that the individual Will within is the cause of change. Mysticism tells us that Will is only a consequence of an external cause and that the focus on the outside brings change that is reflecting in ourselves. You can climb into the house of God, but you can also make your house divine if you settle the Lord inside. It is one of the roughest divisions of our Art – the path of Mysticism and the path of Magick. One should take note that the word Absolute does not imply a direction as purely vector value.
Most Aspirants will usually start drawing the Tree of Life from above, or from the first Sephira. Precisely in this is the perfect explanation of how the Western mind is looking at reality. We already stated that there are two lanes, or courses. One from below and one from above or one without and one within, if you prefer it more. The Western mind used to watch things from afar. Therefore, the method of the Aspirant of Magick is often a method of stress and struggles, unlike the Mystic whose method is in surrender and delivering. In other words, the Mystic would draw the Tree of Life by starting from Malkuth, and not from Kether as the Magician would do boldly. These two essential ways in our Art are called the Lighting Flash, also known as the Flaming Sword and the Serpent of Wisdom or Rising the Snake. Qabalah, as the basic polygon of Western hermetic thought, goes from top to bottom, it is the path of the Spirit descending among the mundane world. The path of Mysticism, on the other hand, is the way of climbing the mountain of Abiegnus. Both ways define the same reality but constitute it from a different point of view.
These are two ways of a single Illumination. Think about how the Snake is wrapped around the Paths, while Lightning involves Sephirot. But ten Sephiroth do not perfectly match with the seven Chakras. This is how we adjust our view on the rise of the Snake, but too much effort in equalizing these two ways can lead to trouble. Because 22 Paths are not best implemented in work with Chakras; we have subtle energy channels, like Nāḍ, but this remark is far from similarities with the Paths on the Tree of Life.
Aspirants often perceive Paths and Sephiroth as the concepts of static and dynamic, however, experience tells us to reconsider what is really static, and what is dynamic? Tiphareth as the Sun on the one side, and the “Sun” as Atu XIX on the other, what is dynamic and what is static here? Both concepts can be static and dynamic, yet it is always necessary to watch a broader picture and observe things from another angle. The biggest problem we have with Mysticism today is the fact that this system is planted inside the eastern concept of life and acquired from the earliest youth. In contrast, we Westerns do not have a balanced relationship with the systems we follow, but we arbitrarily modify and adapt them during our progress and quite late in life we begin with the striving to higher planes. We change our reality when we are already grown up. The mystic, however, has not even been able to grow, and his reality has already been changed.
This is the reason why the Magician needs a higher number of Paths and Sephiroth. That is why we demand a decade system instead of a binary one. For, not only do we seek one Truth, we are destroying others which are already established in us. Paths enable us to make a more comfortable change of our being; their characteristic is in gradualness. The change provoked by Mysticism is abrupt and sudden. In a way, this is a picturesque comparison with Sōtō and Rinzai Zen. Like slow and fast awakening. Like smooth and dramatic. It is not enough to stress that both systems look at the same sky and strive for the same aim. And as the force descends downwards, so our western mind begs for more details, our Ruach starts to explain already existing analogies, and when they are absent, it creates a new one. More and more, faster and faster. Always more, and always faster.
Where is Thelema in all this? We have the path of Magick and the path of Mysticism. We have correctly defined everything so far, but when it comes to Thelema, it seems that our mind wiggle, as if it is from mercury instead of gold. From all the noise we have made today, we cannot hear the voice of Thelema. From here work becomes more difficult. If we perceive Magick and Mysticism as the name and surname of reality, Thelema would be its nickname. And as many of us officially are known by name and surname, yet we will turn quicker in the street if someone shouts our nickname. It is not written in any public document; there is a year of your birth, various social security codes, places and names, and yet most of people we are close to call us by our nickname which often has no similarity with the name nor surname at all.
In royal Rāja Yoga, the idea of Thelema is also present but it is not reserved for the beginning. Although Yama and Niyama in the old system are introduced before Āsana, many Aspirants deal them during or after Āsana and Prāṇāyāma. There are several reasons for this, and we will certainly have an opportunity to discuss it later. After the practice in Āsana and Prāṇāyāma, there is a training of our moral and ethics, and this is precisely where Thelema can be found. Training of moral and ethics. Can they be trained at all? Is not the way of Thelema in their release to rape patterns of behavior within our soul with their furious intentions and to bounce like Pan’s goat along the congested highways of ordinariness? Thelema is a condition for every good Magick, not the contrary; only after understanding this can serious work begin and there are no words that can lead our students more to accept this sacred principle. If we now return to Magick and Mysticism, we can notice that both paths have one excellent joint thing, and that is the idea of the Middle Way, which our Eastern brothers call Sushumna. We have Ida and Pingala, we have the Pillars of Severity and Mercy, and finally, we have the Middle Pillar or Sushumna. Both Magick and Mysticism try to shorten their trajectory, each in its own specific way. This appeals especially to the path of Magick nowadays, when people do not have time for their individual work and are trying to repay that through working in various groups. Remember not to fall into this trap. Do not think that anything which is not yours could compensate what should be yours.
No such group work can refund individual. If one Aspirant cannot find time for himself, how does he expect that time spent with others will do something for him? Young Aspirants and followers of the West path immediately seek the method for astral projection, the Enochian magick and afternoon recipes of sexual alchemy. Which is of course understandable. It is upon us to cultivate and direct their desire into one real goal, which is far enough to hold their attention but close enough to hold their motivation. And that is the true significance of the Grades. There is no truth in them, just encouragement for only one real step which needs to be done.
A further story of the Mysticism and the Rise of the Snake tells us that it is wrapped around all the Paths, using them as a means of support, not the Sephiroth. On the other hand, it is the Lighting Flash which illuminates Sephiroth. Looking at the whole thing, we can conclude that Mysticism puts the accent on the method, while Magick emphasizes achievement. Method and Achievement, Path and Sephira. Therefore, as we perform mystical practice, the essence should be put on the objective knowledge of what we have done. Or at least what we tried We should neglect all visions and side attainments as much as we can. In Buddhism, there is a saying “if you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him.” In fact, this is not a saying but instruction. The enemy of Mysticism is distraught by inner sensations. The greatest danger in Magick is the opposite; we are deluded by higher spheres and what we believe is above us. Being distraught by the Aim in Mysticism, and being distraught by the Method in Magick. As the Aspirant advances from Malkuth to Kether, his gaze is fixed constantly upwards. Often looking at heights, he does not sometimes see what is obvious in front of him.
A suitable Aspirant does not equalize Mysticism with Yoga, as he does not identify Magick with Thelema. Of course, this equation does not have to be in the technical, but rather in a conceptual sense. Unlike Magick which is more practical in nature, Thelema is a philosophical system that depends solely on your personal progress. And most of all, on your personal intelligence. You cannot learn or read about Thelema. Either you know it or not. No practice nor exercise can give you an insight into Thelema. I often like to say that Thelema is just one of the ways in which a dialogue between you and your God is being made; even more, Thelema is exactly that between. We cannot know with certainty if Thelema is a cause or a consequence of a change in human development. But from our point of view, Thelema is always the cause of good Magick. Think of it, the relationship between Magick and Thelema is like the value of a dollar. Magick is a dollar in your wallet, Thelema is the value of that paper on a stock market. Today, with one piece of paper, you can be a millionaire, tomorrow that paper may not be worth a cent. Magick is an accomplishment, Thelema determines how valid that accomplishment is. A lot of banknotes have no value if you find yourself in a blizzard. All you can do is to burn them and to get some warmth.
Long ago, I found myself believing that I was a good magician. I worked a lot; I read and experienced different and wonderful insights, but without accurate recordings. Sometimes, not only I forgot when and what I did, but I forgot the results of the work as well. This is the absence of Thelema in practical Magick. I worked hard and devotedly, but without full awareness, without the most important part – and that is fullness. Perfect results, conclusions and divine insights are nothing compared to the awareness of the whole process. Indeed, it is the only true segment of our work – fullness. Keep the Diary, therefore, even if you are not an Aspirant of Magick or Mysticism. It is a precious tool for your psychoanalysis, the key to the door of your utmost reality.
Let us go further; there is something more to say about the Nāḍ and the Paths when we are already at the bridge between the East and the West. In working with Nāḍ, what is certain is that there are those subtle channels which Easterners define as solar and lunar. It can be noticed that the Paths, however, do not have such a diametric aspect of their basic idea. Of course, the Aspirant can find many similarities between Nāḍ and the Paths as he is more concerned with this matter. Mostly, practitioners agree on the point that we become aware of the Nāḍ channels once the energy flows through them. In other words, energy leads to awareness. With the Paths it is the contrary; it can be said that exactly the awareness of the Path arouses energy afterward in that area as its consequence. In both cases, it is clearly felt at the physical level. Sometimes, some parts of our body become numb, sometimes starting to shake to the extent that fear and discomfort arise, or even strong pain, which all shows that the force has encountered a blockade.
There are only two ways in which this blockade breaks. The first one is tougher and dramatic, which is to increase the flow of energy along its natural route to break the blockade itself. But there is a risk, because this blocked unconscious part of our being is now traveling through our spiritual body as a thrombus, and it is only a matter of time when it will again appear, in its much worse and more severe form. The second way to solve this problem is to create a spiritual bypass at a place where the blockade manifested. But there is a danger also. As we are raising energy on a daily basis, there is a high probability of forgetting that we have left abridged part behind us, and then after a while, as we return to old habits and old way of life, a complete blockade of this new spiritual channel will happen. Instead of an explosion as we had in the first case, an opposite effect will occur, that is, suppression. It is marvelous how many experienced and elderly Aspirants exhibit these two extremes. The first case, as an example of explosion, points us to egoism, selfishness, stubbornness, and aggression. The second case tells us about people who are too scattered, confused, naive and lacking self-confidence. The similarity between Nāḍ and Paths above all is in the understanding of energy, not in the understanding of philosophy. Furthermore, not all Nāḍ and the Paths are equally understandable to our Ego. As we progress towards deeper spheres, we get in touch with deeper archetypes and sophisticated, subtle energies. No single Aspirant has the same experience, and only one instrument is valid enough to show us similarities and differences. You are carrying the most important of all the instruments you will ever encounter; it already has a Tree of Life in it, one Sushumna, both Ida and Pingala inside as well. That instrument is your Body.
Also, every sphere which has relation towards the light, and this applies to each Sephira, has its night side or Qliphoth and at this place, it should be convenient to mention phenomenon which is called the False Snake. Unlike the two cases that we stated earlier and where Kundalini raised and encountered the blockade, in this situation, there is no blockade because there is no Kuṇḍalinī. It is often the case of those who have intellect dominion over their life, finding themselves working for years without any success in raising the energy and awareness merely because they overloaded their mind. Think about how in many primitive societies we encounter ordinary people who fall into a trance faster than most Adepts. Some of us will identify this occurrence with eleventh Sephira. It is Daath and it is false, but only as a Sephira. You can think that the Sephira of the Knowledge does not mean the Knowledge itself. Despite everything, it can be said that the path of the False Snake can also be part of the Aspirant’s enlightenment and an entirely valid choice for the being; it always happens when Racio stands before Altar.
In the end, I would like to review the Probationer’s Oath briefly. The most important thing is to fully understand the meaning of the Oath itself because within the frames of these words precisely the whole work is covered. If a Probationer could be aware of every word of his Oath, that moment he would found himself as an Adept, therefore, it takes patience here; this work is impossible to do in haste, and it takes time. And one year of your Probation is precisely for that purpose.
Oath of the Probationer goes as follows:
I,______________________, being of sound mind and Body, on this ___ day of ______ (An _____ ☉ in ____° of ______) do hereby resolve: in the Presence of ______________________, a Neophyte of the A∴A∴ To prosecute the Great Work: which is, to obtain a scientific knowledge of the nature and powers of my own being.
May the A∴A∴ crown the work, lend me of its wisdom in the work, enable me to understand the work!
Reverence, duty, sympathy, devotion, fidelity, trust do I bring to the A∴A∴, and in one year from this date may I be admitted to the knowledge and conversation of the A∴A∴!
Student expresses that he will acquire “scientific knowledge” which can be obtained only by scientific observation of all phenomena and processes within his own being. One should always think that our method is science as our goal is religion. What is required is “to obtain a scientific knowledge of the nature and powers of our own being.” It is precisely in this “own” that this nature is hiding, while in “scientific knowledge” is all power. The Oath is a brilliant puzzle, but more than anything, it is a signpost.
One of the most potent weapons in this is certainly his scientific logging, which in the first place should have the form of the experimental record. His whole Probation is an experiment, which should indicate whether he is suitable or not, and nothing else. And as much as he does his best to gain scientific knowledge about the nature and powers of his own being, he will be so close to that very being. His suitability to the Order consists in that he touches this being, to feel the form and the concept of “his own” and according to that to determine its shape. Is there anything more powerful than knowing the nature, is not the Conversation possible when the Knowledge passes through the Aspirant?
Yes, our method is science, and our goal is religion. But intuition, that divine whore, both mother and virgin, always changing us in a way just as she wants. And always and constantly in the same way, we choose what has already been accomplished. Because what you want and what you do not want is one and the same thing. That is the dance of Pan. Regardless of the scientific approach in his work, the Aspirant should always have an open relation toward his intuition. This in no way means that he will listen to it.
Today, many Thelemites condemn customs of the old Æon; for instance, one of the favorite sparing positions in Thelema is the issue of marriage, and indeed, more and more people find nonsense to give marital signature and obligation. If somebody wants to be with someone, he will be no matter what, and if not – then tons of signatures and convincing will do no good. The wedding ring reminds on attachment, but it cannot give something if there is nothing. And if we attach to someone, is there a need for reminding? A man does not carry his ID card with him just to know who he is. Thelemites refuse to believe in a prince on a white horse, and they give in to Love under the Will; when, where and with whom they Will.
But what is the function of signing the Probationer Oath, is it not the paper as any other? How different is it from a marriage oath? Even more so, in marriage we have a concrete person who is now and here beside us, while with the A∴A∴ Oath, we give ourselves to the Knowledge and Conversation, something that we have no idea what it means, something that we never know what it is, even through other people who again hear about it from some third party. If we are so daring that we are questioning marriage, will we equally dare to question our A∴A∴ Oath? To question our own thinking about the Knowledge and Conversation? Is the A∴A∴ Oath a consequence of our Grade or our Grade is a consequence of our Oath? How much are we pure to accept that all of this may be the same model of thinking and the same mind mechanism? A girl refuses to believe in a prince on a white horse, why would you then believe in your Holy Guardian Angel? We direct ourselves to achieve Him through a program that is more like a fairy tale than anything else, are we ready to give up when we conclude that all this is just one big empty story? Why should one give an Oath? To whom? Toward what? Can we strive to the Angel freely, openly and unconditionally? Does the fact that we do not have wings prevent us from striving towards heavens?
These are the questions that we need to set before ourselves openly, and put them into scientific consideration in the spirit of Thelema, just like the issues of marriage, job, sex or money. In each occurrence, we see an Angel, and in each Angel we see suspicion; here everything is possible, and nothing is certain.
Could you burn down your Oath? Is that thought disturbing you? Would you see something more than dead matter in that ash? Would a relationship with the Angel be the same? But an Aspirant of the A∴A∴ should both adore that flame and that ash. Both that Oath and that Angel, as well as himself, are a part of that same kind; in this place, everything has infinite value yet nothing is worth, just one thing in front of us and within us is worthy of bringing judgment on all other values. He must be aware that all molecules and atoms and their connections in the universe are part of one same mechanism, and that every Oath is tied to the next one, as each molecule is related to the other by the laws of living nature.
Each Oath is primarily a natural phenomenon or more precisely – a natural occurrence, and giving it cannot be constrained by words, the shape of lips, a scribble on a piece of paper, but by Will. Once proclaimed, is not the Will expression of the whole universe? Who then gives an Oath when that universe is that pen, and that paper where the Oath is written, and those lips that pronounce it, and the one who witnesses it, and the one who swears it? Similarly, as we have mentioned it earlier, the Aspirant’s Oath is the magical link of the highest kind, the Aspirant knows that every act in the universe is only a different form of one decision:
…to prosecute the Great Work: which is, to attain to the knowledge and conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel.
Frater Aureus 273∴
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