Friday, May 20, 2011

Rebuttal to Lewellyn author, Raven Grimassi's WITCH WAR against the Pagan & Golden Dawn Communities

by David Griffin
 Federation Starship Enterprise Disables Cardassian Attack Ship
Shortly after the initial arrival in America last December of Italian teachers of The Great Rite, Diana and Dianus del Bosco Sacro, our Italian family tradition was approached by Llewelyn author, Raven Grimassi, who pretended to be our friend. Mr. Grimassi asked us to report to him any negative things that we heard others say about him as he was concerned about his reputation with Lewellyn. Grimassi also requested that we not initiate anyone in to our Family tradition who was either his initiate already or was taking certain correspondence courses with him.

We had our doubts about Raven Grimassi from the beginning, since he is neither personally known nor recognized by any of the remaining family traditions that surviving in Italy. Our doubts about Mr. Grimassi were multiplied since certain of these families consider Mr. Grimassi as an impostor, a Neo-Pagan reconstructionist pretending to represent an "Italian Witchcraft" tradition that, as an American by birth instead of an initiate in Italy, he does not fully know or understand.

Despite these misgivings, we nonetheless granted recognition and our family's stamp of legitimacy to Mr. Grimassi's "Stregheria" tradition. We did this in a spirit of brotherhood and mutual support as Mr. Grimassi told us he wanted and would reciprocate. Of course, we honored Mr. Grimassi's request that we do not initiate any of his initiates or certain of his correspondence students. Despite many requests for initiation that we received from Mr. Grimassi's initiates and students, we nonetheless kept our word and turned them away.

We have therefore been particularly dismayed when we caught Raven Grimassi on numerous occasions attacking us behind our backs to other Neo-Pagan groups, including sending his students to attack us on various Yahoo witchcraft fora. This sort of two-faced "friendly to the face and knife in the back" behavior was shocking to my teachers, as such behavior is completely unknown between legitimate family traditions in Italy. In short, Raven Grimassi has been behaving like a double-dealing Cardassian traitor.

Gul Grimassi
This is certainly not the first time that esoteric groups I work with have been attacked by Lewellyn authors. Although I  Gramassi's Witch War is likely not being orchestrated by Lewellyn, it is extremely odd that so many of the defamation attacks I have experienced over the decades have come from Lewellyn authors, their agents, and/or students. This has happenned over and over in situations where, in my opinion, Lewellyn was trying to promote watered down versions of deep occult truths - as is presently the case with Raven Grimassi's "Stregheria."

What Raven Grimassi does not understand, is that in attacking our Italian family tradition with his misguided flame war, Raven Grimassi is attacking the the reputation of the entire  Pagan and Golden Dawn communities.

Raven Grimassi wrote on Yahoo Groups this week:
"I have had several emails and phone conversations with the people in question [Diana and Dianus del Bosco Sacro]. In the early stages of communication they claimed to be an Italian witchcraft tradition of great antiquity, which they stated continued in the Lake Nemi region of Italy. They further claimed that the priestess in their company comes from a lineage of 38 generations of priestesses at Nemi (the former sacred site of the temple of Diana)
The couple from Italy are staying with their sponsor David Griffin, a name associated with the Golden Dawn controversy. ... Following their debut at the Pantheacon convention, it seems like things turned out a bit differently than he envisioned. Attendance at their talks was low, and the majority of the reviews were not complimentary.
It is noteworthy that after Pantheacon, and the resulting questions and objections raised, David and his Italian guests are no longer referring to themselves as "Stregans" or "Italian Witches". They have changed the text on their website, removing all references to Stregheria, Italian Witchcraft, and so forth. They are now calling their tradition "the ancient Shamanic tradition of the Great Mother in Italy". The use of "Stregheria" on their site has now been replaced with Egyptian Alchemy. 
I have more information and am happy to answer any questions related to this topic." -Raven Grimassi
The above message is clearly a politically motivated, Witch War-like defamation attack on the reputation our Italian Pagan tradition by Lewellyn author, Grimassi. Grimassi's remarks are highly inflammatory, deliberately misrepresentative, and comprise a below the belt attempt at character assassination.

I am not about to allow such misrepresentation to stand and am therefore publishing this present rebuttal. I am also writing a formal protest protesting to Lewellyn, as Grimassi's Witch War reflects very badly on Lewellyn's image when one of their Neo-Pagan authors tries to start a Witch War like this in both the Pagan and Golden Dawn communities.

In rebuttal, it is true that in recent months, we have removed all reference to "Stregheria" and to "Italian Witchcraft" from the website of The Great Rite. We did this for several reasons, none of which are those misrepresented by Grimassi in his above attack.

First and foremost, we removed these terms because do not want any American "Stregheria" or "Italian Witchcraft" groups to feel threatened by our presence in America. We also do not wish to be confused with any these Neo-Pagan Stregheria groups. This is not ths first time that we have been attacked by initiates of American Stregheria groups on the internet, including Mr. Grimassi's. We hoped that no longer using terms that might cause confusion betweeon our groups might end the internet attacks once and for all.

It is clear from Mr. Grimassi's post above, as well as discussion that followed it on Yahoo, that the Witch War defamation attacks on our traditions are continuing nonetheless.

There are other important reasons why we have distanced ourselves from the terms "Stregheria" and "Italian Witchcraft" as well. Most importantly, both of these two terms do not accurately enough describe our tradition. The word "Strega", is actually an extremely derogatory term that was given to our tradition by our greatest historical enemy, the Roman Catholic Inquisition. This term was used in order to cast aspersion on the ancient Pre-Pagan shamanic tradition of the Great Mother Goddess, Diana, which in Italian is correctly named l'Arte Eccelsa (The Sublime Art) - and not the pejorative "Stregheria." L'Arte Eccelsa was preserved in Pagan times primarily in the mysteries of Dionysos, Diana, and Janus.

Unlike Grimassi's Stregheria, L'Arte Eccelsa is not a Neo-Pagan tradition. L'Arte Eccelsa is instead a SHAMANIC tradition that more colsely resembles other shamanic traditions than it does any Neo-Pagan witchcraft tradition, including Mr. Grimassi's Stregheria. Since l'Arte Eccelsa is a Shamanic tradition and not a Neo-Pagan tradition, there is no need for Raven Grimassi to feel threatened by l'Arte Eccelsa. He should just leave us alone.

Another reason why we have distanced l'Arte Eccelsa from "Stregheria" and "Italian Witchcraft" Neo-Pagan groups is that we do not wish our teachings to be confused with thiers. What we teach is vastly different. As ancient guardians of of the Sacred Forest of Nemi, where once stood the Temple of Diana, the Del Bosco Sacro family tradition has always been guardians of the deeper mysteries of the Great Rite. The higher mysteries of The Great Rite were entrusted to our family to protect the Temple of Diana at Nemi.
The Cardassian Plot Unmasked
Tellingly, Raven Grimassi revealed the true reason for his Witch War against our Itallian Shamanic family tradition when an official representative of Grimassi's Stregheria tradition wrote on Yahoo groups on 1/28/11:
"By way of introduction, I am a long-time initiate and sacerdotessa of Raven Grimassi's family tradition of stregheria … We in our tradition are concerned about these Italian streghe who recently arrived in the U.S … [and] their sponsor/handler/translator here in the US [David Griffin, who ] is also a high mucky-muck in the Golden Dawn.
We're really not that concerned about whether they represent a legitimate tradition of stregheria, because there are so many different traditions in Italy, it is quite possible that they really are who they say they are. But, we are concerned that they are publicly teaching practices that would never be made available to anyone outside a higher level of advancement in most traditions of stregheria."
Thus, the true reason for Raven Grimassi's Witch War against another Pagan tradition becomes apparent. The problem is that Grimassi's Neo-Pagan "Stregheria" group does not possess any sexual mysteries of The Great Rite of substance. What we teach regarding the mysteries of The Great Rite already in our beginners' workshops, goes far beyond anything that Raven Grimassi has ever encountered before.

Contrary to Mr. Gramassi's misrepresentation, our famil does require traditional oaths as well as modern contracts of secrecy regarding everything concerning The Great Rite. It is not our fault that Raven Gramassi's Stregheria has next to nothing to offer about the mysteries of The Great Rite. We even initially offered to share the higher mysteries of The Great Rite with Gramassi's Stre3gheria, which we remain willing to do with all Neo-Pagan traditions, provided that they maintain secrecy and behave in a fraternal and trustworthy manner towards us.

Raven Grimassi's ignorance about The Great Rite should not surprise anyone, especially considering that - until we recently published it on our website - Mr. Grimassi did not even know that the true name of the surviving Pagan tradition in Italy is neither "Stregheria" or even "Italian Witchraft," but rather l'Arte Eccelsa (The Sublime Art). Mr. Grimassi likewise had still doesn't understand that l'Arte Eccelsa is a Shamanic rather than a Neo-Pagan tradition like Grimassi's "Stregheria."

This is the true reason for the petty attacks on our tradition by Grimassi and his "Stregheria" group. They are trying desperately to hide their ignorance - and failing miserably.

Regarding Mr. Grimassi's misrepresentations about Pantheacon, it should be remembered that Grimassi was not even there - and that he has never met either me nor Diana nor Dianus del Bosco Sacro in person. In contrast to Lewwllyn suthor Grimassi's libelous misrepresentations, here are what two testimonials from respected magical and Pagan bloggers who were actually WERE there at Pantheacon:

Great Rite Initiates , Annie & Christopher Bradford
Respected blogger noted ceremonial magician, Christopher Bradford, wrote on his Heaven's Within Earth blog:
"[Initiation in the Great Rite] was the highlight of Pantheacon and a major landmark in my magical career. An absolutely incredible experience! My wife and I took Initiation into the Great Rite on Sunday, and both the teachings and the current are rich and powerful. I'm somewhat at a loss to communicate all my feelings about it. It opened doors for me on a number of levels." - Christopher Bradford
Celebrated Ritual Magician, Witch & Pagan Author
Frater Barrabbas
Respected Pagan author and blogger, Frater Barrabas, wrote: on his Talking About Ritual Magick blog
"Having personally met and talked and communed with Diana and Dianus, there was no question of their knowledge and abilities. They represent an authentic traditional teaching, which they were not shy to demonstrate on the following day. For a number of reasons, mostly due to fact that Diana was only recently bed ridden, the ritual event was not performed the following day. Instead, Dianus and Diana performed individual demonstrations of their techniques for a smaller and more intimate group. There were also some initiations performed, but everything was done completely on a voluntary basis, representing a very high degree of personal and spiritual integrity. I am unable to say more about this, of course, but what I saw and experienced in their company did more to eliminate any further doubts about their claims or the presentation of their knowledge. I can safely say that I am completely satisfied with what Lupercus and Aegeria are doing within the various pagan communities. All the various claims of nefarious manipulations, illegitimacy or a lack of ethical guidelines whispered by anonymous individuals can be seen for what it is, petty jealousy and spiteful judgements based on ignorance." -Frater Barrabbas
Raven Grimassi should recall that Witch War harms the entire Pagan community and thus is extremely frowned upon by everyone. If Grimassi continues to attack other Pagan traditions like this, he will eventually find himself shunned by the entire community. Lewellyn should likewise also consider the folly of permitting one of their authors to engage in behavior that so grievously harms the Pagan community or Lewellyn's reputation may suffer seriously as well.

Before attacking another Italian Pagan tradition, Raven Grimassi should recall that although he is Italo-American, he is NOT Italian. In fact, Raven Grimassi does not even speak the language. How then can he possibly expect to fully grasp the subtleties of the tradition he pretends to represent? The time has come for Raven Grimassi to abandon his petty Witch War, and to stop making a fool of himself - not only in the eyes of the true remaining family traditions in Italy - but even in the eyes of the Pagan and Golden Dawn communities as well. 
Who the hell invited the Cardassians, anyway?
Let them take their dirty little flamewar somewhere else!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Science Fiction or Spiritual Federation?

Morgan Drake Eckstein recently wrote on his Gleamings from the Golden Dawn blog:
"As most of my readers know, David Griffin of the HOGD/AO has recently associated himself with Captain James T. Kirk, and his friend, Tomas (SR) with Spock. The association of the Federation with Golden Dawn puzzles me a little because there are moments that I am not sure if it is just his Order that he is connecting it with, or if the association refers to all honest magical branches of the tradition. This association has led to some strange mental moments on my end---now I cannot help but think about Griffin whenever I run across a picture of William Shatner's version of Captain Kirk. Sometimes it leads to me laughing out loud at a picture because it now has a completely new subcontext to me."
As a Trekkie since my youth, the recent Star Trek sub-context on this Golden Dawn blog has been a source of both great enjoyment and amusement for me. 

Morgan Eckstein has raised a very serious and most fascinating question above, however, for which he deserves kudos:

If entire worlds can celebrate their differences, maintain their independence and autonomy, yet forge a brotherhood transcending both culture and race, what might a similar spiritual alliance look like?

I have found many of the ideas arising from the Star Trek sub-context brought forth by Morgan Eckstein and by Neognostica on their respective blogs extremely thought provoking.

Both Morgan and Neo, each in his own way, has suggested, for example, that my "space cowboy," "arm photon torpedos and ask questions later" style of leadership may be somewhat of an anachronism in our community today.

Please bear in mind that only the fewest in the HOGD/AO choose to publicly associate their images with our order on the internet. The vast majority of our Initiates and Adepts actually prefer to remain hidden safely in obscurity, so I can't give them here the recognition that they rightly deserve.

Perhaps Morgan and Neo are correct, and I am already somewhat of a walking anachronism. Nonetheless, more than anything else, I am deeply honored by the fine crew of Initiates and Adepts with whom it remains my great privilege to serve our esoteric community.
"Dammit Jim, I'm a lawyer, not a doctor!"
Finally, in moments like these, when I feel the mounting pressure of years and perhaps as though this horse has seen its finest races already, I find comfort and solace in all of the fine, hard working, and upcoming Golden Dawn Initiates and Adepts, whose generation will carry on our mission once this old horse has gone to pasture.

Golden Dawn: A Next Generation?

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Critical Book Review of Nick Farrell's "Mathers Last Secret" by GH Frater Sincerus Renatus

by guest blogger GH Frater  Sincerus Renatus
(Introduced, abridged and expanded by David Griffin)
GH Frater "Spock" Renatus
The following book review is a critical, scholarly analysis of Nick Farrell’s commentaries found in his new book, Mathers Last Secret, which Mr. Farrell has appended to the Rituals and some other papers belonging to the Rosicrucian Order of Alpha et Omega (A∴O∴), founded and headed by Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers.

Nick Farrell today leads a Golden Dawn style order of his own creation, called the Magical Order of Aurora Aureae. As a Golden Dawn leader, Mr. Farrell has been criticized from certain quarters about the logical inconsistency (if not outright hypocrisy) of leading a Golden Dawn order, yet publishing secret Golden Dawn documents in violation of traditional Golden Dawn oaths.

Nick Farrell
Such criticism of Mr. Farrell has not been limited to voices from the Golden Dawn community either. Renowned ritual magician, Pagan author, and traditional witch, Frater Barabbas Tireseus, has made clear in an excellent article on his Talking About Ritual Magick blog, that Mr. Farrell's relationship to the Golden Dawn is that of a historical reconstructionist, attempting to reconstruct what Mr. Farrell essentially believes to be a dead order. Frater Barrabbas concludes that, since Mr. Farrell does not believe in certain basic tenets of the Golden Dawn (Secret Chiefs, traditional vows of secrecy with attendant respect for unpublished documents, etc.) Mr. Farrell's reconstruction attempt can amount to little more than a headless Frankenstein's monster; a reanimated, yet incomplete corpse, which is something very different than the numerous, highly successful reconstructions of ancient Pagan traditions reanimated in today's Neo-Pagan community.

Let us examine Mr. Farrell’s attempted distinction between the Golden Dawn as a “Magical Order” vs. as a “Masonic Order”. Farrell argues that the original (pre-schism) Golden Dawn worked under a “Masonic phase”, lacking any true magical current. According to Farrell, this "current" manifested only following the schism, first when the Stella Matutina was created by R.W. Felkin in 1903 and then later with the creation of the Fraternity of the Inner Light in the 1920’s by Dion Fortune.

It should be noted that Mr. Farrell's newly invented distinction between "masonic" vs. "magical" Golden Dawn orders, amounts to trying to dismiss as "merely masonic" all orders in today's Golden Dawn community, except those that descend from Felkin's Stella Matutina or its offshoots, like the OTR. One could, however, just as well argue that, since the Stella Matutina was born of schism, and since Felkin never established contact with Mathers' Secret Chiefs, that it was the Stella Matutina that had no magical current. I state this only to point out the self-serving nature, logical fallacy, and political sniping underlying Mr. Farrell's newly invented distinction.

The A∴O∴, Farrell argues, continued with Farrell's imaginary “masonic phase” and only later, following the death of Mathers, became truly “magical”. This Mr. Farrell attempts to justify by arguing that neither W.W. Westcott (the co-founder of the G∴D∴) nor Mathers were properly initiated into the Golden Dawn; to fully understand the system one must be initiated through its Grades properly and in full ritual. But contrary to Mathers, Farrell argues, Mathers wife Moina was initiated, as well as John William Brodie-Innes, who jointly took over the helm of the A∴O∴ and thus made the “magical” for the first time in its history according to Farrell's definition. As Felkin had been initiated into the Golden Dawn in full form, his organization, the S.M., immediately became “magical” according to Mr. Farrell's untraditional yet admittedly colorful and fanciful definition.

According to Farrell, "Magical" orders are created only through the continuous use of God-Forms, not merely through the performance of ritual. Take away the God-Forms from a rite and it becomes “Freemasonic”; an empty shell or vessel. This is clearly an oversimplification, which underscores that Mr. Farrell's understanding of magical egregores derives from an incomplete understanding of the Golden Dawn. There exist numerous other ways that magical egregores are created and sustained, that remain preserved as oath bound information in the Alpha et Omega, beyond the mere visualization of God Forms in ritual. As an outsider and an uninitiate, however, Mr. Farrell of course remains ignorant of these advanced methods. Mr. Farrell has therefore been forced to rely exclusively on the beginner's technique of using of God Forms in Farrell's attempt to create an egregore for his Magical Order of Aurora Aureae.

Mr. Farrell's argument that Mathers and Westcott were not initiates of the Golden Dawn, does not hold water when it comes to creating a magical egregore or current. It was Mathers himself who brought Mr. Farrell's precious God-Forms into the Golden Dawn, already in 1892, which Farrell also acknowledges. Thus it is all the more peculiar that Farrell does not consider neither the original G∴D∴nor the A∴O∴ as “magical” orders, which they truly were, even according to Mr. Farrtell's fanciful "God Form" standard.

Moreover, Mr. Farrell in reality has no historical knowledge of what Hermetic and Rosicrucian initiations Mathers or Westcott actually received, within or without the Golden Dawn. Farrell's hypothesis amounts therefore to mere speculation.

The Golden Dawn is manifestation of the Hermetic and Rosicrucian traditions and thus, at least according to traditional rather than fanciful definitions, the Golden Dawn's current is clearly a magical one. Magical use of ritual certainly did not originate with the Golden Dawn. Both Mathers and Westcott were Adepts of the Hermetic and Rosicrucian traditions long before the creation of the Golden Dawn in 1888, and participated in other rites after that as well. They would not have received the mission and mandate to create the Golden Dawn without this historical reality. Both Mathers and Westcott were members of Kenneth Mackenzie’s group “The Society of Eight” or Fratres Lucis. The Cypher Mss. most likely derived from this society. We do not know if these rituals (as contained in the Cypher Mss.) or early versions of them were not practiced before 1888 and if Westcott and Mathers had not experienced them before the creation of the Golden Dawn. In this context, it is highly significant that the Isis-Urania temple founded by Wescott, Mathers, and Woodman in 1888 was numbered "3", temple number 1 being that of MacKenzie in "The Society of Eight" and number 2 being Hermanoubis Temple of the same, in Bristol under F.G. Irwin.

Thus we see just how conjectural Mr. Farrell's hypothesis actually is regarding the initiations of Mathers and Wescott. It is, in fact, Nick Farrell's propensity to present his own highly speculative opinions as though they were established historical facts, which is the fatal flaw in the scholarship underlying  Mathers Last Secret.

This is a great tragedy, as the book might otherwise have been extremely valuable. As it stands, however, the book has been reduced to just one more minor variant in a seemingly endless series of rehash Golden Dawn compendia. Mr. Farrell's failure to properly identify his personal theories for what they are, but instead misleadingly giving them a false veneer of established historical fact, has rendered historically worthless what otherwise might have been a valuable contribution to the published Golden Dawn literature.

Let us examine Mr. Farell's argument from yet another point of view. Let us assume that Mathers and Wescott indeed were not regular initiates of the Golden Dawn. Does this mean that the Golden Dawn itself was not a magical order, as Farrell argues? I certainly do not believe so, and this would clearly not be the case according to traditional Golden Dawn standards either. In fact, Mr. Farrell's entire hypothesis stands or falls on his personal and fanciful definition of what a "magical" order is. I could as well invent my own equally fanciful and untraditional definition, then use it to prove that Disneyland is a "magical order"!

In any event, Mathers was the creator of the particular form of Golden Dawn rituals that we know of today, faithfully using the Cypher Mss. provided by MacKenzie through Westcott as reference. I consider there exists a magical relationship between the “creator” and the “created” also at a mundane level. Thus, I consider Mathers intuitively understood Golden Dawn ritual as no one else in his lifetime, due of this rapport. Mr. Farrell, like Pat Zalewksi and others  in Farrell's "Felkin/Stella Matutina camp" within the Golden Dawn community, believes that Mathers was guided by some unconscious genius (greater than himself) when he wrote up the rituals and materials, which, according the this camp, “explains” why Mathers later “couldn’t” understand them.

This makes no sense, however. Why should Mathers not be able access this genius consciously, even if this odd notion were actually the case? Why could Mathers not have been governed equally intuitively by this spirit of genius during performance of these same rituals, thus gaining deeper understanding as the practical work progressed? Add to this, 30 years regularly performing and attending these rituals - and you find solid ground for understanding the underlying magical mechanics of the rituals themselves.

Farrell's argument that the Stella Matutina was the first "magical" Golden Dawn order is, in my opinion, but politically motivated poppycock. Golden Dawn style God-Form magic was practiced regularly in the Golden Dawn from 1892 and onwards, and later in both the A∴O∴ and the Stella Matutina. This clearly contributes to the magical power of the rituals, but it is certainly not the only factor. There are other elements embedded in the rituals as well, alchemical processes and sacred geometry, for example, that although presented only symbolically, nonetheless have a powerful, unconscious effect on the candidate. Of course Mr. Farrell and Mr. Zalewski, like all others in the "Felkin/Stella Matutina camp" in today's Golden Dawn community, have no understanding of the magical dynamics of how these powerful elements operate in A∴O∴ ritual, as this information until today remains unprofaned, oath bound information of the A∴O∴. 

Thus, the second fatal flaw in the book, Mathers Last Secret, becomes apparent. Mr. Farrell is publishing and commenting on proprietary rituals and other A∴O∴ material, which as an outsider and an uninitiate, Mr. Farrell is not in a position to properly comment upon in any informed sense - nor even to fully understand - because Mr. Farrell is not privy to oath bound information available only to initiates of the A∴O∴

One may indeed, however, argue that there exists different forms of God-Form magic, and that one method may be considered by some as more effective than another. Mr. Farrell glorifies the practices derived from Dion Fortune’s Fraternity of the Inner Light, that Farrell learned from Dolores Ashcroft-Nowicki's the Servants of the Light (S.O.L.).

I have personally been fortunate enough to know a high initiate and personal friend of Dolores Ashcroft-Nowicki who taught me her techniques of creating an “Inner Temple”. Thus I am well aware what Mr. Farrell means. I have, moreover, also studied Ashcroft-Nowicki’s book The Shining Paths, which teaches her peculiar astral working she calls as “Path-Working”. I personally like Fortune’s approach to astral work, but still this is not an actual part of the Golden Dawn Tradition; it’s a part of the Dion Fortune tradition, not the Golden Dawn. Although it may be used splendidly by the latter, it still cannot be used as a measuring stick for judging the efficiency of Golden Dawn “magical” ritual.

Note: I respectfully disagree with GH Frater SR regarding the spiritual value of the sort of "Pathworking" contained in Dolores Ashcroft-Novicki's book, The Sining Paths. These sorts of "guided fantasy recipes", in my opinion, are spiritually worthless. They are completely devoid of the spontaneous and rich visionary experience derived from the Golden Dawn's "Skrying in the Spirit Vision." Even such visions must be carefully tested by traditional, Golden Dawn means, since the "lower astral" remains the realm of illusion, as countless, worthless, New Age, "channelled" books bear witness to.

For me, it is the height of folly, when it comes to a Hermetic and Rosicrucian tradition like the Golden Dawn, if one takes the sort of ready made "recipes" for visionary experience contained in The Shining Paths, and tries to apply them to the Golden Dawn. It is particularly absurd to call such ready made recipes for visionary experience "Self-Initiation." I guess one can create whatever fanciful definitions of "initiation" that one likes, but clearly New Age style "pathworking recipes" have nothing at all to do with traditional Golden Dawn initiation.

Examining Pat Zalewski’s ritual commentaries, Zalewski also places a great emphasis on God-Form magic, but not at all of the Dion Fortune variety. One does not visualize a lofty space wherein the Hall of Maat and its attending God-Forms are supposed to be created. What Mr. Zalewski teaches is a more energetic approach creating astral shells in the
physical space which brings the Hall of Maat down to the physical.

Mr. Farrell, on the other hand, holds that the S.M. developed and perfected a “magical” approach to Golden Dawn ritual. But we must keep in mind that Farrell doesn’t come to this conclusion based purely on study of S.M. ritual papers, as he does with the A∴O∴. He bases his opinion of the S.M. from experience as a lower degree initiate of the Order of the Table Round (O.T.R.), a side order of the New Zeeland version of the Stella Matutina (Whare Ra), in the late 1980’s.

Mr. Farrell, as an uninitiate, is in no position to likewise properly evaluate the A∴O∴, solely based on what he may have read from incomplete published and archival sources. As an uninitiate, without access to the oath bound information available only to A∴O∴ initiates, Mr. Farrell's uninformed and apparently politically motivated judgements should be taken not with pinches, but with buckets of salt!

I have no personal experience of the Whare Ra so I can only judge its magical ritual efficiency from reading its published rituals and S.M. documents available in A∴O∴ archives, as does Mr. Farrell attempt vis-à-vis the Alpha et Omega. And honestly, how could anyone have dreamt that the Whare Ra practiced that form of advanced magic as described by Mr. Zalewski, merely from reading the original S.M. rituals? Not me anyway. So I ask, how can Mr. Farrell form his severe judgment of the “magical” ritual efficacy of the A∴O∴ based solely upon documents he copied from a museum?

Besides, we do not know that the Whare Ra actually practiced what Mr. Zalewski has tried to make us believe all these years. Other sources inform us that whatever Zalewski has described in his ritual commentaries is only representative of the O.T.R., mixed up with personal creations of Mr. Zalewski himself.

Sadly, given Pat Zalewski's long and well documented history of misattributing his personal inventions to others, including to Whare Ra and to MacGregor Mathers, it is in my opinion that Pat Zalewksi likely made these things up out of whole cloth himself. I am not nearly as generous towards the claims of Pat Zalewski as is GH Frater SR, because over the decades I have personally witnessed Mr. Zalewski, time after time in his published writings, misattribute the source of the things he writes about. 

Pat Zalewksi's books, including his Ritual Commentaries, are nonetheless extremely valuable contributions to the published Golden Dawn literature. This does not mean, however, that Mr. Zalewski should at all be trusted when it comes to his attribution of the sources of his ideas. On the contrary, readers should best assume that Mr. Zalewksi is making everything up himself, except where  his attributions to other sources can be concretely verified in primary source documents.

Mr. Zalewski reports that Whare Ra used an entirely different and dull set of God-Forms in the Elemental Grades, compared to the ones that Zalewski has suggested as being derived from Moina Mathers and the A∴O∴. So, rather than saying that Mr. Farrell bases his experience on the actual Whare Ra, he actually bases his experience from the Order of the Table Round, which, I suspect, in turn relies heavily on the developments made by Jack Taylor, who was its Chief during the early 1980’s.

I suspect that the actual “magical” ritual practice did not differ substantially between the Stella Matutina and the A∴O∴, at least not during the life times of Felkin and Mathers. Mr. Farrell, in fact, has not provided even one single shred of evidence to back up his odd claim that the A∴O∴ ever discontinued the regular use of God-Forms in ritual. Once again, Nick Farrell's personal conjecture is unveiled masquerading as historical fact. I can find no rational explanation for this, other than thinly-veiled Golden Dawn politicking - an attempt to disparage Golden Dawn orders that descend from S.L. MacGregor Mathers Alpha et Omega instead of from the published material deriving from the Stella Matutina or its OTR offshoot. 

It is sad to witness, based on the evidence presented in this review of Nick Farrell's Mathers Last Secret, how the decades old Golden Dawn internet flame war has now spread to politically motivated, editorial sniping in yellow-journalistic, Golden Dawn book publishing.

I wonder - Does anyone even take this book seriously!?!