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A Sorcerer in the Golden Dawn

This post was written by Anna
on July 6, 2016 | Comments (5)

Readers, please enjoy this guest blog post by Aaron Leitch, author of several books, including Secrets of the Magickal Grimoires, The Angelical Language Volume I and Volume II, and Essential Enochian Grimoire.

Black candle with pentagram

Greetings Aspirants!

I live a double life. Well…let me rephrase that slightly: I live a double occult life. If you add my mundane working existence to the mix, it could be said I live a triple life. But that’s really beside the point. My point is that, as an occultist, I’m burning the ritual candle at both ends.

Not that this is exactly news to some of you. I’ve seen the discussions in some of the forums: “Is Aaron Leitch a sorcerer, or a ceremonial magician?” Cases are made for both possibilities. There is certainly no discounting my deep involvement with the grimoires and Solomonic conjure. I talk quite a bit about the Old Magick, shamanism, the ATRs, and the return of pre-Golden Dawn occult philosophy. One of my greatest teachers was/is Ochani Lele, the famous Santo and author. I have let go of the 19th Century-born psychological model of magick. (Note that says “psychological model of magick,” not “psychology in its entirety.”) And, where it comes to this kind of magick, you won’t see my quoting from Mathers, Crowley, or even Regardie. I call down angels, conjure spirits, gather herbs and dirts and special waters; let’s face it, this is more a kind of witchcraft than it is “ceremonial” magick.

And yet…

I am a member of the HOGD. That’s the Cicero Order—straight down the initiatory line from Israel Regardie himself—and you’ll find me right in its’ Mother Temple. That is technically ground zero for the modern Golden Dawn movement, and the very embodiment of the magickal current that was born in the Victorian era. Mathers, Crowley, Regardie—even the Ciceros themselves (who, like Ochani, are among my greatest teachers)—are the very people you don’t see me quote in my Solomonic writings. Shouldn’t this current represent everything I say I left behind as a practitioner?

Though I’ve seen it debated (when no one knew I was watching) which camp I “really belong in,” I was actually kind of surprised that no one had ever thought to write to me and ask. Until recently, that is, when someone finally sent me a private message that said (and I paraphrase here): “How exactly do you reconcile the Golden Dawn and Solomonic currents? What exactly do you get from the Golden Dawn that helps your practice?”

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the golden question. Given everything I disagree with about modern magickal philosophy, is there something I believe the Golden Dawn got right after all? You bet there is! And I’ve even mentioned it in a previous blog: what the West got right, magickally speaking, was Theurgy. The purification and elevation of the Self to its own innate Godhood. They have the initiatory process down cold, and it works!

The grimiores do not suppose a complete layperson can simply open a book and start commanding spirits. Instead, one is expected to have gained some training and spiritual authority before attempting the magick. In the Key of Solomon, one is instructed to attain the “rank or degree of Exorcist” (which, at the time, was a specific Order of the Church for which you had to be trained and ordained) and several other grimoires refer to the practitioner as “exorcist” or some variation of the term. Therefore (and this is something I’ve written about in depth), they certainly recognized the necessity of some kind of spiritual authority on the part of the practitioner.

Today I am an ordained Gnostic priest, and my Bull of Ordination says I have full rights to perform exorcism. So I now meet the literal requirement of the Key…—though it is more in letter than in spirit, because today “Exorcist” isn’t a stand-alone Order with specialized training. I may have the official “right” to perform exorcism—but that alone doesn’t make me someone the spirits should feel compelled to obey.

No, spiritual authority comes from months and years of study, practice, and initiation. Now, I don’t mean to make this a debate over what, exactly, constitutes an “initiation”—whether it must be done in a full Temple, or if you can self-initiate, etc. My point is, however you view the process itself, you must undertake a process by which you are purified, rectified, and elevated to a higher (and thus stronger) spiritual condition. You must “Know Thyself” before attempting to know the spirits—because, if you don’t, those spirits will take full advantage of you. Every complex, every neurosis, every un-examined habit or assumption you possess is a potential point that can be exploited by the spirits to gain control of the relationship.

Not to mention the vastly important (and all-too-often overlooked) requirement that the spirits should know who you are, and that you should be someone they would respect. Take this example (one of my favorite scenes from the New Testament):

Some Jews who went around driving out evil spirits tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon-possessed. They would say, “In the name of the Jesus whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out.” Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. One day the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know about, but who are you?” Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding. (Acts 19:13-16)

It simply isn’t enough to perform a ritual, say a few words, and expect the spirits to take you seriously. “Jesus we know. Solomon we know. Cyprian we know. But who are you?” Had the exorcists in the above tale had a good answer to that, they may have fared better. When I perform my rituals, convoking the spirits from above or beneath, I make sure to include a statement of exactly who I am. I am Aaron Leitch, Frater Odo Caosg, a 5=6 Adept and Initiating Hierophant of the HOGD, author of…, etc, etc. You know—basically all the things that would make me a self-absorbed douche if I signed all my posts with them. The kinds of things you use to pad out a resume. Such self-aggrandizement is acceptable in a resume, and that resume should be submitted to the spirits you wish to summon. It answers the question “who are you?” before it can even be asked.

Now, before you start your comment, let me make something clear: I am in no way suggesting that you cannot be an effective conjuror unless you join a highfalutin’ esoteric Order, or publish books, or become a spiritual leader (though none of those things would hurt your efforts)! That’s just how I went about it because I’m a big-mouth who insists on being a public figure in an occult (hidden) world. What I’m really driving at is that you must do something to increase your personal spiritual authority. And undertaking some form of initiatory path is the key. The Book of Abramelin provides one path to spiritual authority (complete with your Holy Guardian Angel to back you up). Joining an esoteric order is another. Even undertaking a path of self-initiation (such as outlined in the Ciceros’ Self Initiation Into the Golden Dawn Tradition) is a massive step in the correct direction. Think of it as an introduction to the spirits whose respect you will eventually earn through dedication and work.

I will admit that my understanding of the Old Magick informs much of what I do in the Golden Dawn. For example, I don’t believe we merely work with “godforms” that manifest from the Self—when I sit in Temple and invoke the deity of my Office, I’m talking to a very real deity. When we perform evocations, my wife and I bring food offerings. (That one really shocked some of our fellow Temple members—but they got used to it, and now they even bring such offerings themselves.) We even have an altar set up for Raphael in our Temple—not for any specific working or ritual, but just an altar where Temple members can come and make prayers and offerings whenever they feel the need. Pure idolatry, I tell you!

(For the record, though, I can’t take credit for all of this in my Temple. The Ciceros and a few other members were treating the gods and angels as real and objective beings before I arrived on the scene. Thankfully, that has made this one particular Temple very friendly for experimenting with these concepts.)

I also view our initiations as something more akin to what things were like in ancient Greek mystery schools—that the new candidates are being formally introduced to the gods and spirits we work with, and initiated into their mysteries. None of this supplants the psychological aspects of the ritual drama, or the visualizations, or the talismanic imaging we use for the “godforms,” or any of that great modern Hermetic theurgic stuff! Instead, the Old Magick simply adds another layer to it all, and allows me to connect with forces that are far larger, and far older, than what happens to be in my head.

So do I consider myself a Hermeticist or a conjuror? The answer, probably unsurprisingly, is that I am absolutely both, all the way to the core. Each practice informs the other—though I never attempt to create a “Golden Dawn Conjure” (no matter how awesome that sounds!) or even a “Hoodoo Golden Dawn” (which sounds absolutely terrible!). But the primary and most important manner in which these two currents work together in my life is the spiritual evolution, and eventually authority, I have gained via the Hermetic initiatory path. This authority—this earned knowledge and experience (of both myself and the Western Mysteries)—is brought to bear in my personal work with the spirits of nature. It is how I have gained their respect.

When I find it necessary to exorcise a spirit, I go in knowing exactly who I am and what I have accomplished. If a spirit demands to know who you think you are, will you have an answer, or run from the house naked and bleeding?

Our thanks to Aaron for his guest post! Visit Aaron Leitch’s author page for more information, including articles and his books.

Reader Comments

Written By Laurie Romano
on July 8th, 2016 @ 12:45 pm

I wonder why it is that we have to be either one or another? I’m a mixture of things as well, and wouldn’t have it any other way.

Written By Soror MIMM
on July 12th, 2016 @ 3:04 pm

Excellent article! I particularly enjoyed Aaron’s recent article as well. I personally don’t feel that these two practices are mutually exclusive. Adding another layer of power from the unseen world (rootwork, sorcery, etc.) to an already magical and powerful system (GD) with a dense, and rich tapestry has proven to be an amazing combination in my own personal work. However, I do stress the importance of working these two systems in their exclusivity through to mastery. Only then can the two systems be merged effectively. Almost like a recipe: if you’re a novice at baking, you probably wouldn’t be able to put one together straight from scratch. However, once you’ve baked enough cakes in your life, you could probably start to experiment with ingredients and components to enhance your end-product. The same is true with magical practices, in my opinion. Great read!

Written By cory howard
on August 5th, 2016 @ 10:30 pm

hello, i am a stranger to you and I’m not sure if you will read this or waste your time responding to a the noob i am. Im 32 male and ive been studying esoteric for the last 2 years. at 15 i joined a southern baptist church, felt great like i was doing whats right and that i belonged there. I knocked on doors telling people about christ, i read the bible (kjv)sometimes close to an hour everyday and even spent 40 min a day in prayer. this continued til i started becoming aware of problems with the bile and my religion. I stumbled on contradictions and began developing questions no one in my church could answer. Among the biggest that I remember was why did god create hell knowing he would be putting people there. And how could God cast people to hell for having the wrong religion, or for having no religion, even if they lived a life of virtue. They’re main answer for all things was God works in mysterious ways and i should have more faith.This would always make me double my efforts to become closer with god yet through all I nver felt not even once the holy spirit. I should mention i guess that i was remaned holy, never touching drugs or alcohol and abstinence. I had no craving for those things, i wanted to feel this holy spirit more.Finally one day when I was 20 i was setting in church waiting for it to begin and suddenly i felt this since or dredd. I looked around and saw the same people that had been going there for years and suddenly had a realization that i was wasting my time there, and right then and there i got up left and went home. Once home i prayed and told God that I am no longer putting him first and im gonna do what I think is right. Then suddenly I had a feeling the only type of spiritual feeling i ever experienced. It was a feeling of a thousand pounds of weight being lifted off my shoulders. no longer worried about what God thought of me and the obligations of religion instantly evaporated. this agnostic type of life went on til my late 20’s, still though, i had no desire to drink, do drugs and i stayed a virgin til i was 26 and met the woman of my dreams who Im still with today! anyway Ive got some understanding of some sacred truth and from reading everything pythagoras, plato,hermes,w.w.westcott,manly hall,grs mead,hp blavasnky,eliphias levi,and albert pike. I have a vague understanding of the kabbalah and chaldean doctrines. basically ive come to understand that the world we live in along with the physical universe is an illusion, our bodies a prison, what is real we cant perceive with our limited senses. the path to perceive involves becoming enlightened from within. only then can we have communion with the divine…which is what i desire most. in order to attain enlightenment you have to become a master of your will, to kill the base animal man and let the divine part of man rule..Ive been trying to meditate sometimes for hours trying to find this inlightenment but i cant seem to have sucsess. the only things that bother me is that I have know desire to cast spells or call upon angels or deities. I have no desire to learn ivocations or such because i dont power like that, I just want to know what “is”..through my learning it seems like no matter the system they all end up summoning or casting spells. im just asking if thats why im not succeeding? Im not asking you to tell me the sacred words of the way to vibrate them, I just wanna know if by not uttering the “word” or lesser words or call upon an entity i will not ever succeed?

Written By Pham
on August 9th, 2016 @ 3:17 pm

Great article!! Where can I go to join an golden dawn temple?!

Written By Stac1994
on September 1st, 2016 @ 6:09 pm

Cory Howard – Hey sounds like you got to the end of the religion rope. Modern Christianity is far from perfected. But in the end, one message is still true, and really it’s the most important. Jesus is still The Way, The Truth, and The Life, and no man shall enter into the presence of the Father except by Him.
You can build a tower to the Father, brick by brick, but at the end of the journey there will remain one last gate that shall remain locked. Because there is only One with the key. That would be Jesus.

Coming down into the depths of any works of magic, or mysticism, or works, self denial, meditation, ect, will however, give you a better understanding of all the work that was done for you in Christ.

You can if you wish come down and learn more about these levels and find greater appreciation for the work of Christ and a new love to follow the path. You may also gain far more insight into the world above and below more than ever before.

But take each step with awful dread and reverence. And always remember, top down and God is a Jealous God. We as Christians do not sacrifice or give offerings to Angels, Demons, or Elements!

Lastly Cory Howard, I urge you to completely forget about all of this until you are at least 42 and you have a belly full of life. And more than any of these, that you ensure that you are on good speaking terms with the One who really matters. The one that can open the final gate. Jesus

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