In my 25 years experience in the world of Western occultism, in the esoteric Orders I have enjoyed membership of, in the many books I have read, have I rarely found any direct and clear reference to the exact underlying principles of what has become known as the Great Work. At first sight this might seem a rash statement, because there are many, many references to the Great Work of Western Occult Tradition in both rare and popular books. But the truth is that while the term itself is frequently used, nevertheless exact details of just what this Great Work is, how, when and where it is achieved specifically are nearly always lacking. Ask the average occultist, an individual, say, who has read upwards of 20 or 30 books on mainstream occultism and who has had experience of study in at least one Hermetic Order ... 'what is the Great Work?' ... and you will get a great variety of answers - few of which are specific or have anything to do with the classical facts of the subject.
It is not unusual, for example, to obtain the answer ... 'it is different for each school - or individual'. This, I understand, is really the staple reply given by those who are not really familiar with the subject. Those who want to believe they are involved in the Great Work but have little idea of just what that is. So they invent an idea, or adopt someone else's invented idea.
Unfortunately, in many areas of esoteric interest, the greater part of its body of adherents have lost sight of the fact that the Hermetic discipline is an exact science, no matter what some might like to believe for convenience sake. In place of careful study and research, in place of truth, we find a hotch-potch of make believe, superstition, hearsay, assumption and not infrequently ... outright lies. It is understandable that there are those who will protest and demand that magic has never been in so good a condition since the dawn of Christianity than it is today. That Hermetic science is undergoing a renaissance through which we are seeing a revolution in thought in that area. I do not disagree with the latter statement, but to fool ourselves into thinking that the ancient Royal Arte is in better condition than it has been for the last 2000 years is certainly not the case. Those who have the fortune of being party to a true deep understanding and experience in Hermetics will agree that the average student of this Arte today, many of whom believe themselves to be quite Adept in their learning, have but a very little true knowledge and even less productive ability in their chosen vocation. The arena of popular occultism has managed, thuswise, to so successfully degrade the value and vision of the Hermetic Tradition that the true extent of knowledge and attainment has been for a long time almost completely obscured from the student who does not possess enough innate vision to see the truth of the matter themselves.
From this unfortunate situation has arisen the mistaken idea that the Great Work, amongst other things, is whatever one decides to accept it as.
The fact is that the statement itself begins with the word 'The' Great Work. By this we must understand not whatever we desire to invent as the meaning of this declaration but instead accept, if we desire to be productive, that it is a very definite Work. A very definite process. It is my intention in this little paper to try to throw some light on the subject of just what the Magnum Opus really is. It is understood that in doing so there will be those who do not agree with my definition. Be that as it may I can only reply that, in the least, I desire to present an understanding of the fact that this Work is not whatever anyone might desire it to be, but instead, under certain conditions, a very definitie subject which can be calculated and measured. A very definite something which the Sages of ancient history had a very specific understanding of, and intentions concerning.
For those who have the skill it is a demonstratable fact that Nature, both inner and outer, is governed by order, and by constant laws. For man it is usual, when he cannot discern or discover the natural laws governing a system, to say that these laws do not exist, or that the system exists in some form of chaos. The learned occultist understands that there is one law which governs everything in creation without exception. This law he calls, for want of some more palatable modern term, the Will of God. Nothing, the educated occultist demands, escapes direction by this Supreme Will. There are no accidents, there is no complete chaos - in creation. All of the Hermetic Mage's calculations, contemplations and considerations concerning the nature of reality and its possibilities begin with this understanding. Accepting this rule, simple as its seems, along with all its implications, is in fact a huge responsibility for the committed Mage. Seeing every action and reaction in the created universe as being under the direct guidance of this Supreme Will, and knowing how it can be, is a powerful Understanding which carries in it the ability to catapult the student of occult things into new dimensions of knowing.
So what is the nature of this Supreme Will? If we are to Understand the implications of this divine law we must begin with an intellectual concept of its dynamic. The first place to begin, then, would be with the writings of those who have discussed the subject previously. Unfortunately for most students of the occult this is not an easily opened door. The only writers who have seriously considered this subject at all are the most advanced of the Sages of our tradition, and they, largely, who wrote more than 300 years ago. Again, they often did not reveal what they understood in open language, concealing their revelations in complex cypher or speech difficult to penetrate with the modern mind cultured by modern education. Nevertheless an understanding, a degree of understanding at any rate, can be gleaned from their works.
In Its place of origin, God the Supreme, That which exists outside of conflict or description, knows Itself in Its fullest actuality, not. It is potency only and a potency more simple and more powerful than the human mind can conceive. It is, therefore, the Will of this potency to know Itself in actuality and in Its fullest diversity. It desires to understand and experience everything It was, is and will be. This desire, the primal desire from which all desires originate, is the motivation behind every desire. As humans our desires are, therefore, indirect attempts at gaining self knowledge and varied experience, after the model of our Creator.
The greater creation, then, is the result of Supreme desire. Thuswise all lesser creations are results of desire also. As creators we are therefore, as it is written, made in the image of the Supreme Potency. From these simple facts we understand the motive behind the creation of the universe and the life in it. To put it simply the universe is the vehicle through which the Supreme Potency gains full knowledge and experience of Its every ability, and the life forms in that universe are the means of carrying out and witnessing, experiencing, of the diversity which is contained within the original Potency. To understand God, therefore, in its completeness, would involve an act whereby one could understand and experience everything that ever was, is, or will be in creation. This is why the Qabalist demands that it is impossible for man to know God, the Supreme Potency. God's diversity is infinite (to our reckoning) and man's ability to conceive is, of course, finite.
Because, as we have said already, there is one motive for the creation of the universe based on one desire, Willed by One Intelligence, it is not to easy to see that every object and subject which has developed out of that first act, the Will to Know, is governed by law as well. There are no accidents. There is no complete chaos in which no law reigns. There are, instead, systems in which the laws that they are governed by are so complex, or so abstract, or which work by such strange paths, that we have not yet, as humanity, developed the ability of recognize their inherent order.
At this point it might be worth while explaining, to those who abhor the idea of predestination, and feel that that which we present here falls into such a clearly understood category, that the matter is not that simple. We must, if we are to accept that creation is governed by One Supreme unconceivable Rule, also accept that the laws which govern the nature of our reality are also just as inconceivable. This includes the ideal of destiny, fate, predestination, free-will and suchlike. That the motive, process and goal of creation and therefore all the creatures it contains are governed by a definite Rule the Hermetic Mage would not deny. But that this would imply that we do not own a degree of free-will is not the fact. For those who would insist that man has complete free-will to do as he wishes we would say that he should try to walk through a concrete wall, or try flying by flapping his arms. We do not, it is easily demonstrated, have complete free-will. What we may do is limited by many Natural laws, the laws of physics being only the most readily demonstratable example. So it is hardly deniable that we are limited, that our ability to choose extends, at any one time, only as far as a finite number of options. We cannot choose from infinite examples, situations, or objects at any one choosing event.
The Mage understands by means of this fact that predestination does exist in an abstract form but that the concrete path by which any necessary goal is obtained has a finite, although possibly great number of, variation. We must include in this understanding the idea that any situation or object may provide a vast number of opportunities to a great number of creatures, but that at any one time any object or situation has only a very limited number of possibilities for any one creature. In this way Nature provides the illusion of complete, or near complete, free-will in humanity. Creating also, as it does, the illusion of personal power originating with the self.
In the previous chapter we can understand how the Qabala of Hermetic Science views Natural Law and the extent of its government. One of the fascinations for the Alchemist and Magician alike, in past ages, was the discovery of how the Primal Rule expressed itself in the various departments of Nature. These hearty explorers would physically and psychically investigate objects and subjects, tracing chains of ideas or dynamics back from symptoms to causes, and vice-versa, in order to gain greater understanding of how the One Law became the many Laws which govern the various objects and subjects in our reality.
They were very, very, successful in their investigations. They learned that Natural laws developed along definite paths which produced various calculable classes of law, and thus phenomena.
Under the weight of the knowledge they obtained about the secret classes and functions of Nature the ancient Sages gathered what they had learned together into ordered bodies of knowledge, which we might call arcane colleges. As their understanding of Natural Law grew these early occultists understood that there was a purpose to creation. From a detailed understanding of the nature of this purpose the most conscientious of these Sages developed an agreement that it was the only honourable thing they could do to align their activities with the Primal Purpose. This great understanding required them to abandon the illusion of free-will and to sacrifice their personal desires in preference for those of the Supreme Will.
From this fact comes the axiom: In order to gain control, you must give up control.
From their investigations along the lines of this new philosophy the Magi learned that each human individual is itself a centre of expression for some aspect of the One Desire. That in order to align oneself with that Desire one must discover what particular portion of the infinite activities of the Supreme Will one has been apportioned in this incarnation. This has been called 'Discovering ones True Will' by some modern initiates and 'Discovering ones True Mission in Life' in common language.
So a regime of instruction was created, based on their knowledge of Natural Law, which would guide the student of the Mysteries to a point where that 'True Will' could be clearly understood. This training involves introducing the aspirant to the fundamentals of esoteric philosophy. Tuition is given in two parts. One involves the intellectual learning of the laws underlying our present reality. The other takes the student through a series of practical exercises which are designed to demonstrate the reality of the whole philosophy. These practical exercises also provide the student with, in embryonic form, certain 'tools' which he can use later to put what he has learned into practice and thereby grasp knowledge of his life's mission. This entire process, in no matter what actual form it takes, is called 'The Lesser Work' or Opus Minore, by Hermetic Mages.
A student who succeeds in the Minor Work can be said to be one who has not only grasped the basics but, more importantly, has accepted their truth and developed a degree of understanding as to how he should now go about dealing with his life if he is to honour that Truth. In other words, the Lesser Work should reveal automatically to the aspirant the nature of Truth, but most likely not the Truth itself. This form of Truth when grasped by the aspirant provides its own validity. The Truth speaks for itself, we might say. Nevertheless understanding the Truth, the nature of the Supreme Desire, on any level is not enough to succeed in the Lesser Work. The deciding act is one in which the aspirant either honours that Truth by cleaving to the Path of 'attainment', or fears the implications of the Truths impact of his life and rejects, consciously or unconsciously, any further significant growth.
The student who sees his understanding of the nature of the Truth as a great gift, a major worthy revelation, and desires wholeheartedly to raise himself up to meet the challenge to obtain kinship with that Truth, then enters the second level of training, which we refer to as 'The Great Work', specifically. To simplify a description of the Great Work, of which the lesser is a necessary part, we might say that it is the deliberate act of aligning oneself with the Will of the Supreme in order to take conscious, and therefore accelerated, part in the Supreme Beings Desire to know and experience everything It can concerning its own Nature.
One the other hand, he who fears the implications of the Truth about our existence, because of an imperfect understanding of the nature of Truth, is destined to languor in the wasteland which exists between ignorance of the divine and constructive knowledge of Truth. This is a painful place to be, for it means either having to live with the shame of abandoning the path and trying to maintain sanity, or in anger, turning the little and imperfect knowledge one has gained from the initial training towards satisfying the self. This is a form of black magic, for, by definition, it rejects the ideal that we are nothing of ourselves but rely on a greater power for our being.
Experience has shown, in our magical tradition, as well as those of other times and cultures, that those who enter into occult training and fail to recognize the liberating power inherent in the Nature of Truth, never, in the present incarnation at least, rise from their lowly station of selfish magickal orientation. Their soul becomes stained through the imperfect vision of the Truth they obtained, and that stain shows itself in their physical presentation, their attitude and their work. Therefore did the classic and ancient Sages of our Work declare in all faith that Initiation into the Hermetic arte was a dangerous endeavour for the unwary, exclaiming as they did that only three goals were open to the Initiate: untimely death, insanity (of which evil behaviour is a part), or success. Taking this into consideration, and the fact that many who dare to investigate the deeper regions of our arte fall victim to one of the first two fates, then it is no wonder, accepted and understood, why the common man fears magic and rejects involvement in even the slightest discussion of the subject.
We have, then, delivered the simple explanation of the Great Work: deliberate and knowledgeable alignment of ones intentions with those of the Supreme Being. The importance of the Lesser Work in providing one with the ability to partake in the Greater should not be, but sadly, is overlooked. How often do we read even the phrase 'The Lesser Work' in standard occult literature where its elder term the 'Magnum Opus' is tossed about with much gay abandon? Yet the term 'Great' denotes by its very nature that there must or should be a 'Lesser'. Whatever the Greater may be it is our contention valueless and misconceived without a careful and accurate understanding of its beginnings. So let us now, carefully, examine the Lesser Work and its formula.
As we have pointed out in our preceding discussion all of Nature originates from One source. After this fact creation, the act of becoming, is governed by One intention or Will. This Will we refer to as The 'Law'. According to this view everything in creation is therefore part of a plan. A plan, we assert, is an orderly arrangement of ideas designed to present a measurable understanding of a process.
The primal act of creation is therefore governed by a simple formula. This formula is the mother formula which lies behind the laws governing the dynamics of every system. A system is any aggregate of subjects or objects which act together in order to realize a goal.
Taking all of this into consideration it is not difficult to accept that human development is a process of becoming, a process of creation. We are, physically and mentally, evolving towards some goal (or simply just evolving), we are not static beings. The Hermetic Tradition further asserts that all systems evolve through various stages. Each stage has a definite starting point and a definite stopping point. Further, and more importantly, for any system to bridge the gap between one stage of evolution and another a 'shock' to that system must be applied from without. Alchemists present this fact in the statement that 'Nature unaided cannot perfect our matter'. It is only through the intervention of man, they demand, that arte transforms Nature beyond its natural boundaries.
Hermetic Science therefore carefully points out that where human evolution is concerned evolution plateau's out at a certain point and cannot advance further without the application of a special kind of shock-to-the-system. In order to, in a moment, deliver our point more effectively, we will point out that within the family of humanity there are, roughly, four types of person. The first is little more than an animal. That is he looks like a human but his habits, desires and intellect are not too much advanced from the higher members of the animal kingdom. The second is a little more refined than the first, having conceded to accepting a rule to live by which is designed to assert the rights of the individual as a semi-intelligent being. These second types still, never-the-less, maintain or are governed by, the herd instinct. They are habitual, motivated by fear and intolerant of the actual Truth. The third type is intelligent man. He has, to a degree, but not totally, risen above the average by taking it into his own hands a desire to think for himself, to be intelligent in an marked manner. The fourth and last kind is altogether almost completely outside of the herd instinct, of slavery by the animal in him. He is intelligent, but not necessarily in an academic manner. He has a deep connection with life and a strong conviction about the reality of mans transcendental nature.
Now, it does not take the delivery of a great shock to evolve a man from stage (type) one to type two. Although we might not expect, in one lifetime, for the type one individual to progress so much that he jumps two gaps and finds himself in type (stage) three. It is just as unlikely, or possibly even more so, that type two persons will not jump two gaps in the evolutionary cycle to find themselves a type four within one lifetime. We say 'even more so' because the gap between types three and four is an extreme on which requires the acceptance of a 'special' type of shock, which we mentioned earlier, in order to 'jump the gap' at that point of development.
This special type of shock the classic Sages have called occult Initiation. Now, when we, herein, use this term 'Initiation' we do not refer, simply, to induction into just any kind of occult group or system. We refer to one kind of situation only. About this specific kind of situation we can firstly say that it is what the ancient Sages were most concerned with when they trained students in the secret sciences. It is what educated occultists today desire when they join occult Societies, Fraternities or Orders … but sadly, rarely find. This 'situation' can be found in any organized system but is rarely if ever found in every group or training situation in every system. In the same way those groups or individuals within an initiatory system who at any time 'have it' may just the same not have it at other times. So we might just as well say that that which we are referring to here can appear or be found, within the realm of esoteric training, anywhere and at anytime but never everywhere or all the time.
What we are actually referring to here is the ability for a group or a single teacher to provide the 'shock' needed to take a person from type three to type four humanity. This 'shock' is a very specific process or mechanism. We shall call it 'The formula' here for our present purposes.
It has been observed that when a group or individual has successfully applied the formula or provided the right circumstances for the shock to occur it is most often, about 90% of the time, unconsciously done so on the part of the Initiator. In other words nature provides the aspirant, the right time and place and the appropriate vehicle, be it a single person or a special kind of situation. It might be argued by those who are familiar with the situation that the percentage of conscious deliberate successful Initiations is much higher. That occult schools have a good success in pulling students through the process effectively. Again, we do not disagree that these occult systems work, but we do assert that it is often in spite of the efforts of those who run such systems that they work. A certain degree of knowledge might be had by the Initiator about what the actual intentions of the rite he works and training methods are, but as we shall see by the end of this treatise, few individuals, very likely, have a full understanding of that subtle, natural, underlying formula that must govern every successful occult Initiation into a system that is designed to mature the soul.
The formula itself is very simple to describe. As it should be. It is a little more difficult to understand, and usually requires having passed through its fiery hoop in order to grasp its subtleties. The 'doing' is the hardest thing of all, in that it is very uncomfortable for the aspirant. But it is also easy, in the manner that the process is self actuating and fulfilling … eventually.
We have looked at the train of thought that is the basis of the Hermetic Mages belief that everything in nature is governed by an underlying Law and Order. We have explained how this Law and Order, which we have called 'The Will of God' is the basis for the motive behind occult Initiation and Advancement. By Initiation and Advancement, it is asserted, we mean any process specially designed to mature the human soul to the point that it surpasses (to the extreme) commonly known and accepted human ability. Lastly, we have pointed out that such a process, no matter what it appears to be on the outside, how it is delivered (if you like), it must be based on a formula which is an image of the Divine Will, the one underlying law we call evolution.
Now let us look specifically at the formula and how it manifests in the life of the average Initiate.
In order to understand the mechanism of the formula of Initiation it is first necessary to know something of the simple structure and dynamic of the human psyche. In its simplest form the mind is bi-polar. One portion is exterior and outward looking and is referred to as the conscious mind - or the 'awake' mind. On the other side of the coin we have the interior focused or unconscious mind - the 'sleeping' mind if you like. The conscious mind is the seat of the ego, ones 'I'ness, or sense of self identity. The unconscious is the repository of memory, primarily, but also the holding place for all that is rejected as not being 'I'. The basic attributes of the conscious mind do not need explaining here. We are all familiar enough with that part of ourselves to the degree necessary to make our point. It is the unconscious with which we must concern ourselves, not only as the seat of all our repressed mental material but also as the throne of our personal power.
The unconscious might, therefore, in our minds eye, be imagined 'personified' as two persons living inside us. One is like an angel of light and the other is like a devil. These are what magicians call the dark and light mirrors of the soul. Psychologists refer to them as the shadow and the self. By whatever name we refer to them they are always and forever two forms of conscious intelligence that live within us, from the shallows of mental activity to a very deep level, and are the basis of our humanity. These two selves are experienced in a very mild way during the average progress of life in the manner of the tips of two very large psychological icebergs. In times of great stress or worry, hate and fear, the dark shadow self emerges to show itself more clearly. On the other hand during times of great compassion or empathy, deep knowing or revelation the light self displays its nature.
For the most part, as far as the average person is concerned, it is an important task in life to constantly keep pushing the dark nature down into the unconscious. This is what psychologists call repression. The dark nature is composed (partly) of all the difficult and traumatic memories and experiences of earlier life. It contains all of those fears, anxieties and shame producing memories we desire not to recall or feel again. So we spend a lot of time finding ways to push all of that down out of the way.
Now, and this is the important part, the Initiate is faced with the task reversing this process as the first step on his magickal journey. He must enter the Darkness and seek out that which Homo Normalis avoids with a vengeance. In other words the initiate is faced with attempting to succeed in a maneuver that goes against everything he has learned and accepted as a human animal. The wisdom of alchemy has described this process in its symbolic language thus:
'Putrefaction is the beginning, key and great mystery of our Arte.'
The alchemist must seek out and cleave to the mystery of the unconscious like a bridegroom to his bride. For such a reason did the alchemist recognize the Dark Mother, the black Isis or Madonna, as the patron Saint of his Great Work, the personification of that process which ushers the Initiate into a deeper communication with the unconscious.
With this knowledge in mind the ancient Priests of the Mystery schools designed methods of training, of Initiation and Advancement, which were intended to draw out the repressed contents of the unconscious, or alternatively, to guide the candidate into the Darkness of that underworld … as the first step in the process of liberation from the slavery of ignorance concerning the true nature of Self.
That this is the cold hard fact concerning the novitiate training of schools who work for the maturation of the soul every advanced Adept knows well and accepts. It is the novice who finds it difficult to accept and deal with this natural process … and the weak and unprepared who turn aside from the Royal Road in fear of the first stage of the Work. Therefore, no matter what path the aspirant is guided to, or chooses, in order to attain the summit of human potential, if its first step does not involve acceptance of and control over the unconscious then it is not occult training.
Now, it should be understood, that the esoteric science of Soul Maturation considers that. Like it or not, we all, eventually, will evolve to a point where this process must be braved. In other words it is a natural process … part of the dynamic of evolution.
The motive behind this mechanism of nature is simple and quite logical. A human, an average human, is so because his mind is divided into two very distinct fields in conflict, and he stands in between them struggling to find and maintain equilibrium. The fool who bends with a bias towards insanity has given up on this struggle, thus allowing his psyche to fall into corruption and further fragmentation. The accomplished occultist, on the other hand, is an individual who has polished the two mirrors of his soul and reintegrated them - thereby experiencing reality as a complete unit in its totality - relatively speaking. The process of the Great Work, then, might be said to be the Initiates struggle to recombine, to 'wed' - in the words of the alchemist - the opposing sides of his nature.
These opposing sides are the conscious and unconscious, light and dark, inner and outer, male and female, passive and aggressive, the temporal and eternal.
The first step in the Great Work is one which deliberately manifests the inner conflict in the outer world. Although every initiate is expected to meet this trial sooner, rather than later, no two individuals experience the first open battle with the unconscious in the same way. The process itself is archetypal and organic. That is, it is an abstract pattern we all follow - but just as no two flowers of the same genus grow and look the same no two 'shadow dramas' are the same on the surface.
It is also true that it is not only Initiates who go through this process. Some gain access to the Shadow by so-called accident, others by paths such as psycho-analysis, drugs, trauma, etc., which are similar, but not as far reaching in the potential, as occult training. Each 'way' has its genre of experiences too. The path of occult Initiation is therefore, to a degree, predictable within certain limits. For most students of the occult who are Initiated into a group or system that is deliberately designed to powerfully effect soul maturation, and is delivered effectively, the first confrontation with the Shadow is, 75% of the time, precipitated within the first 24 months of instruction (experience shows).
Experience has demonstrated that the novice is most often seen to have his first significant struggle with the unconscious, his personal demon, when he begins to commit himself to serious esoteric study for the first time. Often it is only the 'idea' of studying with the intention to mature his soul that is enough to 'upset' his Shadow and cause it to rise to the occasion. The Shadow knows by instinct, or possibly through foreknowledge, that 'effective' training is a threat to the continuing successful maintenance of its way of life. Like a wild animal backed into a corner it tries, sooner or later, to make a move on the Initiate. Its plan is to do whatever it can to cease the Training thereby regaining control of the Initiates will - and it will go to any lengths to succeed. The most common ruse is usually one, or a combination, of four things:
(1) To convince the candidate that he is mentally/emotionally/physically incapable of carrying on with training.
(2) To evoke an overpowering (seeming) irrational fear of the process in the candidate.
(3) To cause the candidate to develop a degree of unsavory behaviour that will lead to his expulsion from Training, or
(4) To convince the candidate that he is knowledgeable enough in occult matters that he might alter his Training program if he sees fit, thereby causing it to be ineffective or unsafe. (This maneuver on the part of the student is a conscious or unconscious belief that he is more knowledgeable than the tutor or the system/tradition which he is studying too, and is therefore a rebellion against or resistance to the tutor/system/tradition to some degree.)
Experience shows that point three above is the most common cause of Training failure in seriously effective systems. Point four is the most common in average systems which have the possibility of being effective, but which are hampered by mediocrity (lack of discipline) in both the instruction, instructors and students.
It is often quite amusing for the tutor to see a cool headed student completely devoted to Training exclaim with sure defiance that he will never fall victim to any or all of these four traps and then quite unconsciously do so within the first year of Tuition. What is not so amusing is to witness the high percentage of students who are turned back from making any further 'real' progress in their studies because they fail to recognize their predicament, when floundering in trouble, and deal with it appropriately. This, largely, is due to a lack of information available to the aspirant about the unusual predicament of esoteric Training. It is, therefore, our understanding that if one is informed beforehand one is more likely to be objective about the misfortunes accompanying the first Shadow attack and handle the matter with the type of honour and respect that lead to experience of the second stage of the formula.
It takes a knowledgeable and experienced tutor with great perseverance and tolerance to guide another human through the early stages of such Training. The integrity of such Training in a group must be protected with carefully designed contracts (oaths), rigid rules and individuals who are skilled enough to enforce them carefully. Without such rules and obligatory precautions the student who fails in the first stage may do irreparable damage to the group or the privacy within which a good teacher-pupil relationship must operate. Without such regulations those who pass through the threshold of the mysteries in damaged condition may never begin the process of attaining liberation for want of a safe environment and well established boundaries within which to work. The evidence of the necessity of that which we put forward here is easily found in the environment one sees existing in many of the more public schools of esoteric knowledge. Where strict rules and cautious guidance are lax or entirely inoperative or non-existent one finds groups of occultists in the full throws of Shadow dramas bickering over every little unimportant thing, lost almost entirely from the opportunity for further growth in that situation.
It is truly unfortunate circumstance that so much of the understanding of this first process is lost to those who are in outer authority within the Western Mystery Tradition. Students, groups and the entire Tradition suffers for want of an education in a matter which in the past was a secret guarded very closely and today can be read about in great detail in many good books on Jungian psychology.
[sub-text as a later addition for the website. Physical reality, as the Adept understands it, using the terminology of the modern psychologist, is smply ... a shared psychotic projection from the collective unconscious ... and because it is a manifestation of the collective it is considered 'healthy'. All is mind as the kybalion insists. If you can get your head around that I can show you how to prove it.