The Complete Golden Dawn System of Magic was given to the world by Israel Regardie complete with notes and explanations but it is mainly geared towards High Temple working, i.e. groups rather than solitary practitioners. Much of the symbology used by Mathers in constructing the Golden Dawn was drawn from Egyptian (in addition to Christian and Hebrew) sources and as Regardie observes: “The references to Osiris as a symbol of man-made-perfect could be those of any of the Mediterranean crucified Gods, of whom there were many.”
The Order was a magical one but its mysticism was by no means separated from magic and although today many would consider them two entirely different methods of attaining the highest levels of understanding, this is far from the case. As Regardie himself explains, it is the mark of real Adeptship when the student comes to realise that there is no real separation between these methods, and at the end they are one and the same. Here we may be seen to have completed another full circle with the uniting of authentic historical research and Western Ritual Magic because the religion/mysticism and magic of ancient Khem were inseparable.
For members of the Golden Dawn, initiation represented the beginning of a new life dedicated to an entirely different set of principles for the ‘mere handful who can tolerate more than a glancing casual look at other than the superficial aspects of what life presents to them’ (The Complete Golden Dawn System of Magic). This handful of enlightened people had instant access to a system that did not, as Regardie explains, owe its origins to the formation of a new magical Order founded in the later part of the 19th-century. This system, or a “greater part of it, in one form or another, has existed for centuries - actually forever - not necessarily in the open where it could be attacked by secular and ecclesiastical authorities, but under cover, secretly and safely. Those who were in need of its teaching would inevitably be attracted to someone or other of its members, and undergo initiation. This process occurred in the past even as it does today.”
Because of the preservation and hi-jacking of Egypto-mania by the various esoteric Orders, the ‘essence’ of Egyptian magic becomes accessible again, due to European magi speaking the name of the dead (i.e. keeping the tradition/system alive) and making it live again, albeit with a modernised and, to use David Conway’s description, ‘synthetic rendering’. This is no sweeping justification: when he founded the Golden Dawn in 1887, Samuel Mathers had considerably less scientific data at his disposal because Egyptology was then still in its infancy. And we know that the Egyptian ‘essence’ within the Order was strong enough to sustain the magical rituals of people like Dion Fortune and Aleister Crowley because we have their prolific writings to confirm it.
The neophyte, having been given enough initial proof and encouragement that the pursuit of a long-dead Egyptian religion is not the product of a deranged mind, can begin to search out his or her own ‘essence’. None of us know where or how we are going to find it; when it will ‘strike us down’ or why we should even want to search for it in the first place. The author was struck down, aged four, by a series of black and white photographs taken during the Desert Campaign of WWII and, over fifty years later, there has been no signs of recovery. Like the sands of Egypt, the ‘essence’ cannot be held in check once it has entered your veins.
A more popular, up-to-date approach to Egyptian Magick is that of Gerald and Betty Schueler which is based on Golden Dawn traditions but offers the necessary short-cuts rather than the neophyte (no doubt breathing a sigh of relief) having to plough through the largely incomprehensible rituals of Western Magical Orders. Using the different Paths as a guide (Primitive - ritualised magic; Heliopolitan - mystical, or Hermopolitan - devotional), the Adept can break down the widely used composite personalities of the gods used by the Schuelers and focus on the much more sharply defined deities for more precise, individual magical working.
The Schuelers’ method of working upholds occult belief that magical texts from The Book of the Dead provide a vital tradition of magic which has persisted through the ages (despite Geraldine Pinch’s scathing comments) to provide the basis of contemporary Western ritual magic. The correct name for The Book of the Dead is Chapters of the Coming Forth by Day [E=Pert Em Hru] i.e. into the day- or sunlight. This movement between light and darkness can be defined as the cycles of birth/waking and death/sleeping, symbolised by the sun falling into darkness at dusk, only to be reborn again with the dawn; representing not only a daily ritual but the human/divine life cycle.
The Book of the Dead cites six grades of magical attainment and consciousness and having passed through each stage, the initiate assumes the relevant title, although the following are more pertinent to group working where hierarchy needs to be firmly established.
1st Grade: Master of the Earth [E=Tep-ta] is the lowest and most common for the Adept who can perform astral journeying.
2nd Grade: Master of the Hands [E=Tep-aau] is associated with the goddess Nuit and the god Hu (who personifies the authority of a word of command), the title being given to the Adept who has control over all of his magical actions.
3rd Grade: Master of the Temple [E=Tep-het] is associated with spiritual re-birth and the god Ptah.
4th Grade: Master of the Stone Mountain [E=Tepu-tu] was a title given to Anubis and refers to the funereal aspect of the pyramid.
5th Grade: Master of Fire [E=Nes-khet] is associated with Osiris and the title given to the Adept who can safely raise his consciousness through the Fire of Dispersion which lies in the Abyss.
6th Grade: Master of the Universe and the highest title given to Osiris. This grade is for the Adept who can magically control his own rebirth.
Based on these grades, the Schuelers’ system refers to the use of a magical ‘body of light’ or astral form, representing the magical universe. “As the Magickal Universe is divided into many states and regions, so the Body of Light is divided into its subtle bodies. The magician travels about in the Magickal Universe by shifting his consciousness into a corresponding subtle (astral) body. While he travels about the Magickal Universe, his physical body is quiet as if asleep or in a coma.” The six grades reflect the degree of competence attained by the Adept - but few will achieve them all in one life-time!
A considerable number of magical operations require an Adept to use the technique of assuming a god-form. This ‘assuming the form’ was not a physical act, explains Gerald Schueler, since the magician transfers his consciousness to his body of light and then causes that subtle body to assume the form of the god or goddess. “In addition to the appearance, the magician must also temporarily assume the personality characteristics of the god. He/she must, in short, identify himself/herself with the god or goddess as much as possible. To do this, the magician needs to know the characteristics of each deity before conducting the ritual.”
Your body of light can be entered using magical imagery, imagination and visualisation relating to the deity with whom you wish to work. Achieve this by constructing the god-form and then thinking, speaking or acting as if you were that deity. Concentrate on an altar image of your god and imagine your body of light, or astral image, has the appearance of the deity. Enter your astral image, still concentrating on the god-form and Will your body of light to take on this appearance. The Schuelers’ suggest that it may be “helpful to place your physical body in a special position, or hold a special device similar to that held by the deity”.
Another method is to sit in front of a large mirror in a darkened room, lit only by a solitary candle. By concentrating on a point beyond your own reflected image, you start to visualise the deity within your line of vision. After a time, you should become aware of the floating sensation that normally accompanies astral journeying as your conscious mind registers that you are looking back into the room from the mirror. You have, in effect, changed places with your own reflection. This particular exercise, similar to the one described by Dion Fortune in Moon Magic, can take months of practice but it is well worth the effort just for the special effects!
The Book of the Dead translations used by the Schuelers’ in Egyptian Magick provide a valuable workbook of rituals and magical exercises for the neophyte, in addition to exercises for constructing amulets (a magically charged, or non-charged object that is carried or worn) and talismans (a charged object not normally worn). Egyptian Magick and The Leyden Papyrus will provide endless source material for authentic Egyptian texts for both mystical and magical working and therefore should be considered as essential reading for anyone wishing to make a serious study of the subject.
This extract is taken from Liber Aegyptius: The Book of Egyptian Magic by Melusine Draco and published by Ignotus Press in 1998 : ISBN 0 9522689 4 9