Posted by: Philip Carr-Gomm | January 25, 2009

Sexist Assumptions

Sexist Assumptions, Amazing Women and Tara.

In the last post I described myself as nothing more than ‘a jumbled mess of preconceived ideas’. The other day one of these preconceived ideas popped out again. M and I were discussing the likelihood of there being incarnated extant Masters with the Golden Dawn / RR et AC tradition. I opined that there could be such a Master, but he would keep himself hidden. Naturally M and I both picked up the sexist assumption of the Master being a man.

For more see: The blog 
Magic of the Ordinary

See also:

The Golden Dawn and the RR et AC are wonderful traditions and many thousands of people owe them a great deal for their spiritual and magical fulfilment, including thousands (like many Pagans) who may not even know it. However, they are dangerous and I think it is important to be honest about this, especially as the traditions shows no signs of decreasing in ‘popularity’. While many of the dangers outlined below also apply to other magical paths, some are particularly germane to the Golden Dawn…

At: Magic of the Ordinary


Responses

  1. Thanks for the link Philip – interesting stuff. I find the Golden Dawn fascinating but I also find I don’t have much feeling for its approach. My ignorance and lack of experience might be getting the better of my understanding here, but it feels very head based and overly structured to me. I have never been able to get to grips with the Qabalah – makes me feel like a dog on a leash yearning to be racing around and rolling in the mud!(?) – however, I have friends who have greatly benefitted by their engagement with it.

    Really enjoyed the post on Iyengar and completely relate to the understanding of the body as gateway to God/dess. The Iyengar quote is lovely: ‘It is though your body that you realise you are a spark of Divinity.’

    Happy Travels!

  2. I definitely see the point in much of what Peregrin is saying–if you’re going to take magic and spiritual practice seriously as having real, substantive transformational power, then you must also acknowledge that with power comes the danger of its misapplication or other problems, intentional or otherwise, that could cause damage.

    But the whole tone of the “nine dangers” puts me off a little. The very first one seems to leave people with only two alternatives: (a) submission to God, or (b) submission to other people, “Masters” or whoever. Besides the fact that both of these dangers fail to solve the problem of mistaking personal ego for Something Bigger (which plays a big role in most of the other dangers listed), but it also seems to rely mostly on eliciting fear of irreparable damage. But while it seems obvious to me that we must live with the consequences of all our acts and choices, no matter how minor, to believe that the damage we might do is so devastating that even infinite lifetimes could not overcome it–and so, the implied conclusion, better not to step too far out of line or take any risks at all–seems to me to be mere fear-mongering. Certainly any spiritual journey involves risks, and damage, pain, suffering will be aspects of these. But it also seems to me that it is the very belief in a Something Bigger than the ego that gives a person the courage and faith to try anyway, to seek despite the danger, and to strike out on their own when the “Masters” or agreed-upon definitions of Deity no longer satisfy.

  3. O, I missed the notice that these are guest posts while Philip is busy, so I’m not sure who I’m addressing… Sorry about that, if it made my above comment sound rude.

  4. Hi Ali – no I’m still here! I didn’t think your comment sounded rude at all! I’m off on Wednesday and from then for about 10 days or so there’ll be guests blogging. I posted this excerpt and link because it is interesting and raises some provocative ideas. I think I agree with you about the fear-mongering – in the first half of the piece about 9 dangers, I’m really not sure about terms like ‘immense damage’. I accept that ‘dabbling’ can produce serious effects, but travelling abroad or spending a lifetime in front of the TV can be very dangerous too from one way of looking at things… Having said that, the author has clearly been immersed in the world of the GD where perhaps this sort of damage really is going on.
    The piece I found really interesting was Danger Nine…a very real one I think and an interesting point to ponder.
    But overall I feel that using the term ‘Danger’ evokes fear, whereas a term like ‘potential risk’ might evoke caution and a desire to learn more, which was I think the intention behind the post.

    And yes I agree Maria – after three years or so studying the QBL I found it too constraining – like a great cosmic filing cabinet in which everything had to be fitted. However, all these systems are but fingers pointing, not the moon itself, and the QBL has been hugely helpful to many…give me the mud and stars anyday!

  5. Hi Philip, Ali and Maria,

    Thanks for these very insightful comments.

    Just a few points. I agree that the way Hermetic (magical) Qabalah is commonly taught and presented in the west would lead to the views shared. Now this is a real pity as Qabalah is far more – indeed it does give the mud and the stars to its adherents. Traditional Qabalah is not biased towards the head, but is embodied, sensual, passionate and active. See for example the works of Gershon Winkler on ‘Jewish Shamanism’ and David Abram’s discussion on the embodied and embodying nature of the Hebrew Alphabet in his brilliant “The Spell of the Sensuous”.

    I think it is important for us to challenge such easy dichotomies as: Qabalah + Ceremonial Magic = head/mind, Paganism + Druidry = heart/body etc. I am sure you know what I mean.

    The reality is far more complex and wonderful. The early modern Pagan religions were based on Qabalistic and western magic (many still are in their structures and worldview). Alex Sanders and friends used to take along a plastic nine foot circle inscribed with Qabalistic glyphs into the countryside to do their rituals. The original (not sure about current) impetus and teachings of OBOD owed as much to traditional western magic and Qabalah as historical Druidry.

    In reality there is no dichotomy and any authentic tradition will appeal to, challenge and satisfy all aspects of the self.

    Dangers! My intentional hyperbole in this post was to shake a few people up, as some very real problems/dangers/risks are, in my view being ignored. There is a western mystery saying, “a true initiation never ends” and most teachers I’ve met would agree on that. But what if the initiation is botched? Does any ill effect simply end after a good night’s sleep? (I am talking about both ritual and life initiations). Whilst it was obvious hyperbole of me to say it will last forever, I still believe it is something to think about seriously.

    And thank you to Philip for picking up on and emphasising the last and most important “danger” of perceived “advancement” within a closed mind system. If a single person thinks about that issue these posts would not have been wasted time (it’s summer and 35C here and the beach awaits). Thanks 🙂


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