| up a level
from the mined-over-Mathers dept.
The first time I read Regardie's Golden Dawn, it was entirely incomprehensible. As I studied over the years, my understanding of the Golden Dawn material gradually fell into place, and I now feel fairly comfortable with the system. There is one area, though, that pretty much remains a mystery to me: a Mathers paper called "The Law of the Convoluted Revolution of the Forces Symbolised by the Four Aces Round the North Pole." With a title like that, you'd expect it to be simple.
It is the last of the materials relating to the Tree of Life projected in a sphere. I find most of this system fairly useful: the rationale behind Golden Dawn sidereal astrology, the spherical arrangement of the cards of the Tarot, the relationship between the Tree of Life and the Enochian Watchtowers, the inner meaning of the Golden Dawn symbol itself, and other nifty concepts that help to tie the strands of the teaching into a whole.
But then it is explained how the constellation Draco (the Dragon, which surrounds the Kether point of the celestial sphere) is held to possess four loops. The loop closest to the head is the Ace of Cups, followed by loops for the Ace of Swords and the Ace of Pentacles, with the loop at the tail being the Ace of Wands. So far, this matches the spherical Tarot arrangement described previously in the teaching.
Next, though, there is a detailed attempt to explain the loops of the dragon as an interaction of YHVH through the Zodiac. The dynamic is explained very clearly. But why we would be interested in knowing this is never mentioned. There is one trace of a hint:
And as Kether acted directly upon Tiphareth which is, as it were, the centre and focus of the Sephiroth when projected in a sphere, so do the Aces act upon the Sun as the centre and focus of the Solar System. So that the Sun, according to his position with regard to the Equinox and the Earth's surface will translate the effect of the seasons, he being the translator of the force of heat thereto, whether the then position of the Equinoctial points coincide with what we call O degrees Aries, and 0 degrees Libra (reckoning from Regulus) or not.
It sounds to me as if some rationale is meant to be proposed here as to the relationship between the Sidereal and Tropical Zodiacs, which would indeed have been interesting. But unless I'm missing something, that rationale is never actually presented.
Then it turns out that Mathers is only just getting started with the dragon dynamics. The domain of concern here, apparently, is the connection between the Malkuth of one world (out of the Qabalistic Four Worlds: Atziluth, Briah, Yetzirah, and Assiah) and the Kether of the world below it. This connection is hour-glass shaped, with Malkuth tapering into a point that touches the "thread of Ain Soph" and then flares out to the fullness of Kether. Influences proceed from the Malkuth of (for instance) Yetzirah, then touch the Ain Soph, where their form dissolves. The same force then appears in a new form in the Kether of Assiah.
It seems that the dragon dance that was previously described in such detail is the predominant pattern that the influences from Malkuth take as they proceed into Kether. Predominant, but not the only pattern. Recall that in the Golden Dawn's Minutem Mundem arrangement of the Tree of Life, Malkuth is divided into four quadrants: black, citrine, olive, and russet. Since the black (earthy) portion is the bottommost, it's the quadrant that most directly faces the Kether below it. The russet (fiery) and olive (watery) are partially visible to the lower Kether, whereas the citrine (airy) quadrant on top doesn't directly face Kether at all. The pattern based on the constellation Draco already explained corresponds to the influences coming from Earth of Malkuth.
The paper then proceeds to describe the other three patterns. Three, because not only do the fiery and watery portions contact Kether, but the airy portion appears to ooze around the sides of Malkuth to make contact in some sneaky way that is never explained. The influences of each quadrant have distinctive dragon formulae described at some length, but not in enough detail to provide a complete picture of any of them. (I'm almost able to piece together the four dragons of the "Leaping Formula," attributed to the fiery influence, but I don't think that the description matches the illustration, even taking into account that the illustration shows the earthy dragon while the text describes the fiery one.)
So what's going on here? It's possible that the paper makes sense, but I just haven't grasped it yet. Maybe the paper is flawed as published, but there are other Golden Dawn documents I haven't seen that serve to provide a clearer picture. Then there's always the possibility that Mathers was already starting to go off his nut by the time he wrote this.
But my favorite explanation is that the membership was getting bored, so Mathers wrote a complicated paper that intentionally made no sense. The dedicated initiates would strain to find the inner meaning of it, while everybody else would assume that they didn't get it because they slept through at least one of their knowledge lectures.
Go ahead, please prove me wrong . . .
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