Kenaz Filan has written a lot about "validating initiations". This made my mind spin into validating western initiations. When a white guy runs off to Tibet, India or the Caribean there are worries. Am I being duped? Is this really a valid initiation?
Most people don't think twice when that same tradition is available in their home country. I'm sure this Yoga school will teach me traditional Yoga, I have no reason to doubt that my local Dojo actually teaches Judo.
Of course, if we are a bit critical, we can find out that the local gym isn't actually teaching Yoga, it is basically a Yoga like exercise, but luckily, the local Dojo is approved by the European BUDO Federation, (responsible for the Olympics et all) so therefore if the instructor has a black belt and is instructing I can be fairly certain he know what he is saying.
But, what is the case with more esoteric things? If I am interested in Gnosticism and Google Search : Gnostic Church, or Mass, I will most likely end up on some random Thelemic gnostic Mass site, and be unaware of the fact that there are many more Gnostic churches. Some of these are reconstructionists, others are linked to BishoP Doinell, whilst others are more arcane in nature, as the gnostic lineages that have valid, recognized Russian or Syriac orthodox or even Roman catholic Apostolic successions!
How about the Masons? Sure, most blue lodges create Craft Masons, but how about the fact that there are regular and un-regular groups?
If you become a Master Mason in London you can visit any Memfis Mizraim Lodge, up to their third degree, but if you were initiated in a Memphis Mizraim lodge, then you will not be welcome in a "normal" regular blue lodge.
How can we validate a Western Initiation, into what is truly one of the roughly 3 true western Traditions? (through whatever outer order or system they might be known)
In order to validate the initiation we have to be aware what is going on.
I will not reiterate the fact that Western systems fall into different categories and have different goals, I've ranted on that in an older post.
Below are some thoughts on validating the system-order-lineage in a western tradition that claims to teach the Royal Art, whether it be through Alchemy, Sacraments, initiations and Ritual magickal work, or Mystical contemplation.
First, I need to point out that there are groups that have no idea what they are doing out there. There are many, many megalomaniacal teachers whose teachings lead nowhere. Often, they are initiates of a system, or some obscure group and think they have the final solution. Then they run off and start their own group. Sometimes they are lone practitioners who have become lost in the astral realms and found something. (Remember the pagan priests of Herculeswotan-omnicron who met their patron god on their first ever drum trip I used as an example a few posts back? Now imagine that 20 year old march off from the Pagan festival to start their own religion based on 5 sourcebooks and their vision in the forest.)
Schools, lineages, sometimes orders, are created as a result of the missguided teachings of these individuals. This is not something unique for our time, but it is more prevalent, due to the accessibility of material previously kept hidden from the eyes of the uninitiated and the cultural soup that the western world has become.
Most of the western hidden tradition has left textual residue. The Hermetic Corpus, Grimoires, Alchemical treatises, Gnostic Gospels. It is very, very seldom that a text can be decyphered without the correct knowledge, given in the form of an empowerment, or at least some form of Oral teaching. Often, the text itself and the myths that are based around it are tools to try and convey that which cannot be communicated. Mr. Black, a very funny Jewish political satirist/stand-up comedian made an excellent point about the fact that "the Old testament, the Torah has been studied for a long time by his people, and they all understand that it is meant to be read as a parable whereas Christians today are still desperate to understand what it literally means."
I think Black makes an excellent point, as it proves just how easy it is to missunderstand the written word from the point of view of the reader.
Where am I going with this post?
It is mostly a pointer to the fact that sometimes the blind leads the blind.
I am a practical person, so why not look at a practical example.
Imagine someone in the States got hold of an illustrated and translated manual of Aikido, without ever having done any Japanese martial art before. So this person then spends the next few years studying it, practicing, reading up on shintoism, zen, japanese history.
Should this person then start a dojo? Would the teachings be as good and should anyone expect to be able to use the techniques in a real situation?
What would happen if someone who actually met O-sensei and trained under him went to this dojo and saw what they were doing? Trying to find physical nerve points to squeeze and dancing around? He would probably end up breaking some arms or legs, by accident as Japanese aikido looks soft but is fucking hard. Also, he would barely recognize the techniques used as he would be more interested in moving about Chi then grabbing you in the correct place instead of the other way around.
This fictional visitor would be even more surprised about the lack of philosophical teachings in the Dojo. Most western martial arts clubs are already a very far cry from how they are linked with their native thoughtflows. You know many western practitioenrs of Muay Thai do you know who are Buddhist?
This is surely not the way to learn Aikido, or any martial art for that matter.
Exactly the same can be said about spiritual and magickal things.
When the blind leads the blind they might both end up in the supermarket. They will surely be able to teach other blind people to get to the supermarket. But the only way they will ever learn that there is another supermarket much closer to them is either by a seeing person telling them, or by a massive fluke when one of them happens to take a wrong turn and ends up in the nearer cheaper supermarket. Will he be able to explain to the other blind people how to get there? Probably not.
A real life example. Uncle Al. Starts his own order, the A .'. A .'. creating a ton of teachings and rituals, all designed to help people "attain" whatever he believed himself to have attained. Nobody, not even during his own lifetime managed to truly go through the system. It was flawed, non-existent. His understanding of meditative practices in a syncretic dressing of his understanding of Western traditions. (cough mediated by the GD lens cough). Does it work? Hell no.
Because that is not how he got there. he worked through the outer order. He went to India. he worked with the sex magick of the O.T.O.. If you take the time to truly study his life and his writings and when he wrote what what you will notice the most profound stuff coming out of him towards the end of his life when he basically only engages in the 9th degree work of the O.T.O..
Do we get super thin by eating the magick pills and doing 10 minutes of exercise a day on our Abs master from a commercial TV channel, or is the only way we end up looking as hot and buff as the people demonstrating it by cutting out the crap and actually exercising properly and eating healthily?
I do wonder.
This is directly linked with orders built like labyrinths, people who feel like they are walking around in circles, and those who see no end to what they are doing.
How do we walk around in circles?
The tree of life and ten sefiroth, four worlds, 22 paths. The tree of life is also situated in the three veils of negative existence. Every single sephiroth has another tree of life within it. Traditionally we say that there are 400 all in all, 10 sephiroth times ten sephiroth times the four worlds. However, with knowledge of fractals we should know that there is an infinite amount of worlds out there.
How about a high fantasy sci-fi example?
The below is a very silly example with little to no real link to how things are done, yet the Spirit of the example is completely correct.
Let us pretend that Adam was given the knowledge of traveling the tree of life by God himself. God would then give him 11 secret words. Every word would open a portal from one sephiroth to the next. The only way to get from actual sephiroth to actual sephiroth is to utter these words, visualise them in hebrew characters, then one would pass. The 11th word would allow one to exit the tree back into the three veils of negative existence.
Now, these 11 words, are passed down from Adam to Seth, down the line of the patriarchs unto the Rabbi. God actively tells the Rabbi when the student is ready to receive the new pass-word based on the student living a life that is pleasing to the Lord. When the Student has un-fallen and regenerated and is in the state Adam was in, having travelled beyond Kether, he is allowed to call himself a Rabbi and he can then take on students.
What happens to a student who does not receive more then the first password? That student would be travelling upon the Tree in Malkuth. Deeper and deeper in the fractal world of malkuth. He would travel into Kether of Malkuth, then Malkuth-of-Kether-of-Malkuth. Then Kether of kether of malkuth. This process would be unending, by its very nature.
Now, if the students Rabbi dies, but the students believes himself to have reached Kether, what then? he will take on students on his own, and give them the first password.
This is the Lineage of a labyrintine manner created where a Blind Master leads the Blind Students in a never ending fractal quest. Every time the Master enters deeper into a fractal realm, believing himself to come closer to the source, when he is in fact only exploring existence, he creates another step in the ladder that is his system.
Now, God, in his Wisdom and Mercy might feel sorry for the poor deluded "Master" and give him the gift of Enlightenment one night. But by that point the Master has created a system of 96 degrees. Are these all useless? His students would surely ask him. Instead, what the master ends up doing, in order not to loose his life's work, is to add another secret, inner order, or a secret degree that is beyond all degrees, where the real knowledge is communicated.
Do Western lineages hold the key? or is it impossible to validate western systems?
With tongue in cheek I can point out two things.
One, there are people who are holders of the true tradition and if you don't find them, they'll find you and that "If you know what you are looking for then it is really simple to validate them." But, until you know what you are looking for, here are some tips:
1 avoid never ending systems. Any system where you know for a fact that either you will never be able to reach the highest grades as nobody does, or where you know you need to be one of the lucky 33 out of roughly a million members to reach the highest grade.
2 be literal.
If promised the knowledge to physically transmute metals, then don't settle for metaphorical bollocks.
3 Avoid prophets and their systems. Anyone reaching a state on their own, without AMAZING pedagogical skills will be completely useless in guiding you to where they are themselves, instead they will guide you to read what they read, eat what they ate, listen to what they listened to in a quest to re-create the experience they themselves had. However, the Buddha did succeed, if we are to believe the texts. Remember that there is a reason Christian Rozenkreutzes disciples were to follow the religion of the land where they were living. You need to be well versed in the mindflow and symbollic patterns of the one you are to teach.
4 Abuse prophets. Just because someone might be lost in the world of fractals from our above example, doesn't mean they don't have "killer skillz" in navigating that specific stream. They might never have reached the negative veils of existence, and won't either except through the grace of god, in our above example, however they will probably have an extensive knowledge of the experiences one gets from travelling 23 layers deep into the sub-sephiroth of malkuth.
Meditate on the fact that every single Bishop gnostic or otherwise did whatever the fuck they wanted in their church. We have gnostic myths from the same time and only 100 Km from eachother that are fully contradictory, yet the Bishops are in full agreement as to the nature of the Truth they wish to teach. Now how is that possible?
5 Be aware you might have to search for a long time. Just like you shouldn't just jump on a plane and get a Kanzo from a random black dude at the airport in Haiti, you can't expect to find the source immediately.
6 Avoid any and all groups with no links to the traditions they claim to represent.
The people with Valid links to the Western Tradition are still out there, usually in some random Masonic lodge, or as priestesses of some gnostic congregation or as people who spent 20 years in an Ashram in India and now live in a Western Ashram, it is these people you need.
Picking up a Book of Shadows does not make you Wiccan. It is an initiatory religion.
A G.D. group created by people using the black brick as their sole reference is not a G.D. group.
Most of the Western system was still alive and kicking 1500-1700. You would do well to plug into those currents instead of their 1900 and later imitations.
(The caveat being that some of the imitations later got plugged back into the current, as the 1800 century gnostic churches that received valid apostolic succession from Orthodox sources.)