The term esoteric first appeared in English in the 1701 History of Philosophy by Thomas Stanley, in his description of the mystery-school of Pythagoras; the Pythagoreans were divided into "exoteric" (under training), and "esoteric" (admitted into the "inner" circle) However, Antoine Faivre discusses all four usages of the term in his, Access to Western Esotericism, Albany: State University of New York Press (“SUNY Series in Western Esoteric Traditions”), 1994, 10-15. Wouter J. Hanegraaff (ed.),Dictionary of Gnosis and Western Esotericism, Leiden / Boston: Brill, 2005, I, 340.
The one definition that has been in use in the actual schools of secret teachings is of course "esotericism sometimes suggests the idea of a secret transmission of spiritual teachings, through initiation from master to disciple". Being admitted to the inner circle that is.
This would suggest that anything that is available, that is there for you to believe in because a book says so or someone else says so is not true esotericism, whereas if you come to a realisation based on certain practices and initiations that hint towards or fully reveal to you the one true mystery, then we're talking esotericism.
Why and how is this relevant to The Royal Path? I'll get to that further down.
First let me point out a fun little fact. There has been so much written and talked about high magic and low magic. Crowley changed terminology and started to refer to low magic as black magic and high magic as white magic. This has lead to later sects and groups thinking of black magic as bad or evil and white magick as good. Add chaosmagick and the current (10-20 years old) obsession with things dark and you have groups of people and new orders that work a form of western antinomianism, more or less successfully, claiming that the antinomian path is the left handed path and thus is black magic. And black magic is the only real magic, whereas the white, right handed stuff is just religion disguised.
it is very easy to see why these ideas evolved the way they have. The issue starts when we start to confuse two other terms with eachother. We often confuse the idea of ceremonial magic with High Magic. Just because someone is playing around with pentacles and circles, Golden Dawn Style magic or Shinto formulae does not mean the person is practising high magic, however they might be practicing ceremonial magic. Similarly a priest of Ifa performing a divination or someone healing you with laying on of hands might very well be doing high magic.
How does this work? Well, High magic as understood by initiates is simply the Royal Path. It is Alchemy, it is theurgy when the theurge peforms Magia. It is an attitude to the work requiring an understanding and acknowledgement of certain truths. High Magic has more in common with Chaos Magick, as originally formulated by Carrol, except it doesn't throw the baby out with the bathwater. Kia and Chaos share a lot of similarities with the Universal Mercury that alchemy speaks of, however where Carrol looked and saw no soul and decided there wasn't one, the alchemist sees the same and then goes about to make one. This is a thread I'll pick up in a later post.
So let's have a quick glance on sorcery and the sacerdotal path, This is done from the point of view of High magic and will therefore probably offend anyone strictly working with these paths.
Let's imagine them as two intersecting circles
The left one is sorcery, the right one is the sacerdotal path, their intersection is where High Magic happens. Remember kids, high magic is not ceremonial magic nor has it anything to do with "good magic".
Let's break this down a bit shall we?
The centers of the circles represent intuitive, inspired work, yet also where the circles somehow touch upon eachother . The edges of the circles represent the extremes of pure belief and faith. To enter the vesica pisces of The Royal Path in the intersection, you can only step into it from the center of either the sorcery circle or the sacerdotal circle, where the other circle touches upon your circles center.
In sorcery, the progression from left to right is nicely illustrated by the 3 Books of Agrippa,
the 3 levels of the world, natural astral and celestial magic.
There is however no progression, magical practice isn't linear, various practises and ways of doing magic will fall somewhere inside the circle.
So somewhere on the left edge you have pure sorcery and belief in a specific technique with little or no outside influenceDraw a Sigil and have a wank. Lighting an X colored candle and saying the X Psalm will automatically have X effect. It is when a black cat crosses your path and you know you will be unlucky and where breaking a mirror is a divinatory revelation of self caused curse for bad luck for seven years. Moving closer to the centre towards the right, we have the belief in correspondences and the belief that they actually matter. A Magnet pulls, therefore if I want to pull something towards me I put a magnet on it. Intoning one of the names of G-D will automatically have an effect. Listening to this chakra meditation cd will make me aware of my chakras.
On the right you have Ceremonial Magic, magic linked very strongly with religious belief, say tantric sorcery and Magic that borders on insane rules-following. As in, only being able to dedicate a talisman at a specific time.
Remember, the circumference of the circles is rules based, where the magic happens because of outside influence, the closer to the center you get the more magic happens because of YOU. But on the left you can have blind belief in the power of a dust you buy online and on the right you might believe in the names of the middle pillar or that an R replaced with a V will actually make a difference in your Enochian work.
Where the circles actually touch, there is a mix. So any sorcerer performing work withing the paradigm of X religion, christian, hindu, palo etc would be working on the small section where the sacerdotal overlaps with the sorcerous one. Whereas someone who believes that the world is a machine and that a specific entity may or may not exist, but engraving his image on a tin disk at 19:an on 13th or Novekter on Bloomsday while wearing a paper hat will cause Jupiter to give you wealth..... well that person is on one of the crescent tips of the sorcery circle.
If you are close to the center but still off-centre to the right you might fall into some form of religious missconception. Such as "man is divine and thus all spirits have to listen" or "I have spent 6 months doing this sadhana, THAT is why all these entities follow me".
Off-centre to the left means you just don't see why on earth you'd need an initiation to perform the miracle of the mass or to work with certain tradition bound entities? You might even start to suspect that they are all in your head, that they are all mirror reflections of eternal principles and thus have no cultural validity.
Remember, this says nothing about the circle itself or the entities or anything like that. ALL parts of the circle are true, all of it is sorcery, this is merely an attitude of mind. It is ALL true.
In the center, if we manage to stop there we have the realisation that what is important is will, imagination, that symbolic systems are just there to allow us to tap into the part that allows magic to happen. This realisation, which by the way is slightly incorrect as we still don't know WHY this is so, can have several, less good results.
Effect one : Postmodern sublime. You are fucked. Everything is in your head and only works because of delusion. Nothing is true everything is true, nothing is permitted everything is permitted. God is dead (good thing if you meant the demiurge, bad if you don't think the pleroma exists). This is the Nietzchian fallacy, the chaosmagick black hole you can only crawl out from by adopting a structure to try and plug the hole. Hine got into tantra and Carrol fell into a need to explain everything using crap science.
Effect two: God is dead, long live the new God.
the insights are similar to the above mentioned. Systems break down and you realise that all that is important is the will and so on. yet, you need to find a reason as to why this is. At this stage you revert to what your mind has been the most successfully indoctrinated. You are Christ. you are primordial man. Buddhas explanation finally makes sense. ALL is an illusion and is malleable. What have you.
Effect Three: "Welcome to the Dark night of the Soul" engendered using the magical path.
Both versions above happen, yet there is no end. The whole circle inverts and when you are spat out you have entered the vesica pisces. If you succeed. if not, you might end up in Effect One or Two or Four.
Effect Four: "Have you heard the Good News?" You end up popping over allright. but to the circle of Sacerdotal work.
The Sacerdotal Circle.
Same rules apply. The outer edge is blind faith and belief in the book, what your elders say, etc. The classical Hyllic approach. The overlapping part is what we in the west would call magical religions and the right side are rational religions. Off the top of my head i would place Atheism and protestants who barely go to church on the right edge along with western buddhists, catholics and quakers and jehovas witnesses in the crescent approaching the sorcery circle and mediterranean catholicism, orthodox xtianity, tibetan buddhism and afrocaribean religions with a strong magical leaning in the overlap. Initiation into any form of its priesthood propels you closer to the center, most of the time.
I would place individuals with a strong inner, mystical leaning that actually actualise the religion (whether it accepts magickal practices, then off center left or not, then off center right) closer to the center.
This is when someone doesn't just add gnostic gospels to hir bible for a more authentic christianity but realises there is something behind it all, this is where meditation and the jesus prayer leads you, where entheogens can catapult you.
effects of the center:
Effect one: I was lied to! What is the truth again?
Yes you were. Good luck. You feel betrayed by your religion and now you need something else that, hopefully doesn't lead you to the center. Born agains who swap from one extreme religion to another, and wiccans who realise their religion was made up, people who find out that christ may not have been a real person. etc etc etc. But more often this marks a real spiritual awakening that the individual is incapable of dealing with.
Effect two: I am the NEW/Latest/Reat Prophet/asshole/Goodguy
This is my absolute favourite. This effect makes the person think they are the only one who is capable of reaching the center and have therefore a special place in the mind heart emptiness of whatever. It can go horribly wrong as when enforcing your new religion or your understanding of an old one on an unsuspecting populace or when you abuse your knowledge for sex and money, and it can go well when you try to guide people to where you are yourself, even if you have no fucking idea of where to go from now. Non-dual awareness often does this to peeps. I should also point out that there are many lovely people here who have truly lived their lives in imitation christe.
Effect Four: Welcome to the Dark night of the Soul.
The outer forms of whatever you believed is a lie, yet your experiences cause you to know that many things even from other religions are true. The torch until now has been your blind faith but that faith is now gone. The prayers you have used ot the meditations no longer take you to the center (as you are now playing the the vesica pisces ballgame but unaware of this)
Effect Four: Anti-(add religion)
This is when you pop over to the sorcery circle instead. Very Very uncommon and I'm sure you can think of an example. I can't right now
How was this relevant to the Royal Path again?
Well, esoteric, the inner circle we have been talking about? That is the vesica Pisces. it is the place that is not the sacerdotal path being overlayed by the sorcerous or vice versa. This is something completely different.
The Royal Path is the pathway taken by those initiates of our Art that, in western parliance have gnosis and now know what to do with it, that have received the yeast and are transforming their elixir. Where the alchemical inner work is done.
This is where the true, inner work the High Magic can start. When Crowley talked about the K and C of the HGA he did not mean being able to communicate with an entity that is today understood by the esoteric writers. Their subjective experience is true and valid but not what is meant.
The Royal Path cannot be described because any description of it will automatically land in the "overlap between the circles" not in the new thing that comes into being when the inversion has happened....
This is alluded to in many Western systems.
In Gnosticism we have the primordial myth that is at the same time a map for individual restitution and reintegration.
In Work with Demons from the perspective of the grimoires themselves, we uppraise the lowest again under the rulership of the highest.
Boehmian and protestant Theosophy wishes for us to transform the hell fire into love fire.
The Pillars of masonry and those of Seth Hermes and Solomon
The mysteries of Jesus Christ the son of God.
The only vocabulary that has evolved to deal directly with the Royal Path that I am aware of is Alchemy, inner and outer both here in the West and the East, along with its derivatives or "exoteric" versions.
What does alchemy say to us?
That which is below is like that which is above that which is above is like that which is belowto do the miracles of one only thing.
And as all things have been arose from one by the mediation of one: so all things have their birth from this one thing by adaptation.
The Sun is its father, the moon its mother,
the wind hath carried it in its belly, the earth its nurse.
The father of all perfection in the whole world is here.
Its force or power is entire if it be converted into earth.
Separate thou the earth from the fire, the subtle from the gross sweetly with great industry.
It ascends from the earth to the heaven again it descends to the earth and receives the force of things superior and inferior.
By this means ye shall have the glory of the whole world thereby all obscurity shall fly from you.
Its force is above all force. for it vanquishes every subtle thing and penetrates every solid thing.
So was the world created.
From this are and do come admirable adaptations whereof the means (Or process) is here in this.
Hence I am called Hermes Trismegist, having the three parts of the philosophy of the whole world.
That which I have said of the operation of the Sun is accomplished and ended.
We also know that alchemy seeks to unite all opposites.
When Fire and Water meet, they don't kill eachother, they give rise to steam, the son, who then coagulates into earth the daughter.
as Osiris says in the Book of the Second Breath
I am neither alive nor dead, yet without me there is naught and the world is in me and due to me
Hoor is my heir and me and I am my father as he is his, yet my sister lives and is forver dying as I am dead yet forever living, to give the sun to my son, Heruset.
The Royal Path is beyond sects and beyond orders and systems. Anyone in possession of its secret, the secret that is entrusted upon entering the true Royal Path will recognise any other of its adepts, no matter creed. As long as there is any form of communication possible the Warriors upon the royal path, reading eachothers diaries, books, seeing eachothers lives or having a 5 minute conversation with no prior arranged signs of recognition will suss eachother out as they are all part of the royal blood, the kinship and the stream that has been with mankind since we first were able to experience this one truth. If the Queen/King was dependent upon the symbols of hir prior life and path here then the path would not be trodden.
My Burning Heart
My heart is burning with love
All can see this flame
My heart is pulsing with passion
like waves on an ocean
my friends have become strangers
and I’m surrounded by enemies
But I’m free as the wind
no longer hurt by those who reproach me
I’m at home wherever I am
And in the room of lovers
I can see with closed eyes
the beauty that dances
Behind the veils
intoxicated with love
I too dance the rhythm
of this moving world
I have lost my senses
in my world of lovers
In my hallucination
I saw my beloved's flower garden
In my vertigo, in my dizziness
In my drunken haze
Whirling and dancing like a spinning wheel
I saw myself as the source of existence
I was there in the beginning
And I was the spirit of love
Now I am sober
There is only the hangover
And the memory of love
And only the sorrow
I yearn for happiness
I ask for help
I want mercy
And my love says:
Look at me and hear me
Because I am here
Just for that
I am your moon and your moonlight too
I am your flower garden and your water too
I have come all this way, eager for you
Without shoes or shawl
I want you to laugh
To kill all your worries
To love you
To nourish you
Oh sweet bitterness
I will soothe you and heal you
I will bring you roses
I, too, have been covered with thorns
Intoxicated by Love
Because of your love
I have lost my sobriety
I am intoxicated
by the madness of love
In this fog
I have become a stranger to myself
I'm so drunk
I've lost the way to my house
In the garden
I see only your face
From trees and blossoms
I inhale only your fragrance
Drunk with the ecstasy of love
I can no longer tell the difference
betweeen drunkard and drink
Between lover and Beloved