Joy, the time to talk about the sacerdotal path.
Not my favourite topic in text, but deffinitively in speech.
This is the fast way towards High Magick/Magia/Alchemical Theurgy and it is also the one riddled with the most dangers, pitfalls and bigoted people.
What is the sacerdotal path exactly? It is the "active engagement with a worldview". Just like most people do some form of magic, as could be intuited from my bit about the sorcerous path, most people do fall somewhere in the continuum that is the sacerdotal path.
Your first steps upon this path is handled by your parents, and then you continue to build on this or very early rebel against it. It is a paradigm, and contrary to common belief, your paradigm is really bloody difficult to change. You can tweak it, you can invert it, but changing it requires a hell of a lot of work. This work is exactly what the sacerdotal paths essence lies in.
Let's have a look at the really simple chart from a few posts ago with a nice sacerdotal purple added to it together with some lettering.
We are looking at the right side of the chart marked in purle. All worldviews fit in here from the various forms of the Abrahamic religions, whether Judaism Christianity or Islam, to Daoism from high to low, shinto, non-theistic systems, animistic and materialistic atheists. The purpose of the whole purpleish circle is to give you a way to understand the world you are in and to allow the mythic structure that the worldview represents to help you in slowly but steadily come closer to the center where a Realisation of the Higher mysteries can happen. Please be aware that the realisation is not automatic because you have entered the center, please refer to previous posts about this.
The discussion and examples below are to be understood to refer to the sacerdotal path, not the realisation of the theurgic truth.
A) is the center where an inversion into the "higher" as discussed in this series can happen. Depending on what specific mythical structure is used to experience this center is used, there are different words for this is often a form of divine, automatic understanding of the world, where everything makes sense.
Prayer without words, Deep meditative states and communion. de closer to the Center we get, the more Spirituality and the less Religion is involved in the path.
B) is the region of mythical structures where the worldview allows a two-fold path, where the divine is actively participating and is willing and able to cause change in the world. Intersession of saints and sacerdotal practices that require ritualistic actions. Religions where a spiritual understanding informs the ritualistic practices.
C) is The region that is close to the rim, but far away from the center, thus is symbolic of approaches where the outer form is more important for moral reasons rather then any spiritual reason. Most worldviews relying on materialism and can be classed here. For example, most Low-Church Lutheran denominations end up here, Children are baptised and moral lessons are taken from the religion but there is no understanding of the spiritual aspect, whereas Luther's own vision about protestantism would fit into the A section.
D) Practices that have a very non-spiritual aspect, where the spiritual search is merely an explanation for the magical practice. Highly animistic religions exist on this level. The focus is laid upon the here and now just as much as with the other extreme, the materialistic atheism or its equivalent in the Sorcerous path.
From the Point of view of the Theurge:
The purpose of walking this path properly is to find a place where the supreme ultimate and the here and now can interact in a way that allows the follower to be content with navigating the above and the below. When this is accomplished in a balanced manner, guided by a teacher who can make sure that the outer explanation is not confused with reality, the student can realise the underlying archetypical truths that are common to all religions and true systems of spiritual development. From this point of view, a true christian is not one who can quote the bible and attends church every sunday, but one who understands the underlying message of his chosen way of interacting with the world and gains a deeper connection with its archetypal mode of being. Imitatio Christe is more important than religiously following commandments.
The Mystic seeks ever to understand his or her life from the point of view of the religion and the mythic cycle, be it hermetic philosophy or orthodox christianity.
Not only is there belief needed for this, the belief needs to be lived.
The Goal is To experience Unity. The supreme ultimate, the Dao. This is its strength and its greatestweakness.
1 The worldview is self-asserting.
2 Mystical states are comparatively easy to experience and misstake for being finished.
3 You are not alone.
Crowley warns about the dangers of mysticism
"Now the formula of the mystic is much simpler. Mathematically, it is 1 – 1 = 0. He is like a grain of salt cast into the sea; the process of dissolution is obviously easier than the shock of worlds which the magician contemplates. “Sit down, and feel yourself as dust in the presence of God; nay, as less than dust, as nothing,” is the all-sufficient simplicity of his method. Unfortunately, many people cannot do this. And when you urge your inability, the mystic is only too likely to shrug his shoulders and be done with you." Elsewhere he writes "The Path of the Mystic hath this Pitfall; for though he unite himself with his God, his Mode is to withdraw from that which him seemeth is not God. Whereby he affirmeth and confirmeth the Demon, that is Duality"
Yet he himself falls into mysticism as he ends up later creating a system that is in essence a sacerdotal approach hidden behind a veneer of hermetic ritual.
The difficulty of the Sacerdotal path lies in realising what our actual paradigm is. You can try and try to be a pagan if you immediately revert to calling upon god i times of need.
For the sacerdotal path to be effective, the Myth must become second nature, ingrained in the spine. For the sacerdotal path to work without becoming a trap, it needs to be understood that this second nature us a chosen one. It is easy to replace the god of christianity with a goddess and called it sophianic gnosticism, whereas it really is God in Drag.
One of the great double edged swords of the sacerdotal path is that all of its realisations will come through using its own truth and that you are not alone in the work as you are essentially working with things that are quite interested in working with you too.
There are the guardians of your tradition and the egregore of the tradition itself. There are beings that exist whether you want them to or not, how they came into being is anyones guess. There are certain cosmic forces that can use any one of the above as masks to interact with you with and then there is the ever descending force that any sacerdotal path that has a line from the outer edge to its inner centre and had a way to lead from there onwards to the Royal Path.
The issue with the sacerdotal path is that it is itself made up of 2 intersecting circles. One of these is moving from the center outward and the other one is moving from the rim inwards.
Center out: This is when through spontaneous realisation the point of A has been reached and transformed into the center of the royal path and the individual who is there needs to find a new way of showing others how to get there. Thus Myths are created and cosmologies developed, certain practices that should assist in leading to the center are adapted.
Let me quote myself from an old post:
"1 In the purest form. This is referred to as someone who has beheld the mystery and becomes a living link to the mystery.
A being who beholds and becomes a living link to the mystery is free from all cultural notions and can bring others to the realization of the mystery by whatever means that person needs it.
Christian Rozenkreutz and Martinez Pasqually for example both suggested that one should take up the dominant religion of the country wherein one resides. This is so that one may understand enough for the cultural symbols present in the mind of the locals so one may use those symbols and crutches in the guidance of these souls. It is measured work.
2 Strongly coloured by the social cultural, religious and psychological makeup of the individual. These people behold the mystery but are unable to see it in its entirety and interpret it from a point of view they are familiar with. This is naturally a degradation of the mystery as the nature of the mystery is that it is beyond cultural social and religious forms.
These beings sometimes become living links to the mystery and manage to fully understand it in time. Often they spend their life having created a new religion or a new form of an old one since that was the context through which they understood it and trying to help people to behold the mystery but only from the point of view from which they themselves saw it.
Ever wonder why Jesuits who have performed the spiritual exercises of Loyolla are so devoutly certain Catholicism is the way to go?
3 Beings that behold the mystery but have no bloody clue what they experienced. Sometimes they don't even have a cultural context to place it into.
People performing rituals or mystical practices without guidance, who do drugs and experience spiritual peak experiences all fall into this category.
They have seen the outer mystery, or one of the manifestations of the mystery.
These people often become enamoured by the technique or thing that got them there first.
A true spiritual master is a being from the 1th category who is guiding people there.
the 2nd category is most of your prophets and spiritual leaders
the 3rd category is your random practitioners, groupies, druggies and culties."
The other way is when pure fancy has created a cosmology that agrees with the world which slowly creates a worming way to eventually leading in the development of the system closer to the center.
To have a practical example:
Alistair experiences the Royal Path but sees it from number 2 above. creates Thelema. this is center outward.
You can take any version of christianity and give to a random clone, if they pray and are guided the right way will end up in the center.
This specific blogpost could go on forever and it would never be exhaustive enough.
Therefore it will now be summarised and posted.
The goal of the scaerdotal path is to allow its practitioner to experience union with the highest in a non-dual awareness where the above/god/emptiness coexists with the below/man/illusion. The Practitioner should live a harmonius life, invisible, in essence, from the the archontic forces.
What the sorcerer seeks to dominate, the mystic hides from.
What the sorcerer seeks to control, the mystic finds a way to live in harmony with.
What the sorcerer sees as a personal plaything, the mystic sees as a toy that has artisitic value but is not important.
Louis Claude de St-Martin - any
Sartre, Being and nothingness
jacob Boehme - any
The Routledge Companion to the Study of Religion
Deikman, Arthur, understanding mysticism
Dean, Inge Christian Mysticism
Smart Ninian, Reasons and faiths
Forman, Robert, The Problem of Pure Consciousness
The spiritual Exercises of Ignatius Loyola
The Dark Night of the Soul
Isis Unveiled and the Secret Doctrine by Blavatsky
Carl Gustav Jung - Any