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What is Magick?

To: alt.magick
From: catherine yronwode 
Subject: Re: What is Magick?
Date: Mon, 26 Jul 2004 08:28:27 GMT

Asiya wrote:
> "catherine yronwode"  wrote 

> > I used the term "attainment of proficiency" in order to reply to
> > Alexander / Bruce in terms of Erich's original phrase "initiatory
> > attainment." I was referring specifically to those forms of
> > attainment to be had within an initiatic system.
> >
> > This is also tangentially related to one of your terms -- "attainment
> > (mastery)" because in the course of initiatic matriculation in a
> > lodge that requires proficiency tests, what the candidate is
> > demonstrating is mastery of the subject matter that is taught in that
> > degree. This is quite obvious in lodges whose initiatory scheme is
> > based on ancient trade guilds (e.g. the Freemasons): The officers of
> > such lodges are specifically looking for demonstrations of mastery of
> > skills (speculative and/or operative). Further, one who has attained
> > the highest degree (e.g. the 3rd degree in Freemasonry) is called a
> > "Master." He has literally "attained mastery."
> >
> > I did not speak to your "attainment (enlightenment)" since the word
> > "enlightenment" is too ambiguous of definition to be addressed
> > without further hair-splitting. Since you asked, though, i will 
> > simply note, briefly, that the word "enlightenment" in its most
> > colloquial sense (realization, "the dawning of the light," etc.) is
> > the prime objective of Freemasonry -- but that the word 
> > "enlightenment" in its Buddhist sense (as a translation of specific
> > Sanskrit religious terms) is not an "attainment" that is conveyed in
> > Western lodge matriculationystems.
> >
> > [...] you originally made TWO definitions of "attainment" in reply to
> > the mention by Jason / Erich of "initiatory attainment." You came up
> > with "attainment (mastery)" and "attainment (enlightenment)." People
> > have chosen to relate more to what Erich / Jason wrote. I don't think
> > that anyone here is really relating to "attainment (enlightenment)" 
> > -- and certainly not to "enlightenment" per se.
> Since I am included in "anyone here", someone here is referring to
> attainment (enlightenment).

Very good. You got me on that one. :-)

> First connotations for me from "attainment"
> is enlightenment or spiritual mastery - particularly when reading
> references to "attainment" in alt.magick. This is where I'm coming 
> from, but I do realize that this is not where *everyone* here is 
> coming from.

Yeah, count me out of that connotative schema. I am known to use the
word "attainment" in all sorts of novel ways, mostly with respect to
comestibles, such as "We have attained coffee!" or "Have you attained
dog-food-hood yet?" 

> Jason could have been referring to Freemasonry lodges. Since this is
> alt.magick, I assumed he was referring to magickal orders. But I could
> be wrong. Jason frequently mistakes Freemasonry for magick. I didn't
> expect you to do the same.

I do not "mistake" Freemasonry for magick -- but i hold Freemasonry in
high regard as to its seminal role in the formation of modern magical
lodge orders. I know of no lodge system in the USA that is not derived
from craft Masonry or from auxiliary and appendant degrees of
Freemasonry. If such a magical lodge system exists, i would love to
know of it. 

I have compared initiatic material from various magical lodge systems
to that found in craft and appendent body Freemasonry and i have found
them all to be derivative of Freemasonry (in some cases to the point
of outright plagiarism): the Hermetic Brotherhood of Light, the
Hermetic Brotherhood of Luxor, the Ancient Mystical Order Rosae
Crucis, the Ordo Templi Orientis, the Ancient and Primitive Rite of
Memphis and Mizraim, The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, the Open
Source Order of the Golden Dawn, Gardnerian Wicca, and on and on. 

In fact, the very word LODGE implies the debt that each and every
magical "lodge" owes to Freemasonry, since a lodge is something that
leans (as in wheat that lodges in the field) and it historically
refers to the temporary lean-to used by stone masons for storing tools
and resting up  while building large structures such as cathedrals. A
Masonic lodge is not a "temple" -- it was originally a lean-to, and
the Masonic Lodge of today is the modern speculative version of an
operative and highly practical historical structure of the past. A
"magical lodge" has NO reason to be called a "lodge" at all except
that it derives its essential terminology from Freemasonry. 

Further, you will find that in many magical lodge systems, uninitiated
people or outsiders are called "cowans." You will even find this word
used in Gardnerian Wicca. But what *is* a "cowan"? Well, "cowan" is a
Scottish word and it means "one who lays up undressed, dry stone walls
without mortar. Thus the term "cowan" originally referred to a stone
worker who did not belong to the Freemason's guild -- he could not
shape stones and he didn't know the secret of making mortar. 

Likewise, in many magical lodge systems, the person who guards the
door is called the Tyler or Tiler and a lodge that has been
ceremonially closed to the public is said to be "tyled" or "tiled."
But what does this mean? It refers back to the historical union
between the large and prosperous Freemason's guild and the lesser
guild of floor-tile setters, the Tylers or tilers, who, when their
guild was absorbed by Freemasonry, were given the essential but less
ceremonial task of guarding the door, and were not allowed to become
Masters of the lodge. Nowadays, in speculative Masonry, the Tyler is
an office, like any other, and as one rotates through the offices, a
Tyler may well become a Lodge Master in time -- but the fact remains
that the Tyler has the fewest lines to say during the rites, and that
many magical lodge orders still call their door-guard a Tyler. 

Well, enough said -- if not too much :-) -- but i think you can see
why i consider every magical "lodge" system to be an adaptation of
Freemasonry to specific magical ends. 


> > And, as i said -- this is a TRUE STORY.
> It's a nice story. It's good to learn to help people out and be
> courteous. Just a rhetorical thinking-out-loud question, I wonder if he
> would have been so generous had he *not* been given the lodge degree
> signs from the dirty, poorly dressed man?

Even a lodge system of great merit cannot make a good person out of a
bad one. The best that can be accomplished is to make a good person

> > There are lodges in America
> > that arrange such tests of proficiency.
> This one sentence reminds me of the ONA (in an opposite kind of way).

The Order of Nine Angles? I don't get it. Please explain, even if it
is a joke and i am missing the point. 

> Seriously though, thanks for expanding upon your original thoughts, it
> was interesting.

You're welcome. 

cat yronwode 

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