Sria And Sricf Vs The Third Order Of The Golden Dawn

Sria And Sricf Vs The Third Order Of The Golden Dawn Image

SRIA Supreme Magus Kor

Most readers of this blog are by now familiar with my opinion that both the Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia (SRIA) and the Societas Rosicruciana in Civitatibus Foederatis (SRICF) are rather esoterically bankrupt organizations. Although occasionally producing bits of interesting scholarly research, these Freemasonic, nominally "Rosicrucian" societies have never overtly claimed to practice either Hermetic alchemy or even ritual magic - the two traditional activities not only of Golden Dawn Adepts today, but of authentic Rosicrucians since the very beginning of the R+C movement.

SRICF Supreme Magus Kang

Readers will likely recall my recent articles on the HOGD/AO blog and on the Golden Dawn Magus blog, motivated by the bizarre incident In August, 2010, when the Supreme Magus of the SRICF, William Koon II, made outlandish claims implying that Masonic Rosicrucians have some sort of governing authority over the Golden Dawn or at least the right to designate which Golden Dawn order is "official."

I consider this ludicrous, from both a historical as well as from an esoteric perspective, which should surprise no one considering the esoteric vacuum I found in the SRICF when I was briefly a member of that organization. My contempt for the SRICF and for the SRIAs Klingon-like attempts to plunder a Rosicrucian lineage, does not mean, however, that I do not recognize any genuine esoteric value in Freemasonry.

It only mean that seekers of esoteric Freemasonry are looking in the wrong place with the SRIA and the SRICF. To shed important light on this subject, I have just finished translating into English (from its original Italian) the following brief article on the history of truly esoteric freemasonry.

Count Alessandro di Cagliostro

Cagliostro and the Neapolitan Hermetic School translated by David Griffin

Among the "schools of transmutation" that have existed through the Centuries, the association known as the Neapolitan Hermetic School claims the distinction of being the oldest in the West. It was at the time of Emperor Augustus that a small colony of Egyptians settled in Naples (in the area known today as Piazza Nilo) bringing with them the oral tradition of the secret techniques they had learned in their homeland.

The forced Islamization of Egypt would nearly erase these techniques, except for a restricted circle of initiates of the Christian religion, until, in the nineteenth century, certain of Napoleon's officers who were initiated in Italy found with great emotion a substantial correspondence between rituals in their possession with those still in use in the land of the Pharaohs. Rarely have Master Masons found better opportunity to accomplish the secret task of their degree, to "unite that which had been divided."

The passing of centuries, however, has left its mark. The complex events related to "Masonization" of the Neapolitan Hermetic School in the eighteenth century have contributed to confusion about the kind of spiritual operations that had actually been practiced, and even about their purpose. This short essay reaffirms that the entire complex of the Hermetic operative tradition of the Neapolitan School, which was intended from the beginning for the achievement of inner transmutation [Hermetic Internal Alchemy], and that the subsequent inclusion of para-religious elements could and should be abandoned.

According to a forcibly approximate reconstruction, it is known today that the original levels of training were three in the Hermetic Neapolitan School. Regarding the first level we do not have much to say. It was but theoretical - and fundamentals of Hermeticism were taught and learned - the science of analogies, symbolism (which within the Neapolitan School was extraordinarily rich and extensive compared with that of other Hermetic schools) and probably also the "Art of Memory."

In the second level, the actual work of transmutation itself [Internal Alchemy] began, according to a technique characterized by a peculiar form of spiritual practice involving sexual energy. The complex of rituals, etc., later introduced into Freemasonry relative to this practice became known in Latin as the "Arcana Arcanorum."

What exactly the "Arcana Arcanorum" was, became one of the best kept secrets in the history of esotericism. Not until 1897, in Paris, the occultist Sedir (born Yvon Le Loup, 1871-1926) published a paraphrased version of the "Arcana Arcanorum" in the form of a pamphlet entitled "The Magic of Venus", but the obscurity of the terminology adopted by Sedir made it nearly impossible to understand almost anything. To briefly summarize, the Arcana consist of three "Magisteriums", plus a Greater Arcanum (or "Secretum Secretorum), which together comprise a system for the regeneration of the physical body and the cultivation of a body of glory [Solar Body of Light].

For reasons not entirely clear (and still much debated), in the mid-eighteenth century significant parts of the Neapolitan Hermetic School decided to merge with Freemasonry. Certainly the dazzling spread of Freemasonry during those years weighed heavily in this decision. Freemasonry was seen as a means to propagate the Neapolitan school outside of Italy. Without a doubt, the special nature of Masonic symbolism played a role in this decision; elastic and capable of easily absorbing and syncretizing very different esoteric systems. This was a feature of Freemasonry especially compatible with Hermeticism, a component of which was included already in Masonry from the beginning, namely the Hiramic symbolism.

There is no doubt that the Neapolitan School was aware from the beginning of the limitations and disadvantages inherent in this operation. Although elastic in symbolism, Freemasonry was rigid in ritual, and would never have allowed the practice of Hermetic transmutation within the columns of the Temple. Moreover, a serious risk of the operative tradition losing its quality for the benefit of the symbolism was also present from the outset.

But the opportunity to set out in detail, the rich universe of colored symbols that marked the work in a magnificent perennial fresco likely to spread throughout the world, was a temptation that no Hermeticist worthy of the name could resist: A testimony analogous to that represented by the Pyramids, a message to the future, a puzzle to decipher... certainly also a kind of insurance against changing times, ensuring that the Neapolitan school could rise above any disaster, and recompose the Liber Mutus [silent book] of its symbols where the transmuted Body of Glory had laid eyes on them again.

It was thus decided to give birth to three systems of Masonic degrees, each of which is described in an allegorical level of instruction: the Rite of Memphis for the first Magisterium, the Rite of Misraim for the second, and Egyptian Freemasonry for the third.

Prince Raimondo di Sangro di Sansevero

The Rites of Memphis and Misraim both arose in Naples, as a result of a collegial work conducted by many leading figures of the Hermetic Neapolitan School, including, Prince Raimondo di Sangro di San Severo (1710-1771) (to whom we owe the construction of this extraordinary Hermetic monument that is the Chapel of San Severo in Naples) and Baron Henri Theodore de Tschoudi (1724-1769), author of the "Catechismo Massonico della Stella Fiammeggiante" [Catechism of the Masonic Blazing Star.]

Of the two Rites, the Rite of Memphis was entirely speculative from the beginning, as was the work of the first Hermetic Magisterium it overshadowed: that is, its rich symbolical content was not matched by the practice of any transmutative operations. The Rite of Misraim instead indeed included the practice of the Arcanum (the work of the second Magisterium). Within but a few years, however, as the Rite of Misraim became part of the circuit of international Freemasonry, as anticipated, the Hermetic operative practices sadly were abandoned, because they were perceived outside Naples as presenting an obstacle to the ready acceptance and dissemination of the Rite.

Due to their similarity, the two rites were merged and separated several times, until 1908 gave rise to the final merger. Regular Freemasonry recognizes this as the "Ancient and Primitive Rite of Memphis and Misraim." This rite is, however, in reality neither very ancient nor primitive, because the original purpose of transmitting the first two Magisteriums of superior Hermetic training had been entirely abandoned and lost. The transmission lines of the two separate rites, however, have not completely gone away, and still survive - thanks to the selfless commitment of a few passionate Masons - within small, "irregular" Masonic Orders.

The task of shaping the structure that overshadows the work of the third Magisterium was assigned to Count Alessandro di Cagliostro. With regard to the biography of this extraordinary man we will write almost nothin, save that his identification with the person of the adventurer Giuseppe Balsamo of Palermo is historically inaccurate: the result of an orchestrated anti-Masonic smear by the Roman Catholic Church. Let us not forget that the real Cagliostro was put to death by starvation in a Vatican prison. [Translator's note - The interested reader is directed to my substantial biography of Cagliostro HERE, which corrects in detail numerous historical myths and inaccuracies regarding Cagliostro, who played an overlooked and misunderstood, yet nonetheless essential role in the history of the Hermetic tradition.]

Certain historians of Freemasonry have gone so far as even to speculate that Count Alessandro di Cagliostro never really existed, citing similar cases found in different traditions - for example the figure of Manu in Hinduism - characters whose historical existence are doubtful, but that were created to symbolize and summarize them in the name of a particular function: in the case of Manu, the "primordial legislator," in the case of Cagliostro the "Masonizer," meaning the author of the transposition of the ancient rites of transmutation into Masonic terms, a phenomenon which Cagliostro saw only as the protagonist of the Neapolitan Hermetic School, and that was verified all around Europe in the eighteenth century. In fact, one of the most salient traits of the legendary biography of Cagliostro has to do with his travels in many different countries.

While not agreeing with this extreme hypothesis, there is no denying that "Masonizing" was the most important aspect of Cagliostro's mission. The task of this implementation had been entrusted by Cavalier Luigi d'Aquino (1739-1783) who according to tradition was also Cagliostro's initiator. Cagliostro had met d'Aquino in Malta in 1766 and went with him to Naples in 1773; here was initiated into the third Magisterium, and with his help, undertook the first sketches of the gigantic work of transferring the entire Hermetic corpus into allegorical form. Ten years later, the news of the death of his teacher took Cagliostro to Paris, and it was in this city that Egyptian Freemasonry was founded.

Unlike the Rites of Memphis and Misraim, in the terminology of Freemasonry, Egyptian Freemasonry is an Order rather than a Rite: that is, while the first two are optional enhancements to the degree of Master Mason, Egyptian Freemasonry encompasses all three levels (Apprentice, Companion and Master). Thus it represents a sort of parallel Freemasonry, completely independent of the body of regular Freemasonry.

Structured in this manner, Cagliostro obtained two results for the Neapolitan Hermetic School. First, Cagliostro gained the possibility to initiate women - who, then as now, were excluded from regular Freemasonry. Secondly, Cagliostro guaranteed the preservation of the autonomy of Egyptian Freemasonry, thus averting the threat of a forced suspension of the operative work of Hermetic transmutation, a problem that the Rite of Misraim was already facing, after only a few years."In the above article, we have seen that, although the esoteric content of the former was abandoned early on, the Freemasonic Rites of Memphis and Misraim, as well as the Cagliostro's Order of Egyptian Freemasonry were, in reality, attempts by the Neapolitan Hermetic School to transmit beyond Italy the highest mysteries of transmutation, Hermetic Internal Alchemy, the ancient Egyptian science of immortality and of the energetics of the human body.

Domenico Bocchini

I will not go into further detail here regarding the history of these operative and transmutative Hermetic mysteries, except to mention that Lord Edward Bulwar-Lytton was also an initiate of the Neapolitan Hermetic school, initiated while in Italy by Domenico Bocchini in the catacombs of San Gennaro at Capodimonte. The interested reader is referred to my biographies of Bocchini and Bulwer-Lytton here and here.

Lord Edward Bulwer-Lytton

Knowing of Lord Bulwer-Lytton's legitimate Rosicrucian lineage, Robert Wentworth Little's "Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia" (SRIA) falsely claimed Edward as Grand Patron of their Rosicrucian Society. Lord Bulwer-Lytton wrote to the SRIA, however, rebuffing them that he was "extremely surprised by their use of the title, and that he never had sanctioned it."

As I mentioned earlier, it is my opinion that there is today precious little of substantial esoteric value in either the SRIA or the SRICF. In fact, I personally consider these to be rather spiritually bankrupt, Klingon-like organizations, that not only have attempted to plunder the Rosicrucian lineage of Lord Bulwer-Lytton for their society, but also the Golden Dawn's rightful Rosicrucian lineage through Kenneth MacKenzie as well.

Thus, any attempt by the SRIA or the SRICF to pose as organizational "founders" of the Golden Dawn, or to pretend they have any sort of governing authority to grant recognition to any "official" Golden Dawn order, is a but an arrogant, deluded charade at best.

One thing is certain beyond the shadow of any doubt...

The transmutative practices of the three Magisteriums of Internal Alchemy, the supreme Hermetic and Rosicrucian science of immortality and of the energetics of the human body, are certainly NOT to be found today in either the SRIA or the SRICF...

But these transmutative Magisteriums have from the beginning permeated through and through - the symbolism and rites of the Outer Order - the magical system and rites of the Inner Order - and today are found in their full glory in the rites and operative practices of the THIRD ORDER OF THE GOLDEN DAWN!

Do you finally get it? "Hands off the Golden Dawn!"

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